[2022 Year in Review] Year of the unexpected
This was an odd drama year for me. There were some dramas I enjoyed, but not many stuck with me afterward or made a strong impression. Going back through the dramas I watched this year, I realized that despite feeling somewhat lackluster about the dramas overall, there were elements of those dramas that did make a distinct impression – some in a good way, others not so much. While the specifics might differ for each of us, I’m pretty sure we all had drama experiences this year that didn’t quite go as expected. So for fun, here are my entirely personal top drama double takes for 2022.
College cheerleading as a survival sport – Cheer Up
And here I thought I was getting a cute coming-of-age college cheerleading drama. Instead, we got a drama about a cheer squad under literal threat of extinction because someone took cheerleading way too seriously and decided people needed to die for cheer infractions. If this had been done in a campier way, it could’ve been a blast. But it felt like the drama took itself just as seriously as its villain took cheerleading, which honestly made it impossible not to roll my eyes at the ridiculousness of it all. It baffles me why every drama these days seems obligated to include some sort of murder mystery, regardless of the genre or if it even makes sense for the story.
A trauma-free ensemble – Gaus Electronics
Gaus Electronics, the little drama that could, surprised me in a lot of ways. When thinking back on the drama, I realized one subtle, notable feature: no one had major trauma. The leads were average people with average lives and no life-defining traumatic baggage to speak of. Even the secret chaebol was trauma-free with loving and involved (if obtuse) parents. Who knew you could have a whole drama where everyone got character development yet no one’s character arc involved overcoming their severe past trauma?
Turning a beloved 19th century coming-of-age novel into a dark thriller – Little Women
Little Women was certainly the most unique twist on the classic story that I’ve seen, but it worked surprisingly well. I honestly expected a train wreck, but it ended up being one of the more memorable watches of the year for me. It was edgy and over-the-top in a fun way with a dark yet not oppressive tone. Calling this version an adaption is a stretch, but I’m all for creative reworking of material to provide a new point of view and keep it fresh. I’m curious to see what beloved classic dramaland decides to give a makeover next.
A traumatic healing drama – Summer Strike
The random murder mystery strikes again, ruining a perfectly good drama. I was all ready for a nice, healing drama about a woman taking a year off in a village to figure out life. The next thing you know, our heroine is being targeted and grandmas are getting offed. Maybe this is on me for not looking more into the drama or source material before starting, but still. Why did anyone deem it necessary to mash up a healing drama with murder?! I don’t know about you, but when I think of things that heal, murder doesn’t come to mind. Is it that hard to have a nice, relaxing drama that doesn’t involve death every once in a while?
Working archaeopteryx into conversations – Business Proposal
Props for one of the most creative rejection put-downs I’ve heard. It’s not every day a heroine casually compares her future love interest to an archaeopteryx. You gotta love a girl who makes you do an internet search to fully understand her insult. It makes me want to see how many prehistoric creatures I can casually work into my own conversations…
Making talent agent life boring – Behind Every Star
A drama about talent agents where we get a behind-the-scenes look at the bustling and glamorous entertainment industry? Surely, that’ll be exciting or at the very least interesting. Think again, because this drama was a snooze fest. If it had been longer than 12 episodes, I don’t think I would’ve managed to finish it. I’m not entirely sure why it was so boring, but somehow neither the work nor the agents were particularly engaging. The drama felt cold and lifeless, pretty much the opposite of what I’d signed up for.
Whales as a side character – Extraordinary Attorney Woo
As most everyone knows by now, there’s a lot to like about Extraordinary Attorney Woo. One small detail I particularly appreciated was how creative it was in portraying Young-woo’s inner life. The use of epiphany whales whenever Young-woo had a eureka moment was genius and fun. I felt like whales were a genuine side character in the story, which was a great way to incorporate Young-woo’s special interest and show its importance to her.
Quirky murder coverups for the whole family – Link: Eat, Love, Kill
Link was one weird drama. For whatever reason, mixing rom-coms with murder mysteries/thrillers has become a thing in dramaland, but this one added dark comedy into the mix to liven things up even more. Playing “Where’s Waldo?” with a body-hiding fridge as it made its way through the neighborhood and incompetent murder-coverup chaos made for a zany, offbeat ride that I enjoyed. It may not be everyone’s admittedly strange cup of tea, but it definitely made an impression.
Feeling invested in sports – Twenty Five Twenty One
This one is very much due to a personal quirk because I hate sports. I hate playing them, watching them – I even usually dislike sports movies and shows. But somehow, this drama had me invested in Hee-do’s fencing matches. I tried to figure out what made this one different for me, and I think it’s how the matches factored into character development. I was so invested in Hee-do’s personal journey, and each match played a role in her growth and uphill battle to reach her potential. The emotional piece was worked in so well that even sports haters like me could find themselves cheering along with the team.
- [2022 Year in Review] Editors’ Picks
- [2022 Year in Review] Beanie Awards: Best of 2022
- [2022 Year in Review] Beanie Awards: Worst of 2022
- [Drama chat] One thing that dramas did in 2022 that you loved
- [Drama chat] One thing that dramas did in 2022 that you *didn’t* love
- [2022 Year in Review] My 2022 K-drama/song association playlist
- [2022 Year in Review] Heroes who stole my heart
- [2022 Year in Review] Storytelling lessons
- [2022 Year in Dramas] The year of the loyalty test
- [2022 Year in Dramas] I just want to watch a K-drama when I want to watch it
- [2022 Year in Dramas] Disappointments, wins, and discovering new actors
- [2022 Year in Dramas] Ten bad dates: My year in K-drama romance
- [2022 Year in Review] Tell us about your year in dramas