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.

K-Drama: Run On (7.9/10)

My feelings are torn about this drama. I watched it until the end so I definitely enjoyed it. That said, I have to share my controversial opinion that I disliked a good bit about the main leads. and even fast forwarded a few of their scenes.

Here is a summary of the show:

Ki Sun Gyeom is a sports agent who was once a popular sprinter on the national team but was forced to quit due to legal issues. Oh Mi Joo writes translated subtitles for movies. She was thrilled to see her name listed among the credits when she first started. Ki Sun Gyeom had just quit sprinting when he encountered Oh Mi Joo, who felt that destiny most certainly brought them together. Seo Dan Ah is the CEO of a sports agency and rightful successor to the Seomyung Group. Despite this, she is held back from advancing in the company due to her gender. She fiercely wishes to reclaim what is rightfully hers and lives her life accordingly. Lee Young Hwa, a university art major who enjoys movies and drawing soon enters her life. (via AsianWiki)

If you know me IRL my reaction probably isn’t surprising. I hate when people are rude. And I especially hate when people pretend to be great, likable people while being impolite jerks because I dislike hypocrisy most of all in this world.

In the first episode the main female lead is annoyed and bored at a dinner and shares her frustration out loud for the guest of honor and others to hear. Then she escalates a situation that could have been resolved much more easily – and politely. Of course this was a plot point that needed forwarding in order to create the situation for her to meet the male lead and get to know him better, but still.

Throughout the show the female lead continued to state her mind in all situations. I appreciate a strong woman, and appreciated her sense of humor, but she was also tactless. And she insinuated herself into the family drama of a family that wasn’t hers. She did this because she supported the male lead whose family was dysfunctional, but she never knew or asked for the back story to their problems and basically put her nose into things she knew nothing about..

The male lead had some good qualities, like a sense of justice and the type of bluntness and social anxiety that is often reserved for people on the autism scale. This was endearing BUT he was also a spoiled brat. He was one of the neverending k-drama lead rich boys who didn’t receive enough love from his parents and doesn’t know how to handle it as an adult.

He was angry at his parents, which was fair considering their inability to provide him and his sister the love and support they needed, but he wouldn’t maturely talk it out with them, Instead he repeatedly rebelled, had temper tantrums and stormed off. He also had no need to work because of the money he received from his family. He spent a good amount of the show lazing around doing whatever. In my opinion, if he hated his parents so much he should have cut himself off and become self made. Or taken one lump sum from them and left the family, To take their money while yelling at or humiliating his parents every time he saw them was a bit rich.

Basically the leads annoyed me with their lack of manners and filial piety.

What I did like in the show was the pace of the romance, which was not too fast or slow, and the leads took a number of factors into consideration while deciding whether they should be together. The plot was also somewhat quirky, which I always appreciate. And I loved the second female lead. She was rude and tactless too, so why would I love her and dislike the leads? Because she owned it 100%. She was her authentic self at all times and did not pretend she was good or thoughtful. She also peppered her insults with compliments, making her meanness much less cutting. And she was very funny.

I liked the other characters too, such as the second lead who was clearly good hearted. The professor was awful, but funny. The male leads parents who could have been easily dismissed for their awfulness had enough depth that I could not hate them completely. I really liked the second male leads friend and his sister, along with the butler and the female leads only(?) friend too.

Those characters and the overall plot, plus the lack of stressful love triangles helped to cushion my dislike of the leads lack of manners.

Worst of 2020: The Dramas that went downhill

Sadly, there have been an awful lot of dramas I hated, dropped or couldn’t watch at all in 2020.

Disclaimer: Some of the dramas I hated are well loved by the masses. I just have certain things that I personally hate to see that happened in some of these dramas:

The thing I hate in real life and dramaland is HYPOCRISY. When people are judge-y about bad behavior, but also guilty of bad behavior. Some writers push a plot narrative that the lead characters are great people I am clearly meant to like. Except their interaction with other characters says otherwise.

This is often lead girls who are meant to be sweet as pie, like spunky angels, but are actually immature and snarky towards their love rivals. Thai and Chinese dramas are the most guilty of this.

Example: Likit Haeng Jan

Or it’s lead male characters who are sweet and loving to the lead girl, but completely cold or even cruel to the second leads who love them. I am completely turned off by this. In real life, I would never want to be with a guy who was great to me, but a jerk to other people, and I have trouble rooting for them in dramas.

Example of a guy who is a complete jerk to the second lead: My ID is Gangnam Beauty

I also hate LOVE TRIANGLES – a lot. Especially angsty love triangles where someone, usually someone nice, or trying to be, gets hurt. I watch dramas to increase the joy in my life and watching people end up heartbroken and alone does not do it for me. Unless the second lead is given a love interest or let down very gently I get annoyed and sometimes drop a drama altogether.

Example: The Heirs / Inheritors

OK, disclaimer over. The good news is I didn’t see any many terrible dramas, but I did see some I couldn’t finish or wish I could unsee.

