Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching
by DB Staff
So, what are we all watching this week?
What kept you reaching for more (or agonizing when there was no more), and what made you want to throw your remote through the screen? Time to weigh in…
A Moment at Eighteen: This is such a promising start. I’m happy to say my biggest concern–the acting abilities of the cast’s rookies–turned out not to be a problem. While Kim Hyang-gi is already a known quantity to me (I love her but feel so old now that she’s turning into a leading lady in her own right), the biggest question marks for me were Shin Seung-ho and Ong Sung-woo. Shin Seung-ho has done an incredible job portraying both sides of his character: perfect school boy and ticking time bomb. That supressed, simmering rage and insecurity! I feel like he’s really only barely keeping a lid on things right now. Ong Sung-woo’s has had less to work with compared to his costars, but he’s doing a good job fleshing out a character who’s entire life revolves around holding people at a distance while trying to be invisible.
Designated Survivor: 60 Days: I’m both frustrated and impressed at how the show maneuvered President Park, Agent Han, and Assemblywoman Yoon into this situation where they’re all holding pieces of the puzzle but don’t dare discuss it with anyone else. So they’re just working separately with these incorrect assumptions and leaving Oh Young-seok to handsomely carry out his plans for world domination via well-tailored suits. I hate you, Assemblyman Oh, and your jaw-dropping gorgeousness. I hope they catch you soon, you diabolical good-looking jerk!
Rookie Historian Gu Hae-ryung: I guess expecting Hae-ryung to be a genius at everything from the get-go isn’t very realistic. So, not a lot of ass-kicking from Hae-ryung this week. But I enjoy the palace shenanigans a lot. I especially love that moment when the historian sunbaes marched off to claim their hoobaes from the court ladies and started teaching them in earnest. And though Hae-ryung isn’t the Jang-geum prodigy I thought she would be, this story leaves more room for her growth. She knows what’s right based on books and philosophy and science, but in the palace, she’s learning to navigate around politics and the people’s needs and hopes. Meanwhile, her friends and (potential) love interests are also learning something from her. And while we’re on the topic of love interests, why are you giving me three very shippable ships, Show?! As if two weren’t enough? Now my sinking rate just increased from 50% to 67%…
A Moment at Eighteen: My notes from the first episode said “slice of life handsome Ong” which is very unhelpful but true. Thankfully, my notes from the second episode “It hurts pls stop,” makes more sense. This show looks deceptively light. The scenes are brightly lit and the colors look so fresh, but there’s this heaviness to the actual stories when we follow along the kids’ lives. No one embodies that heaviness more than Choi Joon-woo, who seems to have just accepted that people are bad and life is bad and what’s another school transfer and another accusation on top of who knows how many he has already? I want him to fight but I don’t want him to get hurt, which I know is impossible. Now that he’s decided to stay and fight, I’m in for a lot more heaviness and pain. Can we pleeease get more allies on his side soon?
Class of Lies: Another classroom full of terrible kids, yay! (Not.) After A Moment at Eighteen’s heavy realness, I felt strangely comforted by OCN’s highschool drama where at least *I* know that this or that kid is Satan’s spawn, a caricature of actual highschool kids. There’s no need for me to be conflicted or understand their backstory or whatever. But then the story pulled back to remind me that there’s a structure of corruption and perversion that goes all the way to the adults at the top and these monster kids are going to inherit those top positions when their parents retire. Soooo life sucks. Thank you, Class of Lies. And thank you for making Moo-hyuk’s attempts to survive and thrive inside this hell-school too entertaining for me to drop this show.
Level Up: What a delight this show is! Six episodes in we’re halfway through, and we’re just seeing the first hints of feelings from Dante towards Yeon-hwa (whereas she’s finally decided that he might be a not-bad person). I think what I love most about Sung Hoon is how little he cares about looking good on camera—he goes all in for the joke, even if it puts him on a ridiculous position. Dante seems pompous at first, but as we get to know him we see that he carefully regulates everything about his life in order to protect his heart—even his over-the-top sense of personal dignity is part of that armor. It’s also endlessly entertaining to watch the growing list of people who can pierce that armor and completely fluster him; first it was just Ya-chae, but now Yeon-hwa, Han-cheol and Hun can easily get under his skin, and Dante is like a little coastal town that can’t pile its sandbags quickly enough to ward off the flood. He’s a hard boss, but he isn’t unkind, and he never holds his employees to a standard he himself can’t meet (or exceed); his manners may be a little out of touch with the accepted social contract, but he has his own principles, and he sticks to them. (I wish Hun would finally see this and grow up.) This show is a rom-com, but it’s leaning much more heavily on the ensemble comedy than the romance, and it’s really working for me. (Danny Ahn is a gem as Manager Park.) And although the story doesn’t delve too deeply into backstory, we know enough about the characters’ personal lives to give them dimension and nuance. There’s a nice parallel, for example, in the ways that Yeon-hwa and Han-cheol got hired at Joybuster, or the significant role that games played in both Dante and Yeon-hwa’s childhoods, without it all feeling heavy-handed. I’m very excited to see Dante’s “damn it, I like this woman” face—and the fact that he’s honest to a fault means likely many embarrassing confessions for him, and lots of enjoyment for me.
Search Query WWW: What a perfect ending to an incredible show. I think what I love most about it is that it managed to upend conventional drama tropes so brilliantly that even calling it meta seems like a disservice. We got a relationship between three women that echoed all the major beats of a love triangle, which invested this set of girlfriends with more thrills, emotion and profundity than even the most intense bromance. And yet we still got three different, satisfying romances that were fully able to live and breathe, freed as they were from the tyranny of the 16-episode rom-com structure. (I usually love that K-dramas are only one season long, but I’m begging you here, Show: please give me Jin-woo and Ga-kyung’s act two.) In the end what I’ll remember is how real this show was about being a woman in your thirties; about love and heartbreak, grief and growing up; about loving what you do and maybe hating it at the same time; about the people who are by your side in the important moments, and also in the everyday moments. The people who become part of your daily life.
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (July 20, 2019)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (July 13, 2019)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (July 6 2019)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (June 29, 2019)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (June 22, 2019)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (June 15, 2019)