Twenty Years Old is a little drama special that I’d been meaning to check out for what feels like forever.
I’d heard good things, but there was always something newer and shinier on the drama horizon, and I basically kept getting distracted. Heh. I sound like a hyperactive puppy with a short attention spa-.. *SQUIRREL!* XD
Now, it’s actually thanks to blog reader Fisch, who took the time to ask me if I’d seen this show, that I finally checked this drama special out. Thank you, Fisch! 🙂
(ALMOST) EVERY FANGIRL’S FANTASY
It’s not much of a stretch to say that practically every fangirl has fantasized at least a little bit, about what it would be like to date Oppa, right?
In this sense, I find this show’s approach and premise quite intriguing.
Show’s decision to literally have Lee Ki Kwang of B2ST / BEAST playing himself, and his groupmates appearing in the show, also as themselves, complete with performances and concerts, is refreshingly different.
It means the lines between Real and Reel are blurred that much more, as we are introduced to this maybe-not-quite-an-alternaverse where Ki Kwang meets his high school first love Hye Rim (Lee Da In) and begins a relationship proper.
Since watching drama gives us a chance to live vicariously through our characters, this show basically gives every fangirl the chance to experience that fantasy of what it would be like to date Oppa.
Sure, your Oppa may not be Ki Kwang, but again, it’s not hard to swop him out in your imagination for your Oppa of choice, and see what it feels like, to be an ordinary girl dating a k-celeb.
On top of the vicarious experience, Show even manages to be rather thought-provoking in how it explores k-ent culture and the issues that would likely come with dating Oppa.
At just four 20-minute episodes, that’s quite an accomplishment.
LOTS OF CUTE
This being Lee Da In’s debut, and me being the kpop noob that I still am, this show was my introduction to both leads, and I found both of them promising.
I thought Lee Ki Kwang did well in bringing out the normal, almost slightly gawky normal guy he’s supposed to be, underneath the idol polish. I found his smile particularly endearing, like so:
And I really liked how gung-ho Lee Da In is, in portraying the different facets of Hye Rim.
From bawling her eyes out, to unglamorously stuffing her face, to awkwardly trying her best to look pretty for Oppa, she feels refreshingly candid in her delivery, and effectively portrays all the angst, struggles and foibles that come with being on the cusp of adulthood.
Admittedly, I thought the makeup was laid on rather thick most of the time, and felt that Lee Da In’s natural charm shone best when she was wearing less makeup, like here:
As our OTP, both Lee Ki Kwang and Lee Da In turn in solidly decent performances, and managed to make both their flashbacked bickering rapport and their present-day shy blush of early romance believable and engaging.
Plus, they are actually really cute together. Here’s a quick screenshot spasm, just coz:
STUFF THAT MADE ME THINK [SPOILERS]
Even in the midst of the giddy first flush of romance, our OTP encounters the downside to k-celeb dating.
Getting stalked and caught by over-enthusiastic k-paparazzi; getting splashed all over the media; facing the wrath of possessive, delusional fangirls; getting shunned by everyone; our young couple faces it all, and it’s a disturbingly true-to-life portrayal of the workings of k-ent.
Anyone who’s followed k-ent for a while knows how unforgiving the media and fans and netizens-at-large can be, towards a k-celeb embroiled in a scandal.
As I watched these events of our story unfold on my screen, I found it sad and sobering, to realize all over again, just how hard it is for k-celebs to have a private life.
Really, how odd is it, that a k-celeb being in a romantic relationship is considered a scandal, right alongside other scandals that involve stuff that actually, y’know, breaks the law?
Because of the tremendous pressure from fans and their agencies, more often than not, when the k-celebs date, they do so in secret. Which means that inevitably, the celebs have a hard time, and so do their partners.
The story’s happy ending, with our couple managing to hold onto their love, also makes me wonder just how many of our k-celebs are dating in secret.
Yes, with the spate of dating news that’s hit k-ent in the last year or two, the attitude towards k-celebs dating seems to be opening up and loosening up, relatively speaking.
But it’s still a tough place to be in, and this show managed to land these heavier themes with a light touch and without losing sight of the story or our characters.
A commendable achievement indeed.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Rather earthy, a touch whimsical, and even a little thought-provoking.
FINAL GRADE: B+
Ah Fangirl I found this in a hunt for a short drama and this fits the need nicely. It was indeed fun to live out the dating-your-kpop-idol dreams vicariously but it’s also so sad to see how difficult it is for them to date and just have a normal life. I remember you wrote about this relatively recently and said that things are improving but honestly, if any of my BTS boys start dating, their fandom will really be upset (so ridiculous, they’re normal boys and can date!)
