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.

Th-Drama: Senior Secret Love: My Lil Boy (7/10)

Why God why did I watch this? Even the name is stupid.

Ok, I know how I ended up watching this. It looked like a cutesy Thai high school drama, and sometimes I like them. Unfortunately, I did not like this one so much and fast forwarded through most of it. Mydramalist.com gives it a 7.4, so it looks like most people didn’t like it much.

Here is the summary for the show, which is called Roonpi on Netflix:

Belle is known for her beauty throughout the entire school and she has always been successful getting the man she wants. Yet her charms don’t seem to work when it comes to a junior boy named S that she has taken a liking to. Determined to get S, Belle asks for the help of her two best friends.

My major problem with the show was the lead girl Belle. She was basically a stalker. S, the male lead, told her over and over and over that he wasn’t interested in her and she refused to leave him alone. She lied to be near him, she followed him home, and found any reason to be near him. She also had her girls help with her obsession. They went as far as getting the boy injured to get the two together.

I didn’t find Belle’s consistent stalking charming. I also didn’t understand what made the lead boy so much of a catch to the girls around him. The girls crushing on him wouldn’t stop crying, which was not cute. And randomly, I wondered about the lead actor and rubix cubes, since he has been in c=two shows now where he plays with the cubes a lot. Weird.

This is one show where I did not have any interest in seeing the leads get together or care what happened to them later. The actors were ok though, and the show filmed at a number of places, which helped break up the stalking monotony. Those are the only compliments I can give it.

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.

C-Drama: Parallel Love (1st impression)

Parallel Love is a time travel drama, and I really love time travel dramas, so I decided to give it a try. It’s about a woman who is a company director that out of the blue goes back in time when she opens a door. Then she gets a message saying that she has to help a guy become president of his company or she will disappear forever.

The first episode is a little wonky. The door time travel happens really fast and did not make a whole lot of sense. And there was no explanation for why she had to help a random guy get a promotion at his families company.

Also, the female lead did not make a great first impression, on me, or on the male lead. She ran into him during the doorscapade, since he was going through it at the same time that she was. She knocked him over and he told her she should apologize for it. She didn’t. She told him she was late for something, but her speech about being late was longer than any apology I’ve heard so far, so it sure seems like she could have said she was sorry.

The female lead continued to annoy me – and the second lead when she came across him again as he was about to give an important speech at an important event. She bumped into him again, ruining his shirt right before he had to go on stage. And again, she didn’t apologize. The male lead was forced to improvise, but his efforts were ruined.

Of course, he turns out to be the guy the female lead is supposed to help make company president. That was predictable.

When the female lead goes to his company looking to work with him she doesn’t know he is the same guy she bumped into multiple times. But when she finds out and hears that she ruined his important event she continues to be rude to him and still doesn’t apologize. I am a strong supporter of manners so it made it really hard to like her all that much.

The female lead also seemed oblivious to common sense on more than one occasion. She spent a long time opening and closing the door that she time-traveled through, trying to go back to 2020, which she came from. But when the staff approached her asking her to stop she couldn’t make up a good story for why she was doing it and was kicked out so she couldn’t keep trying in the future.

The male lead is actually likeable. He has a dry humor that is pretty great. His only major fault is really the fault of the shows stylist(s) who gave him godawful clothes and very dated hair. The hair I could deal with. The clothes, not so much. His main flaw was being in a career position he might not have been ready for.

There is also a twist to the story where the female lead who went back in time ten years is living at the same time as her ten years younger self. I think this is the most interesting part of the story. My favorite scene was with her ten years younger self and her ex-boyfriend who had apparently dumped her ten years later. Both characters seem like they will remain constant in the story since the ex-boyfriend works at the same company as the ten years older version of the female lead who I assume will have to avoid him.

If the whole drama was about that I would really enjoy watching it, but the show is mostly about the romance between the leads and the first two episodes more than set that up. There were interesting scenes between them about a wedding they had to plan, which involved some petty theft by the leads. It was fun(ish) to watch. But the rest of the lead up to romance involved throwing every single drama trope at the wall. This included the leads falling on each other, pressing up against each other, the female lead having to stay with the male lead at his house, him carrying her, covering her with a blanket and seeing her with new eyes.

This is the reason I paused watching the drama for now – or forever because I couldn’t take it anymore. There were so many ridiculous, corny moments that I can’t even count them all. If I was given a dollar for every time I rolled my eyes during the first couple episodes I would be a thousandaire by now.

This show could get better. It’s pretty highly rated so far. I do think it will probably have an interesting business plot with a female lead who does some cool problem-solving. And the leads might even be good together, although I don’t know how that will work with the whole time travel problem. I am also interested to see what happens with the ten years younger version of the female lead. But is it worth watching the stupid uber predictable cheeseball moments that happen every few minutes to see the rest of it? That it is what I am going to have to decide and honestly, I am not sure that it is.

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

Thai-Drama BL: TharnType vs. Dark Blue Kiss

I should tell you all that I might be addicted to Thai Boy Love (BL) dramas. This is mostly because really good ones remind me of American romantic comedies from the 90’s like She’s all That and the Amanda Bynes ones from before she started talking to walls and other inanimate objects (Sorry Amanda, I hope you got some help ♥). The first Two Moons Series got me hooked and the show Love By Chance won my heart.