  1. Itaewon Class. Here is my longer review of the show. In short the lead male turned into a complete and total hypocrite. He stabbed his friend and the woman he said he loved in the back for an actual sociopath. Why should I support a mean, crazy person without a conscience? Or hope they get the guy in the end?
  2. It’s Okay Not to be OK (Psycho but it’s OK). Despite great acting and production, I couldn’t get into this for the reasons listed above. I really don’t understand why I should root for an actual psychopath. Or hope the crazy girl gets the guy. Doesn’t that happen enough in real life?
  3. Record of Youth. I think I made it through two or three episodes before I couldn’t watch anymore. It was the hypocrisy. The lead girl was nice, but she kept giving the impression to her co-worker that she was stealing her clients and she never cleared up the misunderstandings. She just let them grow and once her colleague got angry and mean to her, she got mean back. It was irritating to watch. Even Park Bo Gum’s perfect smile wasn’t enough to keep me watching.
  4. Twenty-Twenty. This is a web series where the leads, especially the lead girl were extremely unlikeable. I felt like she went from socially awkward to selfish and entitled. There was also a love triangle that was both angsty and weird. Here is my longer review: https://mydramalist.com/profile/pollysci/reviews.
  5. Hi Bye Mama. My first impressions of this show were great. I actually enjoyed it for the majority of its episodes, although I hypothetically may have cried a lot. But I absolutely hated the end. I won’t give it away, I’ll just say there were a million alternate ways to write it and I think the writers failed completely.
  6. Parallel Love. This show had the makings of a good drama, but it was SOOOOO CHEESY. Something cornball happened every two minutes and it was just too much to bear. Here is my longer review for the show: https://wordpress.com/post/ckdrama.home.blog/686.
  7. Perfect and Casual. I liked the show initially and maybe it got better after I dropped it BUT there were two things annoying me way too much. The first was the lead females dependence on the lead male. She claimed to be independent, but couldn’t seem to elevate her life at all without his obvious or secret assistance. The writers seemed to think I should believe that she was an independent woman, despite all evidence to the contrary. There was also a love triangle that was less than entertaining. I liked the second lead as much as the first and he was more in touch with his own feelings, and therefore more mature, so I wasn’t exactly cheering for the relationship between the leads.
  8. Likit Haeng Jan. This drama has a lot of good qualities. Seasoned actors. An interesting plotline. Some action and mystery. I even like one of the couplings. But the lead girl reacted to the competitive second lead villainess by being vindictive and immature, and it made her unlikeable to me, which made the show less entertaining overall.

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: Love Revolution (9/10)

Love Revolution is a light. fluffy, teeny bopper webtoon-based web series, full of idols, that has an overall rating of 8. I don’t know if anyone else will love it as much as I do, and maybe I shouldn’t love it so much, but I do.

I LOVE IT SO MUCH! FOR SO MANY REASONS.

Here is a short(ish) summary of the show:

Gong Ju Young is a 17-year-old high school student who thinks he has found love at school when he falls for Wang Ja Rim at first sight. But winning her heart won’t be easy. Wang Ja Rim has earned a reputation for being cold and aloof – and, at first, seems totally unimpressed by Gong Ju Young’s garish displays of affection. But Gong Ju Young won’t be deterred so easily. Persistence is the key, he thinks – and, over time, Wang Ja Rim starts to open up to her classmate.

Gong Ju Young’s best buddy since elementary school is Lee Kyung Woo. Will he prove to be a help to Gong Ju Young in his quest for Wang Ja Rim’s heart – or a hindrance? And could Wang Ja Rim’s closest friends, including the popular Oh Ah Ram, also play a role in bringing the duo together? (Source: Viki/mydramalist.com) e

The reasons this show gets a hard-to-earn 9 rating from me:

It is addicting. I haven’t been this excited for a new episode of a show all year. The last time I felt like I absolutely couldn’t wait to watch the next episode was World of the Married.

It is unique. The lead male and female roles are essentially gender reversed. The girl Wang Ja Rim, played by Lee Ruby, is aloof and not into public displays of affection, while the boy chases after her adoringly, acting cutesy, giving her terms of endearment and hoping to confirm that he is as liked by her as she is by him. The lead boy Gong Ju Young is played by Park Ji-hoon of the now disbanded group Wanna One. He plays the role perfectly. I don’t know what methods he used to practice, but I assume it was observing girls trying to get a guys attention and commitment, and mostly failing at it.

It is very cute. Ju Young and his obvious crush is pretty adorable. The episodes are also very cute. The characters feelings stay the same throughout the show, but each episode is a new story. My favorite is one where Park worries about his height relative to his crush’s since she is growing faster than him.

It is very funny and quirky. I have laughed every single episode. There are so many funny moments.

The romance is sweet — and a little angsty. It is so easy to root for most of the characters to get their happy high school ever afters.

