by Cho Na, January 20, 2021
57

Warning: Minor spoilers for the dramas listed below,
mostly from the introductions in the early episodes. 
None of them tells the end/main plot. The dramas discussed:
The Bad Kids, Sixten Shoukougun, Highschool Big Bang,
I'm Tee, Me Too; Go Ahead, Cross Fire, 
Hospital Playlist, Dr. Romantic 1 and 2, 
and The Long Night.



INTRODUCTION

While watching dramas, I have noticed that friendship can last for a very long time. As the case with the picture above (you will see which drama further down the article, their friendship last more than ten years. Great friendship perseveres through hot dates to failing marriages. Therefore my topic in this article segment is introducing friendship groups that start at a young age (in some dramas) and carry on beyond that to adulthood (in other dramas).

Based on the friendship theme, I wrote two parts of articles on my favorite friendship groups of 2020. Since I have watched tons of dramas, normally there are many circles of friends I found. Therefore I divided the article into two parts: This part contains my 9 favorite drama friendship groups from modern youth and adult-life dramas. The other part contains my 9 favorite friendship groups in historical and supernatural dramas.

Of course, nothing lasts forever in the mortal world; neither is friendship. In these dramas, we see heartbreaks, betrayals, and deaths amongst friends (also happened in the dramas in the other part of this article). Therefore, I will minimize spoilers as much as possible, especially since these are all dramas released in 2020 you may not have watched yet, but might be interested in watching after reading my article. ;D I also rather posted the group's informal pictures than the drama official posters, that show their unity and closeness. Therefore:

Have fun reading the article!


YOUTH...

The Bad Kids (aka Cat's Cradle)

Country: China. Episode: 12. Duration: 50 min. 
I cannot believe that I started my article by writing about these kids: because they are... baaad! (not a spoiler here, it's in the title). Because they are not supposed to be friends. At least not for Chao Yang (Dollar Rong), a kid who is not interested in making friends but only good grades to make his mom happy. That's why he was full of distrust when Yang Liang (Shi Peng Yuan), a boy he knew in the middle school, and Yang Liang's little friend Pu Pu (Wang Sheng Di) showed up at the front of the doorstep. These two ran away from a welfare home. Since it's a government-run orphanage automatically, they were wanted by the police, like criminals. They sought refuge at Chao Yang's home when his mom was away for days to work out of town.

Yang Liang and Pu Pu's stay was supposed to be temporary, as they would continue their journey to find Pu Pu's brother. After a few days together, Chao Yang felt the warmth of their friendship, especially after the two other kids sincerely threw out a humble party at his birthday. To celebrate their short-term friendship, the kids went out picnicking at a nearby wilderness park and took photos and videos together. One of the videos contained a shocking murder scene that happened in the background. Now the kids did not only become witnesses to the murder but more than that: they created an unusual crime-based friendship.


Sixteen Shoukougun (aka Sixteen Syndrome)

Country: Japan. Episodes: 8. Duration: 20 minGenres: Friendship,  Romance,  School,  Youth,  Drama,  Mature.

When I was watching this drama, I was reminded of my high school years. Not exactly the same as what these teens went through, but their bond was similar to mine: friends are everything! Nothing you can get by reading just one-sentence synopsis on the drama page, so let me tell you a bit about the friendship they created. Two sixteens, Ibuki (Takeuchi Aisa) and Mei (Takeda Rena) have a super tight friendship no one can enter neither break since they not only have known each other from kids, but there was a past incident I cannot spoil you. So their schoolmates coined Ibuki the Prince (since she's tomboy) and Mei the Princess (since she's pretty). Entered Mutsumi (Itagaki Mizuki), the high school playboy, who made a bet with his friends that he could win over Mei. Much to the resentment of Ibuki, who is the protector of the fragile beauty. 

Then how can these people become friends? Together with Nao (Goto Yutaro), a gentle boy who is a bullying victim of mean girls, they created an interesting circle of friends. I really love the ending of this drama, it symbolizes that there are still great things to venture in their youthful years! I actually wrote a review about it, titled it "My Friends are the Center of the World, My Parents Come from Another Planet", lol. Seriously, there is no parent or teacher role in this drama who guide these teenagers during their identity search—only the four of them, supporting and advising each other throughout their high school years.


High School Big Bang

Country: China. Episodes: 15. Duration: 45 min. Genres: Comedy,  Romance,  School,  Youth 

I almost missed this cute under-the-radar drama due to only one sentence synopsis available. Besides, it's a high school drama, which is not my preference. However, the story is actually about this young brand new teacher Mo Mo (Chen Yi Xin) who has unorthodox teaching methods that do not really fit with the traditional teaching style. She couldn't help it, since she was a delinquent student herself in high school, only to be saved by her fellow classmate Feng Bai (EQUUS), who's now the school doctor. Besides, the crazy school board (I think) assigned this brand new teacher to handle a class of delinquent kids led by the most rebellious student Wu Wen (Lu Dong Xu). So the 'battle' between the 'eccentric' teacher and the 'savaged' students (the term used in the synopsis, lol) began. 

I put this in my favorite friendship group, as the drama not only shows the friendship between the problematic students but also shows their relationship with teacher Mo Mo. As she started to get to know her students, Mo Mo found out their dreams, problems, and painful backgrounds. She then approached her students in a more-friend-than-teacher way.


I'm Tee, Me Too

Country: Thailand. Episodes: 8. Duration: 35 min. Genres: Friendship,  Comedy,  Youth,  Drama,  Sitcom 

This drama is a light-hearted comedy, more a fan-service to non-Thai BL fans with BL actors, with the main protagonist the anti-social Wattee (Krist) - I will just put all actor's nicknames instead of their dang long full names ;D. Wattee has inherited a big house from his recently deceased mom, but he had no money to pay the house off. So he reluctantly rented out his house to five guys from the same university he was studying at. Everyone has 'Tee' word within their names: Maitee (Singto), Maetee (Off), Teedo (Tay), Teedet (New), and finally our lovely narrator with the funniest name T-rex (Gun). 

There was a reason behind why Wattee wanted only guys with 'Tee' word close to his name, but I won't spoil it. Still, he listed a bunch of ridiculous rules with hefty fines. Having come from different school departments, the guys didn't know each other at first but soon began to get close to each other. They found out not only their housemate's strengths but also their weaknesses, aka their idiosyncrasies that are more like their phobias that incapacitate these guys of their daily affairs. This is where the hilarious interwoven parts of the drama show, how they helped each other overcome their fears or dislikes the boys' way.



... AND BEYOND

Go Ahead

Country: China. Episodes: 46. Duration: 45 min. 
Genres: Comedy,  Romance,  Youth,  Drama,  Family,  Melodrama

Initially, I decided to watch this drama for Seven TanSong Wei Long, and Steven Zhang who acted as the young protagonists Jian Jian, her neighbor Ling Xiao, and her foster brother Zi Qiu respectively. But I ended up staying for many more talented actors and actresses: Jian Jian's dad Hai Chao (Tu Song Yan), Ling Xiao's dad He Ping (Zhang Xi Lin), Zi Qiu's mom He Mei (Luna Yuan), and Jian Jian's best friends Ming Yue (Sun Yi) and Tang Can (He Rui Xian), and not to forget the little stars who played the young kids (Cong Shang,  Xu Wai Luo, and Li Zhen Zhen respectively). Yeah, it takes that many to form wonderful friendship and family bonds in this drama.

Their friendship started with widowed Hai Chao, and his daughter Jian Jian got new neighbors upstairs, He Ping and his son Ling Xiao. He Ping is a divorced police officer who frequently worked out of town and left his son Ling Xiao alone. So Hai Chao took the boy to eat meals every day since he is a great cook and owns a small noodle shop. Added to the family is Zi Qiu, whose divorced mom left him. At first, Zi Qiu went back to living with his mom's family in the village, but seeing the little boy worked back-breaking labor at the farm touched the gentle Hai Chao's heart and he offered to foster the boy. So two young single dads raised three kids with no moms in the picture, having not much but love and care for each other, until the kids grew up very well.


Cross Fire

Country: China. Episodes: 36. Duration: 45 min.  Genres: Action,  Youth,  Drama,  Sci-Fi,  Sports

There are two friendship groups in this gaming drama: In the picture above is Team 1-Coin from the year 2008 where e-sport was still new, and people didn't think it can be a career; therefore e-sport games were usually just for fun not to be taken seriously. The players were usually part-timers and the ones who were seriously thinking as a full-time job were looked down on and ridiculed, and had to fight hard to achieve their dreams. In the picture below, it is Team Continue from the year 2019, where e-sport has developed with professional teams and international competitions.

Team 1-Coin, in which all decisions were practically made by tossing a lucky gaming chip, was led by Xiao Feng (Lu Han). Started as a friendship group of a bunch of part-time gamers who met at internet cafes, they competed only for little winning money to have barbecues and beer together. Until the developer of the game they played, Cross Fire decided to open competitions nationally. Xiao Feng then put a full-time team together with the help of his housemate An Lan (Cecilia Boey) who became the team manager. 

Team Continue was led by Xiao Bei (Leo Wu). He started the group since he couldn't join a prestigious group for a reason I won't spoil you. However, he promised his belated brother to continue his brother's dream to win the national game competition; hence it's what the team name 'Continue' came from (they even had pretty colorful team wristbands for that). 

Story-wise I love the Team 1-Coin better for comparison because of the hardship the team members went through to achieve their dreams (for example: piling together in a tiny 1-room motel, eating expired food, etc.). However, Team Continue was not without struggles either. The members were 'outcasts' from other teams (I won't spoil the reasons). Xiao Bei had to put several strangers with their antics together, and he didn't even have leadership experience! Notable also, the female member in a sport dominated by males: Jia Yi (Pan Mei Ye). Coming from an only female member gamer group, Jia Yi joined other male groups before landed with Team Continue. However, everywhere else she was only regarded as a girlfriend material (pretty and a gamer). Only in Team Continue did the guys treat her genuinely as a serious gamer who had her own dream to encourage more female gamers to be dedicated in the e-sport world.

To know more about this drama, here's a link to the review article: CROSS FIRE: A Gaming/E-sport Drama Everyone Can Enjoy.


Hospital Playlist

Country: South Korea. Episode: 12. Duration: 1h 30min. 
Genres: Friendship,  Comedy,  Romance,  Life,  Drama,  Medical 
In 1999, seeking a hideaway from the craziness of the university's welcoming party, Song Hwa (Jeon Mi Do) and her high school best friend Suk Hyung (Kim Dae Myung), hid in campus storage and met best friends Ik Jun (Jo Jung Suk) and Jung Won (Yoo Yeon Seok). Since then their friendship has nurtured, steadfast due to they went to med school together, fast-forward to 20 years that they work at the same Yulje Medical Center hospital and now they are proudly associate/assistant professors and surgeons of their expertise.

Since this medical drama emphasizes the human relations of the medical personnel related to their personal and work life, we see the in-depth characterization of our five protagonists that were not only influenced by inner interactions but also by the people around them (colleagues and family members). I like that their closeness also embraced their family members in the circle. We get to know about Ik Jun's son the cutie pie Woo Ju (Kim Jun) and how Ik Jun dealt with single parenthood. Also about Suk Hyung and Jung Won's predicaments having to solve their parents' problems. And their friendship will continue in the sequel Hospital Playlist 2 in 2021!

The most stand out element I loved watching in this drama that is different than other relationships is their jam sessions!

To know more about this drama, here's a review article: Why You Should Watch: Hospital Playlist.


Dr. Romantic and Dr. Romantic 2

Country: South Korea. Episode: 20 (S1), 16 (S2). Duration: 60 min (S1), 1h 10 min (S2). 
Genres: Romance,  Drama,  Medical,  Melodrama 
Different than the medical drama Hospital Playlist discussed above, in Dr. Romantic series the main roles are mostly the guest doctors who may not come back in the next season: Dr. Kang (Yoo Yeon Seok) and Dr. Yoon (Seo Hyun Jin) in S1; Dr. Seo (Ahn Hyo Seop) and Dr. Cha (Lee Sung Kyung). These series are also full of life-and-death situations that require fast action, therefore less meddling of the medical staff's personal and family issues. 

We can still watch the close-knit connection between the core staff of Doldam Hospital: chief surgeon Dr. Kim (Han Seok Kyu), anesthesiologist Dr. Nam (Byun Woo Min), ER specialist Dr. Jung (Yoon Na Moo), Head Nurse Oh (Jin Kyung), Nurse Park (Kim Min Jae), Director Yoo (Kim Hong Pa), Administrator Jang (Im Won Hee), and orderly Mr. Goo (Lee Gyu Ho). Either they are ready in the ER unit waiting for the flood of critical patients from nearby accident being rushed in, in the surgery room while operating a patient, or just chilled out or having a party at Dr. Nam's place.

Whatever the issues are, the hospital team is ready to face them. Whether facing the threat from closing their beloved hospital in S1, where the Doldam team marched to meet the bigwigs in the parent hospital Geosan University Medical Center, as shown in the picture above. Or personally taking care of their beloved team member, in this case, the retired Director Yoo as pictured below.

Season 2 has ended earlier this year with a possibility to continue to Season 3, where Doldam Hospital will be independent of the parent hospital and get the government grant to open a critical center, and a new hospital director possibly Dr. Park (Kim Joo Heon) from S2. Whatever the production team will give the audience, we will wait patiently. Knowing that S1 was released in 2016 and S2 in 2020, we may safely expect S3 to be released in 2024? Hopefully sooner, but producing an action medical drama with lots of accident and/or natural disaster events may take some time!


The Long Night

Country: China. Episode: 12. Duration: 45 min. Genres: Thriller,  Psychological,  Crime,  Investigation 

The friendship in this drama is heart-wrenching but breath-taking. The story was told as flashbacks, though thankfully it was quite clear about the timing with clarification on the screen about what month/year the scenes were. 10 years ago, the young and handsome Jiang Yang (Johnny Bai) was just graduated from law school and became a county prosecutor. He was energetic and righteous, and soon he took what seemed to be a suicide case of his former classmate in a remote village. Right away he got help from the county police officer Zhu Wei (Zhao Yang) and the county forensic examiner Chen Ming Zhang (Tian Xiao Jie), and these three formed not only a dedicated investigation team but also a life-time friendship. 

The trio didn't realize that the case was not just a local murder case but connected to a bigger conspiracy in the area. Along the way, the faith and perseverance of the team won others who saw the sincerity and loyalty of the core team, and they joined in. I won't tell you the additional circle of friends as there are hidden identities and plot twists. 

The dedication to the truth and the loyalty to the friendship earned tears shed by the entire investigation team that closed the case 10 years later in the present time. I too cried through the whole final episode. What more beautiful was when the criminal profiler officer Yan Liang (Liao Fan), returned an item, that was confiscated before as crime evidence, back to the trio as the most important token of friendship between the past and the present investigation teams.


Credits: I do not own any of the images used. Credits go to the respective owners. The cover image and the first image were put together from screenshots of Cross Fire. Other images are taken from official posters, stills, and screenshots found in MyDramaList and Google search. 


Which one is your favorite group?
Which friendship group do you want to watch?
Do you have any other drama with a great friendship group to recommend?

Tell us about it!

Thank you for reading!


Editor: Yuanwei (1st editor), BrightestStar (2nd editor)

hospital playlist go ahead cross fire the bad kids sixteen shoukougon highschool big bang i'm tee, me too dr romantic 1 dr romantic 2 the long night

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