Dear kfangurl: How can I stop myself from becoming jaded with dramas?

Uh.. I need some help seeing you with new eyes..?

Vaish writes:

Hi kfangurl,

I am now a kdrama fan for quite a few years with several dramas under my cap. Of late, I feel that I’ve grown too critical. The kdrama world is no longer my escapist fantasy and stress buster. I keep nit picking. I feel disappointed (there’s that magic charm missing) by recent dramas (True Beauty, Lovestruck in the City just a few examples). I would have enjoyed these premises earlier. Should I just keep watching old dramas? Can you help?

Have we really lost that lovin’ feelin’?? 😭

Dear Vaish,

Thanks for your question! It just so happens that I’ve been ruminating along similar lines lately, not because of a personal sense of jadedness with dramas (thankfully), but because of what I’ve been observing in conversations among drama fans around me. So your question comes at a perfect time! 😉

I happen to find myself in the happy – though admittedly quite rare – position, of still enjoying my dramas a great deal, even though it’s been 14 years since I started consuming them seriously.

That said, the progression of going from a casual viewer to a more critical one is perfectly natural, so you’re not alone! In this post, I’d like to explore this, and offer some personal tips and suggestions for how to mitigate the natural process of becoming more critical, while still preserving your love for and enjoyment of dramas.

Everyone, please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts, insights and stories in the comments! 🥰

Also, you may have already noticed this, but I’m taking this opportunity to spam you all with (at least somewhat relevant) screenshots from 18 Again, because it’s a wonderful, lovely show, and I hope you’ll watch it, if you haven’t yet!

A FEW THINGS ABOUT BEING CRITICAL

C’mere. Lemme look at you reaal close. 🧐

Just to be clear, it’s not a bad thing to be able to critique a show’s shortcomings. The fact that you’re able to critique a show, means that you’re growing in knowledge and awareness, and probably also learning to make correlations between your dramas and real life.

However, I’ve found that there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. As you might have found from your own experience, nitpicking at a drama not only spoils your own enjoyment, it potentially spoils others’ enjoyment too.

What I found about nitpicking is, if you set out to see flaws in a show (or even a person, for that matter), you will always find something to criticize. This is a negative sort of spiral, because the more you nitpick, the more aggravated you’ll be, and the more aggravated you are, the more stuff you’ll find to nitpick.

This is why I generally don’t enjoy reading reviews or recaps that are particularly snarky. The post might be intended to be fun, but for me, it just lands as a way of increasing negativity, and it also has the effect of spoiling – or at least dampening – the watch experience for me.

To be clear, this isn’t the same as having a balanced critique of a show, where you’re able to point out Show’s strengths as well as its weaknesses. That’s something that I don’t mind reading, because then it doesn’t come across as an attack on the show in question (and that’s why I try to offer a balanced look at each drama that I review).

You might also find my Musings post on my evolution as a drama viewer interesting, and tangentially relevant to this topic. 😊

MY PERSONAL APPROACH: 10 THINGS THAT WORK FOR ME

Don’t worry, I gotcha. 🥰

Here’s a quick rundown on the various tips and techniques that I personally use, to maximize my enjoyment of my dramas.

After watching them seriously for so long, and writing about them for almost as long, there are definitely some challenges that I face, in keeping the drama love alive. And yes, there are times when I feel a little burned out, not gonna lie. However, the fact that, after all is said and done, I still do love my dramas, even after all this time, is testament to the fact that these tips do work.

I hope you’ll find them useful!

1. The right attitude

I kind of referred to this earlier, but I can’t stress enough, how important it is to bring the right attitude with you, when you approach a drama. Avoid bringing an overly critical attitude with you when watching a drama, because if you keep looking for things to criticize, you will find them.

On the other hand, if you bring a more nurturing attitude with you, where you’re looking for things that Show is doing right, and are able to give Show the benefit of the doubt, when you notice flaws during your watch, you’d have a much better chance of enjoying what Show has to offer.

Notice that you aren’t blind to Show’s flaws; you can see them, and still choose to focus more on the things that Show is doing right.

2. The viewing lens

The viewing lens is one of my most useful tools, to be honest. More often than not, when a show isn’t immediately working for me, a suitable adjustment in my viewing lens can take a watch experience from meh to great, and it’s quite remarkable, what a difference the right viewing lens can make.

