So this is what ‘event television’ in the K-drama world feels like. The hype surrounding the most eagerly anticipated show of the year finally came to a head last week with the Heirs premier.
Since my corner of the drama universe is English speaking and online, my hype meter largely consists of what folks are saying on blogs I follow (Dramabeans) and forums (Soompi). And the Heirs Soompi thread already had a million views before the show even started. Which is nuts. (I’m not on twitter, so someone needs to tell me if folks were having Heirs live-watch tweet parties or if #HeirsRox trended.)
A part of me thinks that SBS kind of dug itself into a hole with it’s relentless promo machine, making meeting expectations almost impossible for Kim Eun Sook and her monster cast. It seemed to me that the show has several camps to please: those expecting a Boys Over Flowers redux (but better), Lee Min Ho/Kim Woo Bin/Park Shin Hye/CN Blue/f(x) fangirls/boys, Kim Eun Sook antis eager to snark all over this, and the regular drama fan waiting to see if the show has enough substantive payoff beyond the pretty. Even Kim Eun Sook herself reportedly had to go on the defensive about this not being just another remake.
So in that sense, it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Still, I’m a little surprised by the vitriol hurled at the first episodes. Criticisms, if taking the comment section in Dramabeans as an indicator, were downright nasty about the pettiest things–Lee Min Ho’s English and American stereotypes. To be honest, I found parts of both somewhat endearing in their clumsy execution.
Speaking of stereotypes, here’s my favourite one from episode 2: Overweight Americans! It reminds me of when my mum came back from a visit to the US years ago and had this to say: “Americans! Aiyoh, they eat SO MUCH! All junk food! No wonder they are all SOOO BIG!” But I digress.
I found Heirs to be a really likeable watch. I like our leading love birds. Park Shin Hye and Lee Min Ho have a sweet rapport that feels just right for two lost souls finding each other. I adore how their budding relationship evokes a sun-kissed youthful romance of my own imagining.
This is may be an adolescent fantasy but it feels more grown up, perhaps because Eun Sang and Kim Tan’s connection feels grounded instead of something conjured from thin air. The circumstances of their encounters may be contrived but why they are drawn to each other isn’t.
I like Kim Tan. I have a soft spot for pensive, quippy creative types (he writes!), and it doesn’t hurt he gets awful cute when he’s jealous. Best of all, he’s pretty much a gentleman and he’ll be the one who wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s the alpha male hiding as the unassuming beta presumably because it’s more convenient.
And speaking of alphas, every time Kim Woo Bin appears on screen, my loins stir. He looks devastatingly handsome wearing a superiority complex. His Young Do is intense in every way that Lee Min Ho’s Kim Tan isn’t. Young Do enjoys pushing people’s buttons just to see them squirm. I’m intrigued, and am eager to see what happens when his buttons get pushed instead.
And is it just me, or is KWB able to steal scenes effortlessly? Thank goodness Kang Ha Neul as his sunbae is up to the task of going toe to toe with him. I’m curious to see how all these alphas are going to sort themselves out in the schoolyard. Bring on the petty power plays! I just hope to get a handle on all their names by then.
Speaking of power plays, the older generation of women seem to be of more interest than the younger women here, with their complicated family dynamics and competing interests. Oh please, let them deliver some good old fashioned soap opera shenanigans here because I see so little of it elsewhere! The girls are all uniformly stock so far, except for Eun Sang who’s too resentful to be a true blue Candy.
The show seems to be taking it’s time to unravel everything but the relationship of it’s main pairing. Which is perfectly fine by me, because I’ve decided to stick around a bit longer.
And is Heirs the first drama ever to have it’s own app? I think the kids from Empire high would approve.