I know, I know. This Year-In-Review is suuper late; I’ve always typically published my year-end post before 31 December each year, and now, it’s already the middle of March! 😅
If you’ve been around the blog, though, you’d know that this was because we’ve been having year-end posts from folks on Patreon, so that we can have a more wholistic look at Dramaland’s offerings, comparatively speaking.
What I mean is, I’m just one person, so there’s a limit to the number of shows I can check out in a year, even if I did nothing but watch dramas all year long.
With the community chiming in, we get to see a bigger range of dramas mentioned – and if certain shows get mentioned a lot as being really good (or really disappointing), then the rest of us know to pay extra attention. 😉
I hope that after 14 (!!) guest year-end wrap posts (they’re all listed here!), you’ve still got room in your heart for one more. 😅
My Drama Year in 2022
As I’m now taking stock of my drama year in 2022, it actually feels like almost a lifetime ago; with 2023 already here and running, I’ve already been sampling and enjoying Dramaland’s 2023 offerings.
The silver lining to my year-end wrap-up coming so late, though, is that I did have more time than the average person (almost 3 more months!) to watch shows from 2022. I know I’ve kept you all waiting, but hopefully this silver lining will help to make up for the long wait. 😅
With Dramaland pushing out so much new content every year, and with us getting so much more in the way of new dramas now, compared to just 5 years ago, there is A LOT more to sift through, to get to the drama gems.
The good news, is that I’m finding that with the higher volume of dramas, we’re getting a corresponding higher volume of great shows.
I’ve mentioned in the past, that having around 6 dramas in the A-grade range was indicative of a good drama year, for me. But in 2021, I had 10 dramas in that range, and in 2022, I had 9.
And, in 2021, I had 8 dramas in the B++ range, which I consider a very, very respectable grade, and in 2022, I had 9 shows in this same range.
Altogether, a pretty great showing, yes? 🤩
For context, I do think that I’m becoming pickier with my dramas as I go. I do always try to keep an open mind, but sometimes, my jadedness does peek out somewhat, when I get underwhelmed by writing that I consider uninspired, and execution that I consider pedestrian.
Which, really, means that Dramaland’s pulling out the stops, isn’t it, since it’s managing to get pretty good grades in my books – even as I’m getting pickier and more discerning?
Also for context, I do try to step outside my drama comfort zone to try out a show, if I hear that it’s well-written and well-made.
This does help me to ensure a solid drama year, because even if Dramaland doesn’t manage to put out a bunch of great rom-coms, for example, it will still put out some great stuff.
How this post works
As always, I’m only including dramas that ended in 2022, because it’s always made more sense to me, to judge a drama only after it’s finished its run.
It’s only fair, I think, since Dramaland has proven to us time and again, how a drama can bomb at the very last minute. 😜
As always, what works for me, might not work for you, and vice versa, but I still hope this overview helps you to discover some great dramas to love.
PS: Because it’s been so popular with the guest posts, I’m also including a new section at the end of the post, where I name my Best Drama, Best Actors, etc.
I hope you guys enjoy. ❤️
The Ones Worth Making Time For
The Red Sleeve
Except for some pretty minor gripes, I found this show to be elegantly conceived and lovingly written, with truly excellent performances from our cast.
This show made me think, and made me feel, both in no small measure. And then, after consuming me almost completely, Show lingered with me, long after the final credits had stopped rolling.
Your mileage may vary with the ending, but I personally found it beautifully handled, to the very last drop.
Twenty-Five, Twenty One
I loved this one right away, like pretty much on sight, because of how nostalgic, yet how fresh it felt to me, at the same time.
Where some shows feel like they’re being patched together by uninspired writers, this one felt alive, as if it had its own life source.
All of our characters pop with a lot of life and heart, and even though I might have wanted certain plot points to have taken different turns, I thought it all felt authentic, understandable and believable, in the end.
An excellent, poignant coming-of-age tale, with lashings of bittersweet – with less emphasis on the bitter, than the sweet.
Under The Queen’s Umbrella
So. Much. Heart., y’all. I loved this one so much more than I’d imagined I would.
Well-written, well-paced, well-handled and well-acted, this one was so much easier to love than I’d expected. Who knew that a story about a Queen Mama Bear fighting to protect her babies, could be so heartfelt and gripping?
Vibrant, engaging, and oh-so-personal. Highly recommend.