Sometimes it does take me a while to find the right viewing lens, so I make an effort to be patient with finding the right lens. If a second lens doesn’t quite work out, I try a third, and maybe even a fourth. Sure, sometimes a show just doesn’t work for me, no matter what lens I try, but with this process, I find that I end up enjoying many more shows than otherwise.

For example, I found 2018’s Are You Human Too? SO much more fun with an absurdist lens, and 2009’s You’re Beautiful went from “This is stupid” in my head, to “This is fabulous!” when I put on an OTT, manhwa lens. Also, shout-out to Oh Hae Young Again, which (I felt) was mis-marketed as a rom-com, when a melancholic melodrama lens works so much better, to bring out what Show has to offer.

3. The importance of being flexible

I think it’s helpful to keep an open mind in terms of how to interpret what a show is doing.

[HIGH-LEVEL SPOILERS FOR MR. QUEEN]

For example, in Mr. Queen, our male protagonist lands in the body of a queen, and Show, in the interest of developing a loveline between the king and queen, decides to eventually cause a meshing of the male protagonist’s personality with his female host; ie, the two become one.

Some viewers had problems with this, along the lines of whether this was fair to our male lead, and what implications this had, in relation to issues like personal agency and gender dysphoria. Some viewers also expressed discomfort at a scene where a doctor is shown dismissing the queen’s concerns, albeit with good intentions.

Personally, while I can see where these viewers are coming from, I find that thinking too hard or too long along those lines, has the effect of spoiling the pleasure of the watch, while a different way of looking at it is helpful.

I decided to take a simpler approach to this, and just see it as our queen being encouraged to accept herself for who she is, and this landed a lot better. Also, I do think it’s a very valid idea, that we continue to change and evolve over time, and as we do so, it’s important that we learn to embrace ourselves, rather than fight ourselves. I also rationalized that if our male protagonist was to be truly comfortable and content while inhabiting his new body, that he would need to accept his new self, for what it is.

With this tweak in how I viewed what Show was doing with the character, I was able to continue enjoying my watch of Mr. Queen, rather than be troubled by possible dark undertones.

[END SPOILERS]

4. Managing expectations

I find that it’s helpful to manage our expectations, and here are two big ways in which I tend to manage mine.

First of all, I think it’s helpful to remember that not every show is going to sweep us off our feet, and that even if a show doesn’t have that magical x-factor that leaves you breathlessly wanting more, it can still be a solidly enjoyable watch.

Second of all, I think it’s helpful to figure out what Show is trying to be, vs. what we want it to be, and manage our expectations accordingly.

For example, I think many viewers were expecting Sisyphus to be a much more serious, more tightly written story, and were disappointed to find that it isn’t quite that, at all. Rather than be disappointed by that and either rage-watch the show or drop it altogether, I’ve found that a space opera lens has been really helpful in allowing me to enjoy Sisyphus for what it wants to be, rather than what I’d hoped it would be. Once I adjusted my expectations (and my lens) accordingly, I’ve been enjoying my watch of Sisyphus a lot more.

5. Be willing to try new things

This is pretty general, but I find that being willing to try new things has been helpful in my quest to enjoy my dramas as much as possible.

As you might already know, rom-coms, melodramas and slice-of-life are the types of dramas that I naturally gravitate towards, with the odd soft spot for high-school stories. If I were to only check out shows that fall into these categories, however, I would’ve missed out on so many good watches.

For example, I’m not big into crime or action shows as a general rule, but I really enjoyed 2014’s Bad Guys. And even though I generally don’t think of myself as a makjang fan, I really found 2019’s The Last Empress a rollercoaster of a good time.

On a related tangent, while it doesn’t always reap rewards, I’ve found that sometimes, giving actors, writers &/or PDs another chance is totally worth it. For example, you guys probably know I really, really didn’t take to 2018’s Something In The Rain. So when the same writer-PD team came out with 2019’s One Spring Night, starring the same male lead, no less, I was.. hesitant, to say the least. But, following my morbid curiosity turned out to be a really great decision, because I ended up genuinely enjoying One Spring Night.

6. Don’t be too influenced by popular opinion

Sometimes you might like something that others don’t, and vice versa, so don’t be too quick to judge a show without actually checking it out yourself.

For example, lots of viewers were really mad at 2018’s The Third Charm, but I ended up really enjoying it, when I watched it. And, lots of viewers were very vocal about how boring 2020’s Do You Like Brahms? was, but I personally loved how Show managed the characterization of its introverted characters, and the development of their relationships.

