You know, for a hot second, I thought I might actually like this show.
Right off the bat, it kinda-sorta felt like an off-shoot of Heirs, but better done and more interesting. Similar to Heirs, Seducer’s drama world is also centered around a bunch of rich kids, with one pair of them sparking off each other, his sexy rebel cool to her prickly pouty petulance. All that spark, whether acknowledged or not, is blocked – or would that be amplified? – by their parents getting hitched to each other. Oh, plus there’s also an innocent, not-rich girl in the center of it all.
Unlike Heirs, there is no Kim Tan character, which I counted as a huge plus, since I hated Kim Tan, with a passion.
…Too bad my cautiously positive first impression didn’t last very long at all. I lasted 10 half-hour episodes of this one, dragging my feet through the last few of those 10 episodes, and have had zero desire to go back to this one.
STUFF THAT WORKED FOR ME – AT FIRST
For the record, here’s the quick spotlight on the things that I liked about this show, at least for a while.
1. Woo Do Hwan as Si Hyun
This was my introduction to Woo Do Hwan, whom I’ve seen raves about around the dramaverse, and at least for Show’s initial stretch, I liked what I saw. I found his screen presence very magnetic in Show’s early episodes, with Woo Do Hwan displaying a very strong, very male, kinda beastly sort of sensuality that I found very arresting.
Unfortunately, I felt that this fizzled out as Show’s episodes wore on, but we can talk about that later.
2. Si Hyun and Soo Ji
I felt that Si Hyun and Soo Ji (Moon Ga Young) shared the sparkiest connection among our cast of characters, and felt suitably absorbed in their shared scenes. In true kdrama fashion, Show sets up Si Hyun and Soo Ji as rich kids with hidden sad stories, and that works for me, because I wanted to be able to feel sorry for these characters. Or at least, see them as more than just rich kids acting out for the hell of it.
At least for Show’s initial stretch, I found the dysfunction in Si Hyun and Soo Ji’s relationship very compelling, and I couldn’t look away. The way they cleaved to each other; the crackly tension between them; the hyperawareness of each other; it was all quite mesmerizing and alluring.
[SPOILER] In episode 3, when Soo Ji’s losing it and has squeezed her hand bloody with cut glass, the only thing that gets her to snap out of her meltdown, is the sight of Si Hyun, and her concern over why he’s bleeding from his head. The way they cling to each other, tentatively looking over each other’s wounds, all bloody, is irresistibly captivating. Layer on the new information, that they are soon-to-be step-siblings, and that just makes everything even more messed up. I felt like I couldn’t look away. [END SPOILER]
3. The posh gang of 3
For a little while at least, I liked the scenes where we got to see Si Hyun, Soo Ji and Se Joo (Kim Min Jae) together. I felt drawn to the three-way friendship that they shared. It felt like they knew one another from wayy back, and were deeply familiar with one another’s flaws and hurts and indiscretions, and casually accepted it all, and loved one another anyway.
Their opulent cave felt like a mash-up of luxurious excess and stolen freedom; a place where they were their own masters and could speak their minds. More than that, though, that felt like a space where they could cleave to one another.
4. Se Joo’s silent devotion
Se Joo is a character that crept up on me. From being the third member of the posh 3 party, just conveniently there to complete the picture, Se Joo eventually became the only thing to keep me going, in my watch of this show.
It didn’t take long for Show to demonstrate that Se Joo is fiercely loyal to Si Hyun and Soo Ji. He doesn’t hesitate to literally put his own body out there, in order to protect his friends. [SPOILER] In an early episode, he takes a beating and punishment-by-imprisonment for Si Hyun, and in episode 7, he’s happy to keep flirting with the noonas as long as he thinks Soo Ji is ok. The moment he even smells that she might be in trouble, he flies right over to deliver a debilitating punch to the guy who’s trying to come on to Soo Ji. [END SPOILER]
The thing that really made me feel bad for Se Joo, though, is his hopeless devotion to Soo Ji, even though Soo Ji treats him like crap, all the time. She behaves as if he has no feelings whatsoever, and every time Soo Ji stomped all over Se Joo’s heart, I felt so bad for him.
STUFF THAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME
Here’s a quick rundown of the things that just didn’t work for me, in this show.
