This is NOT 9.5/10 show… but it is. Let me explain.Technically speaking, the show was quite a mess. The editing, directing and pacing were all over the place, but Fightor storyline was close to perfection, and even if you don’t want to watch the whole show, watch Fightor. As far as I know, they are one of the best BL couples up to date with the most fresh and not stereotypical personalities. Or rather, nice twists to the boring stereotypes we know.
LET’S TALK ABOUT ACTING
While most of the cast did a good job, I want to focus on the talent Zee showed. I rarely ever get amazed and impressed by acting in BLs. Often I see the imperfections that make me feel less emotionally attached to the characters, because I don’t see them as real people. Meaning, I don’t immerse myself in the story completely.
Not here, though. Zee’s eyes… oh his eyes spoke volumes! I like to call them "Fighter's searching eyes". While his whole presence showed more of a cheeky and confident side, his eyes showed all the insecurities he had. He was also really good at controlling his microexpressions. Sometimes less means more and makes the performance seem realistic. Viewers are not blind. An actor does not need to make full theatrical gasp with a hand up to their face and huge eyes, for us to understand that they got scared, surprised or taken aback. Simple, short intake of breath is enough. The split second of a reaction, but that’s all we need. I appreciated these small things a lot in his acting.
Overall, he makes these small decisions while acting - when to close his eyes, when to open them, when to fix his gaze and when to make it unsure, when to swallow or take short intake of breath, perfectly timed and telling viewers so much about Fighter’s character.
Both Zee and Saint are also masters of using pauses for their advantage to make the storytelling even more believable and engaging. It’s a perfect example how sometimes not doing anything can enrich the portrayal of the character. With Tutor, the pauses are more intentional for the character, it's his time to "decide", think about the consequences of "what if you push forward a bit more" and with Fighter it’s not intentional, it's him not being able to get back to reality, not being aware whatever happened or was about to happen, ended.
Tommy aced his role. His overreactions were still natural and did not feel theatrical. As the story of Zon and Saifah progressed from comedy to romance, I was able to appreciate more of his subtle acting, with shy smiles and joyful laughter. The potential he has and the flexibility in this craft to fit different genres and moods of the story impressed me a lot.
Jimmy did well for his first role. He did feel more inexperience and his performance fell flat compared to other cast members, but I could see how much of a progress he makes in every episode.
TUTOR AND FIGHTER: DYNAMICS OF LOVE
Ever changing dynamics of their interactions were simply beautiful and amazing to watch, to the point I could write a book about it. Tutor is nothing like your usual stereotypical shy, confused, passive bottom and Fighter is anything but the dominant, overconfident, possessive top. Tutor does not let Fighter get away with the teasing and always questions his behavior, demanding answers and explanations. They pull and push, but never cross the line if the other person is not okay with it. THE CONSENT ladies and gentlemen was a recurring theme. Always giving each other space and time to back off and stop whatever was happening. I wish I could say no forcing yourself on the other person after you've been pushed away, but I guess (?) that was an important part of the plot and the development of the relationship.
THAT SAID, while the behavior of a character was definitely wrong, the way the writing and editing portrayed it was close to perfection. It was a situation that should never take place and the editing and acting surely did NOT make it look like a romantic behaviour. It was not one of the “force it till the other person gives in and starts to enjoy it”. Was it painful to watch? Yes. Was this scene well done? Yes Was it necessary? Yes and no. It showed the mental state of both characters in a raw way that could not be achieved in any other take. Sadly, because the writing of the show, up to that point, didn’t explain enough in how bad of a mental place one of the characters was, this behavior might have felt out of place. In my opinion, they could have mellow it down and not go that far, and still convey needed emotions, desperation and broken state the characters were in.
To sum FighTor up - it’s hard to describe the depth of what was happening between them without quoting specific scenes, but you can see so much through the acting. How both characters struggled with internal conflicts and the feeling of unsureness. And yet, they gravitated towards each other.
PROBLEMS WITH PACING AND EDITING
Shall I say the pacing was a clusterf*** even before the COVID-19 happened and I literally laughed at how confusing everything was? Coz that’s how I felt. But then I just said: wherever, let’s just enjoy this acid trip.
While I was in love with how they handled Tutor and Fighter’s story and the pacing was everything I might have wished for, the fact the drama focused on them so much made the other characters suffer. With the overload of characters and couples, it was doomed from the start - not gonna make it. How can you have well established and developed 5+ couples with their own side-stories? Goal impossible to achieve.
Zon and Saifah... where to even begin. Zon the first half of the episodes had 10 different personalities, I was confused. Because the director did not spend enough time showing us the gradual change in Zon’s perception of his situation and relationship with Saifah, everything just came out of nowhere. There were not enough scenes showing us how Zon went from panic to soft. Which was a bummer, because their sweet story could perfectly balance the drama happening between Tutor and Fighter. We were robbed of such an amazing story it truly pains me.