If I’d blindly followed the very loud waves of popular opinion, I would have missed out on these shows, and that would have been such a pity.

7. Be patient

I totally understand the desire to watch a show that grabs your heart and soul; that kind of watch experience is precious indeed.

I say, be patient, and those gems will come. Many viewers grumble about how Dramaland is full of tropey, unoriginal dramas, and while it’s true that there seem to be more uninspiring dramas to sift through now compared to before, it’s also true that every so often, Dramaland gifts us with something special.

Back in 2017, I went through a drama slump, where most of the dramas that were out there, just weren’t doing it for me. But then Father Is Strange came out, and it reeled me right in, with its warmth and its quirky characters. And then, in 2018, the absolutely wonderful My Mister arrived in Dramaland. Imagine if I’d quit Dramaland in 2017? I would’ve probably never watched My Mister, and that would have been a tragedy indeed. 😱

So I say, be patient while waiting for those gems – and then savor them when you find them. ❤️

8. Explore older gems when newer dramas aren’t grabbing you.

Sometimes it’s helpful to reach into the annals of Dramaland, when newer offerings aren’t doing it for you. There are lots of great older shows to choose from, especially for those of us who are relatively new to dramas. And, if you go back far enough, those early dramas can feel like a breath of fresh air, because narrative patterns and drama tropes weren’t even in place yet.

For example, 2000’s All About Eve was made long enough ago, that I found it a relatively trope-free refreshing watch, where couple dynamics even leaned rather healthy. No unnecessary prolonged misunderstandings in this one, that I can recall! 😉

You can also check my Full List, for more inspiration.

9. Don’t be too disappointed when a drama doesn’t work out the way you want it to.

Dramaland’s always serving up new dramas, and, adding on the extensive anthology of existing shows, there are literally thousands of dramas to choose from.

So, don’t be too disappointed when a drama doesn’t work out for you the way you want it to. Coz there are always more dramas out there, ready for a chance to win your heart.

10. Take a break and switch it up

Last but not least, I find that it’s helpful to stay in touch with how you feel.

If you notice that you’re feeling a bit jaded with the dramas you’re watching, it can be a nice change of pace to either take a break, or switch things up by sampling some variety, movies, other countries’ dramas, or other genres of drama.

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder; I’ve often found that taking a break from my dramas by doing or watching something else for a bit, can make dramas feel that much fresher and funner, when I do eventually go back to them. And as you’ve seen, I do always go back to them. ❤️

IN CLOSING

I hope you find this post useful, and that it helps you with some ideas on how to best enjoy your dramas. You might also find this Dear kfangurl post, on how I pick dramas to watch, useful &/or interesting.

Like I mentioned earlier, everyone, please feel free to add your own thoughts, insights and experiences in the comments below. As they say, sharing is caring. 🥰

I hope this post helps!

Love! ❤️

~kfangurl

Ahhh… All better now.. 😇

POST-SCRIPT:

1. If you feel that I missed anything, or if you have your own insights that you’d like to share with the rest of us, do tell us about it in the comments!

2. Do you have a question of your own? Drop me a comment here or on the Dear kfangurl page, or send me an email!

37 thoughts on “Dear kfangurl: How can I stop myself from becoming jaded with dramas?

  1. Alaskan

    It seems to me that too often one person’s critique of a drama reads as negative nit-picking to another person. I find that that’s more often the case when the second person likes the drama a lot. Perhaps people just want to bask in the afterglow of the drama and thus dismiss criticisms as nit-picking or perhaps they process criticism of the drama as criticism of their taste or judgment. (It’s usually not, people!) I am more bothered by the defensiveness and attacks that sometimes occur when people feel that their beloved dramas are under siege, than the critcisms themselves, no matter how nit-picking they appear. But then I happen to enjoy reading or listening to detailed critiques of a drama that I like. It makes me aware of things that I missed and it often deepens my understanding of the drama. It sometimes makes me realize that the drama wasn’t as great as I initially thought it was.

    I also like reading reviews that make me laugh, regardless of how I feel about the drama. That includes snarky reviews. They don’t spoil the watch experience for me but instead add to my enjoyment and appreciation of a drama and are sometimes a bracing reminder that these are dramas, not real life. (For example, I watched the BBC’s Poldark series but the part I looked forward to the most was reading the reviews of each episode in The Guardian.) Plus snarky reviews sometimes add a much needed note of levity to overly sententious dramas.

