Group Watch: Poll!

Thanks everyone, for your many suggestions, thoughts and contributions on the Group Watch brainstorm!

Lots of worthy titles were floated, and as promised, I sifted through all of them, and shortlisted the most popular titles for this poll. Thanks, too, to those of you who shared other regions where shows are available, on top of the ones I mentioned. Super helpful! 😘

Except for Beautiful Mind and Stranger, I’ve seen the other shortlisted dramas, and therefore can personally vouch for their worthiness of your drama hours. 😉

Some considerations

Before diving into the contenders who made the shortlist, here are what I think are the main considerations to keep in mind, while making your choice:

1. Availability

We want the Group Watch to be as accessible to everyone as possible, so free streaming options are always the best. Remember that you can always use Opera’s free, built-in, unlimited VPN to get around geo-restrictions. A tutorial on that can be found here, and an article on why it’s not illegal to use a VPN to access legal streaming content can be found here.

2. Commitment

As Geo pointed out in our last round of group watch polls, viewer fatigue can arise for any number of reasons, so do take the amount of commitment needed for each show into consideration, as you make your choices! I’ve broken down the commitment needed for each show below, so that you can easily tell at a glance, what kind of commitment each show would entail.

Contenders

Here are the shortlisted dramas in alphabetical order. The poll itself is at the end of the post. You may select up to THREE options! But if you just want to vote for one, you can do that too. You may also revote, if you change your mind.

Poll goes till end of Monday, 17 May 2021, my time (GMT+8).

Beautiful Mind

I’ve heard that this is solid and worth the watch. I’ve also heard that it might feel a bit slow at first, but it picks up after a couple of episodes. Also, it’s Jang Hyuk. 🤩 Fair warning that the romance in this is pretty muted.

Commitment: 14 episodes. 2 eps a week = 7 weeks.

Availability: Available for free on Viki (Netherlands). Also available on Viki (US), if you have Viki Pass Plus, and on Kocowa, if you’re on a paid subscription.

Kill Me, Heal Me

Ji Sung is fantastic in this, managing to make his multiple personalities feel like actual distinct characters, often by just changing his gaze. I loved this when I watched it, and just never got around to writing it a review. I would have given this an A-.

Commitment: 20 episodes. 2 eps per week = 10 weeks.

Availability: Available for free on Viu. Also available on Kocowa if you’re on a paid subscription, and on Viki, if you have Viki Pass Plus.

My Girlfriend is a Gumiho

So cute, but also so surprisingly heartfelt. Shin Min Ah is incandescent and adorable, and Lee Seung Gi is hapless and funny. A sparkling retro rom-com with lots of heart.

Commitment: 16 episodes. 2 eps per week = 8 weeks.

Availability: Available for free on iQIYI and Viu. Also available on Viki, if you have Viki Pass Plus, and on Kocowa, if you’re on a paid subscription.

Nirvana In Fire [China]

One of the best – if not the best – dramas I have seen. So well-written, and so well-acted, and also, clearly expensively produced. It’s intricate and meaty and does benefit from a group watch setting. Review is here.

Commitment: 54 episodes. 3 eps per week = 18 weeks. (Episodes are about 40 minutes each, if you don’t count the opening and closing songs, which means the commitment is about 2 hours a week, just like the other shows).

Availability: Available for free on Viki (US and Europe). I recommend avoiding the English-dubbed version, which is also available, and watching it in Mandarin with English subs.

Stranger / Secret Forest

I’ve heard so much about how fantastic this show is, that I’m quite curious to see whether I’ll love it like everyone else. Maybe a group watch – and the company that it provides – is just what I need, to finally commit to this one.

Commitment: 16 episodes. 2 eps per week = 8 weeks.

Availability: Available for free on Viu and IQIYI.

Tree With Deep Roots

An excellent drama that is compelling and educational at the same time, as it tells the story of how King Sejong developed the Hangul writing system, fighting against opposition, and against all odds. Han Seok Kyu, Jang Hyuk and Shin Se Kyung are all excellent in this.

