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[2017 Year in Review] My queue in 2017: Where dramas go to die


Legend of the Blue Sea

By @anonybean

Earlier this year, I wrote about how my father’s cancer diagnosis affected my drama watching. During the time that my dad was in treatments, I slurped up shows indiscriminately, gulping dramas in giant, bingey draughts. My drama consumption was constant, and I was endlessly sated. It was glorious. I should have known it wouldn’t last.

Since my father’s recovery and my subsequent return to emotional normalcy (things I’m both endlessly thankful for!), I’ve found that my interaction with dramas has shifted yet again. I’m now sampling shows with the highbrow haughtiness of a wine connoisseur. I can’t say this is a good thing.

The thing is, I’m not trying to find something wrong with dramas. Quite the opposite! I want them all to be amazing. I eagerly scan premiere watches, swirling each new show in my glass, admiring the look, feel, and fragrance before taking my first sip. Then the show actually hits my palate, and it all goes downhill. At least, that’s been my experience during the bulk of 2017. Of the twenty-six shows I sampled over the past year, I only finished eight of them. That’s right. Eight.

Somehow, my queue has become the place where dramas go to die.


School 2017

I really don’t know how this happened because honestly, I am not that picky. All I want are a few likable characters, some emotional heft, and a comprehensible narrative through line. Really, is that too much to ask? Apparently so. The eighteen unfinished dramas in my queue stand in silent witness.

Some of the worst disappointments this year came from shows that started out strong before mellowing into utter blandness (Temperature of Love). Others served up lovable characters and memorable performances but somehow lacked sufficient tension to keep me hooked—even with exotic locales, sweeping historical backstory, shenanigans, swoony romance, and murder (Legend of the Blue Sea). With some dramas, I didn’t keep up because I only cared about one tiny storyline (Father, I’ll Take Care of You), while others I quit in a door-slammy huff over what felt like a narrative bait-and-switch (The Best Hit). There were dramas I liked but forgot about and somehow never finished (Live Up to Your Name), and dramas that left me shrugging because while on paper everything I wanted was there, in execution the show just didn’t do anything for me (While You Were Sleeping).

The shows I actually finished weren’t perfect either, but when I took a step back to evaluate, I realized that all the dramas I actually finished had something in common. Each was, in some way, deeply satisfying.


Rescue Me

In one instance, small plot payoffs served to foreshadow even greater emotional growth and delightfully satisfying victories (School 2017). In another, I discerned crystal-clear trajectories for each character and cheered them on as they worked their warm, quirky ways toward personal fulfillment (Because This Life Is Our First). In one drama, I cared much less about the somewhat nonsensical serial killer plotline and much more about the main couple’s issue-riddled emotional arc—an arc that ultimately came to a satisfying conclusion (Suspicious Partner).

In at least one case, I made it through an entire drama because, come hell or high water, I simply couldn’t not know how everything turned out (Rescue Me). Though the ultimate dénouement left something to be desired, the show’s driving intensity—not to mention my sheer emotional investment in the characters (okay, my sheer emotional investment in Dong-chul)—dragged me inevitably to the finish. And while I didn’t find the conclusion completely satisfying, I derived great satisfaction from knowing that after so many disappointments during 2017, dramaland was still capable of sucking me in.

And isn’t that what we all want? To find a show that drags us out of our own heads and transports us to other realities, other lives? Ultimately, I’m thankful that in 2017, I was able to find eight shows that did just that.

 
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I was exactly the same this year, constantly putting dramas on hold or dropping them after one ep. I only finished 9 shows from this year and several of them I had to make myself finish. Every time I started a drama I tried not to have too high expectations, while still hoping to be wow'ed, but I kept ending up disappointed for one reason or another.

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i am totally seeing a pattern.. 2014 was decent.. 2015 was lacklustre barring answer me and six flying ad some here and there... 2016 again was rock solid in terms of dramas that garnered interest.. 2017 flails in comparison.. seems 2018 would rock

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I also stopped watching "Father I'll Take Care Of You" for exactly the same reasons - 50 episodes is too much for some height difference and cute romance.

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I hit send accidentally before I had a chance to say I'm so happy your father is better!! <3

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I know! 50 was way too much, and on top of that, 2017 was a busy year for me. I could hardly keep up with grocery shopping, let alone dramas. About 10 episodes in, I thought, "Ain't nobody got time for this." I read the final few recaps and was satisfied.

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I skipped to the last episode (*whispers* there was some Noble Idiocy towards the end of the series), I left sort of satisfied?

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BTW, where did you find the recaps for FITCOY? I only found some for the later episodes, not for all of them.

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A blog? I think? It took some deep googling.

