If you didn’t already know, we’ve got a special series to kick off the new year! Guests posts, by patrons on Patreon, sharing their personal drama stories, mostly around the topic of “How did you get into dramas?” and “What does your first drama mean to you?” – with flexibility to go off on personal tangents, of course. 😁 Feel free to share your stories too, in the comments!
This guest series is MC‘s brainchild (thanks MC! 😘), and you can read more details, and check out her inaugural post here, and Sean‘s post here. After today’s post, there will be six more guest posts by mystery guest writers, whose identities will be revealed when their various posts go live. Woot! 🥳
Today’s post is brought to you by Shahz, whom, as you might remember, was the brains behind our year-end wrap-up party, with all the guest posts and the poll as well – thanks Shahz! ❤️
I’m extra touched that Shahz took the time to write today’s post, because she’s been feeling under the weather lately, after her booster shot, AND YET, she gave the time and energy, to share her story. Thank you for digging deep for this, for us, Shahz. LOVE YA. ❤️
I hope you guys enjoy!
~ KFG ❤️
Hi it’s Shahz again!
For someone who lurked around for a whole year on Fangirl’s website in 2020, I can’t quite believe I am writing my second blog. I feel immensely privileged to be able to share my thoughts again because of a wonderful idea generated by MC around the power of stories.
So some of you may have read my first blog based on my year-end awards and will know that I live in the North West of England, and yes, I am still cold! This would have been a slightly longer post, but I am under the weather following my Covid booster.
Connecting with my heritage through dramas
Although I only started watching K dramas in 2020, I have actually been watching dramas on and off, since I was child, but of the Pakistani version with, of course, copious amounts of Bollywood films, as my parents are from Pakistan.
And although the subcontinent can be divided places, I think most people across the subcontinent would recognise that Pakistani dramas, particularly of yesteryear, are high calibre.
Unfortunately, I don’t watch Pakistani dramas as much anymore, because I find they are now highly regressive, where the dramas of my parents’ generation carried strong women empowerment messages.
In case you are wondering, my favourite drama to this day, remains Humsafar, which you can find on Netflix. Give it a go for the gorgeous Fawad Khan, and stay for a strong performance by Mahira Khan, who grows from a naive young girl, to a strong empowered mother.
Apparently streets were empty in Pakistan when this finale of the show was on, and it took other parts of Asia and Dubai by storm as well.
Fawad Khan will also apparently be appearing in Ms. Marvel but I have to say, my dream is to see him in a K drama crossover, because he was made for swoon.
I might have given up Pakistani dramas but I still love Pakistani Pop/Rock so do let me know if you have any recommendations in the comments box for me to check out!
The missing connection
So anyone from a second generation immigrant family will understand the “not quite fitting in.”
You grew up in a household with different cultural values and expectations from the country you were born in, and you are trying to straddle both cultures. You respect and admire certain elements of your parents’ culture, but also, it can be at odds with views you have developed and hold dear in the West.
This is why K dramas, and then C dramas, became so important to me, because they provided that missing connection.
You will often see that K dramas deal with societal and family pressure, all in the midst of working, dating and simply just trying to be. And much to my surprise, I actually found I had more in common with this foreign culture than the two cultures I was born into, because I understood the real disconnect between family responsibility, and being true to oneself.
Don’t just survive but thrive
Over 7 years, I have had to deal with some very traumatic events. My life story would probably make one of those awful True Movies you see, but despite that, I am eternally grateful that I have had the resilience to survive.
Watching K dramas such as My Mister, Lost, and Misaeng made me intrinsically understand that I needed not only to survive but I owed it to myself to thrive. In the pandemic, it is hard to take any practical steps, such as a desire to travel, but as our beloved dramas tell us, it is one step at a time, and there are always second chances in life.
Although I could talk for hours about My Mister, Lost and Misaeng, I thought I would draw your attention to two dramas and leads that perhaps don’t get the air time they deserve.
It is never too late….
Second 20’s / Twenty again (Available on Netflix)
This is the drama I would recommend that anyone embarking on a relationship/having children watch, and anyone who has lost themselves in parenthood/relationships watch.