Commitment: 24 episodes. 2 eps per week = 12 weeks.

Availability: Available for free on Viki (Netherlands). Also available on Kocowa if you’re on a paid subscription, and on Viki in the US, if you have Viki Pass Plus.

Poll

You may select up to THREE options! But if you just want to vote for one, you can do that too!  You may also revote, if you change your mind.

Poll goes till end of Monday, 17 May 2021, my time (GMT+8).

What shall we watch next?
  • Nirvana In Fire 23%, 94 votes
    94 votes 23%
    94 votes - 23% of all votes
  • My Girlfriend is a Gumiho 20%, 83 votes
    83 votes 20%
    83 votes - 20% of all votes
  • Stranger / Secret Forest 20%, 81 vote
    81 vote 20%
    81 vote - 20% of all votes
  • Kill Me, Heal Me 17%, 72 votes
    72 votes 17%
    72 votes - 17% of all votes
  • Tree With Deep Roots 11%, 46 votes
    46 votes 11%
    46 votes - 11% of all votes
  • Beautiful Mind 9%, 37 votes
    37 votes 9%
    37 votes - 9% of all votes
Total Votes: 413
Voters: 224
May 10, 2021 - May 18, 2021
Voting is closed

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Geo
Geo
30 days ago

I voted for Nirvana In Fire. It’s a longer time commitment than the others but I think it’s well worth it as I agree with you, KFG, it’s arguably the best Asian drama I’ve seen to date. By comparison, of the listed shows, I’ve viewed Stranger, Deep Rooted Tree and My Girlfriend is a Gumiho and these are all excellent shows but in my opinion, not in NIF’s class.

I think what makes NIF a good candidate for a Group Watch is the plot and character complexities which provides good material for group discussions. A few viewers have commented that it’s a difficult watch because it does take a bit of work to get the characters and plotlines straight in the first few episodes but I think a Group Watch would help in this regard. I watched NIF when the Group watch was on Dr Romantic and Money Flower but I’m prepared to re-watch because I know I’ve missed some of the more subtle aspects of the show not to mention some of the customs and court protocols which I didn’t really understand.

It’s probably worth noting that NIF doesn’t have a big romance sub-plot, if that’s important to you. There is an OTP and while well done, it’s not a major part of the show.

BE
BE
28 days ago
Reply to  Geo

I have seen four of the seven. Voted for Nirvana In Fire and Tree With Deep Roots. I binged NIF right after binging Queen Seondeok, which while not so tightly composed, has more interesting villains, just saying, and a couple of pretty darn stalwart heroic characters as well, every bit in the category of the two supporting heroes in NIF. I certainly think Tree With Deep Roots is in the category of Nirvana in Fire. Its cast is spectacular; its story epic and unique. Nirvana in Fire is a revenge drama with court intrigue; TWDR is about the creation of a language in a charged and contentious historical period with both quite amazing action scenes and even more amazing debates. The dialogues are rivetingly intelligent. I think there might be more to discuss with NIF than Tree, because the intrigue is so labyrinthine. Both are excellent, each in their own ways. That said, not having seen three of the dramas in contemporary settings, while I am not so interested in those up for nomination here, the ones I have seen are led by some pretty darn good actors who put in their typically excellent performances. So I will be up for whatever we all decide including our Editor’s Choice, even if it is not on this list. If/when there is a next time, however, I may well actively lobby for Secret Love Affair, yuk.

Kay
Kay
30 days ago

Thrilled to see My Girlfriend is a Gumiho and Kill Me Heal Me on the voting list 🙂 Stiff competition though. I’m curious to see which drama pulls out on top 🙂

Natalia
Natalia
1 month ago

I have not seen any of these shows, so anything goes for me. I hope this time around I can be commited enought to watch with you.

j3ffc
1 month ago

Choose wisely, friends!