I watched My Princess.
Allow me to summarize: after the first few episodes of intense cuteness, it is a miasma of bullshit (with brief, addictive flashes of that cute). Then, like some kind of fever dream, the very last episode is cute and funny again.
But here is my real issue, and one that I am starting to really resent about kdramas.
This lady here? Oh Yoon Joo. Is a COMPLETE AND UTTER ASSHOLE. And it wasn’t fucking worth it.
She could literally rank in the top ten worldwide bitches, but not in a fun-to- watch kinda way. Every time she came on the screen, I wanted to set my living room on fire.
She lied. She schemed. But so obviously. Every fucking character knew what she was doing and they just sat there, literally sometimes sat right in front of her, while she lied & schemed and made with the villany. The heroine cried, the heroes gnashed their teeth, everyone vowed to overcome it all, while she SAT IN THE SAME ROOM, AT THE SAME TIME, AND CONTINUED LYING AND SCHEMING.
Ok sure, the show was really poorly done, but Oh Yoon Joo’s brand of senseless viciousness made me want to buy a ticket to S. Korea and slap the actress, directors, producers, etc. across their collective face.
Why do I watch these terrible, poorly plotted shows that do this to female characters? Make them twisted, uselessly powerful, and then slap them on the wrists for bad behavior. Oh poo! Bad noona! You lied and schemed, but in this really shitty way that accomplished nothing except giving the heroine an excuse to cry. But we’re not going to give you the comeuppance you (and our viewers deserve, at least emotionally) because of… a reason I do not understand! Because it makes no sense! ARGH!
Fucking give me a villain worth watching. And fucking treat them like villains when you spend every episode except the last convincing me how terrible they are! Because hating Oh Yoon Joo was painful.
Tell Dramafever to take down their poll
Right now, Dramafever has a poll up on their website asking people to vote innocent/guilty on the Park Shi Hoo rape investigation.
Their ongoing coverage on their blog has been nothing but speculation and gossip, and it is has been bothering me all week. However, literally asking people to vote on an ongoing rape investigation is grossly inappropriate, unethical, and irresponsible.
I pay for premium service, but the way they are “reporting” on this case makes me reconsider giving them any of my money. I have emailed them asking them to take down the poll. You can do the same.
Mfred Reviews “I Miss You” (AKA “Missing You”)
And the lesson is, what? Endure? Endure past the point of reason, to the limits of your own sanity, because it all works out in the end? I mean, as long as you are the fated lovers, right?
I reviewed a kdrama for Carie’s blog! Reviewing a whole show from start to finish is hard work. I’d rather just talk about my feelings.
I watched 2 episodes of Cheondam-dong Alice / Alice in Cheondam-dong and it is not that good. Weird editing - two people hysterically crying over oddly upbeat instrumental tracks, bad jumps between scenes— and a heroine who has confused perseverance with personality.
But, like a lot of romcoms, they gave all the quirk to Our Damaged Hero, Park Shi Hoo as Jean Thierry Cha /Cha Seung Jo and the dude is working it. He’s crazy, he’s zany, he’s bent on revenge — but he’s also got that sweet, broken heart just barely peaking out of the edges.
Do I keep watching a not very great show because one actor is working it so so hard? Does Alice actually get better?
2012 Kdrama like whoa
If 2011 was the year I fell off the deep end of the Korean television industry, then this year has been one in which I kinda came back to my senses.
There are a lot of things to love about dramas - the humor, the sincerity, the way even the trendiest of trendy shows places emotional resonance above everything else, plus gratuitous noodle shots and fart jokes galore.
But there are also a lot of things to dislike about them - the same recycled characters (often played by the same actors!), the same recycled stories (often relying on sexist, privileged tropes to salvage plot derailments!), the lull from episode 6 to episode 10 when the plot falls apart and the live-shoot system wrecks your otherwise awesome show… And 2012 was the year these things became more noticeable to me, enough so that I couldn’t get past them.
2011, I marathoned everything. I watched multiple episodes a night, stayed up late, crashed through shows one after the other like a dope fiend. 2012, I watched a lot more (JESUS CHRIST LOOKIT THE LIST), but I watched it critically, with less tolerance.
But enough of all this ruminating, to the shows!
The ones that broke my heart:
Queen In-Hyun’s Man. TRUE LOVE FOREVER.
Padam Padam. I cried so hard, I started laughing. And then I cried more.