Compact and twisty-turny, this one worked out to be an engaging watch that felt fresh and interesting to the very last drop.
On paper, this just sounded like Groundhog Day on a bus, but in execution, this worked out to be compelling AND heartfelt, which is a great combination of things to be.
I loved that Show keeps things fresh, going in directions that I didn’t expect, and I also loved that Show takes pains to helps us get to know our characters, even in the midst of our characters’ disaster-prevention efforts.
Highly recommend – even if you don’t typically watch Chinese dramas.
Love Like The Galaxy
Ahhh, this show. ALL OF THE FEELS, Y’ALL. 🥰
Let me put it this way. If Show’s last stretch hadn’t suffered from excessive editing, which made our last lap weirdly choppy in spots, this show would’ve gotten an A+ from me; the central romance, with the excellent, sparky chemistry between Wu Lei and Zhao Lu Si, is just that engaging and swoony, to me. 😍❤️
As a bonus, Show is gorgeously shot, and also includes some interesting nuggets of insight into Chinese culture
First Love: Hatsukoi [Japan]
I really, really liked this one.
This one feels like someone took a classic melodrama, and upcycled it. Like, they took that classic melodrama apart, and put it together again, in a more polished, stylish sort of manner, while retaining some key elements that are hallmarks of the classic melo, and making sure to give us a – yesss – happy ending.
This is like the classic melo got reborn – and became better. 😁
An ambitious omnibus that actually works, Our Blues is an impressive coming together of an all-star cast, that breathes life into this little community on beautiful Jeju Island.
I love how down-to-earth yet charming this drama world feels, and it’s great that as we move from story to story – which ensures that there’s something for everyone – we get to know our characters more and more, so that by the time we get to the end, we feel like we’ve spent quality time with every single one of the residents of this drama world.
A wonderful serving of slice-of-life drama, with gorgeous Jeju scenery to further sweeten the deal.
An expansive, ambitious story that spans borders and generations, I found Pachinko much more affecting than I’d originally expected.
Show chooses to tell its story in carefully chosen fragments, so that it all comes together from different angles, in the watch experience.
Different characters’ perspectives; different timelines; different countries; it can feel scattered and random at first, but it all comes together in an affecting, thought-provoking manner, that I really enjoyed.
Dramatic, unrelenting and poignant.
Yumi’s Cells 2
I loved Season 1 (review is here!), and had high hopes and expectations for Season 2, and I’m pleased to say that Show met those expectations very capably.
Show still feels extremely relatable yet fresh at the same time, though your personal experiences will, from anecdotal evidence, likely color the way you process certain plot points and characters, especially male lead Babi, played by Jinyoung.
Although I do have some minor quibbles with some of Show’s decisions, I personally really enjoyed this season, and would actually welcome a third season, if Dramaland chooses to make it.
Solid Watches I’d Recommend
Our Beloved Summer
A slice-of-life second-chance romance that feels raw, honest and heartfelt in the best way.
Show manages to be down-to-earth, while still serving up the swoony feels of budding feelings, which is a pretty special combination, I feel, because that makes me feel like all these swoony moments are all the more accessible and real.
Our characters feel real, and their growth feels real, and their feelings feel real too, amid the touches of magical sparkle.
At just 4 episodes, Show works out to be a great little drama snack, for when you’re in the mood for some romcom feels, but don’t have the time to invest in a full length drama.
Han So Hee is effervescent, and Park Hyung Sik serves up the swoony smitten gazes, and.. is there really anything else that you need, from a little show like this? 😁
Alchemy Of Souls
The Hong Sisters are bacck, baby. 😁
I personally found this to be a really strong outing, with a complex, magicky world with its internal mythology and related rules well-established, and writing that manages to mix the more dramatic arcs with spots of levity, without giving me any drama whiplash.
Just as importantly, I found the emotional beats well done, and our strong, varied cast does an overall really solid job of delivering it all.
Show kept my attention very well, for the whole of its run, and I’m suitably impressed.
Darkly atmospheric and twisty-intriguing, Show is best consumed as a makjang, because that’s what it is, at its core.
Show starts off with a more measured sort of pace, but eventually turns into quite the wild ride – so buckle up and enjoy the ride, I say.