    By the way, thank you, Elaine Phua, for recommending AvenueX. She has some great videos!

    Reply
  2. Elaine Phua

    I like your advice to not get into a negative nitpicking spiral. With dramas as with other things in life, adjust your expectations, or walk away for a while and get a different experience and perspective. Having said that, I do sometimes enjoy watching Avenue X rant videos if it’s of a series I’m definitely not going to watch. She points out such funny things like how this period hero dressed all in white saves the female lead from bandits, brings her to a cave (instead of helping her return to her family) and in the morning tells her he BURIED her dead horse (slain by the bandits), while still wearing the same spotless white clothes. Hilarious!

    Reply
  3. Kay

    This is such a fantastic post with a great list of tips to maintain that drama love. Like you, I’ve been watching for quite a few years and still love my dramas. I utilize pretty much all of the tips on your list.

    The biggest thing for me is that I watch dramas for entertainment, so I try not to take them too seriously. I find the right lens and am extremely forgiving of flaws as long as long I’m not bored. Of course, I do appreciate dramas tackling issues and important themes, but mostly I want to enjoy myself.

    I also think your point about avoiding negativity is key too. I know most fans enjoy community watching, but I personally usually avoid talking about dramas I’m watching in depth with others because I find that people are looking for problems and bring things to my attention I might not have otherwise noticed. And that can put a damper on my viewing experience. I enjoy taking a drama in first and then hitting the forums and reviews afterwards. That allows me to enjoy myself while watching and then take a deeper look later.

    Keeping things varied by frequently switching genres and going back to watch old dramas also helps a lot. There really are a lot of things to do that can help keep that drama love burning. Thank you for such a great list ,and I hope it helps a lot of other drama fans out there 🙂

    Reply
  4. Timescout

    Ah, those are all good points and I’m sure some or at least one of them may work when you find yourself interest vaning. Usually. I’m not sure how it’ll go for me though as I’m currently at point 10 and don’t seem to have any real interest in getting back on the saddle. When it comes to kdramas anyway. I do occasionally watch some cdramas that happen to catch my fancy, so I’m not completely dramaless at this point. 🙂

    I don’t have any sage words to add but one thing is for sure, don’t force yourself to watch anything if you don’t feel like it. Been there, done that and it sure didn’t go well at all. I’ve since learned not to keep throwing myself against the wall in the hopes it’ll give way. It.never.does. A break (long or sort) is a much less ‘painfull’ option and you may well come out of it with your love for dramas still intact.^^

    Reply
  5. Vaish j

    Dear kfg,

    Thank you so much for taking up my question and penning your detailed thoughts. The last year has been overwhelming for me (just like for millions of others around the world). Spending so much time at home, I was watching back to back dramas for a major part of last year. I was soon falling into “Been there seen that” phase. I really must add new genres to my kdrama diet. Get a bit more adventurous.

    Also, I love these words of yours, “I think it’s helpful to remember that not every show is going to sweep us off our feet, and that even if a show doesn’t have that magical x-factor that leaves you breathlessly wanting more, it can still be a solidly enjoyable watch.”

    Thank you for your helpful insights as always and here’s to hoping that I rekindle my love for my fav drama world soon 🙂

    Reply
  6. ngobee

    Great question and great answer, kfangirl.

    I have surprised myself lately by suddenly breaking off every kdrama I was watching with a kind of “been there, seen that” feeling and starting with cdrama The Sword and the Brocade. Quite enjoying it. I’m sure it also has well-worn tropes, but since they’re new to me I don’t mind. It’s also easy on the eye, the interiors are far more inviting than their Korean counterparts and the actors, although good looking, not as aggressively attractive as their kdrama colleagues. The writing is a bit clumsy at times, people keep telling each other what has already been said and the pace can be slow, but I’m ready to forgive that for the overall meticulous and beautiful scenesetting.

    So that’s a longwinded way of saying I was a bit tired of kdrama, too, after one year of watching it exclusively. So I’ll be taking a short break, The Queen’s Gambit is on my list, too, and not watching anything at all, and I guess things won’t be quite the same when I come back. Promises to be interesting.

