Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Wish List, Drama-Style




Dear Drama Overlords,

I have been a very good girl this year: I stood by your side through good and bad (or, in this case, Big), never letting a day pass by without telling someone about your glorious works (whether they wanted to hear it or not). I have kept my Drama Fever membership active, spent countless hours relishing your online community, and even bought a drama on DVD.

If it’s not too much to ask, I would like to submit my Christmas wish list to you instead of that guy at the North Pole. (I learned the hard way last year that his subbing work is always subpar—everything seems to translate into “Ho, ho, ho.”)

Here, then, are the gifts I’d like from you this year.

Pay your employees. Sure, it’s important for businesses to make money, but it’s also important for them to do so in an ethical, honest way. No matter how creative your bookkeeping is, there’s no denying the fact that the writers, actors, and production staff who make dramas happen work hard for you and deserve not only the financial compensation promised to them, but also your respect.

Be sure that Flower Boy Next Door is amazing. Ideally, I would like to describe it as follows: “Almost painfully charming, FBND is funny and goofy-sweet but not without serious insights and complex characterizations. The chemistry is hot enough for roasting marshmallows, and for once the female lead in romantic comedy isn’t a total idiot: Go Dok Mi may be awkward and shy, but she’s also capable and clever.”

Let the second lead get the girl. Not always, or even often, but sometimes. It’s only natural that we viewers gravitate toward second leads: they’re supportive and kind and treat their female leads like queens. I think part of the problem here is that the chemistry between actors can be unpredictable—who knew, for example, that in I Miss You Yoon Eun Hye would steam up the screen with a boy almost ten years her junior? But she did, and you should have adjusted the show’s script to take advantage of it, instead of sticking with the same old long-lost-childhood-love plotline you clearly charted before production even began. You’re writing these shows as they air, so why not take advantage of it to work with the organic growth of the project?

Bring A Wife’s Credentials to English-speaking audiences. This show finished airing in April, but it’s still not available subbed anywhere online—even your official site has never gotten past episode 10. I get the sense that your lighter, more youthful output is more successful on the Internet, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t international viewers who would be interested in watching a sophisticated exploration of real-world adult relationships. Instead? We get Dream High 2, subbed hours after airing. Thanks for nothing, Overlords.

Be original. 2012 will go down in history as the year of the time-traveling Kdrama: Padam Padam, Operation Proposal, Rooftop Prince, Queen In-hyun’s Man, Dr. Jin, and Faith all used this supernatural trope to varying degrees of success. As far as I’m concerned, one of your greatest strengths is the ability to take something old and threadbare and make it seem new. But must you spend so much time honing this skill? Think outside the box—there’s a whole world out there waiting for you to write about it, a world where romances can happen without piggyback rides and chaebol princes sometimes fall in love with chaebol princesses, not hardworking everygirls. Don’t let yourself get in too much of a rut, on either the micro or macro levels.

Bring on the Rory Gilmores and Temperance Brennans. When you showcase a smart girl, she’s usually a bad guy (e.g., Playful Kiss) or spends all her time apologizing for being smart (e.g., Lie to Me). I’ve heard about your grueling educational environment—brains are clearly something you value. So how about letting a female lead have some for a change?

Find Gong Yoo a decent role in a good drama. I certainly can’t fault your taste in leading men; your shows are to handsome guys what Fort Knox is to gold. But you don’t always act in the best interest of the actors or even the dramas they’re starring in. Case in point? The hot mess that was Big, which had more Gong Yoo than you can shake a stick at, but utterly wasted him in a morass of spineless drivel. Make it up to us this year by giving Gong Yoo a showcase to remember—something that lets him be funny and lovable but also brings out depths of character that have been hidden since his days in Coffee Prince. (While you’re at it, maybe you should try casting Hyun Bin, fresh from the military and the stain on television history that was Secret Garden, as something other than Pee Wee Herman’s long-lost Korean brother.)

Be real. Fairy-tale dramas are fun to watch, whether they’re swoonily romantic or tearily melodramatic, but without some degree of realism they lose their emotional impact. Shows with a real-life vibe were in sadly short supply this year, a situation I hope you don’t plan to repeat. Remember that naturalistic doesn’t necessarily mean boring—dramas like Shut Up: Flower Boy Band and Answer Me, 1997 managed to be sensational and realistic all at once.

Thanks for a great year of television, Overlords. It has been a funny, sad, sweet, silly, romantic (and bromantic) good time. Here’s for an even better year to come.