Show’s not perfect, but it effectively kept me engaged and on the edge of my seat, all the way through to the end, so that’s a big win, in my books. Also, Wi Ha Joon is very handsome in this. 🤩😁
A fun, twisty-turny sort of ride, if you keep your logic lens at a blurry setting, and just let Show take on you on the wild ride that it has in store.
I found the last 2 episodes less compelling than the rest of the show, but overall, Show is solid and interesting, albeit not as emotionally engaging as I typically like my dramas to be.
Show weaves many events in modern history into its narrative, making it all an organic part of its story, and I thought this was very nicely done.
Despite my quibbles, I found this to be a worthwhile ride.
The Glory Part 1
I don’t consider myself into dark revenge stories, but this one sucked me in, in spite of myself and my initial reservations.
Show is polished, absorbing and cracky, and I hafta say, there are lots of great performances throughout this drama world, from our protagonist, to our antagonists.
The bullying scenes can be very intense, so do be prepared for that. Other than that, I found this to be a very absorbing ride that prepped me well, to want to see Part 2, and soon.
My Liberation Notes
This one.. really isn’t for everyone, I think. Those who love it, reallyreally love it (and would probably give this an A+ – at the minimum), and those who don’t love it, mostly find it boring and underwhelming.
I liked it very well, but it didn’t naturally resonate with me the way it resonates with Show’s biggest fans.
Beyond its quirks, which I took to with varying degrees of ease, I found this one thoughtful and thought-provoking, with lots to chew on, with Show demonstrating a keen understanding of human emotions (and states of being) like grief, loneliness and hope.
Meaty and worthwhile.
Shining For One Thing [China]
I loved the premise of this one – a do-over story, where our jilted female lead gets to go back in time and not be attracted to her no-good cheater fiancé – but this show turned out to be so different than I’d expected, and in some of the best ways.
Show can take a while to settle, especially with its manhua-esque tendencies, particularly in our early episodes, but eventually, this one turned into a heartfelt coming-of-age tale, AND an epic love story that crept under my skin and stole my heart.
Also, Qu Chu Xiao as shy boy Wansen, is just the most precious cinnamon roll, evar. 🤩
Love Between Fairy and Devil [China]
I don’t typically find myself gravitating towards xianxia stories, and yet, I lapped up this one with relish.
I loved that this one was slurpy in all the best ways, despite some rough edges. For the most part, it’s fun to watch – but beyond that, Show manages to be an epic love story, which I was very invested in.
I found Esther Yu very cute and charming, but it was Dylan Wang as our titular devil, who stole the show for me, with his mane of glory, his glowering stare, and his very intense smolder. 🔥😍
A Business Proposal
Ahh, this one was just so much tropey, slurpy fun. I had a really good time giggling at the way Show turned tropes on their heads, while serving up a silly-cute brand of fluffy squee.
Show does make some perplexing plot choices, which is why I didn’t score it higher, and it does lose some of its magic by its final two episodes, but this was still a solidly fun watch that I remember fondly.
Atmospheric, beautifully shot and filled with some excellent performances, Show could have been among my top picks for the year – if it had stayed consistent.
Unfortunately, I felt that Show was much stronger in its first 12 episodes, than in its final stretch.
Still worth the watch, in my opinion, for the bold way it presents all its characters in varying shades of gray instead of black or white, for the gorgeous cinematography, and for the fantastic performances from our main cast.
Flawed but still worthwhile.
Extraordinary Attorney Woo
This is an instance where I feel like the huge amount of buzz around Show, might have actually done it a disservice.
With so many people hyping this one up, and loving on this one, I feel like it messes with viewer expectation, and that can really detract from the watch experience, unfortunately.
Show is rather uneven, especially in its second half, and I personally thought the main loveline could have been better handled, BUT, Show is admittedly wholesome and endearing overall.
Park Eun Bin’s performance as our titular attorney is charming and nuanced. Yes, maybe Woo Young Woo’s characterization has been given a bit of a fairytale dusting, but Park Eun Bin clearly inhabits the role very thoroughly, and brings Woo Young Woo to life from beginning to end. That’s impressive.
A Dream Of Splendor [China]
There are a few things that I count as Show’s strengths: 1, it’s gorgeous to look at, and features some interesting nuggets about Chinese culture, eg, tea culture; 2, it’s got a great pair of leads who share excellent chemistry; and 3, Show serves up arcs that support female independence and female friendships.
All excellent things, truly. 🤩
However, unfortunately, I did feel that Show loses a good chunk of narrative tension in its second half, after the minting of the OTP.
