The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Dropped: High School Love On

27 Comments

I’m not even exactly sure why, but I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for high school shows done right. That even extends to tweeny high school shows – again, when they’re done right.

When I started this show, I was in the mood for something light and fun, and a reaper angel coming to earth and learning to navigate high school, humanhood and teenhood, sounded like just the ticket.

THE BETTER STUFF – RELATIVELY SPEAKING

Despite clumsy logic fails and earnest-leaning-to-stiff acting almost all around, this show managed to charm me for at least the first several episodes.

The biggest draw, for me, was Kim Sae Ron, who really is winsome as Seul Bi. She’s got a natural charm that makes her innately likable, and her pixie-like features make her look rather other-worldly, especially with the genie-esque ponytail she sports in the earlier episodes.

Some of Seul Bi’s bemusement at human things was refreshingly amusing too. I giggled at the moment she tried to cycle on a parked bicycle and was completely flummoxed when it didn’t move. Cute!

It was also pretty cute to see Seul Bi getting used to feeelings, not just as a human, but as a human teenager. Talk about emotional overload, going from zero to about a hundred on the feelings scale! XD

As for her leading men (er, boys?), though, I was a little less charmed.

At first, I felt like male lead Shin Woo Hyun looked like a little thug whenever his character Woo Hyun got even a little bit upset, but even then, he eventually grew on me. Plus, his relationship with his Gran (Jung Jae Soon) was sweet and definitely tugged at my heartstrings.

Lee Sung Yeol’s character (also conveniently named Sung Yeol) reminded me of Park Hae Jin’s character in Bad Guys, except executed with a lot less skill.

While not terribly well-acted nor well-written, the production values of the show were good and the music was also cute.

All in all, the early stretch of this show didn’t quite hit the drama sweet spot for me, but it sorta hit near enough, in a clumsy sort of way, and I felt like it was a reasonably good tween show. Which was enough to keep me going, at least for a little while.

WHEN IT ALL STARTED TO GO DOWNHILL

What I would’ve liked, is for the show to have stayed firmly in light, cute territory, and maybe allow Seul Bi to be an angel with powers who could interact with the kids at school. That would’ve been cool, to see her have her superpowers at her disposal, and have her use them to defend herself against bullies and other teenage tyrants.

Unfortunately, this show chose to go with more staid and adult kdrama tropes, and circled around birth secrets, over and over – and over – again. Which made the entire show feel uninventive, really, except for the supernatural angel bit.

Still, I managed to hang in there quite well, until things got really heavy at around episodes 13 and 14.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Essentially, everything in the show starts to go wrong after Woo Hyun’s Gran dies.

The abrupt introduction of debt collectors, and Woo Hyun’s sudden swerve into sullenness were just the early warning signs of what essentially became a heavy melo for teens, bordering on makjang.

Later on, birth secrets get uncovered, while second lead Sung Yeol gets an apparent lobotomy and a complete and very perplexing change in personality to go with.

[END SPOILER]

Even in the hands of skilled actors, such shoddy writing isn’t going to do a show any favors.

Compound that poor writing with actors who are mostly neither skilled nor experienced, and all the angst, delivered with earnest woodenness, became really, really hard to watch. The more emotional moments couldn’t land with the resonance that they needed, and ended up coming off hollow and mechanical instead.

On top of that, the heavy melo tone just didn’t blend with the tween concept of the show, and together, it all made for a very uneasy combination. With the story being all doom and gloom, it was extra weird that the soundtrack continued with the same cute boppy tunes.

Because of my early affection for the characters, I tried to hang in there. Plus, I was mildly curious about where the story would end.

By the end of episode 14, though, Show had started to actively aggravate me, and I just didn’t have enough Show goodwill to carry on, no matter how much earlier cute had been served up. I ended up dropping out after 14 episodes.

Still, for the record, here’s a little spot of cute:

Aren’t they quite adorbs together, when they’re allowed to be? Too bad there was so little cute by the later stretch of the show. :/

VISUAL TREAT:

This was the song that I liked best on the soundtrack, and it was this song that kept me coming back for more even though the show was clearly starting down a slippery slope of no return. That’s some skillz, right? So here’s a taste of that very nice breezy song, just coz.

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

27 thoughts on “Dropped: High School Love On

  1. I hesitantly started the first ep of this a couple of months ago and couldn’t get through the first ep. Glad I saved time hehe.

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    • Yes, you did save time, lyricalpeach!! I found it clumsy and not great from the start, but stayed long enough to be charmed for a bit. And then it all started to unravel in heavy melo-makjang land. I shudder to think of what else I missed! 😛

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  2. Yeah, I dropped this one too and you know how I hard it is for me to drop once I start a drama. They kept recycling the plots again and again… I was annoyed and aggravated by the characters and that constant back and forth and back and forth. I, too, have a soft spot on high school dramas but this one just died down after episode 11. There were cute moments but it was not enough to for me to continue… Too sad.