Fighting!

With much love,
Amanda

33 comments:

  1. Amanda, Merry Christmas! I definitely agree with your Christmas wish list. Gong Yoo definitely deserves a drama with some real substance like Coffee Prince. I also agree that I hope Hyun Bin really comes back with something wonderful. I disagree with you about Secret Garden. I loved it and it solidified my love for him as an actor. Back to Coffee Prince, as soon as I can find in which episode it occurs, I have a Coffee Prince trivia question to post. So I'll get back to you!

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    1. When it comes to Secret Garden, it's pretty much me versus the world. I think we can all agree that Hyun Bin deserves a great comeback role, though ;)

      My favorite of his dramas is Snow Queen— I'd really like to see him take on another melo.

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    2. Yes, I really liked Snow Queen too. But I am biased, anything Hyun Bin is in causes me to look through rose colored glasses!

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    3. For me Secret Garden is kind of a guilty pleasure... As a show it's very uneven. There are things I really like in it, things that are "meh" and then there are some things I really, really dislike (one of the worst is the fact that Ra-Im is portrayed so tough and physically strong and then she's not able to fight of Joo Won even though he's skinny as a stick - because, you know, a female lead HAS to be weaker than male lead even if the male lead is a male waif and female lead could beat the living shit out of any other character).

      However, SG has a special place in my heart that no other drama can ever replace as it was my first Korean drama and succesfully sucked me into the Korean dramaland. No other drama can be first anymore. :)

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  2. Amen to that!
    Merry Christmas, my Kdrama chingu!

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    1. And merry Christmas to you, too :)

      Random note: I was just reading through reviews of Jewel in the Palace on Drama Fever and came across yours. I always knew you had a lot to say, even before you started blogging ;)

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    2. Oh! And one more thing...I saw your post about School 2013, which was great. As a lover of high school dramas, I've been looking forward to that one for a while, and your recommendation makes it sound even more tempting.

      [whisper] That place where you posted it should consider itself so lucky to have you...you're far and away the best writer who's even posted there. [end whisper]

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  3. I love this!!! I read your blog weekly and thought I should finally post something. I'm a Kdrama addict. It feels so good to admit it!!!! Hehehehe. I'm also excited to add that I made the decision to move to Korea by next school year (I'm a teacher and have applied for some international positions). The first stop I will hit is of course the coffee prince cafe!! (My fav drama)!

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    1. oh my, so jealous! if i didn't have a husband and 2 toddlers, i'd probably do the same thing (i'm a teacher, too). i love everything about korea and k-drama!!!

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    2. I'm jealous of your Korean plans, too! I can't imagine that I'll ever get to go myself, what with my complete lack of motivation—and teaching skills. Good luck with your trip (and with finding Coffee Prince, which by all accounts is incredibly difficult).

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    3. In case you hadn't heard, the house where Choi Han Sung lived with the wonderful statues outside and the owner of Terry the dog, has now been made into a restaurant. Simon and Martina from Eat Your Kimchi tried to go there but got really lost. Sounds like it's even more difficult to find than the Coffee Prince.

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  4. Cristal, I wish I was a teacher and younger. I actually looked into it and I would qualify if I took the TESOL but, alas, I'm beyond the age they want. I went to Korea last April and it was wonderful. I initially wanted to go the Coffee Prince Coffee House also but after reading about it since the drama it is really rundown and run by very unfriendly people. I don't know if you follow Simon and Martina from Eat Your Kimchi on You Tube but they went there and had a horrible experience, as well as some other people that have posted their opinions. I don't know where you live but if it is anywhere near Palisades Park, NJ there is a Coffee Prince Coffee House there and they have it decorated like the original and the waiters wear the uniforms. They have a large poster of the Coffee Prince drama actors. It was great. But back to Korea, I will be going back again as soon as I can. Anyway, I wish you the best of luck.

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    1. I meant to point out that my avatar is a picture of the mural at the Coffee Prince Coffee House in Palisades Park!

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    2. Sorry, one more thing. Speaking of Simon and Martina. They originally went to Korea as teachers so you really want to check out their Your Tube site Eat Your Kimchi. They have tons of videos about their teaching experiences as well as links to other teachers there.

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    3. ::does a double take:: There's a Coffee Prince based on the show in New Jersey?!? I could actually go there sometime, being from New England. Is it still open even now, years after the drama aired? Is there a website about it?