Don’t even want to talk about Hwahwa. Poor girl makes no sense, her feelings change every second. Just sad. Justice for Hwahwa and her beautiful hair flip.
It’s hard to comment on other characters and their plot lines since they were just dropped here and there without much linear progression nor explanation.
The audio editing was distracting. While the use of some comedic sounds was fine and brought a smile on my face, they definitely overused them. The scenes would be funny even without some random sounds dropped every few minutes. Video editing suffered quite a lot because of COVID-19. In later episodes there were some black screens showing up, the subs were missing, we got the same action done by characters shown in x number of angles, just to stretch the scene a bit more. It was not tragic to the point I could not focus on the plot, but the difference in the quality in the first and second half was quite obvious.
BACK TO POSITIVES
What this drama does have though, is an amazing message. While, in default, most BL dramas are supposed to promote - love is love no matter what gender, Why R U does not shy away from talking about it in a straightforward manner. Calling out and questioning homophobic characters, explaining to them how they are wrong, showing how being heterosexual does not mean your love it perfectly good and will never fail. There were quite a few scenes that deserve to be called “iconic” in BLs realm for how well written the dialogues for them were.
Overall, Fightor is life and perfection. I was legit obsessed with them and rewatched their scene every week. I was never as invested in any couple in drama ever (and I have seen quite a number of them). Watch their story, fall in love and let’s all fangirl together.
PS. While my rating is extremely biased and subjective, I tried my best to be more objective in the review itself. Hope it worked out well-ish :)
WARNING: this is NOT a review for someone who has not seen the show. I just need to express all my thoughts somewhere.
So… Are you bored and tired of the “I’m not gay, I only like you” plot lines in BLs? How much do you wish some shows would address the hardship of coming out? The fear and confusion related to it? How much do you wish to see a well written, heartbreaking conflict that is not based on poorly written and ridiculous random jealousy? How much do you wish to see well written supporting female characters, whose whole arc is not just “I ship two cute boys together”? You get all of that and more in Like in the Movies.
The story revolves around the exploration of sexuality and identity. What makes us who we are? How much should we compromise between who we are, want to be and who others want us to be? How to react when you are both pulled back in line and pushed out of it by people you love and care about? How to make a relationship work when one person has already finished the race, but the other is not even on the track yet? Each character represents a different story, different perspective and different point of view. Their actions might make us angry, sad, heartbroken, happy or annoyed, but we see the reasoning behind what they do. We might disagree, but we understand. And this just proves how good of a writing quality Like in the Movies presents. There are no silly villains, nor over the top crazy exes or evil parents. There are just people. Real people with flaws, fears, hopes and dreams.
“Don’t be scared of the word. You can say it. I don’t mind”.
Vlad was an emotional fluff that spoke the truth and gave everyone some real lessons. I cried because of the words he had spoken. He showed how much being an educator can accomplish. Knowing Karl has no bad intentions, he was willing to explain everything to him, was patient, but firm about his views. As someone who would rather sit down and explain things over getting defensive and offended myself, I truly appreciated and loved that about Vlad. Of course, it was not his responsibility to guide Karl, but his understanding approach just impressed me. Communication is the key, not only in romantic relationships, but also any type of social interactions. He didn’t play mind games, spoke what he thought and felt and it was up to others to accept it or not.
His story is also truly heartbreaking. It shows how stigma and homophobia in a society can shape the way we see and interpret situations, especially at a young age. In the past, he associated every negative and bad action of people around him as a result of him being gay, even if it was not true. But the truth is often meaningless. It’s the perception that matters. It’s the perception that guides your thoughts and feelings. And, like in Vlad's case, it takes years to look at the situation from a different perspective. If society did not present being gay as something bad, Vlad would never assume his dad left because of that. He would never assume his mom was against his relationship because she did not want her son to be gay.
Vlad represents someone who fully accepted himself. Who is proud about his identity and does not want to hide it. Who, after facing so much hurt and struggle, does not waver. Who wants to proudly give and receive love. Who just wants to be happy.
“I don’t know if I’m like you. I don’t even know who I am”
Karl never had a chance to explore who he was. He lived for his brother. He lived as his brother. Getting away from the expectations put on him by his family, allowed him to slowly learn about himself. And it was scary. It was unfamiliar. It felt great when he didn’t think about it, but you cannot shut the thoughts out for eternity. You need to face them one day, but if that day comes too fast, if you are not ready… that can break you. Or push you even more into a corner. And that’s what happened with Karl. External circumstances forced him to face it when he was not ready, when he felt emotionally confused and vulnerable.
He was brave enough to tell his parents about his dream, about the goal of switching majors, about his will to chase his dreams. It was a tough decision to make and required a lot of strength. The aftermath of his decision was still unknown to him, and yet others expected him to do it again. To face the expectations of his parents. To rebuild the identity he had so far, to completely reevaluate how he thought about himself. No time to think, no time to accept, just expected to act accordingly. But he deserved that time. He deserved a minute to explore and get accustomed to who he was. Coming out should have been his decision, that he made on his own terms, in the time that he felt comfortable about.
