[2017 Year in Review] A slump isn’t always a bad thing
It was a strange year for me, as my drama-watching mojo spent a lot of time languishing a corner, by which I mean that I didn’t complete very many dramas that I wasn’t actually recapping. I’ll be honest—I hardly finished any of the dramas I started, and I really have no concrete reason why I felt so lackluster about watching dramas to the end this year, so I’ve given this a lot of thought.
I will admit that part of the reason is because I picked up some old hobbies, and that limited my drama-watching time, but it’s not the main reason I started so many shows and dropped them. Not only that, but there were lots of great dramas in 2017 that I never even started, or that I started and loved, but didn’t stick with until the end. Some notable examples are The Lonely Shining Goblin, Circle, and School 2017—I adored them right up until about the halfway point, and then I just… stopped watching. I do have every intention of finishing them at some point, because even at the time I put them on hold, I recognized that these were great shows. But at the time, I just suddenly had no driving desire to see what happens next.
One thing I do know is that my love for Korean dramas in general has not faded in the slightest. I still feel the same excitement when a favorite actor or actress is cast in a show that sounds fun, I still get excited for new premieres, and I still love to talk about the shows with my drama-watching friends. Most of all, I feel so lucky that I get to recap and discuss some truly entertaining shows, even if this year was a bit thin when it came to shows that kept up with their promising beginnings.
That’s not to say that I didn’t very much enjoy the dramas I did watch—well, mostly. When the dramas were good, they were very very good. What was interesting about this year is that many dramas I expected to be great, and which did, in fact, start out very strong, were either just okay, or downright disappointing. Bride of the Water God 2017 and Hwarang stick out as the most confusing, because they had such interesting premises and fun casting, and they started out strong, but then they just fizzled out. Temperature of Love could have been a beautiful exploration of how two people need to be in the exact right emotional place at the exact same time for it to work. But instead, two out of three legs of the love triangle just became whiny brats, and the third leg, while strong, couldn’t support all the weight. And how I feel about the way Reunited Worlds wasted so much potential (you had Yeo Jin-gu, for heaven’s sake!) is probably best left unsaid.
On the other hand, some dramas really surprised me with how good they were, when there was really no indication ahead of time that they would turn out so well. Radiant Office may have had a lackluster romance, but the rest of the show was heartwarming and adorable, with an interesting portrayal of office life and a Suicide Squad you could really root for. Fight My Way boasted one of the cutest couples in dramaland this year, and Perfect Wife came out of nowhere with a wonderfully chilling story full of strong female characters and a great portrayal of how mental illness can wreck lives if gone unchecked. And the two-parter Individualist Ji-young turned out to be a pure gem, with standout performances and a message that couldn’t fail to move the hardest of hearts.
I haven’t been a Korean drama watcher for as long as many others—I’m coming up on my five-year anniversary since I found my first drama (Flower Boy Ramyun Shop) and fell in love. But I think that this year I just became a bit saturated with television in general, and this happened to coincide with a year that the dramas were either amazing, or just sort of okay. So it was easier this year to put shows aside that didn’t excite me, especially when I had other hobbies I wanted to pursue.
Seven Day Queen
But what’s wonderful is that just recently, my enthusiasm has returned. A few weeks ago I picked up Seven Day Queen again, having only watched the first half when it aired, and found myself hooked, and hooked hard. Now I’m looking around at other dramas that I know I will love, like The Liar and His Lover, Chief Kim, and both Age of Youth seasons, and feeling that old excitement to see what stories are lying in wait. I’m getting jazzed for current shows that I haven’t started yet like I’m Not a Robot and Hwayugi, and finding myself eager to dive in.
This year has been an interesting one for me in a lot of ways, most of them good. But I was growing worried that maybe I’d lost that old fire that thrilled me so much for the last few years whenever I sat down to watch a really great drama. I’m so happy to realize that it wasn’t permanent, but just a case of being busy with other things, and not being excited by what was on offer. I couldn’t be happier to be feeling so exhilarated by the idea of dramas again, and to know that no matter what happens in my life, there’s always something I can come back to that makes me feel both joyful and fulfilled.
And so I end the year with a promise to myself—to rediscover that exuberance that dramas bring me, and to continue to spread that enthusiasm whenever and however I can. It’s the least I can do for myself, for those who honor me by reading my recaps, and for javabeans and girlfriday, who give me such a wonderful platform on which to express my love of Korean dramas. I give thanks every day for the best community in the world!
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