Drama Dilemmas

I'm winding down on a handful of dramas over the course of the next week or so, and I'm facing some major drama indecision. I know for sure that I want to watch You Are All Surrounded, but I like to have a backup drama going between episodes. I just can't decide, though!

So, friends of the internet, I'm turning to you for help. In order to narrow the options, I'm following that old wedding rhyme "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." If it works for a lifelong commitment, it should work for a 20-episode commitment, right?


Something old: Winter Sonata
Aren't they cold standing in a snowstorm without coats? NO. Because love. 
Pros: I'm slightly ashamed that I haven't ever seen this one. It's such a classic that I feel obligated to get around to it at some point just to enrich my drama understanding.

Cons: From what I hear, there is some serious melodrama going on here. Not my favorite, but I can let it slide for a drama staple.

Something new: Secret Love Affair
Boom chicka wow wow.
Pros: Ever since Sungkyunkwan Scandal, I have been dying to watch more Yoo Ah In dramas. Fashion King and Jang Ok Jung didn't quite make the cut, but this one has rave reviews from people I trust. It sounds like a drama with brains.

Cons: If I'm being totally honest, I have a really hard time watching adultery. I get frustrated that so many movies and shows represent the cuckolded spouse as a terrible person, thereby making the choice as uncomplicated as possible. (Something Borrowed, I'm looking at you. You steal your best friend's fiancee, but we're supposed to think it's fine because A. you best friend is a monster and B. you are Ginnifer Goodwin? Nice try.) For a subject that has the potential to cause such deep, lasting emotional pain, it feels like a cop-out.

Something borrowed: My Love from Another Star
He may be an alien, but that's no excuse not to wear the trendiest haircut in Korea.
Pros: I'm "borrowing" this suggestion from everyone who already watched this show. I feel left out that I'm the only one who didn't watch it, so maybe I should just jump on the bandwagon.

Cons: Kim Soo Hyun's face. There, I said it. I mean, it's a handsome face and all, but he never seems very expressive. What if I watch one episode and hate him, but then I'm stuck watching the whole thing?

Something blue: Heartless City/Cruel City (Blue because of the whole police theme, not because it makes me sad--I hope)
You can tell it's gritty based on the monochrome poster.
Pros: I don't know why I haven't watched more K-drama thrillers. I mean, I love movie thrillers. I'm currently mid-binge watch of the Infernal Affairs trilogy, so undercover cop stuff is right up my alley.

Cons: I'm already watching a cop show as my simulcast, so maybe it'll be overkill?

Well, what'll it be? Convince me in the comments! Or just vote. Because that's what I'm actually going to follow.


Which show should Vivi watch next?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Comments

  1. I haven't watched any of these dramas yet, so my opinions are purely speculative, but I definitely vote either My Love From Another Star or Heartless City/Cruel City. I'm probably biased by the fact that I think Kim Soo Hyun and Jung Kyoung Ho are sexy as hell, but I've also heard a lot of good things about My Love From Another Star. I've heard absolutely nothing about Heartless City/Cruel City though, so it would be awesome to get someone's opinion on it.

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  2. Cunning Single Lady. Cunning Single Lady. Cunning Single Lady.

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  3. Pratikshya MishraMay 8, 2014 at 10:15 PM

    i would suggest 'My love from another star'...I agree that his face seems a bit expressionless... but I loved the story, the mystery and the pace too... you won't be disappointed as there are many good supporting actors too...with good enough roles...

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  4. Anna Rodriguez†May 8, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    I'm actually watching a secret love affair affair and I'm probably the only person who doesn't understand why she's even cheating. I could go on why I believe that, but now I believe the writers are trying to make the husband look evil. It's weird. Idk I kinda wish I didn't start it. It's a good concept if the concept was that they were in love, but its a convenient marriage. But I believe the writers are trying to make you root for the other guy. I can't even visualize how this drama will end. I haven seen the other so I can really suggest. But this us my point of view on this drama.

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  5. I've heard a love of good things about Secret Love Affair, but like you I'm just not big on the whole… affair-thing. :/ Really not.
    I would recommend MLFAS all the way. Personally, I think Kim Soo Hyun shows some great expressive acting- particularly during the sort of "interview scenes" at the beginning/end of the episodes. (Be sure to stick around after the credits!!!) This show does have so much hype around it that makes me kind of glad I watched it as it premiered. Just going into it to enjoy the relationships and find yourself falling in love like I did. ^^

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  6. I'll watch My Love From Another Star if you do! I think we really must review it.