      I also love Eat Your Kimchi. Simon and Martina are incredibly funny, and I love experiencing Korea through their eyes.

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    4. Amanda, I am sorry. I went out to the internet to get the address and several websites have comments that it is now closed. That is really a bummer! Can you upload pictures on these blogs? If so, I would be glad to upload the ones I made when I went there.

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  5. Coffee Prince Trivia Question:

    In my beloved episode 10 where so many wonderful things happen, at 17:00, what does the blinking yellow light mean?

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    1. I love an excuse to watch some Coffee Prince ;)

      I thought I'd seen this drama so many times that I'd noticed every random little detail, but clearly that's not the case—I never saw this ignition light thing before. I have no idea what it means, and can't even find anything similar in a Google search. Bizarre! Maybe it's some anti-theft thing?

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    2. No, that's not what it is. I don't know if anyone else would want to take a guess but I'm going to go ahead and tell you. It's the alert on the Mini Cooper that the window washer fluid is empty! I would never have known either until I bought my Ji Cheol (my 2006 Mini Cooper S just like the one in Coffee Prince). I had noticed it when I was watching the drama but thought it was a ploy to cause you to pay more attention. I wonder if they knew what it meant? That scene did give a good view of the sexy dashboard. Just love that car!

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  6. I'm actually commenting on your sidebar... "(Is it really possible that any human being has enough hair to make the huge, complicated braids women always wear in sageuks? Clearly they're wigs nowadays, but were they always fake, even back in the real Joseon era?)"

    Seems that answer is "yes" - the wig was called gachae. This seems plausible as they used to wear wigs in Europe, too, when huge hair thingies were in fashion (like during the 18th century) and in Egypt, for example. Also this was done in Rome where many Germanic slaves had to give up their long blond locks to the Roman aristocracy for wigs. It has been quite common, it seems.

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    1. Thanks for the information! I just googled gachae, and it seems even Lady Ga Ga has worn one.

      It's interesting how some things are culturally universal, like wigs. (And the mention of Egypt reminds me of the Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty. She's sometimes shown wearing a fake beard, even.)

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  7. Thanks for another genius post :)

    The Flower Boy Next Door point is something that is in my own wish-list. I really really want it to be awesome, but I'm so scared that if I'm that excited about it then it'll flop. All the teasers were just so adorable. I have to tell myself to be very indifferent, so the drama could surprise me and be like you described: "Almost painfully charming...".

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  8. Ahh I am dying for Gong Yoo to get a good role. At least I can be happy that I Miss You is good and Yun Eun Hye is kicking butt in it.

    A side note, I swore after Big that I would never watch another Hong Sisters drama but I broke my promise and watched Delightful Girl Choong Hyang and it was awesome!! She is another example of an intelligent female lead that never apologizes for it. It was refreshing to see. What I wonder is how do they come up with a kdrama like that and then make something ad awful as Big? I am so behind on my reviews. I need to do Smile, Dong Hae and Delightful Girl Choon Hyang. But alas I am visiting my grandparents and they do not have wifi and attempting to write a list on my phone is super annoying, but I may attempt later today anyway.

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    1. I've been thinking about watching Choong Hyang, too. I think it was the Hong sisters' very first drama, so they probably cared a lot more about it than they did about Big (which they clearly wrote on autopilot and/or horse tranquilizers).

      I'm at my dad's dog sitting these days, and finding it hard to work, too. (Mostly because they use PCs and I'm the worst speller in the history of the world. I'm paralyzed without my Mac's automatic spell check feature!)

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  9. I absolutely love this post. I thought I was the only one who thought that "Big" and "Secret Garden" were terrible. I watched them since they seemed to have so many rave reviews on drama fever. Big mistake. I kept thinking "Secret Garden" would get better, then I realized the series was over and I lost what little hope I had for it. As far as "Big" goes, I couldn't even finish it. I googled the ending because I couldn't bear to sit through another minute of the mind numbing agony that was its plot line. What a waste of an amazing actor.

    On a side note, I would absolutely love it if more K-dramas would spice up their romances. Forehead kisses are sweet and all but a passionate kiss everyone now and then would be nice too. For example, "I Need Romance" had amazing kiss scenes.

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  10. Best Christmas Wish List. I think all drama watchers want the same things.

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  11. If you haven't already, you can watch the subbed A Wife's Credentials on DramaCrazy. Great series indeed!

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