I loved them:
History of a Salaryman. Even tho the plot meandered quite far, and the two leads never kissed on screen (MOTHERFUCKERS), I hearted that foul-mouthed heroine and her beta male hero so hard.
King 2 Hearts. This would have been in my top 2, but then everything QIHM and nothing hurt. Also, the lack of good english-speaking actors to play key roles really, really hurt a story revolving around international politics.
Reply 1997. Really, super great, could have been in the very top, except for all of the time wasted on the whole creepy older guy falling in love with the younger sister of his dead fiancee story.
Shut Up Flower Boy Band. Worst name. Best teenage dreamers in a band, learn important lessons about life while having emotional struggles show ever.
I liked them ok, enough:
I Do, I Do. Kim Sun Ah gave me serious Lesbian Feelings, but lesbi-honest (har har), the show was just ok.
Pasta. The chemistry between the leads, and Gong Hyo Jin’s ability to play the nicest, sincerest female lead in the history of the world (without resorting to teeth-gritting cutesy-ness) made this a show about love and not about misogyny.
Kimchi Family. At first I was moved, and then I was bored.
What’s Up, Fox. Pretty good noona romance. I spent a little too much struggling over whether their one night stand was entirely consensual. I wish the show had been able to portray an erotica-writing, witty, awesome thirtysomething heroine as capable of having of a one night stand with a younger dude, without needing to make her black out drunk to do it.
Seriously guys, Gaksital is so overrated. Plot holes, formulaic structure episode to episode, miraculous overnight healing from sadistic torture, paper-thin female lead who only existed for hero’s development, and on and on. For me, these issues moved from minor irritants to impossible to ignore, story-interrupting problems.
I should have liked them and didn’t:
Ghost. Great first episode, but this is apparently the kdrama Face/Off and nope.
Iris (and Athena). I think my ability to willfully disbelieve and suspend all sarcasm, irony, and logic only extends to romantic comedies. Dropped halfway (both).
My Sweet Seoul. Mr. Obviously Perfect for Her is so obviously obvious (mature!, smart!, hides a dark secret and has painful inner pain!), I couldn’t stand it. Dropped halfway.
Sign. Episodic, boring. The lead ends/starts each episode bulging his eyes out, yelling about the sanctity of scientific CSI practices and I can’t even what. Dropped around ep 4-5.
Wild Romance. It was just a badly written, badly plotted show, honestly. But I tried not to let that get in the way of enjoying it.
Just really bad:
Can Love Become Money. Implied rape, played for laughs.
I Need Romance 2012. Barely made it through the first episode.
Rooftop Prince. Worst villains, terrible mid-season slump, and an ending that made me WTF forever (they are not the same person! the entire fucking show was about how they were not the same person! then he wakes up from a coma and just, what, happily ever after while everyone in the past is dead and or lonely forever?!). WTFF.
Shows I haven’t been able to finish but can’t admit to dropping just yet:
Dalja’s Spring. Whoa man, did this slow down so bad. I keep trying to at least get to the first kiss or something, but I’m on ep 12 and it is like pulling teeth while watching molasses pour while doing something else really slow.
Harvest Villa. All of the quirky, not enough of the heart.
Haeundae Lovers. The male lead is a jerk and the female lead is playing wide-eyed naive sweetheart SO HARD that I hate her.
Killer Girl K. Surprisingly not engaging, for a 3-episode show about a teen rebel who takes on a drug lord, sees her mother killed, and then gets trained by a secret society to be a super spy crime fighter (maybe). Or, everything Mfred ever thought she wanted and now has and isn’t that interested in.
Nice Guy. In episode 1, the three leads were simply too baby-faced to be up to all of these vengeful shenanigans. By the end of episode 2, I loved each of them and their evil, twisted hearts. Episode 3, I’m not sure I can handle the heartbreak of the upcoming amnesia story.
Vampire Prosector 2. See above, times 2.
”Call my name just once. Lee So Yeon. You’re not her, right? I know you’re not, but… just do it once.”
The past couple of months, I haven’t been able to really engage with any kdramas. I don’t want to start series (Arang, Nice Guy, King of Dramas), and the ones I have started, I can’t finish (Haeundae Lovers, Harvest Villa, Vampire Prosecutor 2)
Then I ran into this gif set.
