The Best K-dramas of 2014 (And the worst. And all the rest too.)
Another amazing year full of K-drama magic has flown by, so before we dive into 2015, let's take a look at our favorite (and least favorite) 2014 K-drama moments!
Favorite drama of the year
Vivi: Let’s be honest: The dramas that are the “best” aren’t always the ones that end up being our favorites, but this year, I really enjoyed some dramas that seemed to be pretty good overall. For favorite drama, I’m going with Marriage, Not Dating. It was like summery crack, and it was the first romantic comedy I’ve seen in a long time that remembered it was a comedy through the whole show. At the same time, though, the emotions felt real and earned. Most people don't actually face crazy heiress mothers-in-law who throw water on your face, but the passive-aggressive scene in the wedding dress just about had me in tears with how real it felt. Han Groo was an absolute revelation.
Coco: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I have impeccable taste and the ones I love are the best.
V: You are still watching Greatest Marriage. Everything you say is invalid.
C: True, and it is definitely of questionable quality, but I’m not picking it as my favorite! I’m making the claim that It’s Okay, That’s Love was not only my favorite drama of the year, but is also objectively the best drama of the year!
V: How are we judging "best" here? Does it mean that the most people said it was the best? OR does it mean that it was a drama that no one really wanted to watch, but they felt smart watching it, kind of like the Oscars?
C: It just means that I said it was the best.
V: Oh, well then, It’s Okay, That’s Love wins then! Actually, that’s one that’s on my list to watch for later. The whole mental illness plot hit really close to home when it aired, but I still want to see it.
C: You will love it. So stop pretending you are going to watch it and just do it! And I’m not the only one who says it was the best this year. It was very popular all around. And I think it’s saying a lot that the drama debuted without a lot of hype but steadily increased popularity as it aired.
V: I now know what my New Year’s resolution is! New Year’s is all about realistic goals, right? Forget going to the gym; I will feel accomplished as I sit on my couch eating bonbons and watching this show. Where does one find bonbons? Because they are an integral part of my resolution.
C: I don’t know. I just know that’s what housewives eat when they watch soap operas all day, and I want them too.
Biggest Guilty Pleasure
V: So let’s skip to the other end of the quality spectrum. What was your guilty pleasure of the year? The one you were embarrassed to admit you enjoyed? Mine is probably a toss-up between You’re All Surrounded and After School: Lucky or Not Season 2. I'm not saying that I really love After School or anything, but there are so many poop jokes per capita that I feel embarrassed watching at all. Why am I watching? Because it’s short? I don’t know. You Are All Surrounded was okay quality with silly villains and bad writing, but I was obsessed with it to an unreasonable degree. It was the explosions. I’m an easy girl to please, okay?
|You had me at hello.|
C: And it was also Lee Seung Gi. You LOVE him.
V: I met him! And by "met," I of course mean "snapped photos from far, far away at KCON." We're basically besties.
C: I’ll go ahead and admit here that I do really love The Greatest Marriage. And hate it. Because it makes me laugh at the absurdity of the plot and cry at the over-the-top melodramatic scenes. I’ve never watched a drama so close to what I would consider an outlandish soap opera, and I hated every character, but it redeemed itself by exploring interesting and relevant gender themes.
V: But did they reeeeeeally explore them? Because I watched a couple of episodes, and it just looked like the crazy train.
C: It was the crazy train! But it’s Korea’s culture of suppressing women that makes everyone so crazy.
V: So like Emergency Couple. But with a less cute child than Baby Gook.
C: And a less likable second male lead, or first male lead, or even first female lead. Really there aren’t that many redeeming qualities. That’s why it’s my guilty pleasure!
V: But fewer poop jokes than After School Lucky or Not, so that’s definitely classier than me!
C: Speaking of funny moments (that aren’t poop jokes), what K-drama made you laugh the most this year?
V: There is only one show that literally made me laugh out loud, and that was Mr. Baek. Watching Shin Ha Kyun make old man faces was amazing. Also, for some reason, I feel like if my husband were a 70-year-old man who turned 30, he would make those same faces.
C: I laughed so hard at Fated to Love You. Lee Gun's maniacal laughter is so funny and gets me every time! He really nails comedy with his physical presence.
