The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling


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Review: Itaewon Class

THE SHORT VERDICT:

An earnest, underdog story with lots of heart, Itaewon Class feels like a breath of fresh air, for a good part of its run. Even though the backstory hinges on the idea of revenge, this always feels more like a story of an underdog trying to make good, while collecting a found family along the way. In particular, I really appreciate the diversity that Itaewon Class embraces, in the course of peopling our drama world. I don’t think I’ve seen the same degree of diversity in another drama, to date.

Oddly, I feel like this drama is at once a Park Seo Joon vehicle, and yet, an ensemble drama, at the same time. Our protagonist Park Sae Ro Yi is the backbone of this story, and it’s his journey, his thoughts, his philosophy and his unflagging determination that drives this story forward. At the same time, it’s the ensemble of endearing characters around him that makes this drama world pop and come alive in such a heartwarming way. Altogether, an unusual dichotomy which I’m happy to embrace.

I felt the OTP loveline was rather too forced in Show’s final leg, and I also feel like Show’s focus shifts in the last stretch, such that Show loses some of its original charm, but I still enjoyed this one very well, overall.

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Flash Review: VIP

This is honestly the show that I didn’t think I’d be interested in, like, at all, when it was first announced, but which ended up sucking me in literally right away, with its mix of emo angst and mystery.

Much thanks to my Twitter pals who gushed about this show’s cracky quality, because that’s honestly the only thing that piqued my interest enough to get me to check this one out. I mean, the synopsis “a couple whose lives fall apart while they work at a department store on the VIP Management Team” just didn’t sound all that interesting to me, y’know?

And so color me very surprised and very pleased, when I quickly found myself slurping this one up as a priority drama among the other dramas on my plate, sometimes even watching episodes back-to-back, which I rarely ever do anymore. What. An. Excellent. Surprise.

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69 Comments

Review: Her Private Life

THE SHORT VERDICT:

This is a show that pretty much lives and dies by the combined charm of and chemistry between its OTP. Park Min Young is lovely and manages to come across as both relatable and aspirational, while Kim Jae Wook shines in his first romantic leading man role, which just happens to be that of the Perfect Boyfriend with the power to melt you into a puddle on a regular basis. The interactions between our OTP are a big highlight, from the very organic skinship – ranging from sexy sizzle to absentmindedly agreeable – to the wonderfully healthy conversations that they regularly share; a precious rarity in Dramaland.

Everything else is pretty much set-dressing for the main romance, but Show does a very solid job of making that set dressing generally pleasant and appealing, with a nice handful of likable secondary characters, a very pretty collection of OST tracks, and a keen spotlight on the fangirl experience.

Yes, Show does have its flaws, but that usually poofs away quite nicely, whenever the OTP shows up onscreen. It’s like magic fairy dust.

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41 Comments

Flash Review: Go Back Spouses

If my many hours of drama watching have taught me anything, it’s that, more than expensively-produced dramas that are all polish with very little soul, it’s the shows that lay their heart on the table, that tend to grab me, and then stick with me, long after the credits have stopped rolling.

In this sense, I’d say Go Back Spouses is kinda like the little drama that could.

There are no Big Budgets here, and Show isn’t even that elegantly written, to be honest. But, Show packs so much heartfelt goodness in its compact 12-episode package, that I find myself eager to sing its praises – and forgive its faults. Given that these days, I’ve been quicker to drop shows than ever before, I hafta say that’s No Small Deal.

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Flash Review: 20th Century Boy And Girl

If you’ve read my recent posts, you’d probably know that of late, I’ve been bucking the trend in terms of not loving shows that everyone else seems to love. I was really kinda bummed that even though J-drama Rich Man, Poor Woman and C-drama Shan Shan Comes To Eat are crowd favorites, they just never became one of my favorites.

Well whaddya know. I’m bucking the trend again, with this show. But this time, it’s a happier event for me (woot!), coz while lots of folks seemed to be pretty underwhelmed by 20th Century Boy and Girl, I actually really liked this one, you guys. And I mean, in a solid, I’m-sorry-to-say-goodbye kinda way, too.

Maybe with the right lens, you might also end up liking this one. You never know?

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195 Comments

Review: Healer

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Healer is that special snowflake of a drama that manages to combine action, romance, and some nice spots of comedy, all in one tight little show. And it’s a mighty successful combination too, I might add.

Sure, the backstory runs a little bit melo and may not appeal to everyone, but the blend of adrenaline-pumping thrills, a truly sparky, heartfelt OTP, a deeply melty – yet flawed and believable – hero, and a courageous, strong heroine, makes for an exhilaratingly heady combination of feels that just sends my heart in multiple directions all at once.

Add on Show’s highly polished camera work and its very effective, very immersive OST, and it’s a combination that’s pretty darn hard to beat.

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Review: Oh Hae Young Again [Another Oh Hae Young]

THE SHORT VERDICT:

More than – and therefore possibly mis-marketed as – a typical rom-com, this show possesses a sensitive, thoughtful core that tends to lean melancholic. Empathetic writing, tender directing, and some outstandingly dig-deep acting come together to bring out the beauty inherent in the melancholy, and it’s quite remarkable to behold.

A deft comic hand to manage the broad comedic elements, a solid supporting cast, and a gorgeous OST round out this show’s appeal.

Not perfect, to be sure, but so worth the watch.

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Flash Review: Yong Pal

In more ways than one, I was drawn to Yong Pal like a moth to a flame.

The teaser of Joo Won being all edgy-superhero-badass, leaping off tall buildings in a single bound while saving people with his scalpel, had me practically jumping out of my skin with excitement (squee!). It all just looked so good. I needed to see this show.

And Show – just like that flame – was beautiful to look at up close too. Y’know, at least for a little while, before it proceeded to burn me on my way out.

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Flash Review: Plus Nine Boys

Plus Nine Boys is a lovely little drama that’s cute without being cutesy; emotionally engaging without being overwrought or sappy; funny without being OTT campy.

Its plot points are everyday and unremarkable, but therein lies its slice-of-life, I-can-really-relate-to-that appeal. In just 14 episodes, I grew to really enjoy these characters. And after 14 episodes, I didn’t want to say goodbye.

These characters had started to believably feel like the folks next door; folks whom I watched through their living room window as they lived their lives and I lived mine; folks who felt like real people, and with whom I wouldn’t have minded spending another 10, 20, or even 40 episodes with.

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49 Comments

Review: It’s Okay It’s Love

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A quirky confection that is as sweet as it is strange, It’s Okay serves up an oddball-flavored 3-in-1 love package exploring romance, friendship and family, with a big dose of dysfunction and dramaland psychiatry on the side.

Show is not always big on the logic nor on the medical accuracy, but its characters and relationships are consistently delivered with heart and nuance, helping us to buy into and believe in its world, no matter how surreal things sometimes get. Excellent performances by our leads as well as many of the secondary characters, together with some very sparky OTP chemistry, help to sweeten the deal.

At its heart, It’s Okay’s charm is that it’s an imperfect show peopled by imperfect characters, to appeal to an imperfect audience.

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