    Reply
    1. CarpControl

      Surprisingly, I’m too taking a break from k-dramas in the c-dramaland, with the Sword and the Brocade and about 5 more c-dramas :3 Always had been weary of the lead-actors in that, but surprisingly I’m liking the pair, and I’m sure the absolutely BREATHTAKING sets and costumes, camerawork and lighting have a part to play!
      [The fact that it has 40-ish episodes compared to similar works like Yanxi and MingLan has also impressed me]

      Ps. If you’d like ‘aggressively’ good-looking historical Chinese-drama leads, I would suggest Monarch Industry (aka the Rebel Princess)…. The production values look film-grade, and yeah, the leads are 😍

      Reply
  7. seankfletcher

    Yes, Vaish is not alone with such a question!

    The stand out kdrama right now, for me at least, is Vincenzo. It is something old, something new and something borrowed and working to a true operatic vision and scale.

    I like your list of 10 things that work for you, kfangurl. It’s a very good framework as I find more than one item in your list is generally applicable to this situation, or even to a particular show.

    Perhaps, number 10 is the one I use most of all. This is when I go off and find that rare gem somewhere else, and I find myself also conducting further research regarding such a gem, because it turns out to be that good. Mind you, I also find a fair number of turkeys too 😂

    Even though there is a dearth of kdramas at the moment, not all of them have caught my attention, so I have gone off to track down other shows. This is when I find a cdrama or two, jdrama, tdrama, hkdrama or even a Thai drama (yes, I know, but every now and then there is a real gem from there, with no screaming or unsavoury subject matter. Some are becoming more like a kdrama – such as Voice in the Rain, and the characters always have great names).

    So, of late I have trawled through quite a few cdramas yet again and found a number of good ones. Of these, The Sword and the Brocade is delightful. On the other hand, Palace of Devotion is intriguing. Here is a drama that was 100 episodes long. Then it was chopped down to 80 episodes and then truncated to 61. Viewers have complained of the extensive editing – the cause, the government censor. No one knows the reason why, though. It is a lavish production. Despite the initial heavy editing, there is a good story underneath it all.

    That being said, we rewatched the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice. There isn’t a better written or acted production out there.

    Ignoring others comments is exceptional advice, too. I find it’s a hard one to abide by, though. However, every now and then I have success with it. My gut instinct tells me to ignore the comments and watch it. Oh My Ladylord (My Master) is a case in point. There are many complaints it is old fashioned, but I think it’s great and Nana, yet again, is a real delight.

    Adjusting ones lens is a very, very good method. It worked with Palace of Devotion. With Sisyphus though, I haven’t had to adjust my lens at all as it pays homage to some of the great sci-fi stories, and does it well. The scenes in the future are very interesting and so what if our heroine likes pink – that would be expected in my household 🤣

    On a parallel issue, we are quickly seeing that disclaimers at the start of an episode no longer “work.” With Joseon Exorcist’s cancellation after two episodes ($28M production?) re historical accuracy and the change in actor and complaints of historical accuracy on River Where the Moon Rises (and as it turns out, is historically accurate, culture wise), we have another more complex issue emerging re “viewer censorship” (or is it cancel culture at the extreme end?) where the reaction of the producers has not only been swift, but decisive. With JE, the result has been outright cancellation after two episodes. With River, they have decided to re-film the first six episodes in any case. Both of these examples are very complex and require a very personal judgement regarding how one feels about it all.

    When all else fails, one thing I can always fall back on, if need be, is a book. Then again, I have to keep sorting out a music playlist and write some material as well 😉

    Reply
    1. Trent

      Whew, Vincenzo, man. No spoilers, but it sure is sinking its claws into me deeper and deeper. The hooks at the end of both ep 11 and ep 12 were <chef’s kiss emoji>…

      Reply
      1. seankfletcher

        Awesome, Trent! I finally got to finish watching ep 12 this morning and I was like wow – other layers are unfolding and there are a million and one surprises still to happen 😜

        Reply
    2. CarpControl

      As someone who consciously tries to include c-dramas in her diet, despite their extremely long lengths, I am finding it difficult to get into Palace of Devotion because of its kinda old/ aged production-style. Also, doesn’t help I’m watching Sword & Brocade PLUS Rebel Princess, so I’m ruined for high-grade cinematography. 😢
      Should I give it another shot just to stare at Vic Zhou’s face? 😁😉

      Reply
      1. seankfletcher

        I think Sword and Brocade is quite hard to beat at the moment. Rebel Princess is on my watch list! Lol re Vic Zhou 😂 My assessment is this: eps 1-5, very choppy, 6-10 were very good, 12-17 were Vic needs to stop being a wimpy emperor, 18-20 very, very good and very emotive.

