Best & Worst High School Dramas from around the world

This is my first blog introducing a future blog, but my reasons are good. I hope you’ll like them.

If you’re like me and enamored with high school dramas (I am and I’m not afraid to say it) than I present to you (drumroll please) my upcoming blog series:

Best and worst high school dramas from around the world

I will review new and old dramas full of teens in high school hallways, on beaches, covering up murders and other wholesome activities like that. The shows I think are amazing and addicting and the ones that made me roll my eyes and change the channel.

To start this off, here are the links to my past high school drama reviews:

13 Reasons Why (America): https://wordpress.com/post/ckdrama.home.blog/862

Le Coup de Foudre (China): https://wordpress.com/post/ckdrama.home.blog/472

Love Revolution (Korea): https://wordpress.com/post/ckdrama.home.blog/746

Never Have I Ever (America) (technically a dramedy): https://wordpress.com/post/ckdrama.home.blog/668

Great Men Academy (Thailand): https://wordpress.com/post/ckdrama.home.blog/546

A Love So Beautiful (China): https://wordpress.com/post/ckdrama.home.blog/56

Just Dance (Korea): https://wordpress.com/post/ckdrama.home.blog/593

The Big Boss (China) (technically a dramedy): https://wordpress.com/post/ckdrama.home.blog/123

Proud of Love (China) (also technically a dramedy: https://wordpress.com/post/ckdrama.home.blog/177

I offer this series as a public service to you all for the following reasons:

  • It can help you decide which shows to watch
  • It may open up a new geographical viewing area to you. So many countries have great shows.
  • If you have already seen one you can compare your opinions on it to mine and see where we agree and disagree on things like the plot, production, characters, cast talent and hotness.
  • It can change your mind if you don’t like the high school drama genre

Warning: Series reviews will be sporadic since I work a lot and sometimes I can’t face any more typing when my work day ends, which is why my blogs are posted randomly. Please also note: I will continue doing other reviews of movies and non-high-school themed shows as well.

Best Dramas of 2020

BEST DRAMAS OF THE LAST YEAR

AMERICA

Never Have I Ever

This show from Mindy Kaling and found on Netflix is soooo funny. It’s about the life of an Indian-American, very smart, slightly lewd high school girl in California. I laughed through every single episode and am extremely excited that there is going to be a second season. Here is my longer review for it: https://wordpress.com/post/ckdrama.home.blog/668

CHINA

Lovely Us

The show is called Lovely Us and it really is lovely. I enjoyed it a lot. It was less of an addicting marathon and more like sips of hot cocoa with marshmallows. It’s a drama about friends, family and first love. This show is funny and sweet. The leads are five high schoolers. Three are underachievers, two who squabble all the time. The other two are top of the class and much more sedate. All of them love each other completely and are loyal to the core. The show is also about their families, many who are struggling in various ways. Marcus Li who played Tan Song stole the show.

Twenty My Life On

This show is about girls in their last year of college who share a dorm together, straddling youth and adulthood. Three of the girls are close friends and one is less than friendly. All of the characters personalities are very different and interesting. The script is great and has one very unique and refreshing quality. Parts of it are far more realistic than most dramas, making it less formulaic and more relatable. I really enjoyed this show and looked forward to every episode. I highly recommend it if twenties slice of life dramas are your thing. Also, I just learned they are coming out with a season two. Yes!

Nothing but Thirty

This show started slow, but then it picked up speed and got interesting. I ended up invested in the characters and watching it through to the end. The story is about three women in and around age thirty and the trials and tribulations they face in their work, home and love lives. And the blessing that friendships can bring. Like Twenty Your Life On, some aspects of this show are more realistic than other dramas. Not all people, including the leads are selfless, not all choices are fair and not all endings are perfect.

I liked Twenty Your Life On better, if I had to choose, but both shows are good and worth the time spent watching them.

