Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching
by DB Staff
It feels like we’re into the thick of this “season” of shows, which feels more like a traditional season than usual because so many things premiered at the same time. So now’s a good time to take stock and figure out what’s making the cut and what’s starting to drop off the watch list. Or is everyone being stubborn and clinging to sleepless nights and drama marathons? –javabeans
Currently recapping: Seven Day Queen
Father Is Strange: This show is such a gem at showing family love in the most poignant and relatable of lights. I’m so gratified to find a loving depiction of sibling affection that is everyday and realistic (the epic tragedies are thrilling, but those aren’t the only sibling relationships out there!), and watching everyone come together to send Unni off in marriage was painfully sweet. I did think that kiss was a narrative misstep, and I hope the drama corrects quickly because I generally do find that everything else about the fauxcest works for me. Just not that kiss.
Circle: It’s a joy to have a drama that satisfies consistently—I appreciate that I can sit back knowing that it’s going somewhere concrete and fascinating but that I can’t necessarily see more than a step ahead. It’s twisty in a smart way, and the story corners on a dime. I don’t even particularly feel the need to predict or speculate; I’m just enjoying the ride.
The Best Hit: I love that dramaland is making comedies this wacky and outlandish—it’s absurd but not necessarily slapstick or gag-like. It’s faster, slicker, and more randomly screwball than K-dramas usually are, and that sensibility keeps me on my toes and laughing, often in unexpected places. Yoon Shi-yoon is so perfect as the time-warped idol who can’t understand why all his former coolness is now considered cornball; I can’t imagine anyone else in this role, nor would I want anyone else.
Suspicious Partner: While the main couple is still cute and sweet, right now I’m more into the oddball workplace family and every comic interaction in the law firm (maybe because it feels like we put the main romance on pause for a while and I was getting antsy). They fit together so well in a very odd way, and it’s refreshing to be able to take a break from the serial killer storyline with their childish antics.
My Sassy Girl: This was the week I went from watching this show as brainless fluff to actually liking it. We finally know what’s motivating our outlandish princess and why she’d take such reckless risks, and man does that change a lot about how I feel about her as a character—it makes the characters start feeling more like people and less like shallow joke fodder. Now this drama feels like a real show instead of a parody of a show; it’s still got a silly sense of humor, but there’s something grounding it and that goes a long way.
Lookout: Aw, the Lookouts are becoming a family! The fact that it’s mostly reluctant makes it more satisfying, too, since it feels like their caring for each other is grudging but inescapable. I’m surprised to find myself liking asshole Do-han as much as I do, although it’s not so much that I like him being an asshole as it is that I appreciate that this drama is allowing him to be so unlikable, and for a lot longer than a lot of dramas are willing to do. I also dig how deep he is into his act, like when he was dying to help Suji, but not at the cost of his own cover. I’m definitely looking forward to the full reveal when everyone finds out, but till then, it’s an enjoyable tension.
Fight My Way: I have this niggling feeling I want to like this drama more than I do. The main couple is great, but the secondary couple is just such a drag that I’m contemplating skipping their scenes. I’m glad the Moo-bin detour is over, since I couldn’t even enjoy Dong-man’s jealousy because I was annoyed at him for being petty and mad when she gave him so many chances to speak up, and I thought he’d reneged on his right to be upset about her dating someone else. If we could just focus on them and their feelings for each other from here on out, that would make me happy.
Currently recapping: Seven Day Queen
Circle: It wrecked me when Kim Kang-woo turned into a sad little puppy this week. He spent ten years of his life dedicated to the single-minded pursuit of finding his brother, only to be hit with the possibility that he doesn’t want to be found? *wimper* Say it ain’t soooo!
Fight My Way: So doofy, but so cute. I just really enjoy the schoolyard maturity level of our two leads. This week, Choi Woo-shik’s extended cameo made me think that he and Park Seo-joon must be really, really, really good friends for him to come by and play a character I wanted to kick in the face so badly. The things a guy will do for his real-life bro.
Lookout: I’m pretty pumped about all the good guys closing in on each other’s identities. And Key and Kim Seul-gi’s first in-person encounter was one of the cutest little things I’d seen all week. It was so comical how he kept walking past her and mistaking other women for her, but then when he said so plainly that she was prettier than he’d ever imagined, I was screaming, “Date him!”
Suspicious Partner: All the secret-keeping and romance-deferring was starting to feel really artificial, so I’m relieved that we’ve gotten past that stage. I’m fine with murder and mayhem, just as long as our characters aren’t keeping each other in the dark “for their own good.” Boo to that.
