Mun Sne Amat Srey Every December, when we bring back our Year in Review series and reflect on the year as a whole, I experience a mixture of excitement and fear. The process of writing reviews is fascinating and enlightening—sometimes you don’t realize you even feel a certain way until compelled to put all those inchoate feelings into words—but wow, can it also intimidating. I always like reading what other people have written. We probably made it that way on purpose, but we can’t help but always want to accomplish more!
I’ve been writing year-end reviews for ten years, and the truth is that it never gets any easier. But this year, something that has likely been developing for many years has been clear: the more dramas I watch, or perhaps it’s just as likely the older I become, the more I care about how a drama makes me feel and the less I care about what I believe I should think about it. These days, I’m more concerned with a show making me feel something and evoking strong feelings than I am with what could be considered its objective merits, such as the caliber of the acting and writing or technical accomplishments. Not that those situations can’t coexist; in my ideal world, I would like everything to be perfect. However, life is too short to be depressed over what you watch or don’t watch!
The Dramabeans crew will be reflecting on the 2016 programs that either sank our battleships or just tickled our fancy in the upcoming weeks. It’s been an unusual year for me; overall, I’ve been happy with the dramas’ quality and believe that the overall bar has been raised, which is wonderful to see. However, I’ve also had a fairly rough year personally, which is largely due to the fact that I spent half of it in bed (hip surgery in my thirties, yay!). This explains why I’m still constantly thinking about medicine. Positive: I had plenty of time to watch dramas thanks to it. Even if some of them were terrible, I was thankful for the diversion since sometimes even a lousy drama is preferable than none at all.
We’ve been experimenting with our structure once more because our staff has increased so much this year (hello, hoobae minions, we’re so happy to have you with us!). We’re trying to figure out how to include everyone without overwhelming you with feedback. We might discover the ideal framework in ten more years. Here are our reviews to tide you over!
This Week, My Wife Will Have an Affair became my favorite program of the year despite its surprise debut late in the season and quick ascent above other shows. I was charmed by the director’s contemplative, quietly compelling film Awl last year, so I expected this drama to be good. However, considering its dryly hilarious approach to the theme of a man accusing his wife of cheating, I was astonished by how profoundly it engaged my emotions.
I was first drawn in by the character’s sharp sense of humor since I thought it was amazing that someone going through such intense mental pain could also be so funny to see. I truly liked how the play brought terrible realities to light with sardonic wit while not making fun of his suffering. Then, as the drama developed, the pathos—along with a realistic, compassionate, and sensitive writing style—started to gnaw at my heart. Dramas rarely depict infidelity difficulties in a very nuanced way, but this one really opened my eyes. Rather than justify adultery, it addressed the couple’s marital problems in a complex way. No easy solution, no one culprit.
Although Lee Seon-kyun’s neurotic fury was wonderful, and Boa and Lee Sang-yub’s side romance provided a welcome diversion whenever the main connection became too intense, this drama excelled in many other areas as well. However, in my opinion, the majority of the program was a masterful piece of directing. It’s quite an achievement to make the internet a living, breathing character, but this drama succeeded in doing so brilliantly. In addition, it gave the internet a growth narrative of its own, represented by the recurring users who served as both effective individual characters with a backstory and as symbolic representations of society as a whole. I adored how the drama depicted the role of the internet in our society—a commonplace object that may occasionally do immense good or huge harm. My ugly cry was in response to an unanticipated outpouring of support from fellow internet users that hit me square in the gut. I have never been more affected by the generosity of strangers on the internet than I was during this drama. (In addition, I’ve never had such intense anxiety, empathy, or suspense when watching someone read a message board on the internet.) We have the ability to exercise power! I hope we can all use it for good rather than ill.