Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching
by DB Staff
Did you make it through the pre-emptions this week? With the election looming, will you be able to make it through even more of them next week? I’m choosing to think positively and take this time to catch up to things that had been put on hold; maybe I’ll even pick up something entirely old, or entirely new. Nothing blue, though, since I’ve been gravitating toward dramas that pick up my mood and make me happy. There’ll always be time to cry later! –javabeans
Chicago Typewriter: I feel like this show took a little while to get to the point, but I do now find the story intriguing—and even better, unpredictable in an enjoyable way; I have no idea where it’s going or what kind of ending to expect, but I don’t mind going along for the ride. I don’t feel emotionally connected to most of the characters, which is a slight disappointment (though I do feel sympathy for Go Kyung-pyo—there’s always something so sweet, pathetic, and wistful about a ghost who wants more than his noncorporeal form can provide), but the plot is compelling enough to keep my interest.
Man to Man: This show is fluffier than I was expecting, but I in no way find this to be a detriment; most spy-action dramas have a tendency to take themselves too seriously, and often turn unintentionally cheesy. Man to Man has its cheesy tendencies too, but the difference is that it’s entirely intentional, and the humor, while a little broader than I’d prefer, is definitely its best asset. That and Park Hae-jin’s deadpan acting, though I’d argue that that’s just another facet of the humor, where his character is entirely humorless but the actor is working that entirely for comedic effect. The plot is kinda B-list and the story pretexts somewhat flimsy, but the show has a feel-good, silly-funny vibe that I’m enjoying.
Father, I’ll Take Care of You: As we head into the final week, I’m expecting some hastily tied ends, and while I’m not sure I’ll be completely content with the way things wrap up, I’m hoping for some satisfying resolutions. I do really appreciate that the story once again is closing around the concept that family is as much (if not more) about nurture than nature, and that pure blood ties don’t always win out over emotional bonds. It’s refreshing that Hyun-woo is acknowledging now that there’s value to the time his blood brother spent with his non-blood family, which is mirrored in Dong-hee wanting to stay with the dirt-poor grandma who raised her with love rather than the uber-rich grandma she never knew. This idea that family is something you make, not just something you’re born into, isn’t necessarily revolutionary, but it is a stance that we don’t often explore in dramas, which are often much more about the power of the blood kinship.
Father Is Strange: Badass Unni is badass! I both want Hye-young to be my sister, and me to be Hye-young when I grow up. I’m so glad that Jung So-min got her chance to stand up for herself and demand that apology, and I’m glad that she did it on her own terms (even though Unni had a hand in ensuring that it happened). I also loved when Lee Joon took her side in the family debate, totally unprompted, just because he understood her position when the rest of her family didn’t. I can’t wait for these two to bond more.
The Liar and His Lover: There’s something special about this drama in the way these characters feel real to me—it’s not the acting, which is fine but not phenomenal, and it’s not the story itself. It’s more that the show as a whole, on a big-picture scale, feels tight and cohesive, and thus the story enables a kind of full immersion into this world. I feel like Lee Hyun-woo is a musical genius with father issues, and that he really did write all these songs on the show. I’m keeping an eye on this rookie writer, because I’m pleased and amazed that we’ve made it 14 episodes and I’ve never once gotten bored or lost interest, or felt that the plot was running out of steam. Even if it’s a remake, it takes skill to plan, pace, and build a story so that it’s always developing and avoids that near-inevitable late-game dip in energy. Storywise, I was moved by the way each character wanted to take responsibility for everyone else, and how it felt actually noble without being idiotic. But since they’re young and unskilled, they can only attempt to fix their problem with insufficient methods, and it’s poignant because they try anyway, driven by their loyalty and care for each other.
Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: What a week to pre-empt the second episode!! The show sure did take its time getting here, but man, when everything came together in just the right way, I was on the edge of my seat and giving up all of my tears. Chae Soo-bin’s emotional roller coaster ride over the course of one episode was stunning, and I can’t believe she made me cry with a blindfold over her eyes. And don’t even get me started on the downtrodden people bursting into song to rally their hero and fight for their freedom. *whimper*
Whisper: I can’t help but think that if the heroine had been returned to her rightful place as a police detective about half a series ago, I could’ve been made to care more. I’m not even positive that it would’ve been the perfect fix, but I’m constantly watching this show and trying to figure out why it doesn’t grip my insides and twist them into knots the way this writer’s previous works did.
