Monday, May 6, 2013

Kind of Like Exercise: Flower Boy Next Door Review


In order to explain my feelings about Flower Boy Next Door, allow me to make an analogy. Flower Boy Next Door is like exercise; I had a very hard time getting motivated to actually start each episode, but then once I got started it felt good, and I remembered that I actually did enjoy it. This in contrast to things like childbirth and puppies, which people think are a good idea until they do it and remember how terrible it actually is (I've never actually given childbirth or raised a puppy; they just seem like terrible ideas that people have.) Unfortunately, Flower Boy Next Door was one of those Korean Dramas that I just couldn't quite get into and struggled to finish. However, it had a lot of really great moments for me that made it mostly worth it. I typically give up on kdramas that don't make me battle with my inner 5 year old self to go to sleep over, but this drama had such a strong beginning that I felt compelled to see it through.

(Vivi's note: I also watched most of this series recently, but since I never actually managed to finish the last two episodes, I'll let Coco take this one!  I liked the series, but I got distracted with other things.  I'll add some of my observations here and there.)


Main Plot Summary:


Flower Boy Next Door stars the "Queen of Romantic Comedies", Park Shin-hye, as as Go Dok-mi, a young woman who becomes a recluse after a devastating event in high school makes her a social outcast. One of the only ways she connects to the outside world is by spying on her attractive neighbor across the way. She is caught in the act of peering through binoculars one day by the neighbor's cousin, Enrique Geum, a whimsical video game developer played by Yoon Shi-yoon. He decides to help her rejoin the world and open herself up to love and friendship, along with the help of three other attractive neighbors.

Reasons why FBND is worth the 16 hour investment.

1. The Poetic Themes


The female lead, Go Dok-mi, is an aspiring writer so we are able to listen in on her inner monologue as she writes about her experiences with coming to open her heart back up to love and being loved. She makes some beautiful observations about human relationships that make the show very touching. My favorite example of this is when she realizes that the reason that Enrique appears to be able to read her mind is because, "To that man, love is seeing with both people's eyes and feeling with both hearts, seeing the world more deeply." Once she realizes that this is what love is really all about, she can then read his thoughts as well. This moment really pulled the whole show together for me on an emotional level.

(Vivi's note: I would also like to give a shout-out to Go Dok-mi's POETIC HAIR.  Holy freaking cow. That is the best tousled hair I have ever seen in my life.  It almost made me want to become a recluse who doesn't shower.  Almost.)

2. The Humor


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Although I was not a big fan of the male lead, and was totally on the second male lead's side, he did have the gift of physical comedy going for him. There were some moments, particularly at the beginning, that made me literally LOL, and I don't use LOL loosely. I hate when people just throw out LOL's when you know that there's no way they actually laughed out loud. This drama was able to remain appealing to me because it played funny moments really well, especially thanks to the fact that several of the characters also star in Saturday Night Live Korea and other comedy shows.

(Vivi's note: The panda hat makes me super uncomfortable for some reason.)


3. The Side Characters:


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How cute were they? So cute! The webtoon artists next door were adorable and just really good guys, not to mention totally hot. I'm not really sure why the Japanese guy existed since he kind of appeared out of nowhere, did not push the plot forward at all, and then made an odd exit, but at least he was cute and added to the number of flower boys next door. The editor of the webtoon, played by Kim Seul-gie, who also stars on SNL Korea, was super funny and I really hope I see more of her. I feel like she's the Korean Emma Stone, and I freakin love Emma Stone. And the second female lead had the best facial expressions and over the top acting that actually made her character really great. All in all I approve of the casting choices and character development of the side characters.

(Vivi: Can we petition to have Kim Seul-gie star in her own drama?  I would love to see some of that sass and physical humor in a kdrama lead!)

Reasons why FBND is not worth the 16 hour investment:

1.The 10 long, repetitive, and uninteresting episodes in the middle


 Thinking back on these, I honestly can't even remember what happened. I think it was an awful lot of,
"You should leave me to go live your dream."
"No, I will never leave you, you are my dream."
"Fine I'll pretend not to love you so you will go."
"No, I won't go, jk, I will go, jk, I won't go, jk, I actually did go."
With me going, "What? Did he go or not? Just go already!"

All in all, Flower Boy Next Door had a lot to offer but just had too much time to do it in. This drama could have been a great 2 hour movie instead of a whole series. If they had cut out the unnecessary plot points and overdone scenes and just focused on the beautiful themes and character development, then it truly could have been a great drama.