The characters are great. Second lead Yang Min Ji is my favorite character, followed by second lead and a half Oh Ah Ram, played by Im Da Young of Cosmic Girls. Min Ji is thoughtful, even while making a wrong decision, and a good friend. Ah Ram is funny and a boxer who can beat up all the boys, if necessary. She loves to eat and nothing stands between her and food. I like all the second lead boys too. I may have swooned a little over character Lee Kyung Woo, played by Kim Young Hoon of the Boyz. He is sarcastic and slightly thoughtless (sadly) and is a better looking version of the very charming eighties star Andrew McCarthy who stole my heart in Pretty in Pink. The other boys, Kim Byung Hoon, played by Ko Chan Bin and Ahn Kyung Min played by Ahn Do Kyu are slightly nerdy besties, and also very likable.

A lot of credit goes to the director Seo Ju Won and writer Kwak Kyung-Yoon.

The worst things about this show are:

The pink lip gloss Ji-hoon (yes, Ji-hoon, you heard me right) wore in every episode. I know kpop boys love them some makeup, but it was so distracting, and not his color.

The fact that it’s over (tears 💧💧💧). I wish there could be a hundred, no a thousand more episodes or shows just like it.

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-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

K-Drama: Just Dance

I held off on watching this drama for YEARS because there is nothing I love more than a dance competition story. For instance, Dirty Dancing is my favorite movie of all time I also adore stories about kids who accomplish more than most adults expected of them. Especially when they are based on true stories. My very favorite is Stand and Deliver. Just Dance combines both so I was basically saving the best for last, or at least for a moment when I could reward myself.

Now if only I had known it would be a darker look at the human condition… I still would have watched it, but maybe I wouldn’t have been expecting lighthearted montages of dance practice and memorable lines a la Bring It On like “It’s already been broughtin.”

Instead, I think I went through a whole box of tissues while watching Just Dance. And that’s because it focuses on life in a small town full of what people in Seoul consider “hicks” where shipbuilding is the major industry. The lead, Kim Shi Eun is a girl with good grades and big dreams, constrained by her upbringing. She is the daughter of a widow whose husband died under dubious circumstances. Her mom continually tells her not to strive for too much, pushing her to graduate from her technical high school and get a job on the island.

I could relate so much to the lead. I was born to parents who have little in the way of ambition and though they love me, they have not been interested in assisting me in meeting my goals, which have always been loftier than their own.

My experience is also laid out in this show which lays out its theme very clearly in the last four or so episodes. The theme is happiness and whether it is tied to achieving dreams or simpler than that. Basically what does it mean to be happy, is it attainable and will it be lasting.

This is told through the stories of Kim Shi Eun who wants to get out of her small town and direct films and the ragtag group of girls who ended up on their schools Dance Sport team. Girls who were the children of people with big ambitions for them, no ambitions, alcoholics, grandparent guardians and parents who were worried that their kids would leave for the big city and never be back.

It was also about Mr. Lee the dance sport teacher whose purpose was to help as many girls as possible in whatever ways he could, although he was a supporting character throughout.

There was also a love story between the lead and a boy whose dad was her moms superior at work whose families had drama between them (because it wouldn’t be a k-drama if that wasn’t in it lol). In my opinion the lead boy was adorable. He was sweet and kind and loved the lead as much as any teenager could love someone. Kim Shi Eun, on the other hand was awful to him a lot of time. It is something I loved and hated about this show.

I really appreciate that Kim Shi Eun was not a typical character in a drama. She wasn’t particularly nice or fun to be around. She was sometimes depressed, an elitist, a bad communicator and made some really stupid decisions. I think this was a unique approach and welcome it for its uniqueness and its tru-to-life’ness. It was definitely better than having a lead character who the plot says is amazing but in actuality is not.

On the other hand I was basically yelling at the screen when she was at her worst. Even though I knew it was a show I was so mad at her for the way she would treat her friends and a boy who so clearly loved her despite all of her flaws.

Overall I really liked this show. The theme really resonated with me since I think we all struggle with what happiness is and whether we are truly happy, and if so how happy. I also liked the underlying themes around class and the issues facing people who are just trying to get by since as a single parent that has absolutely been me. It is also the vast majority of the worlds population.

The dance practice and competition parts were nice, but it really was more the glue that held the story together rather than the main theme. As a result, I enjoyed it but it wasn’t the thing that kept me watching. I watched to see what would happen next with the characters, especially Kim Shi Eun, her mom, the boy who loved her and the outcast rebel Park Hye Jin who I would watch a whole show about on its own.

Overall, Just Dance was pretty depressing, definitely not the Christmas cheer I was expecting, but it was because it was so realistic. This show was also interesting, sometimes funny, unique, thoughtful, and very, very smart. If you don’t mind that it’s not sally sunshine than I wholly recommend it. Sometime soon I will be watching the original documentary the show is based on, assuming I can find it with eng subs.