KOREA

World of the Married

This is my favorite show of the year. I wasn’t even planning on watching it. But I gave in and watched one episode. Then I was completely hooked. This show is the definition of drama. It’s crazy. But it’s a well written, well acted crazy that makes it a fun ride to go on. Here is my longer review for it: https://wordpress.com/post/ckdrama.home.blog/715

Love Revolution

I adore this show, which is based on a webtoon. It is light hearted, quirky, funny and sweet. The actors, some of whom are amateurs, did a great job. There is no show I looked more forward to watching in 2020 than this one. Here is my longer review for it: https://wordpress.com/post/ckdrama.home.blog/746

Kairos

This may be the best scripted Korean drama I have watched. Mr. Sunshine and This is My First Life were also very well written, so it’s hard to say for sure, but the dialogue and the twists and turns are ingeniously written. The acting was also phenomenal. Here is my longer review for it: https://wordpress.com/post/ckdrama.home.blog/735

Nobody Knows

This is a show about a serial killer and the police officer tracking him. I am not normally into shows like this, but it was so well written and acted that I watched it anyway. I still don’t like shows like this, but I have to give credit where credit is due. It was a truly good drama.

THAILAND

2Gether

This BL is a sweet college romance, with a few surprises in the plotline that make it a little less formulaic. Here is my longer review for it: https://wordpress.com/post/ckdrama.home.blog/677

BEST OLD DRAMAS I WATCHED THIS YEAR

Money Flower (2017)(Korea)

I LOVE this show. It’s about someone getting revenge on a Chaebol family, how they do it and the consequences it has on them and everyone around them. I didn’t watch it before now because I am not always in the mood for a makjang, and when I am, I watch Thai Lakorn’s, which are always waaaay over the top. But the show was on my watch list for a long time, and I was in the mood, so I put it on while I worked, and got completely sucked into it!

The acting is great and the plot is intriguing – and infuriating. This has all the makings of a good makjang including cheating, murder, embezzlement, and revenge. By the end of the show I hated the male and female leads and did not wish them any happiness, but this didn’t make the show itself worse. I don’t think I was supposed to like them both. I ended the drama liking it even more then when I started it and will probably watch it again.

Game Sanaeha (2018)(Thailand)

This is my new favorite Lakorn. It has all the things Lakorn’s are famous for. It has rich versus poor, hatred and revenge, slap kisses, misunderstandings and some really, really stupid decisions. It is also unique because some of the characters are fairly mature and others gained some self awareness, learned from their mistakes and had personal growth throughout the course of the show. It was really refreshing and very entertaining.

K-Drama: Kairos (9/10)

Wow. This drama is gooood. The production value is high. The screen writing is top notch. The acting is fantastic, and the OST is nice.

I somehow missed that this show was playing, and randomly came across the reviews for it, which were all about as flattering as mine. I wasn’t confident the story was my cup of tea, but I started watching anyway. I was not disappointed.

Here is the summary:

Living a precarious life as a part-timer at a convenience store, Ae Ri strives to support her mother who is on a waiting list for a heart transplant. Unfortunately, her mother’s worsened physical condition leads her to forgo the long-awaited opportunity for the transplant, and just like that her mother disappears. Things were already chaotic enough for Ae Ri when she receives a phone call from a strange man claiming to be from the same world but 31 days in the future. Ironically, he desperately asks Ae Ri for help. Seo Jin, a father and a husband of a close-knit family, has been living a successful life as the youngest person to become a director at a construction company. One day, it all crumbles down with the kidnapping of his daughter and his wife’s suicide. On the verge of breaking down, he is given an opportunity to restore everything that was lost under one condition, help from a strange woman. To bring his daughter and wife back to life, he makes a phone call as the clock strikes 10:33. Source: KOCOWA/Mydramalist.com

I cannot begin to express how incredible the script is. I never knew what was going to happen next, and the show did something I normally only dream of in action and thriller based shows. They crossed all their t’s and dotted all their i’s.

Almost every action in the entire drama has a purpose, and every decision has clear consequences. It is close to flawless. With the exception of the first couple episodes when I genuinely couldn’t figure out what the cops were doing, which seemed to be breaking every established police protocol. And very occasionally the lead female who made some decisions that seemed more dangerous than they needed to be.

There is no way I could have watched episodes as they aired because the story is too riveting and I wanted to know what would happen next so badly. There is never a dull moment and although some characters were steady all the way through, some were more flexible. There were many surprises along the way.

