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[Changing Tastes] I’m sorry for ever doubting you, family dramas


Father Is Strange

When initially planning out the theme for this month, I had family dramas on the mind; I’ve been gravitating toward them in the past year or two in a way that surprised me, because I’ve long been overwhelmingly a fan of 16-episode miniseries. Short and sweet, with just enough time to explore a central conceit, blow it up into conflict, resolve it, and move on to the next show. It was enough of a stretch to get into 24-episode dramas—50 hours were just too much commitment for a genre I’ve always thought of as less innovative, less exciting, and less engaging than the sexy miniseries format. I wanted the young, trendy, energetic stories of rom-coms, of the sort that careened from one hilarious shenanigan to another and launched Hallyu sensations.

But the more I thought of the reasons for the shift in my own watching tastes, the more I felt like it was a longer journey than simply a yearlong detour into family-weekender waters, and that ever since starting this site ten years ago, my tastes have been shifting. Partly it’s because I have more dramas under my belt now; I’ve dabbled in genres I hadn’t before, and found something to like in almost every category. Partly it’s also that I’ve grown up, and while the foibles of early adulthood make for cute rom-com hijinks, you start craving more diversity, more life experiences to live out vicariously through the beautiful people of dramaland. And partly it’s been that the very act of analyzing dramaland has changed the way I analyze it.


Ojakkyo Brothers

There’s something very distinct that changes in the way you watch a drama to recap it, and I have found that most of the time it enhances the viewing process—good shows seem even better when close examination reveals intelligent planning or thoughtful writing, for instance. On the flipside of that, of course, bad shows often come off worse under the added scrutiny; what you might gloss over in a casual watch becomes glaring when it becomes your job to describe in detail what’s happening. (Occasionally a bad show will yield the so-bad-it’s-funny type of recap experience, which is a much-appreciated way of turning something painful into something entertaining, but also sort of the white unicorn of recapping experiences.)

When I was the only writer running Dramabeans, my personal tastes in shows largely dictated what I chose to recap, but there was also a vague, mild sense of pressure that I ought to also cover shows that drew the most interest, that most people would be interested in following. I never picked up a show I felt I would dislike, but this approach did lead me down some rocky paths and terrible shows. I can’t say I’ve ever regretted a decision to watch or recap anything, and sometimes you learn the most from watching someone do something badly, pointing out in giant (figurative) neon lights what exactly not to do with a drama if you want to retain interest.

That said, the best part about having a staff is feeling freedom from that expectation; I feel satisfied knowing that there’s breadth of coverage without necessarily being obligated to provide it personally. Because there’s a huge difference between watching television because you want to, and watching it because you feel you have to! I consider it a privilege to be able to watch TV as a job, but let me tell you, it’s a depressing thing to have the strain of your job kill your joy for one of your biggest pleasures. Reclaiming that pleasure has been key (to keeping my sanity, and also keeping this site going).


Sons of Sol Pharmacy

But, back to family dramas, which prompted this whole ramble in the first place. There’s something incredibly comforting in the familiarity brought by a genre where so many of its offerings follow the exact same format, employ the same template of characters, and draw from the same pool of tropes and plot scenarios. People often speak of coloring inside the lines as though that’s a bad thing—as though the true picture resides outside of established lines. (Never mind that flouting discernible shape makes the resulting picture unintelligible!) But there’s skill in playing with rules and creating engaging narrative out of familiar stories, and nowhere do you see that more at play than in the tried-and-true weekend family format.

I find such a wild variance of quality within the family drama format that I can’t believe I ever painted them all with the same brush. Some are absolutely trite, tired, makjang-fests of dislikable characters and ridiculous plots, although one could say that of any other genre, really. Others are buoyant and charming, and manage to feel fresh even with all those familiar setups, and I’d argue that those familiarities deepen the sense of comfort we derive from these shows; we can feel safe within the confines of this genre and relax into the characters and everyday conflicts. And while family dramas are almost never without romance (often multiple romances, often one for every twenty- or thirty-something main character), I appreciate that they take the time to explore other types of love relationships, because not everything in real life is about romantic love.


King’s Family

I grew up with an endless stream of family dramas playing in the household, but it wasn’t really until 2009’s Sons of Sol Pharmacy that I felt in one that sense of addiction and excitement that I’d only felt with miniseries before. It had the sprawling family that you saw in every other show of its kind, with multiple generations of relatives living under one giant roof, with four siblings at the center (four tends to be a popular number in this genre) navigating careers, family conflicts, and lovelines. But it also had that extra spark that made it a particularly cheerful, humorous experience, using its conflicts to move the story but not wallowing in them.

I guess you could say I’ve been chasing that high ever since, sometimes getting entangled in a series of mediocre shows in the process, though it always feels worth the effort when you stumble on an Ojakkyo Brothers or a Father Is Strange. It led me to this/last year’s more lackluster Father, I’ll Take Care of You (again with four siblings, multiple generations, and career and romance foibles—but lacking the spark), which is why following a writer from one show to another isn’t always a surefire bet. Another case in point: I found Three Brothers low-key charming and took up King’s Family from the same writer, which was probably among of the worst-written dramas I’ve seen, although it had the grace to be over-the-top nutty in a way that made it absurdly entertaining. (The writer’s next weekender, Our Gap-soon, was not so lucky.)


Father, I’ll Take Care of You

What makes these dramas such comfort food for me is because sometimes you want to be able to engage with something emotionally without necessarily straining to follow it intellectually. That doesn’t mean these shows are dumb, of course, but rather that they speak to a different source of gratification. I think there’s often an impulse to defend one’s choices, because we see taste as an indicator of discernment, or maybe even intelligence. (When really, taste is just taste!) Or maybe there’s that urge to label something a guilty pleasure before someone else has the chance to put it down, or to feel hurt when others don’t have the same warm reactions. I regret ever wasting time thinking along those lines, because life’s too short to make choices based on what other people might think of them, and I’m already busy enough trying to watch the things I want to watch!

Because that kind of thinking presupposes that we all watch television for the same reasons, to be challenged intellectually and stimulated by complex characters and thoughtful plots and Oscar-level performances. Really, though, entertainment is its own end, and we’re all free to define what entertains us as we see fit. There’s no absolute standard for entertainment; anything that makes me feel and react is something to be valued. If I could do any one thing with Dramabeans, it’s to empower us all to embrace what makes us happy and what we enjoy. Whether that’s brain-twisting complexity, insightful character developments, goofy romances, or family dramas that provide a cocoon of comfort and make you feel at home.


Father Is Strange

 
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This is me! When I started to watch korean dramas, I never thought of watching this kind of genre. Mostly because I'm afraid of the makjang-fest ( I have too much of them before ) and the length scares me. I decided to embrace them a few years ago. But I'm still stuck with KBS mostly.

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I'm a sucker of familiar setups or I can even say its my catnip and as a bonus I even get to watch 2-3 love stories in a single drama

I think I've watched quite a number of family dramas in just 4 years f my K-drama watching started with Ojakyo Brothers and went on with Sons of Sol Pharmacy, Smile You, My Husband Got a Family, What Happens to My Family?, All About My Mom and the lengthiest drama is Ugly Alert but I still loved watching each episode and never felt boring as they are usually warmhearted with thoroughly fleshed out characters.

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The only family drama that I had watched is Father, I'll Take Care of You. True, family drama is full with makjang, but family drama is kinda easy to watch imo. Father is Strange and The Gentlemen of Wolgyesu Tailor Shop are on my watchlist. Gosh, I wish I've time to watch 50+ episodes of family drama.

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My advice. if you want to see a slice of life family drama, see KBS drama. In your watchlist, What Happens With My Family should be added, and in fact was more enjoyable than Wolgyesu Tailor Shop.

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Thanks for the suggestion! I'll check it out when I'm in the craving for family drama.

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hyung shik and nam ji hyun was cute together!

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U shud try All About My Mom !
The show was really giving me heartbreak headache happiness all in one jar.
The acting chops was on point!

I've seen many maknae couple in family dramas, but Jo Bo Ah & Choi Tae Joon chemistry take the cake♥️ .
Their love story feel the realest to us

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Love a good family drama but then I really like the crazy at times. My favorite family drama of all time is New Tales of Gisaeng followed by Five Children.

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New Tales of Gisaeng! How could I forget about that drama. It gave me good cry when I watched it long time ago.

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Are you sure you don't just like Sung Joon? ;)

Five Children was my obsession when I finally started watching it. I binge-watched that show so hard, even during my breaks at work. So, so great.

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Sung HOON! Darn that J and H being so close together on my phone lol.

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Five Children is the ultimate drama of all dramas (not including the saeguks or Healer). I tuned in for Sung Hoon but his character didn't appear until the third episode (I think). I'd almost say his couple romance stole the show except everything else was just so darn good.

I'd be watching a scene and into the story of that couple/family and when the scene switched, I'd be "Oh no! Not yet! " And then I'd get into the scene it switched to and have the exact same reaction: NO! NOT YET! *lather, rinse, repeat*

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Five Children, What happens with my family, Ojakyo Brothers and now Father is Strange!!
Love family dramas!!

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How come the High Kick series haven't been mentioned??! I loved High kick 3 and its what addicted me to the family dramas and was the first 50 hour format i gobbled up!

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High Kick isn't a weekend family franchise! They were daily sitcoms with 30-minute episodes that numbered in the 150+ range.

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Ohh didn't realise this was a properly defined category in itself! And guess i was soo into high kick that i didn't notice it was actuality 150+ episodes! Hehe

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I loved New Tales of Gisaeng too. Sung Hoon's deep voice which kept me back then

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Ah Da-mo ❤️

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<3

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I LOVED Five Children!!! I wanted to watch NToG but due to mixed reviews procrastinated it....

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Yess for Five Children! I initially watch for Sung Hoon and Shin Hye Sun, but ended up rooting for all the character. It was a great show.

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I guess I won't have to send in my entry because this is exactly what I wanted to talk about and Javabeans said it all, reading and nodding my head with everything said here!

"I appreciate that they take the time to explore other types of love relationships, because not everything in real life is about romantic love." This is why I started family dramas and this is why I love them!

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Same here-- JB said much of what I would've written. My ultimate catnip now is poignancy-- I still dearly love a good romance, but those profoundly moving moments that pierce my heart (I especially love them when accompanied by humor) found in heartwarming family dramas (as well as other shows like the Answer Me series) are what I cherish the most.

I fully agree about the value of family dramas having time to explore other types of love relationships. Uee and Joo Won were an awesome OTP in Ojakkyo Brothers, but I loved the Uee + Kim Ja-ok (her mother-in-law) pairing just as much. The pairing that touched me the most in Sons of Sol Pharmacy House was Brutus (Jo Jin-woong) and his wife's haraboji (Byun Hee-bong).

I used to eschew predictability (I still do if it's just lazy writing), but now I often find myself relishing the familiar. Even though it was obvious from a mile away what was going to happen in almost every storyline in Father Is Strange, I've so enjoyed just watching it all play out. This kind of family drama really is like comfort food-- you already know what it's going to taste like, and even just anticipating it is pleasurable.

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It boggles the mind that Brutus ends up being Lee Jae Han from Signal!

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Not to mention The maknae brother becoming Healer! How many stars that drama has churned out?

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LOL A knitting Healer to boot!

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HOLD UP. You just made me realize this fact. Holy cow. Brutus was my favorite in Sons of Sol Pharmacy because he brought such heart. And in Signal, his acting was so compelling and memorable.

