Friday, January 8, 2016

answer me : a review of sorts

you know how it is when you discover this one really amazing show, the show that you will love and defend your whole life, the show you count the days for the next season, the show that makes you fall in love with the actors--so much so that you follow their activity and watch all of their other shows? yeah, you know what I'm talking about. almost everyone I know has a show like that. and if it's not a show, it's a movie, book, band, or some other obsession.


well, now imagine having that show and loving it with all your heart. imagine loving it so much you have to share it with everyone you meet.


the problem is...there's this little thing that almost always drives your friends away from the amazing.

for me, that show is the Answer Me series, and that little thing is the fact that it is indeed a Korean tv show.

RUNNNN SHE'S TALKING ABOUT KDRAMAS AGAIN

I admit it: Korean shows are different. some are cheesy, some are filled to the brim with cliches and tropes, and some are just plain boring. not everyone is willing to try something so different, and some people break into a sweat at the thought of having to watch something with subtitles. and that's okay. I just wish there was a way for me to share the Answer Me series in a completely subtitle free way.

oh, wait. that's what reviews are for.

hoepfully this is you because here I go

long ago, in 2012, Answer Me 1997 came out. It followed the lives of six teenagers living in Busan, starting around 1997 and ending in present day. you watched them graduate from high school, go to college, fall out, and grow up--all the while not knowing where they stand as friends because of the ambiguous flash forward to 2012 scenes. this season has several of my favourite actors--Jung Eunji, Seo Inguk, Hoya from Infinite, that guy from Modern Farmer whose name escapes me...even Ilhwa and Dongil are the best, and I love seeing them as different parents each season. the main narrator are the characters of Yoon Yoonjae, the boy who falls in love with the girl next door, only for his confession to be too late, and said girl next door, Shiwon, a loudmouth crazy fangirl who would do anything to meet her favourite singers.

their best friendship is the cutest thing

 it's a lot more than a love story, though. in fact, the theme of family and friendship runs a lot deeper than the romantic side of this show. I also love how the journey from high school to adulthood is not graceful. in kdramas, the tendency is to gloss over the realistic uncertainty and turmoil of being an adult, but even when these kids have "grown up" and become successful, they're still awkward. they still get into stupid fights. they don't have it all figured out in life. and I love that.


I really, really love this show.

A year later, season two happened: Answer Me 1994. now, I didn't love season two as much I loved season one, but it still taught me so many things. this time, instead of high school friends, it follows seven students--forced together in a boarding house. once again, we go from 1994 to present day, unsure of who ends up where with who. that's part of the fun of these shows--most dramas make it painfully obvious who are the main couples...the Answer Me series leaves a lot up for grabs.


I have mixed feelings about this season, mostly because the episodes got long and the plot stretched thin at some points. either way, it has several of my favourite actors again: Go Ara from You Are All Surrounded (great show, by the way), Baro from b1a4, and Min Dohee. Go Ara's character is more of the loud, tracksuit wearing type of heroine, which is a downer, but that's what this show specializes in. Eunji and Hyeri just bear that title in a different way.


I watched this over Thanksgiving as it was airing, and this quote stood out the most to me as I spent time with family and friends:
"Present. In English, it has two meanings: a gift, and also the current moment. It may be that the most precious gift to us is the present, the time in front of us now. True, we may always be bickering with each other, but we leaned on each other and were happy together."

and finally, in 2015, Answer Me 1988 began airing. I was a little apprehensive at first--I mean, I didn't looooove Answer Me 1994, and third time isn't always the charm...but I gritted my teeth and settled in for the long run.  I'm glad I did, because so far this season is the best. the most interesting part is that this season is set so that the protagonists are the same age as my parents. I remember my dad telling me about the Seoul Olympics--and now I watch it on tv.