Mystery Queen: I was surprisingly moved by the case this week, which I credit to the actress who played the young single woman who’d just moved to the big city and hadn’t even gone on her first date. She was so warm and sweet, and despite being such a minor character, she’d managed to touch all of the characters’ lives in some way, making her death especially sad.
Man to Man: I really enjoy this current setup where Park Hae-jin is the smooth operator who needs to fool Kim Min-jung into thinking that he’s in love with her. It’s like a one-sided contract romance, but with guns! I appreciate that the plot moves so quickly in this show, because I think the writer is fully aware that it’s all just a delivery device for more Park Hae-jin hijinks, and I’m fully onboard with that. Plus, Oppa-as-Cupid is an unexpected but adorable turn.
The Liar and His Lover: I ran out of shows to watch this week because of all the pre-emptions, so I figured it was a good time to pick up The Liar and His Lover, since it seems to be a favorite among Beanies at the moment. I’m just a few episodes in, but it’s a nice breath of fresh air among all the darker shows I’m currently watching. The music is actually used to tell the story, and the hero is a likable prickly geeeenius, which is a rare species in dramaland. I’m less interested in Crude Play, but the heroine’s journey seems lovely and worth getting invested in.
Perfect Wife: Crazy lady wants heroine’s worthless husband. Worthless husband has no personality, wants, or desires. Crazy lady gets away with way too much over the course of one series. There, I’ve summarized the entire show.
Currently recapping: Whisper
Super Family 2017: I’m loving the spring fever and blossoming romances (Gwi-nam and Ms. Ahn! Mom and the cranky upstairs neighbor! Ik-hee and her complete unawareness that there’s a messy love quadrilateral brewing with her boyfriend, friend, and neighbor!). But I also deeply appreciate how comfortable and satisfying the relationship is between Chun-il and Ra-yeon.
Radiant Office: I may be a few episodes behind but I’m still sad that the show has ended. I’d like to say it’s just because of how much these characters have wormed their way into my heart and soul — I would do anything to make sure the Suicide Squad got their well-deserved happy ending. Buuuuuuuuut there’s also a little part of me that’s crying because now I will only get two episodes of my beloved Hoya a week instead of four. I’ve been spoiled for too long!
Chicago Typewriter: I was getting all set to drop this but now I’m here for the contract bromance and finding out more about what happened in the past (why can’t most of each episode be set in the ’30s?). I am also, once again, suffering from second-lead syndrome for a ghost. Yeah. No one ever warned me that dramaland would be filled with so many attractive and charming ghosts.
Tunnel: I’m finally caught up through Episode 10, and even though I love Yoon Hyun-min and am curious about how Kwang-ho will return to the past and make everything right again (or at least live happily ever after with his wife and daughter), I’m struggling to care about the main mystery. It’s not really drawing me in, especially since the viewers already know so much and it’s a matter of waiting until the characters finally figure it out. It’s not that I don’t dislike the drama, but I feel like Jae-yi — disassociated from the pain of our characters and only invested to see if it will end like the way I deduce that it will.
Radiant Office: I still haven’t seen the last two episodes, but that may be because the finality of the series hasn’t hit me yet, and I’m not ready to say goodbye! This isn’t a splashy show by any means, but that’s why it’s so great; the characters are real and relatable and their struggles are, too. Go Ah-sung and Lee Dong-hwi shine in their respective roles as underdogs in this underrated, small yet heartfelt show that always brings a smile to my face.
Whisper: Following the death of Young-joo’s dad, I thought I detected a switch flipped in Dong-joon, and I expected to see a bolder, more aggressive, and brazen lawyer… but Dong-joon is still the same ol’ Dong-joon. I get that he has a corporate job and therefore has to stay at the office for most of the day, but it’d be nice to see him venture out more and join Young-joo on her baddie butt-kicking adventures. Anyway, I’m loving the tiny glimmers of intimacy between the two leads. Dong-joon snagging some of Young-joo’s salad was super cute. But what could possibly be in a Subway salad that was worth taking? Hopefully, they’ll transition to fancier fare than foot-longs and leaves.
