And now for the final installment of my KDrama 10 Things posts!
I know, I know. You’re excited, right? And kind of sad, because the end has come.
Wait, no. That’s how I feel toward the end of a particularly good KDrama.
But if you are sad: Not to worry! Further blog posts on KDrama will be forthcoming. Mostly reviews of my favourites, so keep your eyes peeled.
Meanwhile, here are the last 5 Things I Hate About KDrama…
The Inevitable Part Where Our Main Female Lead Gets Drunk
Oh, how I abominate this trope! It seems to be a pretty universal one: I don’t think I’ve seen a KDrama where there isn’t a drunk scene with the MFL. These scenes range from cute and mildly amusing to horrifyingly embarrassing (they seem to serve mainly as a catalyst for confessions of love or hate), and they never fail to irritate me. I can understand why they’re included–the Korean culture seems still to be so much a patriarchal one where the women bow their heads and do as they’re told, that there’s a need for some kind of catalyst to throw them out of that and make them act with boldness. Or speak with boldness, as the case may be.
But I still hate it. Drunken women are just as unappealing as drunken men, and drunken women are in a lot more danger than men who get themselves into the same state. It’s a dangerous sort of behaviour to promote.
So, again: this is something that is on both of my lists. Meaning I both love and hate it.
I love the depths to which KDrama takes its characters: the highs and lows, the challenges and the triumphs, the soul-searching and the growth. Being that there are usually 12-20 hour long episodes devoted to the one story-line and one set of characters, there’s the scope for depth and well-drawn characters; and for the most part, KDrama seems to do that remarkably well.
Until it doesn’t.
Then you get the angsty, soap-opera style of drama that underpins too many of the KDramas I’ve seen (and promptly rage-quit watching). Your MFL, in her pursuit of the MML, will cry and whine and angst and despair. The MML, in being pursued, will suffer from the worst kind of bipolar disorder–one day he’ll be furious at being bothered, the next, when his MFL finally gets a backbone and decides not to take the insults anymore, he will actively cling to her, putting paid to any thoughts of healthy independence in her silly little head. (Not mentioning any names, but *coff*Playful Kiss*coff*)
Or, or (oh my ragey heart!) a hitherto perfectly good KDrama that should and could have ended with 12 or 14 episodes, is artificially expanded with angsty drama that drags it down into what I call the Sticky Middle. The best KDramas I’ve seen do not have a Sticky Middle. They continue evenly and build beautifully, with the best kind of depth.
KDramas with a Sticky Middle, on the other hand, seem to bog down at about episode 9 or 10, and don’t really pick up again until the 15th or 16th episode. All the humour and fun is subsumed in the tears and angst, and one might be forgiven for thinking that some of the female leads were chosen specifically for their ability to cry.
If a KDrama is good enough, I’ll stay with it even through the Sticky Middle, but I infinitely prefer those without.
Gratuitous Objectification of Men and Young Boys
This might sound like I’m having a laugh, but I’m not. You think women are objectified in western movies (they are, but that’s a discussion for another day)? Watch KDrama and find out that while the girls are (usually) kept out of the grimier spotlight, almost every single male lead, be he 17 or 37, will have a shower/change scene. And it’s no good telling me that what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, because I am very much of the opinion that two wrongs do not make a right. If it’s objectification when it happens to young girls, it is also objectification when it happens to young boys.
I know there are a lot of people who aren’t going to have a problem with this point (and it seems extremely unusual for it to proceed further than a bare chest), but it still gives me the same squicky feeling I get when I watch a western movie where the very young female lead is parading around in her barely-there underwear for that getting-changed scene that movies always seem to have.
On the bright side, I really do love that KDramas (mostly) seem to be very careful about the modesty of their female stars. It’s lovely. I’d just like to see the same care taken of the male stars.