[MODERATE SPOILERS] The gorgeous Choi Ji Woo plays a woman who has completely lost herself in her marriage and parenthood. Under-appreciated by her cheating husband and son, it takes a shock misdiagnosis to re-evaluate her life and start again. [END SPOILER]
Is No Ra’s decision making frustrating at times? Yes, but who hasn’t regretted their decisions? At the heart of the show is the idea that it is never too late to find yourself, and joy in what you do.
KFG gave the show an A, with, “Sweet and cute, but more importantly uplifting and inspiring.”
Also, this was my first experience with Lee Sang Yoon, who does a wonderful job of being a grumpy male lead who does his best to empower No Ra in her journey, and try to get her to rediscover the girl she was.
Word of warning, he comes across as someone who is quite awful in the initial episodes, but part of the joy of the show, is watching his layers unravel. And you know all he wants is the best for No Ra.
And take a look at those dimples!
Be a little bit braver
My other favorite female lead is Park Eun-bin as Chae Song-ah in Do you like Brahms?. I like the facts that the show is a romance and that Song- Ah is a deeply introverted individual, and not your typical plucky heroine, because the introvert is often overlooked as a potential strong and empowered female lead.
I have nothing in common with Song Ah; I am not creative, nor am I introverted, but I would go as far as to say she is my favourite female lead in drama land. And why is that, you may ask? Well, simply put, she gives everything up to pursue her dreams. She knows she doesn’t have the talent compared to others, but she persists in pursuit of her passion.
Many of us who have stable careers and a pressure to provide for our families, will never realise that passion, but that doesn’t mean we underestimate the bravery of those who pursue their dreams. And here is hoping that by watching Song Ah we are all that little bit braver….
KFG’s review is here.
So who hasn’t watched a drama and thought, that is me, or that has happened to me? Much to my surprise, was my self discovery that, oh no, I am a cold-hearted male lead!
This makes me laugh as I write this, because I am quite feminine. Although, for the record I can stand up for myself and others, should the need arise, but nevertheless, people would say I am girly and sociable. Yet, every time I’ve watched a K drama, I’ve felt an emotional connection with the cold-hearted male lead, and not the plucky heroine.
Alarm bells rang seriously, when I realised that I had an affinity to those tsundere males, not because I wanted to change them, but because I inwardly had the same personality traits.
Through these leads, it helped me vocalise that, where I saw independence, in fact, there were deep-seated psychological trust issues that on the surface nobody could see, and they didn’t just go back to the last decade but to my childhood.
Would I have realised this without K dramas? Probably, but it might have taken even more years to unearth and then put into words.
Eh, who needs self-help books when drama will suffice?
My gateway drama
I remember being fascinated by his personal growth. Show does a great job of showing that he is a product of his upbringing. He hasn’t seen what a nurturing relationship looks like, but in walks terminally ill Hye Soo, with her cute but strong-willed daughter Eun Sung, and through a contract marriage and an initially fraught relationship with Eun Sung, we get to see Ji Hoon deeply care and fall in love with the two women in his life.
As much as the OTP are swoony, I adored Ji Hoon’s relationship with Eun Sung the most. Both of them go from not trusting each other very much, to a deeply loving relationship. Just a warning that this show isn’t for the fainthearted, and it is most definitely a weepie, but if you are brave enough, the acting is so rewarding.
The dramas that bring me comfort
There are two dramas that bring me joy despite being silly on the surface, and they are Secret Garden and You’re Beautiful.
Both shows, yes, you have guessed it, have cold male leads, but through the shows you watch them discover new versions of themselves, overcoming their upbringing, and more importantly, overcoming their self-imposed belief that it is better not to love, than to have loved and lost.
Both shows are over a decade old, and I only watched them in the last two years, but I watch them biannually. And you may laugh (for those who have seen the show) when I tell you that Jang Keun Suk’s portrayal of Tae Kyung gave me a personal breakthrough on my view on relationships, and where that stemmed from.
And I will forever love that pout……
The power of connection
Finally, as I sign off, I wanted to express my gratitude to KFG and the community here and over at Patreon.
Countless times I have come across deeply insightful thoughts and comments that make me take a sharp intake of breath, as they cut straight through the heart of the matter. We may never meet unless KFG holds a KFG convention, but you will always share an important part of my personal narrative to healing.
And a huge shout out to my bestie JJ, who brings me so much joy with her kind and thoughtful interactions to dramas. Sending you the Galaxy!
Do let me know in the comments what surprising revelation you had from a drama and how that shaped/made you change the way you viewed things…