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The timing of this post is a little uncanny for me, because I've literally just started wondering if I should watch a family drama. I've never seen one, actually, but everyone's posts (and screenshots) of Father Is Strange have been gradually drawing me in, and I've begun to wonder if I was writing off a whole kind of drama for no real reason---length, mostly. Anyway I loved this post--it hits on a lot of things I've wondered about or considered myself, in (as usual :P) a more eloquent and thorough way. Maybe I'll take the leap into family dramas after all!

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If you're only ever going to watch one (maybe two) family dramas in your life, let them be Father Is Strange and Five Children. Both from KBS, both amazingly written dramas with heartwarming characters and a lot of funny moments. Gentlemen of Wolgyesu Tailor shop was a good drama too although it had moments where it got slow, especially after it was extended to 54 episodes from 50 episodes. It aired between Five Children and Father Is Strange.

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Five Children was the first show I watched without subtitles. At 6 in the morning. And then later in the day as the subs appeared. I adored it.
I have now started to do the same with Father is Strange.

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i've never heard of Five Children before this, but I'm excited to look into it now. 50 eps does seem like a lot...but lately I'm watching a lot of Mon-Tues shows, so I need something to get me through the rest of the week #addictedmuch

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I have wanted to watch five children for a while, but never really have the time to. Also, i think it is not in Viki. For me it is easy yo watch in Viki.... but i will take your advise, because 50 episodes is a lot!!!!

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I watched it on Viki and it only has 30 episodes or 32 but definitely not 50.

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Five Children had 54 episodes as it got extended due to popularity.

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@dfwkimchi my bad, I went to look it up and it was indeed 54 episodes. It's so weird because it didn't feel like 54 at all.

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seems like it goes fast, though! excited--thanks :D

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I really like TGoWTS too. I was actually happy when Lee Dong Gun and Jo Yoon Hee hot hitched for real. ?

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ooOo ok! thank you for these recommendations <3

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Father is Strange is an excellent place to get your toes wet. :-)

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What Happens to My Family is a good one too!! Make sure to have a tissue box handy

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ooh! I have heard of this one! and it did look tempting. Good to know--thank you!

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The good thing about family dramas is that you're not necessarily obligated to watch every single scene. Whereas your standard miniseries tends to revolve around a lead couple and everything that happens has ramifications for them, with family dramas there are so many story threads that it's okay to skip one or two if you feel bored with them. (For example, I'm mostly indifferent to the pregnant sister-in-law storyline in Father is Strange, so I usually skip her scenes entirely or at the very least watch them in double-time.)

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If you're bored, Jang Bori Is Here will wake you right up. Makjang craziness that you can't stop watching. It's the only 50-episode drama I remember finishing, although I think I'll get through Father Is Strange, which I love so far.

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Jang Bori is here is amazing. I watched it to preoccupy myself and ended up binge watching it! lol! I love Lee Yoo-ri, Man she can really act nasty! Love it! she was so cute on Running Man.

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Just like you, I also tried watching Father is Strange because of posts and screenshots I see on Instagram. It looks like everyone is hooked now on the show. Lucky all the episodes are available on Youtube that's why I was able to binge watch and catch up with it. It has great story and my mother is now also watching it after we watched the re-runs on KBS World. This is the first weekend family-oriented drama I watched. I feel bored and sick now on mini-series plot lines.

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I think nobody has mentioned My Husband Got a Family (2012). It's the only family drama I have followed from start to finish with all my heart invested in it. Just enough makjang and lots of fun (and a dose of heartbreaks, too).

I loved this show so much so when the writer started My Love From the Star, I'm in instantly.

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I watched it and loved Bang Yi-Sook and Chun Jae-Yong

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I enjoy the odd comfort food family drama every once in a while, but... I kinda cheat. Never do I watch the whole thing. Both in terms of episodes and plot lines. At the beginning, I kinda leapfrog through episodes until the stories start getting some traction (or past any backstories) and then, once I have the lay of the land, I narrow my viewing down to the one or two plot lines I give a flying fig about. Sometimes I know going in which plot line I'm in it for, sometimes I'm unexpectedly surprised as to which characters I care about. But if anyone veers towards makjang, they get the same fast forwarding treatment as everyone else until they regain their sanity. I may be ruthless, but it keeps things light and there are still HOURS to watch.

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"...until they regain their sanity." Truer words have never been spoken. ?

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Noh Hee-kyung's "More Beautiful Than a Flower" got me interested in family dramas. I don't think it was a weekend family drama but it was so real and hearty that it got me interested in checking out more family dramas coupled with some of my favorite sageuks veterans.
One of these days I'll go back and watch "Beautiful Days."

Grandpa Lee Soon-jae "Childless Comfort"
Yoo Dong-geun "What Happens to My Family?"
Kim Yeong-cheol "My Father is Strange."
I tried "Father, I'll Take Care of You" for Park Eun-bin but dropped it halfway.

"(When really, taste is just taste!)"
That's very true. I don't let the rating decide what I like or want to watch and I'm not watching dramas to impress anyone. I watch what I like.
I'm trying to be more sensitive to other viewer's taste that aren't the same as mine. I have my favorites but to be honest I like everything but it depends on what I'm in the mood for.

Thank you for this JB <3.

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I was going to mention More Beautiful Than a Flower too-- when I watched the first ep., I didn't think it was going to be my cup of tea, but I stuck with it and it ended up being one of my all-time favorite dramas. I haven't watched Dear My Friends yet, but from what I gather, people who loved that drama would probably also appreciate More Beautiful Than a Flower. Noh Hee-kyung at her best.

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I jumped into "What Happens To My Family" on its 17/18th (?) episode based on the recommendation of a usually snarky blogger who was singing praises for Park Hyun Sik and Nam Ji Hyun. First time watching them and loved them there. Also fell for Kim Hyun Joo, loved her char. Heck, I was even warming up to Park Seo Joon, after not liking him much in CSL and Suspicious Housekeeper, until THAT drama happened. ?