Still a solid watch overall, though.
Okay, if it’s your style / you can spare the time
Mr. Bad [China]
A cheerful, silly-fluffy little romance with a fantasy twist.
I do think that your mileage is likely to vary according to a few factors: 1, how well you jive with Show’s sense of humor, 2, how well you take to our male lead when he’s being mean, and 3, how much you like Shen Yue.
Personally, I really like Shen Yue, and that was the thing that kept me engaged, even when I didn’t find myself laughing at the Intended Funny, or taking to our male lead in his meaner moments.
Still a pretty enjoyable watch, especially if you keep a manhua lens handy.
New Life Begins [China]
This is another show where your mileage is likely vary. Some folks love this to bits, while others find this slow and boring.
I think you’ll like this if you’re in the mood for slice-of-life, with a touch of Disney-esque wholesome.
There is a central romance, but it moves at a pretty glacial sort of pace, so if you make the central romance your focus, you’re likely to be disappointed.
But, if you’re happy to focus on friendship and community, and just want something simple and easy to unwind to at the end of a long day, this might be just the thing for you.
If You Wish Upon Me
Again, this is a show that drama fans seem divided about; some love it, while others find it underwhelming. I’m somewhere in the middle.
On the upside, I love the warm, poignant feels that Show serves up; this, to me, is Show’s core strength, and it would’ve been great if Show had leaned into this more.
On the downside, I felt that Show got a little too melodramatic for its own good; the eventual intense drama sort of vibe that Show leans into in its late stretch was too heavy-handed, in my opinion.
That said, I enjoyed the ending, and I did like Ji Chang Wook and Sooyoung in this.
Show’s not bad, overall, but I didn’t end up enjoying this as much as I thought I would.
We’ve got a solid cast, reasonably interesting cases, and an unrelenting look at the problems within the system, in the area of juvenile offenders.
On the downside, I felt that Show’s melodramatic bent didn’t do it any favors, even though it’s practically par for the course, in a kdrama.
Mostly, though, I realize that I didn’t like Show’s generally instructional, almost preachy sort of stance, in informing us what we were supposed to think, in response.
Not bad; could’ve been better.
Rainless Love in a Godless Land [Taiwan]
Again, this is one of those shows where your mileage is likely to vary. Most folks either love this instantly, or.. not. 😅
Show’s very different from its peers; I’ll give it that. No other drama I’ve come across has shone the spotlight on Taiwanese indigenous culture, while also highlighting environmental issues – without being preachy about it.
On the downside, I didn’t take very naturally to our characters, and I also found some narrative and execution decisions perplexing &/or confusing.
This one never stole my heart, but I did find it a solid, interesting watch.
Shows that I didn’t feel were worth the effort, to be honest
Love is for Suckers
Once I got settled into this one, I found this slurpy and fun, in a really good way.
I felt like I could empathize with our female lead, and I also found the show-within-a-show fun in a guilty pleasure sort of way.
Unfortunately, Show doesn’t manage to keep it up all the way through, and by the time Show gives us its happy ending, it all feels pretty tame and, well, not super interesting?
The late introduction of a secondary loveline definitely helped keep my interest to the end, but I think it says something, doesn’t it, when I’m more interested in the secondary loveline than the central OTP. 😅
Love In Contract
I thought this one had potential to be cute, and it is, in a serviceable sort of way – until it leans into its melodramatic side, in its final stretch. That’s when I found myself feeling less and less interested in the goings-on in this drama world.
I found the writing around the supposed love triangle rather awkward and forced, and I also found the characterizations of our main characters rather unnatural.
But, I loved Go Kyung Pyo as our dorky male lead, and pretty much stayed to the end, for his sake. 😅
Show serves up a decently happy ending, after leaning rather too hard into its melodramatic side, but when all is said and done, I’m not actually sure that I can say this was worth it. 😝
The Sound Of Magic
Show gets points for being ambitious, and daring to try something new; I do think that this is the first musical drama we’ve had, in Dramaland.
Unfortunately, I found the pacing, writing and execution rather uneven, and worse, I found the music, well, not catchy at all. Like, if you put a gun to my head now and demanded that I sing you at least a little bit of a song from this show – ANY song – I wouldn’t be able to deliver, in the least.
