The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling


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Review: Miss Korea

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Quiet, low-key and unassuming, Miss Korea is the modest little drama that could.

What Miss Korea lacks in big plot movement, it makes up for with attentive character establishment and development, which gives this series its almost-but-not-quite slice-of-life, almost-family-drama feel. Populated by earnest characters who feel ordinary, real and likable, Miss Korea is the kind of show that one develops a slow but enduring affection for.

Another helpful thing to know: Despite its title and premise, Miss Korea isn’t really about beauty pageants per se. It’s more about how ordinary people muster up their inner mettle, to face seemingly insurmountable challenges; not only to survive, but to pursue meaning and happiness in their lives.

An underrated, heartwarming little gem.

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Review: Cunning Single Lady [Sly and Single Again]

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A divorced-to-reunited rom-com that has flaws aplenty but manages to get the most important thing right: its heart.

If you wanted to count ‘em, you’d easily find a whole bunch of flaws and imperfections in Cunning Single Lady. But if you’re willing to look past all of that, you’ll find a good dose of cute, an endearing spot of sweet, and a heartfelt rekindling of a sincere love that never did go away.

Lee Min Jung and Joo Sang Wook turn in quality performances as our lead couple, and are the key reasons to tune in to this unassuming little show that turned out to be quite a bit more heartwarming than I expected.

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Review: Witch’s Romance

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A winsome little drama that is as charming as it is sweet, and boasts a good helping of fun on the side. Witch’s Romance may not be the most epic noona romance out there, but it’s certainly one of the most earnest and heartfelt.

While (almost) the entire cast is likable, it’s really the OTP that steals the show. Uhm Jung Hwa embodies cautious vulnerability beneath her strong, fearless veneer, while Park Seo Joon exudes a truly lovely blend of sincerity, earnestness and warmth. Individually, they deliver praise-worthy performances. Together, their chemistry feels so real and palpable that it sometimes leaps off the screen to knock you right over.

The writing falters at times and the execution is a little uneven, but with this wonderful, delightful puppy flashing this melty smile at you, it won’t hurt much, I promise.

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Review: Two Weeks

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A stage swiftly set with strong stakes; a capable cast; deft execution. Two Weeks has all three and is one tense rollercoaster ride from start to finish.

Two Weeks has quite a few narrative pieces to juggle, what with life-and-death literally hanging in the balance, emotional baggage the size of a small country along for the ride, and a poignant, heartwrenching-heartwarming father-daughter relationship blossoming at its core through it all. Admirably, the show manages to deliver it all in a way that feels satisfying, well-paced and coherent through the very end.

The entire cast is pretty excellent, but the stand-out is Lee Jun Ki, who truly is mesmerizing as our resident fugitive daddy on the run, finally faced with a reason to live that is bigger than himself: his little girl.

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Review: Let’s Eat

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A charming little drama that uses food (lots and lots of food) as the means to bind individuals together into a community.

Let’s Eat hums to a completely different rhythm than dramaland’s typical rom-coms, and possesses a sensibility that toes the line between slice-of-life and manhwa-esque. And in spite of some gaping flaws, it somehow works. Characters and relationships start to pop as we get deeper into the episodes, and by the time you reach the end, it’s likely that you won’t want to say good-bye.

And if you’ve ever wondered what it means to “eat deliciously,” which is the literal translation of 맛있게 먹고 (otherwise generally translated as “enjoy your meal”), you’d quickly find your answer – and your role models – in this show.

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30 Comments

Review: Prime Minister and I

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A pretty standard rom-com that doesn’t re-invent the wheel, Prime Minister and I is a pleasant, frothy watch for the most part, marred only by an ending that, while happy, most viewers would find too muted.

Lee Bum Soo is dashing and Yoona is bubbly, and together they make an unexpectedly cute couple. The sparky chemistry between our leads overcomes their large age gap surprisingly well, and the writers serve up contract marriage, forced co-habitation hijinks that are often entertaining and squee-worthy.

Despite weaknesses in the writing and execution, Prime Minister and I makes for a relaxed leisurely watch for days when you just want to sit back and zone out, and don’t want to think too hard.

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16 Comments

Review: Hot Young Bloods [Hot Blooded Youth]

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A heartwarming coming-of-age movie disguised – and therefore heavily misidentified – as a campy comedy.

If you were to approach this movie expecting a dose of pure funny all the way through, I’m guessing you would walk away rather disappointed. It’s true that the (often coarse) comedy reigns supreme for a good stretch of the movie, taking up maybe 50% of total screentime (this is not an exacting number, it’s just my feel-o-meter talking). Eventually, though, the funny gives way to deeper, bigger, meatier things. There’s a good bit of melodramatic angst involved, but it’s played well, and it all serves a larger, more thoughtful message than what one might expect, given the initial camp: What does it mean to grow up? And what does it mean to stand up for what you believe in?

Excellent performances from both the youth and adult actors make this an engaging, ultimately satisfying watch, with a bit of thought-provoking on the side.

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25 Comments

Review: Dream High

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Fresh, fun and earnest, and backed by a breezy soundtrack that’s easy on the ears, Dream High ranks as one of my all-time favorite music-centric, high school dramas. Heck, it’s one of my favorite dramas, period.

Despite its youth-y premise, Dream High has a pretty universal appeal, with its emphasis on friendship, loyalty and finding & pursuing your dreams. What the idol-heavy cast lacks in finesse, they more than make up for with earnestness. And then there’s Kim Soo Hyun, Uhm Ki Joon and Lee Yoon Ji in the main cast, lending acting cred and nuance to the overall package.

The drama takes an episode or two to get into its groove but once it does, it’s cracky, delicious goodness.

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68 Comments

Review: You From Another Star [My Love From Another Star]

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A drama that’s got a light, frothy and often comedic outer shell, but harbors an inner core that’s poignant, stirring and heart-in-your-throat moving.

To be sure, if one put on a hard logical lens, this show’s flaws may be too glaring for one to overlook. But for those who can turn that logical lens to a blurry soft-focus, and amp up the emotional lens to a setting high enough to engage with the characters on a more visceral level, that touching inner core is the satisfying, gratifying reward.

Separately, Jeon Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun are both truly excellent in their roles. Even better? Together, they are pure magic.

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32 Comments

Review: Bride of the Century

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A light(ish) melodrama that’s high on the cute and low on the logic, Bride of the Century is the kind of show that would crumble under too harsh a lens. Given the right lens, though, it’s a fun watch that even gets pretty cracky in stretches.

The good news is, that lens isn’t a hard one to put on.

Yes, the show is so full of drama cliches that it feels like someone took every drama cliche that ever existed, put ‘em all into a box, and the writers of this show then played a game where they took turns drawing out random cliches from the box and had to find a way to work ‘em all into the show. In the order in which they were drawn. Yep. Sometimes plot logic took a beating; I cannot lie. But think of Cliche City as a game, and that ups the fun by a whole lot.

The shining jewel in this rather haphazard crown, is that this show has enough cute to mitigate almost the entire weight of the excessive drama tropes. Who can say no to this show, when you’ve got this cute of a puppy on your screen, right?

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