For longish weekenders, I usually wait for recommendations from other watchers, trying to avoid starting something which I may drop later. Though I did check out the first couple episodes of Gap Soon, for the main leads. Didn't proceed further because of the shrilly mother in law and mother characters. No regrets there. ?

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@patinalee, is it Seo Kang Joon you meant rather than Park Se Joon? I liked him in a What Happens TMF too! Although Park Hyun Shik really stole that show I think. I only watched it after Strong a Woman and ended up binge watching it straight! Sooo good! I rewatch episodes I love too. WHTMF is a drama gem, although I did skip some scenes too, but only those of the doctor's inlaws. Everyone else's stories are so good.

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Ooppsss! Serious blooper there. Meant to say Seo Kang Joo. Thanks @sargevee for pointing it out.

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I have fond memories of MDSY - that's my first weekend family drama, ever. Took my time starting it, needing like 5 or 6 attempts to finish the first episode, for reasons forgotten. There was no stopping me after that and I ended up loving it. Especially loved Lee Bo Young's char there, how she came to understand and reconciled with her father, and how she learned to love her husband as well.

I also agree with you that the high episode numbers is a great deterrent for starting it in the first place. That's why for me, I'd usually wait for the comments to come in before starting one, if at all. ?

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I can relate to you. I am following Fight My Way and Suspicious Partner but there is really something in Father is Strange which makes me excited every weekends. I can pinpoint the use of fixed set as a home, sometimes overacting reactions (just like Jeonghwan's family especially his mother haha) but I can't help but like it.

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Watch 5 Children. I promise you, you'll finish it.

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Ojakkyo Brothers was adorable! It was also my first family drama and it's still the best weekender for me.

Since then I have 10 episode rule with weekend dramas: I wait a little while to know if it's worthwhile for me, so around episode 10 I watch some scenes and read about it. If I like the characters and find the story engaging, I watch the rest.

For example, I really wanted to like Our Gap-Soon because of the OTP (Kim So Eun e Song Jae Rim), so I was monitoring some scenes, but around episode 10 I found the story didn't work for me at all. No regrets. I still watched some adorable scenes between the two, but the drama itself was a little annoying for me.

Father is Strange is very charming and I really like the majority of the characters. I started watching around episode 10 too and can't wait for the weekend to the next episode! The lenght doesn't feel too long at all.

Between so much fantasy and crimes in the 16 ep dramas nowadays, it's very refreshing to watch everyday struggles of common people. I really like it.

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Oh, here in Brazil and in latin america in general, the daily dramas (we call them novelas) have MORE then 200 episodes each. The story feel SO draggy and repetitive that most people only watch the last week before the ending. I rarely got into one of them.

So when I first started watching kdramas I was SO GLAD the story was constructed like a mini series. Even now I found 50 episodes are the limit for a well told story.

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Ha ha... i also come from Southamerica and as a child i used to watch some "telenovelas" with my family. But it happened something similar: so dragging i couldnt keep on watching, or i simply couldnt out of whatever reason and didnt mind, because it was natural to stop watching until the last episode... LOL

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LOL I'm not from South America but I remember watching my first telenovela. I skipped the middle so much, by the time I got back into it it was so makjang like suddenly the girl's got pregnant and the guy's engaged to someone else and some birth secrets got thrown over LOL. So yeah, I was one of those who skipped everything and only watch few eps before the ending. Guilty as charge.

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I adoreddd this genre since Ojakkyo Brothers and I did follow your mini recaps on Sons of Sol Pharmacy back in the day or was it from another drama site... I watch trendy dramas still but I always come back to family dramas because they're like comfort food. They're so warm and cuddly, the characters and their relationships feel familiar and their worries sometimes relatable. There's always one or two couples that make me squee, bits I have to fast forward and a few eps can be missed here and there... Especially loved Five Kids and What Happens to this Family! Father is Strange is also one of my top faves now.

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Father is Strange is my first try dipping into family drama territory. I only read positive reviews and comments about it, plus I have a soft spot for Jung So min, and her couple shoots with Lee Joon popping here and there were so adorable, so I decided to take a peek at this one genre I was initially reluctant to try in my 10 years of kdrama watching. And surprisingly, I loved it! I can't stop myself from pressing the play next ep button and finished 30 eps in less than 4 days (and made a mess out of my regular drama watching schedule!). I was expecting all sorts of makjang, which I normally hate but willing to brush aside for the sake of new experience, but it turns out I didn't need the ff button after all!

So I'd like to take this opportunity to say (ok, write) this out loud, echoing JB:

I’m sorry for ever doubting you, family dramas!

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Father is strange is my first family drama too. But I started from the current episodes. I hope to watch the earlier epsiodes some time. I think FIS is a rare gem in family dramas compared to all the makjang shows ive heard about. But yes I haven't watched them to judge them. The less stress on my mind that FIS puts is making me interested in family dramas. It is seriously very easy on my mind.

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I haven't watched the recent episodes of Father is Strange but I'm pretty sure I'm gonna continue. Hopefully finish a family drama because as far as I can remember, I haven't finished one and mostly dropped it.

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I have yet to find one of these I like, but I'll never say never!

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What happened to my Family was so good! The episodes flew so fast that I honestly don't how I didn't get bored of it even though I hardly felt the need to skip anything (and I usually ff a lot!).

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I remember starting "What Happens to me family?" thinking that it was a 16 episode drama and boyy was I wrong. It took me too long to realize that it was a family drama and I kept thinking "50 episodes is too much of a commitment". But I stuck with it!! And watching this show was absolutely one of the best experiences I've had.

When family dramas are done right they have this way of capturing your attention, making you wish your family was like the one in the show and stomping on your heart til you cry. And they seem so relatable -- that's the best part. I think getting older has caused me to like shows that are a bit slower and focus on topics other than romance

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A few years ago, I got to the point that even 16-episode drama would feel too long but that was because the loose plotting and they try to drag along with non-sense angst. However, I really enjoy tight-plot, fast-paced, medium-size story namely something like Circle. But family drama is the whole different world. It can be frustrating some of the time, but it also fulls of hearts. One thing is that you can miss a couple of episodes and still be able to keep up.