        Reply
        1. CarpControl

          I do acknowledge that there is a ‘warm-up’ period for lengthy historical c-dramas, and happy to know it’s at the 5th episode mark, which is beyond where I paused my watch (around the 2nd) so I have to soldier-on for about 3 more, or skip those all together 😂 I’m kinda sad at productions aimed at ‘famous women rulers’ because that just deprives me of the last arc of the drama, where she rises as a Regent/ Monarch after the (uber-cute) Emperor dies.😢 Am I ready for this? Maybe after I’m done with S&B 😍

          Reply
    3. j3ffc

      I have elsewhere spoken of the baroque set of rules that I employ in selecting new shows to watch and I notice that they overlap in a lot of ways with the common-sensical ones that kfangurl has suggested here (although my versions are a little more neurotic). Right now, I am able to wedge one slow watch in between the two ongoing group watches, and have decided on “Mr. Queen” for three reasons. First, second and foremost, it seems like a good complement to “”Doctor” and “Money” and I thought the first episode was hilarious. But now, I’m also watching it to support the producers’ and actors’ right to dip into Korean history without being required to make it a documentary. And especially to support Shin Hye-sun, who is nothing less than an international treasure.

      Reply
      1. seankfletcher

        I like the term commonsensical. My approach is varied, but I would have to say that the story of a struggle that may lead to something better underpins a lot of my choices.

        The way you are wedging Mr Queen into your watch is a good approach.

        Shin Hye-sun does not deserve any of the negative comments she is now receiving as the naysayers are obviously turning their sights to other productions and what actors are undertaking careerwise.

        At the start of Mr Queen, apologies around the portrayal of the King were sufficient. However, it has turned so quickly into a tsunami of hate demanding cancellations. Firstly, we saw this with the other productions and now, secondly they are tackling shows already completed, including focussing on Hye-sun. They are even “lobbying” for her to be removed from endorsing products and so on.

        I do wonder what is really driving the issue. And, will it dredge up past controversies re choices SK actors have made?

        Reply
        1. ngobee

          I didn’t know about this artificially created Shin Hye Sun controversy. Frankly I’m finding it scary. Especially for a creative industry that is so invested in creating alternate history productions. If they really give in to the pressure of such unidentified “netizens”, what will the result be?

          Reply
          1. seankfletcher

            I think right now, the industry is very much on the backfoot and knee jerk reactions result when this happens. I think they will work it out. In the meantime though, all involved are going to need a spine of steel and support each other much more than they have previously.

            Reply
            1. ngobee

              I especially hate how abrasive comments by “netizens” are “reported” in so many blogs and media outlets under the guise of journalism with no real stance taken. You can practically feel how they’re just exploiting the issue and waiting how things will turn out. After which they’ll be looking for the next successful person to tear down.

              Reply
          2. merij1

            The production team of tvN’s “Mr. Queen,” a fusion of historical drama and fiction, has apologized over a controversial line that some people say belittled Korea’s national treasure ― the Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty.

            In the drama’s second episode aired on Dec. 13, protagonist Kim So-yong (Queen Cheorin) ― played by Shin Hye-sun ― described the treasure as a “tabloid” that failed to provide authentic information about the 25th king of Joseon, Cheoljong (1831-1863) ― played by Kim Jung-hyun.

            Netizens questioned Shin Hye Sun’s intentions after the actress expressed that she would have regretted saying no to the drama after reading the controversial script.

            What a pile of hooey. I wonder, are these these Netizens going after Kim Jung-hyun with the same fury? Or just her because it was her character’s line?

            Reply
            1. ngobee

              Another interesting point, that they choose to go after the woman. And that there seems to be no distinction made between the actor and the role. I do understand that the country’s division and the Japanese occupation have left deep scars on the national consciousness, but this is so petty and destructive.

              Reply
        2. Alaskan

          I, too, wonder what is driving the fury. Most people realize that dramas involving zombies, time travel, and/or possession of someone’s body aren’t pretending to be historically accurate, right?