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    • Wow, you dropped this, Nelly?? I know you hardly ever drop shows, plus, you tend to be the fairly forgiving sort of viewer – it says a lot, that you dropped this show!! And you’re absolutely right.. There were some cute moments, but just not enough to make it work. Too bad. It could’ve been really cute.

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  3. Yeah. To be honest I only really liked Seul Bi and the second male lead’s dad. I really liked Seul Bi, but yeah it was the plot and the male leads that did it in for me. I stopped around the ep when Gran goes to the hospital but hadn’t died yet.

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    • Kim Sae Ron is adorable as Seul Bi, but the writing in the show (especially after Gran died) really aggravated me.. So much heavy melodramatics, and mostly not very logical either. Both male leads’ limited acting ability didn’t help either. Sounds like you stopped at a pretty good place, coz once Gran died, everything got much worse! 😛

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  4. I dropped this one at episode 13 too then just watched the last episode to see how this ended. I am annoyed when SY became bad towards SB and WH when they can just be bff’s add to it the traditional makjangish tropes. gah!

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    • YES. I was very confused by Sung Yeol’s sudden change in character – it didn’t feel natural nor organic, and felt like lazy writing to me. I would’ve been MUCH more patient if they’d remained BFFs, even in the face of makjang developments. But when Sung Yeol turned bad, that was really the beginning of the end for me 😛

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  5. I dropped this too, around ep 10. Show’s downfall was the fact that it forgot it was supposed to be a fluffy youth drama. Korea and their penchant of stuffing makjang just about everyhere. *shakes head* And yup, the Infinite boys’ acting was mostly cringeworthy. Stick to singing and dancing guys. XD

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    • YES. I would’ve much preferred a fluffy youth drama! Which it managed to be for a short stretch, in spite of the (yes, very) cringeworthy acting of the Infinite boys in particular. If they’d stayed light and youthy, I might’ve lasted till the end. But with all the heavy melodrama which didn’t even make sense, I just couldn’t go on. 😛

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  6. grr … lost my comment in a browser crash. anyway, long story short: i watched it without expecting a fluffy romcom (since the whole story starts “forced upon” the reaper angel, not by her choice) , for me it was a story about the journey (of learning what’s behind the dramas the non-conformist reaper angel liked to watch) and also a critical look at society (for ex. the board of teachers oh so worried about two teenagers living together without “adult” supervision, tho’ none of them really cared about the teenagers) sprinkled with romanticized praise of the benefits society theoretically has (for ex. they all wore wrist bands, even though each of them was very curious). also asking myself “what would you do? (in each role)” while watching, helped me overlook many of the shows flaws.

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    • You’re a more patient and forgiving viewer than I am, INTJ!! While I don’t think I could bring myself to try it again with a different lens, I applaud you for finding a way to appreciate the show, and even find a way to make it a thought-provoking experience! Bravo to you! 🙂

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      • as a kid i’ve read George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. that book taught me that i shouldn’t judge any book by it’s cover … nor by the words written in it (since there’s always a possibility of a different meaning). imo the same logic applies to humans and what they do or say. therefore i always try to understand and learn (whatever i can). we continuously shape our personal universes through our interpretations and expectations … and i don’t want to limit mine (thereby transforming my “limitless universe” into a “limited – supposedly safe – world”).

        ps: that doesn’t mean you should try watching it again. there’s a lot of other “data” you can (and probably will have to) process on your own journey trough life. 🙂

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        • Y’know, INTJ, the more we chat, the more I get a sense of what a thoughtful and deep-thinking kinda guy you are. I think that is really awesome. Considering how many men have yet to catch on to the charm of kdramas, it’s great to have a male fan like you in our midst, to add much needed perspective and texture to all our drama talk! 😀 Love your open-minded approach to not just dramas but the world at large. I like to give dramas the benefit of the doubt and second chances at times; at the same time, you definitely seem to have more capacity for that with certain dramas than I do. I probably won’t try this drama again (altho, I’ve been known to change my mind too!), but I will keep on trying to keep an open mind with other dramas in the way that you’ve described. Giving room for other layers of meaning, taking what is good, and using it all to provoke thought 🙂

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  7. Gosh, I dropped it around episode 7 or 8? I don’t watch that many dramas compared to all the dramas broadcast a week, but when I do start watching, I do try to stay committed until the end. And I love high school romance… And I like Kim Sae Ron (and not Kim Rae Won xD… I mean, I like Kim Rae Won too, but haha I see where your mind was when you were writing the review)

    But the lead guys were just not good. I’m not even talking about their acting. I guess the writer was going for the broody but hot big-hearted teenagers, but that didn’t work for me at all here. However, your spoiler alert got me goin O___O THIS IS WHAT I MISSED? I need to watch at least the last episode. Lol.

