adelagia: (mst3k | danger small talk)
[personal profile] adelagia
According to my massage therapist, who is a funny old Korean man, all K-dramas are this: eating, screaming, and love triangles. And he's SO RIGHT.

Here are thoughts on some of the K-dramas I've watched recently. Many spoilers ahead.

Drinking Solo/Let's Drink:
The good: Oh, the food porn. Every episode starts out with one of the characters ruminating on the reason they're drinking at that moment, and invariably, it's paired with something that looks insanely delicious.

This was the drama that introduced me to Key from the K-pop group SHINee, and I gotta tell you, I LOVE HIM. His character Kibum and the two friends he hangs around with Dongyoung and Gongmyung -- students trying to pass a civil service exam, which apparently is extremely difficult -- were the highlight of the series. Their friendship was so much fun. I'd watch a show about the three of them (and Chaeyeon) being dorky together exclusively.

The bad: The entire romantic storyline. I think the writers took a bet that they couldn't hit every single bad K-drama cliche ever and went to town on it. Noble idiocy, check. Someone hit by a car so the other person can prove their love, check. Misunderstandings that could be solved in two seconds if someone would just freaking say something, check. Brothers falling out over a woman, yup. Same brothers making decisions about what the woman "deserves" without ever actually asking her what she wants, right on. God, it was so frustrating.

And Gongmyung, who is the second lead, also does something that I haaaaaate, which is persisting in pursuing Hana when when says no. UGH. Outside of that storyline I liked him, which made it such a shame that for the sake of the "romance" he had to be such a tone-deaf dick about it.

To sum up: Terribly executed love triangle, excellent side characters. I wish I could recommend it because the side characters were really such fun. Just fast forward through all the romance crap.

Descendants of the Sun:
I only wanted to watch this because Onew (one of my many future husbands) is in it. I'd heard that it was way overhyped, so I went in with pretty low expectations, which may be why I ended up kind of enjoying it for what it was. It's purdy. Part of it was filmed on location in Greece, so the backdrops are stunning.

There are some very cute and funny moments too, in addition to Song Joongki being a badass special forces dude, which managed to carry me through a Big Bad I really could not have cared less about and all of Kang Moyeon's wishy-washiness about her feelings. It was understandable for a while, because yes, they have different ideals and it's probably really hard to date someone who could go off and die at any moment, but it got annoying after a while. I was glad when it was over and she made her decision and they got to stick it out without more misunderstandings/second thoughts getting in the way. There was a whole thing where it looked like Shijin and Daeyoung died, and Song Hyekyo was super good at being bereft and watching her cry made me cry, but as a viewer I was also like, "Yeah right, what writer in her right mind is going to kill off both her male leads with two episodes to go?" But it was nice everyone got a tidy little happy ending. I know it does seem a bit pat, but hey, sometimes you want that.

Also the stuffed rabbit and chipmunk dressed as soldiers were so cute!! I wants.

1% of Something:
I did have high-ish hopes for this. I trawl Dramabeans from time to time to see what people are watching and enjoying, and this one seemed high on everyone's list for a cute romcom. It does start out that way and I liked both leads, but unfortunately, I have such a low tolerance of guys being a-holes to women that I had to jump ship by episode four. I get that he's a jerk who will eventually be softened by the love of a good woman or whatever, but if he starts at a point where the things he does are so terrible, I have no interest in his redemption and want the female lead to find someone who'll treat her better. And not that anyone has a "claim" over anyone else regardless of their relationship status, but they start a relationship as part of a forced contract to begin with so where does he get off demanding that she cannot speak to any other man except him (even if the other men are old childhood friends) and then physically intimidating her until she agrees to this ludicrous demand?? UGH.

