Tuesday, January 3, 2012

K-Drama Review: The Musical, Episodes 1-2

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 1-2

Eun-Bi is a medical student, but her heart is in musicals. She daydreams about the Phantom of the Opera and watches musicals on her iPhone when she should be paying attention in class. She hasn't tried out for any shows yet, but she entertains herself by singing at all hours.

Jae-Yi is a composer who has worked on hit musicals, but now he's burned out and he wants to write pop hits. He's a little frayed around edges, a little world-weary, and he says that money and fame are his major goals. (Uh-huh. We'll see how long that lasts.) Some of his hesitancy to compose has to do with his ex-girlfriend Kang-hee, whom he knows he'll run into if he rejoins the world of musicals. Six years after the breakup, Jae-Yi has not moved on. One night, Jae-Yi hears Eun-Bi singing one of his songs on the street and he tells she has no talent for musicals. But his insult gives her the strength to pursue her dreams.

Fast-forward to one year later, when Eun-Bi has cut her hair into a boyish bob and is working in the snack bar at a movie theater as a way to support her dream. She is faced with opposition not only from musical producers (she has auditioned 80 times with no results), but also from her dad who is tired of her taking leaves of absence from med school. Fortunately, Eun-Bi meets Jae-Yi again and he is actually impressed by her energy and her ability to memorize music. He takes her on as an apprentice because he wants to do something that will bring back the joy of music for him. Jae-Yi gives her a big opportunity--if she wants to be in a brand new musical, he'll sign on for the project as well and write the music. If she isn't ready to follow her dreams, he'll back out of the project, too. Guess what she picks?

Things I Loved: 1. Eun-Bi. She wins me over right away. How could you not love a girl who's smart enough for her third year of med school but wacky enough to daydream about musicals? I sing so much myself, I feel like she's a kindred soul. As an actress, she wins me over 100%, and makes me want to see her happy and see her achieving her goals.

Completely Devoted to Music, and Soooo Cute.

2. Eun-Bi and Jae-Yi together. When they meet again a year later, not remembering each other, it's an adorably sweet moment when he asks her to sing part of the new song he's written. You mean he's going to play pretty music while she sings it? Whee! Even in the first two episodes, these people are good for each other. When Eun-Bi's with Jae-Yi, her confidence is better, and when Eun-Bi says that music electrifies her, her attitude challenges Jae-Yi to examine why he makes music. And he's so nice. Could we possibly have a male lead who is actually an upstanding guy? Normally, the K-drama leading men are jerks at least to some degree, but this guy recommends Eun-Bi for a role in a big musical, becomes her tutor, and is generally helpful.

Nice Man. Successful Composer. Your Mother Would Love Him.

3. The stressful auditioning process. While this is not by any means a dark, gritty show, it does portray the sadness and embarrassment of failing an audition. All over the world, it's the same--you have to work, claw, and scrape to get an audition and even if you are cast, your chances of success are extremely slim. This show doesn't really try to sugarcoat the difficulties of being a struggling actor or singer, and I appreciate the lack of overt glamour.

Get Used to Disappointment.

4. Funny moments. I particularly appreciated Eun-Bi comparing her own face to Nickhun of the K-pop band 2PM, when deciding whether she could pass as a boy to win a male role in an audition.

No, Eun-Bi, You Look Nothing Like This.

Complaints: 1. Christine. She's bossy, braggy, clingy, and terribly annoying.  Christine moves in with Eun-Bi for free room and board and offers singing lessons in return, only her lessons have a negative affect. I really dislike the freeloading Christine, but I hope she may have some positive impact in the future plot rather than just being a monkeywrench in the proceedings.

Your Cutesy Act Isn't Fooling Anyone, Missy.

Themes: Love of Art vs. Love of Fame/Money. Eun-Bi loves musicals just for the sheer joy they bring her. Jae-Yi loves his art, but in order to protect himself, he has decided to focus on money. Yujin on the other hand likes his profits and only supports art as long as it's lucrative...

Yujin is an interesting character. He's the grandson of an important businessman, and he invests money in musicals. Yujin's very intelligent and knows where to put his money, and he also has a lot to prove to his own relatives, who have some major inter-family tensions. But is he a hero or a villain in this story? It could go either way.

Cold, Calculating...and Sinister?

Cultural Observances:

Korean stuff vs. American stuff: Gu Jak jokes about giving Jae-Yi a "New York style" welcome, before hugging him. Christine also says "New York style" in regard to a certain kind of singing, which I've also heard called "the Broadway belt". Jae-Yi himself went to Juliard in New York.

Soju: Jae-Yi threatens to stop buying soju for his friend Gu Jak, and the little green bottles can be seen in a few different scenes. Korea is basically the Ireland of Asia, so drinking culture is huge over there, and it's absolutely normal.

K-pop: The hit song "Roly Poly" by T-ara plays in Eun-Bi's apartment.

New Words: "Halmoni" is "grandmother", and Eun-Bi has a lot of phone calls with her grandma.

Episode evaluations: Surprisingly endearing. The show might not be very funny, but it has a couple of lead characters who I care very much about. I think I'll keep watching!

Watchable bonus: Here's the first part of the first episode, subtitled in English. Taken from Youtube.

1 comment:

  1. I love how she sings her medical terms! The two main characters seem so endearing.