2. The Male Lead


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I'm not a huge fan of Yoon Shi-yoon. Sometimes his man-child goofiness came off as endearing, but more often than not it came off as irritating and unattractive. I actually thought he was much hotter when he had a on serious expression than when he smiled. I need my male leads to be a bit more suave and manly. This was one of the first kdramas where I experienced no jealousy of the female lead for getting to kiss the male lead. I just really loved the second male lead so much and felt like he was a better match. I know that this drama wanted to play up the whole "opposites attract" thing, but let me just say that I once took a social psychology class, and that theory is pretty untrue. Humans actually love being with people like themselves. Hence the reason why we get so excited to run into other kdrama fans! The second male lead just seemed like a much better fit for the female lead, even though I know that the point was that he would have let her keep living the way she was living and never would have pushed her back into the world the way Enrique did.

(Vivi's note: But don't you remember how they beat the audience over the head with that nature metaphor? Something about trees?  Or wind?  And that was supposed to make us understand why Enrique was her true match?  I actually let the show convince me that Enrique was better for her, but that doesn't mean that he was better for me.  I'm sorry, but I will choose the outwardly sarcastic but inwardly thoughtful comic book designer over the hyperactive chipmunk who wears knee socks any day.)

3. The Unbelievable Plot Points


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The whole premise for the cause of her becoming an extreme recluse seemed over the top to me. Maybe I'm just not as sensitive as other people (although I'm sure Vivi would tell you differently) but it just seemed unlikely that her experience of being shunned and made fun of in high school would make an otherwise normal person become completely shut off from the world. Maybe they could have done a better job of explaining how severe her experience was to make it more believable. Mostly I just became irritated with how sullen and depressed she looked all the time for 14/16 episodes. I was like, "Get over it! You have 4 freaking hot guys being your friends/lovers. I could get over anything if that was me!" Also, the whole video-game-designer-crazy-sabotaging-fan-thing was a little weird and over the top too. Maybe it's just because I'm not a gamer, but I didn't really get it.

(Vivi's note: Her diary made the sullenness bearable for me. Sure she was terrified of everyone, but at least she had some personality inside her own head!  That's more than I can say for a lot of sad kdrama ladies.)

In conclusion, I loved Flower Boy Next Door for what it could have been. It started out so strongly and I couldn't stop watching for about the first three episodes. Then something happened and it became very tedious to watch until the last few episodes, which were funny and endearing, in which it redeemed itself.

What was your opinion of Flower Boy Next Door? Also, are there any other kdramas that were like exercise to you? Comment below.

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26 comments:

  1. Paradise Kiss was a struggle to keep watching - the female lead was too infatuated. Everytime she was with the 2nd male lead, she acted confident and would redeem herself but then would get lost again. On another note, I would watch flower boy next door just for Kim Ji-hoon(slurp, sorry for the drool included with this post)!

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    1. Haven't seen that one, but I'll add it to my avoid list. I agree with you on Kim Ji-hoon! HOTTIE!

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  2. Aww.. and I absolutely LOVED this show and was generally sad when it ended (in fact, I think I'm still a little sad that it's over). I actually didn't like the second male lead, and while I usually like the more manly first leads, I loved Yoon Shi Yoon in this and rooted for them! (P.S. he's super hilarious in his first variety show Barefoot Friends right now.)

    I agree the actress that plays the editor of the webtoon needs to get her own show!

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    1. Part of the reason I may have found it hard to get through was just how exhausted each night I was at the time. I can definitely see how people would love it. Yoon Shi Yoon definitely grows on you. I'll have to check out Barefoot Friends. Also, let's get a petition going for the editor girl!

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  3. "I'm not really sure why the Japanese guy existed."

    I am: Because they want to sell the drama to Japanese networks for lots of money ;)

    Although I have an intense amount of love for this show, I see where you're coming from with its downsides.

    Compared to some Asian dramas, though, Dok Mi's reasons for being a recluse are really well developed. The Jdrama Nobuta wo Produce, for example, starred a character way more broken than Dok Mi—and the only reason for her to be so traumatized was a slightly less than wonderful relationship with a stepfather. One of the reasons I stay away from Jdramas is I find the characters unbearably delicate. Buck up, grow a spine, and get on with life already.

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    1. That's interesting about the Japanese networks! And I haven't watch any Jdramas, but that sounds terrible.

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  4. I liked it. Park Shin Hye is one of my favorite actresses. Plus, the couple was cute. Though it did get slightly boring. Still pretty good though!

