Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching
by DB Staff
So, what are we all watching this week?
What kept you reaching for more (or agonizing when there was no more), and what made you want to throw your remote through the screen? Time to weigh in…
Life: I find myself curiously drawn into this world despite NOT finding the premise all that exciting — hospital politics and internal power struggles — and I have to say it’s because these directors are excellent at creating atmosphere, tension, and a feeling of energy that doesn’t necessarily come from the plot itself. I’m not surprised because both directors have strong resumes: PD Hong Jong-chan of Dear My Friends and Live Up to Your Name and Im Hyun-wook, who has credits on Awl and This Week My Wife Will Have an Affair, although he wasn’t the main director on them. And I have to say that Jo Seung-woo in the antagonist’s role is a stroke of genius, because I’m not convinced he IS a villain despite the setup pointing in that direction. Or maybe he’s an honorable villain, I don’t know. I’m surprised to feel invested in this show, but in a good way.
What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim: My interest has been waning in this show for several weeks, because despite it being as cute as a button, the latter half has felt so absent of plot that it makes the whole show feel purposeless. I’m happy for the couple, but did I need to see so many episodes to get to this ending?
Let’s Eat 3: I do like Baek Jin-hee in this role, but my liking is so grudging because I was so attached to Seo Hyun-jin. I have to actively tell myself to forget the other seasons and to treat this one as a standalone show, because when I do that, I find it charming and sweet.
Thirty But Seventeen: I’m tentatively hopeful for this. It already feels super familiar despite the plot being somewhat different, because the childhood-trauma-into-adulthood-healing setup is handled so similarly to the PD’s other dramas (Pinocchio, I Hear Your Voice) that I feel like I already know the rhythm of this show. I’m hoping that turns out to be a good thing.
Mr. Sunshine: I’m still watching this, but to be honest it’s half because because I’m trying to figure out why it’s not working for me. I just don’t care about Eugene’s identity struggle (although on paper the conflict seems so rich), and on top of that I can’t feel any warmth toward Lee Byung-heon, and that one-two punch is deadly for my interest in the show. I also find myself incredibly uncomfortable with the cartoonishly evil portrayal of the Japanese characters here, which feels regressive and lazy. Which isn’t to say that this stuff didn’t happen in history — it absolutely did — but when a drama takes such a ham-handed approach to character building, it brings the whole production down. Dong-mae and Hina are two examples of layered characters with Japanese ties, so I know it’s not like the producers are incapable. So the fact that all the other Japanese characters are portrayed like Gargamel on a Smurf-hunt makes me think they’re just not interested in telling a more nuanced story.
Mr. Sunshine: The promise of bromance certainly helped keep my attention this week, because otherwise I find that I’m waiting around for Yoo Yeon-seok and Kim Tae-ri to have more scenes together, and it’s starting to feel like a drop-of-water-in-a-desert situation over here. But I am invested in the fate of Joseon in this era, so I hope the resistance movement gets going in earnest in our story. I mean, I know this isn’t Gaksital, but can we get a little more action around here? Everyone’s carrying around big guns and big swords, but so far all they’ve done is measure them while getting territorial over a girl. I think I’m going to enjoy her outgunning them all.
What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim: The final week really highlighted how little conflict there was to drum up between these two characters, so it felt like one really long, drawn-out epilogue. (Seriously though, can anyone explain to me why there was MORE screen time for these last two episodes?) While I found the characters utterly delightful, they didn’t change all that much from beginning to end, which was wasted potential for a drama that had plenty of time and then some to squeeze in significant character development. As a romance it was sweet and lovely and genuinely funny, but it worked best in the early phases when there was tension to be had—when Secretary Kim was searching for independence, leaving her boss grasping at straws to understand why she’d ever leave his perfect ass. Ah, the good ol’ days.
Let’s Eat 3: I didn’t expect the sisters to be the relationship that grabbed me, but I really love the storyline that follows Baek Jin-hee’s broken bond with her flighty stepsister. She may be an infuriating character, but she really adds a great dynamic to the group as the source of all conflict (plus, I find her haplessness kind of endearing?). Dae-young’s reactions to the sisters—confusion, mild horror, amusement, more confusion—are always spot-on for how I feel about them in any given moment, and I like that he’s being set up to be the one who brings them back together… after about 99 servings of jealousy and misunderstanding, of course.
Thirty But Seventeen: This is adorable. Shin Hye-sun is great at playing the teenager in the body of an adult, and the comedy doesn’t disappoint. It’s such an obvious setup, but the characters are quirky and the situations are a bit off-kilter (reminiscent of High School King of Savvy), and Yang Se-jong’s character is just weird enough to keep him interesting instead of being another standard cold and prickly hero. I find myself already invested in the first-love reunion, and eager for more age-confusion hijinks. Also, Robomaid is my favorite. Or maybe Yeh Ji-won is my favorite, because she always plays the nuttiest supporting characters in every drama and steals the show.
What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim: I just started watching. OMG~ this is totally hitting all my cotton-candy fluff drama needs. I never thought that I could like Park Min-young more than I liked her in Healer, but Secretary Kim is fantastic—just the right mix of down-to-earth and competent. Park Seo-joon probably could make a rock fall in love, but their chemistry is seriously off the charts. Kyaah, two more episodes to go!
Investigation Couple: As expected, the final episodes solved the decades-old case that the prosecutorial and forensic teams were involved with. What was unexpected was what came next — a new case that centered on a familiar suspect, the chaebol from Eun-sol’s first case. That continuity was a great detail, but when it became obvious that there was no way to resolve the case by the end of the final episode, I could see it was headed for an open ending. That made sense; there’s always that next case waiting in the wings. The problem for me was that this unresolved case left too many unanswered questions and I knew that I wouldn’t be satisfied with the finale. It wasn’t meant to be satisfying because Investigation Couple ended with the biggest cliffhanger of all: “To be continued…”
What?! Never did I expect a second season, but that’s exactly what’s been set up, and I’m actually looking forward to it if it happens. I really want to have the questions posed by that final case to be answered and I would definitely tune in for that reason alone. But that’s not the only reason I would give a second season a try. Investigation Couple worked for me because I think it tapped into a familiar formula that has worked with many crime shows. The drama had a good pace as well, and it brought closure to each case relatively quickly so there was something new to challenge the viewer week after week. I had my complaints about some of the character development and that huge break in the broadcast almost lost me, but I kept coming back. Investigation Couple managed to weave a web of mystery that I couldn’t escape and it just may be strong enough for a second season.
Your House Helper: I’ve fallen under the spell of this drama and I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps it has something to do with the stage of life that Da-young and her friends are in, when young adults find themselves overwhelmed by the burden of independence. Some people make that transition look so easy but that’s not the case for everyone, at least not for Da-young, Sang-ah, and So-mi, and it makes them relatable. They’re just trying to survive and Ji-woon, who specializes in overwhelmed people, offers much needed help and wisdom. But whenever he appears, all I can think of is the familiar saying, “Physician, heal thyself.”
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (July 21, 2018)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (July 14, 2018)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (July 7, 2018)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (June 30, 2018)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (June 23, 2018)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (June 16, 2018)