1. Joy as Tae Hee
Joy seems like a sweet person, but she is not a strong actress, and her delivery leaned pretty hollow for me. This was a problem because she’s supposed to play Si Hyun’s love interest. I found myself unable to buy into the supposed romantic moments between Si Hyun and Tae Hee, and I feel like Joy’s limitations as an actress were definitely a factor.
2. Show tries to do too much, I think.
Show works to build a very interconnected, dysfunctional web of characters, and while I get the intention, I didn’t enjoy the execution much at all. At the episode 3 mark, I I literally had to stop to think about who’s who and how everything mapped out, what with Si Hyun’s dad (Shin Sung Woo) marrying Soo Ji’s mother (Kim Seo Hyung), but seeming to pine over Tae Hee’s mother (Jun Mi Sun). I was all, “What the..?”
3. Show’s logic isn’t always clear
Some stuff didn’t make sense to me, and I’m not sure if it was because Show was light on logic, or whether I just missed something. But here are a couple of examples, just for the record.
[SPOILER] For example, the transition between Si Hyun and Soo Ji, from “shall we get married” to “seduce the scholarship girl” remained unclear to me. I never did manage to figure out how the two issues were related; the marriage would’ve been to get back at their parents; the seduction of the scholarship girl was to get back at the Jerk Oppa. Um. What?
I also found myself unable to understand why Soo Ji would work to befriend Cello Girl Hye Jung (Oh Ha Nee) all of a sudden. [END SPOILER]
On a tangent, I also disliked the lighthearted bongo-caper music that tended to play in the background, while these kids got up to their manipulating tricks. That didn’t help me feel more engaged with Show because I wanted Show to be compelling, not funny.
4. The Si Hyun-Soo Ji connection stops being interesting
I understand that Show is being faithful to the source material by having Soo Ji send Si Hyun, whom she likes, and who is going to be her stepbrother, to seduce Tae Hee, for revenge. I get that the idea is to show how messed up Soo Ji is, and I got that message loud and clear.
Soo Ji then continually being all jealous and controlling, because she can’t handle seeing Si Hyun being sweet on Tae Hee, is something that I could tolerate only up to a point. It all felt like a hell of her own making, and so she didn’t get much sympathy from me, at all. Why insist that Si Hyun seduce Tae Hee, if she can’t handle the sight of Si Hyun being nice to Tae Hee?
My patience for Soo Ji getting jealous while pushing Si Hyun towards seducing Tae Hee, wore really thin by episode 8. Not only was it all getting really old, I didn’t care for her spoiled-princess-brat behavior. I got that she’s supposed to be an upset hormonal immature teenager, but I really found her very unreasonable and unlikable, to be honest.
At the episode 7 mark, I realized that I’d lost interest in this show and this drama world. All the posh teen angst was going over my head; instead of feeling compelling, it just felt like a whole lot of navel-gazing to me. Not good. By episode 8, I concluded that if I kept on watching this show, that it would likely spiral into a rage-watch, for me. Also not good.
Every time the kids gathered in their posh cave, it no longer felt intriguing to me. It just felt like I was watching a bunch of toothless cubs hanging around, pretending to play fierce.
Additionally, I didn’t find the purportedly romantic scenes very romantic at all. Si Hyun madhandling Tae Hee in episode 8 is supposed to be swoony, but I seriously disliked that he just picked up her as if she was a piece of furniture, and put her in his car. I couldn’t swallow that this was behavior that Show was serving up as supposedly universally alluring. I also found Si Hyun’s behavior towards Tae Hee very weird, with the whole blowing hot and cold, casual “Oh I didn’t see you there” sort of vibe, when they’d already kissed, and she’d already confessed her feelings. In all of this, I also suddenly found Woo Do Hwan no longer compelling. All of Si Hyun’s Great Seduction moves felt juvenile and feeble to my eyes, and that just wasn’t helping matters.
Si Hyun’s dad trying to woo Soo Ji’s mom was also really cringey to watch.
Everything just all felt very all over the place, to me. By episode 10, I felt like no one had chemistry with anyone. It just felt like everyone was simply going through the motions. The only time I felt a bit of a twinge in my heart, was when Se Joo’s face fell when Soo Ji hurt his feelings.
Given how everything seemed to be going to pot for me with this show, I figured it’d be wiser to drop out sooner rather than later. After all, I don’t want to end up hating everyone on this show, right?