More specific to the show, it was an overall fun and sweet show with depth.
Ooh, it’s been a while since I saw this one, so the details are hazy at best, but I’m glad you had fun with it, MC!!
Also, I agree with you, that if the BTS boys start dating, there’s likely to be an implosion in the fandom..! 😅 The changes in k-ent around idol dating culture, are slow and selective, so I do think it’d be a while yet, before idols in k-ent are able to date openly and freely, without fan backlash. But.. all change takes time, so I suppose we should be grateful that change is taking place, in the first place!
To Jenny, not Lucy. Aah chincha 😃
Hi Kfangurl, wanted to watch something short and found this on your list.I’m just about 6 years late in commenting, but better late than never. 😁I quite enjoyed the show. Thought both the leads did a great job. Korean fans are a but much, aren’t they? 😁 I can Kind of see a celebrity wanting to step out and just date someone ordinary to get away from the madness.
Saw Lee Ki Kwang in Lovely horribly. A show that I didn’t love that much, but I did like him very well in it.
Do try to watch To Lucy if you haven’t yet. Another short one that I loved. It really made me laugh out loud and Kim Seong Cheol was just adorable in it. Also the music was great.
Anyway, slowly making my way through your list. Thanx for as always, great reviews.
Oh! I’m glad you liked this little show, Carulhein! I found it quite charming and simple. I’ve had To Jenny on my list for a while, but haven’t gotten around to it. Glad to hear that you loved it! 😀 Also, super pleased to hear that you’re enjoying the reviews! 😘
This was sweet as candy. I’m starting to really like that 1 hour or so-long format a lot for rom-com.
Lee Da In is indeed promising plus she’s super charming. She has a beautiful face, especially when she smiles.
And don’t even get me started about k-stars dating… I really don’t get why it’s such a fuss over there when it’s perfectly normal (and entertaining for those who like to gossip) in the rest of the world. It’s not like Koreans are especially prude : prostitution is a major “industry” there, even encouraged (no drama about that issue huh? ) and I heard condom sells rose to the roof when the law about cheating was abolished. If they are used to mate, they should be used to date (hope everyone’s appreciating the classy rhyme XD).
And dating secretly ? Let me laugh. Or Korean paparazzi are super lame or those celebs got serious skills and should consider a reconversion in secret services, they could be of great help for their homeland… I guess it’s just something I will never be able to wrap my head around. Doesn’t matter, I’ll just ask Oppa to move to my town where nobody knows him, we’ll madly French kiss in the middle of the street without even being noticed. What a nice change that will be for him 😉
Aw, glad you enjoyed this little drama short too, Assots! 🙂 The hour-long format is great, especially when we’re strapped for drama time. I’m discovering that some of them are actually pretty good!
Lee Da In is promising, all the more when we consider that practically everyone else in her family acts. Her father, mother and even sister act. Perhaps acting is in their blood? 🙂
I Loled at your dating rant – it’s true that the k-media tends to make a huge deal out of not much when it comes to the k-celebs. Things are shifting, though, so that’s a good thing. I mean, just look at how Lee Min Ho and Suzy are none the worse for having gone public with their relationship. Not even a dent in their CF contracts, or so I heard. The wheels of change are churning, after all..!
Woah. I watched this years ago and was thinking about it a week ago.
I really liked this show and it made such a impact on me that I still remember quite a few scenes vividly.
What great timing, that you were just thinking of this show not long before I posted the review! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this show too ^^
LOVED THIS SHOW. I actually really like Lee Ki-kwang as an actor. You might want to check out the KBS Drama Special “My Friend Is Still Alive” that Ki-kwang also starred in. It’s just about an hour-long single episode drama and it’s available on KBS World’s Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGj7b29zQk0)
Actually, I’m kinda really loving all the Beast members who’ve decided to try their hands at acting. They’ve been quite successful thus far (i.e, Yoon Doo-joon [Let’s Eat], Yong Jun-hyung [Monstar]).
Thanks for the recommendation, on the drama special! I’ve saved it and will watch it soonish 🙂 Will let you know when I’ve seen it!
I haven’t checked out Monstar yet (too many shows, not enough time!), but I must agree that Doo Joon was quite wonderful in Let’s Eat. I loved him so much in that show, and he’s the main reason I’ve decided to give Let’s Eat 2 a chance.