Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cheongdamdong Alice Kdrama Review

Source
Confession:  I stopped watching Cheongdamdong Alice around episode 11, so maybe my opinion on this one isn't entirely valid.  As we've already established, though, just because I didn't finish doesn't necessarily mean that the whole thing was a train wreck.  Here are a few brief thoughts on the whole thing:

Overview

I was drawn to this drama because it showed up on Netflix, but then I stayed for the premise.  The optimistic "Candy girl" (*see the explanation below) who cheerfully works hard under any circumstances is a kdrama staple, and Cheongdamdong Alice was a refreshing twist on the formula.  It finally asked the very real question of "What happens to Candy girls when things don't get better?"  What happens when cheerfulness and optimism only yield more trouble and pain?  At what point does Candy stop being Candy?  

Han Se Kyung (Moon Geun Young) isn't always the most likable female lead, but people aren't always likable when their lives have been trampled, and I appreciated that honesty of characterization.  Even when I didn't agree with her choices, I could at least understand them.  (Okay, except I think most of us would jump to goals like "I want to have enough money for rent and food" before heading straight to "I want to marry a rich guy so that I can own fancy purses.")  Even the initially wicked rival became increasingly human as the series progressed.

Note to self: If I ever need to hide a terrible secret from my past, I should probably not cry and start to tremble every time anything remotely related to it comes up in conversation.
 Opposite to Se Kyung, we have Jean Thierry Cha, played by Park Shi Hoo.  I have kind of ambiguous feelings about Park Si Hoo as a person, but as an actor, he always throws himself into roles.  Yes, he overacted some scenes to the point that it was a borderline offensive portrayal of mental illness.  But you know what?  I appreciated that he wasn't the stereotypical male lead.  So many male leads fall into either "grumpy and cruel" or "nice doormat" categories, and Jean Theirry Cha was slightly different.  Sure, he was a chaebol with a grumpy exterior and a broken heart, but that only lasted for an episode or so before he became enthusiastic and vulnerable.  It was kind of a nice role reversal to see the male lead fretting over his feelings while the female lead pretended she didn't care.  He was trying so hard to make the chemistry believable, and even though I didn't always buy the relationship as a whole (maybe because Moon Geun Young looks so young and was stone-faced all the time?), I at least bought his side of it.  Bonus?  The overacting gave us moments like these:
He's definitely the Mad Hatter in this fairytale...

So why did I quit?  There wasn't anything specifically terrible about the series that made me stop.  I just kind of lost the will to keep watching after a while.  Once they got together, I had a sense where the series was headed, and it didn't seem worth it to spend another 6 hours getting to the end (I later read spoilers for the last episode, and it ended much like I suspected it would).  I started fast forwarding things as early as episode 2, which should have tipped me off that I wasn't fully engaged from the outset.

*The term "Candy girl" in Korean dramas stems from a Japanese manga written in 1975, where the main character, Candy, is an orphan.  She maintains a cheerful, hardworking, selfless attitude through all of her trials until she is finally adopted by an anonymous rich benefactor.  When kdramas refer to someone as being a "Candy," they often mean a kind woman who works hard until a rich guy sweeps her off her feet.

Conclusions

I can see why people give this drama credit for its social commentary and its twist on the traditional kdrama formula, but every time I started a new episode, I kind of wished that I was watching something else.  Once I gave up and actually started watching other shows, I was kind of relieved.

Where to watch Cheongdamdong Alice:

9 comments:

  1. I also stopped watching when Han Se Kyung asked her rich friend to help her be like her. It did not make sense for her character to change like that despite the situation. Only difference is I quickly browsed through it until the end, skipping part.

    ReplyDelete
  2. hadn't heard the name earlier...

    ReplyDelete
  3. One of the most thoughtful and least stereotypical of the Dramas I've watched, but I understand and empathise with everything you've said about it. Not a favourite, more like something I'm glad I watched for the exercise

    ReplyDelete
  4. i stopped the watching the dramma in early 5 minutes :p

    ReplyDelete
  5. You captured my thoughts exactly. I too stopped watching this drama - however I lasted a little longer - dropping it after ep. 13 or 14 and then skipping to the last episode. I had the same issues you did. I couldn't agree with her choices, didn't love the heroine (she just wasn't convincing in her role), thought the male lead was miles better and found myself rooting for the second female lead. But in the end, my reaction to this drama was MEH. Didn't like it, didn't hate it. Will I watch it again? Most definitely NOT nor will I recommend it to anyone. I felt that whatever message they were trying to convey with the drama kind of got lost somewhere in the midst of it. My end reaction - what was the point of whole drama?

    ReplyDelete
  6. try bel Ami..will wait for your thoughts on that :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. i really liked this drama; i think it's worth watching till the end because it makes you think about class and love--who you love, how money and social position are in important in the choices that we make, in real life as much as in reel life. it also gives you a sense of how money matters--you can work very hard and have great grades but that doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be successful. i liked the way in which is questioned certain stereotypical characters of bad girlfriend, evil scheming guy. at the end of the serial, we realize it's the hero who lives in a fantasy world--and he needs to change.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love this one & have watched it quite a few times. but i did almost "Give up on it" the first time i watched it, but i am glad i kept going :) one of my fave's :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Am i the only one over here , who liked this drama ? esp the acting of Park si ho ? lol

    ReplyDelete

Total Pageviews