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If you like height difference and cute romance, search up this chinese youth drama, "a love so beautiful," the height difference there is SO adorable. (I feel like a PR mouthpiece spreading the news about wonderfulness of this drama at this point. Lol).

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Good to know about your dad and your emotional normalcy.

Although I finished 35 shows this year alone,I still dont know how I managed that feat, 1 common theme among them was that They got me curious from teasers until the last episode with probably some complaints in between,at the same time managing to make me remember them fondly.

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35! I salute you!

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thanks 😄 though I didn't realize it until the "Bean Count" post made me account for everything I watched this year.

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Wow! Anybody have more than 35? I didn't read the whole bean counting thread but I can't imagine anyone beating you!

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I have 39, but all of them i have seen was not released this year ^^'

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Wow! You guys are hardcore. Respect!

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there are a lot of other Beanies who watched more than my 35

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I've watched 37 2017 korean dramas, 8 2017 japanese dramas (including 2 asadoras), and I don't how much lakorns. It's not something to be proud, but I'm jobless and studying from home, so I have a lot of free time. And who wants to to go out having so much dramas to watch?

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To be honest, Rescue Me's story genre is not the type of drama that I would usually watch. But Dong-chul (excellently portrayed by Woo Do-hwan) was the main reason I decided to finish the drama. I was always half-afraid though that he will not make it by virtue of being the second lead.

I love your concluding statement. Sometimes as KDrama fans we tend to have that fear of missing out and we force ourselves to watch as many dramas as we can. But the numbers don't matter at the end of the day because if the show was not able to move us, then what's the point in all of this KDrama watching experience, right?

Here's hoping that 2018 will give us more dramas to be invested in :)

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Dong-chul forever.

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"We tend to have that fear of missing out.."
Exactly what I felt in the first half of 2017, but then I realized what's the point of watching a k-drama without feelings? It's just wasting my time.. A popular and well-loved drama means nothing if it can't touch the core of my heart..

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In the post, I only chose to highlight four of the eight.

Here are the other four:
Seven Day's Queen (pitch-perfect development)
Lookout (intense)
Father Is Strange (heartwarming)
Girls Generation 1979 (short)

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Seven Day Queen has the best ending where I ugly-cried so much, hee.

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The ending was so satisfying and not what I'd been expecting!

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Are you me? In dramaland this much similarity wouldn't be a coinidence. We must be long-lost relatives of some kind because I dropped so much too.

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"I’m now sampling shows with the highbrow haughtiness of a wine connoisseur."

Love your post @anonybean! I find myself nodding in agreement as I've found myself more discerning of dramas I've watched. While I love that shows these days seem generally well-done and well-executed than yonder years, I fear it has spoiled me in that it raised my expectations as well (I'm looking at you, Signal). Now I can't just easily shrug off plot-holes or suspend my disbelief as I was won't to do before.

This was the year where I actually watched the most dramas. Ever. I didn't watch as many as you did which is because I EXTENSIVELY read reviews of dramas before I watch them (I'm a serial marathoner) as the "endist" in me must always finish what I started and so I must make sure it'll be worth my interest. Of all the shows I picked up, the only one I dropped was The Liar and His Lover.

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Surprisingly, most of the shows I dropped this year - Suspicious Partner, Temperature of Love, and Witch's Court for example - I managed to stick with until the last few episodes. They built themselves up great, and then came crashing down not long before the conclusion (although I actually plan to finish Suspicious Partner one day, if I can sit through the noble idiocy).
I finished 24 shows, but I dropped about a dozen too. And yes, I forced myself to finish some just to say I did - not always because they weren't good, but just because they weren't GREAT.

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That's me...except that I'm also really easily distracted. If I am in a busy streak and miss a few episodes when they air and something more shiny premieres...guess what I will do lol. Which actually goes to show how impressive the shows that I actually finished are! :D

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Your writting really drew me in, and so eloquently summed up my own and watching experience this year. It was a pleasure to read. 💕💕

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Might be something to do without realizing we gets tired from drama which offering us the tropes we are used seeing over and over again. We want something fresh and on top of that create drama with alot of their heart. But realizing they made their own drama with their empty soul.

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I kept thinking of how to write a similar post to what you have written... This year's dramas mostly ran and hid themselves in the closet, waiting most probably to die. I ended up going back to my queue to dig up really old dramas that I hadn't devoted any time to watching, and ended up falling hard for some really great shows--e.g., Que Sera Sera, Heartless City, City Hall (which I just finished).

Then, I explored dramas from other countries as well, so while K-drama-land wasn't as exciting for me, I was lucky to still have a great drama-viewing year, albeit it not being filled with current dramas.

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Que Sera Sera is my first Kdrama ! I loved it. And Heartless City is the drama I can rewatch again and again !

