If you like coffee, or if you’re on the market for a short little drama thing that’s laidback and chill, but that manages to also be reasonably thought-provoking, you might want to give this little mini series a whirl.
At 12 episodes of 25 minutes each, I found Show to be a great little drama snack, for when you’re short on time, but want the sense of continuity that a drama offers.
Psst: Link to watch is at the end of the review!
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Go Bi (Ong Seong Wu), a young man looking for direction in life, comes upon a cafe run by Seok (Park Ho San). He ends up loving the coffee so much, that he asks Seok to take him in as an apprentice.
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Here are a few things to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:
1. There’s a slice-of-life quality to this one
..that I think would lend itself very nicely to a bit of casual unwinding, when you’re maybe too tired to really dedicate the brain cells to a more demanding show, and when you just want some simple, warm vibes to surround yourself with.
2. There’s a vignette quality to Show’s storytelling
Although we have a core story, that is kept very loose, and most of the episodes (except for our set-up episodes) take turns focusing on different customers who come into the cafe, and their stories.
3. The characters might feel confusing at first,
..since there are a fair number of them, and our story world can feel rather scattered. Don’t worry though, it’ll all come together quite easily and quite well, given a bit of time.
4. There is a rather Japanese flavor to this one.
It’s not just in the homely vibes of the cafe, where customers stop in regularly, like it’s an essential part of their lives.
[MINOR FOUNDATIONAL SPOILER]
It’s also in how earnest and determined Go Bi is, in wanting to learn from cafe owner Park Seok, and how he cheerfully won’t take no for an answer, and just keeps coming back, smilingly and untiringly.
This quality, of being determined and resolute in a very specific desire, feels very Japanese to me, in the sense that I feel like I’ve come across this quality more than a few times, in Japanese dramas. I don’t feel like I’ve seen it very much at all, in Korean dramas.
Knowing to expect that, helps.
STUFF I LIKED
1. Park Ho San and Ong Seong Wu in our principal roles.
I have a pre-existing fondness for both Park Ho San and Ong Seong Wu, since I’ve seen them both give strong performances in other roles (Park Ho San in My Mister and Prison Playbook, and Ong Seong Wu in At Eighteen).
It was nice to see them in a different sort of space. For one thing, it’s arguably the first time I’ve seen Park Ho San in this measured, wise, sage-like role, and that felt quite fresh to my eyes.
Ong Seong Wu isn’t given a whole lot of room to shine, but there are some lovely moments, where I felt his acting talent is given a bit more of the spotlight.
2. The anecdotal, fable-like flavor of the episodes.
Each episode feels like a little vignette, with its own little standalone story that just happens to be linked to all the others, via the cafe and its people.
The episodes tend to be simple and feel-good, and land like little fables, almost. Most of the time, there’s a lesson to be taken away, and Go Bi often is the one learning it, on our behalf.
It’s quite pleasant that way.
There are many worthy episodes with lovely little takeaways, but my personal favorite fable lesson, is the one in episode 6.
This was the collab episode, where Go Bi and Ga Won (Choo Ye Jin) work together to create the orange cappuccino.
I really liked the idea that Show serves up this episode, of liking your job enough, that it’s worth doing even if there are few customers.
This gave me food for thought, specifically about this blog, and how I should love the creation process enough to keep me going, even if there are few readers.
I was pretty impressed, that a small little show like this, which I was watching as a drama nightcap, would be able to give me such solid food for thought.
Really nicely done, I thought.
3. The story world expands with each episode,
..with us getting to know more and more of this drama world’s characters and their stories.
By the end of the show, I felt like I’d come such a long way, in getting to know these characters.
I thought this was really nice.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
To be honest, I was a little thrown by the opening of this finale, which basically gives us a highlight reel of how the world at large – and our coffee house – does, in the face of COVID19.
I dunno; this drama world had felt so quaint, that I somehow had it in my head that it would be free from COVID. Yes, I know that makes no sense. 😅
It’s a sobering thought, that among the many businesses hit by COVID, is 2Dae Coffee. As Seok ponders the question of whether to close the cafe for good, he really does have a melancholic, wistful air about him, that makes me wish that he wouldn’t, because I know it makes him sad.
I do like the idea this episode, though, that just because times are bad and your business might fold, doesn’t mean that you have to stop creating. I like the fact that Ms. Kim continues to work on her gelato, and I’m glad that that triggers Seok to think of making affogato.
It feels like that affogato tasting party is just the thing that everyone needed. I really like the way Ms. Hwang expresses that tasting it makes her feel like everything is going to be ok.
That’s the exact sort of sentiment people need right now, and that makes me feel that Seok might have a winning menu item on his hands, that will draw the crowds, to keep the cafe going.
Show isn’t clear on whether Seok will keep 2Dae Coffee going after all, but I’m just really glad that we get to see Go Bi returning to the cafe, for what feels like a very important visit.
The way Go Bi literally tears up at tasting Seok’s coffee again, is so touching. It really brings home for me, that Go Bi has a real relationship with Seok and 2Dae Coffee that won’t easily be scrubbed away – even though it’s been some time since Seok’s sent Go Bi to work elsewhere.
I love that Go Bi doesn’t waste time, and soon asks Seok to let him come back to work at the cafe.
Unlike how Go Bi had first asked Seok for the same opportunity in episode 1, this time, there is so much affection and familiarity built into the request. It’s tamped down and gruffly brushed off, but it’s very present and noticeable, and I like it a lot.
And, I very much believe Go Bi, when he says that he’s now in a position to be much more useful to Seok than before. I’m sure he’s learned a great deal, while working at that high-end coffee chain with all the fancy technology and machinary.
Even though Show leaves it open-ended, I’d like to think that Go Bi succeeds in persuading Seok to take him in (and therefore keep the cafe going), just like he’d succeeded in our early episodes.
If Go Bi’s persistence, sincerity and heart had moved Seok once before, I’m keeping a positive hope, that that same persistence, sincerity and heart, will move Seok, all over again. ❤️
THE FINAL VERDICT:
An easygoing, yet laidback and reflective slice of coffee life.
FINAL GRADE: B+
WHERE TO WATCH:
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