(Oct – Nov 2009)
who’s in it
Jang GeunSuk (Hong Gil Dong, Beethoven Virus)
Park ShinHye (Stairway To Heaven, Tree of Heaven)
Lee HongKi (member of FT Island)
Jung YongHwa (member of CN Blue)
what’s it about
What happens when the heavens and the flashy brightness of kpop collide? Well, I’ll tell you, You’re Beautiful happens! And it is a wonderful fantasy land, my friends, an unrealistic but completely perfect place where idol angels sing and cook and flit around grocery stores in the middle of the night doing darling things with commercially freeze-packed products (get your mind out of the gutter, it’s not like that – yeah, you got me, I wish it were, too).
In this dazzling universe, popular kpop male idol group A.N.Jell is looking to add a new member to lend some harmonizing help to their vocally strained lead(er) singer’s voice, played by the one and only gorgeous Jang GeunSuk, who’s [real life] mother may have given birth to him and put him on this planet just so he could play this role. Back to the drama: turns out, their newly recruited member is actually out of the country for the time being and gets secretly replaced with his twin sister, but she’s not just any girl! No, no, no, she's a girl completely unfit to be an idol. She’s a pure and earnest yet endearingly naïve and clumsy Park ShinHye who has been cloistered away all her life in preparation to become a nun. She has no familiarity whatsoever with the Korean pop music world (or the real world in general, for that matter). Now, if you are also unfamiliar with kpop, I assure you, pretty boy idol bands like A.N. Jell are all the rage in the K-music industry right now.
After rounding out the last two members of A.N.Jell with equally gorgeous Lee HongKi of real idol group F.T. Island and bright new star Jung YongHwa, of recently debuted [real] idol band C.N. Blue, we got ourselves the settings for a pretty delectable looking plate of kdrama protein, baby!
This is a Hong sisters kdrama which may or may not mean anything to you depending on how religiously you follow such things.
If it doesn’t mean anything to you, I give you Jung YongHwa as your wildcard factor for this one. These days, I have a personal soft spot for Jang GeunSuk and am prefering his brand of hotness, but I don’t think I’d be grossly exaggerating by saying that the C.N. Blue crooner/melodic-semi-rapper named YongHwa seemed to know what the ladies want because he robbed a lot of them of something precious: their sanity. A disturbing lot were stolen, yes indeed.
after the first episode
When I first heard about this drama and its ‘concept’ of Boys Over Flowers in the idol world, I really didn’t intend on watching it, much less enjoy it. I did, however, take into consideration that Jang GeunSuk is a pretty decent actor and was curious enough about his accepting a pretty boy idol role when it seemed in the past he’d shied away from characters that wanted to highlight or cash in on his pretty face.
What did I think after the first few episodes? If it’s not already annoyingly obvious, let me put it another way: I vowed never to judge another kdrama by its cover and at least give them all a go for no less than 3 episodes before laying down the judgmental hammer. The thought that I might have missed this gem really made me anxious…and wonder, seriously wonder, How many other secret little pieces of magical-unicorn-fairy-dust-leprechaun-gold drizzled kdrama candy have I let slip through the cracks due to my narrow-minded pigheadedness? It worried me, the ramifications of this--this novel idea that books really shouldn’t be judged by their cover…because come on now, who doesn’t do that!?
Not really, as far as I’m concerned. And it’s so rare for me not to want to slam my thumb on the gas pedal. I am perpetually addicted to the fast-forward button. This was a different addiction altogether though. To be shamefully honest, I oft re-watched episodes two or three times over after it aired…
There was some emotional turmoil between the characters, of course, but it was always balanced with humor and light-heartedness. They ate more ice cream than got drunk…but maybe that was only because they were sponsored by Baskin Robbins and Beard Papa's.
what didn’t work
Nothing! But if I had to say one thing, I’d say Jang GeunSuk’s mother - the villain - was difficult to understand completely. Sometimes I thought she was the perfect foil, but then a scene would slide on by and I would wonder, would this type of character really act this way? Are her flaws realistic or overly caricatured? In the end, I decided her character had a depth of pain that perhaps a 16-episode romantic comedy couldn’t do justice and it only seemed [slightly] unrealistic because we didn’t have enough time with her to really understand her fears and failures.
It all worked. The extravagant humor, the good-natured mocking of the kpop idol industry, the music, Jang GeunSuk, Park ShinHye…it was a really, really fun ride. The fantasy sequences were especially wild.
what made me want to gouge my eyes out
The low ratings. The truth is, I was watching this with another drama fan and this person accused me of being a “traitor” for tuning into IRIS as well, a Lee ByungHun vehicle (more like monster truck) that aired around the same time and steamrolled over all its competitors. IRIS wasn’t necessarily bad, but I tell you what, it certainly didn’t deserve that entire pie of ratings it horded. That’s not totally easy for me to say as a Big Bang fan and...oh, TOP, I apologize, but yes, this is me kinda dissing your drama. Anyway, my friend was just joking about my being a traitor, sure, but it did kind of feel like that. It did upset me that this wonderful little drama didn’t seem to be getting the ratings approval it deserved in Korea. No offense to IRIS fans, but really, You’re Beautiful was a better bang for the buck, especially considering how much it cost to make the exploding bomb that was IRIS.
what kept me going
I don’t think anything less than massive internal bleeding and death could have kept me from finishing this one.
predictability The end, yes; the journey, no.
eye-candy YES YES YES YES
hair and fashion Lots of guy-liner but it is a necessary evil of the idol world
is it worth trying to find?
total enjoyment factor
why this review is completely biased
Oh, I dunno, maybe because I just freakin’ deakin’ insanely loved it? This review is such a completely biased sacchariferous fawn-fest that even I gave myself a slap across the face and a major eyeroll. I mean, who knew, I guess there are A.N.Jells on earth! Heh. *embarrassed chuckle*
No, but to be less fangirl-insane for just one second, there is a reason why I think this kdrama is perfect and why it has climbed its way to the top of my all-time favorites list. Is it because it’s the most thought-provoking? No. The best at everything including plot, acting, dialogue, etc.? No. But I ask you, does such a thing even exist?
I watch kdramas because they are fun and enjoyable and can bring delight in storylines that have a beginning, middle and end. All I know is, You’re Beautiful reminded me of why I fell in love with Korean dramas in the first place and why I am willing to wade through the many depths of crap to find the rare gems. For two months, my Wednesdays and Thursday were a happy place to visit and it brought a spring to my step and ultimately, that’s all we can ask for in entertainment, regardless of the medium. It was my perfect drama because, well, it made me giddily happy. What else is there and what better ruler is there to judge it by?
could a non-kdrama fan like this
I sincerely think so.
As if it wasn’t already clear: I loved it (even more than brie and bread, and trust me, that’s a lot).