Man to Man: I guess things ended well enough, but it seemed like such a tepid finish, with no real answers about how the relationship was actually going to overcome the secret life of a spy. I feel like this drama should’ve picked comedy or blockbuster action and just done one of them well; it’s not that I think dramas can’t do both, but Man to Man’s script didn’t seem to know how to marry the two parts with a satisfying core.
The Best Hit: Yoon Shi-yoon is so perfect as the manchild stuck in the middle of these two generations. I somehow buy that he’s the same age as both the dad and the son, which is an awesome setup. I don’t want him to go back to the past in this drama, but for my sake I would like a prequel Best Hit Season 0 that takes place solely in the ‘90s, following teen idol Yoon Shi-yoon’s rise to superstardom. Basically I just want more Yoon Shi-yoon, always.
Duel: It’s still a little slow going, but this show has a detective and a clone on the lam. Together. I mean, I’m not gonna not watch that show. I just wish the reveals would come a bit faster. If the clone is a clone of an evil mastermind, shouldn’t he be quicker on the uptake?
Crime Scene 3: Kong is back! I was starting to get really bored with this season and wondered if Crime Scene had lost its magic, but when I heard that Hong Jin-ho was returning for the remaining episodes, so did my excitement. Don’t ever go away again, Kong!
My Sassy Girl: I’m still just not liking this one very much. There’s nothing it’s necessarily doing wrong, but there’s not a lot that feels right, either. The politics are half-baked even for the most fusion of sageuks, but everything else is overdone—the jokes, the lighting. I also can’t help but be sad that Joo-won didn’t pick a truly epic sageuk as his farewell drama—I’m tired of seeing him in bad comedies, give me drama! I don’t even really know what it’s trying to be at this point, but Jungshin in a sageuk as the silent, long suffering protector? Be still, my heart.
Forest of Secrets: I get it—from the outside, it looks like another boring cop/law procedural about corruption. And while it is about that, I’m floored by how thought-out this drama is. The acting is absolutely amazing on all fronts, the characters are deep, the scenes are multilayered with subtleties (even more so because it’s impossible to read our inscrutable, emotionless hero). But he’s an emotionless hero who’s not an ass, and dramaland can learn a lot from him. Seriously, I think this has the potential to be one of the year’s best sleeper hits.
Lookout: Maybe Kim Young-kwang is just too good at being duplicitous, but his character just isn’t doing him any favors. I know he’s really the good guy underneath it all and is running the long con, but he’s featured so little that it’s almost as though he’s not even the lead. Which I guess I can’t say is much of a complaint.
Circle: This show is blowing my mind right now. It’s really daring to go where no other Korean drama has gone before, and its exploration of how memory impacts us raises a lot of interesting and important questions. The narrative is especially taut, with surprises in both timelines each week, but it’s Lee Ki-kwang’s character I’m especially drawn to. He’s just so insanely tragic and in need of hugs. And also maybe a little revenge.
Currently recapping: Duel
The Best Hit: I love it. Love, love, love it. This show is exactly my kind of show, balancing the wacky humor with heart-tugging emotion (I totally got teary during Ji-hoon’s freestyle rap). Woo-seung is my hero as she has to deal with the chaos of her own life, including Hyun-jae using her to figure out not only all this new technology but what happened to him in the past. Plus the 1N2D fan in me is thrilled at all the little easter eggs, such as everyone’s favorite International Referee using a classic 1N2D game—enduring the pain of finger-flicks—as a way to decide the classic 1N2D conundrum of who sleeps where. I’m still giggling over the fact that Kim Jong-min’s cameo was mostly spent out of focus. I wonder who came up with that idea—Cha Tae-hyun or Yoo PD?
Man to Man: Now that this is available on Netflix for all of us in North America, I’ve started to casually binge my way through it (don’t spoil me!). While the secondary political/business plot holds little interest and I easily tune it out (sorry, Yeon Jung-hoon), I’m totally enamored with the Hallyu star and his bodyguard. Park Sung-woong is an absolute gift! I also love all the crazy disguises Jung Man-shik’s character comes up with. This drama may be filled with so many of my favorite ajusshis, but Kim Min-jung is also holding her own as the spunky Do-ha, and I cheer every time she manages to throw the normally-in-control secret agent off course.
Currently recapping: My Sassy Girl
Suspicious Partner: Loved the pilot, but the show hasn’t grabbed my interest since so I’ll be dropping this, even though Nam Ji-hyun is cute as buttons, unwashed hair and all.
Seven Day Queen: Bye Suspicious Partner and hellooo Seven Day Queen. I’m liking this a whole lot, and after the mess that was Introverted Boss, I’m glad Yeon Woo-jin’s onto bigger and better. Also, was Lee Dong-gun always this phenomenal?!