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    • OOPSIE!!! Thanks for spotting the mistake for me, Sunny!!! 😛 I’ve fixed it now, so it reads Kim SAE RON now! XD I don’t know what I was thinking – I’m not even that big of a Kim Rae Won fan! XD

      And yes, much as I like high school stories done well, this did not qualify, unfortunately. The boys’ acting was cringeworthy, and the writing was a mess after Gran died. All the heavy melodrama didn’t even make sense, sometimes. I couldn’t bear to keep watching, it got so bad 😛 Let me know how you find the last ep, if you do check it out!

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      • well, i just watched the last episode. Took me some time, but i finally did it… That was… hmmm well, convenient twists are very convenient. convenient ellipsis is so so convenient. convenient amnesia is convenient * smh * however, one thing that kinda threw me off is how Kim Sae Ron managed to look like a regular teen at the beginning of the series and she looks like a 20-year-old woman at the end. Yet, she still looks younger than the rest of the cast. * sigh * and that angel oppa just looked creepy and pitiful… and just no. “High School Love On” had all the ingredients for some cute high school romance. Oh well. * shrug *

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        • Omo, you actually managed to finish High School Love On?!? 😛 You are one patient, brave woman! XD I liked the initial episodes, but everything just went to pot after Gran died. Nothing made sense. Even the heavy melo didn’t have halfway decent logic. All that angst around Seul Bi having to move to Sung Yeol’s house, and how his mom confiscated her phone etc. It just all didn’t make sense to me. I just don’t get why the writers chose to go so angsty and melo on this. It could’ve been so cute, otherwise. Pity.

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          • I didn’t watch every episode. I skipped and skipped and went straight to the last episode 😡 and i have no regret for not watching half of the episodes. Kim Sar Ron and Nam Joo Hyuk are starring in a drama together. They will play the teen version of the leads, I think. We’ll see how they make it work.

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            • Hahaha! You skipped your way through? XD That’s technically not really completing the show, no? XD I must say, I can’t blame you. It took a lot for me to get to where I eventually dropped the show. It all got so melodramatic and angsty, seriously. I skipped to the end to take a peek at what happened in the end, and yeah, I wasn’t sorry that I dropped the show! XD

              Yes, I saw that Kim Sae Ron and Nam Joo Hyuk are starring in the childhood portion of a drama together. It looks like a melodrama from what I can tell, so I’ll probably only check out their childhood portion. Although, there’s always the danger that I might get sucked into the story enough to attempt the melo angst of the adult portion..! 😛

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  8. I like the korean drama high School love On because the show is rom com hehe and Seul Bi is so cute.
    The relationship between the friends is so awesome ❤

    btw High School Love On is showing in the Philippines via GMA7 and ratings are doing well and the time for show is extended due to popular demand plus so many commercial. There are also many Inspirit fans here ^_^

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    • Wow, it’s great to know that the show is doing so well in the Philippines! I’m always happy to hear about our k-shows having mainstream success. 🙂 And yes, I do agree that Seul Bi is adorable. The show got too heavy for my taste in its later episodes, but I’m glad it found a fan in you, johnext! 🙂

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  9. I don’t consider myself as a Kdrama fan though I have watched a couple of dramas before. Saw the promotion for Hi School Love On on TV here in the Philippines and I got interested with the idea of an angel becoming human. So I watched the show ahead of its Philippine TV airing and I might say I got hooked that I finished the 20 episodes in less than 48 hours.

    I follow what the other commenter INTJ said, we may have the same perception on things.

    The drama is not perfect as all dramas are I think,it just depends on how the audience view the story I guess. What made me look past the flaws was how the show was able to convey the story of love, trust and loyalty. I love how it was able to show the different facets of love as that was Suel Bi’s main thought at the start of the series (her character was very fascinated by the idea of human love) so for that I give the writers props for consistency.

    I recommended this show to a friend and she ended up watching it more than she should LOL!

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    • I’m glad you managed to enjoy High School Love On, JD Runner! I guess we have very different ways of processing and responding to our dramas. I just couldn’t get into this one, especially when things turned heavy in the second half. Still, I’m glad you and your friend enjoyed it! Every drama deserves at least a little love; the cast & crew work so hard on it, after all! 🙂

      PS: Glad you like the Kim Ji Won banner – it’s one of my favorites too. ^^

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  10. BTW I love the header photo, I can tell off the bat that it’s Kim Jiwon my #girlcrush ♥

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