[Changing Tastes] Same old love with my own customized rules
by Guest Beanie
Queen In-hyun’s Man
While thinking about the theme of this month, initially I came up blank because when I thought over my taste in K-dramas, the only theme that came up in my mind was romance. So I made a list of all the dramas that I’ve seen to date in order to see if my taste has changed over the years, and the result was, NO, it hasn’t changed, mostly. I still watch that same genre of dramas that I used to watch back in my college days. I realized I had no context to write. I even posted on the fan wall of DB because I was so upset. Fortunately, another Beanie’s comment (bless her) helped me see a new perspective on my “same taste forever” theme, and I felt I could scrap a few words together.
So I studied my drama list and ranked the sections for different themes and found that my most watched theme was romance (obviously), followed closely by supernatural (which has romance), followed by noona romance, then mystery/thriller (most of which has romance lol), and last but not least, school – friendship – music band – coming of age – slice of life, and lastly a couple of sageuks, two sci-fis and ONE family drama (Ojakkyo Brothers).
However, I found that over the years I’ve developed a weird habit. It’s like I’ve unconsciously customized my choices permanently, and any drama that doesn’t make the cut (for extremely petty reasons) is declared not worth watching (in my mind), even if that’s a popular one. So let me explain my rules, starting with my entry to dramaland.
Boys Before Flowers
The first Korean dramas that I saw were Dae Jang Geum (which made me a super admirer of Lee Young-ae) and Emperor of the Sea. Thanks to the national television channel of my country which broadcast these serials, I was introduced to Korean drama at that time, and I loved these two shows. However, it did not lead me to watch more dramas because I wasn’t that interested. And then a few years later I saw the anime of Hana Yori Dango and that’s when I found out about the Korean adaptation called Boys Before Flowers. I searched the internet about it and found my K-drama Holy Grail guide, DRAMABEANS.
What came next was an extensive reading session of a lot of drama recaps (thanks to JB’s and GF’s writings) followed by a mad search to watch the episodes. To date this habit has stayed, and it’s my Rule #1: Reading complete recaps first before watching the drama.
This is very important to me because the recaps always help me decide whether to watch a drama or not, they also help me to enjoy a drama more than I would’ve originally, I enjoy the subtle elements pointed out which I wouldn’t have noticed by myself. So Boys Before Flowers was the first drama that I saw, followed by Playful Kiss and so on. I wouldn’t watch them over again (not that I hate them, but I find them cringy now…) but they were fun to watch back then. I also found a few favorite dramas like Coffee Prince, My Name Is Kim Sam-soon, Mixed-up Investigative Agency (I love treasure hunts), Queen In-hyun’s Man, Answer Me 1997 (‘88 too!), etc.
I Need Romance 3
I’ll use the dramas that I like and don’t like as examples to explain the rest of my (petty) rules, starting with noona nomance.
I didn’t like I Need Romance 3. There I said it. But I don’t hate it, it just doesn’t make it to my favorite list. I pondered over why, because while I really liked dramas like The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry, I Do, I Do (despite its awful plot), and Witch’s Romance on the other hand I didn’t like this popular drama. That’s when I realized my (stupid) Rule #2: Age difference is fine but the girl should not meet the boy when or before he’s in elementary school because that is just too weird for me to process.
I was reading the recap of I Need Romance 3, and didn’t go beyond a few episodes when I saw Joo-yeon take care of Joo-wan since he was born and how that affected her life. I couldn’t comprehend how she would come to like him later when she has thought of him as a baby for so long. So I skipped to the final episodes when they got together and Joo-wan was so romantic I almost felt like giving in.
Bring It On, Ghost
And just like this, I’ve more silly rules for watching dramas. Rule #3: Strong, brave, kickass and confident female leads are the ultimate. Hyun-ji from Bring It On, Ghost was an ideal character — being a timid person myself I always admire the ladies who are strong and Hyun-ji was just that kickass person, both physically and emotionally. Mi-ho from My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho and Chung from Legend of the Blue Sea were naïve but not exactly damsels in distress. Jang-geum from Dae Jang Geum was also an exemplary character: Not only was she super-talented, but also such a brave woman who never gave up in any circumstances. These ladies were my heroes.
Rule #4: No silly or airheaded heroine. Silly heroines make fools of themselves in front of others which I find sad for some reason. I never like the girls to be at any disadvantage and being mocked.
Rule #5 says: I’m willing to gloss over every minute and major plot holes and flaws as long as I find the chemistry between the leads satisfying (while not violating Rules 2 & 4). The latest example of it is Strong Woman Do Bong-soon — honestly I just survived through the show because of Min-min and Bong-bong, heh. Everything else was so horrible but I’d still watch it all over again skipping through everything except the leads. Because of this I have dramas that I like simply because the leads’ interactions were amazing, sometimes sweet and charming, sometimes fun and playful, at other times subtle and sexy or simply innocent and pure, ultimately ending with a happily ever after tied up with a huge pink bow. To me it’s always about the leads, and plot comes a little behind that. I’ve got a big list of favorite dramas just because I loved the leads (most of them actually have good plots, but some have a poor script).
Strong Woman Do Bong-soon
Due to this stubborn attitude towards dramas, I’ve denied myself a good look at other genres simply because I won’t give them a chance. Dark melos, doctor themes, anything to do with a lot people dying (like historical sageuks, and political conspiracy), psycho killers, any angst backstory, etc. I actually have a list called “Dramas that are super popular in dramaland but I don’t like them that much.”
This has been constant from the beginning; 10 years ago I was like a cranky 80-year-old disapproving everything, now I’m this cranky 90-year-old who still clicks her tongue at anything that’s not to her liking. However, not until very recently have I noticed a subtle shift of my choice from the normal to testing out different territory. The newest one being Circle. I think DB and the Beanies play an important role in this. I read the first episode and although the futuristic setting and the alien theme made it so interesting, I found it a bit confusing, so I didn’t proceed. It was not until I read the raving reviews about it by all the Beanies that got me reinvested in the show and that was totally worth it (now I’m craving for a second season). This is probably the only show that I love which doesn’t have romantic love as the main theme. Thus I’ve realized, I’m in the process of changing my tastes, and though it’ll take some time to fully accept it (probably 10 more years, hee), I’m sure one day with the help of the DB family I’ll learn to open my heart to new things.
- [Changing Tastes] How I became a feminist through dramas
- [Changing Tastes] From a hater to a lover
- [Changing Tastes] Understanding that things get complicated
- [Changing Tastes] Real life is sometimes more bizarre than makjang dramas
- [Changing Tastes] I came for the cultural differences and stayed for the commonalities
- [Changing Tastes] From the whole nine yards to the rom-com dreamboat
- [Changing Tastes] When your feelings have feelings
- [Changing Tastes] Rom-coms without the rose-colored glasses
- [Changing Tastes] From someone who doesn’t like change
- [Changing Tastes] My dad always said I’d learn to appreciate history someday
- [Changing Tastes] I’m sorry for ever doubting you, family dramas
- Theme of the Month: How have your K-drama tastes changed over time?
- What’s your dramaland catnip? Tell us your stories!
Tags: Theme of the Month