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I've barely watched any family dramas, mostly because there is very little coverage of them on this and other similar sites, and I am someone who doesn't like watching without having a good idea of where the story is going. (Basically, I'm the opposite of a spoilerphobe - I need spoilers to be able to watch anything.) I actually thought when I started reading this site years ago that javabeans was a bit biased against family dramas, so I'm glad she's given them a chance, but what would be even better is if dramabeans could recap them now and then.

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It's not because of bias that we don't cover them, but because of resources! 50 episodes is a lot, and we would have to skip 3 full miniseries to make room for one family drama (in that we don't have unlimited recappers or time).

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Thank you for the post @javabeans! It's interesting to read the comments as well, which suggest that watching a 50+ drama is a different viewing experience (and it seems, one that uses the ff button more than mini-series).

Recaps are not needed, but if you could, it would be nice to include upcoming weekend dramas in 'Premiere Watch'. It's been very useful to read your thoughts in 'What We're Watching', but I don't watch weekend dramas mainly because I don't know where to start. My only attempt was Thief Nom Thief Nim... and I gave up at episode 4. I had no idea that the director and MBC tend to produce makjang-heavy dramas (apparently).

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I usually abuse the ffwd button and have never been able to finish any family drama until FIS. Father is strange will probably be the first family drama I watch from start to finish. It is also the first family drama I have watched while airing too. This is definitely a new experience for me and am loving every minute of this gem. I like that every character and subplot seems well developed so the story doesn't dwell too much on one issue for too long. Needless to say, I have extra love the weekends these days.

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FIS feels like a different family drama to me. Like you, it's the 1st weekend drama that I have watched/will watch from Ep 1 until the last. I've watched 3 other weekend dramas, and I have used the ff button one too many times and skipped more than 2 episodes at least.

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Family dramas are mostly makjang but what I like about them is they always have a heart. There's always a warmth to them that just draws you in. My all-time favourite would be You Who Rolled in Unexpectedly. Each family felt like a mini-society and all the characters were well-written and well-acted.

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What Happens to my Family is the drama that really hooked me and my husband into Kdramas. We caught a couple of random episodes on KBSWorld and had to go back and find out why the Dad was suing his kids. It was such a wonderful experience. We're currently watching Father is strange and enjoying that and waiting for it all to hit the fan.
When the family drama works it feels like you're watching a novel.

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I love family drama so much ❤ I started to love family drama in the last 5 years. I think KBS has the reputation of making a good family drama compared to other channels. MBC is more makjang-ish and complicated - Father I'll Take Care of You left me bad memories, although not as bad as Our Gap soon (SBS).
Our Gap soon - it shows mess relationships, but too inconsistent, inbalance and dragging, with 10 epi extension made story more ridiculous. I can write 10 pages of my complaints about this show though lol.

I always watch weekend drama, and not necessarily family drama, like I Have A Lover (2015) which is melodrama but still has a part of family aspects. My current favourite is Father Is Strange, and show only has 14 epi left. sobs. I really hope there will be no extension, or if around 2-4 epi, then it is OK. I want to see at least Lee Yu Ri and Lee Joon to get award at the end of the year, I'm pretty sure Lee Yu Ri will get it as she is the most established actress among the casts and has been award receiver for years.

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lol I have a lover.
I felt so stupid back then to get addicted with such a complicated drama but I just can't say no to KimHyunJoo+Jijinhee.

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I was addicted too with IHAL ?? Not sure if it Kim Hyun Joo's effects or what. Whatever awards she and Ji Jin Hee won for this drama not because of popularity ( since the ratings sucks) but they earned it.

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I was addicted to IHAL too and I'd no idea why. It might be because of Kim Hyun Joo and Ji Jin Hee. I remember I early waited for the weekends just to watch this drama. ?

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Those were the days we all waited impatiently for subs, which sometimes took few days ?

Kim Hyun Joo's performance in her dual role was really stellar. If the rating was higher that time, probably daesang will go to her. Ji Jin Hee was also great in his role.

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*eagerly. Omg, typo.

Oh yesss, I remember it took days for them to sub IHAL and I was really mad when it happened. Kim Hyun Joo's really really good in her dual roles. It did make me feel that Do Hae Kang and Dokgo Yong Gi are two different people.

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I loved I Have A Lover too, it was really addictive for the longest time until it started to drag the annoying brother-in-law arc forever. Kim Hyun-joo and Ji Jin-hee have a very superb chemistry. And I'm also sad that Father Is Strange is ending soon.

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LOL true annoying BIL and sister ???

Agree, they have the best chemistry. It was not easy for me to attach for mature couple, but I did with them. I was like wanted to say to younger actors 'look kids, this is how you supposed to be in love' lol. It must be right, old is gold. I attached with them for a very long time. Do Hae Kang is also one of the most interesting female character in kdramaland.

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Kim Hyun-joo's performance in I Have A Lover was really the best of best female performance in recent memory, practically three different characters and personalities. Daesang-worthy indeed!

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I loved I Have A Lover! That was really addicting. Their chemistry was through the roof.

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The chemistry between Kim Hyun Joo and Ji Jin Hee is awesome. It might be because they did act together in Ms Kim's Millionaire Dollar Quest. I remember that I watched that drama again while waiting for the weekend to watch IHAL, that's how addicting they're as actors.

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I'm so happy to know there are beanies who loved IHAL as much I did! This drama OSTs also still in my playlist!

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Ryu's song doesn't it?
it was my lullaby song whenever I couldn't sleep and it help! much!