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Yay, a fellow fan of these two great dramas! :D

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I can definitely relate. I finished only four this year. And even in those four, I had to drag myself to finish one or two shows. My kdrama life in 2017 is sad. Not sure if real life just got on a whole new level of busy or I have not noticed that my taste in watching has changed or maybe kdramaland is just overall meh this year. In any case, looking forward to my old self kdrama addict in 2018.

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This is what I was going to write about, if I wasn't too lazy to write a post. I finished 12 this year, but dropped 10, which is a record for me. I'm pretty stubborn and will finish almost anything to the end, but for some reason this year I just gave up on so many.

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There are many interesting dramas I put in my must-watch list but I find no time or effort to get done with them, god damn 16 eps is hard esp when I'm more and more into movies with better quality and less time to finish one:((

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I just wanted to say - I'm really glad your dad got better - congratulations!

(Coughs - I think we were all emotionally invested in Dong-Chul haha)

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Dong-chul needs his own drama. 10/10 would watch.

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So glad for you both that your father is better! Like you, 'School 2017', 'Because This Life is Our First' and 'Father is Strange' were some of the very few dramas I finished and enjoyed this year. Wonderful review!

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The start of the year was promising with Weightlifting Fairy, Goblin, & Tomorrow with You. My summer favorites are The Lover & His Liar, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, & Fight For my Way. Everything went south after! I'm so happy that Because This is My First Life came out. Definitely my favorite this year (only cause Weightlifting technically started in 2016. lol) And I super enjoyed Generation Girls & Star of the Universe! Hoping good series cap off the year!

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BTLIOF was to be my drama crack of the year but they ruined it changing the writer in the last two and a half episodes, so then it is weightlifting fairy. They kept on being honest and cute until the end 😍😍😍😍

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One show that completely did it for me was Chicago typewriter....
From the osts to the story of the past and present to love lost-found-appreciated and remembered... I was grateful to that drama. It taught me many things
To never give up on things that are important to me (the freedom fighters) and to know that there is always an end - somewhere (the scene where they talked about what they would do when Korea is liberated.... nostalgia....)
It's unfortunate that they aren't really remembered but my heart because of this drama can never forget the efforts certain men - known and unknown - made to make Korea and even my own country free.
Ultimately never give up. You may not see the sunshine you're breaking through the rocks to see but your grandchildren and children would :-).
Take heart

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Oh yes, and Chicago made me cry a river, it was very very very touching. 100% underrated. It was one of my gems this year.

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I know! I hope the baeksang recognise something about it at least...

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I am not That picky either, but I only watched 10 and dropped around 4.
Never felt I had time for more, and hey, I had not been working most of the year because I was doing something worse: writing and finishing my master thesis!!!😱.
But even after that (I finished in end of march, beginning of April), I couldn't just go watching so much. Many dramas were simply not attractive for me, and I have a life, Lol 😂
But anyway, I felt somehow identified with you.
At the end I must be truly picky😒...
Later I will write about my own perspective and what did I learn in the 10 dramas I watched in 2017. Thanks for sharing yours.

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Congratulations on finishing your thesis! That's quite an achievement.

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Thanks. It was awful because I didn't want anymore and I had big surgery in the mean time, and I moved to another city, and I was disappointed with the master as well, and all I wanted was to be home and have a dog, but where I live we are not allow to have pets, so there you go.... long story. But yes, against all odds I finished and I remember watching the last episodes of SWDBS without remorse... Lol 😂😂😂😂

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I somewhat agree with you to a sense but I usually finish what I start so i'm hesitant to start a drama bc no matter how bad it gets I usually end up finishing it. For example Temperature of Love. So great in the beginning but when the mothers first met was the start of the downhill spiral for me but I ended up finishing it. The only drama that I started and couldn't finish was the Korean version of Entourage. I just couldn't. But I did really enjoy While You Were Sleeping so i'm surprised you didn't finish that one. It was so entertaining!

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Wow I feel like I could have written this. My Dad also had cancer this year and I was on long-term leave for several months. Lots of stress and lots of time for drama watching. I only discovered kdrama this year and almost inhaled dramas during those few months. Now I'm back at work and my Dad is in remission, I'm finding myself looking for something different in my drama.

I think that when you're at your most stressed, you're looking for escapism and emotional resonance. When life returns to normal, you're ready for something that excites you intellectually as well.

That's why Healer and Reunited Worlds were the dramas I rewatched the most this year, even though both were not very well plotted. But Black and Stranger are the types of dramas I want to watch now.

2017 has an insane number of dramas and a lot of them are very similar. With so much content being written to formula, it's not surprising that my drama list and dropped-drama list is getting insane.

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