The Asian Shift or Trying to Watch American TV After a Long K-Drama Binge.
I upgraded to premium on Dramafever this winter and have been firmly planted in Korean dramas for weeks. I watch at least an episode or two a day, sometimes the majority of a show during the weekends. I’m not proud of my obsessive drama-watching and am pretty sure it’s not how humans were meant to live – watching other people live exciting lives as I sit motionless on the couch – but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.
I’m here to talk about how weird American TV is when you’ve been thoroughly saturated in Korean/Thai/Japanese/Chinese dramas.
First of all… it’s so weird to hear english. Well spoken english. Slang. Cussing. It always takes me a few minutes to remember I don’t have to read the subtitles (and yes, I keep the Closed Captioning on for everything cause I like to keep my subtitle-reading skills sharp!).
You don’t get to meet the families of the lead characters. You rarely get to see their homes, if it’s a work drama. When do they eat? What do they eat? How do they get to work? Why aren’t they on their phones all the time? Do they have siblings? Character development in American shows is done through reactions to situations. We know this person is strong because she rose to the occasion when such-such happened. We know this person is weak because he ran away when such-such happened. American shows tend to be firmly rooted in “the moment” and WHAT is happening is generally more important than WHO it is happening to. What these characters are doing when they’re not in “the moment” or the action is rarely addressed. What DO these people do when they’re not doing the plot-driven stuff? We don’t know. They don’t use the restroom, they don’t require band aids, they don’t have sick days that require nursemaiding from their love interest, they don’t have hangovers and hangover soup, and they don’t lay in their beds texting before they go to sleep at night.
Okay, okay, there are exceptions to the rule… but you know what I mean.
Another thing that bothers me is the lack of conclusions. Just END ALREADY. Jesus, some shows have been on for eternity. I don’t understand how people can keep watching the same show indefinitely. With the exception of Game of Thrones, there is literally NO SHOW that has held my complete interest for more than three seasons. Every American show should be forced to wrap it up at the end of three seasons – we would all be better off for it, I promise you. Set the actors and the writer’s free, thank you. Most long running shows would have been better if they’d just tightened up the plotlines and gotten it done in three seasons.
The romances are not as good.
There aren’t as many genuinely nice people who just want to go help and have a good life with good friends. (notable exception – Parks & Recreation)
The dudes never cry. Currently, the only show I can think of that isn’t afraid to let it’s actors just FREAK OUT is How to Get Away with Murder (which is ridiculous but so much fun) – and even on that show, it’s mainly just the lead female who has given us the greatest ugly cries I’ve seen on American TV. There’s been some genuinely good melt downs on The Walking Dead but that’s not quite the same as a regular emotional meltdown cause… it’s the zombie apocalypse and you’re actually abnormal if you’re NOT crying in that scenario. We had a few masculine tears shed in Battlestar Galactica that were epic. Lost gave us some nice male sobbing on occasion. But it’s nothing compared to the emotional trainwrecks of Korean Drama melodrama. I don’t think you’re really considered a good actor in Korea until you’re given a scene that requires you to openly, gut wrenchingly sob your heart out. There will be tears. And snot. And saliva. And falling to your knees. And beating on your chest. And it will not cut away as if embarrassed by its own emotions, oh no… it will linger. It will allow you, the viewer, ample time to completely join in on the tearfest.
I do not like to mix my medias. When I am in Asian TV mode, I do not like to dabble in American TV on the side. It’s either one or the other with me.
Some of my favorite shows are starting back up again, too… the conclusion of Black Sails on Starz, the new season of You’re the Worst… but they can wait. My que is currently packed on Dramafever and I’ve got my eye on a few dramas running on Netflix and Hulu as well… so, sorry America. K-Drama wins.