Looking at offerings on Netflix

This post was inspired by a Twitter conversation; the poster had just started Crash Landing On You (first k-drama experience) and no IRL friends were watching and able to dish. The next question was, what can I watch next?

The limitation is Netflix (for now), but I thought, let’s go through what’s on offer on the site and discuss what I think is a solid choice, and why… so let’s go!

From this batch, there are some clear winners and interesting choices, beginning with It’s Okay to Not Be Okay and Crash Landing On You. Both feature attractive leads (though with K-dramas, it’s safe to assume this will always/mostly be true), strong ensemble casts (ditto for this being a truism in K-dramas), and interesting and fresh stories. Okay touches thoughtfully on mental illness (a rarity in Asian topics) while the couple learns the truths behind their connection to each other. Crash flirts playfully with a NK/SK romantic entente and has fun too with life on the other side of the border. Boys Over Flowers is one to watch for its archetypal formula (hey, it’s been adapted at least 5 other times that I know of!) It’s not the best version (I prefer the Japanese and Taiwanese iterations), but it put Lee Min-ho on the map and its even more of a Cinderella tale than the cute Cinderella and Her Four Knights (which has an appealing ensemble of swains for the leading lady). Romance Is a Bonus Book isn’t perfect, but it’s a pleasure to have two leads with acting talent pine in a book-world setting.

If we’re going to talk about books, Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung is a contemporary twist on the historical genre, with a sassy, smart, career-minded heroine and a sensitive author prince. Strongest Deliveryman is a little guys against the big, with a likable cast and it makes for easy watching (unlike The Winter the Wind Blows with a charismatic cast wasted in an unpleasant story). Hospital Playlist is from the same team as the “Reply” dramas and offers up a smart, ‘you feel like you know these people’ ensemble storyline. There are others in this group worth a look, but later, okay?

This grouping features some titles that started really well but lost their way at the end; I have my eye on The Uncanny Counter because I read good things about it daily, but for my money, the winner in this group is Because This Is My First Life. The old ‘contract roommates’ trope is done right with this smart cast. I may also be one of the few who likes Cheese In The Trap, but the casting worked for me and I appreciated the difficulties of navigating university and love lives.

Oh My Ghost is a winner on 2 counts: not only does it feature one of my favorite leading men in a fun story, but one of my favorite actresses in a very amusing and touching turn as the virgin ghost in question. Kim Seul-gi makes every drama better. Hello My Twenties is a solid ensemble cast going through pretty normal romantic and not-so-romantic issues, but the young women who share the house get thru things together. Mr. Sunshine is not a sunshine-y story, but its setting in one of Korea’s troubled points in history and a top-notch cast make it work a look. Just a reminder: Korean dramas do not always believe in HEAs for everyone. Which leads me to the strongest title in this grouping: My Mister. When the cast was announced I was in a quandary: I adore the male lead and like the work the female lead has done, but I really, really did not want them in a romance. The good news is that this is a love story, in many ways, but not a conventional one where they are concerned. We’ve written a lot about this drama on this site (which is searchable), so I won’t go on too much about it, but suffice to say, this is deep, dark, complex, thoughtful, and lovely (not to mention at times heartbreaking).

When the Camellia Blooms is one of the few chances to enjoy the work of Gong Hyo-jin on Netflix, but she’s always won me over and this ‘found family’ drama is charming. I don’t know if it’s everyone’s cup of tea, but The School Nurse Files is an almost recommended one for its quirky but incomplete story. Save Me is Dark, so definitely not for all, but if you’re into stories of cult-like religion, try it!

Seriously, I don’t know why you haven’t watched Stranger (there are now 2 seasons) yet — what are you waiting for? This is complex, Korean politicking and corruption and murder mystery-ing at its finest, and lead actors Cho Seung-woo and Bae Doona are incomparable together. This is another I’ve written about in detail, so search here for more. I am also very fond of the history-driven, winning ensemble casts of the ‘Reply’ dramas: Reply 1994 and Reply 1988. The mixture of ‘who ends up with whom’ and the period details formula works in all 3 settings. (And btw, note the Xs on some of these non-K-dramas, some are even dreadful!)

Misaeng, this remains one of my favorite K-dramas of all time, for its perfect casting (Im Siwan and those Bambi eyes…) and the slice-of-life setting in the workaholic business world in Korea today (aka Hell Joseon). Much more info is available about it on this site. Also, I didn’t highlight Hymn Of Death because it’s on the war/bad things happen spectrum, but it is well done if you’re curious, and it’s short. [An aside, when searching for Korean dramas on Netflix you’ll see recommendations for other titles, often Chinese. I enjoyed the Love O2O drama and movie adaptations, even though I’m not into gaming.]

I hope you’re still reading, because there are some real winners in this grouping! Another Miss Oh has a couple with Chemistry in its leads, and it feels very contemporary in its telling of a couple who think they’re doomed because of misunderstandings. She’s also very good in (not pictured) Let’s Eat 2 (aka outstanding Korean food porn disguised as a romance, like the first Let’s Eat). Reply 1997 is the first of the ‘Reply’ series (in spite of the year) and is a fun start to the formula, touching on the early days of Korean music fandoms. Finally, don’t sleep on the writer-with-a-haunting problem in Chicago Typewriter with its excellent cast and a house all of us envy.

