Hello Drama Watchers! Curlynoona here. In a few days, 2015 will be over!
I’ve been pretty absent on wordpress this year, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t watching dramas! Boy, was I watching dramas. I was watching them so much that I didn’t have much time to write about them. Oh, and you know, there was also life going on. But since dramas are way more interesting than my life, let’s talk about those.
For me at least, 2015 was a good year for Korean dramas. My #1 requirement for a show is, of course, good writing, but I also have my pet genres. I am an avid romantic comedy nerd, a sucker for friendship stories, and if you throw in an underdog thread or a good undercurrent of action or fantasy, I am yours for life (or at least the 12-24 episodes it takes to tell your story.) I am also a fan of suspense and crime procedurals, but I am a downright snob about those. (Only the best, well-thought out crimes for me, please, waiter.) 2015 offered many dramas in my favorite genres, as well as some that temped me to go outside of my comfort zone.
I usually avoid melodramas, for instance, but I spent quite a long time screaming at these two to “Just get together already!” though my computer screen.
Now, as we head into 2016, I’m re-watching some of my favorites, or those I feel I didn’t give a fair chance when I attempted to watch them the first time. I thought I’d share with you dramas that I think are worth watching again, or, if you haven’t seen them, worth adding them to your list of completed shows to marathon. (Who doesn’t enjoy putting on a show, planning to watch 1 episode but watching 5, then swearing you’ll go to sleep as soon as this episode is over, then saying you’ll just watch the first 10 minutes of the next one to make sure the protagonist is safe after that cliff-hanger, then realizing you’ve watched the whole episode, then figuring two hours of sleep is good, you can watch one more and not be a total zombie the next day, and then realizing not only is it time to get dressed and go about your day but you still haven’t finished the series and you really want to know what happens? It’s not just me, right?)
I’m going to try to keep this spoiler free just in case.
Here are the first three dramas that are on my rewatch list:
Worth the Hype
I’ll tell you something slightly unbelievable. I didn’t really watch Healer when it came out. I read a few recaps, was unsure about it, and felt that it was probably overrated. I try not to be too “hipstery- too-cool-for-anything-popular” about my drama choices, but sometimes it happens. I’d never seen Ji Chang-wook in anything (weird, right?) and I hadn’t made any conclusions about Park Min-young’s acting abilities, so I didn’t know how the acting would be or if they could make me care about the characters. But at about the middle of Healer’s run I started watching bits and pieces, mostly the romantic bits, and was quickly sucked in by the action and mystery. I watched it again recently from the beginning, and I have to say Healer lives up to its reputation. The thing I probably like the best about the show, besides two great lead characters, many wonderful supporting characters (including several bad-ass women), and very little love-triangle shenanigans, is that the tragedy from 1992 is every bit as compelling as the story that is unfolding in the present. It’s rewatchable for the squee factor alone, as the relationship between Jung-Hoo and Chae Young-shin is pretty darn adorable. But it’s also got action, intrigue, and depth.
I’m struggling a bit to describe The Lover. Raunchy good fun with a dash of gross-out humor and absurdity, amid realistic obstacles and sudden poignancy? The omnibus format (bouncing between 4 unmarried couples in different stages in their relationships who all live in the same apartment building) can be a little frustrating, especially if you’re particularly a fan of one couple, but most of the couples are amusing to watch. The couple living together planning to marry wasn’t fleshed out enough for me, but the other three had interesting stories and even more interesting personalities. One couple has been dating for quite a long time, one couple is bridging a large age gap and his career(?) as a musician, and the other couple is two male roommates who just met who may or may not have feelings for each other. (Side-note: Takuya and Joon-jae, the male couple, drew a lot of fans, both in and out of Korea, to the point were other watchers were annoyed. Although some might disagree, I don’t think those fans were only interested in seeing how a possibly gay couple would be handled, but were drawn to them because they were the only couple that was still (possibly) in the process of coming together.) Anyhow, the raunchiness is mostly talk (this show is PG13 at most) but this does veer away from what many consider a typical Korean drama. I enjoyed the humor, the realism (which was often buried in unrealistic situations), and seeing the couples interact from time to time. It’s rewatchable for a lot of reasons, but one is that if you are only interested in one couple, you can simply watch their scenes and still have an understandable story.
Don’t Mess with Mom
There are many reasons I loved Angry Mom, and only a few of them are Ji-Soo in his breakout as Go Bok-dong. The story is somewhat ridiculous: a mom goes back to high-school undercover as a student to protect her daughter from bullies. While that is the set-up, bullying turns out to be the least of the problems for students of that school. This show gives us underdogs that fight even though they keep getting knocked down, unlikely friendships that turn into unlikely family, and powerful, corrupt villains that you can’t wait to see get exposed. I’ve seen people say this show has no romance, and while I wouldn’t entirely argue with that, I will say that lovers of romance will probably be satisfied anyway. (I can’t be more specific without epic spoilers.) The characters in Angry Mom learn hard lessons (I will say, some of the plot lines were so harsh as to be almost cruel, but love of the characters and the dark humor in the show kept me going.) This show is infinitely rewatchable to me because it’s satisfying to see a mom fight (literally, in some cases) for her child, amusing to see how she fits in with a class of students half her age, and rewarding to see even the adults grow up.
That’s it for now, although I’ll certainly be rewatching more. If you have any suggestions or commentary, I’d love it if you left a comment.