Unfortunately like any good drama binger I have seen almost all of the good BL’s out there and have to wait impatiently for more. This time I waited months for two of the newest BL’s to finish airing since, in my opinion, marathons are the only way to watch these. Both finished their runs in January and I watched TharnType first than Dark Blue Kiss a week or so later.

TharnType is a prequel sequel, the characters were first introduced in Love By Chance, but the story is meant to take place before the stories in Love By Chance occurred. Dark Blue Kiss is part of the Thai Kiss series. The first one of these is on Netflix and is possibly the worst Thai drama I’ve ever tried to watch even though the cast members are all great. This show was followed by Kiss Me Again, which was better, although not great and included the gay love story between Pete and Kao and also the love triangle with second lead Sun, a sweet, hardworking coffee shop owner with a godawful mustache.

The first surprise in TharnType was that they recast Type. Tharn was only mentioned in Love By Chance so this was the first casting for his character. I don’t know why the producers didn’t just cast the original Type, who is a BL vet, but I’m sure they had their reasons. I thought nuType was pretty cute until he did this shifty eye thing when he was mad, the same one that my mom does. Associating a guy with my mom is a surefire way to stop finding them attractive lol. Tharn on the other hand looks like a Thai Ken doll, which I was not too into. He also looks like he is 30 when he is meant to be a young college student. What redeems him is that he looks 10x better when he smiles, has abs of steel, and Mew Suppasit Jongcheveevat who plays him does a pretty excellent job.

The second surprise, which I did not welcome was thatthere was a little too much less-than-consensual activity for me in the first few episodes. Enough that I almost stopped watching the show, but ya know… drama addiction made me want to see it through. Luckily the non-consent stuff ended once the guys became a couple, but note to Thai directors: you should all look up the hashtag #metoo and recognize asap that it’s not necessary to add this stuff to your shows. It’s creepy not sexy.

Dark Blue Kiss on the other hand had a plot that was mostly PG-13 minus some make out scenes, one in a pool (that I am putting on my bucket list to re-enact on my first opportunity ;). It centered around Pete and Kao’s three year relationship and how it was effected by Kao staying in the closet and Pete ‘s anger management issues. It also focused on Sun, who was unlucky in love in the last show and his brothers hotheaded rebellious friend Mork. I liked how the last show set them up as a possible future couple, and it was the main reason why I watched this one. I was pleasantly surprised that someone had the actor who plays Sun shave off his mofugly mustache for the sequel, which made him look so much better. Mork is just adorable. It’s probably because I used to love a bad boy with a heart of gold and still love characters like that.

I really liked how all the couples on both shows seemed to enjoy each other’s company. It wasn’t a stretch to imagine the characters as couples. Tharn and Type had crazy chemistry and the actors did a great job of seeming in love. The actor who played Tharn did a break up scene that I think deserves an award. He managed to perfectly portray the heartbreak that most of us have felt at least once in our lives after a rejection from someone we loved. Sun and Mork were very cute, although there were a few scenes where Mork was trying to get some space and Sun wasn’t letting him which made Sun look codependent. They were meant to be cute, but it didn’t feel that way, more like they need to have a chat about personal space. Pete and Kao were the hardest to root for. I couldn’t have done it if they weren’t so cute together when they were happy. The problem was that Pete was too jealous and Kao was too cowed to stop Pete from being a jerk and had to resort to lying to him just to keep the peace. I wouldn’t consider that a functional relationship.

An issue with TharnType was the beginning, as I mentioned, was not great and there was a whodunnit mystery on the show which I didn’t like. It dealt with non-consent in a really flimsy way and the great unmasking was unsatisfactory because there was no straightforward villain I could hate. Some of the show is really immersing and the characters are well developed, but I would score it lower than most viewers have for the reasons that I’ve laid out.

Dark Blue Kiss is no Love By Chance, but it was better than I thought it would be. The show also had a whodunnit that I didn’t like very much. I didn’t hate the villain and it wasn’t clear what happened to them in the end. Overall though the show was cute, which is all I could ask for and it ended on a good note so I actually preferred it to TharnType.

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.

K-Dramas Have Me Nostalgic for My Most Romantic Date

Since most of the dramas I watch have some sort of romance in them it got me thinking about some of my past romances.

My very best date was with my former fiance before we were engaged (I dated him after too but that’s a story for a different day). We were living in California and I was living in a small town filled with apple orchards and berry fields while I saved up to go to Europe.

It looked like this only it was eggplant and claret and the top was ruched.

That day we dressed up. Him in a suit and skinny tie. I wore a purple dress reminiscent of a ballerina costume, backless with a strap that went around my neck and a floaty skirt. We made a really gourmet dinner (my ex loved to cook and bake and had hoped to open a bakery). We packed it in a basket, along with a bottle of wine and headed to a really cozy park nearby where people rarely went on weekends since there were only picnic benches, trees and a small art center, which was closed for the day. We spread out a blanket on the picnic table and ate there.

As the sunset filled the sky my ex put on music in his truck which was parked close to the table and asked me to dance. We danced for the next hour until the sky was dark and a chill was in the air. Then we drove home full, drowsy and completely contented.

That was my best date so far. Here’s to hoping I get more like that in the future.