Also this was a new drama that returned to much of the same old K-drama tropes but managed to make them fresh and enjoyable all over again.
V: Interestingly enough, Jang Na Ra is the female lead in both dramas, but I don't find her particularly funny. Unless you find downtrodden sweetness funny.
Biggest WTF moment
V: The ending scene of Prime Minister and I. Uggggggggggggggggggggh. Do I complain about this drama every chance I get? Yes, yes I do. And I don't feel sorry.
C: I am so on board with the ending of Prime Minister and I! That was the worst.
V: Never before have I felt so cheated over a handshake. I feel personally offended by the writers. I thought we were friends!
C: Also, I’ll add pretty much everything that No Min Woo’s character does in The Greatest Marriage, including his WTF outfits. But they kind of make me love him even more because he can be so cute sometimes.
V: I personally have no idea what you’re talking about. I think that wearing a shirt emblazoned with the word “LONELY” is a perfectly reasonable fashion choice for a date.
C: And the crazy things the second female lead does! Kidnapping your husband’s secret half child so that you can raise it as your own and win your rich in-laws’ love is never a good idea.
V: Speaking of odd dating behaviors in second female leads, I want to add the second female lead from Marriage Not Dating to my WTF list. She might even be at the top. I mean, she tried to blackmail a guy for his sperm. (???!!?!) Please tell me that this is not a real thing that reasonable people do. No, seriously. I need reassurance.
C: One thing I will give the K-dramas this year is that they had the most punch-worthy female second leads ever.
Character you wish you could punch in the face the most
V: Ok, I need to think about this. I only get one punch for the ENTIRE year? I need to use it wisely, or I’ll regret it for all of 2015.
C: Ooo, I know who I pick! The evil mom from Pinocchio. What a *itch! I mean, the lady completely ignores her child for 12 years and then after finally seeing her and having her hug her and tell her that she misses and loves her, she says she hasn’t even thought about her once because she has been too busy and then walks away after tearing all her career dreams down. Not to mention the fact that she’s responsible for destroying the male lead's family with her crazy and dishonest ambition as a news reporter. She’s so evil!
V: Ok, that’s pretty deserving, but I think we should do this by Hammurabi’s code. An eye for an eye. Because I think the person who actually hit other people the most in a drama was the Birkin bag villain in You Are All Surrounded, so getting punched in return seems really fair. Punched with a fake designer bag. Smells like justice.
C: Only as long as you hand the designer bag back to me afterwards so I can fill it with bricks and hit the Pinocchio lady over the head!
V: We might have to invest in a real designer bag in that case. You know, so the handles don’t fall off while we’re delivering high-class justice.
C: I like the sound of that!
V: Let’s move on to the people we don’t want to hit over the head with a bag o’ bricks, shall we?
C: We all know that this is usually the real reason we stick around for an entire K-drama. Who was your favorite couple of the year, Vivi?
V: Birth of a Beauty. Birth of a Beauty. BIRTH OF A BEAUTY!!!!!!! Best couple ever in the entire universe. Period. Times ten million.
C: Oh wow! Now I must go back to watching it!
V: The plot is absolute nonsense half of the time and the villains might as well be cardboard cutouts, but WOW, the leads make up for it. I just love how they do normal things together, like shopping or cooking or whatever, and it’s the best thing ever. And they’re really supportive of each other and have actual conversations about things and apologize when they fight like normal adults, and I luff them.
C: My favorite couple is It’s Okay, That’s Love all the way! Their chemistry was off the charts and they were just all-around a really believable couple.
It made me kind of obsessively wish they were together in real life and I got really excited when it came out that both of them had recently broken up with their real significant others.
V: Sooooo, what you’re saying is that you’re a homewrecker at heart.
C: Isn’t every K-drama fan? I mean, pretty much every K-drama female lead is a homewrecker. Or at least the male lead. I’m not at the part where he breaks up with the second female lead in Fated to Love You yet, but based on what I’ve seen so far, I think it’s going to be really sad. This doesn’t stop me from wanting him to end up with the female lead, though.
V: Nope, I’m still judging you. Even if you’re right.
C: Fine, then I judge you for liking poop jokes. Moving on!