That’s a pretty big fail in my books, coz musicals are supposed to have catchy numbers; it’s like a prerequisite for existing, right?
On the upside, Show does pull off a reasonably satisfying ending, despite not being satisfying for most of its run, so there’s that?
I loved the idea of this way more than the execution.
Oh Jung Se as our titular uncle, barging into the life of his nephew, and thereby making both of their lives better, for it? I couldn’t say yes to this fast enough.
Unfortunately, Show is a Disney creature that thinks it’s a Makjang Queen at heart, and those two are weird bedfellows, to put it mildly. Show goes ham with its makjang efforts in its second half, and I did not enjoy this.
Ok overall, but really, could have been so much better, if Show had just stuck with the warm, poignant stuff that it does best.
Probably not for you, if your drama taste is like mine
Bad and Crazy
I liked the concept of this – especially the part about Wi Ha Joon being Lee Dong Wook’s badass alter-ego, but I didn’t care for the execution, so much.
This was just too manic for my taste; I’m of the opinion that screaming adrenaline can only be sustained for so long, before it gets to be too much. I often found myself wanting to back away from my screen, coz it all felt like too much for me. 🙈
I couldn’t get properly invested, and dropped out at the episode 7 mark.
Dropped Post: here.
Show wants to be a Korean Romeo and Juliet, in a manner of speaking, and I personally found this more interesting in concept, than in execution.
I found Show’s tonal shifts jarring, the episodes long and bloated, and the pacing, pretty slow, in that, from the 8 episodes that I watched, everything seemed to circle around for extended periods of time, with no actual forward movement in terms of our story.
I never really got properly engaged nor invested in this one, unfortunately.
Dropped Post: here.
I liked the idea of this one, but I didn’t enjoy writer-nim’s translation of that idea, into our story.
Instead of a story about three friends and their friendship as they find themselves on the cusp of turning 40, this turned out to be a sad melodrama where everyone cries a lot, and it’s really mainly about ONE main character, who happens to have two friends.
The problem for me, is that I didn’t enjoy the characterization of that one main character, and found her more and more frustrating to watch, as I went.
I tapped out after episode 6, because ultimately, I realized that Show was never going to be what I’d hoped it would be.
Dropped Post: here.
The One and Only
Apparently, you either love this one or you don’t, and I realized that I didn’t, after watching just 2.5 episodes of this.
I found the quirky tone rather too try-hard, and overall, I found Show tonally uneven and weird. Sometimes, it tries to be so-quirky-that-I’m-special-and-funny, and then sometimes, it goes dark and violent.
I found this pretty whiplashy, personally, and couldn’t ever quite dial into Show’s rather peculiar vibe, but I can see how other folks might like it?
Dropped Post: here.
Love All Play
I found Show to be pretty enjoyable, for the first half of its run. I thought it was charming and likable, even if it was nothing to really write home about.
But then, somewhere in episode 9, Show introduces angst, and then leans into it like its life depends on it, and Show stopped being enjoyable for me. I mean, I’m game for angst when it makes sense, but this wasn’t that.
I couldn’t persuade myself to sit through 3.5 more episodes of angst to get to the reportedly happy ending that the final 2 episodes give, which is how I ended up dropping this one, in the middle of episode 11.
Dropped Post: here.
Forecasting Love and Weather
This one was advertised as a romance, but honestly, I found the romance the least interesting thing, in this drama world. 😅
The weather stuff was kinda-sorta interesting, and I also found myself feeling somewhat invested in some of the secondary characters.
But, tellingly, I didn’t actually care about the main loveline, and neither did I find the leads all that likable.
I watched 5 episodes of this, before deciding that I didn’t care enough about anything or anyone in this drama world, to actually want to continue watching. 😅
Dropped Post: here.
I liked the idea of Seo Hyun Jin playing a badass lawyer, but Show’s execution was not something I could get on board with.
I found the almost makjang levels of melodrama hard to reconcile with Show’s rom-com moments, and I also found it hard to get on board with the central loveline that Show was pushing, between Seo Hyun Jin’s and Hwang In Yeop’s characters.
Uneven plotting and characterization together made this more and more of a drag to watch, and I tapped out after 9 episodes.
Dropped Post: here.
Shows I sampled but didn’t continue watching
I only watched one episode of this, and didn’t hate what I saw.
I thought it had potential to be pretty entertaining – once you get past the Africa faux pax in episode 1.