Some really good dramas are really great bromances and Prison Playbook is that (as is the yellow boxed Chinese drama The Untamed). An unconventional setting and an unforgettable cast are always a winning combination in my playbook. The other I’ll recommend is Dear My Friends for its focus on the difficulties of making life and love work and dealing with older relatives and friends as they age. This is a great introduction to some of the best mature actors in Korean television if you’re new(ish) to the genre. Every single actor in this drama has a long resume of great works.

That’s all for this post! There are many titles available that I did not discuss — some because it’s kinder to say nothing at all (and hey, some people may like them) and in some cases I’ve not yet seen them and/or they’re not my cup of tea. But there are so many choices that are very much worth your time — I hope that you have a lot of fun exploring them and discovering what tickles your fancy!

#because-this-is-my-first-life, #chicago-typewriter, #crash-landing-on-you, #my-mister, #netflix, #reply-1988, #reply-1994, #reply-1997, #stranger-secret-forest

Finished ‘My Mister’

You guys are so horrible. How could you tell me to watch this. So chock full of unpleasant characters of dubious morality I could barely get past the first episode, yet when I finally did…
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#iu, #lee-ji-eun, #lee-sun-kyun, #my-ahjussi, #my-mister

Mi Ahjussi – More post-finale ramblings

What elevated this drama for me was, of course, the main couple..individually and together they were awesome to watch. Some general spoilers after the jump.

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#iu, #lee-sun-kyun, #my-ajusshi, #my-mister

Mi Ahjussi – Rambling on about it!

Perfect casting we had here..the leads AND all the supporting cast..loved them all. Spoilers after the jump!

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#my-ahjussi, #my-ajusshi, #my-mister

Finito of Mi Ahjussi – General comments

I’m so happy to report that I loved it to the last drop and I wanted a second cup immediately!!! I truly came to enjoy each and every character (well with one or two exceptions), because each one was so well written and so well acted that I couldn’t help myself!!

Of course Mr. Voice always brought a pleasant smile to my lips in the past when I thought of the actor and I enjoyed him in his other dramas like Pasta but here I LOVED him. I thought he finally found a character that he could inhabit – sink his teeth into and make memorable and I won’t soon forget Dong Hoon.

IU was also a great surprise. I was on the fence with her  –though I liked her more than some other actresses who were in her category – but she totally absorbed herself in this character and made it work beautifully. It seems like she also finally found the right package of meaty character and the right leading man to make her shine.

With this calibre of drama I have a huge regret that we weren’t able to watch this together and discuss it episode by episode. There was so much contained within each one and there was so much I wanted to say and share and of course the next episode was the same and I’m left with many thoughts unexpressed! I did see that there were many discussions on the forums and really excellent analysis and mild disagreements too. It was that kind of drama; the best kind that bring out well expressed but different reactions in many of us.

I will wait to see your final comments Robin… I miss it already and it will be nice to visit again!!

#iu, #lee-sun-kyun, #my-ajusshi, #my-mister


My Ahjussi – Thru Ep. 10

I know that I said that I thought that this drama would not be one that I would be binging on, but my friends, I was wrong. Or at least I’m wrong now that I settled into the rhythm of the piece and “things” kept rolling along, especially by the end of episode 4. There’s a lot to talk about and it’s all spoilery, so more after the jump!

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#iu, #jang-ki-young, #lee-ji-eun, #lee-sun-kyun, #my-ahjussi, #my-ajusshi, #my-mister

Mi Ahjussi – Thru Ep 9 – General comments

Half way through this drama I can honestly say that it’s a definite winner in my book. I know that I’m just half way through but I think I can trust these writers to be consistent to the end. This is not necessarily an easy drama to watch but it’s riveting and the characters just pull you in. I love the way each character has a place in moving things along..even ones that I thought at the beginning were the usual and mandatory fillers have value. I love the way the relationships are fleshed out..I find it so refreshing that while the plot lines that are used are the same familiar ones..like office power struggles, typical dastardly loan sharks, extra marital affairs..they are underlying and not overpowering..it’s the characters who are allowed to shine..they are so human..so flawed..so loving..so hateful..so vulnerable..so identifiable. This is what makes each episode a must watch..I feel like I’m getting to really know these people…the good and the bad…I feel their pain and also understand their distress..Mr voice is simply awesome in his portrayal and so is IU..both of them are making these characters their very own and, surprisingly, they have very good chemistry I think!

#iu, #lee-ji-ah, #lee-ji-eun, #lee-sun-kyun, #my-ahjussi, #my-ajusshi, #my-mister

My Ahjussi Episode 3 – Making it Hard

Oh no! She’s making it really hard for me to keep my belief in place that there’s  still hope for her! Spoilers after the break.

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#my-ahjussi, #my-ajusshi, #my-mister

Mi Ahjussi Episode 2: Carpe Diem

How can you not admire a girl who seizes all the opportunities given to her? Spoilers and more after the jump.

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#my-ahjussi, #my-ajusshi, #my-mister

My Ahjussi Episode 1: The Brothers Grim

Judging by the first episode (another one clocking in at about 90 minutes), this is not going to be one of those sunny fairytale dramas. In fact, you might call it a modern-day Dickensian tone poem. Spoilers after the jump.

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#iu, #lee-ji-ah, #lee-ji-ahn, #lee-sun-kyun, #my-ahjussi, #my-ajusshi, #my-mister