This is another one of those times when my desire to love a show far outweighs my actual love for said show.
Dismal ratings aside, I’d actually found Moorim School fairly enjoyable in its earlier episodes.
Sure, it was far from love at first sight (or even serious like at first sight), but with some lens adjustment, I’d actually found this a pleasant sort of watch, for a while.
Too bad that strategy couldn’t see me through to the end.
STUFF THAT WAS NOT GREAT
I didn’t have a lot of expectations of this show, and yet, Moorim still managed to bemuse me a fair bit, right off the bat.
Here’s a quick list of the things that I didn’t care for too much, pretty much right from the beginning.
1. The backstories and set-up of both male leads felt quite random and their respective connections to Moorim felt forced.
Shi Woo’s (Lee Hyun Woo) whole kpop idol backstory seemed weirdly arbitrary. Like, why does he have to be a kpop idol? And the way second lead Chi Ang (Hong Bin) changed his mind and decided he wanted to go to Moorim also felt really odd.
2. Hong Bin’s a terribly green actor, and watching his awkward delivery made Chi Ang’s initial entitled ass sort of character ten times worse.
Just, so hard to watch. His character quickly being sweet on Soon Duk (Seo Ye Ji) also felt fake and rather annoying.
3. Generally speaking, the delivery among the Moorim student characters isn’t great. Even Lee Hyun Woo, whom I’ve seen do much better (like in Equator Man), seems to be performing at less than his best.
4. The teachers at Moorim are so juvenile in their behavior that I questioned how they ever became teachers at Moorim in the first place, where students are supposed to learn things like values and honor.
All the screen time dedicated to the teachers’ petty conversations felt like pointless filler.
5. …Which pretty much culminates in this one single point: the writing in this show isn’t great.
STUFF THAT SEEMED PROMISING
In spite of a bemusing start, I actually came around to what I felt were Moorim’s charms, at least for a while. Here’s them:
The Disney X-Men vibe
The lens that I found myself using, was the X-Men lens. Principal Hwang (Shin Hyun Joon), with his secretive air and that knowing gleam in his eyes, totally reminded me of Professor X.
And the hints of special powers – what with Principal Hwang and his magic seal, and hints at other special abilities in other characters, like Shi Woo – felt perfectly X-Men-esque to me.
At the same time, Show’s got a rather Disney channel sort of vibe to it, in that everything’s pretty simplistic, straightforward and pat. It feels like a show aimed at tweens, in tone and sensibility, which can be rather pleasant, once expectations are adjusted to suit.
With this odd mashup of a lens on, I actually found myself enjoying this show, against all logic (and the poor writing and acting).
Generally likable characters
Overall, I do find our main characters likable, and that went a long way in terms of making this an enjoyable watch.
Soon Duk is cute without being (too) cutesy, and that counted for a lot in my books.
There’s hardly anything try-hard about her, and I rather like her low husky voice, which is the opposite of what one might expect from a Candy-esque heroine. Sun Ah (Jung Yoo Jin) is badass and nice, a very desirable combination indeed.
Shi Woo actually comes across as pretty grounded, for someone who’s used to being treated like a VIP.
…And Hong Bin gets less cringeworthy after the first couple of episodes. Which helps make Chi Ang a more likable character as well. (I think it’s partly that he settles into the role, and partly that my expectations were lowered so much by his initial terrible performance, heh.)
On a tangent, I must say Lee Hyun Woo has bulked up quite a lot. He now actually looks borderline beefy, which makes his body look more mature than his face. Which is odd. But is totally kpop at the same time. Here, lookie:
The touch of bromance
I found the budding friendship between Shi Woo and Chi Ang a nice touch, even though I thought it was mostly quite clumsily executed. (Seriously, some serious suspension of disbelief was required. I mean, wolf?? Really?)
But because I’d rather Shi Woo and Chi Ang be friends than enemies, I willingly looked past all the shortcomings in Show’s how in developing their friendship, and focused on the what instead.
MY QUICK THOUGHTS ON THE LOVELINE
Honestly, the loveline between Shi Woo and Soon Duk is predictable, as is Chi Ang’s trajectory as the lovelorn second lead. The sudden ramping up of the hyperawareness of Soon Duk and Shi Woo for each other in episode 6 also feels quite random and premature.
But, because I found it novel to see Lee Hyun Woo acting like a romantic leading man, I was willing to close both eyes to how awkward it sometimes got.
Sadly, despite my interest in seeing Lee Hyun Woo act like a romantic leading man, I also soon felt like Lee Hyun Woo was uncomfortable being a romantic leading man.
It seemed to me that his smoldering looks didn’t sit naturally on him, and even though his kissing scene was very decent, I felt rather unconvinced overall. I guess he’s not used to being a romantic leading man yet?
WHEN IT STARTED GOING DOWNHILL FOR ME
My interest in this show was always more about the younger characters learning to be decent people and growing up, and less about the secretive interwebbed history of, well, almost all of our main characters.
I found the backstory burdensome and more than a touch too heavy for this Disney-esque drama world. I also found Moorim taking itself way too seriously in theory, and being way too lame in practicality.
So, as the secretive backstory increased in screen time, my interest in the show decreased in roughly equal measure. Additionally, every time things at Moorim got Very, Very Serious, then copped out with a lame resolution, my interest also decreased accordingly.
This would be around the episode 6-8 stretch.
Like, the silly potluck party part of the exam in episode 6. Seriously? Getting all dressed up and presenting a dish? That’s not quite a potluck party, at least, not the kind that makes sense to me. And to have everyone take it So Seriously, like their lives depended on it – that was a little much.
Even sillier is the surprise portion of the exam in episode 7, where the teachers drug the students (what?? Like, what was that about values and honor again?) and leave them to find their way out of a faked fire.
The whole thing was built up to be Mega Dramatic, but ended up being resolved without a lot of fuss. Plus, the entire thing accomplished nothing at all, in terms of Sun Ah’s and Shi Woo’s fire trauma. Which, Pfft.
DECIDING ON GOODBYE
In spite of Show’s missteps, I was able to hang in there fairly well, until episode 9. That’s about the point where things just stopped working for me.
With Show’s emphasis shifting strongly in favor of the secretive backstory, and the stretches of mildly engaging personal arcs barely blipping over the course of an episode, I could literally feel Show losing me. I kid you not, I was literally falling asleep while watching episode 9. Not good.
On a shallow note, I also found that I didn’t care much for Lee Hyun Woo’s new dark hair. He somehow seemed much cooler with the silver. And so, with everything else going to pot for me, hotness points lost for the male lead totally didn’t help the situation. 😛
Giving it some thought after almost falling asleep on episode 9, I realized that I don’t care one bit what the truth is, around that Epic Backstory That Is So Secretive.
I also don’t care whether Shi Woo and Soon Duk become a campus couple. And while I might care a little bit about Shi Woo’s ears and how he gets better, and a little bit about Chi Ang’s personal growth, I guess I don’t care enough, to spend another 7 hours of my life on Moorim.
Sorry, Moorim. I wanted to like you. But it’s just not working out between us. I’ll try to think fondly of the better times we had, ok?