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I don't know if it's categorised as family drama - but if it's more than 24 eps - it's a long haul drama!!
The first I actually watched was Smile, You. 45 episodes - which I only jumped if for Jung Kyung Ho's sake!! Loved it and then went on to - Likeable or Not (I guess this would be one of the sitcom category). So from dipping toes - I started occasionally looking out for these long haul dramas - and have to date watched Ojakkyo Brothers and What Happens to my Family and even All About My Mom (although there were major parts where I had trouble ploughing through!!). Currently watching Father Is Strange.
I admit to waiting for reviews/recaps and word of mouth (and also am very dependent on who the main cast are) before taking one up because I just feel drained and frustrated when a drama devolves into makjang-fest which is absolutely a major definite catnope for me! ?

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I'm not familiar with Likable or Not-- what's your take on that one?

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It's fairly long - 172 eps to be exact. But Kim Ji Suk and Han Ji Hye were cute, especially Kim Ji Suk. Baek Ho and Dan Pong were captivating - to me. I was invested in them. As with all family dramas/sitcoms, there is a lot of 'drama' happening all around even as you are waiting for the main couple's story to progress, what with the large cast and all, but this was one I actually managed to finish.
Having said that, I'm reviewing this from nostalgic memory and might have on my rose tinted glasses on. :P

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Thanks for replying. I think I need to add a "to skip-watch" category to my "to watch" list. Sometimes mediocre dramas have such a great OTP or storyline that it would be a shame to miss them altogether. Dandelion Family was like that for me: I can't recommend the drama as a whole, but I loved the OTP (Lee Yoon-ji and Kim Dong-wook) and their contract-marriage storyline. Anyway, thanks for the rec!

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Many years ago there was a Youtube account which had all the clips to the main OTP - BaekHo DanPoong - storyline. I used to watch that after the drama was over. I can't seem to find it anymore, sadly.

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I enjoyed Smile, you, it was one of the very first Korean dramas I watched. Later I saw Cheon Ho-Jin in other roles and really appreciated his versatility. Older Korean actors are generally accomplished and versatile, but he impressed me. I followed over to Heaven's Garden, mostly because of the setting, and that was interesting and fairly imaginative.

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I find myself in the same boat. Never thought I would love watching a 50 episode drama when it was hard enough to finish a 24 episode one. That was me... until last year. Now weekend dramas are like comfort food to me, warm and satisfying.

I found myself growing weary of the ever changing short running week-day dramas and craved something more permanent that I could relax and watch over the weekend. That's not to say I don't love my week day mysteries, thrillers and rom coms, I still do.

But my true initiation to weekend family dramas started with Five Children and I fell in love with it, and moved on to Father, I'll take care of You which was quite exasperating and now I'm loving Father is Strange.

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Is Five Children that good? I'd like to start watching it.

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It's good. I wasn't into the love story between Sung Hoon - Shin Hye Sun in this drama like everyone else, but overall I love it. I love main couple and their kids hehe.

I thought you watched it already for Im Soo Hyang? LOL. It's still funny for me, she and Sung Hoon were a couple in New Tale of Gisaeng but in Five Children they became in laws ???

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OMG me too, I didn't like Sung Hoon/ Shin Hye-sun pairing as much as others although they had chemistry I found them a little immature for my taste, I was more interested in the lead couple's story with their children. I cried when the drama ended.

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Same goes to me.

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aw, I'm laughing nervously right now because of your comment. am I that obvious? need to change my profile picture soon lol.
no I haven't watch it just because it feels weird to see ISH and SH ain't couple anymore but stuck together in a drama.
anyway I'd like to give it a shot because everyone else seems to enjoy it.

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Oh no don't feel bad. There's nothing wrong to fangirl an actress because I'm doing the same too ❤

It was weird at first, but it somehow worked after some epi. Especially both ISH and SH characters don't have a feeling with each other although her parents wanted to pair them at the first place ?

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Yes, I assumed Sung Hoon and ISH were cast purposely because of their past popularity with us fans so at first I was leery of getting into shipping the switched couples. I was sure the New Gisaeng couple would end up together. BUT it was so much fun seeing Sung Hoon put through the wringer because the girl he likes is oblivious, super introverted, and in his mind she's not his type but he's inexplicably drawn and the hoops he had to jump through 1) to get her to realize he likes her, insultingly, against his will and 2) convince her that she likes him too when at first, she's not playing push-pull - she really doesn't like him. Is there anything more likely to bring a guy to his knees? lol

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Just a note about Father Is Strange: I loved Kim Young-chul and Kim Hae-sook as the mom and dad in Life Is Beautiful, and I so appreciate their relationship in FIS, too. I love how they both sit at the head of the table, side by side. Sure, they have their disagreements (which makes them relatable), but they really work together as a team and they support one another so beautifully. I want healing for them (in terms of releasing the burden they've been carrying) as much as I do for Joong-hee.

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I love their relationship in Father is Strange. They actually enjoy each other's company (they hold hands!!) and care deeply about each other. Some of the parents in dramas make me question how they've ever end up as husband and wife and make me wonder why they're still together. Mama and Papa Byun gives me hope that the love you have in your youth can last into old age.

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Life is Beautiful!!

Finally, someone mentioned it. This is my all time favorite family drama with the same parents from Father is Strange.

Like others, it takes a while to get used to the 50-ep format and you need to pick good ones to safeguard the time investment. But this is the comfort food I seek especially during drama drought.

There are multiple story lines but you can choose which one to fast-forward. Over time, i realize veteran actors play a big part in making family drama watchable because you need believable performance to let those characters becoming your family members.

Most of my favorites have already been listed by other Beanies like the current Father is Strange and more recently, Five Children. But, Life is Beautuful is one of the most beautiful dramas I've ever watched. The second and third generations all have interesting plot developments but it's the gay OTP that is the heart of the story. So many tears especially for the most dedicated parents in support of their son. Wish more people would watch and love this gem.

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Family dramas were good, way too good to get me addicted but mostly had frustrated ending. They'd better had more satisfying ending.

