Heirs: California Dreaming

So the general consensus is that everyone is glad that Heirs finally left California and headed back to the motherland this week. I do get it–the English was awkward, the American extras were painfully amateurish, and nothing much seemed to happen. There was a sense that this very Korean production seemed out of place in America.

But that was the point, no? Isn’t California the perfect place for these two lost souls, both out of sorts and out of place, to fall in love?

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What better place than Hollywood for Eun Sang live out her escapist fantasy from the grinding poverty back home? And what better playground than Los Angeles for Kim Tan to drift in his own bubble of ennui?

California–the land of dreams where a housekeeper’s daughter could cast a spell on a chaebol heir, where her allure glows like those glorious California sunsets over the surf. It’s only possible because it is so far removed from the reality of Seoul. It’s Hollywood after all, where dreams are made, where the impossible could happen and does. Or so Kim Tan tries to sell to Eun Sang.

So we take the great American road trip with them, careening down coastal highways and desert landscapes. It’s exhilarating, the thrill of falling in love for the first time in this very glamorous, very American way. It’s impossibly romantic, and intensely pleasurable. HeirsEp3_15 HeirsEp3_01 HeirsEp2_09 HeirsEp2_07

And goddammit, it’s all so gorgeous; they are gorgeous. Lee Min Ho and Park Shin Hye are so physically stunning under the Cali sunshine that it hurts my eyes.

And I too want to wander among almond trees, and hang out at the beach, and cruise with the top down with a hottie next to me. I want to be young and fall in love for the first time in California too.

But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.  An air of sadness surrounds them. After all, neither of them wants to be in California under these circumstances–she’s penniless and abandoned, he’s been cast aside. It’s partly the reason why they connect–they’re not there on their own terms. The more grounded of the two knows that it’s a dream that can’t last. Hollywood, as Eun Sang notes, is farther than it looks.

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But darn it, let’s have fun while it lasts shall we? I’m so glad the other man in her life, her best buddy Chan Young, was there to enjoy it with her. But at the end, it’s no wonder she asks if it was all just an illusion.

My brain knows this whole California escapade is carefully calibrated artifice–maximise the pretty, pile on the cheese–but man, is my heart a massive sucker for this type of shit. It’s the gauzy dream-state of youthful love and K-drama sweetness and angst, heightened by the exotic locale that works like magic. And magic takes time to work, people. If it takes three episodes, then it takes three episodes.

All this wouldn’t work so well if the show didn’t sell them as people whom I already luff and root for. Pretty for pretty’s sake is hollow. Pretty with meaningful, soulful staring however, is gold. HeirsEp3_13HeirsEp4_12

So when we finally land in Korea, reality bites especially hard. Kim Tan probably didn’t think much about the prospects of an actual relationship with Eun Sang, being in the throes of a rush of feelings. Now here she is under the same roof, but she’s never been further away. He’s rightfully terrified of what this means and what’s to come. I’m sure a small part of him wishes they were back in California and I’m right there with him.

I read that the overseas location was originally supposed to be Australia. I’m so glad that that didn’t work out.

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18 thoughts on “Heirs: California Dreaming

  1. Even though I was waiting to for them to get back to Korea because it is there that the story would kind of start, I really liked the Cali part. Cali is just a break from their reality. And they both know that, even though Eun Sang is the first one to realise it. Being away from your life makes you more loose.. You don’t overthink and you just do what you really want. Things seem easier. And I appreciated this part of the story. It felt that their meeting was made in their own terms- two young people, bonding a little bit over similar situations. Having golden sunsets and beautiful beaches to help them in that didn’t hurt. Like a summer love that you believe that it won’t last when the weather starts to get chilly. And now they are back in Korea, back in reality and their “distance”, while living in the same house, will be evident. But I’m hopeful that they will overcome it. Tan is probably the one that will be making the first step towards that direction. Honestly I cannot wait for their story to unfold.. 🙂

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    • So true. Kim Tan wasn’t overthinking this for once, and just going with his gut. The Cali bubble allowed him to do that. I loved the Cali dreamworld, but Kim Tan needs to be grounded and it took Eun Sang to wake him up from his stupor. So in that sense, it felt like a prologue, and as you say, Korea is where the real story begins. I’m glad they’re home, but I wonder what this means for the pair and how they will behave towards each other! Kim Tan has fallen for her, but will he have the guts to pursue her openly??