Reply 1997/Answer Me 1997:
There were things this series did tremendously well. I loved that they captured the feeling of being a teenager so well -- crushes, first loves, unbreakable friendships, obsessing over celebrities you're sure you'll marry someday, taking your parents for granted. Like, I lived all of that. In a different country and an entirely different culture, but I related so much to it. I was also pleasantly surprised by how gracefully they handled Junhee's one-sided love storyline; it was so quietly dignified and sad.

There were also things that I thought were not great. The love triangle, which I didn't care for to begin with (because EWW, he's her teacher, and EWWW, he used to be engaged to her dead sister, FIND A BIGGER POND TO FISH FROM, TAEWOONG), eventually bored me. And it didn't help that it kind of took over the back end of the series. The whole "who's the husband" gambit went on until almost the very end, by which time it wasn't cute anymore and I just didn't care. Also, whoever put Seo Inguk in that orange-and-brown suit monstrosity should be tarred and feathered.

Reply 1988/Answer Me 1988:
JUNGHWAN-AAAHHHHHHHH. I don't think a character has ever broken my heart as much as Kim Junghwan. I couldn't even watch the last two episodes because it upset me SO MUCH. Which totally sucks because what was a very sweet, nostalgic series with lovely, lovely family relationships and friendships left such a bitter taste in my mouth in the end I can't think of it without being pained by it.

And not that I didn't like Taekie; Taekie was amazing. All of them were! (Except Sunwoo, who, in all other aspects was awesome, but STOP FORCING YOUR FEELINGS ON WOMEN WHO HAVE MADE IT CLEAR THEY HAVE NO INTEREST IN YOU I HATE THIS SO MUCH AND OF COURSE HE GOT REWARDED FOR IT GOD.) But Duk Seon/Taek just didn't work. She was like a mom to him. Aaaggh. Almost the whole of their relationship was her taking care of him. I didn't get it.

I really loved all the characters and their friendships with each other and the whole tight-knit community feeling; it was all so heartwarming and true to life, and then BAM! JUNGHWAN'D. Aaaaggh. I may never get over it. Neverrr.

Hwarang:
This one's a period drama that's currently airing with about six more episodes to go. It's... I have more complaints about it than compliments but that's only because it has so much potential and so many tantalizingly untapped storylines that it really could have been great. The crazy thing about it is that it seems like everyone except the two main leads has an interesting storyline, but we don't get to spend more than, like, five minutes per episode on those characters because we have to watch Aro cry and Sunwoo brood about shit (and we hardly ever know what the hell he's brooding about because there's a whole "mystery" about his background and it's been 13 episodes and WE STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS). And then when they get together, it's a veritable black hole of chemistry.

It's so frustrating that the side characters are so much more intriguing. We have Jidwi, who has a rightful claim to the throne, but doesn't have the power to claim it; instead he has a manipulative mother (the queen regent) who says she cares about him but uses his existence to make power plays for herself. We have Banryu, who's reluctantly puppeted by his adoptive father, a minister trying to oust the queen regent, and who's in love with his enemy's sister (a ship so much cuter than the main pairing, btw, even though Banryu/Sooyeon get maybe two minutes an episode). There's Hansung, who started out as an adorable dreamer, but it turns out he's been dealing with a lifelong burden of feeling inadequate to shoulder the mantle of his family's dignity. And there's Dansae, his older and somewhat illegitimate brother, who has all the qualities to take on the responsibility Hansung doesn't want, except he can't because he's a "half-breed". All these people could lead a series by themselves. I wish they did! I'd watch any and all of those.

The upside is that when there are Sunwoo/Aro scenes or scenes where Aro has to cry about whatever (and she cries A LOT), I get up and do other stuff until they're over. I can't ever multitask when watching K-dramas because I have to be there to read subtitles, but the romance is SO BLAND I don't care if I miss it.

This seems to be a recurring problem I've noticed... that I have less interest in the main romantic plots than with other stuff going on. I don't know if that just means I've been watching shows with subpar romances or if my interests are just changing. Then again, the one time I did get invested, I got Junghwan'd so maybe it's better this way.

August 2017

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