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  7. I finished it last night!

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  8. Winter Sonata. I recommend that if you do watch it, you first try to forget all the drama tropes and cliches that you know - so start with a clean slate and take it seriously. I think it sort of suffers from being such an influential work. Sort of like how Casablanca could be seen as cliched and formulaic if all you've ever seen are shows that were inspired and influenced by it.
    Also, it's 12 years old, so tonally it's quite different from the currently airing kdramas, which seem to be very formulaic and safe. Granted, they are very refined and the production values are insane but personally I'd like to see something that breaks new ground. Even if that means that you occasionally see a boom mike drop into view :)
    I guess I'm a Type 3 fan, huh?

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  9. I have to agree with you. I have the same trouble watching shows that justify or explain adultery so I am staying clear of Secret Love Affair, although I'm a big fan of Yoo Ah In, and I have seen rave reviews on multiple blogs about that show. I personally feel that adultery is not honest, if you have problems or issues in your marriage - just leave the spouse before starting an affair, none of this sneaking around.


    Heartless City is the stuff of dreams...It's a totally sexy show, from the outfits, to the fight scenes to the plot. It's one of the shows that actually treats sex as more than hand holding or a peck on the cheek. I was seriously impressed by it, fell completely in love with the leading man (Jung Kyung Ho) and the OST is to die for, most of the OSTs are so smoky and sexy and they could easily become favorites. Warning though, this drama will make you fall in love and rip your heart wide open.


    My Love From Another Star - was good while it lasted - glitzy and somewhat addicting. But the rewatch value for me is zero. It's not a show I could re-watch at any time. Winter Sonata was way too cliche for me, I lost patience with it halfway in and ended up dropping it.


    Those are my personal opinions, but I'm sure whatever drama you choose, you'll have fun watching it.

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  10. My Love from Another Star! This is the drama that made me love Kim Soo Hyun, although I thought he was quite expressionless in this drama--but I attribute that to him being an alien.

    Also, I LOVE the Infernal Affairs trilogy. Have you seen The Departed? I'm always curious to see what people think of the Scorsese film against the originals.

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  11. We love Type 3 fans around here! I think you're right. I kind of want to see Winter Sonata just to get a better sense of Kdrama history.

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  12. You're swaying me towards Heartless City, but My Love from Another Star is winning the vote. Looks like it'll be next in my queue.

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  13. Yes, I saw The Departed before watching any of the Infernal Affairs trilogy. I have only seen Infernal Affairs 1 and 2 so far (Netflix DVDs have IA3 on backorder...I'm so impatient.), but I loved how much more depth they managed to give the characters with a much shorter running time. To me, the ending of Infernal Affairs was more satisfying somehow, even if it was less of a Hollywood ending.

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  14. I wish I could teleport you my copies! I love Hong Kong cinema and would watch anything that Tony Leung was in.

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  15. I'll believe that when you finish Sly and Single Again...

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  16. I definitely recommend My Love from Another Star. I decided to watch, because when I finished Coffee Prince, I asked on Tumblr what I should watch next now that my life had been made, and someone recommended MLFAS. I quickly googled it, but the poster was such a turn-off that I postponed it and watched something else. A few weeks later I saw an article on Buzzfeed called something along the lines of "This K-drama is ruining lives in China" and it mentioned that it's been watched 2.5 billion times in China and I was like, wow, I should see what the fuzz is about. Anyway, I ended up watching it a few days later, and I really enjoyed it. I loved the female lead; she was absolutely hilarious. And there was a lot of crying but also a lot of funny. Not my all time fav, but definitely a quality drama. The side characters were interesting, and the side plot was good too. One last thing(this may be a turn off but I'm gonna say it), at times it seems like the screenwriter was going for Twilight (it was pretty openly referenced at least once--I'm not sure how much,if any, was satire). But even so, the relationship was nowhere near abusive, and the female character was strong (she did cry, but it was understandable when she did) and definitely stood up for herself. There are definitely common themes that are repeated in relationships with the immortal, but they do things with a bit of a twist here. But yeah, definitely watch. If nothing else, it'll be a classic and you should enjoy with everybody else. Oh yeah, and I can't stress this enough, the female lead is da bomb and amazing and funny and omg--enjoy!

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  17. Winter Sonata was kinda dumb. It also has an attempted rape scene, and the attempted rapist is not condemned by the show at all. It is fine to watch it for historical reasons, but I can't recommend it. I really really tried to watch My Love from Another Star, but after six episodes I was consistently bored, so I reluctantly have given it up. I haven't seen the other two, but hear they are both excellent.

