As has been said by many already, this year was a rough year for Kdramas. We saw a lot of piss poor, mediocre crap — even more so than the last three years – and also less than a handful of dramas that stood above the rest. For the most part, I was sorely disappointed with what I watched this year, despite being quite selective in what chose to watch, and even more nitpicky about which dramas I chose to finish. Call it the year that I turned into Oscar the Grouch or whatever, but there were certain moments throughout this year that I almost forgot why I loved Korean dramas in the first place. I almost lost the passion I had for dramas. It wasn’t until after I took a break and watched a few mind-blowing oldies that my interest was revived again.
I had originally hoped to talk about my Kdrama experience throughout this year by writing a year-end review. But the words weren’t coming naturally to me. To this very moment, I feel very unmotivated to say anything interesting or insightful about all the dramas I’ve watched all year long. The more I procrastinated to procrastinate from writing this review, the less excited I was to write a review at all. In the end, I couldn’t really deliver and accomplish what I had wanted to accomplish initially. Which was to bash a few dramas I hated and dote on dramas I loved.
Instead, all I did was put each drama into a specific category and write a snippet about each. And that’s all I will do. I know I’ve said this enough to sound like a broken record, but again, I’m so ready for 2011 to be over. Adieu, 2011!
Secret Garden – I hate you, I hate you, I hate you. If I ever publish the review I wrote for this drama that’s been in my drafts box for the past year, you’ll know why. And if not, too bad. I won’t elaborate further. Mentioning this drama is enough to send me off reeling.
Manny – This just might be one of the worst dramas this year. I don’t know why I finished this. But it’s bad. Real bad. It was chalk-full of over-the-top acting and cheese. Unless you like watching dramas where the leads have zero chemistry and the story seems to be written by a sixth grader. Stay away!
My Princess – You’ve probably been told when you were little that too much candy was bad for you and that snacks should be consumed in moderation. My Princess had nothing nourishing to offer. In fact, it was so fluffy that it was a complete waste of time, but it won’t give you a toothache, for that I’m sure. It’s actually quite harmless, if you have sixteen hours to spare for entertainment. The first episodes of this drama may have been promising, but towards the end, I stopped watching for the story and instead, watched for the eye-candy and wardrobes. What can I say? I wants those shoes!
Romance Town – Sigh. And to think that I was so addicted to this show in the beginning! I put this drama into this category not because the story was completely forgettable; rather, I almost forgot to finish it and had no inclination to do so… until the completist in me found time to marathon the final episodes. Jung Kyeo Woon had little romantic chemistry with Sung Yuri. Yet I watched this drama completely for him. Oh the things I do for you, my love! In short, this drama lost steam for me when it began to focus on the greed amongst the maids who worked for the rich owners of the community. I must say, however, that I was quite satisfied with the ending. It wasn’t a bad drama. It’s just not something I’d recommend to anyone, for fear that they’ll be bored with it halfway through.
City Hunter – I think I would’ve enjoyed this drama more if almost everyone hadn’t been singing praises about it from ten million miles away. I don’t think that City Hunter was the best drama of 2011 since it had many flaws of its own, yet it wasn’t too shabby, either. It has got every ingredient that was ever needed to make a fantastic drama so I’d recommend this drama to anyone. Still, I think it’s overrated compared to the dramas I really loved this year, which weren’t quite as loved by the populace. City Hunter’s a fantastic, well-made drama with some of the most chilling performances of the year. I don’t disagree that it has plenty of heart — it just didn’t tug on my personal heartstrings. It’s not this drama’s fault, people — it’s mine. Lee Min Ho fans, this one’s a keeper. Just not for me. Perhaps one day I’ll explain why.
