Some General spoilers ahead.
Trot lovers finished recently, and as it is a series I had recommended to Nerdnoona among others, I wanted to talk a little about what worked and what didn’t.
What’s frustrating about the series is that basically, the whole thing worked until a certain point. It was a simple show, competent, not reinventing the wheel, but going through predictable moments in sweet, sometimes hilarious ways. There was a rude, spoiled lead male, an amusing second lead male, a down-on-her-luck hardworking lead female, lots of people conspiring to keep her from succeeding, and an adorable child. The bickering relationship between the leads didn’t do it for some, but I thought it was cute. Although none of the parts of the story really departed from the tried and true drama cliches, the music and the individual characters were interesting enough to keep you watching. I especially enjoyed the moments President Jo seemed to be breaking the 4th wall.
But then the show took a nose dive. There were a few moments when I felt the show had jumped the shark: Jang Joon-hyun’s amnesia was the big one, but I think the characterization of Park Soo-in was really the first sign there was trouble. Soo-in first appeared as a sympathetic bad-guy. We understood why she was the way she was; in short, she seemed redeemable. But then, Soo-in started making choices that put her further and further away from that girl who was simply suffering because of a controlling mother and had never been taught how to deal with her issues. She started being pretty dang evil, of course mostly over a man, and she assumed that Jo Geun-woo wasn’t with her simply because of Choi Chun-hee. Soo-in crossed the place of no return, in my opinion, but there were hints that the writer’s still considered her redeemable.
And that continued even into the next big issue, the amnesia. That the amnesia happened was ridiculous, but it was handled competently and I was going to forgive the show for it. The characterization of Soo-in, though, bothered me a lot. The show glossed over the fact that she committed attempted murder. In real life, sure, you can probably change after something like that, maybe even after succeeding in murdering someone, but in a 16 or 20 episode show, you don’t have time to make that transformation. She had already passed my requirements for being irredeemable, but to me, this was solid evidence of her being in villain territory. I could tell the writer’s didn’t agree with me, though, and it took away a lot of my love for the show.
Soo-in seemed to regret what she was doing, and in several episodes she had these speeches about wanting to stop, but when the next opportunity for her to be evil came up, she always took it. Joon-hyun seemed frustrated with her for the same reason, but other than that it wasn’t addressed. P.S. Many characters kept talking about how hard Soo-in always worked, and that’s what everyone loved about her, and why couldn’t she go back to that. But IN THE SHOW the viewers saw, all she did was take advantage of Joon-hyun, throw fits when she didn’t sing as well as someone else, and whine. If she really had worked that hard, wouldn’t she be able to recognize that she didn’t sing as well as Choi Chun-hee in that competition early on, and wouldn’t some of her disappointment be levied at herself? It really bothers me when characterization is supposed to be completed by other characters giving exposition. It’s lazy.
Oh! I also have to quickly say, Geun-woo seemed to know that Soo-in had tried to hurt Chun-Hee. But somehow, even though he didn’t like her before, when she wasn’t violent and psychopathic, he suddenly might like her now if she reforms? And he decides this the moment she walks into the street, because suicidal thoughts are sexy or something? Bah, I blocked all of that out of my mind because it was so ridiculous.
Obviously, I was not satisfied with what happened to Soo-in or her horrible mother. The involvement of Joon-hyun’s mother in Choi Chun-hee’s mother’s accident (whoo, that was a mouthful, let me take a breath)- the whole involvement of the parents in general- was handled sloppily. And in the end, it was Soo-in’s mother who purposefully meant to hurt Chun-hee’s mother, and forced the other woman to leave the scene of the accident. She should have been the one who faced the brunt of the blame. But beyond that, Joon-hyun didn’t get along with his mother, and didn’t even really like her even though he loved her. He wasn’t close enough with her to have to leave when he’d realized what she’d done. It just didn’t make sense.
And what happened to the whole “Trot lovers” thing? Why wasn’t Trot the focus of the show? At the beginning, when Joon-hyun and Chun-hee’s romance was developing, music was the central focus. The moment they got together, the story changed to “let’s see how we can screw up these two’s relationship because we still have 10 episodes left.”
Even when I was frustrated by this mess, I still watched it and enjoyed watching it- until the final two episodes. I liked the final scene of the final episode, and that was pretty much it for me. My grade- 6.5 out of 10, mostly because I re-watched a lot of the songs way too much to say it was completely mediocre. If you are the kind of person that can write your own endings for shows and be satisfied, I’d say watch it. If you enjoy drama, and don’t mind a show swimming in cliches, you might actually enjoy it.