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  18. Winter Sonata holds the distinction of being the Drama I dropped closest to its end. I gave up after 16/20 episodes. I had started watching for EXACTLY the reasons you mention you're considering it, but in the end, it was just too much melo - endless, pointless sadness with no cause or purpose except to wallow in the sheer bitterness of it all. Not the bittersweetness, just bitterness. Of the four on your poll, my vote goes to YWCFTS because even though it's far from a classic, Jeon Ji Hyeon totally owns the Drama with her obvious fun at sending herself up, and SSR has a ball playing a hilariously hammy OTT villain. That and the undeniable onscreen chemistry between JJH and KSH make it a really fun watch.

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  19. I love strong female leads, so that's definitely a major plus!

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  20. Attempted rape? Ugh. No, thanks. Winter Sonata sounds worse by the minute.

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  21. Okay, that's exactly what I was afraid of with Winter Sonata! This is good to know, even though I'm sure my drama guilt will still make me watch it at some point.

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  22. Does this mean there won't be a review of Sly and Single Again (Cunning Single Lady)? I really want to know what you think. This is will be on my re-watch list.

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  23. There will definitely be a review! It might take a little while, though.

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  24. Although I watched it and thoroughly enjoyed MLFAS, I find it funny that everyone is recommending this drama despite the killings and attempted murders happening in every other episode, but condemns SLA for its adulterous plot. Really, moral compass? Is it because the murders are just glossed over since they're not committed by the leading stars and the overall mood of the drama is offset by the comedy and romance? Unfortunately/Fortunately, SLA depicts real life situations (also...come on, what American show doesn't have some cheating in it) in a beautiful, mature, artistic, non-cliched kdrama way. There are no poppy OSTs or kissing with eyes open like a deer caught in headlights. It's actually very sexy without being overt. The heroine is smart (calculating), successful and complex...she has weaknesses but is capable of saving herself. There are gray areas in life and SLA does a great job walking the fine lines, telling the journey of a person to liberation or complete destruction. The leads' and supporting casts' acting are nuanced, sensitive. There are quiet moments open for interpretation. Makes the audience think. It's different. Period. So if you want to try and experience a non-formulaic type of kdrama and broaden your horizons, go for SLA. If you want to escape with a rom-com, go with MLFAS.

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  25. Holy cow, this is the first time I am commenting on this blog, but I cannot agree with your comment more. That is the most apt description of Heartless City: "it will make you fall in love and rip your heart wide open". But in such a good way! I am not normally one who watches emotionally charged dramas because they often feel manipulative, but Heartless City just put out a great story with memorable characters who are actually intelligent and acted well. I found myself appreciating the hurt because it came organically and meant I cared that much about the characters.


    It also featured who is now my all-time favorite female kdrama character. Watching so many kdramas has conditioned me to expect certain female behaviors, but when this one not only did not engage in such pettiness but rose above it to deliver heartbreaking awesomeness, it solidified my love for her. I want to go on and on about Heartless City but really, the less said, the better. Definitely worth a watch.


    I also have to agree with this person's comments about You From Another Star. I was completely sucked in while watching it, and Jeon Ji Hyun kills in her role, but oddly I found no sticky factor when I was done with it.


    (As a caveat, Heartless City is not perfect. The plot spins its wheels a bit near the end, but by then you are so invested in the characters that it doesn't really matter.)

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  26. FWIW, the crimes in YWCFTS are treated as such - crimes. The perpetrators are not glorified, but end up being punished. There no issue of a skewed moral compass here, no attempt to excuse or justify the murders two, only one of which happens in the timeframe of the Drama, the other being in the back story) and several attempted murders. Exactly the opposite really, the Drama ends up showing that crime does NOT pay. .

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  27. Yes, adultery and murder are both crimes according to the 10 Commandments. Good. So there's no skewed moral compass then...No one's ever been challenged by moral ambiguity. Everything in life is black and white, and "dramas" should just stick to that script. Please. SLA is the very essence of drama - realistic, artistic, complex presentation of life. S*** happens. So let's get down from the high horse and judge's pedestal. I'm fully aware that it's really the choice, preference by the viewer to go with candy kdrama, alien and all, versus a more real account of everyday life situations. And that's find and dandy, to each his/her own. But don't knock SLA just because it's about dishonesty and that horrendous age gap. There's more to its storytelling and that's why it's getting rave reviews from others. And FYI - SLA doesn't condone the adultery, the leads pay dearly for their actions. Without spoiling the ending - you're right, nothing goes unpunished.