 I actually didn't think I knew the cast very well; the only one I recognized was Hyeri from Girl's Day and I originally didn't like her. She is a very loud person and is very brash, or at least I thought she was from what I'd seen. I'm glad to say that I love her very much now...she handles the crazy female lead role with talent. she's a lot more than just a loudmouth. In fact, she plays Dukseon with genuine emotion and heart. to my surprise, I also knew several of the other actors: Park Bogum, from Tomorrow's Cantabile, and Go Kyungpo from Flower Boy Next Door and Tomorrow's Cantabile. The main one I didn't know was Junyeol, but he is quickly becoming a fave.

he has so many good moments...

I cannot talk enough about how much I love Answer Me 1988. The cast is flawless, the episodes are just the right length for each plotline, and everything weaves together so well. Even the mystery of who Dukseon ends up with is completely uncertain--in Answer Me 1994, it was a little obvious, and Answer Me 1997 showed couples coming together, hurting each other, and then left it hanging whether they would make up or if their friendships were completely ruined. I love every character in this season, and I'm so happy to say that they each have gotten their own little plot line and plenty of screen time.

Exhibit A: why I love Dukseon and Dongryong's friendship

Whether it's the mom trio or the dad trio, Taek's love for baduk, Dongryong's broken family, Dukseon and her love life, or Junghwan making up with his dad...this cast of characters evokes all the feels in me. the first episode had me crying because I related so much to Dukseon's middle child issues. The tight knit family units floor me. I wish we had shows in America showing families like this. yes, they have their issues, and yes, there is enough screaming between sisters and parents (and uncomfortably awkward silence between brothers--both blood related and not) to make things realistic, but you can tell their love and dependence on each other is strong.


I could go on for hours about this show, but I want to touch on one detail before I shut my mouth about this amazing series. this show uses the simple and unimportant to tell a story. each episode has its own story line, despite the over arching mystery of who ends up with who, and sometimes it surprises you who the protagonist really is. I know I say that Hyeri is the main female lead, and she is, but to be honest, that's mostly just how the billing works. the reality is that there is no main lead in this show. no specific protagonist or hero. not even a villain, even though I really hated Bora for about two episodes (and now I love her and will fight anyone who says she's anything but a precious marshmallow). everybody is important in this show--and I love that.

SEE?? precious marshmallow

kdramas aren't for everybody. I get that. I've said before that I'll never force anyone into kpop or kdramas...but I'll add this: if you want to watch a quality show, one that I wish we had in America, this is the show for you. it's a good way gateway into kdramas, I think. And if you do watch it and think, "this isn't as good as she cracked it up to be," I admit it. I'm a little biased. but I love this show with all my heart, because it makes me smile and makes me cry and makes me think about big and little things. so don't let the subtitles scare you. don't feel weird about watching a Korean show--I know I was afraid people would make fun of me for watching kdramas for the first year.  just give it a shot. who knows--you might fall in love with it like I did.

also, the world needs to love Taek because he is both precious and a piece of fluff

also, if anything, watch it for Jinjoo. She's the cutest.

Jinjoo might be my favourite character. 

here (Answer Me 1988) is a link if you want to check it out! (all three seasons are available here, but Answer Me 1988 is still airing. and I'm stuck on a cliffhanger. HELP.)

these dorks...

and don't watch the behind the scenes footage. just don't. if you do, it is 100% certain that you will fall in love with the cast. they are precious, and their friendships are such goals. 



let me know if you end up watching any of these dramas so that I can rejoice in sharing my love for this series. also, if you'd like, I may continue doing drama reviews/recaps in the future! this was a lot of fun to write! :)

have a great weekend, guys!

3 comments:

  1. I think I will check this out, I have been wanting to get into K-Dramas forever, but I had no one to watch it with me. Now I think I don't care I will watch it by myself. Looks really good. It would be awesome if you did more reviews like this.

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  2. Ooooh I really do want to check this out now. o.0 I'll let you know if I do! I totally understand the feeling of having that show that you've given your heart and soul to because even if it's not perfect it's just...perfect. xD

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  3. Yes please write more like thisss! This drama is so <333 and fyi, team junghwan here 😆

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