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Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching

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…

 

stroopwafel

When the Camellia Blooms: I’ve been enjoying Camellia so much, but haven’t quite been able to find the words to express why I’m loving the show until now. The plot reads like a very straightforward romance, but what could have been a one-dimensional story is packed with nuance and the drama’s chock full interesting, multi-dimensional characters. That’s not to say the romance isn’t great! There’s something so sweet and pure between Dong-baek and Yong-shik. Though they’ve both dated before, it’s a lot like watching two people experience a first love. Yong-shik was a character I thought I wouldn’t like at first. I’m a bit tired of male leads who are pushy and “know” what’s best for their lady loves. Yong-shik seemed like he’d slot right into that sort of archetype as he wasn’t really great with boundaries in the early episodes. But the drama quickly showed that, though he’s definitely forceful when it comes to expressing himself, he doesn’t push himself onto Dong-baek. I love that we haven’t had a scene where he’s grabbed her wrist, but we have had one where he held out his hand and asked her to take it.

 

mary

Graceful Family: I absolutely love this show. The characters, the story, the twists… even the OST was awesome. I’ll look fondly at the whole cast after this, but I definitely had my faves in Im Soo-hyang, Bae Jong-ok, and Lee Kyu-han. Theirs was a great frenemy dynamic. Suk-hee, Han Jae-gook, and Wan-soo would’ve made great allies, but their tangled stories made it such that an alliance was impossible in this life. Their what ifs made for such great angst *wipes tears*. I hope this crackjang revival started by An Empress’s Dignity and continued by Graceful Family will continue into next year, because I love this trend and don’t want it to die.

Tale of Nokdu: I guess having one great episode this week is better than having two mediocre ones, but still… WHY DID WE ONLY HAVE ONE EPISODE??? I love all the mountain village widow+gisaeng stuff. The palace intrigue, not so much. Y’know Jung Jun-ho who plays the insecure king is one of my ajusshi faves, but much like my other fave Ahn Seok-hwan, they’re only great at heartwarming roles. They’re terrible at being villains and end up being annoyingly one-dimensional. It doesn’t help that Nokdu and Dong-joo are being such funny cuties that I end up resenting any screentime away from them. And we had 60 minutes stolen from us this week. *grumble grumble*

Pegasus Market: Still funny, but I love that it’s starting to develop a bit of heart now that Jung Bok-dong is feeling guilt about his employees who get affected by his self-sabotage plans. There’s really no big bad in this show which makes for a lighthearted watch. Park Ho-san is great as the twirly-mustached villain who can’t make sense of his hilariously dense spy. And it doesn’t help that there’s no method to Bok-dong’s madness, so he keeps receiving gibberish reports which his paranoia turns into complicated schemes. LOL The errant grandson VP is interesting too. I’m hoping that the Chairman will order him to work in Pegasus Market so he can have a similar redemption arc as Dongha in Chief Kim.

 

Laica

When the Camellia Blooms: Even after 8 episodes, I don’t know if I quite like this show. It has all the pieces for the kind of weird, heartwarming-with-an-edge slice of life show that’s usually my #1 jam, but… the pieces don’t hold together for me. I think part of the problem is that it often shows and tells us different things. So we started out with a heroine who is unceasingly timid and suppressed in almost every aspect of her life—understandingly so, considering the people who surround her in Ongsan—but we’re told from the very start that she’s actually a hippo, deadly and strong. But that sets up this weird cognitive dissonance that never really gets resolved, even whan she starts to stand up for herself. I’d much rather we just saw Dong-baek as she is, someone who has a hard time confronting people because of the kind of life she’s lived. She doesn’t have to “show her claws,” as other characters tell her, in order to demonstrate how strong she is. And I feel like part of the show’s unevenness is that it seems to understand this in some moments, and not in others. I feel the same way about Yong-shik at times; is he an aw-shucks hero with a heart of gold, a clumsy but decent man doing his best, or an overbearing dude who needs to re-check his boundaries? The show doesn’t seem to know. The only one I really understand is Jong-ryeol. He might be severely misguided, and often acts like a jerk, but his motivations are clear and we know where he’s coming from. Dong-baek and Yong-shik often have me scratching my head with all the back-and-forth they keep doing. I don’t necessarily need to like them—this isn’t that kind of drama, heck, Oh Jung-se and Son Dam-bi are killing it as the despicable but hilarious No Gyu-tae and Hyang-mi, and the townspeople are deliciously hateful—but it would be nice if the leads felt authentic. Especially with Dong-baek, I feel like we’ve been told a lot about her history that in theory makes sense to make her the way she is, but something just feels… off. Still, I’ll keep watching. I’m rooting for Pil-gu above all else, and my only OTP is Pil-gu and his birth daddy.

 
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Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryeong - I can't believe I managed to finish watching by skipping 90% of the scenes involving ML and FL and/or only ML and still find the story of the historians, the palace politics and the Crown Prince much much more engaging and satisfying. I find it is too late for the writer to start making me believe the ML as an eligible Crown Prince. Being hidden away is not an excuse to be a loser and ignorant. He was supposed to be an avid readers but he is also quite clueless? I don't know show. This is a good sageuk, minus the love line between the leads. Without them the story can stand on its own and deliver.

Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency - Team Ma Hoon all the wayyyyyy... The moment the young king still desires Gae Tong in the palace even after fully aware of the harsh politics and power struggle there, I finds him selfish and uninviting. I have no respect for king who can't hold his own court (e.g. Queen of 7 Days) and be blinded by jealousy than his responsibility to his people and country.

My Country: What can I say, Jang Hyuk is killing this role. I anticipated the telling of My Country-The New Age from his perspective. Aigooo...this is about my country, but thus far with the 3 main leads I only got angst love story. No indication of fighting for their country, maybe only a mention or two about it in the early episode. Seol Hyun is improving well. I can't love Sun Ho when I can't even get his intention; his big picture; the end of the road of his action plan. I am also beginning to get uncomfortable with Hwi's expressions in certain scenes. Is it the hair, his eyes? I don't know.

Is it even possible that I am seeing Kim Min Jae as Seo Hwi? Guess watching too much sageuks can cause such delusion.

Vagabond - Tuned in after all the hype about ep 1. Actually, I have been delaying this due to the FL (Gu Family Book still gives me nightmares) but I has a soft spot for LSG. Didn't expect to be utterly disappointed, especially the ambush. I think my definition of an action packed drama/movie is a little bit different. Sadly for this one, LSG alone won't be able to keep me glued on the screen. Sorry dear, I am giving this a pass.

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Le me offer a heartfelt R.I.P. to Sulli, most recently from the show 'Night of Hate Comments', ironically. You couldn't pay me enough to be a celebrity.

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