I admit it. I do watch a lot of dramas. But I always rationalize it by reminding myself of all the dramas that I end up NOT watching every year. For instance, between the daily dramas, morning dramas, Monday/Tuesday dramas, Wednesday/Thursday dramas, weekend dramas, daily sitcoms, and cable dramas, I counted 81 dramas that aired some or all of its episodes in 2010 so far. Phew, now that’s a lot of dramas!
Just for the heck of it, shall we list them? (You’ll come to notice that I love lists, especially alphabetical ones. Swoon~)
A Man Called God; All My Love; Angsimjeong; Assorted Gems; Bad Guy; Baker King Kim Tak Gu; Chosun Police Season 3; Chuno; Cinderella’s Sister; Coffee House; Comrades; Creating Destiny; Daemul; Dandelion Family; Daring Woman; Definitely Neighbors; Don’t Hesitate; Dong Yi; Dr. Champ; Even Mom is Pretty; Everybody Cha Cha Cha; Flames of Desire; Freedom Fighter Lee Hoe Young; Giant; Gloria; God of Study; God’s Quiz; Golden Fish; Good Thing I Loved; Gumiho: Tale of the Fox’s Child; Harvest Villa; Hero; High Kick Through the Roof; Home Sweet Home; Hyunhaetan Marriage War; I am Legend; I Love You Ten Thousand Times; I’ll Give You Everything; It’s Okay, Daddy’s Girl; Jejoongwon; Joseon X-Files; Kim Soo Ro; King Geunchogo; Let’s Not Divorce/Enjoy Life; Life is Beautiful; Marry Me; Mary Stayed Out All Night/Marry Me Mary; Merchant Kim Man Deok; More Charming by the Day; My Country Calls; My Girlfriend is a Gumiho; Obstetrics and Gynecology Doctors; Oh My Lady; Once Upon a Time in Saengchori; Pasta; Personal Taste; Pink Lipstick; Playful Kiss; Prosecutor Princess; Pure Pumpkin Flower; Queen of Reversals; Road No. 1; Runaway: Plan B; Running Gu; Secret Garden; Smile, Donghae; Smile, Mom; Smile, You; Stormy Lovers; Sungkyunkwan Scandal; The Birth of the Rich; The Good Day When the Wind Blows; The Reputable Family; The Scarlet Letter; Three Brothers; Three Sisters; Wife Returns; Will it Snow for Christmas; Wish Upon a Star; Woman Who Still Wants to Marry; You Don’t Know Women
My gosh, that’s long! Let me catch my breath…
Okay, ready. So of all these dramas, I’ve “only” watched 13 of them to completion, a mere 16% of the total offering. Again, another list (are you getting tired of them yet?), but this time of dramas that I watched:
Baker King Kim Tak Gu
High Kick Through the Roof
My Girlfriend is a Gumiho
The Birth of the Rich
I’ve always thought it was an interesting process in which viewers narrow down the available option and choose which dramas to end up watching. Personally, there is this secret magic formula that I use, and I end up watching the dramas that pass the minimum threshold set by the formula.
Umm, okay, I was just kidding, although if there is anyone with such a formula, please share cause I’d love to know as well!
I wish I could say that the final group of dramas that I end up watching are the cream of the crop. However, that would be far from the truth. Even this year, although there were several that I absolutely fell in love with and reminded me of why I loved k-dramas, there were also many that made me want to kick myself and wonder why I was putting up with this crap.
Perhaps someday in the near future I will dedicate a post to all the dramas that I completed this year (the good and the bad), and my reasons for sticking with them, however ridiculous some of the reasons may be.
But first, I will dedicate this post to those dramas that did not work out for me this year.
In deciding whether to check out a drama, I look at several factors: the cast, the writer, the director, the premise of the show, others’ recommendations or reviews, tv viewership ratings, and finally, my own personal boredom factor. If any of these factors fit at that moment in time, I go ahead and check out the first episode.
Generally, I skip over daily dramas and morning dramas. Daily and morning dramas tend to be very long, progress slowly, and usually have poor acting. Specifically, morning dramas tend to have the most makjang factor of all the Korean dramas. Slapping, pulling each other’s hair, cheating husbands, cheating wives, evil mother-in-laws. You may wonder, wait, that’s like any other Korean dramas, no? Just imagine all those things, and multiply it by 10 and you have a typical morning drama.