Fight My Way: Wow, Moobs, just wow. Moobs takes the cake for worst drama boyfriend ever, that two-timing boob! Dong-man may not be the sharpest crayon in the box, but his heart is always in the right place. Park Seo-joon continues to kill it, and I honestly laugh at every little thing he does—he is so good at comedy. Really, the whole cast is pitch perfect in their respective roles, and while I won’t miss Moobs, I will miss Choi Woo-shik; he’s so talented, but so darn selective when it comes to projects. He does pick ’em well, though. Guess I’ll see you in Okja, then!
Currently recapping: Circle
Fight My Way: I love it! I could almost hear Dong-man’s heart stop beating when Ae-ra confessed that she feels flutters whenever he hugs her. Waaaah and that ending scene where Dong-man came up to a cringing Ae-ra who was still shutting her eyes tight because she couldn’t bear to see him hurt—adorbs to the max! Better than at least six golden retriever puppies. My problem with Joo-man continues, although I laughed my butt off when he did his “I got a promotion” solo dance in the break room. I totally would do the same thing, except way more embarrassingly. Poor Seol-hee. But at this point, she should take action now that she has all the facts in front of her. It’s so frustrating because she definitely wants to do something about the situation, but in actuality, she takes no action and stays passive, waiting for things to change, for Joo-man to make things better. Girl, please take control of your life and the direction you want it to go in with confidence, and let the chips fall where they may. Otherwise, you might just be left trailing after your first love, whose heart may have already left you.
Seven Day Queen: Holy pumpernickel! This show is really good! The rapport between Chae-kyung and Yeonsangun is such an expected delight. No one told me it was going to be like this! Why didn’t I know? This show is so darn cute and painful at the same time, and as a result I have so many feeeeeeelings. Yeonsangun is a layered, intelligent, and complex person, and his scenes with Chae-kyung make my heart explode. By the way, these actors are WORKing it. I’ve never liked Park Min-young so much, and Lee Dong-gun—GAH—do not get me started because you will regret it. I almost can’t believe how well-crafted this story is, but particularly the intricate emotional interplay between the characters. I love Yeok so much too, and I’ve never rooted this hard for both pairings so early in the game, while also knowing that it’s all going to end horribly for everyone.
Please show, don’t hurt me too much. Give me all the PAIN!
The Best Hit: Yoon Shi-yoon is soooo adorable as Hyun-jae. In fact, everyone is adorable! I love that Hyun-jae is faking amnesia like an evillll little genius but keeps forgetting about his lie as if he can’t be bothered to remember. Also, the chair must never be fixed!
Fight My Way: I love that each week we see more layers to Ae-ra and Dong-man’s relationship. And given the many years they’ve had together, unpacking all those mixed signals and hidden messages is going to be a crazy, awkward, and totally swoony ride, and I am so ready.
Suspicious Partner: Ji-wook’s confession to Bong-hee was so perfect! So much respect and communication and honesty—it makes me grin just thinking about it. But to be frank, overall my interest in this show is kind of dwindling. I think this is the kind of show that’s better watched all at once in an unhealthy binge.
Currently recapping: Forest of Secrets
Man to Man: This was an uneven show, but I’ll remember it fondly for its epic bromance between Kim Guard and his VIP/Hyungnim, which I found more romantic than many an OTP. I loved how quickly and wholeheartedly Woon-kwang adopted Seol-woo as his “Brother,” and how easily he was able to see through his stoic mask to the lonely boy hiding inside. The way Woon-kwang drew those around him into a close-knit little family over the years was the heart of the show. Do-ha was an unusual heroine, but her assertive and courageous personality really grew on me as the show progressed—props to Kim Min-jung for humanizing what started out as an unlikeable character.
Father Is Strange: Wow. Okay. This drama is really going full-on with the fauxcest. I… am not a fan. The whole ending scene was so weird and icky, and that was really not how I wanted their first kiss to be. I didn’t even understand why it felt so fraught and awkward for Mi-young to kiss him on his cheeks, because she’s clearly grown comfortable with touching him casually as she would her real brother, and I don’t think it’s that odd to kiss your brother on the cheek. And the last kiss—urgh. Someone had better spill the beans, stat. On the other hand, how awesome was Hye-young’s wedding? I can’t decide if I loved the siblings’ dance more, or Mom’s emotional speech. *wipes tears* This mother-daughter relationship kills me in the best ways.