Currently recapping: Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People
Man to Man: I’ve only watched Park Sung-woong in serious roles, so I was completely unprepared for this version of him, but he’s comedy gold. He plays his character so well—finely treading the line where we can see the juxtaposition between the diva man-child, and the deeper inner Yeo Woon-kwang that we catch glimpses of when he’s contemplating his first love. Speaking of which, Chae Jung-ahn is fierce, although I may have liked her empty-headed bubble-brain act in Yong-pal a smidge better; she’s a similar character here except more grown-up. I’m half-expecting the kid to be Woon-kwang’s because we’re in dramaland, and that’s what tends to happens when “good” secondary characters get stuck in bad situations: They marry the villain. And I love me some makjang, so I won’t mind if the story ends up going in that direction. As for the main couple, honestly, I’m meh at this point, but hopefully things will pick up soon.
Currently recapping: The Liar and His Lover
Persevere, Gu Hae-ra: I had a lot of fun watching this, though I will admit that I was strictly in it for the sick music covers and not so much the characters. While I liked Team Persevere as a group, individually, they were hard to get attached to. And to make matters worse, the show tried to get me attached to a love triangle that I just wasn’t having. It lost its emotional pull far too soon (I’m still not over that terrible loss in Episode 2). At least the actors moved on to better projects after this? #brightside
Hwarang: I’d dropped this when it was still airing but figured I’d gotten too far not to finish it. I really loved the first half, but at a certain point, the story seemed to be spinning its wheels. The romance I liked wasn’t going anywhere and the bromance I loved wasn’t going anywhere, so there was almost nothing to look forward to except the charming side stories. Our main storylines did come back together for the finale, but instead of feeling satisfied, I just felt angry over the wasted potential. I’m crossing my fingers that Fight My Way is good, because my thirst for Park Seo-joon still demands to be quenched.
Currently recapping: Mystery Queen
Strong Woman Do Bong-soon: I got behind on this show, but I watched the last four episodes last week, more to complete it than because I wanted to find out what happened. This drama gave us some incredibly squee-inducing moments, but now that it’s over, my primary emotion about it is regret for its wasted potential. This could have been an amazing story about female empowerment and fighting for those who get left behind by the justice system—and all the elements were there in the beginning—but the awful writing took us on strange and unfunny tangents, with a lack of development in almost every plot and character storyline. Ahn Min-hyuk was the only truly fleshed out person in this story, which is a shame because this was supposed to be Bong-soon’s story, and that makes me sad despite how tooth-achingly sweet they were as a couple. In the last few episodes, the only emotional beat that worked for me was surprisingly Ji-soo’s conversation with Bong-soon about their missed timing, and his manly tears in the car afterwards (I definitely cried). Maybe one day this cast will be reunited in a better show, but for now I can’t forgive the excitement this one made me feel with its posters, and I just want them to move on to better things.
Father Is Strange: Lee Joon is simultaneously so pathetically adorable and so oblivious, I don’t know whether he deserves to be smacked or given a bear hug. I am loving him with the Byuns, in every combination. I’m also really glad Lee Yuri found out the truth and confronted both her sister and the bully with her knowledge. I wish Jung So-min had decided to tell her family the truth, but I am glad that she’s growing a spine and learning to stand up for herself. I only wish she and Lee Joon could go back to being buds—that was so cute!
Radiant Office: What will I do next week without this beautiful show? I can’t even express all the things I love about it, but I’ll list a few: the totally heartwarming, squad goals friendship between our suicide squad; the completely perfect friends-to-lovers romance between our OTP (Has Ha Suk-jin ever been this perfect? No. No he has not.); the life-affirming messages of the show that are uplifting without being sappy or unrealistic. I think what I loved most about this show was that it acknowledged that life is hard, sometimes brutally, desperately so, but there will still be good days along with the bad, and all we can do is hope for spring to last longer than winter, even if it’s a fool’s hope. I’ve thrown my lot in with these lovable fools.
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (April 29, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (April 22, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (April 15, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (April 7, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (April 1, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (March 25, 2017)
Tags: Chicago Typewriter, Father I'll Take Care of You, Father Is Strange, Hwarang, Man to Man, Mystery Queen, Perfect Wife, Persevere Gu Hae-ra, Radiant Office, Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People, Strong Woman Do Bong-soon, The Liar and His Lover, Tunnel, What We're Watching, Whisper