Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Best K-Variety Show: 1 Night 2 Days

To tell you the truth, there is no better variety TV than Korean variety TV. There's just something about K-variety shows that makes you want to sit in front of the screen and watch it more and more. It's mindless fun and a great way to end a hectic week.

One of my ultimate favorite variety show is KBS 1 Night 2 Days (1박 2일). It follows 6 celebrities of different backgrounds (actors, comedians, singers) and age (the youngest is in his mid 20s and the oldest in his 40s) as they travel around the country highlighting Korea's beauty in 2 days and 1 night. The show debuted in 2007 and has since garnered quite a large audience, both inland and international. The cast has changed a few times during its 4 year run. Currently, it boasts "national MC" Kang Hodong, comedian Lee Sugeun, singer/rapper Eun Jiwon, singer Kim Jongmin, the multi-talented Lee Seunggi, and their newest addition the adorable ajusshi/actor Uhm Taewoong.

I stumbled upon this show quite accidentally. On one gloomy night (okay, not really gloomy) in 2008, I was searching through KBS World, the only Korean channel for international fans. I was still beginning to discover K-pop and its like so I don't know what I was getting myself into. And there it was, 1N2D airing. I didn't know anything whatsoever about this show. I didn't even know any of the members at the time, even the uber popular Lee Seunggi. But even without knowing anything, I had loads of fun. I remembered my sister coming out to living room thinking that I was crying. I was laughing that hard.

Even after watching tens of episodes of 1N2D, I still look forward to watching the boys and their weird antics every week. I think it's that seemingly effortless comedy the boys show that makes it all more fun. I say seemingly effortless because you just know that there's a lot of preparation to making good comedy. On the other hand, I think another charm 1N2D has is that it shows a different side of celebrities you would never see. When you think of celebrities, you think of high end cars, designer clothing, and overall lavish lifestyle. But 1N2D likes to take this image and turn it upside down. They literally make their stars starve all day, sleep on cold dirt, and do other unthinkable things (for a celebrity).

An episode that showcases the best of 1N2D is probably their annual Severe Summer/Winter Camp Training. This training is usually done in the peak of the season: the hottest summer days and the coldest of winters. The crew will put the stars to the test by challenging them to do the opposite of what would be comfortable. For example, in the summer they have to ride a closed, non-AC van and in the winters an open, non-heated van. Because it's a camp, they also have to pitch their own tents and make their own food. Of course this was done with the addition of the infamous bok-bul-bok games. It's just another mindless game time, except this time they put important necessities (like food and sleeping place) in jeopardy. This usually takes most of the air time but also the laughs.

One thing I appreciate about 1N2D is that they highlight their crew almost as much as their own stars. Being a tough show as it is, it will be difficult not to notice the efforts of the people behind the scenes as well. The main producer, Na Young-seok, universally known as Na PD, is a figure all 1N2D fans recognize. He's the one person that "bullies" the stars into making them do those unthinkable things. Besides Na PD, other crew such as the Camera Director who is master of rock-paper-scissors (yes, they take r-p-s to a whole new level) and the hilarious Lighting Director gets quite a considerable amount of spotlight. The stars also sometimes purposely put the spotlight on the crew when they would ask them to challenge them in games, usually in return for food or other bets. Having the crew also in spotlight, it gives a feeling that everyone in this show is solid and it just feels like another wacky family holiday.

After watching episodes almost every week for 3 years, I'm still a fan. Their antics never gets old and always entertains me on a Friday night. Definitely a great ending to a hectic week. 1 Night 2 Days fighting!

Photo screen cap courtesy of Dramabeans, who also does a weekly overview of each episode. Check them out!

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