The acting is great too. The last time I saw the male lead actor Shin Sung Rok was in Perfume, where he made me laugh a lot. This role is very different. Rok plays someone who is at times arrogant, intelligent and distant, and at other times helpful, a great father and a great friend. The female lead, Lee Se Young is also fantastic. She plays a character who is struggling, kind, confused, scared and fearless perfectly. The second leads are incredible too. Nam Gyu Ri is completely believable. I emotionally reacted to her character so many times. Second lead male Ahn Bo Hyun was similarly good.

Every single actor was great. Many played roles that were nuanced, where they were both selfish and selfless, good and bad, and did an exemplary job.

The OST is also good. I am partial to the song Can You Feel Me by Yoon of Winner, which I love.

Note: Thank you to CHTAJU for inspiring me to write this review after a hiatus due to waaaaaay too much work.

K-Video/Song: Woodz ‘Love Me Harder’ (9/10)

This music video came up on my Youtube sidebar. It was released on June 29, 2020. The thumbnail looked interesting and I’d never heard of Woodz, so I clicked on it.

The first thing I should say is that I wont win any awards as a K-Pop fan, since my fandom is lukewarm. Half the K-Pop songs I’ve ever heard of are thanks to one of my favorite blogs: Unbothered Unnies https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/91156652 which I love love love and highly recommend.

I’m probably not 100% familiar with K-Pop because I have a love-meh relationship with it. This is because I love rap and hip hop the most, although I’m picky about it, and am not that much of a pop fan. There are definite exceptions, ike I will ride or die for Blackpink, but I tend to like solo pop artists best. Get most of them in a group and just no. That’s score one for Woodz, who seems to be all by his lonesome.

The song is pretty good, although not my favorite style and not all that memorable on first listen, since I couldn’t tell you three minutes later what it sounded like. The intro and part of the chorus is my favorite part, which starts with whistling then moves into some pretty catchy vocals. Someone walked into the room when that part was on and started dancing without even noticing they were doing it, which validates how good that part is. Woodz voice is nice, although I couldn’t currently tell it apart from a million other K-Pop kids if you put it in a voice line up.

You can take my opinion on the song with a grain of salt since my view of a pop song as a minor pop consumer is probably not all that helpful. What I really want is to review the video, which I think I’m more qualified to talk about.

I adore this video and I want more like them! It’s reminiscent of MTV videos when MTV had videos. It tells a story even though I’m not really sure what it is lol.

It starts with a fight in a car between a male and female. The female storms out of the car and some rando guy jumps on it. The guy is dressed in glam punk, so I assume he is meant to be a rebel. There is a police line and money and what look like pill containers. And the rebel keeps showing up wherever Woodz is. I cant tell if the rebel is actually Woodz and I’m sorry, but I was too lazy to try and figure it out. Or maybe Woodz and the rebel are into each other and that’s what the girl was mad about, although that seems a little too progressive for 2020 K-Pop.

Maybe if I knew more Korean language than drama speak and food related words I would know what was going on. Or maybe not, since song lyrics don’t always match their MV’s. The good news is it means I can make it whatever I want it to be.

The video is a little edgy, it’s interesting and Woodz is kind of adorable so it’s a win in my book. The only fail for me was when they had him dancing with a bunch of backup dancers. It was totally unnecessary. Maybe K-Pop video producers think it has to be there or maybe it’s like a security blanket for them. I don’t know. I just know it was dumb and brought down the quality of an otherwise grade A video.

Watch the video here and see if you love it, like it or hate it:

Th-Drama: 2gether (8.4/10)

If you haven’t watched a Boy Love (BL) drama but love dramas, you are missing out. Honestly, throw you pre-conceptions out the window. They are truly some of the greatest dramas out there.

I love them because a lot of them remind me of 90’s American high school and college movies like She’s All That, 10 Things I Hate About You and Never Been Kissed. The kind that are so fun to watch and always have happy endings, but have mostly disappeared. Thai Bl’s are helping fill this void.

2Gether is about a freshman college boy who is basically being stalked by a guy that has a crush on him. At this point the lead is sure he is straight and can’t seem to get the guy to leave him alone. He tries a fake girlfriend and when that didn’t work, he and his friends decided he needed a fake boyfriend instead. It is a little unclear why they went this route or why they picked the guy did, but it was a plot point they had to forward, so I guess it’s ok.