          Reply
        3. Drama Fan

          The issue is very complex but it goes beyond kdrama industry or historical inaccuracy itself. It has more to do with Korea and China tense relations. I do feel sorry for everyone caught up in the middle of the storm.

          Reply
  8. Ele Nash

    Managing my expectation is key for me. Whether that’s expecting great things because of an actor I’ve loved in something else, or because I’ve seen rave comments from others – or, as you say, harsher critiques – or because I enjoyed the first series. It took me six episodes of watching the second series of Stranger before I felt a similar compulsive need to know what happens next after adoring the first series. My expectations, I think, were too high and I felt a kind of weird grief that the cast weren’t together in the same way.

    I also often have to, as you say, adjust my lens with regards to the ‘comic’ light relief characters. Lots of times, I find I don’t get these characters and actively dislike them. For example, I’m watching Vincenzo at the moment and while I’m completely captivated by Song Joong-ki’s Vincenzo and the great Yoo Jae-myung, both playing everything straight and heartfelt, I could hardly bear Jeon Yeo-been’s garish interruptions and ugly character. I’ve had to force myself to smudge my lens and go with it so that it doesn’t hurt the rest of my viewing pleasure.

    But agree with BE that sometimes shows just aren’t for you. And that’s OK – even if other people rave about it. I could list plenty from all around the world that haven’t got me. But there’s so much good stuff in kdramaland, and beyond, that I guess if you feel jaded by one country’s output you could dip your toe in another – though, of course, you’d have to then find someone of kfangurl’s calibre to guide you through it!

    Reply
    1. BE

      @Ele Nash: yes KFG has left everyone here jaded when it comes to tv drama critics. I can think of noone else in the game like her, and could not even name anyone else. That is what I mean about how something very good can sometimes be the source of jaded later on.

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      1. Ele Nash

        Finding kfangurl’s reviews has definitely helped feed my Jang Hyuk and kdrama love affair in all the very best ways 😊 No jade here!

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  9. Anggi

    It’s possible that the older you get, your taste is somewhat change, we’ve experienced more in life and that’s makes you more critical. Your priorities in life and how you see life is different now that you’re mature, what matters in the past seem trivial now in your present 😊

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    1. BE

      I think also the more you see, and the more you see what is possible, you can recognize what is working for you and what is not more readily. Because as a young man, I immersed myself for several years in the fantasy novel genre, I am really impatient with a great deal of fantasy, whether it is historical fantasy or futuristic dystopian fantasy. My standards for such are probably higher than other folks, because I have come across really great works of both in which suspension of disbelief is never a problem, so find when it is so unrelentingly in every episode I tend find to fault and have difficulty adjusting my lens in any way to allow me to see what i am seeing with a less persnickety eye.
      Also I think certain tropes that one might accept at first, the hair pulling among women, and the arm grabbing of men with women, or couples madly, passionately in love that cannot even bring themselves to kiss one another, or when they do, do so without any of the emotional passion that their characters seem to have for one another, these kinds of things tend to grate on one after a while.
      Then, let’s say, one finds K drama strangely addicted to zombies, to see that addiction broadly parodied, utterly upended, as it is in a couple of spots in a show, however, provides great delight.