That being said, some of the most addicting (and heartwarming) dramas I’ve seen in my life have also been daily dramas. Thus, I don’t completely cross them off the list, but I only watch them when they are personally recommended to me by someone whose opinion I trust.
This year, my very own grandmother recommended Pink Lipstick and Golden Fish to me. It should be noted that my grandmother’s taste in dramas doesn’t always align with my own (she likes makjang dramas a lot more than I care for), but out of respect for her, I usually do check out her recommendations at least once.
Both dramas were makjang to the max, but I ended up dropping Pink Lipstick because the acting in that drama was particularly bad and the story line was pretty predictable as far as makjang dramas go. Golden Fish was not much better, but since I grew curious about how the writer could possibly conclude this mess she created, I ended up sticking with it to the end. (Spoiler: If anyone wonders how it ends, ummm, he dies.)
Of the shorter drama series, I just simply pick and choose based on the factors I’ve listed above. This year, there were a total of sixteen dramas that I checked out, but never finished. The number of episodes I watched are in parentheses.
1. Playful Kiss (10 episodes) – I really, really wanted to like this show. If the original story had been popular all over Asia, for sure there must have been a reason for it, right? Or so I thought. In order to prepare for it, I even checked out the Taiwanese drama, It Started With a Kiss. However, five episodes into the Taiwanese drama, I grew very disturbed by the story and got extremely annoyed with the female character.
I finally dismissed it as a mere cultural difference, and continued to hold on to my hope that the Korean version would make an improvement on the original. After watching the first episode, I was surprised by the slow pace, but convinced myself that a drama of such a slow pace was refreshing and it was exactly what I needed at that moment. Second episode was a slight improvement, and this encouraged me to continue watching. However, five, six, seven episodes in, I noticed a pattern… that nothing was happening.
Moreover, whereas some praised the female lead, Oh Hani, for her persistence, I only saw a girl who had no self-dignity. By episode ten, I finally raised my hands in defeat and realized that I no longer even cared whether or not Oh Hani ended up together with her long-time crush, Baek Seungjo. When I finally dropped the show, I felt liberated.
Thinking back, there’s one thing I am grateful for the show. It made my feminist side (that I never even knew existed) come in full force.
2. Personal Taste (9 episodes) – This is another show that I really, really wanted to like. The premise of the show (accidental housemates falling in love) was one that I would normally be all over. I was also excited to see Lee Min Ho’s follow-up to Boys Over Flowers, and to see whether he could live up to his hype.
There was nothing specifically wrong with this show that I could point out, although the directing could have been better. However, it simply didn’t have the “it” factor that made me crawl back for more.
Also, I was disturbed to notice that there was something wrong with Lee Min Ho’s speech. I’m not sure whether it is a slight lisp or his voice itself, but he constantly makes this clicking noise that I find to be very distracting. His acting will do as he is pretty decent as a rookie, but if he wants to be taken seriously as an actor in the future, he definitely needs to work on his speech.
Either way, the drama was dropped after episode 9. I did hear that it improved after I stopped watching, but by then, I no longer had the desire to give it a second chance.
3. Cinderella’s Sister (5-6 episodes) – Oh man, the first one or two episodes were SO promising. But as the show progressed, I found myself getting more and more bored, and eventually, it too got dropped.
4. Bad Guy (3-4 episodes) – Here’s a sampling of comments I made while watching this show.
– “Kim Nam Gil, you sexy beast, you!”
– “Oh Yeon Soo, you never age, do you? What’s your secret, do tell!”
– “That Jung So Min girl is pretty cute.”
– “Han Ga In, wait, is this an improvement to your acting I’m detecting? Wait, wait, no, it’s not.”
Notice how I never commented on the story line? That was enough reason for me to drop it.
5. Chuno (on and off, 3-4 episodes) – I kept hearing about how great this show was. I didn’t see it. I kept hearing about how great was Jang Hyuk’s acting. I didn’t see it.
Even after I dropped the show, my mom continued to watch it. Whenever I asked her how it’s going, she always answered that she doesn’t see why people are making a big deal about this show.
We watched the finale episode together and both wondered aloud, “Hmm, are we supposed to feel touched, moved, empowered, sad, hopeful?” I guess until the very end, the mother and the daughter team just never understood what the big deal was about this drama. I did think that the filming was visually very “pretty.”