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Five Children - satisfying

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For the most part, I'm a rom-com gal. However, whenever I come across a family drama that gets me, I commit until the end. My first one was Ojakgyo Brothers! I.just.love.it. It's both fun and heartwarming. I also enjoyed What Happens to My Family and Five Children. Weirdly, I'm not taken by Father is Strange. Anyway, KBS does family drama really well among the big three, in my opinion.

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DB readers who like family dramas and have tolerance for 120 half-hour episodes should tune into "Working Mom, Parenting Daddy", a solid contemporary family drama with minimal makjang happenings. It's much more in the Family Drama category than in the Daily Drama category. There's plenty of social commentary without being preachy, as the writer lets the story do the talking. It looks like an easy watch on the surface, but there is a lot to think about afterward.

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I've been wanting to watch some family dramas, but it's hard to find recommendations, I've watched:
- Five Children, which I LOVED!
- Legendary witch and You're the best Lee Soon Shin, which were okay.
- My Daughter Geum Sa Wol and Rosy Lovers, which I HATED (but still finished, go figure ?).
So basically, I find them really hit and miss. If anyone has any recommendations based on these I would be VERY grateful :)

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I have very limited family drama experience, but I would bravely recommend "What Happens to my Family?"

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Yes, that drama was amazing! They manage to create interesting family dramas without makjang elements at all! Crazy isn't it? You Who Rolled Unexpectedly was also amazing.

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Thank you for the recommendations :) I will definitely check them out.

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I loved Five Children. I would recommend New Tales of the Gisaeng. It does get loopy for about 3-4 episodes around the episodes near the end (guessing the mid 40 episodes) but it rights itself and finishes strong. I enjoyed it because of my curiosity about the gisaeng culture (and, of course, Sung Hoon).

I also enjoyed Smile, again Donghae but it had repetitive bits where you're like "not this character again doing what she's doing again and this other character falling for it... again" but they had waaay too many episodes to fill. But I'm a die-hard Ji Chang Wook fan and I tend to sit through anything when my biases are in them. That said, I'd advise avoiding Bachelor's Vegetable Store like the plague (unless you've watched everything JCW's been in and are just missing him too much once he goes into the military).

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Omg, is that Ji Chang-wook in the Sons of Sol Pharmacy photo? It totally is! I remember watching that show because Dramabeans has always been my K-drama bible and I always thought highly of Javabeans' recommendations, so seeing it being recapped and talked about on here was enough for me to check it out. It turned out to be a lot of fun to watch, so yay!

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Family dramas that I watch are usually on KBS World. What Happens To My Family, My Husband Has A Family, Sons Of Sol Pharmacy.. Those are my favourites. The worst to me is King's Family. I hate almost everyone in it.

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You used the screenshot of one of my favorite moments in all of my kdrama watching. I'm finding that I'm coming around to family dramas too. Sure they're really long and there are a lot of them that depict unlikable people in makjang situations. However, it doesn't matter if they're 16 or 24 or 50 episodes long, you can usually tell what you're getting into within the first few weeks of the drama and make the decision to drop if need be. And what's the matter with a 50 episode drama if I can watch like many 6+ season American series?

However, I think the rewards of finding a gem can be huge, since you can really get attached to all these people in the family and see them grow. And once you've grown to like the characters, you get to have them for 3 times longer than your usual primetime show. I've been enjoying Father is Strange immensely and it may be the first family drama I'm fully completing without skips. I remember enjoying most of Sons of Sol Pharmacy and Smile You, but I think the subs to those longer shows weren't as easily available as they are now, so I eventually gave up. I watched a heck load of clips from What Happens to My Family and am really tempted to start it. I also need to finish Laurel Tree Tailors.

And it's nice to see family moments when in primetime, so many characters seem isolated from their families (and sometimes also isolated from real friends) or are just orphaned.

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My first family drama series is probably Life is Beautiful (SBS-2010) starring Lee Sang Yoon and Song Chang Eui. It was the first time getting a peek into a traditional family setting of Koreans. Beautiful Days (starring Lee Seo Jin and Kim Hee Sun) and My Daughter Seo Young (starring Lee Sang Yoon and Lee Bo Young) were so addictive and heart wrenching to watch. Right now, I am watching Father is Strange, which I enjoy the JH and MY stories more than the other siblings.

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My love-hate relationship for family dramas began with Lee Soon-Shin, You're the Best. I loved the central couple (played by IU and Jo Jung-Seok) but hated the birth secret that made for 50 episodes of teeth-gnashing makjang and irrationally angry characters. Once burned... To this day, I am very hesitant in watching any family drama. I will be perusing the comments carefully to see if there's a family drama to be enjoyed without too much regret.

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Writing family dramas without makjang elements could be a very hard job for scriptwriters. However, I have seen some successful example of good family dramas with very little to none makjang elements, such as What Happened to My Family and You Who Rolled Unexpectedly. You should try the two dramas.

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I can't say it enough - Five Children. It's much more rom-comy throughout with a few touching moments and of course, it wouldn't be Kdrama without annoying in-laws but that's all played for funny as well.

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Smile you/Smile Honey of Jung Kyung Ho and Lee Min Jung is a good Family drama too. I felt like they are real family and their interaction to each other are great. The side stories are good too. It's funny and romantic at the same time. I don't know if East of Eden is considered a family drama but it's good one of the best like Baker King Kim Takgu :D

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Wow! What an article! Does JB expect us to write our thoughts to match her writing skill levels?? Because I definitely can't ?

And the only family drama I've seen is Ojakkyo Brothers & I liked it. The only reason I don't watch family dramas is because I can't, the 50+ episodes need some dedication & I don't want to give up a drama halfway because I didn't have the time.

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Love the last part of this post. Thank you Javabeans :)

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I relate to you Javabeans. Laurel Tree Tailors hooked me in with its campy leads and predictable vibe and Father Is Strange is keeping me hooked with its spunk.

But it was the over-the-top nutty 100 Year Inheritence that actually bought me into this genre! ?