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  10. BE

    The purpose to watch these is to be in some way entertained, and sometimes enriched. K Drama is a popular art form, and like all popular art forms, it will inevitably have its shelf life. There was a period in the states when HBO serial productions were gold, one series after another. That cannot be said to be the case today. I guess because I am older and have had a lot of popular passions over the course of my life, I have experienced hey days and their aftermaths, and so I expect it. With K Drama I came into so late in the game, that I missed initial viewings of a lot of great dramas from previous years, so even though I will come across shows now that do not meet my snuffs so to speak, I tend to drop them in favor of others that make me happy.
    Now I hate being snarky myself, but there is nothing wrong, in my opinion, with expressing displeasure with a piece that you know good and well could have been done better, let alone finding fault and picking nits. To extrapolate into HBO drama, folks invested years of 13 consecutive Sunday seasons to Game of Thrones. The reaction to the final two seasons, which still had many good qualities, what can one say, showrunners could have done a better job bringing it to a close, and it is too bad they did not.
    However, it’s just with so much quality out there, why bother sticking with things with which one finds antipathy. Most people will not listen to music they do not like more than once or twice, the same goes with K Drama. I can think of a number of musicians I could snark about till the cows come home, but in fact I just do not listen to them. Isn’t that generally the case? Taste goes in every direction. I like things others do not, and do not care for things others really like.
    And another reason people get jaded is because they have seen so much quality work. It took me about three months after seeing My Mister to be able to watch a contemporary K Drama and think a whole bunch of any of them. If a show comes on with actors I have really appreciated in other dramas and see them in one where the writing is not equal to their talents, it is not exactly being jaded to note that, but rather giving voice in public fora that one wants folks to produce work equal to its potential.
    For me, however, also, I believe one should not rely on any single source of such. Don’t watch HBO series much any more, but I saw their documentary on Tina Turner tonight, and it completely shredded me. I cannot recommend it more highly.
    Not finding anything on K Drama for awhile, I caught Queen’s Gambit and Unorthodox on Netflix, both terrific. There are literally millions of shows out in streaming land, and no logical reason on earth why anything more than a small portion should hit home with anyone. That said, I believe right now K Drama has struck a vein in which there are several smaller niches, so rich with talent and interest and that particular South Korean flavor that should make anyone confident that even if many get too tropey, or have cliched holes in their narratives, the cream will rise quite naturally, and at least a few times every year you are gonna see show that’s pure butter.

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    1. Trent

      My man, do not throw a dangling Game of Thrones prompt out there. I’m likely to melt down in KFG’s comment section and end up banned…

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    2. Ele Nash

      Ha, yes, best not to talk about Games of Thrones – though, clearly, there was, and for a good number of series, so much to love. I thought The Queen’s Gambit was brilliant too and agree that we’re lucky to have access to so much great global drama. I’ve enjoyed lots of European stuff as much as kdrama and cdrama. I find the acting and story-telling is so much more diverse than I’d imagined, having grown up on British and US television only. It’s so refreshing to see other takes on what makes good drama. And obviously anything with an historical angle is immediately fascinating.

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      1. merij1

        Queen’s Gambit was excellent. I can’t say for sure I would have felt as strongly with anyone else in the lead role, but Anya Taylor-Joy was hauntingly superb.

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        1. BE

          But acting is one of the most essential elements of good drama, especially when character meets role = magic, and it is a thing, if not done to one’s tastes, leads to nit picking. We can imagine other actors is the same role and think, sheesh, too bad. I really liked Rookie Historian, for example, ensemble pretty good, and Shin Se Kyung a complete delight. but Cha Eun Woo almost ruined it for me, his Prince almost perennially, overly sweet, artificial pancake syrup.
          Queen’s Gambit, with some deviations when it came to Jolene’s story, pretty well stuck to Walter Tevis’ Novel, also told with a screenwriter’s crisp economy, and like his other famous novel, The Hustler, as such lent it self to filmic representation. And yet one can easily say one might not have felt so strongly about the movie, The Hustler, had Paul Newman not taken on the lead role.

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  11. Lady G.

    I really loved this post, as i’ve been going through Drama “Jadism” on and off for the last 5 years. Your suggestions put a lot into perspective. One of the biggest concepts I’ve learned to embrace from you is the Drama viewing Lens and how we must continually shift and change it with each new drama if we want to try and enjoy it. It DOES work, though I admit i haven’t mastered it and can get frustrated or bored easily when things don’t go “my way” in a drama or characters react in a certain unappealing, childish, or frustrating manner. I was at my worst when something as simple as a bad haircut or pants turned me off to a show. haha. (As if i am some fashionista! Yes, I am, Pajama and messy bun chic! lol)

    I like what you said about snarky reviews, i became jaded by most things snarky a few years ago, though i still have my one sarcasm streak. lol. Just give me a brief plot summary, no major spoilers, serious thoughts on the concepts and themes, and what you loved and didn’t love about the show or movie, that’s all i ask. You always deliver with your posts in that regard.

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    1. BE

      Last time we talked, we spoke of Song Joong Ki, with hopes for Vincenzo. While I am still hoping that he gets the opportunity for more slice of life type roles rather than genre, especially action genre stories, Vincenzo is a role particularly suited to his talents, especially his sense of humor, albeit in this playing it as a deadpan straightman, almost a tour de force of wry irony. Not great art, but a lot of fun.

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      1. Lady G.

        Oh that’s great BE! I need to get started on that one very soon. I haven’t been watching any dramas lately. Just some older Japanese shows.

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