Review – Itaewon Class

Itaewon Class. What a strange love story to Capitalism, am I right?

Here is how I imagine this drama was pitched between the writer and the studio executive.

Executive: “So what have you got there? You said it’s a revenge story set in the food industry?”

Writer: “Oh yeah. It’s gonna be great. We’ve got this stubborn, solitary guy who doesn’t need anyone’s approval, he’s just gonna go his own way and do what’s right. Stick to his principles. Never budge an inch.”

Executive: “Like a John Wayne type?”

Writer: “Teenage John Wayne.”

Executive: “But better looking than John Wayne.”

Writer: “Much better looking.”

Executive: “Who does he want revenge against?”

Writer: “A CEO of a worldwide food company. This guy is just super rich and powerful, so it’s gonna be hard to get revenge, ya know?”

Executive: “He’s gonna get his revenge by becoming rich too, right?”

Writer: “Of course. That’s how justice works.”

Executive: “It’s how product placement advertising works too. Sounds like a win!”

Social taboos unveiled in hit South Korean drama Itaewon Class ...

Itaewon Class had all the elements of a quality fairy tale K-drama: A strong archetypal hero with impeccable values and a heart of gold who rises over adversity, meets his goals, finds loyal friends and allies, and of course discovers true love. There was a nice sized cast of diverse characters with unique plot lines and motivations. I was interested in the fates of everyone I’d been introduced to, good and bad. It was far better than the majority of K-dramas I have seen in the past year and not bothered to review.

And yet it had serious problems. The last few episodes really let the foot fall off the gas pedal and the plotline slowed down considerably. Ironically, the most dragging episode was the finale – which had a preposterous amount of exciting things happening and somehow managed to muffle all the energy of the climax. And worst of all, in my opinion, there was the problematic underlining theme of the entire show. It’s what I like to call the Capitalist Dream, the lie we all tell ourselves: If you just work really, really hard then you can achieve anything. Entry into the golden palaces of the 1% is possible for anyone willing to work overtime. This idea has tucked the poor into bed since the dawn of time, soothing their anxieties about class inequality with a little fairy tale about how some people sneak into the castle… and get the prince to fall in love with them… and that could be you.

So, yeah, there were issues. But I still highly recommend this drama. It’s 16 episodes, which is a nice length for a series. They managed to fill each episode with enough plot that we didn’t have to over indulge in excessive flashbacks, pointless walking or staring scenes, or other fillers. It was lighthearted and funny at times without being silly or cartoonish. I especially enjoyed the spunky, quasi-sociopathic lead female. And who doesn’t love a good revenge story?

Itaewon Class – Overall Rating: 8.5/10. Feel-Good Capitalist Propaganda.

More – about characters and themes below. SPOILERS GALORE so watch the show first, my dear readers.

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Review – Because This Is My First Life

Review – Because This Is My First Life

Loved it.  Even loved the voice overs… which is rare for me.  And there were a lot of voice overs.  But they were perfect.  I loved the characters and their personalities and how they all hooked up.  It was a simple yet slightly different love story, just enough to make it feel fresh but not enough to inspire some philosophical debate or severe attachment.  This was a show you can watch, be engrossed in, and then happily let go… like birthday balloons after the party is over.  I really loved it, but somehow I don’t think I’ll be obsessively re-watching this one.

Overall Rating – 8.5/10.  Demisexuals in Love.

Discussions of my Ace Relationship with This Show… and spoilers follow

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That’s Gay! – K-Dramas, Putting the Q in LGBTQ

Let’s face it – there are a lot of gay-questioning dramas out there.  Okay, sure, they’re not implicitly gay;  Only recently have dramas crossed the purebred gay border, though their feature films have definitely made some expeditions to gay town in the past few years.  But it doesn’t matter if they’re gay or just questioning.  We love it!  Whether it’s one sided or misdirected, for comedy or for drama, for love or for money… K-Dramas are sprinkled with the gay rainbow.  And no one can deny it.

gay

Korean dramas often depict variations in sexuality, sex roles, sexual attraction, and sexual fluidity.  It’s an interesting juxtaposition to their seemingly strict gender assignments and homophobia… and/or perhaps a direct result of them.  Because the rules are there, it’s more fun to break them.

crossdressing

Gender Bending is popular in Taiwan too.

Off the top of my head – there are three excellent examples of LGB with a large emphasis on Q in K-World.  Cross-dressing is the biggest culprit in these same sex shenanigans – and, if we’re honest, the reason these dramas are so frequently made. It’s not all LGB with Q, of course.  There are plenty of examples of the T within various shows as well but as of yet not as the lead romance.  And even an A show now.

Let’s run through the questioning dramas together…

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