Review – Cinderella and the Four Knights
I love Korean fairy tale dramas. Shining Inheritance, anyone? They always follow the same rules – basically some good-hearted young lady is brought in to “save” rich people from their own miserable natures. Unhappy rich people become happy rich people, and as a reward… the young lady gets married off to one of the rich boys and becomes rich too. Happy Ever After. This show didn’t even try to deny it… just look at the title!
Unlike most Korean drama fairy tales, however, this show differentiated itself by focusing on character development, almost exclusively as a plot device (through various missions our Cinderella is tasked to accomplish), so that our knights became real people instead of cliches. Cute and romantic, it’s a feel-good drama that’s perfect when you’re in the mood for some cheesy charm. Lots of laughs and heart. Highly recommended.
Overall Rating – 8.5/10. Prince Charming’s Castle Courtesy of Mass Studies Architecture.
Discussion of Characters and Spoilers Follow….
Let’s start with Cinderella, our lead female, played by Park So-Dam. What a cutie. They didn’t even beat around the bush with her Cinderella story, they literally gave her the exact plotline. Dead mother, evil stepmother and stepsister who force her to do all the chores, sleep on the balcony, and fend for herself financially, and a frequently away stepfather who is clueless to the abuse. Our Cinderella wants to be a school teacher when she grows up and has been saving her pennies working multiple part time jobs to pay for her tuition. Despite her extremely crappy life, she is… remarkably… super nice, positive, and upbeat. Which seems unrealistic, if you ask me, but whatever, it’s a fairy tale. NOTHING IS GONNA GET THIS GAL DOWN.
We have our grumpy patriarch, the rich guy who thought the best way for three young men to bond was to put them in a gloriously expansive house together, give them unlimited credit cards, and zero responsibilities. Yeah… great idea. I can’t imagine why you have problems with your kids, grandpa. Clearly this genius should write the next parenting book, eh?
Grumpy patriarch is immediately charmed by Cinderella’s ability not to give a crap about the status or money of his grandchildren. And lures her in by offering her… you guessed it… status and money. Thankfully, he caught her at a really bad time – being recently homeless, penniless, and without any other options. So off to the castle she goes to baby sit the rich heirs and attempt to civilize them with her very presence. She signs a contract to the effect – one of the main clauses being no dating. Cause though grandpa thinks she’s just amazing, she’s not that amazing. Cause… no status or money. Duh! Grandpa logic.
Let’s introduce the KNIGHTS.
Knight 1. The General Secretary for the Rich. Played by Choi Min.
He’s the guy who’s basically just keeping tabs on everyone. He’s always around, mysteriously, when needed. Impeccable manners. Perfect, really. So of course he’s out of the running for any romantic lead… cause perfect guys don’t need mending. The only problem he’s got is his wacky mom and he’s smart enough to deal with her by himself. I loved this character throughout the show and was always grateful when he was around to add balance to the immature boys. Behold your role model!
Knight Two. The Playboy. Played by Ahn Jae-Hyeon.
This character was really interesting. Detached, indifferent, arrogant, and raised without any consequences whatsoever for his actions. This is the guy who just gives away sports cars without blinking to avoid uncomfortable situations. He throws money around like it’s paper – cause it is! He’s never worked for it – it’s just there, providing him unbelievable comfort and power. Pale, playful, and petty, he was the perfect example of a rich spoiled brat prince. Yet despite the parties and the endless parade of girlfriends and entertainments… he was lonely. He didn’t have any real friends. He wasn’t sure he deserved any. Deep down, he knew he was kinda weak in character and didn’t know how to correct it.
He had a cute “fake” relationship with Cinderella in the beginning and it was loads of fun. They actually had lots of chemistry and lit up the screen. It made sense that it would be a girl that would get through to him, because he spent most of his time with girls. And through her… by first comfortably acting as he was used to acting, as a boyfriend, and later… as a friend… he was able to come out of his shell and be a human. I enjoyed his character arc. He was the most stubborn of the lot and slowest to budge, taking the smallest, tentative steps along the way.
Knight 3. The Pop Star. Played by Jung Il-Woo.
Ironically, this is the guy that grandpa called the good-for-nothing, though he was the only one who worked. And worked hard. He was always working, actually. His dedication to his craft was admirable and serious. And, thankfully, he had the money to afford to sit around and play in his badass home studio all day.
Our pop star was genuinely sweet, though also genuinely disinterested in the jerks he lived with. His family meant very little to him because they were so little involved in his life. Makes sense. They weren’t supportive at all, other than grandpa footing the bills. I actually would have liked a little more investment in this character, as I thought he was kinda swept aside a lot. But at the same time, he didn’t need as much. He was firmly grounded, talented, hopeful, and already a pretty great person.
Knight 4. The Rebel. The Love Interest. Played by Jung Il-Woo.
This guy is newest to riches, and still largely uncomfortable with it – just kidding! He’s rolling around carefree in his sports car just tossing that credit card and cash about with abandon. It’s not the money he’s uncomfortable with, it’s the situation. The sudden “family” that he never knew he had. He’s got a great tragic backstory, cause for real angst and frustration, and no problem expressing it. He’s also got a massive crush on a girl who has ZERO interest in him – who is instead totally obsessed with Knight 2, our playboy. She literally has no story other than this so I’m not even going to go into her character. Anyways, it made perfect sense that our rebel would crush on her, as the girl triggered his protective instinct.
When our plucky Cinderella starts to dig under his skin, of course he’s doomed. They’re both strong willed, realistic about the world, genuinely nice (he’s super sweet under the angst), and perfectly suited to one another. Waiting around for these two to figure out their feelings for each other was a pleasure. Cinderella had the hots for him almost since day one. You can’t pine after a girl who doesn’t really like you when another girl is fanning herself in the corner every time you’re in the room.
And they were fated to be together. They literally wrote in a “written in the books of destiny” backstory linking these two, which was over the top but, uh… fairy tale! Go with it. Plus, they just looked adorable together in every scene.
Speaking of scenes… they went all over the place with location shooting in this show. I was pleased there outdoor scenes… as sometimes dramas get lazy and keep us inside the studio too often. This show let us get some air more often than not, when it wasn’t showing off the gorgeous interiors of the filthy rich or the superb modern architecture of the homes/spas they used.
The boys didn’t have their own rooms. They had their own apartments within a house. With sofas and gaming stations and work out stations… all in their “bedrooms.” Geesh. I would never leave home either. The “Sky House,” where all the boys lived, is actually a massive spa and club designed by Mass Studies, one of my favorite modern architecture firms… it’s so beautiful, I don’t care how they want to use it… I never get tired of seeing it.
I mean… geesh. Look at our humble abode.
Nice view, eh?
But it wouldn’t be a fairy tale without a castle.
Needless to say there’s lot of little stories and clashes and love triangles and silliness in this drama. The adults get involved and mess things up. The evil stepmom and evil stepsister are particularly horrible and delightful. It’s just an enjoyable little adventure, with our ever plucky protagonist never once losing faith in humanity. Cause, she’s Cinderella. Heart o’ Gold.
It’s cute. It was just what I was in the mood for after a series of serious and disappointingly dull dramas. A little trip to Wonderland.