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      • Hopefully he will have the guts. It seems like he has changed so now he might not care what others will say about him and Eun Sang. And I’m curious about Eun Sang’s attitude towards Tan. She was from the beginning the more realistic one and I can’t wait to see her changing her mind.. 🙂

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  2. I’m glad they filmed in California, too. I got excited and homesick at the same time. When I lived in California, I took it all for granted: the sunshine, the beaches, driving down the coast, the desert…etc. After living away for so long, it holds the same sort mystique to me. It’s definitely the right place for the two leads to meet and fall in love.

    sigh…btw, we had our first snow fall here in Helsinki today. >o<;

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    • Ooooh lucky you! Some day I may yet have my great American road trip ;P

      Snow already?! Okay, that I don’t envy you for. I don’t like the cold one bit.

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  3. Yes! I agree with you so, so much! It’s only in this magical, disconnected from their reality, place that Tan and Eun-sang could even cross paths. And that they had a lovely little moment in a roadside motel… it was perfect. And nothing that could last.

    And! We definitely needed to get this groundwork solidly laid before heading back into familiar territory. Otherwise we’d be relying on the usual cliches to tell us why these two work so well together.

    Of course, the groundwork itself relied on some of the usual trappings, as you pointed out. But it was applied with enough care that I bought it hook, line, and sinker. 😉 And of course, the groundwork could be squandered… but I really, really hope it won’t be. (Thus far, all signs point towards positive. :D)

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    • Oh Betsy you have such a way with words. I just want to say… lets start a cheerleading squad called Heirheads!

      Oh that roadside motel interlude is the stuff of my teenage dreams. If I were a k-drama character, that’s how I’d want my falling in love moment to be.

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      • I’ll bring the pom-poms! 😀 We have to come up with a Heirheads cheer…

        There’s such a romance to a road-trip. And they hit all the right notes. And! That they were so comfortable with each other! I mean, it was just the two of them, but they got on so well — enjoying each other’s company, making each other laugh… It’s no wonder Tan didn’t want to let Eun-sang go. (If only she weren’t such a darn realist… *sigh* I suppose someone had to be.)

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      • Yes they did hit all the right notes didn’t they? That little dusty breakdown put the romance in the romance. Ah so cute they were. And it is true that they were so comfy together, and we hardly see any of that in dramaland, like, a pair enjoying each other in a way that feels natural and real.

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  4. They switched from Australia to the US? That’s interesting, I’m sure Aus would have been cheaper. I would have possibly become a Lee Min Ho stalker though so filming in California was probably the smarter option, lol

    You’re definitely right, in that Tan never thought about what it would be like to date Eun Sang. They had their little fairytale happening in LA but how will that translate to seeing each other in Korea? Can’t wait for next week!

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    • Yes I believe because Dramafever came on board as co-producer, or so the little birds say. I can’t wait too. Will he tell her? Or will he hide? His house is big enough to believably stay hidden from her. Oh that final shot of the dilemma on Lee Min Ho’s face makes my fangirl heart sing!

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  5. Yes, right on, the Cali shoot was definitely a break from reality, a dream state. It ties in to the dream catcher and changing your dreams, or, in the case of Kim Tan, learning to hope, to dream. Yes the American stereotypes and casting was right out of porno acting. But, I do not get why people do not understand that the Americans, or Europeans standing in for Americans, are required to speak the way they do, slowly, and to enunciate, like an old school play. I wish it was different too, but obviously that’s how Korean drama makers and film makers require English speakers to talk.

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    • Porno acting! Hah so true! I’m so used to English being spoken awkwardly (to my ears) in K-drama that I hardly notice it enough to be bothered by it. I notice alot of really bad Mandarin or Cantonese in alot of US productions too. It’s just a directing drawback of a PD not being a native speaker (presumably). It ain’t no thang to me but it really seemed to bug alot of others.

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      • Oh, US productions and butchering other languages, heck even butchering native English country regional accents, is quite accepted, isn’t it? The k drama/film makers are clearly more interested in making sure English is enunciated precisely for the benefit of their non english proficient audience than in making it sound natural to native English speakers. I personally have a hard time finding fault with that.

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  6. Pingback: Heirs: Five Reasons to Keep Watching | obsessive compulsive (k)drama-watching disorder
  7. Pingback: The Heirs Awards | obsessive compulsive (k)drama-watching disorder

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