Best and worst kiss
C: I would consider my pick to be the best and the worst kiss at the same time. The “toast kiss” in Pinocchio looked absolutely ridiculous and seemed like another excuse for Park Shin Hye to never have to actually kiss anyone, but the scene itself was so funny and oddly was kind of sexy.
V: Yeah, the Pinocchio toast kiss was just weird and awkward. SO MANY CORNERS! At least choose a food that isn’t so pointy. But actually the worst kiss for me was in Pride and Prejudice when he was like “Want proof I’m not a murderer?” *KISS* Not sexy. Just terrible.
The best one was probably Miss Korea just because he was trying to do the whole noble idiocy thing and she was like, “Nice try, buddy!” and then they kissed. I cheered at my screen for that one. Actually, there were a lot of things about Miss Korea that were pleasantly surprising. If I had to nominate the most underrated drama of the year, it would be that one for sure.
My Love from Another Star also had some massively romantic kissing, obviously. That’s part of the reason everyone is so obsessed with it.
Favorite side character
C: My favorite side character has to be Kwang Soo’s character in It’s Okay That’s Love. Kwang Soo is always funny in everything he does, but he’s turned out to also be a really talented actor who brings depth to his characters. In It’s Okay, That’s Love he manages to play someone with turrets syndrome who isn’t just a trope, but is a charming person with realistic responses to life.
Also, I have to mention Baby Gook from Emergency Couple. Let’s be real; he’s actually my favorite character of all time!
V: Well, I was going to say Kim Seul Gi in both Surplus Princess and Discovery of Romance, especially since she made Discovery of Romance watchable, but now that you had to go and bring up Baby Gook, it’s a no-brainer. If I could meet one Korean celebrity, it would be Baby Gook. And I would squish his little cheeks. And I shall call him squishy and he shall be mine.
C: No, he’s mine! I challenge you to a hand bag duel!
V: I was gonna suggest joint custody, but if we’re jumping straight to duels, so be it!
Best Eye Candy
V: I always feel kind of creepy being like “Ooooh, look at this man all alone in his shower!”
C: I don’t! Sorry, not sorry.
V: That being said, I recognize eye candy as a major part of the drama-watching experience. (Can you hear me trying to make this category legit?) My most swoony moment wasn’t even chocolate abs-related. It was Lee Joon Ki’s sweet ninja outfit in Joseon Gunman. I just did a high school girl sigh just thinking about it.
C: Despite My Lovable Girl being the biggest disappointment of the year for me, Rain sure does look good in it!
V: While we’re sighing, can I nominate the best ear candy of the year? Because I could listen to Choi Jin Hyuk or Lee Sun Gyun talk alllllll day.
C: I second that emotion!
Worst Second Lead Syndrome of the year
V: Can you guess who I’m going to say for second lead syndrome?
C: YES! And I agree with you! Poor, poor Chief Gook in Emergency Couple.
V: SIGH. (But not Lee Joon Ki in a ninja outfit sigh. Clutching my heart because I’m sad sigh.)
C: DOUBLE SIGH. Oh the agony of his puppy dog eyes and wistful, heartbroken glances.
V: Let’s stop talking about it. My heart can’t take it! Second place goes to Lee Joon in Mr. Baek. Talk about the surprise of the year! I had no idea he could act like that, and his character ended up being way more nuanced than I thought. But does coming in second place in the second lead contest just make him the saddest loser of the year?
C: Not as sad as the one who gets third place: L’s character in My Lovable Girl. It made it so much worse because it was such an obviously better match. Krystal with Rain, who by the way plays her much older dead sister’s ex-boyfriend. Weird and wrong. And L is also a K-pop boy who is shaping up to be a decent actor.
V: We’re using the term “decent” kind of loosely here, right? But yes, L’s character seemed like a much, much better fit.
C: Yes, by decent I mean entertaining and surprisingly tolerable, but mostly just cute.
V: But what’s worse? Dating your dead sister’s ex, or dating a high school student who your little sister loves (King of High School)? Because if this year taught me anything, it’s that love conquers all kinds of slightly awkward obstacles!
Thanks for spending another great year with us! What were your favorite drama moments?
-Coco and Vivi