I just had too many other shows going on at the same time, and didn’t find episode 1 quite compelling enough, to demand that I carve out time in my schedule for episode 2.
I’ve had vague good intentions of going back to this one, because lots of folks seem to like it, but.. so far, that’s all I’ve got – good intentions. 😅
Kiss Sixth Sense
I’d heard quite a lot of good things about this one (at least, about Show’s first half; I’ve also heard the rants about Show’s late episodes), and that’s why I wanted to give it a try.
Unfortunately, I found that there was something that felt off, about Show’s storytelling rhythm.
Overall, it feels like everything’s just one – or several – beats too slow, almost like someone took a breezy song and then, using sound editing software, slowed it down to make it into a ballad, and the original voice gets weirdly distorted, as a result? 😅
I wasn’t impressed by episode 1, and never managed to muster the time nor interest, to go back for episode 2. 😅
The Law Cafe
Lots of folks liked this one, which is why I thought I’d give it a look. After 2 episodes, though, I concluded that this just wasn’t for me.
I didn’t take naturally to the manic-shouty sort of quality in Lee Se Young’s character, though everyone else seemed to love her in this. And, I also didn’t take to the bickery interactions between our leads; I found it just a little too intense for my taste. 😅
I did like having Kim Seul Gi, Jang Hye Jin and Kim Nam Hee on my screen, and Show’s resident shiba inu is beautiful, but yeah, this one just doesn’t work naturally for me.
I had to work to appreciate this one, and, well, I just didn’t feel like this was worth putting in the work, sorry. 😅
I’d had high hopes for this based on Show’s synopsis, but after sampling Show’s first episode, I found this both too pedestrian and too melodramatic, at the same time. 😅
What I mean is, this story did not strike me as inspired in any way, and it just felt like Show was trotting out well-worn tropes, to tell its melodramatic story, which I didn’t find interesting or engaging.
I tapped out before the episode was over, sorry to say. 🙈
Jury’s Still Out
Lesson in Love [Taiwan]
I’m technically still watching this, even though I haven’t checked out a new episode in weeks. 😅
I’d become intrigued to check out this one, after seeing some very positive comments by Show’s fans, about how solid the writing and acting is, in this one.
So far, I don’t think Show is as amazing for me, as it is for them, but there’s a cracky, oh-my-what-happens-next sort of quality to it, for a good stretch in Show’s first half.
Where I am now, at episode 9, more melodramatic plot points have been introduced, and I find myself feeling less interested to find out what happens next, than at first.
I do still have good intentions of finishing this one – let’s hope that I will manage to muster up more than just good intentions, this time. 😅
9 episodes in, out of 12, this one feels like a potential B or B+.
2022 Shows still on my list
Since we’re already 3 months into 2023 as I type this, I feel like the chances of me actually getting to dramas on this list, aren’t super high. But, for the record, here are a few shows from 2022, that I do still have some interest in checking out.
Through The Darkness This isn’t my usual genre of show, but I’ve heard so many people rave about this one, that I feel a bit of FOMO. 😅
Be My Princess [China] So many of you spoke fondly of this one in our guest series of year-end posts, that I’ve become curious to see the cute for myself. 😁
The KFG Awards
So.. this is a new section in my year-end post, though I did pick my favorites for 2021, and shared them in the post announcing the community poll results.
Best Drama: The Red Sleeve
I glossed over this show in my 2021 year-in-review, since Show only broadcast its final episode on 1 January 2022, and so, this is finally the time to acknowledge Show’s excellence.
There were other strong dramas this year, but when it came down to it, I found The Red Sleeve to be a cut above the rest, in terms of being well-written and executed, with lots of meaty angles to chew on, as well as excellent deliveries from its cast.
Also, this one captured my mind AND my heart in equal measure, and to a great degree as well.
I thought this one was very special. ❤️
Best Actor: Junho, The Red Sleeve
You might be thinking that this choice is influenced by my Junho-loving fangirl heart, but I promise that I’m trying to be as objective as possible.
There’s a Reason that Junho received Best Actor awards all year long for this role, even though there’ve been so many other dramas that have come out in Dramaland, since The Red Sleeve wrapped up its run.
He inhabited San so well, and portrayed him with so much depth and nuance, across multiple plot lines, that I couldn’t help but be impressed. 🤩
Best Actress: Kim Hye Soo, Under The Queen’s Umbrella
I thought Kim Hye Soo was magnificent as our titular Queen.
