Some time ago, a remark by long-time friend of the blog Beez got me thinking.
Basically, we were talking about how I’d dropped The K2, despite Show serving up a whole lotta shirtless via a gloriously nekkid fight scene. Beez then said, and I quote, “Wow. Kfangurl, I think the K-Bloom is off the rose for you.”
Essentially, Beez felt that even though the OTP in The K2 had been uninspiring, that Ji Chang Wook‘s chemistry with second female lead Song Yoon Ah had been so sparky and sizzling, that if that hadn’t been enough to hold my attention, then, well, I must not be as taken with kdramas – or perhaps dramas in general – anymore.
This got me thinking about my evolution as a drama viewer, and what’s captured me each step of the way, and I thought you guys might perhaps find this interesting or relatable, and so here we are.
THE FOUR STAGES OF DRAMA VIEWER EVOLUTION
Basically, I feel like there are four distinct stages of viewer evolution.
Of course, this is purely based on my own experience, combined with anecdotal evidence from observing other drama viewers, so it’s not very scientific at all. But.. you might find some of the stages familiar, in which case, you’d be totally adding to the credibility of my theory..! 😀
How long a viewer stays in each stage varies between individuals, with some flitting through stages very quickly, and others spending much longer periods of time in each stage.
That being said, this doesn’t apply to all drama viewers. I certainly know of individuals who’ve skipped a stage or two, because of their personal contexts and preferences, and that’s completely fine too. These 4 stages are just what I observe many drama fans – myself included! – tend to go through. (Should I call this.. Fangurl Theory..? 😆)
STAGE 1: Everything’s so shiny!
In Stage 1, everything is new, shiny and interesting, and so, like the drama ducklings that we are, we quickly and happily glom onto everything that crosses our line of vision.
The food, fashion, culture, and language is fascinating and we very quickly develop an appetite for more. Depending on what the first drama was that stole our hearts, we often want more of the same as well. So, if our first drama was a romcom, we’d want more of that. If our first drama was a sageuk, we’d often want more of that. We quickly associate drama tropes with feels, and we chomp it all up, often in multiple large servings of back-to-back(-to-back) episodes.
We also tend to develop big affection for the first actors who steal our hearts in our first dramas, and actively seek out other dramas in which they’ve acted, so that we can inhale more of their personal brand of awesome. This, as we quickly learn, often reaps mixed results.
Whether our love for our Stage 1 dramas fades or endures over time really depends. Some dramas age well, and others.. not so well.
Dramas I loved in Stage 1 and still love: Goong, Save Your Last Dance For Me.
Dramas I loved in Stage 1 that I now find meh: Playful Kiss, Witch Yoo Hee, Secret Garden.
STAGE 2: I would watch (AND rewatch!) anything for Oppa!
Remember when I said that once we develop a big affection for an actor or actors, we tend to actively seek out their dramas, and often with mixed results? Yeah, Stage 2 is when we not only seek those dramas out, but watch – and even rewatch – terrible dramas, all because our favorite actors are in it.
At this stage, this is not hardship. It’s dedication. Loyalty. I could, quite literally, watch anything for Oppa.
I’ve watched some turkeys for the sake of an actor that I liked, and I’ve even rewatched some turkeys – while knowing full well that they were turkeys – all for the sake for Oppa.
Let me confess right here, that I watched the terrible One Fine Day twice, all for the love of Gong Yoo. I made it through Heirs out of love for Kim Woo Bin. And back in the day, when I thought Park Shi Hoo was cool (I know, such a faint and bemusing memory now), I watched Prosecutor Princess twice, despite not actually liking the show much at all.
There was a time when my fangirl dedication was stronngg. And I call that Stage 2. 😉
STAGE 3: When Oppa isn’t enough anymore
Granted, not everyone arrives at this stage, but I did, hence my discovery of the existence of Stage 3.
Stage 3 is when you realize that Oppa just isn’t enough anymore. You just can’t bring yourself to watch a bad show just to support Oppa.
My personal turning point into Stage 3 happened with Uncontrollably Fond. I thought that I could watch anything for Woob. After all, I’d survived Heirs and lived to tell the tale, right? But, while watching Uncontrollably Fond, I realized that I was hating every. single. episode. It felt like SUCH a drag to watch the show, even though there was plenty of Woob in each episode. I found that my Woob loyalty was taking a hit with each new episode that I watched, and in the end, I found myself dropping out because Show had drained me of so much Woob loyalty, that I just couldn’t muster up the resolve to watch even another 5 minutes of the show. And, afterwards, I realized that my Woob loyalty was so thoroughly drained, that since then, I’ve taken years to rebuild just a small section of it. 😛
Looking back, I feel like if I’d just read my symptoms early and not forced the issue, I could’ve preserved at least most of my Woob loyalty.
Since this terrible experience, I’ve been quicker (and smarter) about dropping out of shows that are not working for me, and this helps me to preserve my affection for Show’s lead actors. This is largely why I dropped The K2 (for Ji Chang Wook), and also why I dropped High End Crush (for Jung Il Woo) as well. See? I drop the shows out of love..! 😂
STAGE 4: When dramas aren’t enough anymore?
Stage 4 is the perplexing stage where we’re not sure whether the dramas themselves are enough anymore. Granted, not everyone arrives at this stage, but it exists, and I thought it would only be fair to include it.
Some drama fans have a lifelong love affair with dramas, while for others, it’s a love affair that lasts but a season. Said season can be short, or can last years.
Basically, at some point, we start asking ourselves if, in Beez’s words, the K-bloom off the rose?
Personally, after having watched dramas in a focused fashion for 14 years now, I have to admit that I ask myself this question, from time to time. For the last few years, I’ve experienced a bit of a drama rut each year, lasting about a month at a time. During that time, I have little to no interest in dramas, and I find myself doing anything – watching YouTube videos, browsing Twitter – rather than watching dramas.
Happily, I’ve emerged out of each drama rut with a renewed and refreshed interest in dramas, and have come back kicking, raring and ready to enjoy the best that Dramaland has to offer. But there are also drama fans who don’t make the same comeback, and some then leave Dramaland forever (sniffle), keeping only the fond memories.
I think the important thing to keep in mind, is to do what makes you happy.
Maybe dramas aren’t making you happy right now, and that’s ok. Some fans take long breaks and find themselves back in Dramaland after a couple of years. That’s ok too. Some fans find new passions in other areas and might never find themselves back in Dramaland. That’s also ok.
Ultimately, we all came to dramas because dramas made our lives happier and more interesting. And if we keep that as our focus – to always do what’s best for us personally – we can’t and won’t go too wrong, regardless of where we land, with our dramas. 🙂