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 – Radio Romance

Review – Radio Romance

Could I love this drama any more?  It had all the tropes that I adore:  A man haunted by his past, awkward and childlike in love – a zany cast of misfits trying to carve out their niche – interesting, complicated parents – and psycho antagonists who are strangely lovable.  Add to that some quality writing that kept me glued to the screen every episode, and you’ve got a recipe for a quality romantic drama.

Overall Rating:  8.5/10.  Tune In To This Adorable Romance.

More – including spoilers, one complaint, and character discussions follow:

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Review – Secret Love Affair (a PG Rated Erotic Tale)

Review – Secret Love Affair (a PG Rated Erotic Tale)

I avoided this show for a long time due to the “noona romance” but finally gave in when I saw it pop up on Netflix.  I’ve read a ton of reviews on it, raving about how sexy it was, how divine, how romantic and beautiful and so on.   And it is all of those things.  But it’s also incredibly demure.  This show is such a tease!

I enjoyed Secret Love Affair.  But I didn’t love it.  I loved the music.  I loved the cinematography.  I loved the writer’s for leaving a great deal of the performances “unspoken” and giving the actors a chance to emote with their facial expressions.  The husband, in particular, became more interesting due to his actions and reactions of the affair.  What a complicated man.  And yet I found most of the characters very unlikable.  And tedious.  And boring.  And though our lead couple shared a connection through music, I couldn’t really understand what either of them saw in each other… except for the obvious cliches associated with a relationship with such a vast age difference.

Plot:  Unhappily married woman in crappy job finds solace and escape in the arms of a struggling young piano prodigy.  Both their lives become more complicated because of it.  Subplot and perhaps moral of the story:  Rich people are mostly jerks, but since a lot of people will do unethical and crappy things to get money, can we really throw stones in our glass houses?  And do you even like your glass houses or have you just bought the lie?

Overall Rating – 8/10.  A Major Musical Seduction and a Minor Romance in B Flat.

Full titillating review follows (including spoilers and X-Rated commentary)

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