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23 July 2014 @ 02:29 pm

What's Up Poster 2

So, this is basically my last post before an indefinite hiatus because RL gets really, really real this year, but damn, I am so much in love with this right now that I had to talk about it, especially because this is one of those dramas that it's nearly impossible to even hear about, for some strange reason, and the only reason I ever saw it was because I've now seen close to 60 dramas and IT'S JUST HARD TO FIND STUFF, GUYS, LET ALONE GOOD STUFF. So when someone mentioned it as "underrated" on some forum or the other, I was like, 'eh, okay, let's give it a try before the Internship of Doom starts' etc.

(Also, apart from the 'let's just give it a try', I also started watching it because Im Joo Eun and Kim Ji Won!!! I am totally a sucker for these two and they were so wasted in The Heirs (as was everyone even remotely connected with that show.))

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Let's get this straight: THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER. It was written before DH or You've Fallen For Me and lost out on the market and collective memory because of ridiculous network issues. The fact that this drama is underrated makes very little sense considering how popular dramas of this category are, and considering how beautifully written and ridiculously well-acted it is in general, I'd genuinely expect it to be a lot more popular. So, the only real reason I can figure out for that is because of the various production/release related external issues, and that it's basically comprised of the K-Drama B-Team, actors who usually play the second leads (there's a lot of "Oh, It's That Guy/Girl From...") and don't have the drawing star power or idol appeal of either SUFBB or DH. However, that actor-character dynamic is a factor that probably worked for me, because the whole setting of this musical theatre undergrads trying to make it felt like they were trying to make it because of the meta casting choices. So the whole thing felt very college, when you're only dreaming of making it and the actual work you're getting done doesn't feel like it's going to get you anywhere. Further, tonally, it's very unlike a regular kdrama, which obv is a death knell in kdrama world. And and if the editing is a little abrupt, it's because it was externally messed up by the network, they legit cut down the episode length a lot, but I wouldn't have known that without actually knowing it factually (and it must have been a lot because the Fame performance from the freaking trailer doesn't make it to the actual show. I HATE THE SYSTEM). Also, it took some two years to release so all the excitement over it had died by the time it actually released, not to mention it was dropped by the major networks and then picked up by cable, all of which also adds to the 'underrated' part. And maybe because it's darker, more cynical and more off-beat than all its idol counterparts, and possibly more niche because of it.


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I didn't realize for the longest time that the title is a reference to Four Non Blondes' What's Up (maybe because I legit thought that song was called What's Going On till today) even though it's used often in the drama and is a part of one of my most favorite scenes ever. Honestly, I think it's a perfect encapsulation of what I love about this drama.Trying to get up this great big hill of hope, for a destination. The theme of being trapped is established right from the outset; Doo Ri auditioning with Nora's part from A Doll's House, Tae Yi stuck in a vulnerable childlike state because of her dad's death and mother's abandonment, Do Sung forever hidden behind the stage mask and his mother's political ambitions, Jae Hun's inability to break from the past because his self-definition is tied to it by now, Byung Gun with the excessive social anxiety created by an audience, Chae Young literally confined by her own persona. The frustration, the hope, the whole atmospheric feel of it; the complicated, confusing emotions where you're not too young to feel things you feel and yet everyone puts less value on your emotions because you're young. It's darker than most musical dramas-- You've Fallen For Me, Dream High, Shut Up! Flower Boy Band and looser, less structured, less plotted than dramas which can be considered ~objectively better and admittedly has a conclusion that is totally unresolved on a lot of angles, but it's grittier, realer because of it; not so much in story, but in emotions-- if that makes sense. Even when the things happening are predictable or incredulity-rousing, the feelings seem real. Maybe because the actors are so damn good. It's not even the Island of Misfit Toys appeal, because what this show mostly explores is that everyone is their own Misfit Toy in their own island. There's no standard of normalcy to adhere to. The naive country girl doesn't fit in as much as the cocky street rebel doesn't, the average singer doesn't fit in as much as the star doesn't, the idol doesn't fit in as much as the chaebol doesn't, the privileged princess doesn't fit in as much as the gamer girl doesn't. Nobody really fits in anywhere, and all you can really hope for in being shoved together is that your edges don't scrape people around you enough for you to be left alone.