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Oh who can forget 100 Inheritance! I marathoned that one after seeing DB recommendation here and that was addictive! In my opinion it was more makjang than King's family. It was like watching an oncoming wreck you just cannot look away!

I marathoned Ojakyo Brothers on a friend's recommendation and enjoyed that one.

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I watching Father is Strange and Unnie Is Alive for weekend dramas. Father is Strange is warm but i feel draggy some times, that I find hard to catch up new eps. Unnie Is Alive is a makjang (i watch all writer dramas), the story is addicted and really big.

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i still can't watch the family drama until end
there are so much distraction from other serials or mini dramas ?

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I like weekend family dramas. You can just watch the first 10 episodes, drop it for a bit and come back for the juicy last 15-10 episodes. Hahaha. But daily family dramas, still too much for me.

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i'm not into family dramas. actually i'm still considerably new to the kdrama land without much experience of thousand-something-dramas, but in the short span that i have been following kdramas, i think my tastes have also changed a wee-bit. i used to like all sorts of crime thrillers, be it english, american, indian (although that one is long forgotten) and of course, korean. my fav is still 'i remember you', but i've also navigated the muddy waters of unfamiliar genres and come to like cute, romantic, comic effects or fantasy dramas and sageuks to an extent too. although, cute and romantic is the definition of kdramas, i was always more inclined towards criminal geniuses and plot revealing that most of the directors and writers get right, or even the simple mysteries unfolding in a simply different genre's story; but comic effects like in W or Goblin (as a fantasy and not for the sageuk, that was so emotional...) and now looking forward to the bride of Habaek, the set trajectory of a protagonists journey and the way they flout, bend, or twist the rules is fun to watch!

and of course, the major credit goes to dramabeans :) <3

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i'm not into family dramas. actually i'm still considerably new to the kdrama land without much experience of thousand-something-dramas, but in the short span that i have been following kdramas, i think my tastes have also changed a wee-bit. i used to like all sorts of crime thrillers, be it english, american, indian (although that one is long forgotten) and of course, korean. my fav is still 'i remember you', but i've also navigated the muddy waters of unfamiliar genres and come to like cute, romantic, comic effects or fantasy dramas and sageuks to an extent too. although, cute and romantic is the definition of kdramas, i was always more inclined towards criminal geniuses and plot revealing that most of the directors and writers get right, or even the simple mysteries unfolding in a simply different genre's story; but comic effects like in W or Goblin (as a fantasy and not for the sageuk, that was so emotional...) and now looking forward to the bride of Habaek, the set trajectory of a protagonists journey and the way they flout, bend, or twist the rules is fun to watch!

and of course, the major credit goes to dramabeans :) <3 :D
another thanks for this new thread of conversations :D

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In my 15 years of watching korean dramas, I can count in a single hand the number of weekend dramas I've watched. Weekend dramas seem to scare me. If I do follow one, more often than not, I have skipped some episodes or a few minutes in episodes that I watched. But surprisingly, "Father is Strange" is setting some sort of history. I have not missed a single episode and has skipped just a few minutes (mostly Hyeyoung MIL scenes). Thirty six episodes in and I am still interested sometimes hooked with some complaints here and there (how long are we keeping JH's birth secret?).

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In my country, these "family dramas" are called "telenovelas". The typical setting was: they would start promising, develop dragging, absurd and crazy, and end happily, even for the wicked ones!!!!!
I had watched few as a child (even though they were not recommended for children audience but the adults around me did not care?)... Happily, of course, I was clever and I eventually i stopped watching them.
Now it is been some 4 years since i discover the K Dramas, and i have never watched a 50-er episode family drama because of dreading the same "promising-absurd-happy end" trope, but who knows, maybe one day i will start paying attention to your recommendations here.

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I, too, never would have thought I'd get into family dramas but this year most of the few dramas I ended up finishing were actually weekenders. Who'd have thought, huh? I agree with what javabeans said, I like how I can watch it passively at times and I find comfort in the familiarity of the set-up. My favorites include Smile You, Ojakgyo Brothers, What Happens With My Family, All About Mom, and I Have A Lover (which is sort of a family drama but not?).

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^ The dramas above aren't in any particular order but if we're talking about chemistry between the leads, my picks would have to be Smile You and I Have A Lover.

I also watched parts of My Daughter Seoyoung and The Gentlemen of Wolgyesu Tailor Shop but lost interest halfway. Planning to check out Father Is Weird next time.

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I Have A Lover - I want weekday drama give us more Do Hae Kang or complex female characters with more layers like her.

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Thank you Javabeans for this post.
I finally tried family dramas starting with Father is strange after seeing all the good reviews it got in What we're watching .
It's a drama so I find familiar things and tropes, but the overall atmosphere, colors, relationships explored and the possibility to have multiple stories within one drama all related beacause it's one family, for me it's like the little rest of doing nothing sitting on the couch after a long day of work, and like everyday duties calling you back to reality there are some makjang elements, step mother with a fake cast never apologising ^^' *inner peace* .

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Because we are talking about family dramas, I would like to ask an important request.... I am looking for a rather old family drama, The Golden Era of Daughter-In-Law. I am pretty sure it was TV ripped from KBS World by Devil Slob, but it was now gone from the Internet. Does anyone have access to it? I really wanted to watch Lee Sookyung and Kim Jihoon couple in action.

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Oh my gosh! I too have been trying to find that show! I still have not found a site that has all the episodes!

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Awww i tear up with this: "If I could do any one thing with Dramabeans, it’s to empower us all to embrace what makes us happy and what we enjoy... (and) provide a cocoon of comfort and make you feel at home.
This is why Dramabeans is the best kdrama site ever. ?

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I love family dramas! I got into them with a friend's recommendation with What happened with my family and I loved it so much. I cried in my sleep after the final episode, I find them so heartwarming, touching and comforting. I have not watched another one since due to the length but I have many of them on my watchlist and I want to start Father is strange because of everyone's comments.

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