Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Drama Recap

Happy new year, everyone! A year has passed, and it's perfect time to reminisce on all the things that happened in 2014. K-drama things, that is. So welcome one and all to We Eat Lemon's first year end recap after 4 years of existing. How exciting. There are a few things I need to say so let's get on to it!

Note: Even though I watched a lot more dramas last year than ever before, there's still not that many of them. So I figured instead of doing a best of, I'll just list all the dramas I've watched in order of how much I enjoyed them. There are 10 dramas, but this is not a top 10. I just so happen to watch 10 last year.

1. It's Okay, That's Love
Is this even a question? I loved it then, and I still love it now. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but to me it is perfect. Some complain that the story over-simplifies a few issues, but maybe that's for the best. There are plenty of angsty dramas out there, and It's Okay kept it low key but still real. The chemistry between every single character is just so wonderful to watch, and is one of their biggest strength. In addition, that soundtrack is just awesome. Easily one of my most played albums of the year. Also, dang Jo In-sung is gorgeous. More so as the embodiment of Jang Jae-yeol.

2. Marriage, Not Dating
I watched a bunch of romantic comedies this year, and Marriage is the best of them all. It has equal amounts of both romantic and comedy which surprisingly not many K-drama romcoms actually have. This balance is carried until the very end, without a single mis-step of unnecessary drama of the bad kind. The most charming leads, Yeon Woo-jin and Han Groo, carry the weight of the whole drama on their shoulders and man, did they nail it. It's a good thing because one of Marriage's weakness is its terrible supporting leads. But thankfully both Gong Gi-tae and Joo Jang-mi are just so adorable and hilarious, none of that matters.

3. Plus Nine Boys
If you want low-key, look no further than Plus. Taking the concept of unlucky boys on the eve of their life decade, I wished they were unlucky beyond just the inability to get a girlfriend. I guess in K-drama, such things are a travesty, but let's be real here. That's not that unlucky in my book. Nonetheless, Plus was really nice. I think that's the best description I could give it. It takes on the "realistic" form a few dramas took up upon during the year and made it something that's enjoyable to watch and more. To those who like high stakes with lots of thrill, this isn't one for you. For someone like me with an aversion to melodramatics, this is perfect.

4. Sly and Single Again
Who could've thought that Joo Sang-wook can be a hilarious romcom lead? (To be fair, I've never watched him prior to this, but I know he tends to play to steel-cut stiff guys.) Another great example of the genre, Sly is consistently funny throughout its run but is still very heartfelt. Like Marriage, Sly suffers from terrible supporting characters syndrome, specifically Aera's family who can take their ticket to hell. But the main couple's story was so satisfying, I think a few dim-witted choices and a missing leg won't sink this couple down. Both Joo and co-star Lee Min-jung allowed their characters to feel every step they take which gives for a very satisfying show.

5. Surplus Princess
Surplus had a lot of potential to become the best romcom ever. It takes on the classic fairy tale of the mermaid princess and putting her smacked dab in the middle of modern Seoul. Little did I expect this show to be the most uproariously hilarious K-drama I have witnessed with my own eyes. Sadly, the thing that made Surplus a unique and wonderful drama became its Achilles heel. Their comedy might not be everyone's cup of tea; their skits go above and beyond what "normal" dramas are used to doing (real-life RPG?  Parodies of popular commercials and music videos? The most amazing reiteration of silent movies?). Their stories are grounded and resemble more of an ensemble show versus the traditional single plot of most dramas. On top of that, unfortunate circumstances (terrible time slot, terrible marketing, terrible story planning) lead way to the dramas eventual demise. The drama was planned for a 14-episode run but cut to 10 just a week before its newly scheduled end. The final two episodes were so painful to watch, and I'm pretty sure others would agree with me that the ending was awkward at best. I can't even begin to explain how unfair I felt on the whole Shi-kyung (Song Jae-rim) storyline. So thanks, tvN, for giving me even more heartache just as I was almost healed from the pain of Chilbong. You are too cruel.

6. A Witch's Romance
I'm convinced that Witch is simply a large stage for Park Seo-joon to shine and everyone are just circling around him supporting his glory. Sure Yoon Hyun-min helped create one magnificent bromance (the casting of Yoon is a guaranteed successful bromance, it seems) and the udon couple is my favorite supporting couple of the year. But Park was bursting with so much life that it drew my eyes into savoring every single moment of it (and maybe going back just to skip to all the Dong-ha scenes. You know you've done it too). So to Park Seo-joon, thank you for embodying the Yoon Dong-ha we fell in love with. You can come into my heart any time you want. I'll be waiting.

7. You Who Came from the Stars
One of the earliest dramas to air in the year became the last drama I watched. I figured if I wanted to capture 2014 romantic comedy in the best fashion, might as well watch its biggest hit. In the midst of mediocre ratings that crippled the year, Stars ran away with all the money hitting upwards of 30%, something others can only dream. This may be part to its star studded cast, lead by Hallyu megastars Kim Soo-hyun and Jun Ji-hyun who returned to TV after 14 years of absence. At times the drama felt formulaic, but the out of this world (heh) characters of Do Min-joon and Chun Song-yi were able to elevate the drama out of the ordinary. If you think about it, Stars takes upon the very quintessential story line of the most traditional Korean romantic comedy. But add in an alien with superpowers and an overly dramatic superstar and you get something that's unique but still retains the familiar romcom layout. I think because I watched it long after the hype, I wasn't overly fond of this drama as I know some people are. But I could imagine how exciting it must be to watch week by week, waiting to see Do Manager's limits, Song-yi's insane antics, and the crazies of Jae-kyung (Shin Sung-rok). Must've been fun.