Fight My Way: Wow. I already hated Moo-bin, but this takes oblivious douchebaggery to a whole new level, and I’m glad Ae-ra found out before anything but her pride could be hurt. I do wish it hadn’t taken this drastic of a plot twist to make her dump him—because he’d already given her plenty of reasons—but I get that she was dating him out of anger and her confused feelings for Dong-man. Plus, it got us that confession! And then a whole episode of completely adorable awkwardness, and then that confession. Eeeeeeaurgh. Don’t mind me. I’ll just lie here, passed out with joy until next week.
Suspicious Partner: …Except that would mean I’d miss our puppies Bong Bong and Wookie, and I can’t have that. The mildang was fun, but I’m glad they’ve cleared the air and aren’t keeping secrets anymore—yay for the delicious corniness of our new couple! But oh, my heart. The way Ji-wook hugged Bong-hee after finding her safe… and the way he sobbed over his Eun-ho hyung. Every week you play with my emotions, Show. I’d claim to be mad, but I’m so here for it.
Currently recapping: Lookout
Fight My Way: Dong-man’s debut in the ring was everything that I hoped it would be. So much so, that I wasn’t as interested in his relationship struggles this week. Park Seo-joon put in some serious gym time to prepare for this role and I was impressed by his transformation. The mysterious landlady is starting to grow on me. When she popped up and scared Dong-man because he couldn’t give Ae-ra a compliment, I wanted to give her a high five. Joo-man and Seol-hee make me sad, even when they are on good terms. I’d like to see them happy together and excited about their future, but whatever they are right now, it’s hard for me to watch.
Father Is Strange: I was relieved that Hye-young and Jung-hwang went through with their plans, I was certain something would interfere at the last minute. Now, I’m anxious to see how Jung-hwang will handle two strong women in his life. Things got more awkward and uncomfortable for Joong-hee and Mi-young and I’m mostly interested in how the writer plans to move their relationship from pseudo half-siblings to something more.
Circle: I watched the first episode and decided that I’d like the rest of my family to check it out. It has an alien, a post-apocalyptic future, and a utopian city—something for everybody! It’s on hold until I can see if anyone wants to join me.
Forest of Secrets: After the first episode, I’m intrigued enough to move ahead for now with this drama. A prosecutor who doesn’t experience emotions sheds a unique perspective on the case and the people that he works with. The challenge for me, as a viewer, is to make sense of Shi-mok’s thoughts and opinions, because his face reveals little.
A Wonderful Moment: I decided to check out this movie because of its premise, a televised competition to find the young lead for a Korean musical. It addresses the problems that multicultural children face in Korean society. The plot was formulaic and predictable, but if you enjoy cheering for the underdog, this movie may be what you were looking for.
Circle: Man, I wish our good guys were less trusting and more resourceful. ‘Cause they walk into a lot of traps and it’s doing bad things to my nerves. I love how the two timelines and the conflicts in them both boil down to a single theme, because really good sci-fi will pose questions or concepts that can be universally applied. It’s fascinating how the age-old question of whether the end justifies the means is affecting our main characters in both timelines: whether it’s the crazy professor’s belief that his cure to human misery is worth his unscrupulous experimentation on people, or if the surface-level harmony of Smart Earth is worth the memory theft of its inhabitants, even if that means blissful oblivion for those who have committed crimes. Love it. Also, I knew that assistant professor was shifty!
Seven Day Queen: This show continues to hit all the right notes for me, and I’m pleasantly surprised by how fast the plot is progressing (though I could do without all the chance encounters). Eugh, that scene where Yeok was reliving his traumatic recovery was hard to watch, and I admit I teared up. Almost as heartbreaking is Yeonsangun’s awkward attempts at becoming a good king because of Chae-kyung’s words, since we all know how that’ll end. It’s like a brotherly merry-go-round of angst and pain. I just want these brothers to clear their misunderstandings and live happily ever after! Is that too much to ask?! *tear*
Suspicious Partner: Our main couple is super adorable but equally SO FRUSTRATING. Please can you just talk to each other honestly, because you’re both refraining from telling each other the exact same suspicions for essentially the same reasons. I love you both, but I also kind of want to lock the two of you in a room until you’re on the same page. Capiche?!
Forest of Secrets: Captain Awesome is baaack! The first two episodes came out the gate really strong, and it kept up an impressive pace throughout. The acting, directing, and writing are all spot on, but that said, I might need to push this show off and marathon it all. It’s a very cerebral drama, and my brain is complete mush at the moment, so I don’t think it can handle this intensity each weekend. BUT: Captain Awesome is back, yayyy!
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (June 9, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (June 3, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (May 27, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (May 20, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (May 13, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (May 6, 2017)