During this latest absence, I went on a kdrama binge. There was a point where I was only finishing about half an episode a week, but lately I've been finishing a series in two or three days!
On the lookout for my next kdrama. What should I pick? In the meantime, read on to see my thoughts on everything I've watched.
Monthly Magazine Home: I'm only just starting episode 10 because I'm starting to become bored with it. I don't buy the love line between Young-Won and Ja-Sung; there hasn't been enough build up to show that they're compatible. I liked how Ja-Sung had begun to be curious about her, but on the other side, there hasn't been much to show that Young-Won went from hating the guy who literally threw her out on the street and over-criticizes her at work to loving him even though he hasn't changed at all.
Aside from that, the drama doesn't know what kind of story it wants to tell. I'm wishing for it to be a slice-of-life-style workplace drama – because that's what this show does best – but it goes from slapstick to thoughtful to over the top to tragic, all in one episode. I also find that the joke/problem always goes on just a little longer than it needs to, which slows down the story and sometimes makes you dislike the characters. We'll see how this continues.
Blue Birthday: I've only watched the first two episodes, but I already like it. I'm always surprised when dramas with short run times (I think this one is around 10 minutes per episode) are able to put so much story in each episode. It has a similar premise as Nine: Nine Times Time Travel, which I enjoyed. I'm really interested to see where this one goes.
Doom at Your Service: FANTASTIC drama. It's very beautiful to watch, even with it's somber storyline. I love how Dong-Kyung faces her terminal illness from a practical, matter-of-fact perspective. I think too many people have gotten used to the over-dramatization of sickness and forget that everyone doesn't turn into a hysterically crying mess just because they know their time remaining on earth is short. She has very human reactions to things (eg, she jumped in front of the knife just because she felt like she should) and not because of some overarching grand gesture. It really plays up the difference between human feelings and god feelings, which is much of the point.
I also like how Dong-Kyung surrounded herself with like-minded people: her coworkers are just as practical and no-nonsense. Even Myul-Mang/Doom is the same, although without human emotion. Speaking of which, I love how everything Dong-Kyung does is a conscious choice. She declares that she'll fall in love with Myul-Mang and actually works at it. And when it feels fake/forced, she stops and changes direction. (Although Myul-Mang coyly saying "sleep with me" would've done me in then and there!) In that way, I felt that their feelings progressed much more naturally. Especially since at first, her family/friends were still the people she loved the most even when she claimed she loved him the most (when she didn't yet).
Ignore those who say that the plot doesn't make sense; those are people who like their rom-coms to be easy, simple, and predictable. The goddess can be a little misplaced at times, but ignoring that, it's a great drama. And although there are some references/callbacks to Goblin (I read somewhere that there was a staff member who worked on both? Maybe the PD?), they are minor, and the stories aren't alike at all.
My Roommate Is a Gumiho: I didn't love this drama, but I didn't dislike it either. This is another drama that wasn't sure what genre it wanted to be. When I saw actress Park Kyung-Hye, I was certain it would be a comedy, but it wasn't quite that... unless it was. (Not that I'm against Park Kyung-Hye having non-comedic roles; she acted the serious portion her role as Soo-Kyeong very well.) There was also the whole forced "amnesia but not really" trope, and you know I always dislike it when one person makes a huge, life-altering decision for another person without talking about it together first.
I would have liked it better if the Mountain Spirit wasn't the literal embodiment of deus ex machina; the drama could've worked the god-like figure into the storyline more organically. But I did like how Dam was firm in that she controlled her own fate and actively worked against the fate she didn't want. However, the ending was forced and didn't make any sense – Woo-Yeo should have either became a human or not. There was no need for a purgatory (forced separation trope), which was apparently created only for him since Hye-Sun didn't go through that when she became human. It just felt like the drama's universe conveniently changed its rules as it saw fit to accommodate Woo-Yeo.
Imitation: I really enjoyed this story at first, but then it got off track. For a series that was only 12 episodes long, there was no need to waste two episodes with a music variety-type format as the main plot of the episode. If the culmination of the series was supposed to be a concert, then the preceding episodes don't need to spend nearly the entire hour as a concert. It definitely took the wind out of the sails of the finale. That time could have been used to develop the relationships more as well as Eun-Jo/Annie's storyline, which was rushed through. Then we spent the entire series thinking that Park Jin-Man was the evil CEO only to find out *finale spoiler* that the picture was photoshopped and it was a grand scheme by minor character General Manager Kim? Huh? The things that were important were glossed over (Sparkling's member drama anyone?), and things that were seemingly important were just dropped (Shax's crazy fan club discovering every detail of their lives somehow).
Bossam – Steal the Fate: This was such a good sageuk, which is expected from a Jung Il-Woo drama. (And let's not forget the adorable Ko Dong-Ha as Cha Dol!) I enjoyed watching this group of ruffians and runaways become a family, and I even enjoyed Dae-Yeob as part of the team when he wasn't being obsessively possessive of Soo-Kyung. There were some annoying plot points, for instance, the whole Cha Dol's mother plot and whenever Ba-Woo's mother and sister acted annoying and naïve. I love the theme that family is comprised of people who are there for you and love you for who you are.
At a Distance, Spring Is Green: This was another series that I was hooked on from episode one. I feel that the title is super acurate, too, because everyone tells college-aged students that this is the best time of their life and they have everything that everyone wants (e.g. youth), but for those students, their day-to-day lives may not seem appealing, and they have struggles of their own that may feel insurmountable. I do feel like the story did a disservice to Min-Joo, and I think it could've explored the connection between Young-Ran and Chan-Ki much more. I thought it was obvious that Joon was misremembering his childhood (which happens), but I think it's odd that he never noticed that his dad was abusing everyone else in the family. And even though Joon-Wan told their dad not to lay a hand on Joon, it was obvious that he still did, seeing that he slapped the crap out of Joon in the beginning of the drama. Plot holes aside, I do think that it was a good story overall, and I enjoyed the friends coming together to be their authentic selves with each other.
So I Married the Anti-Fan: aka, how to ruin a drama. The premise of the show was good, but then it went off the rails. A drama about a reality show quickly forgot the reality show plot, and the writers tried to quickly shoehorn it back into the show at the end. I mean, it was nice to explore Hoo-Joon and Geun-Young's relationship and the behind-the-scenes drama between Hoo-Joon, Jae-Joon, and In-Hyung; however, that should have been done in relation to the reality show. And although Jae-Joon was slighted and angry, I didn't see the need to make him violent, especially since it was only for a few moments as plot devices. His backstory with his rich family was lacking as well. In-Hyung's storyline was also a hot mess, and she really didn't know how to do anything aside from look sad all the time. I don't know how this turned out so horrible since it was a pre-produced drama (way back in 2018! and didn't air until 2021!).
Aside from the above, I also watched three other older dramas: Cinderella and the Four Knights (ugh), Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency (cute), and I Am Not a Robot (fun), plus one Japanese drama, which I may or may not quickly review in my next post.