Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching
by DB Staff
How did the finales stack up for you this week? There were a number of shows to say goodbye to, and I’m always surprised by how differently I’ll feel about a show at the beginning and at the end of it. Were there any dramas that you were particularly sad to part with, or have you already cleared the way for something new? –girlfriday
Currently recapping: Seven Day Queen
Lookout: I liked that the team suffered a loss—it seemed more realistic that way, and I think losing one of the good guys helped make the final episodes weightier, and the sendoff more poignant. I just wish the final face-off had been more interesting (or remotely believable), because for the life of me I didn’t understand how a teenager could outsmart seven good guys and a bomb squad. I’m pretty sure at least three of them were smart, and the rest had guns! That kid tried my patience, but everything else about the show was so fun, and snazzy in a way that didn’t feel empty.
Suspicious Partner: I would’ve enjoyed this more if it had ended two weeks ago, because the final quarter felt really slow compared to the rest of the series. But one of the things I ended up loving was the frenemies-turned-friends arc for the girlfriends, because sassy Ji-hae was a hoot, and I would’ve loved more of their roommate hijinks. For me, Suspicious Partner worked well as a romance and not so well as a legal thriller, so the mashup wasn’t as smooth as I would’ve liked, and I’m not all that sorry to see it go. But Ji Chang-wook and Nam Ji-hyun should totally date in real life.
Fight My Way: I really enjoyed the small stories and the everydayness of four friends going to work and figuring out relationships and messing things up while finding their place in the world. It felt normal and comforting, and even though I think success for our characters came a little too easily plotwise over the course of our drama, I never felt that it came easily character-wise—looking back on the years they’d struggled in the past made their successes feel rightfully earned with every drop of sweat accounted for. This show just hit a really relatable note for me, and it got extra points for always bringing the funny.
Bride of the Water God 2017: They’re still depending a lot on the fish-out-of-water setups to carry the drama, which isn’t a bad thing, but I am curious about where we go from here. I did get excited when Ha-baek powered up and got to be a flashy superhero (for a good minute), so I’m looking forward to the fantasy going full-steam ahead.
The Best Hit: I’m getting super invested in this loveline, which might be a dangerous thing to do, except I can’t help it. Yoon Shi-yoon just keeps doing swoony thing after swoony thing, and there’s no way out. Help.
Woman of Dignity: Once I gave up on the idea of the show being a satire, it became a bit more bearable. I’m realizing that while I personally don’t enjoy it all that much, it’s still telling a coherent story, which counts for something. It’s a story I feel like I’ve seen before in a million other iterations, and I’m not exactly sure why this specific story needed to be told, but I have a feeling things will pick up once Ah-jin’s relationship with Ki-ho gains more momentum.
My Sassy Girl: Normally I try to write these blurbs shortly after watching the episodes because I have a goldfish memory, but I didn’t this week, and now I can’t think of anything to say about this show. Something about a Ghost Mask that unfortunately reminds me of Joo-won in a role he’s so far been unable to top? All I got from these episodes is that Jungshin is taller than everyone. I was seriously hopeful that they’d find a brilliant way to use him by making him Ghost Mask, but that’d mean they’d have to 1) break their cardinal rule of not making him a meaningful part of any scene, and 2) make an actual effort.
Forest of Secrets: You know that feeling you get when everything and everyone is just so good that you start to worry, because if they’re that good, then Chungmuro will take them away and never give them back? Maybe this is just me being paranoid, but Bae Doo-na is such a revelation in dramaland (even though she has a very successful film career) that I know this is one of those lightning in a bottle situations that won’t happen every year. The last drama she did was in 2010, and it’d be a disservice for her to do a drama that’s of poorer quality than Forest of Secrets now… but that’ll be such an impossibly high bar that I’m trying to soak in her performance—and everyone else’s—while I can.
Ruler–Master of the Mask: At least Yoo Seung-ho’s back from army and won’t be going anywhere. It just makes me sad, because he can be so amazingly compelling in a sageuk role (I still remember Warrior Baek Dong-soo fondly), but this role just gave him too little to do. There was so much potential for this entire show, but at every turn, the writers took the path of least resistance, leading to undercooked characters and storylines. Guess you can’t win ‘em all.
Currently recapping: My Sassy Girl
Fight My Way: Overall, I really enjoyed this refreshing, realistic, and modern rom-com. Loved the zippy and oftentimes poignant writing as well as the cast, and I loved laughing with the motley crew every week. The only aspect that I wasn’t satisfied with was the Hwang Bok-hee storyline; it really wasn’t necessary, and I just think it’s a stretch for a mom that’s been MIA for all of Ae-ra’s life to suddenly be so chummy with her so quickly. Anyway, I burst out laughing when Seol-hee’s burly brothers appeared, and I’m probably going to miss sweet and quietly strong Seol-hee the most. Fight My Way wasn’t perfect, but it did consistently bring a smile to my face.