I really liked that this was a departure from her more typical badass roles; here, she’s fierce too, when the occasion calls for it, but she’s also sooo full of heart for her sons, and for the people around her, and that really blew me away, because I’ve never seen Kim Hye Soo play in this space before.
I found her interpretation of Queen Im to be organic, believable and thoroughly compelling.
Best Supporting Actor: Lee Sung Min, Reborn Rich
There are many worthy performances to consider in this category, but I hafta say, Lee Sung Min really made an impression on me, playing the Chairman in Reborn Rich.
Whether the Chairman was irascible, or sad, or furious, or happily indulgent, Lee Sung Min brought him to popping, pulsating life, and I always felt like he filled my screen, whenever he appeared on it.
He basically stole the entire show for me, he was so good. 🤩
Best Supporting Actress: Im Ji Yeon, The Glory
Again, lots of worthy contenders here, but I find myself gravitating most towards Im Ji Yeon’s performance in The Glory.
She makes Yeon Jin so watchable, whether Yeon Jin’s being sunshiny-happy, offended-furious, or stiff-upper-lip-scared. I really enjoyed Im Ji Yeon’s detailed delivery, especially when Yeon Jin’s mood changes on a dime.
Her injection of layers into her delivery, despite Yeon Jin’s rather theatrical characterization, helped me believe Yeon Jin’s a real person, despite the rather OTT treatment of her character.
Really well done, I thought.
Best OTP: Love Like The Galaxy [China]
There are other OTPs that I loved this year, but Ling Buyi and Cheng Shaoshang together make up THE OTP that captured my imagination and stole my heart.
I love the chemistry between them, whether they’re in the initial stages of getting to know each other, or coming to terms with their feelings for each other, or deeply in love with each other.
And, even though I found the writing in Love Like The Galaxy to be uneven in spots, I feel like I could rewatch the entire show (all 58 episodes!), just to experience this OTP, all over again. 🥰
Best Ensemble: Our Blues
This is such a great ensemble of excellent actors that I find it a logistical miracle, that the production team managed to get all of these actors in one place, for a single show.
I love that these top stars are happy to also be part of the background, just hanging out and being part of Show’s natural backdrop, when it’s not their turn to be in the spotlight. I found that thrilling and trippy, at the same time. 😁
Excellent performances all-around, and such an easy intra-cast chemistry, that I would believe these were real people making up a real community, on Jeju Island. 🤩
Underrated Gem: Shining For One Thing [China]
My pick for underrated gem is Shining For One Thing, because I feel like hardly anyone talks about this show – and yet, this one crept under my skin, and gave me such strong, lasting feels, that I’m still actively looking forward to the follow-up movie that the production has promised.
At points, the feels I got from this show echoed the feels I got from Someday Or One Day – and you guys know how I feel about Someday Or One Day (I loved it, A LOT). ❤️
Razzie: Why Her?
My pick for Razzie has to be Why Her, because I’d had such high hopes for this one, not only based on the synopsis, but also, based on Show’s very strong first episode. And then.. it became such a disappointment for me. 😭 Boo.
Well, THAT was a journey! 😅 I feel like I’ve been working on this post, for forever, by now. I hope you all found it worth the wait. 😅
This year, I completed 31 dramas (that’s 6 more than last year’s 25). And in total, including Dropped shows and shows that I’m still watching, I basically had opinions on.. 43 shows!
It still feels like barely a drop in the ocean of dramas that make up Dramaland 2022, but I’m making peace with the fact that I’m just one person, and it’s physically impossible to watch every drama that’s out there.
Thanks so much for sticking with me through another year, you guys. I couldn’t have done this without your company and encouragement. 🥰
My drama resolution for 2023, which I’m only really realizing now (yes, in March 😅), is to follow my heart more closely, when picking dramas to watch.
With Dramaland expanding its borders so significantly, I’m finding that when I follow buzz too much of the time, I sometimes end up leaving behind the shows that I did have a genuine interest in, because I just didn’t have time for them, which.. is not how a drama journey should be.
And so, going forward, I’m gonna try to keep my eyes peeled for the new dramas coming out, as always, but also, keep a closer ear on what my heart is saying, so that I (hopefully) end up with an even more satisfying drama year, in 2023.
At least, it sounds like a plan to me. 😁