Best Love – I’ll be honest and say that Cha Seung Won annoyed me to no end with his ridiculous, over-the-top character. I admit that he gave me a few laughs, but he also gave me a headache, not to mention he grossed me out with all his excessive cheese. It’s one thing to be romantic, and another to be cheesy. Also, is it just me, or are the Hong Sisters’ dramas getting less cracktastic? Anyway, don’t send me hate mail just ’cause I think this show’s overrated. For the most part, Best Love’s a fun ride. I just got tired of it and didn’t think it deserved all the hype it was getting. I’d recommend My Girlfriend is a Gumiho or You’re Beautiful over Best Love any day. I’ll even elaborate more on this one in the comments section if there are fans itching for a fight.
Can You Hear My Heart – Yes, but can you hear mine? I don’t think so. Ahem. Sorry, I don’t know what the heck I was thinking. So anyway, I enjoyed this drama for its acting and for its bromance. It was really close to being named as my bromance of the year, if not for another certain drama (see below). As long as you’re able to get over Hwang Jung Eum’s mushroom hair and plastic face, and Kim Jae Won’s whiter-than-Edward-Cullen’s-face, you’re going to love this show. It has plenty of heart on top of stellar performances from veteran actors that gave me goosebumps.
Dream High – The drama that rose high above expectations. Whatta bad pun, I know. Four words: Underdogs for the win! I’m not a huge fan of all the musical movies and shows that are being mass produced and distributed in the American market for the past few years, so I was particularly wary of Dream High. Despite my initial misgivings, this drama blew me away in terms of quality and enjoyment. The biggest highlight and surprise from Dream High was Kim Soo Hyun. He rocked as quirky, adorable Sam Dong. The drama really picked up its momentum after a few episodes in, turning out to be one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve watched in a long time.
Girl K – Athena, meet Girl K. You still have a lot left to learn. Prepared to get your butt kicked by the most badass, underrated show this year. Three episodes. That’s all the episodes you need to create an epic, memorable drama such as this. It’s an action flick through and through, with one tough heroine who has an uncanny skill in martial arts. The story may not be the soul of the show, but the directing was awesome enough to grip me.
49 Days – A drama about life and death, with messages that inspired me. I had my own prejudices about this cast, but they delivered with their portrayals of their characters that taught me so much. Even when it went a little crazy in the finale, I still enjoyed this show very much. Life it too short for bad dramas, but life is also too short to waste on such things such as regrets.
President – I. love. Choi Soo Jong and Ha Hee Ra. The end. Don’t be afraid to check this drama out just because it’s about politics because in reality, it’s so much more than that. In addition to offering a behind the scenes take on the highs and lows of a politician’s career, it’s also deals with issues including family relationships and morality. When the lines between black and white are blurred so that all things become gray, what happens then? Watch this drama. It gets my vote for the most sizzling chemistry between an onscreen couple in 2011.
The Princess’s Man – Believe me, this is not a tragic Romeo and Juliet story, nor is it as shallow as a love like that. It’s a compelling story with sweeping, beautiful visuals. It gave me a romance that I could believe in, one which I didn’t feel was contrived. It also presented an antagonist that wasn’t always evil (kind of like the Daddy in City Hunter), but one that sought a path that he thought would be most beneficial for him, his family, and his career. For never underestimating me or insulting my intelligence as a viewer, I think I’ll love this show forever and ever.
The Duo: My vote for best drama and bromance of 2011 goes to this lovely show. This drama owns my heart and soul, hands down. I was reading Dahee Fanel’s review over at Dramabeans the other day, and loved her analogy for The Duo. She compared this drama to makgeolli, and how it’s akin to comfort food. She’s right on the money, for that’s exactly what The Duo is. I’m currently watching The Tree With Deep Roots and in comparison, The Duo’s not as dramatic nor as exciting. But it’s full of layers with characters that are multi-dimensional. I love this show for all the happiness it brought me and for the refreshing contentedness I felt by the end of it. It didn’t need Big Plot Points to create tension for it had a bigger purpose — to analyze the complexity of the social classes which motivated each character from various classes. To say that this drama was about birth secrets would be scratching the most outer surface of its thematic messages.