Kolorful Palette: Loving Trot Lovers
Overall, I’ve been disappointed with a lot of 2014’s dramas, so I was pleasantly surprised to be so pleasantly surprised by Trot Lovers. It had all the makings of a potentially good drama to begin with, but I think I’ve become a bit of a skeptic over the years, so I’m always a bit wary about how good a drama will actually be. I’ve found that the magic is usually in the details, and that’s a hard thing to predict. So far Trot Lover’s directing seems a cut above the norm, but I think what I most appreciate is that the characters are all a slight twist on their stereotypes.
(Note: the scene I drew is in both Episodes 2 and 3, but I’ll be talking in general terms about the first 4 episodes since I marathoned them all together.)
Chun-hee is probably the most normal character of the bunch, but rather than being the stereotypical down-on-her-luck breadwinner, she ends up being a “parachute” (hired based on her connections), which completely contrasts with the rest of her life (and I love it!). When I think of parachutes I think of entitled rich kids with powerful parents, but instead Chun-hee is being chased by loan sharks and acting as parent to her little sister. I suppose her situation would be worse without her mysterious connection, but it’s still tough to envy her, and I can’t help but feel sorry for all the hazing she receives as a result of not joining her agency via audition.
I think one of my favorite things about Chun-hee is that music is less about music for her, and more about family. There’s nothing wrong with just loving music pure and simple, but I think her motives make for a more interesting character. To her, music seems to represent past and future happiness with her family, and that makes me root for her all the more. It’s both endearing and refreshing that her dream is to simply be together with her loved ones. That’s probably something that most people take for granted, but there’s not much in life that’s more important.
I decided to draw the scene above because it seems to encompass everything I just talked about. She has to endure her first musical audition ever with almost no prep, but she gets through it by thinking of her sister and parents. She flips from terrified to seemingly having the time of her life, and it’s hard not to find her happiness infectious. It’s like her singing is entirely fueled by her love for her family, which makes her utterly radiant. I overworked this drawing into looking like a screenshot again, but I’m still glad that this is the scene I chose. I don’t really know if I like trot music or not, but when I’m watching Chun-hee I do!
It doesn’t end there though, and I find myself endeared by all the characters. Geon-woo is a more typical parachute, in the sense that he’s rich and entitled, but his awareness of his entitlement makes him extremely likable. He knows that he has a pretty easy life, so instead of fighting for more power or acting like a jerk to his underlings, he’s actually surprisingly kind and even has a good relationship with his father (which is pretty unusual as far as second leads are concerned). I expected that he would either ignore work completely or use any means necessary to establish himself, but instead he seems to be walking a happy middle ground, with a charmingly odd personality to round it all off. After You From Another Star I never thought I could see actor Shin Sung-rok as anything but the creepiest of murderers, but so far I’m actually liking him more than Joon-hyun (despite my best efforts).
I do still like Joon-hyun though, so don’t get me wrong. I thought he would spend the majority of this drama as the douchey idol with a superiority complex, so I was practically applauding when he so quickly committed himself to hard work after hitting rock bottom. I thought it was unusually dark for him to consider suicide, but it was believable, and added a lot of depth to his character. He really does empathize with Chun-hee now that he’s experienced some lows himself, but he’s even more likable for not openly comparing his situation or trying to get her to feel sorry for him. I don’t think anyone would find it easy to be so quickly humbled, so I find the way he’s fighting for himself extremely admirable (at least now that he’s done conning Chun-hee).
My only real concern so far is that Soo-in will end up the typical bitter and jealous second lead, but so far she’s been surprisingly understanding, if a little shallow. Her mother is a tyrant, so I’m hoping she’ll ultimately get out from under her thumb and not give into her pettier emotions. Even if she doesn’t, there are still the loan sharks to appreciate, and who doesn’t love them? Joon-hyun complains that he has to be Chun-hee’s manager, but really, aren’t the sharks already filling that role? They supply her wardrobe, drive her around, and even cheer for her. They’re kidding themselves if they think they don’t enjoy it, and by the end of this drama I have no doubt that they’d take a bullet for her.
Overall, this drama is a breath of fresh air despite its rather typical setup, and that makes me one happy drama-watcher. It feels like forever since a show has exceeded my expectations, although I suppose there are still plenty of episodes left to disappoint me. It’s a bit like a reality show though, and I already feel like I have to see my favorite contestant through to the end. I can hardly believe my luck between this and Joseon Gunman. Thank you summer dramas!