In lieu of a review, and since it’s awards season, I will steal a leaf from Writerly Rants who has given away her own awesome Heirs awards all series long.
Favourite OTP: Hee Nam and Ki Ae
The relationship between Kim Tan’s mother and Eun Sang’s mother was everything an OTP’s should be– supportive, reciprocal and a real treat to watch. I enjoyed them, and as the only women in the show who drew strength from each other, it was a source of warmth and light in show that felt so glum. We got to see them grow from unlikely allies to bickering ahjummah besties, despite their class divide (perhaps because the divide was false anyway). Dynamite actresses Kim Sung Ryung and Kim Mi Kyung deserve kudos for being, well, dynamite.
Favourite OTP scene:
The mums go on Mission Impossible.
Runner up: Chan Young and Bo Na
I want put them in my pocket and carry them with me everywhere. I shudder to think what this show would’ve been without this couple and their cutesy dynamic. I never expected Krystal and Kang Ming Hyuk to be so winsome so points for a welcome surprise.
Favourite performance: Kim Woo Bin
Well, perhaps this is a little unfair since the script made it all too easy for Kim Woo Bin to steal the show. Young Do’s was the only well developed arc of the series. He was the only character who had a real journey, or heck, even a multi-faceted personality. Kim Eun Sook fell in love with her bad boy and gave him all the things. (And maybe even the music director too because Young Do got the best theme song. Is there anyone Kim Woo Bin didn’t charm?) And coming away with the lion’s share of the best lines, it’s not surprising that I have alot of affection for this reformed bully. And I don’t say that lightly.
Kim Woo Bin didn’t have to make Young Do feel so dangerous and borderline evil. He could have just coasted and played a straight-up asshat. Instead, I could picture him snapping the heads of kittens and feeding them to his Rottweiler for fun. To go from having a palpable menace and a capacity for violence, to softening as the damaged boy hiding underneath surfaced, to make that huge transformation feel believable takes some real skills.
Someone please give this boy a lead role, preferably something against type. Maybe a loveable dork? In a noona romance so I can live vicariously? I’m ready to see what else he can do.
Favourite Young Do scene:
…and his ‘break-up’ with Eun Sang.
Each shows the sides of his personality that I like best–his sense of humour, his lack of sentiment and his brutal honesty.
Biggest waste of talent: Park Shin Hye
In a cast of thousands with so many characters hung out to dry, this is no easy award to give out. I have to say though that Park Shin Hye got saddled with the sorriest role in the entire show. It started quite promisingly but went rapidly downhill the more Eun Sang became cannon fodder. I had a hard time reconciling the actress who was so great as Flower Boy Next Door‘s Go Dok Mi and the actress we see here coming off as a charmless shell of a person. In FBND she had superior material, and a comfort with Yoon Shi Yoon and a better-suited PD which played to her strengths.
But here, the script’s weakness and a mismatched PD brought her limitations into stark focus. I’m reminded of Lee Min Jung in Big, an actress not without considerable charm, who similarly could not pull off a poorly-written character. At some point, skill must come into play. I can’t imagine this will be a performance Park Shin Hye will be particularly proud of although it will not dent her popularity one bit. But lets face it, the show did nothing for her and vice versa.
Runner-up:Choi Jun Hyuk and Im Joo Eun.
I’m thinking somewhere between these two is an awesome drama waiting to happen. Or maybe as one blogger noted, the drama really should’ve been about Hyun Joo and Kim Won instead. I’m inclined to agree. But see, with what little they had to work with, Im Joo Eun especially, they still brought it. Remember Hyun Joo’s looking woefully at Won’s uneaten porridge in an early episode? Awesome. That’s what great actors do. They bring it, and they leave us wanting more.
Hyo Shin planting a wet one on his noona. How did this chaste forehead kiss thrill me so? Was it sexy because Hyo Shin was nervous and awkward? Or did Kang Ha Neul sprinkle some panty-dropping pixie dust on-set? Somebody give this boy a chance for a proper on-screen kiss. Preferably in a noona romance so I can live vicariously.
Most WTF-random moment
In a show full of random, this was a toss-up between the Hyo Shin-Rachel kiss, a feeble attempt to give these two some last-minute sizzle that fizzled instead…
…and the discovery of who was behind the the dead body-outline in school. Eun Sang’s monologue in the final episode on this was just, just…WTF?! Was it a morbid form of protest? Symbolic of repressed desires? Is it supposed to tell us more about Eun Sang? I dunno. I feel like I just got trolled by Kim Eun Sook. Wake me up when the montage ends.
Favourite fashion fail
My poor Kim Tan. It boggles the mind that he got the lion’s share of fugly, although a couple of others were worthy challengers–I remember evil second wife appeared briefly with no skirt in an early episode. But my fave has got to be his grandma’s sofa suit because this literally made me giggle. But in truth, Lee Min Ho can pull off anything!
Favourite fashion win
Young Do channelling Captain Jack Sparrow. It works.
Hands down, the California cruising. Technically it’s not a montage but whatever, details. It’s exactly what I wanted to see in a flashy, big-budget drama about two gorgeous teens falling in love. It would’ve worked even if the car was a beat-up Kia. But the point is–the wind-in-hair, the sunshine, the joy, the cheese. It’s perfect!
A close second, is Kim Tan’s outing himself back in Seoul, when the conflict felt real and the chasm between him and Eun Sang insurmountable. Cue: “Love isssss the momeeent!”
I close by lamenting, oh what might have been. Such a fantastic cast with many possibilities for soapy thrills. I had to remind myself how much I actually liked the show at the beginning–I liked Kim Tan and Eun Sang, their rapport, their flirtation, the gazing, the glorious corn of it all.
But then what was enjoyable dissipated along with any semblance of a plot. Kim Eun Sook’s leads morphed from likeable creatures to mutant K-drama grotesqueries. It frustrates me that she can draw interesting characterisations, fantastic dialogue, marvellous scenes, but then doesn’t care to construct a narrative, a story. If only she would work with a partner who could cover this base we’d have some drama worth watching.
The drama also took itself too seriously, and this is where part of the blame also lies with the PD who also seems to have lost the plot. If I think deeper, the show’s thematic conclusions (on class and wealth in particular) are abhorrent, but the truth is the show really had nothing much to say about anything. It’s only intention was to be a vehicle for pretty angst-ing by our pretty leads. Which would’ve been fine if at least it had been consistently entertaining.
But oh well, I will always have California!