The guy the lead picks to be his fake boyfriend is a school heartthrob who plays in a band but is otherwise quiet, cold and introverted. The heart throb repeatedly turns the lead down until eventually giving in.

The fake relationship turns into real love, as it should since this is what dramas are all about. BUT this evolution isn’t formulaic, which is something I really liked about this show. The person doing the running after the other is unique, and the story behind it and the responses they get are mostly unexpected. There is also some time spent on the lead character trying to work through whether they really like their fake boyfriend or if they are just infatuated with having someone so hot and sought after next to them,

I should mention that the fake boyfriend is PRETTY. Every episode he got more and more attractive to me. Some study found that the humans that people find universally attractive are the ones with symmetrical features and this guys are pretty perfect. The character also turns out to be adorably shy versus conceited so it is too easy to ship this couple.

There are reviewers out there who didn’t love this drama, but I think that it depends on what a viewer is looking to get out of one. I loved it. It was light-hearted, sweet and romantic, I didn’t get too invested in the second lead love triangles, and I ended the drama feeling even happier as a person than when I started it. THAT is what I watch dramas for.

I highly recommend giving this show or other BL’s a try because they really can be adorable and sweet and funny – basically the perfect pick me up. Love by Chance, 2 Moons and Scotus 2 are my fav, and 2gether just got added to that list.

A-Drama: Never Have I Ever (10/10)

Never Have I Ever on Netflix is my new favorite show. Too bad I finished it (insert very sad face). Now I have to hope beyond hope that they have a sequel on the way. Or I can impatiently twiddle my thumbs until I forget most of the plot line so I can watch it again (my personal rule for re-watching movies and shows).

The show is great because it’s really, really funny. I wouldn’t expect less from producers and writers including Mindy Kaling, a guy who wrote for The Onion and a guy who worked on Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who is America. I laughed through every single episode.

It’s also heartfelt. And it’s a teeny bopper rom-com, which is where my heart lies entertainment wise a lot of the time – probably because I enjoy them. but don’t get that personally invested (except for Dance Academy, that was a 150% investment lol).

Never Have I Ever starts off with a dramatic scene where the main character Devi’s father dies in front of her and she becomes paralyzed for months after that. This is definitely not the way a comedy usually begins, but it shares just enough of Devi’s heartbreak for viewers to understand her angst and empathize with her, even when she’s in the wrong.

Devi is a funny, loudmouthed, first in her class teenager who swears and says indecent things on the regular. She is an Indian American that relates a little more to American culture and considers her mom to be overbearing and overly critical.

Every episode is Devi trying to find her place in the world, more specifically her high school and the LA valley where she lives. Devi is also navigating friendship, how they work and how they survive with her two multicultural teenage dork friends.

What Devi wants more than anything is the school stud Paxton and she does some crazy things to try and get him. She also has an arch nemesis, her rich, obnoxious, academic rival Ben.

What sets this apart from other teeny bopper shows is definitely the humor. It’s a little raunchy, so if you’re under 16 be aware. And there are scathing jokes thrown in that are completely nuanced, so I don’t know how many people will get them. One of my favorites is when Devi tells someone that her volunteer experience includes reading Bill O’Reilly books to veterans. This is hilarious if you know that some American veterans love the former Fox News Host and his bestselling novels even though the books are trash and he is a total perv and %$&@#.

There is also a lot of mainstream humor. Usually it’s when Devi says something without meaning to, like saying “damnnnn” out loud when her school crush sits down in front of her in class (damnnnn in the catcall whistle you’re pretty hot kind of way) or a scene with a coyote that I won’t give away. I especially loved Devi’s cousin Kamala mentioning that all the Riverdale actors were really the same age as Devi’s mom since I rant during the shows and on this blog about how old high school and college age actors really look, example: Noah Centineo who has to be at least 35.

Also the show has narrators, including Andy Samberg and someone totally unexpected. Listening to them do crude teeny bopper talk is hilarious.

Here is a preview:

Truly, this show is sooo good. As mentioned above I give it 10/10 and recommend it 100%.