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  5. ahh.. this was the first & only K darama till date which i found difficult to get through the end... i couldnt watch it..more over because i didnt like first male lead.. really got disappointed to find that he is the one who is going to get the lady at the end..His acting was over the top & annoying...just like over excited puppy..i felt bad for second male lead.. i was rooting for him ...anyways, i feel director couldnt do justice with the story & it had lot of potential..that strong chemistry between lead characters which draw me to these dramas were missing big time..i left it in the middle & read the ending online still hoping if they can change the ending by any chance..:P

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    1. I totally agree! Glad I'm not the only one :)

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  6. I completely agree with your review! The beginning of the drama left such a deep impression, that's what pulled me through the middle episodes which were slightly dragged on, boring and confusing. I got distracted quite a few times. The end was satisfying and rewarding though, and it made me think it was worthwhile watching this drama afterall! :)

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  7. Oh my I usually agree completely with your blog. I just honestly was positively in love with this drama though. I watched it from around 5pm at night til 5 am I was madly in love with the 1 male lead and I found his acting just adorable. I was not exactly a huge fan of the 2nd male lead. It was almost refreshing of having a male lead that wasn't a complete jerk at first. This and Flower Boy Ramen Shop are definitely my all time favorite dramas. I was slightly confused on why the Japanese boy was there but he was adorable as well. I would recommend this drama to anyone with a real lighthearted mood. It really lightened up my life and relieved my stress. I have actually watched it multiple times. I find it underrated but that might just be me :D

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  8. If you guys like Kim Seul-gie, then you should see her in Infinite Power. It's Dramafever, and it's one of the shorter internet dramas, so you can knock it out in a weekend. It's absolutely fantastic, and she really shines in it.

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  9. Yeah, I watched that because she was in it! It was really good and you're right that she shines it.

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  10. It's in my top five favorite dramas now, and it's not even a full drama! I really hope she continues to get good roles like these, because I really enjoy the characters she plays. They're really different from a lot of your typical female leads.

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  11. I commented about Kim Seul-Gie's awesomeness and completely forgot to say what I wanted to about Flower Boy Next Door, lol. Personally, I really enjoyed Flower Boy Next Door. I relate to Go Dok Mi immensely. I struggle with some very serious self esteem problems. I used to be unable to look strangers in the eyes. I avoided going to stores by myself or getting gas by myself or really doing anything in public by myself (I still struggle with that.) And forget talking to boys. Unless I knew them pretty well/they were mutual friends of one of my close friends, it just wasn't going to happen. And that was only a few years or so ago when I was in college! I also suffer from depression, and one of my biggest struggles is finding the desire to leave my bedroom. I can go to church and out to eat with friends and even go to work, but if I have no plans for the day, then I will be spending it in my bedroom watching youtube videos. Partly because I just don't want to do anything, and partly because I have very little energy in my reserves each day. And since I am unemployed (damn recession and economy), I spend most of my days at home. Most people don't realize just how easy it is to shrink into yourself until you no longer know how to let yourself back out again. It's the easiest thing in the world. As for the drama's explanation for why she couldn't leave her apartment, I think it is plausible. It just wasn't fully explored. Most people can do the basic, simple things that we all have to do each day. For girls like me and Go Dok Mi, it can turn into an impossible battle. I'm 26 now and have been slowly finding my way through the scary, confusing, twisty maze of growth and healing, and I can say with utmost certainty that the story of Go Dok Mi is (almost) exactly right. My only complaints with the drama are the following: We needed to see more of the teasing and bullying. It needed to be more intense. And the reaction from the teacher wasn't strong enough either. I didn't realize until the end that he had actually sold her out (the jerk). And that ending. For someone who had spent years of her life cooped up in her apartment, she got over her fear of the outside awfully fast. I've suffered from depression unknowingly for 13 years and knowingly for about 3. You don't heal and get better that quickly. I would almost kill for a speedy healing like she got. (I wouldn't, just in case anyone reads that and freaks out.) So yes, I think the story is realistic and relatable. It's just not for everyone, and understandably so. (I'm not gonna defend the character of Enrique, because I completely understand why people would find him annoying. He's not a real person. But I loved him and wished her were a real person and felt more then a little bit jealous that Go Dok Mi got to have someone so wonderful in her life who didn't get frustrated or angry at her when she just couldn't make herself better, but who just picked her up and carried her until she could stand on her own. I could really use an Enrique in my own life, and I guess watching this drama was sort of like living vicariously through Go Dok Mi for me.)

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  12. On a not depressing note, aside from how much I related to Go Dok Mi and was jealous that she got to have Enrique, the secondary couple were my favorite thing about this drama. They are one of my favorite Kdrama couples of all time.

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  13. Thanks for sharing your story. That does make me appreciate Go Dok Mi more. I hope you find your Enrique and your own healing!

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  14. Your story has some similarities to mine. From the self-esteem problems to the fear of social situations (outside of close friends and family), I can greatly relate. I'm also 26, unemployed, and still battling with self-esteem issues, depression, and PTSD, so thank you for sharing your story as well!