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  28. Sensitive, much? I didn't read anything negative in any of the comments below about the drama SLA, on the contrary, the one drama that was bashed was "Winter Sonata". SLA was praised for the acting and good reviews. But people's personal preferences dictate what they choose to watch and their choices, like yours, should be respected. So there's no need to get up in arms about them...


    Just my two cents.

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  29. Yup, I did say in my post to each his/her own. It's a preference and a choice. We're on the same page on that. But going back to my first post, I do find it funny that some, not all, people dismiss SLA because the premise is so immoral, so shady, and it seems to glorify or romanticize adultery. That to watch SLA equates the viewer to accepting, condoning, and justifying such wrongful acts (or criminal, however one sees it), while those who shun it are good, morally-upright people. And maybe that's where the "sensitivity" comes in (this issue has been debated in numerous threads and blogs, it's very polarizing)... where there seems to be a death sentence and a judgment made immediately on the show and its audience, respectively. I mean, who hasn't watched some form of immorality on screen (attempted rape on Winter Sonota and murders, etc.)? And there's no disrespecting going on here. I just hate it when a book is judged by its cover when the story is so beautiful and artistically done. That's all folks.

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  30. This has turned into a very interesting discussion, and I'm actually glad that you're bringing in the other side. Just to be clear, I don't believe that dramas have to be morality plays where the good guys get rewarded and the bad guys get punished. Much of what draws me to watch SLA is that realistic complexity and depth that you mention. My initial hesitation comes not from a worry that the show is complex, but rather a concern that, in an otherwise nuanced show, the impetus for the affair itself may be OVERLY simplified by how horrible her husband is. That's just what I've come to expect from dramas and Hollywood alike, and if SLA is different, I welcome the difference. I definitely don't think that enjoying SLA means that you condone lying or cheating, and watching MLFAS doesn't put anyone on a moral high ground. They're very different genres of drama that serve very different purposes. Realistically, I will probably watch both at some point, and I hope that I can enjoy both for what they are.

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  31. Exactly! The comment I made, the one which drew such a heated, angry-sounding response never even MENTIONED Secret Love Affair and expressed no opinion at all on its merits or lack thereof. The ferocity of the response was rather droll, actually. It seemed not so much preaching to the converted as ranting at the disinterested. :)

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  32. I'm glad you found my responses rather entertaining. I thought so too :) I guess I should re-read my entries to really see if they sounded ferocious and angry. Didn't feel particularly feisty today. I had fun typing away! You're right, you never mentioned SLA, but your reaction or reply is to my post about SLA so I assumed you were interested (although I wasn't only addressing you. There were few other comments I was reacting to.) Since you're not, I won't engage then. Thanks for your time.

    To vivi, you'll definitely enjoy both. Happy watching!

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  33. Danielle CaseñasJune 6, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    HEARTLESS CITY! omg, loved that one!

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  34. You should watch Gap Dong...I love love love it..Lee Joon's acting is sooo good...and it keeps me guessing in every episode, who is the real Gap Dong...

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  35. In terms of overall quality - writing, directing, acting - Secret Love Affair is one of the best dramas I have ever seen, and I'm not even a fan of melodramas. It also has a well developed, capable and intriguing female protagonist. Seriously, compared to every other drama I have seen, it's a masterpiece. Please watch it, you're missing out.

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  36. You don't have to condone something in order to watch it. I don't condone murder, yet I still watch movies where people get killed. Secret Love Affair is a really good drama, to bad people won't even give it a chance. And anyway, the protagonist is in a loveless marriage of convenience and the spouse doesn't want to divorce her.

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  37. The husband is never depicted as some kind of a two dimensional monster, nor is the affair glorified. They were actually some points in the drama that I felt sorry for him, but there are no Mary Sues in this story. However, it is a completely loveless marriage, more like a mutually benefitial agreement.

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  38. HI, I didn't watch the first two dramas above, I can't seem to get into the mood of very old kdramas for eg my name is kim sam soon, that I dropped halfway....as for love from a star I totally recommend it, it's hilariously funny (that lead gal !) and with touching moments in the latter part too...as for Heartless City, well, it's actually nice but the ending ......well....prepare tissues for both dramas ok....and enjoy !!

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  39. yeah, that is so good...I'm waiting for their review on Gap Dong here...it is the best detective/crime kdrama I think (so far that I've watched)....Lee Joon is good....I feel like banging my head against the wall when the identity of the real Gap Dong is revealed ! :P

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