Shooting Stars: Episodes 1-2
In a world where we mostly see carefully curated celebrities shining brightly onstage, Shooting Stars takes us away from the glitz and glamour and introduces us to the hardworking people laboring behind the scenes to make these celebrities shine. They might say the most pointless thing in the world is to worry about celebrities, but that very thing is all they do 24/7.
EPISODES 1-2 WEECAP
Right off the bat, we’re introduced to our leading lady, OH HAN-BYEOL (Lee Sung-kyung), the head of PR at StarForce Entertainment. While managing celebrities seems to be a dream job on the outside, the more we glimpse into Han-byeol’s life, the more unglamorous it seems, and the hardest part of her job is always having to deal with calls from reporters. She fields a call from one of them concerning a celebrity under her, who is currently in Africa, digging a well. *Rolls eyes*
With a Lion King-esque intro, we are taken to a remote part of Africa where we meet this celebrity, our leading man, GONG TAE-SUNG (Kim Young-dae). Tae-sung and his charity team have just finished drilling the well to the delight of the villagers, and his charity exploits earn him media headlines around the world. He seems like a good person whom everyone loves.
No kidding, Tae-sung’s face is plastered on every billboard in the streets, on buildings, buses — you name a product and he is endorsing it. Han-byeol flashes back to Tae-sung’s departure at the airport where she’d been knocked down by his teeming fans. He helped her up, leaned in and whispered something to her.
At work, we meet the head of StarForce Entertainment, CHOI JI-HOON (Ha Do-kwon), DO SOO-HYUK (Lee Jung-shin), the company lawyer, and other members of the PR team, KANG YOO-SUNG (Yoon Jong-hoon), and PARK HO-YOUNG (Kim Yoon-hye). The PR trio are reminded to get a physical examination the following day.
Back in Africa, Tae-sung’s volunteering period is almost over and he briefly recollects the airport scene with Han-byeol when asked if there’s anyone he wants to see when he returns home. Unfortunately, she doesn’t feel the same way and hilariously thinks she needs to find another job before he returns. For now, it seems she’s the only one immune to his charms.
Next we’re introduced to BAEK DA-HEE (Jang Hee-ryung), a Tae-sung fangirl and a new actress at StarForce Entertainment. Yoo-sung visits her home with some scripts, and she declares she will pick whatever ‘Tae-sung oppa’ is in. Yoo-sung gets called back to work by a, in her words, “washed up actress” (cameo by Seo Yi-sook) who complains of being treated dismally by the staff. Yoo-sung placates her ego and scolds the junior staff at fault.
The PR trio show up in the hospital the following day for their physical, and they meet HAN DAE-SOO (Kim Dae-gon), a former employee at their company who now runs his own agency. But are they really in PR if their phones don’t ring?
First, Dae-soo gets a call and has to leave. Then Yoo-sung gets a call from Da-hee’s shoot and has to skip the physical. For a minute, it looks like Han-byeol and Ho-young will go through with the physical but a scandal breaks, and Ho-young leaves too. Eventually, Han-byeol, the last woman standing, has to rush out — still dressed in her hospital gown — after a Tae-sung scandal hits the internet. So much for a compulsory physical examination.
Apparently, Tae-sung accidentally knocked heads with another volunteer during a foot volleyball match and things got exaggerated on social media. At home, she looks at an old picture of herself and Tae-sung which sits in the trash and we get to hear what he had whispered to her at the airport: “I won’t let you go when I get back.” Is that supposed to be a confession or a threat?
At work the next day, we learn the two attended the same school and while Han-byeol had defended him in front of the other staff, she knows the incident with Tae-sung wasn’t really an accident and he knocked heads with the other guy on purpose. First cracks in the seemingly perfect Tae-sung armor.
Speaking of which, Tae-sung returns three days earlier than scheduled and goes in for another whisper the second he locates Han-byeol. This time, he tells her that she seems to be in a good mood, which puts him in a bad mood. Aha! The first whisper was a threat!
We get a pleasant Tae-sung at a press conference on his great water-bringing exploits in Africa, after which he goes back into diva mood as he meets his new manager. Diva Tae-sung is back, which means Han-byeol’s already hectic life is about to get even worse.
After PR newbie HWANG BO-IN (Kwon Han-sol) makes a mistake at work, two of the other staff take her out for cheer up drinks where they speculate on the nature of Tae-sung and Han-byeol’s relationship. This is where Dae-soo meets them and spills the tea on some six-year-old gossip.
Back then, Han-byeol was a newbie and a typo on a drama article she sent out reported Tae-sung as being impotent, rather than the archaeologist he was confirmed to play. Ouch! He’d stormed the agency, chased her till they got to the restroom, and then started taking off his pants, ready to show her that everything was fine down there. *Insert incoherent noises*. Thankfully, Dae-soo managed to cover up the goodies before he could scar Han-byeol completely. Phew! And that’s why they don’t see eye to eye.
A photoshoot separates Tae-sung and Han-byeol for the day, and while he is pissed on set, she feels relieved at work. But Yoo-sung reminds her that she still has a job after the typo error only because of Tae-sung. He’d nagged the boss not to fire her, and just when I’m thinking he’s sweet, he says it’s because he wants to bully her himself. But when he’s alone at home reminiscing about his volunteering trip, we see a more human side to him.
Tae-sung initially passes on a star writer’s drama, and Dae-soo and Ho-young hilariously try to land the lead role for their individual stars. But to satisfy Han-byeol’s curiosity, and with a little scheming by Yoo-sung, Tae-sung accepts the role. This leads Dae-soo and Ho-young to drown their disappointments over soju. Hmmm. Tae-sung’s co-star happens to be Da-hee and we see that a handwritten letter from Yoo-sung was what convinced the writer to cast her on the project. Double hmmm.
The world of the stars is not as glamorous as it looks, and we see the “Happy Virus” idol (cameo by Kim Seul-gi) who acts cute towards reporter JO KI-BBEUM (Sojin), but in private, she’s the total opposite. And then there’s Tae-sung’s new manager who crashes into one of his many ads on the street because Tae-sung never smiles at him, but he’s always smiling in the ad. Needless to say, manager-nim quits, and the search is on for a new manager. Good luck to whoever gets the job.
In the middle of another bickering session, Tae-sung asks why Han-byeol never called him once during his volunteer trip. But while the two of them are still head-to-head, a scandal breaks out about Tae-sung and his university ex-girlfriend. The picture going viral online is the same one we saw in Han-byeol’s trash! And this is where we wrap up for the week.
First things first, what in the poverty porn is this drama’s depiction of Africa? Is the whole continent some kind of remote village with only one well? Please, K-drama writers, this is 2022. Let’s do some research and stop feeding these stereotypes. Aside from that, I enjoyed the premiere week more than I thought I would. It’s always nice to see and appreciate the hard work going on behind the scenes and for once, shine the spotlight on those people working in the background to protect the stars we love.
I really like Han-byeol, and I can relate to her dealing with other people’s love lives without a love life of her own. And then there’s Tae-sung the diva who is totally, obviously into Han-byeol. He gives off the vibe of middle school boys who pull their crush’s pigtails and it’s kinda cute. I also like the supporting characters and how they all fit right into this world, although I’m looking forward to seeing more of lawyer Soo-hyuk.
With lighthearted rom-coms like this, I’m always wary of love triangles, but from the look of things, this drama doesn’t seem to be heading towards that direction. Instead, I’m spotting other ships on the horizon (Yoo-sung × Da-hee and Dae-soo × Ho-young) and this happy shipper is only too pleased to sail along with our main couple and the other ships in the coming weeks.
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