Answer Me PD returns with new tvN series Prison this fall
This is a welcome change. As much I like the Answer Me franchise, I do think it’s time for the creators to branch out and do something new, so it’s exciting news to hear that PD Shin Won-ho (Answer Me 1988, Answer Me 1994, Answer Me 1997) will be returning to tvN this fall with a brand new series. The working title is Prison, and it’ll be a black comedy about prison inmates. Well, that’s certainly a departure…
The new project will be another collaboration with writer Lee Woo-jung of the Answer Me franchise, but she’ll only be involved at the creator level. PD Shin will co-direct with a junior PD from the Answer Me series, and one of the franchise’s junior writers, Jung Bo-hoon, will pen the script. Shin stated in an interview about the upcoming project, “I was searching for a subject that I hadn’t always seen in dramas, something fresh, and came up with a prison drama. I want to show people living their lives in an unfamiliar space. It’s not about being wrongly accused or about escape.”
He discussed the research he’d done: “I’ve continuously been researching prisons. It’s not a space we’re used to, and because it’s veiled in mystery, I had a hard time researching the system and the language of that space.” The focus seems to be on everyday life within prison walls: “The foundation of all stories that I want to tell is just people living their lives. I was curious about the stories of the people who live in prison. But just because it’s set in prison doesn’t mean the drama is heavy or serious. I think it will be very different from the way [prison] has been portrayed before. It’ll be a black comedy with pathos.”
He continued, “Prison seems like a faraway place, but it’s not that far. I don’t have plans to romanticize it, but that setting creates fresh empathy. In most dramas, prison is a place you need to escape or a big hindrance in life. But in reality it’s a place where people need to come to terms with their lives. It’s not a place that can provide bright laughter; I think it’ll be a place that gives us bitter laughter.” Well, some of the most stirring human dramas I’ve seen were set in prison (The Shawshank Redemption, Miracle in Cell No. 7), so I have no doubt that a moving mix of dark comedy and empathy is possible.
Plans are underway for Prison to be a 16-episode Friday-Saturday drama sometime in October, though nothing has been set in stone, and casting will begin shortly. PD Shin was also asked about the next installment of the Answer Me series, of course, and he said that no concrete plans have been made, but they are considering a new season sometime next year or the year after that.