[2022 Year in Review] Bean of Greatness
by DB Staff
Because The Bean Count is so very fun — but then over so very fast — we thought it would be fun to talk more about our beans. Or, just about dramas in general this year, with beans as the excuse. After all, summing up, sorting out, and making blanket pronouncements is what the 2022 Year in Review is all about.
Not to be confused with the famous Editors’ Picks, this new bean series is much like our other DB team posts — each writer sharing their feels. Add your own personal Bean of Greatness in the comments and join the fun!
missvictrix: As one of the ten people on planet earth that actually enjoyed it, my Bean of Greatness goes to Bulgasal: Immortal Souls. Yes, you were needlessly bloody and often incongruous in plot — but you were also full of lore, longing, centuries of fate, and Lee Jin-wook being broody. When I was doing my bean count and thought about all the dramas I watched, my question to these stories was which did I enjoy most while watching, not which was “better.” Surprisingly, Bulgasal was at the top of that list — because stories of fated characters finding each other again across multiple timelines/lifetimes is one of my absolute favorite things ever. Bulgasal played with this element in really fun ways, and I loved its weird world of lore and gore so much I forgave the rest.
tccolb: My bean goes to Our Blues. Although it wasn’t an easy watch and there were elements that I didn’t enjoy, there’s something about Noh Hee-kyung’s writing that always draws me in. I can’t help but be compelled by her unabashedly flawed characters and the amazing performances by the actors made them feel all the more real and raw. I cried buckets for all of them. But I smiled with them in the end as well and I loved the story’s message about our power to choose. Even if we can’t control fate, we are empowered to choose how we react and how to move forward for the better.
quirkycase: My Bean of Greatness goes to… Twenty Five Twenty One. I freaking loved this drama from start to finish (yes, even the ending). No other drama was as emotionally affecting for me this year as Twenty Five Twenty One. The characters and story had me so invested. Hee-do was a delight, and I loved watching her grow up as she pursued her dreams. And my heart went out to the ever-struggling Yi-jin who could never seem to catch a break despite trying so hard. The two of them had such a beautiful, caring relationship that made it impossible not to root for them. Since I’m not into sports at all, I didn’t expect to also feel invested in Hee-do’s fencing journey, but somehow the drama made me care a lot about that too. All in all, it was a lovely story about life’s journey and the formative, sometimes fleeting experiences in youth that shape who you become.
mistyisles: As a general rule, my enjoyment of a show directly correlates to how well I’m able to connect with the characters. In other words, while I enjoy a show that makes me think deeply about the questions it raises, I’ll always prefer one that makes me feel deeply instead. Blind, however, accomplished both. It gave me one of my favorite characters of the year, and another character for whom my feelings are so complicated that I’m still thinking them over weeks later, and just overall reminded me why I love murder mysteries. While I know not everyone was happy with its conclusion, Blind left me with a bittersweet kind of satisfaction I can only describe as filling a hole in my heart I didn’t know I had.
DaebakGrits: Weecapping Business Proposal was the highlight of my Dramabeans writing career (so far), and I enjoyed gushing and fangirling over the story with all the Beanies who tuned in to comment each week. It may not have been a perfect drama (I’m still a wee bit miffed about Grandpa), but it was a great experience — as both a viewer and as a weecapper. The characters were charming, the tropes were plentiful, and the conflicts were kept to a minimum. It was a happy-go-lucky story, and its sole purpose was to trigger a massive release of dopamine. I don’t know about y’all, but sometimes I just need a light and fluffy drama to look forward to and get me through the boring hum-drum of the work week. And Business Proposal had me looking forward to Mondays! Seriously, I woke up excited to go to work because I knew I’d be watching Business Proposal on my lunch break. That’s pretty magical, and I hope 2023 will bring me another drama that triggers the same amount of joy and squees!
solstices: I’ve already written something along the lines of five odes and seven love letters to the masterpiece that is Through the Darkness, so for this post I’ll pick something a little less talked-about — The Sound of Magic, a.k.a. the drama that holds a special place in my heart. It may not be the most groundbreaking show to grace our screens, but it told its tale with a heartfelt sincerity that felt reminiscent of a youthful innocence. Weaving radiant childhood dreams seamlessly into the faded reality of adulthood, the drama grounded itself by striking a delicate balance between both while elevating its surreal dreamscapes through its deft use of music. And how beautiful the soundtrack was! Each musical number was so evocative and compelling, and I love that they did justice to the original work’s use of mixed media. Annarasumanara, which the drama is based on, is one of my first and favorite webtoons — and The Sound of Magic gave its own lovely spin to that fond nostalgia. It’s a drama that will warm your heart with a hopeful reassurance that there is always happiness to be found in every day, no matter how small.
Unit: Business Proposal is my pick! This simple rom-com was a refresher course on why I fell in love with K-dramas in the first place: no drama, cheesy dialogue, cliché tropes, grand romantic gestures leading to butterfly riots in my belly, scene stealers/stealing moments, and a general feel-goodness. Plot wise, it wasn’t one of the strongest ones this year and the finale was underwhelming in comparison with the earlier episodes. But I was literally obsessed with the show throughout its run. As the romantic that I am, when a show gives me zero love triangles, two separate lovelines with sizzling chemistry, and a “glasses removal” kiss scene that broke the internet, as far as greatness is concerned, I have no
chingu choice but to stan.
Dramaddictally: “Great” is really the only word I can use to describe Extraordinary Attorney Woo. Park Eun-Bin’s performance was so memorable and hypnotic, I found myself thinking about her character, Woo Young-woo, between episodes, unable to wait for more. Though this was a legal drama (in a year of far too many!), the selected cases strayed from the norm, taking up relevant (and real) social issues that focused on inequality in various forms (particularly the position of women in society). Amidst all this, there was still room for romance, and the pace and tone felt unexpectedly perfect to me. Romance wasn’t the point of the show, and it didn’t outshine other matters, but it developed as just one more area of life where we got to see Young-woo’s growth. All in all, watching this drama was a great time — and I guess that’s what makes it worthy of my Bean of Greatness.
alathe: To the surprise of virtually no one, my pick of greatness is an easy call. Alchemy of Souls stole my soul, fed me poison, and pierced me through the heart — but, just like Wook, it only made me fall in love harder. Much like our hapless hero, I was smitten with this show’s assassin protagonist from the very start. Jung So-min as Mu-deok is a dazzling kaleidoscope of adorable bloodlust, off-the-wall schemes, and expressions so entertaining I could watch her for hours without pause. Ultimately, it’s the blistering chemistry between our protagonists that makes this drama so special for me: Wook and Mu-deok’s corpse-strewn courtship is one that I’ll never forget. The grand, life-or-death gestures! The ironclad trust! The yin-and-yang wedding eggs! Trust me, I could gush for hours on end. As is, I’m desperately anticipating season two. No doubt, Mu-deok’s suitors will unionize, Wook will drink no less than five suspicious beverages on purpose, and the Crown Prince will enter an angsty arc wherein he shaves off his eyebrows in order to conceal his true emotions. This show is a top-notch, gorgeous, zany fantasy epic, and I doubt I’ll ever fall as fast or as hard again.
Tags: Alchemy of Souls, Blind, Bulgasal: Immortal Souls, Business Proposal, Extraordinary Attorney Woo, featured2, Our Blues, Staff Spotlight, The Sound of Magic, Twenty Five Twenty One, year in review, year in review 2022