THE SHORT VERDICT:
It took me a couple of episodes to feel completely engaged and get used to all the characters in the ensemble cast, but once I hit that point, this drama was just fantastic.
I love Dream High (a lot), but I think this is even better. This manages to be more grounded, relatable and true to life than Dream High ever was.
There is an OTP in this drama, as with most dramas, but the OTP doesn’t take centerstage. And that works in this drama. Shut Up is more about growing up and about friendships and bonds, and it is heartwarming and heartbreaking all in one, depending on where you are in the drama.
Yes, sometimes it hurts, but it hurts so good.
THE LONG VERDICT:
Perhaps it was the raised expectations that resulted from all that internet love. And perhaps it was the fact that I’m generally not a fan of rock music. But I didn’t fall in love with Shut Up rightaway.
3 episodes in, I liked it quite well, though I wasn’t in love.
Lee Min Ki is absolutely magnetic in his extended cameo in episodes 1 and 2. I feel like everyone else is kind of left in his shadow after his cameo ends. He is intense in every sense of the word. I mean, look at him:
Now, that is some intensity going on right there. So much screen presence, he’s practically stepping out of your screen to sit next to you.
Sung Joon, whose character takes over Lee Min Ki’s as band leader from episode 3 onwards, is quite fierce on his own too. But honestly, after standing alongside Lee Min Ki’s oodles of screen presence for the first 2 episodes, he somehow paled in comparison.
By episode 5, though, I felt that Sung Joon had blossomed a bit more, and was holding his own as the band leader.
I like how the drama develops not just the plot lines, but the various characters. Each character shows layers, bit by bit, and the relationships aren’t one dimensional, which is harder to do in an ensemble cast like this.
Somewhere around the halfway mark, the hook that makes me want to watch back-to-back episodes bit me. I was in love. But Shut Up is the kind of show that made me want to fight that urge so that I could savor each episode. That’s a pretty special quality in a drama, as far as I’m concerned.
The OTP is very cute, and I enjoyed their romance very much. And the amount of time we spend with them feels just right. It doesn’t take away from the focus on the friendships among the characters, and that is where the drama really shines.
What really hooked me was how the drama delves deeper into the characters and their relationships with one another.
[ENDING SPOILER ALERT]
Even though the ending is somewhat open, it is a satisfying ending that is thoughtful and honors each character’s individual hopes and dreams. It felt satisfying, wistful and moving as I walked with the characters through their decisions as they searched to find what meant the most to them.
In the end, this was a drama that I felt like lingering on. Even though I’d finished it, I didn’t want to move on just yet, because I wanted to hang around in their world some more. That is a rare quality in a drama, and I was really impressed with this one.
I didn’t just feel like a spectator given a glimpse into their world.
Somehow, I felt like a part of their world. And that is so cool.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Friendships and dreams aren’t things that you outgrow. Definitely recommend.
FINAL GRADE: A+
What’s a review of Shut Up without a taste of their music? I loved the music in this show, and I don’t even like rock all that much. That says a lot about how big a role the music played in the show, and also, how accessible the music director made it.
Watching this video just catapults me right back into their world. Love it!