New Drama Alert: Answer Me 1988/ Reply 1988

There's a new installation in the nostalgia-filled Answer Me series on the block! In spite of my hesitations about yet another trip back in time to guess the husband, it's shaping up to be a comfortable little drama that stands on its own merits.

What it's about: The year is 1988, and five childhood friends from the same neighborhood learn to navigate all the emotional ups and downs of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, including first loves, family strife, and undying friendship.

Number of episodes watched: 4

Thoughts so far: Having watched both Answer Me 1997 (which Coco reviewed) and Answer Me 1994 (which I reviewed), I honestly wasn't sure if the third time around could maintain the charm of the first two. I also wasn't totally sold on the idea of Hyeri carrying a show, which made me hesitant to even start it at all. With 20 episodes that are each at least 90 minutes long, it's a big commitment!

As it turns out, I shouldn't have been worried about Hyeri. If there's one thing the Answer Me series consistently does right, it's choosing the cast. While I can't always say that they choose the best actors or actresses to fill the roles, they always, without fail, choose the right ones. Hyeri makes Deok Sun come alive, and it's impressive that the director saw that potential and insisted on casting her in the face of criticism.

In terms of the plot, I'm also pleasantly surprised. While I really loved a lot of things about Answer Me 1994, the long episode length and the determined focus on the husband question did the series a disservice. When I found out that the writer/director team went back on their word about not having a husband guessing game this time around, I was somewhat annoyed, but at this point in the show, I'm okay with the direction the series is headed.

Even if the flashback framework places a huge emphasis on guessing the husband, that element was never really what drove either previous series for me. What keeps me watching series after series is the cozy, relatable feeling they give. Answer Me 1994 spoke to me because my own love story was so similar to the one in the drama. Similarly, Answer Me 1997 reminded me of all the fangirl wars my friends had over N'Sync vs. Backstreet Boys in the '90s. The central friendships and the throwback nostalgia suck me in every single time, regardless of who the husband is.

So far, Answer Me 1988 is, if anything, even more relatable than the other two were, at least for me. I love that this time around, we're seeing stories from the entire neighborhood, so there's a character who speaks to everyone. From the first few minutes of the first episode when all of the kids were running back and forth with their various side dishes, I realized that this series was on to something special. It's a full community packed with characters who live and breathe, and within minutes, I was already laughing and crying with all of them.

Is there a love triangle (or square or pentagon) on the way? Yes, obviously. But the inevitable shipping wars don't bother me right now because there are so many other threads to enjoy. Hopefully the series can focus on those human stories instead of narrowly focusing in on the one thread of Deok Sun's husband.

As long as I continue to feel like I'm part of the neighborhood, this drama will be a success in my book. What about you?

Ok, ok, but I'l admit finding the husband is a little bit fun too.

Where to watch: