[Changing Tastes] From the whole nine yards to the rom-com dreamboat
by Guest Beanie
I started my dramaland journey with Heirs back in 2013. It was new and shiny and I remember during that one particular scene where Lee Min-ho slumps to the floor in crazy neon orange pants and dramatic tears, thinking, Oh wow, Korean dramas have made boy-sobbing look cool.
I then started gobbling up K-dramas like the starved soul that I was. There were so many genres! So many different concepts! And best of all, a limited number of episodes with a requisite happy ending. I was hooked and smitten.
Like any newbie, I watched anything and everything that I could get my hands on. From the body-swapping hilarity of Secret Garden to the plotless, logic-less To the Beautiful You to the pee-your-pants hilarity of Rooftop Prince to the fast-paced and slick story of Healer, I watched everything without discrimination.
And over the course of five years of drama watching, I’ve concluded one thing: I’m not a high-stakes kind of girl. Give me a fluffy rom-com with a middling conflict and a happily-ever-after and I’ll be the happiest girl in the world. I have learned not to touch tragedies or thrillers with a ten-foot pole. Most people avoid spoilers, but I need them to get through a drama!
Fight My Way
After trying everything under the sun, I’ve discovered that rom-coms are my ultimate drama bias. I find now that I cannot concentrate on high-stakes dramas like Lookout and Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People. They’re brilliant and amazing but every time I feel like the villains are gaining the upper hand, my brain just freezes and refuses to move on. I get impatient and cranky, and ultimately I feel like that kind of drama is wasted on people like me.
Rom-coms, on the other hand, are quite formulaic. They have a road map, they have heart and humor, and they make me laugh. Sometimes I get secondhand embarrassment, but that I can deal with. I especially love how shows like The Liar and His Lover and Fight My Way can balance out the trifecta of heart-humor-gravitas with nuance and realism. It makes people discuss characters and their flaws as if they are real people, because they’re relatable and lovable.
These days, that familiarity is what I look for. I love how Father Is Strange portrays an ordinary middle-class family. Even though I live a thousand miles away, I can still relate to the culture, to the family dynamics, and especially how the landlady and future mother-in-law interacts with her tenants.
Similarly, the scruffy heroine and everyday hero of She Was Pretty were super cute, but it was the friendship between the two girlfriends that drew me in, because they were like me and my own BFF, and I found that connection to be such a hook for me. I know that many people thought Doctors was a totally plotless and fluffy drama, but for me I enjoyed it because of the teeny-tiny conflict. I loved its middling pace and the episodic format of the minor daily frictions between the characters at the hospital.
I know that rom-coms are fertile grounds for tropes like noble idiocy and forced separations, but I feel like if the narrative is right, even these trite tropes don’t hinder my enjoyment. In The Liar and His Lover, the couple separated for like an episode and a half, and when they made up I was so pleasantly surprised at how quickly the conflict was resolved. The end of noble idiocy opens the floodgates to fluff galore, and I love me some excellent, happiness-inducing fluff!
Ultimately, it’s the relatability that appeals to me the most in rom-coms. They’re simple stories about real people that can completely draw you in and keep you hooked. Rom-coms have a way of reinventing familiar friendships and relationships like no other genre. They can be heart-wrenching in a casual way too, but I find the safety net of an impending happily-ever-after quite comforting. The small conflicts allow me to get invested knowing it’s safe to take that ride. Rom-coms are my destination genre and I love it there.
The Liar and His Lover
- [Changing Tastes] When your feelings have feelings
- [Changing Tastes] Rom-coms without the rose-colored glasses
- [Changing Tastes] From someone who doesn’t like change
- [Changing Tastes] My dad always said I’d learn to appreciate history someday
- [Changing Tastes] I’m sorry for ever doubting you, family dramas
- Theme of the Month: How have your K-drama tastes changed over time?
- What’s your dramaland catnip? Tell us your stories!
Tags: Theme of the Month