8. God's Gift - 14 Days
I don't know why every time I thing about this drama, it makes my stomach hurl a little. Blame the terrible ending. As they say (I just made this up) last impressions give lasting impressions, and God's Gift really suffered from that. I probably shouldn't complain too much. It did what it set out to be which was a thriller about a mother who went back in time frantically trying to save her daughter from a fated murder. Emphasis on the word frantic. Bless Lee Bo-young's heart who tried her darn hardest, but Soo-hyun is such a frustrating character, even more than Saet-byul (Kim Yoo-bin). But thankfully there's Jo Seung-woo, I mean, Ki Dong-chan who's always here to save the day. Actually, I probably should be happy that God's Gift exists because I can now prove just how awesome Jo Seung-woo really is (they used to go Jo Seung-who?). Jo Seung-woo has always been amazing, but here he was dripping with sexy. It's the best thing this drama has.

9. Emergency Couple
The more I think about Emergency, the more I realize how mediocre this drama truly is. That being said, my review of it is the most viewed post of the year, so I guess there are other people who like it. It just wasn't that memorable to me. For starters, the only thing I could remember about it was Jin-hee's (Song Ji-hyo) road to triumph as an older medical intern. I've heard that Song is not exactly the best actress ever, but in this drama, she really was. Looking at it, Jin-hee was to most interesting and dynamic character of the bunch who grew in leaps and bounds. Her romance with Chang-min (Choi Jin-hyuk) is almost a second plot. I enjoyed watching the drama somewhat, but it's now lost in the midst of time, and that's not a good sign.

10. I Need Romance 3
This was the very first drama I watched in 2014, but took me the longest to finish. It just wasn't an exciting drama. The characters were bland, the stories were typical, and the dialogues were cliched. The only thing I liked from this drama is the budding romance between Shing Shing and Goguma. I believe the I Need Romance series is supposed to be the Korean version of Sex and the City. I haven't watched that show (judge me all you want) but I'm pretty sure it's nothing like this. The only thing that is remotely close is that they do openly talk about romantic relationships and human attraction. But that dialogue, it kills. I'm almost sure the writers are using a handbook for romcom writing or something. It wasn't pretty. The people were, though.

While I'm at it, I want to mention some non-2014 dramas that I finished. There aren't too many, but I want to talk about a couple of them since I now have a chance to. They're listed in order of watching, not preference, just in case you're wondering.

Flower Boy Next Door (2013)
There's really not much to say about Flower Boy Next Door. It's cute and endearing but lacks any meaning and depth. Basically every other romantic comedy. But everyone was adorable, and it was my window to the wonderful Kim Seul-gi, so there's not much I can complain about it. You can live without this drama, but it wouldn't hurt to watch it either.

Arang and the Magistrate (2012)
Arang was a lot of things. A little of romantic comedy, a bit of detective story, a dash of thriller, and a whole lot of mystical mythical fantasy. Dramas that tend to bit more than it can chew end up choking, but Arang took those ingredient, mixed it in a bowl, and promptly ate it satisfyingly. There's actually so much that happened, I'm at a lost of words. What am I supposed to say when a drama involves ghosts, meddling gods, a demonic maiden, a family secret, supernatural powers, and a whole lotta mischief? I mean, even the soundtrack is a little unconventional (a fight dance alongside of hip hop music anyone?). Shows like Arang come once in a blue moon, and I'm glad they decided to visit.

Sirius (2013)
Sirius is technically a Drama Special, traditionally a one-off drama. But since there were multiple episodes, I think it sits well here instead of among other Drama Specials. This may sound ridiculous, but the reason I decided to watch it was because Seo Jun-young died on Secret Door. I don't know why his death hurts more in that drama, since I'm pretty sure I've seen him die once (or twice?) before already. The ending of this drama wasn't the happy I wanted it to be either, but at least Seo lived on. I think. On the surface, Sirius is a makjang in the making. Twin brothers separated due to an accidental murder, turning them on to each other creating the good and evil twin. Instead of going all melodramatic, Sirius decided to make itself a smart, intriguing story questioning the very morals of every human being. Add that with spot on performances from everyone, Sirius is seriously good. Pun intended.

That about wraps it up for 2014. Thank you to everyone who has visited my tiny home in cyberspace. Thank you to all the hot men and women who have graced my screens. Thank you to the wonderful characters who have filled my days. I will forgive those who are spiteful, maybe. Thank you to the wonderful sound tracks running through my head. It was a great year. So here's to hoping 2015 will be a better one!


  1. Wait a minute! You haven't watched Sex and the City? Never? There are people like that? :O :D You're right, though. INR series doesn't manage to capture even half of the charm and tone of Sex and the City. Of course, I've never liked INR series all too much because the characters always make me frustrated and it always tries too hard to be super open about sex and relationships, but it comes across awkward to me. I quit INR3 already after the first episode, despite the fact that I do like Sung Joon and Kim So Yeon a lot.

    It's Okay, It's Love was actually one of my favourites in 2014, although I had my share of issues with it. I also enjoyed Plus Nine Boys, but I was a little disappointed that it wasn't as funny as I thought it would be. But my ultimate favourite of the year was Misaeng, which is weird because I never thought I get so into a workplace drama. What can I say, Misaeng was just that good.

    1. I wasn't in the demographic to watch Sex and the City when it was airing and never got interested now that I'm older. Oh well.

      Ooh you know I just started picking up Misaeng again after being traumatized by episode 7 (which was a hard one) and am loving it! It doesn't make me like the corporate world (actually makes me loathe it more), but the characters are too adorable! I'm trying to savor it because I never want it to end. Also, I heard Oh Jung-se is making a cameo on the finale which is making me more excited.