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?
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.
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.
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.
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.