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  15. Personally, I can relate to Go Dok Mi very well. As Torio has said below me, the show didn't really fully utilize the bullying angle, so that might have made it harder for other viewers to understand and believe why Go Dok Mi became so reclusive and fearful of people. But from what I recall, it was both mental and physical abuse. And wasn't it implied that her classmates were posting things about her online? I think it was implied during a flashback where Go Dok Mi was searching for herself online? But don't quote me on that because I'm not 100% sure. On top of that, she stopped talking in her sophomore year of high school, so whatever really went down, it seems like it was psychological enough for her to stop speaking for the remainder of high school school. I do believe it could have been better handled, but from what I personally inferred, I thought it was all plausible to me. Also, I suffered through some pretty hardcore bullying from middle school all through high school. And I can personally attest to the fact that any degree of bullying and shunning can have detrimental effects. It only took "one time" for it to break me down. And then there is the psychological damage of the same horrible thing happening over and over again and you're helpless to stop it. (I reached out for help, but unfortunately it was never enough for it to ever stop.) I had the most supportive people in my corner through the worst of my bullying days, and no one could pull me out of my own head once the damage had been done. It's, quite unfortunately, never that easy. Oh how I would have loved an Enrique-like personality in my life, though. I loved his energy, constantly talking, and upbeat attitude. He also had a lot of warmth and life and strength to him. Sometimes it was a bit too much, but I honestly adored him. I wasn't really feeling the comic book designer, but I did like how gentle and kind he was. No matter what, he always wanted the best for Go Dok Mi. But, other than that, I wasn't really feeling him. And usually I'm drawn to that type of personality and character.


    How Go Dok Mi acted throughout this drama was like looking into a mirror. (Of course, I never became a recluse to her degree, but I do still prefer the quiet solitude of home over being out in social situations. I'm still a work in progress, but I'm getting there. I still struggle with social situations, anxiety, depression, and PTSD... but the worst of it is behind me, now.) I honestly enjoyed the pacing and raced through this drama in record speed. It might be a bit slow for others, but I was glad I gave it a shot because it's not often I find a female lead I can relate to so earnestly.

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  16. These stories help me see Dok Mi a little differently. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

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  17. Thanks for sharing Your story! It's always nice to know you're not alone.

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  18. I loved this show because I could relate to the female lead SO much. I have OCD and generalized anxiety which has turned me into a bit of an agoraphobe so I completely understood her dwelling on her fears and locking herself up to protect herself from the risk of being hurt by others. Even though I loved the second male lead, I much prefer YSY's character because he didn't enable her. He wanted her to get better so she could be a functioning human being that doesn't have to live in fear, and while 2nd lead was well-intentioned, he clearly didn't understand her like YSY did because if he did, he would know how painful it really is to be locked up alone all day, even if the person who's hiding won't admit it.

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  19. Can't stand the goofy dudes, I just want to punch them in the face. This and Flower Boy Ramyun Shop are my two least favorite kdramas. The older "wacky" dude in Ramyun shop was so insufferable and irritating, as well as too old for the chick that it was just creepy. This show, the dude was incredibly annoying, but at least age appropriate. The same guy directed both of these disappointments, and I'll be sure to avoid anything of his in the future.



    I knew I was in trouble with this show when the lead got the airport and said, "I don't speak Spanish, my dad hates anything not Korean". REALLY? Then WTF did he name you Enrique?! Too may terrible choices made by the writer and the director.

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  20. This was one of those shows which really requires some patience on the viewer's part, but still it's worth watching. Although the male lead here would normally not be my choice for the one to end up with the girl, I rooted for Enrique by the end of the series. He irritates you with his goofy expressions and over the top antics, but gradually you find it cute and loveable. I loved his energy and positive attitude. The show could have been cut down to 10 or 12 episodes if they had avoided all that back and forth arguments between Enrique and Dok Mi about going to Spain. I just don't understand why she couldn't just realize and accept what he wanted in his life, instead of trying to push him away every time she hears something from his fans. And what's wrong with his fans? Coming up with crazy ideas and agendas to send someone off to Spain so that you can play a few games?!!(No offense to any gamers in here, but I don't get it.Maybe bcoz I am not into gaming much.) But the one point that I really appreciate about this series is that unlike all other dramas that I watched, the last few episodes were not too emotional or tragic. It maintained the gloomy vibe( with a few cute and funny moments, thanks to the Flower Boys and the editor) throughout and suddenly took on a vibrant mood towards the end. Overall I am glad that I watched it. It had a really superb cast.

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  21. I loved Enrique and his goofy side, I think we need more male leads like this, and I don't mean panda hat wearing ones, but kind, sweet and not grumpy. I also had troubles finishing the series, but overall it left me with a good impression.

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