High-School King of Savvy got off to a good start this week. Seo In Guk plays a teenage hockey player, Min Seok, who suddenly has to pretend to be his brother, Hyung Suk, a hot-shot executive at a big company who hasn’t been home in years. When I first read about it, I had flashbacks to Don’t tell Mom the Babysitters Dead, which was my favorite movie when I was a preteen. Teens b.s.ing their way through business is always a funny concept to watch, especially if they realize at least one or two of the adults around them are doing the same thing. I don’t know if this show will bear much resemblance to my favorite early-90s Christina Applegate film, but I am finding it pretty entertaining.
I think Seo In Guk is a great actor in general, and although he doesn’t look much like a real life high-school student, he does a great job of acting like one. (He doesn’t look old or anything, he just looks obviously past the wobbly-voiced, constantly covered with pimples, arms-too-big-for-body stage of life.) This show has a much better reason to cast a 27 year old as a teen than any other show, since Min Seok is substituting for his brother who is much older. Still, because the age and life-experience gap between the two brothers is one of the most important parts of the show, Seo In Guk being able to convince the audience he’s a teenage-fish-out-of-water is crucial. As expected, he pulls it off. I do think casting an 18 year old as his stalker/possible love interest just makes him look older, but I might be the only person who feels that way.
This isn’t an out-and-out comedy, but there are some very funny moments and quirky characters. What I especially like is how the serious issues/moments blend well with the comedic beats. And there are some pretty heavy things going on, even just in the first episode; the back-story regarding Hyung Seuk and Min Seuk’s parents, for instance. None of the heavy moments drown the humor, and there aren’t any rapid, uncalled for shifts in tone.
So far, of the supporting characters, Lee Soo Hyuk’s character, Jin Woo, and Lee Ha Na’s character, Soo Young, are the most interesting to me. Soo Young is a bit of a walking train wreck, and might not be for everyone, but her bumbling confession of love (in the men’s room, for crying out loud) and subsequent drunk dialing, combined with her efficiency at work and general quick thinking, seemed pretty realistic to me. She’s all book smarts at this point, with no emotional intelligence; I’m curious if this will change. Soo Young and Jin Woo actually have really great chemistry, and as Jinn Woo seems distrustful of absolutely everyone, they’d be an interesting pairing. I don’t know if Soo Young is Min Seuk’s main love interest, but if not, so far I hope that Soo Young and Jin Woo are end game.
I’m wondering if this is a Noona romance or not…’cause if it is, how old is that kid supposed to be, anyway? I have no problem with relationships with substantial age disparities, but I like the younger party to be out of high school first. I don’t like the term jail bait because is assumes that people in a relationship are automatically having sex, but I do think teens are still children, and need time to be kids and grow before they hop into relationships with adults. True, TV does a horrible job of modeling what life should look like and how everyone should think, feel, and act, and everyone should know not to imitate it; that doesn’t mean we should just watch whatever and not think of about the messages it sends out.
That said, I’m actually ok with a Soo Young/ Min Seuk pairing here, because I really like Soo Young. Also, because I think it’s a little strange to have a problem with Seo In Guk’s being paired with an actress who is five years older than him in order for him to be paired with an actress who is 9 or so years younger. The characters ages are not as important to me as the actors ages, because older male actors are paired with younger females constantly without much commentary, and it’s often not even mentioned in the plot. On the other hand, shows with older women paired with younger males draw a lot of commentary about the woman’s age, looks, and suitability, AND the age is a big part of the plot.
Anyway, we pretty much know by now that if Soo Young is the one for Min Seuk, there will be a time jump for just enough years to keep it from being creepy. Right now, they haven’t exactly interacted much, but there is some chemistry and you can tell Min Seuk is amused by her.
Some comments and complaints:
There was a strange editing moment at the beginning of the first episode that I’m sure left some people rewinding to see if they missed something. Did the editor of Witch’s Romance come along with the timeslot?
It is very hard to find this drama online with English subs. I was visiting a friend in Sacramento without my laptop. I wasn’t able to find this show on any of the video apps my tablet has. Neither dramafever nor Viki has it, although some users on Viki are trying to start a fan channel. When I had computer access again, I found it here, but I’m not sure how quick the subs will be uploaded. Making it harder to locate, this show is called about 452 different things in English: “King of High-School Manners,” “High-School King of Manners,” “High-School King of Savvy,””King of High-School Savvy,” “King of High-School Life Conduct,” (literal translation) and just plain “King of High-school” are a few I’ve seen. I prefer either the literal translation or “High-school King of Savvy,” simply because that was the name I saw in all the promotional material.