MFLs with Split Personalities
Okay, so technically, it’s not a split personality. It’s actually just bad writing, and it’s bad writing that even the best KDramas are just a tiny bit guilty of. Inconsistent characterisation, in fact, which I always find difficult to forgive.
Let me explain.
You may have noticed my penchant for violence. As in, I really love a MFL who is not only capable of punching the MML (or in fact any of the Male Leads) in the face when they deserve it, but actually does punch them in the face.
It warms the cockles of me little ‘eart.
So when that MFL, who all the way through the show is tough and strong, and fully capable of taking care of herself, becomes fearful and useless and cowering in the last episode (or worse, half way through the series), I find it excruciatingly frustrating. Worse, often she becomes so simply and purely because it’s necessary for the MML’s gratification/aggrandisement.
No. Fix your characterisation, KDrama! If your MML isn’t man enough to not feel threatened by the MFL’s strength, write another, better MML who is.
Soon Joon (Falling For Innocence)
She has smarts–serious smarts. It’s seen through the whole first half of the drama, where she manages to outwit our MML quite a few times in business matters, and proves that she is a very good ally.
Unfortunately, she then has to take a back seat in the business/political type machinations so that our MML can triumph with his own cleverness.
This, I did forgive, simply for the fact that the MFL’s strength in another area was more clearly shown up by her lack in this area. Soon Joon didn’t become any less for the MML’s failure to properly utilise all her strengths. Besides which, his growth as a character was still shown through it, and his triumph would still not have been possible but for her strength behind him.
Joo Hee (After School Bokbulbok, Season 2)
Spends most of the series making the boys live in fear of her fists and is actively awesome, then as a necessary element for the last episode, is stripped of all that fierce fighting spirit and left cowering so that the MML can rescue her.
I find that very hard to forgive, and if After School Bokbulbok, Season 2 hadn’t been so flamin’ hilarious, I wouldn’t have forgiven it. Also worth noting is the fact that I don’t actively reccomend After School Bokbulbok, Season 2 as it has far too many things in it that I wasn’t comfortable with.
But for the purposes of illustration, it illustrates this particular KDrama Hate perfectly.
Yoon Seo (Noble, my Love)
*breathe, W.R., breathe*
I get too ragey about this one.
(I should also mention that I laughed a lot, but the ragey feelings are what I chiefly remember).
Romance is Not (Always) the Point
I’m really torn about this one. As with a few of the things I’ve hated (each of which has had its side that I loved) there is actually quite a bit I like about this.
The main romance thread through KDrama will usually come to its zenith somewhere about the middle of the drama. By this point, love will (usually) have been declared and kisses (usually) exchanged. From that point on, there will be relationship issues (if it’s an annoying, angsty drama), or plot-line related issues (if it’s a good one).
It’s not a thing I love. My favourite form of romance is where the main romantic plotline is resolved toward the end of the story. This is mostly because when the romantic plot-line is resolved in the middle of the story, there is usually only angst to come.
In KDrama it ain’t necessarily so. In fact, some of my favourite KDramas have completed the first part of their romance plot-line somewhere in the middle of the drama, and then continued on strongly because it wasn’t just about the romance–or at least, not just about the exciting beginning of the romance. It was about growing together as a couple and facing the difficulties to come (in the form of the other main plotlines).
That’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay, it’s flamin’ brilliant writing, and it shows how good of writing it is that I keep watching.
But remember the Sticky Middle? Yeah, if your KDrama is finishing its main romantic plot in the middle of the drama, and from then on it’s all angst and separation and reconciliation and separation ad nauseum, I’ll stop watching.
Because–say it with me!–“Life is too short to watch bad T.V.”
This concludes my four part series of (ridiculously long) KDrama posts on 10 Things I Love/Hate About KDrama.
Hit me with your reccs (if you have any) and feel free to ask questions. Also remember that taste is completely subjective, so if you hate the things I loved, and vice versa, try looking for KDramas you’ll like in the ones I didn’t like…