K-Drama: Itaewon Class (7.9/10)

This drama had promise. So much promise. If you have ever read my blog posts you know that I love Park Seo Joon’s acting. I will ride or die for him if anyone questions his artistic talent. That’s why it’s hard for me to say that despite his acting this drama made me mad and I wouldn’t watch it again if you paid me.

The acting by Park and the rest of the cast was good. The production value was also high. And the beginning was interesting and made it seem like the drama would be a good one. These are the reasons why I have rated it as high as I have.

Here is a summary of the show from Mydramalist:

Park Saeroyi’s life has been turned upside down after he gets expelled from school for punching a bully and his father is killed in an accident. Following his father’s steps, he opens a pub named “DanBam” in Itaewon and, along with his manager and staff, strive towards success and reaching greater heights.

What the summary fails to mention is that this show is about revenge.

The first quarter of the show centers on what happens that makes the lead character Park Saeroyi want revenge and who he wants it against. And his crush on a girl that he gets to know.

The next quarter is about how he works towards getting revenge which involves opening a pub that he staffs with a motley cast of characters, one of whom is in love with him.

The third quarter is about his growing revenge success and the forth is the culmination of all of this.

I was fairly into the show, although not addicted until quarter three when I wanted to throw it out a window. Basically the beauty of Park Saeroyi, that made him worth rooting for was that he was ethical and principled and would adhere to his principles no matter what it cost him. He loyally loved the same woman for over a decade, he stood up for anyone he felt was oppressed and he chose people over immediate revenge.

Then all the sudden he threw that side of him away, except that I can’t tell if that was meant to be a moral to the story. It doesn’t seem like it. More like the writers had him transition to be an unethical disloyal, revenge over everything type person while pretending he wasn’t. I haven’t read the manga it is based on, so I don’t know.

Worse than all of this, the lead/second lead female was AWFUL. I don’t know if I have ever disliked a character more, outside of some really evil sageuk ministers or evil moms of chaebols. She was described as a sociopath, which seemed right based on her behavior. She was a fairly bad friend, bigoted, although she would eventually see the error of her ways, but only because of Park Saeroyi who she was in love with.

It wasn’t really clear, minus his strong sense of ethics, why the ladies liked Park Saeroyi who wasn’t a great communicator and had one of the worst haircuts I’ve ever seen. And he didn’t disrobe like Park Seo Joon’s other characters have, so it wasn’t about his muscles. But they did like him – a lot. What is less clear is why anyone in their right mind would like this girl. She was a 20 year old running after a 30 year old, crossing serious boundaries to do it and being a godawful human the rest of the time. How any writer, director or producer thought that I would ship her with this guy or even root for her is beyond me. She is the kind of person that I cross the street to avoid IRL.

All I can say is that I ended this show after episode 14 of 16. Near the end of the episode I actually thought that I wouldn’t fault a guy for pushing Park Saeroyi into a street and in front of a speeding car. In fact, the show could have ended like that and I would have given it a better rating. That’s when I knew I was done.

I read the summary of the last two episodes, which helped validate that I made the right choice.

K-Drama: Hi, Bye Mama (1st Impressions)

This is a drama on Netflix about a woman who dies and becomes a ghost. As a ghost she spends years watching her husband grieve and then re-marry, and her daughter, who was born the day she died, grow up. When her daughter is in kindergarten something happens to her and as a result the woman gets 49 days to come back as a human.

I LOVE this drama more than I can say. The main theme is grief and dying , but it is sweet and fun and funny – and sad.

Most of characters are torn about what they should be doing. The husband has a new wife so he doesn’t know how to properly communicate with either woman. His first wife, the main character doesn’t know who she should reveal herself too and how she can be a mom to her daughter when her daughter doesn’t know her and her stay is only temporary. She also has to save her daughter from some trouble. The new wife doesn’t know that the first wife is back from the dead, but meets her, a woman who looks like her husbands deceased wife who has an attachment to their child, and is not sure how to handle it. She is also having some trouble communicating with her husband and with the mean treatment that she gets from the other neighborhood moms.