6. Life is Beautiful (3 episodes) – I always do check out writer Kim Soo Hyun’s work. I’ve always thought that she made even the most makjang of story line sound realistic and relatable.
But perhaps I finally just had enough of her dramas. I watched the first 3 episodes and whereas her signature machine-gun dialogues used to impress me, I now found that they just gave me a headache. What I used to admire as something that only Kim Soo Hyun could do, I found myself rolling my eyes and wondering, “Kim Soo Hyun, why can’t you make your characters speak like normal people for a change. I’m dropping your drama.”
7. Obstetrics and Gynecology Doctors (3 episodes) – This is another case where there was nothing wrong with this drama per se. But watching episodes after episodes of stories about pregnancy and women’s reproductive health got quickly tiring.
8. Road No. 1 (3 episodes) – The drama was too grandiose for its own good, and it became borderline cheesy. No, cross that. It WAS cheesy. And to make it worse, Kim Ha Neul’s character was beyond annoying.
I ended up skipping to the last episode. Kim Ha Neul’s character still remained annoying and the show was still too dramatic, but I ended up enjoying the finale. *Shrugs* But did it make me wish to go back and catch up on the episodes I missed? Hell. no.
9. Daemul (3 episodes) – I enjoyed the first episode. Go Hyun Jung is always a treat on-screen. Kwon Sang Woo didn’t annoy me as much as he usually does. But starting with the second episode, it suddenly became so, umm, underwhelming.
10. Runaway: Plan B (2 episodes) – I understood what the director wanted to do. He wanted to impress with all the globe-trotting and fancy schmancy gadgets in order to sell the drama overseas. But in doing so, the drama forgot one little tiny detail. The story.
11. Flames of Desire (2 episodes) – I have a weak spot for Shin Eun Kyung, ever since my she-crush on her from the old General Hospital days. But all throughout watching the show, I kept thinking, “Man, Go Hyun Jung would have been perfect for this role!”
12. Oh My Lady (2 episodes) – At one point in my life (perhaps around 7 years ago), I might have liked this drama. I’m no longer the same person from 7 years ago. I can perfectly imagine how some others might enjoy watching it. It’s just that I personally feel too fed up with these types of stories.
13. Coffee House (1.5 episode) – I’m not even sure whether I can accurately assess this drama. While watching the first episode and before I could even make a judgment on whether I liked it or hated it, I fell asleep. I woke up, rewinded it to the part right before I fell asleep, and about 15 minutes in, I fell asleep again. By repeating this, I somehow managed to finish the first episode and continue on with the second. As the phenomenon continued while watching the second episode, I decided that it wasn’t worth it to continue on.
A friend later told me that she enjoyed the drama and the unpredictability of it, but by this time, I did not care to give it a second (or is it a third, fourth, fifth?) try.
14. Wish Upon a Star (1 episode) – I watched this drama with my mom. She kept constantly making comments next to me about how she couldn’t stand Choi Jung Won. By the end of the show, I agreed with her, and the thought of watching another 15 episodes of her terrified me. I dropped the show.
15. Woman Who Still Wants to Marry (1 episode) – Hmm, good question. I don’t even know why I never continued on with this show. In fact, after watching the first episode, I recall that I enjoyed it, laughed a little, and thought it might be entertaining enough, albeit nothing mind-blowing or earth-shattering.
Perhaps the best explanation that I can think of is that some other drama grabbed my attention more? But secretly I wonder whether it’s because I really liked the original (The Woman Who Wants to Marry), and didn’t want this show to steal its thunder. Something for me to ponder about…
16. My Country Calls (0.5 episode) – Same phenomenon occurred as with Coffee House, but this drama never had the initial pull from the start for me to persevere through.
So there you have it. Sixteen dramas from 2010 that did not work out for me.
Besides these sixteen, I have several dramas put “on hold” that I may decide to continue or give up.
They are Mary Stayed Out All Night (1.5 episode), Secret Garden (1.5 episode), and King Geunchogo (1 episode).
Every mother, father, brother, and sister have been recommending Secret Garden to me that I actually would feel guilty if I gave up on it too soon. Would I be considered shallow if one of my biggest deterrence to this drama is my disturbance at the sight of Hyun Bin’s hollow cheeks?
I’ve recently taken up Gloria, and finding it to be a blast.
Now your turn! Please share about the dramas that did not work out for you.