Listen, I skimmed Dramabeans; I know I Miss You is pretty much the most melodramatic melodrama in the world of melo. Just scene after scene of betrayal, rape, tears, betrayal, torture, tears, betrayal, murder, misery, tears.
But this gif set… “One more time.” His hand over his face. His face! The tears! Uh, it is so fucking perfect.
So I stayed up late last night, marathoning episodes 1-5. I skipped Bob’s Burgers, to watch episode 4. I was ten minutes late into the season finale of Dexter, to finish ep 5.
I disliked Micky Yoochun in Rooftop Prince (I
hated strongly disliked Rooftop Prince, it bled over to him-as-an-actor). Now, I fucking can’t get over him. He’s wearing turtlenecks and I still can’t get over him.
This scene is coming up. At the very end of episode 6. Taking bets to see how long I last with this damn cryfest.
Diablo Cody has sold a romantic sitcom script to ABC. The show is called Alex + Amy and centers on a 22-year-old guy and his 32-year-old girlfriend, according to EW. Let the pop references fly! But, you know, two generations of pop references, on account of the age gap.
Can love become anything but this drama?
From top right: Ma In Tak, our Midas-touched cold-hearted bastard of a CEO; Da Ran, his pretending-to-pretend broke-but-rich-in-life love interest; and finally, Hong Mi Mi, and over-the-hill actress looking to resurrect her career by acting as someone’s cousin.
I thought a long time about whether or not to review Can Love Become Money. I found it an awkward, misguided mish-mash of weird melodramatic plot turns (secret siblings!, faked but real but faked DNA tests!, Alzheimer’s that comes and goes!, broke secretaries blackmailed by rapist gangsters who are not actually rapists but maybe kinda ok and interested in dating your best friend?!) that actually went nowhere at all while also being completely ridiculous. I mean, even the title is awkward (although I’ve also seen it translated as Can Love Make Money, which is I think is a bit more sensible).
But let’s get back to the rape part, shall we? Because it pretty much informs the whole show and my opinion of it.
In one day, Da Ran is swindled by both her fiance and her dad. Completely broke and alone, gangsters come after her to pay off her fiance’s debt. It is implied off-camera that they rape her, or at least undress her, and video-tape it. With the video (which you never see), they blackmail her into taking part in convoluted plot to marry a rich CEO for the special inheritance left by his grandmother to his future bride.
And it is gross and horrendous.
What’s interesting is that the show itself makes it gross — and not, I think, on purpose. Da Ran, played by Eom Ji Wan, is horrified by the attack. She sobs and screams and shakes. The show, on the other hand, plays it all for laughs. Ha ha! Look at those bumbling gangsters with their comedic timing highlighted by our soundtrack as they possibly rape our heroine and then dangle her off of a side of building and then stalk her and constantly threaten her with a video of her own rape.
It is so weird, and so jarring, and completely encapsulates all of the problems with the entire show. Plot lines come and go, and get more ridiculous with each twist. Characters sort of make sense, until they do something weird in the name of some ridiculous piece of plot that is meant to keep you guessing as to everyone’s real motives, but is instead feels like the worst soap opera excess.
I actually spent entire episodes in disbelief, waiting for someone! anyone! interrupting time traveling narrative voiceover, pleeeaase! to explain that no, the show did not just take our heroine and make a mockery of her rape in order to service an entirely ridiculous, go nowhere story.
What makes the show watchable, and the reason I kept at it, was Yeon Jung-Hoon as the secretely-plotted-against CEO, Ma In Tak. He has that very special ability, similar to Hyun Bin in Secret Garden, to make you love his irascible, neurotic, mean-spirited hero. Spouting vicious insults, treating people as dirt, he shines because he is also able to let moments of genuine loneliness and sadness seep out around the edges. Watching the show for his eventual redemption via his love/friendship with Da Ran was almost enough.
Until the plot goes crazy. But in the most boring way. While also being horribly callous about the rape and financial subjugation of the heroine.
I made it to somewhere around episode 15-16, when Da Ran and Ma In Tak finally get their romantic shit together - and it was sweet, and touching - but by that point I couldn’t really stomach any more of the show. For completions’ sake, I fast-forwarded through the last episode. It was basically boring exposition explaining everyone’s happy ending.
Mihansa’s review of eps 1-7 is pretty fair and spot on. I think if your looking for romantic hijinks with jerk CEOs who get their fair comeuppance in the name of love, you should watch Secret Garden instead.