There is also a cast of characters who are all ghosts that live in a crematorium together. They don’t want to go to the afterlife because they want to continue to be there – in spirit – for their living family members. They all interact with a shaman who can’t bear to make any of them move into the afterlife if they don’t want to go. Although they mostly drive her crazy.

This drama will make you laugh. There is a scene with a sliding glass door that makes me laugh every time I think of it, and so many other scenes that I laughed my way through. And there are great sismances and bromances that are enjoyable to watch. And NO villains, which is so refreshing.

This show will probably make you think about the value of life and how you will be remembered when you are gone. It might make you cry. I think I’ve gone through at least one box of tissues so far because death can be so unfair to the people who pass away and the people they leave behind. This is illustrated in the main story and most of the side stories that are told.

You may also end up addicted to this show. I am. It is so hard to wait week after week for new episodes because it ends on the best cliffhangers. I am halfway through it now and already know it will be going on to my list of favorite shows of all time.

Drama Burn Out? Please Help

K-Drama, C-Drama, J-Drama, T-Drama, Th-Drama, A-Drama, UK-Drama burnout?

I am genuinely wondering if I am having drama burnout. I usually watch in the moments when I am home after a hectic day or week (which is every day and week) to relax and be entertained. I watch a lot of Asian dramas but really I watch shows and movies from all over the world. As long as they are interesting, fun and/or funny I’m in. I have a long My Drama List list of plan to watch shows, but somehow I haven’t been able to settle on a show. Maybe I am burned out or my attention span has become so small it’s invisible or maybe the shows I have left to watch just aren’t as good. I’m not sure.

This week has been a little crazy because I was sick and now I am working to make up for the work I didn’t do while I was sick and there is nothing I would like more than a great drama I can kick back too. Maybe one I can watch on the weekend since we have a house rule that Saturdays are lazy days where we don’t get out of our pajamas if we can help it. But I HAVE NOTHING TO WATCH 😲😲😲

I am currently watching one great Taiwanese drama which is a billion episodes as usual. I love it but am not always in the mood for it. I also have another half dozen shows I have been shuffling between that are varying degrees of good.

One show I want to watch is Itaewon Class, but I know if I start watching before the final episode I may get addicted and I am a complete fail at waiting patiently for new episodes to air, same with the Thai BL drama that is ending in March. So what else is there? New? Old? Asian? American? European? Australian? African? South American? Anarctican, I’ll even take that.

For reference my fav (type) shows are comedies al a Arrested Development, Coming to America and The Big Boss, competition shows and movies and dance dramas like Dance Academy and Dirty Dancing, slice of life dramas like Fight for My Way, romance such as This is My First Life and Some Kind of Wonderful, Romance slice of Life’s like Coup de Foudre, K-Historicals like Scarlet Heart Ryeo, Mr. Sunshine and Rebel and any good action movies with obvious villains and badass good guys/ladies.

If you have a show you recommend PLEASE tell me because I’m dying here.

TY,

Rachel

C-Drama: Ghost Bride (7.8/10)

I recently watched the show Ghost Bride, which is airing on Netflix. The preview was interesting enough to make me want to watch it.

Summary:

A young woman in 1890’s China is in love with one man from a very rich family, but his cousin who is dead forces her to marry him by threatening the life of her father. Her dad was especially dear to her because she had already lost her mother. The woman comes in contact with a policeman from Heaven who is after the ghost and they work together to try and stop him. During that time the woman ends up in some sort of afterworld purgatory and will die if she doesn’t stop the wedding from happening.

The best parts:

  • The actors were good
  • The special effects were great
  • There were some funny moments
  • There is a mystery whodunnit that wasn’t easily solvable
  • It’s a short drama (thankfully)

Things that were’t great:

  • The young woman had no empathy for the guy she was in love with or his cousin. I get that being forced into a ghost marriage will make you hate your fiance, but they guy, as bad as he was, actually liked her and clearly had a messed up upbringing. I felt a little sorry for him and thought he could change his perspective given some effort, but she clearly didn’t and preferred to see him rot in hell (not a figure of speech).
  • She was also forgiven for doing something that I thought wasn’t easily forgivable and she also jerked someone around in a way I didn’t like.

My recommendation

If you like fantasy and ghost dramas and good special effects than it’s probably worth watching, just don’t expect perfection.