New Drama Alert: Cinderella and Four Knights Korean Drama Review

Image source

Cinderella and Four Knights premiered this week, and it's exactly what it promises to be: a completely cheesy throwback fairytale in the style of old-school K-dramas like Boys over Flowers or Goong. But does it work? Yes and no.

What it's about: Eun Ha Won (Park So Dam) is a hardworking young woman who lives with her selfish and unkind stepmother and stepsister. She ends up getting mixed up with three absurdly wealthy cousins (Jung Il Woo, Ahn Jae Hyun, and Lee Jung Shin) and their grandpas' stoic bodyguard (Choi Min) all of whom will most likely fall for her.

Episodes watched: 2

Thoughts so far: I know that I often complain about reusing old, cliche plots and characters over and over in dramas, but this show is just so unabashedly cliche that it kind of works. It's not trying to be new. It's not trying to be creative. I mean, even the music felt like it came straight out of Boys over Flowers!  

Honestly, the first episode was kind of a hot mess with abrupt edits and weird tone. (And the hair—if every cast member is going to have matching haircuts, why, WHY must they be messy mushroom cuts?!?!) By the second episode, though, it fell into a more comfortable rhythm and found its footing a bit more. Somehow, even though I cringed at the wooden characters and completely obvious plot, I found myself enjoying that second episode way more than I should. 

Is this going to be a good show? No. But it's so unashamed about what kind of story it is that it manages to feel nostalgic rather than stale. In some ways, this drama feels more reminiscent of a Disney Channel Original Movie than a modern K-drama. It's cotton candy fluff that embraces the fairytale setup in very literal terms (like her sleeping in a closet or dropping her fancy heel for one of the "knights" to find), and it plays up the feeling of familiarity at every turn. It's silly, but it's comfortable, and sometimes comfort cotton candy is exactly what you need.

It doesn't hurt that the cast is immensely likable. I can totally see why Park So Dam is everywhere in Korea these days, and even wooden Ahn Jae Hyun seems perfectly at home in this drama with just the right level of cheese to sell his lines.

One other thing I will say for the show is that, cliche as it is, the few tweaks it does make work particularly well. There have been a couple of instances where the male lead tried to intimidate or humiliate the female lead. Instead of showing her crushed spirits or deer-in-headlights timidity like you would in other dramas, the show waits just long enough for the moment to sink in before flipping it. I almost cheered when Jung Il Woo's character tried to embarrass Park So Dam's character, and she ended up smacking him in the head and calling him on his nonsense. It makes me think that maybe there's just enough self-awareness in the script to make it work.

Moral of the story? If you go into this wanting a lot of character development and depth, don't bother. But if you're looking for a fun throwaway watch that you might be slightly ashamed to admit that you enjoyed, we can shame watch it together!

Where to watch Cinderella and Four Knights: