by moonchild, January 13, 2021
152


How to decide to watch or pass a drama?

This article is supposed to be a rough guide from my perspective of how I pick a drama to watch.
I included all criteria I could think of but I’m well aware that this is 100% subjective.
That means you can follow my “guide” or follow your own as there is no right or wrong in watching a drama. The main purpose is that you have fun and enjoy it. So don’t take this article too seriously. I surely didn’t. ;)
In case you’re interested in the dramas I featured here I put a list at the end of this article with links to the pages of the drama.
Now I wish you happy reading!

The first thing you see is often a cover plus the name of a drama. So let’s begin with this.


THE TITLE


I have been watching dramas for a little bit over two years now. This means I learned a few things from experience and surely adjusted my picking/watching drama behavior to them but often enough I’m still simple-minded and that mostly applies to the title of a drama.

Words like Love, Flower, Story of/Legend of, King/Emperor, Queen/Empress, Dream, Tale, Fox/Gumiho work like a charm on me because in my eyes they hold the promise of an interesting (romantic or historical) story. Well, in theory. At a closer look, I often find things that make me retreat again but that comes later. The thing is I have some terms that make me perk up my ears and approach.

Words also work in reversed order. Some keep me away and the reasons differ.
Cinderella since I’m no fan of the Cinderella cliché story type, Tomb/Zombie because it indicates Horror, Alien -not much into Sci-Fi- and Prince/Princess as my experience so far with these terms was rather mediocre.

A title is either attractive or not to you. In the best case, it’s interesting and makes you click on it.
It’s worth following your intuition and clicking rather once more than less. Who knows you might discover a great drama even if the title is not exactly your cup of tea (cough, The Lost Tomb).

Run On



Graceful Family
Touch Your Heart 

Start-Up



Queen: Love And War

THE COVER


Let’s get visual. Some covers are colorful, others are pretty much mundane or remind you of a cover you have just recently seen and make you think if someone copy + pasted here.
I still get confused with a few dramas cause their covers are too similar.

The Blooms at Ruyi Pavilion

The Moon Brightens For You


Nonetheless, a cover gives away a lot about the drama and what to expect. Is it dark and rather mysterious? Then you’re probably dealing with darker genres like Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Crime, or even Horror.
Is it more colorful/pastel-colored? You’re most likely up to something “more lighthearted” like Romance, Comedy, Friendship, Youth, Family, or Life.


Whatever you prefer, a cover can hint you in the right direction.
But always remember: Don’t judge a book drama by its cover.


THE STORY


Okay, so let’s say you clicked on a cover/title because it picked your interest. What now?
I either take a look at the cast or story next.
Synopses are a rough or sometimes quite detailed overview of what the drama is about.
Ideally, it doesn’t give away too much of the plot and heaven forbid doesn’t include major spoilers but makes you interested enough to continue. Often it contains a lot of information. In a historical setting, it can point to a specific era or decade which could be interesting if you want to watch dramas playing at specific times.
Or it hints at love triangles, conflicts, and such in a romantic drama.


THE CAST


If you’re still there it means you liked what you saw so far from the drama.
Okay, then let’s move on to the cast. This is not my main criterion but often enough it is the one that leads to a decision.
Once you dive into dramaland and watch some dramas I’m sure you found some actors or actresses you call “a favorite” of yours. It’s the same for me.
Now there are different types of drama watchers though. There are those who dive into every drama their favorite ever starred in and then there are those who still care about a story that interests them. I’m both.
Eh, what?
Yes, that might sound confusing but it’s actually pretty simple. I’m a so-called “mood watcher” meaning I decide a lot on instinct and my mood. Sometimes I’m in the mood to give a drama a try even though there is something I’m not fond of and other times, I pass.
Reunion: The Sound of the Providence is such an example. It has my favorite actor Zhu Yilong but also my absolute nemesis genre Horror. The actor Pro won over the Horror Contra because I was in the mood to test my nerves further after completing two other dramas from the Lost Tomb Series.
Lesson learned: Sometimes it’s worth risking something. I liked the drama a lot.


Generally speaking, it’s okay to watch dramas solely because of a cast but speaking from experience there are times when this motive feels like a noble act because not every drama with a favorite actor/cast is 100% gold. So in my opinion it’s more than okay to also drop those dramas.
I recommend being open to a completely unknown cast. Chances are 50/50 that you’ll discover new favorites. Broaden your horizon.


THE GENRES AND TAGS


This is something I always check as it goes along with the story synopsis.
If you’re like me and have specific tropes you wanna avoid it’s highly recommended to check the genres and tags.
The difference between genres and tags is easy. Genres tell you what themes a drama has.
For example Sports topics, Crime, Melodrama, Romance, Historical, Business, and so on.
Tags are more detailed and tell you what kind of sport, which crime, what historical era...
Sport is not a sport. If you’re interested in basketball, a drama about swimming competitions is probably not what you’re looking for and this is where tags can help a lot.

Genre: School -> Tag: College Life / Sports -> Speed Skating

Genre: Mystery -> Tag: Family Secret / Crime -> Serial Killer


THE RATING


A topic that often leads to discussions and often enough they are heated which I think is sad.
We are all passionate drama watchers and of course, if we enjoyed a drama a lot or end up disliking it we want to see it get a rating it “deserves”. Thing is, we all have different opinions and preferences. Just because a drama sounds great at the beginning it might not live up to your expectations. Others might love it though.
What I’m trying to express is, don’t focus too much on a drama’s rating. It might be a hint if a majority of people liked or disliked a drama but it’s not displaying what you’ll think of this drama in case you watch it. I’ve watched dramas with a high rating of 9.0 and ended up rating it a 5 because it had too many flaws in my opinion.
On the contrary, I have given dramas a 10 rating that has an average rating of 8.0 or lower and would give a drama with a 1.0 rating a 10 if I like it that much.


If a drama that sounds good has a low rating you have several options.

You can go for it and build your own opinion which I encourage everyone to do.
If you’re the wary type and don’t mind spoilers for the drama you can go and take a look at the dramas reviews or comment section. You’ll find people who talk about the issues they had with the drama and why they rated it low. Then you can still decide if you want to watch it or not.
This leads me to the next criterion.


THE REVIEWS AND COMMENTS


Another subjective criterion but one I definitely appreciate as reviews can be quite helpful.
Just like comments, they point out the flaws of a drama or things that are positive.
To get a good overview I read at least one review of a user who gave the drama a high rating and one with a low rating. This way I have heard both sides and can better decide if the drama will be my cup of tea or not. The reviews should have a decent length and be informative to be helpful of course.
Reviews that go like “Wah, this is so sweet, the female is so cute. Go watch it!” are not helping me even if they show that the user who wrote it definitely enjoyed the drama.
Some dramas start very well but drop in quality during the second half or at the end which is why it's good to read reviews from users who have completed the drama.
Best reviews in my opinion do not only state if they liked or disliked a drama but also give you their reason for it. A statement like “the story was horrible” is more plausible for someone who hasn't watched the drama when it also states that said story was draggy or had plot holes for example.


If you have questions about a drama you can go and ask other users in the dramas comment section. Many ask if an ending is happy or sad. If this is important for you then the comment section is the right place to look or ask for it. If you share such information remember to mark it as a spoiler though. Not everyone is okay with spoilers, some people prefer not to see them.


THE EPISODE COUNT


I include this for one reason, to hopefully encourage people who shy away from long dramas to give them a chance. I was once one of them and realized I was quite silly and deprived myself of a lot of great dramas by doing so.
I know 50+ episodes look intimidating at first but trust me, it’s not impossible.
Until The Untamed I always felt small compared to the number of episodes but once I finished the drama I craved for another 50 episodes. So believe me when I say it’s not scary once you try it. An episode amount is just a number and you’ll forget about it once you enjoy the drama.


Out of curiosity I now wonder how many episodes the longest Asian Drama has. xD


THE MOOD


The one thing that is always changing and never consistent. Well, at least in my case.
My mood is a beast that loves to play tricks on me, so would I miss it if it were gone?
Yes, I would.
Without my mood, I wouldn’t have watched Guardian, one of my all time favorite dramas and the one that finally managed to get me hooked on dramas after failed first attempts.
Without my mood, I would have probably waited another decade before watching The Untamed because I was too scared of the hype about it and feared I might not like it.
Actually, I should thank my mood as it doesn’t care at all about any good or bad reason in this world that would usually prevent me from watching a drama.
Like the drama Mad Dog for example with a synopsis that was only mentioning insurance fraud (former synopsis, it’s changed to a better one now). It was my mood who didn’t give a damn about the boring first impression and urged me to start watching. Now half of the cast is in my favorite actors/actresses list and I discovered the great talent of Korean Actor Woo Do Hwan.


A mood is precious because it leaves out any rational thought and just goes with the flow and intuition. Sometimes that’s the best thing you can do. Try not to think too much about something, just allow yourself to be inspired and go with your feelings.
If there is a drama that has this magical magnet-like impact on you, go for it. Even if the rating is low, even if it’s not your typical genre you prefer, even if it has an overwhelming amount of episodes, do not be scared. Try it.


WILLING TO TAKE A RISK?


If all of that still leaves you unsure I have three more advises

  1. Put the potential drama that interests you on a list (custom list or watchlist under On-Hold for example) and come back to it later. If nothing changed you might keep it there for longer but maybe your feelings toward the drama have changed. Maybe you’re in the mood to just start watching and give it a couple of episodes. You can drop in any time anyway or you might end up binge-watching. 
  2. Go and take a look at the photos of the drama or watch the trailer or a Fanmade Video of it on Youtube or somewhere else. This includes the risk to see stuff you didn’t want to know but also the chance to see something you don’t wanna miss which gives you the final push you needed to start the drama. 
  3. Ask a friend. Maybe you have a friend with a similar taste to yours or you know someone who has watched the drama and could tell you their opinion about it. 


Remember: Whatever you do, have fun. Watching dramas is supposed to give you a good time.


We have reached the end of the article. I hope I could help a bit and did not make it more complicated for anyone. I referred to dramas only in the article. Everything applies to movies as well though. Well, aside from the part of the episode. ;)

If you have a couple of minutes, please leave me a comment and share your thoughts.


Dramas featured in this article:
Feature Image of Article: Age of Youth
Header (from left to right):
1st row It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, Kuzu no Honkai, Hotel del Luna, Mystic Pop-Up Bar
2nd row My Country: The New Age, Watashitachi wa Douka Shiteiru, Hitsudan Hostess, A Murderous Affair in Horizon Tower
Comparison covers that look alike: The Blooms at Ruyi Pavilion  & The Moon Brightens For You
Comparison of dark/colorful cover: Kairos & True Beauty
Cast Screenshot: Lovestruck in the City
Genre/Tags Examples: Skate Into Love & Flower of Evil
Rating Dramas: Hotel del Luna, Sweet Munchies, Star of the Universe, Autumn’s Concerto
Review: The King: Eternal Monarch
Episode Count: What Happens to My Family? & The Story of Ming Lan
Mood: Suspicious Partner
Trailer: Legend of Fei


Sources:

  • MDL for drama covers and info
  • JojoOnDatBeat: Credit where credit is due ;) Thank you for reminding me that the mood is an essential part of the process of choosing a drama to watch. Also thanks for your helpful advice, your patience, your support, and your kindness in answering every question I asked. :D
  • Feature Image, Header Photo, screenshots, and photo edits made by me

How do you decide whether to watch a drama or not?

Do you use criteria? Which one?

What’s your experience?

Has your behavior in picking a drama changed since you started watching dramas?

Thank you for reading my article!


Editors: BrightestStar (1st editor)

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