Forest of Secrets: Sometimes, when I love a show so much, I save it and delay watching it, and that’s precisely what I’m doing with Forest even though it sounds counterintuitive. Gah, I love it so!
Fight My Way: Ae-ra and Dong-man’s reason for breaking up was such a non-issue. His dream to be a martial arts fighter and his love for his craft is such an integral part of who Dong-man is, that if Ae-ra wants him to give that up, she’s essentially telling him to stop being himself. Without how fighting has shaped his identity, Dong-man wouldn’t be the man that Ae-ra loves today so it’s a catch-22 scenario. Does she want the real Dong-man or just his shell? Ugh, and the deus ex machina resolution of his tinnitus seemed too convenient; I think instead of suddenly barraging us with a whole bunch of birth secret reveals in the last episodes, it might have been better to explore the wealth of conflict related to how physical disability could prevent dreams from happening, and that would have been a much more nuanced and complex arc than this general upward easy trend we’ve been seeing in their trajectories these past weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good happy ending, but it just feels so much more gratifying when there are substantial obstacles that are overcome to get to it.
Seven Day Queen: Binge-watched. Loved it until midway and it became an angst-fest with the heroine acting like a noble idiot. There’s sometimes such a huge contrast between the tone of the show, from a cheerful flirtatious vibe between the lovers and then the torture and death of other characters that the rapid transitions seem jarring. But, I must say, this sageuk’s hanbok game is on point. Compared to Hwarang, Rebel, My Sassy Girl, and numerous other sageuks I’ve watched this year, Seven Day Queen is killing it in the elegance department.
Currently recapping: Forest of Secrets
The Best Hit: I finally got a chance to marathon this one last week, and it’s so funny and cheeky and full of love! The characters are loveable and hilarious, and I love all the little meta nods to 1N2D. I do wish that the show hadn’t decided to go for the love triangle between father, son, and Woo-seung, though—it’s weird and uncomfortable, and it kills my hopes for a bromance between the two guys. I was a bit baffled and dismayed by the repeated obvious rom-com tropes that seem to be following Hyun-jae and Woo-seung like flashing neon signs indicating Destined True Love… until that La La Land parody, which makes me think this may all be a misdirect, and that we’re being trolled in the most epic of fashions by Yoo PD and Cha Tae-hyun. And if that’s the case, I would be delighted (and laugh my rear off).
Father Is Strange: Oh, poor Joong-hee. It makes it even worse for him to find out the truth after telling his mom that he was happy with his fake family in a way he never was in her house. To find out that the father he believed in so much was actually lying to him the whole time must feel like the worst kind of betrayal. I’m frustrated by Dad, who should have followed his conscience and confessed a long time ago, but I’ve been steadily growing angrier at Mom, who continually emotionally blackmails her husband, and thinks that protecting her kids’ reputations is more important than making up for the psychological trauma they’ve caused Joong-hee by stealing his dad’s identity. “I’m a terrible woman, and I’ll pay for my sins in hell” is not a blanket excuse you’re allowed to use so that you can trample on others’ rights, not even if those crimes were committed in the name of love.
Lookout: What an intense ride! I marathoned most of it, which made the twists and turns super enjoyable (and way less stressful), and then watched the last two weeks’ episodes as they aired. I loved how gripping and unpredictable the show was from the very first frame. Everything up to the congressional hearing was awesome and satisfying, but Se-won’s kidnapping derailed the plot. All of a sudden trained cops and vigilantes were making stupid decisions and getting completely played by Psycho Junior—and that made the ultimate tragedy more frustrating than heartbreaking, because it didn’t feel earned. Nor did I feel like we got a good explanation of where the rest of our Lookouts ended up after that time jump. Are they secretly employed by the government? Still on the lam? Still, the drama was action-packed, emotionally engaging, perfectly scored, and incredibly well-acted, especially by Lee Shi-young and Kim Young-kwang, who killed it. I’m just going to imagine that one day, Suji will meet the two people she misses the most, waiting for her in heaven so they can finally be a family. *wipes tear*
Fight My Way: Aww, it’s over. I’ll miss these lovable, gorgeous, heartwarming idiots. The last few episodes didn’t have the electric, heart-pounding feels of the first half, but the show left me with a warm feeling and I was happy with where the characters ended up—so I count it as a win.
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (July 8, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (July 1, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (June 24, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (June 19, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (June 9, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (June 3, 2017)
Tags: Bride of the Water God 2017, Father Is Strange, Fight My Way, Forest of Secrets, Lookout, My Sassy Girl, Ruler–Master of the Mask, Seven Day Queen, Suspicious Partner, The Best Hit, What We're Watching, Woman of Dignity