Extracurricular is a dark k-drama that serves up another thick slice of social commentary pie. In particular, it wants to feed you a little story about class warfare.
There have always been dramas that focus in on this particular subject, of the vast differences in the lives of the rich and the poor. South Korea is generally better at realistically portraying poverty than we are here in America. Unfortunately, they suffer from the same tendency to paint the extravagantly rich as something to aspire to and admire. Namebrand recognition. Mega mansions, fancy cars, and shopping sprees. It’s not just enough to be in the middle, you want to be on the top. And if you’re busy focusing on the top, you might not notice that the middle has disappeared.
In South Korea, they tend to layer messages in their social commentary – from the obvious to the more obtuse. Especially when focusing on class and inequality. Some are better than others. What Happened in Bali and My Mister are two that are particularly good in this layering. What makes them good, in my opinion, is that they expose how bleak reality is for those who are struggling financially, how easily things spiral out of control for them, and how easy it is for others to look away.
Extracurricular is a layered story of class inequality that uses this lack of control to illustrate its message and push the narrative. Just like the characters in the show, as a viewer you’ll find yourself constantly surprised by the ever-increasing disasters that occur with even the slightest misstep. This drama has layers of crime, of bullying, of shocking violence, of consumerism, of abuse and of so much more. It’s layered like a Greek Baklava.
Extracurricular shows how integrated the “unseen” is in the seen world. And it doesn’t make it easy for the viewer to determine the moral of the story or process all the information it provides. It’s messy. And it’s dark. And I enjoyed it, as much for the plotlines as for all the ambiguities and questions it forced me to ponder long after it was over.
Rating 8/10. Mild Mannered Pimps Always Get Screwed.
Further analysis of the story and the characters follows – with spoilers galore – so you have been warned….
SPOILERS AHEAD ———————-
Review – Six Flying Dragons
This drama was outstanding. It’s about the end of the Goryeo period and the beginning of the Joseon period – in particular, the revolution leading from one to another. And it’s the best historical Korean Drama I have ever seen. Ever. After the second episode, I was pretty sure it was surpassing my favorites. And after the epic 3-Prong Rescue Sequence from the Biguk Temple in Episode 6… I was hooked. By the end of the loop to the opening scene in Ep 1 closing in Ep 10, I thought… wow… holy crap… that’s extremely good writing. It’s by the same writing team that brought us Queen Seonduk and Tree with Deep Roots… this male/female team, Kim Young-Hyun and Park Sang-Yeon, know their stuff. And they have been perfecting their craft. Tightly woven plots in each episode, building on each other throughout yet changing enough to keep you enthralled, extremely complicated but fulfilling character development, action, historical significance, and even some romance.
Seriously. BEST HISTORICAL DRAMA I HAVE EVER SEEN. Just… mesmerizing.
Overall Rating – 10/10. The View Is Only Better From the Moral High Ground If You Don’t Look Down.
More about characters – spoilers spoilers spoilers – thoughts and more…. please watch the show before treading into these waters, you don’t need to muddy up your experience by reading details first.
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)