“But I just don’t know how to get to you (...). I’m still navigating through this.”
Judit represents what happens when driven by guilt, you go from one extreme to the other. She is clearly close to being paranoid and definitely overprotective over Vlad. Taking into consideration the pain she caused him in the past with the words she said, now she does everything she can to save Vlad from disappointment and heartbreak. And she definitely crosses the line doing so.
She acts as a fake ally persona, which is closer to fujoshi. Not knowing the full story and observing her behavior in the first two episodes, one could assume she is another crazy female character without depth who just ships all the guys that are in close proximity (flashbacks to Zol and her “shipping my brother and writing stories about it” behavior). But then, with episode six we get a complete shift of the perspective and actual explanation for her action.
While I still didn’t like her overpowering and overbearing presence, I understood where it came from. As Judit said: she is still navigating through it. It’s obvious her and Vlad never seriously talked about the situation, the past and how to move forward. During that episode she faced her mistakes for the first time, she apologized for the first time. Before that she did what she thought was correct, not what actually would be helpful. As always kids, communication is the key. But even after that confrontation, she still does not completely change her ways. And it’s frustrating, but also realistic. You cannot just change who you were for years after one honest conversation. It takes time, it takes others pointing out your mistakes countless times. Talking with Vlad was a great start. But it was just a start. All the hard work is still ahead of her.
“I don’t want to blame her one day for all the time that I have lost for myself”.
One could say that statement and Anna “running away” from her child is selfish, but it’s the opposite of that. She is not giving up on her kid, but she is not willing to give up on herself too. She is a mother, a great one, who raised her child alone for years, but she is also just Anna, a woman that needs time for herself. Need time to chase her dream, to live and have fun. How could she make her child happy and encourage her to work hard if she gave up on herself? Words are not enough, you need to be a true model for your child. And that’s what she is doing. Feelings are not something we can control. She can love her child with all her heart, but still have these small “what ifs” creeping and poisoning the relationship and bond they have. What if I didn't have her? Where would I be? Who would I be? Would I be happier? Would I be more successful? What would my life look like? The thoughts that we have no control over. So yes, Anna is a badass person and an amazing mother. Even though she is just a supporting character, she also tells an important story that brings more value to the series itself.
Moving away from the characters, I have to admit something: this show slapped me across my dumbass face quite a few times and I’m glad it did. I like to think I’m not one to judge and jump to conclusions (especially negative ones) quickly, and this drama showed me I’m not quite there yet.
It started with the opening scene and my “glorious” thought “wow… way to start a BL with a cliche of 2 pretty guys dancing in random pretty location”. Boy, I was wrong, and when we finally got to see the full scene in episode five, I just felt stupid. It was not “just cliche”, it had powerful messages and quite an impact. “Maybe that’s why it’s such a big deal to me because it’s just a small thing and I still got deprived of it” is quite honestly one of my favorite lines, one of the most impactful, and one that represents well how twisted and wrong the world is.
Another moment that hit me hard was the Judit and Vlad’s conversation I already mentioned. I truly thought she was just hyped fujoshi and there is nothing more to it. And yet again, I have been wrong and I felt stupid for jumping to a conclusion when nothing was even presented to me to validate my position. Don’t know if these two moments say more about me or the BLs as part of the entertainment industry. I was fed poorly written female characters and cliche plot lines for so long, sometimes it’s hard to have higher expectations.
Another thing I loved about Like In The Movies: it had big brain energy. It has been just clever and not a second of screen time was wasted. All the small interactions and details were meaningful and I’m legit too dumb to even notice them all. I just loved how scenes, interactions, small behaviors connected and were explained at different parts of the story. Vlad not liking people touching his hair? Far more than “just because he doesn’t like it”. Small details like that, turned out to have such an emotional and deep root for them. Vlad finishing a scary story with the “corpse in the closet” idea, and then he finds a photo of Karl’s brother in the closet, thinking it’s Karl. Truly big brain energy. There were many moments when I went ”damn… that’s why they showed it a few episodes ago”. Everything connects and everything has a meaning and I’m about to cry from happiness overwhelmed by this perfection.
Now, let’s talk about music. I am not an ost person. Unless the soundtrack is truly outstanding or truly bad, I don’t pay that much attention to it. Here we have the case of “truly outstanding”. Each song was beautiful. They were perfectly fitting for the moments and scenes they were playing for. The lyrics were just the cherry on top of this beautiful cake that brought me to tears. This is ALSO the case of big brain energy.
You know what else is big brain energy? The credit scenes! I’m amazed. Truly. You can tell how much care and thought was put into this show when they decided to even use the credits as a way to convey the message, describe the relationship and its progression. As I said, not a second was wasted. There were no fillers. No line wasted. Everything was crafted perfectly to give us this masterpiece, with quotes at the end of the episodes being the dot at the end of the sentence. Tying it all together, leaving us hopeful, emotional and grateful.
Though this will never be seen by anyone involved in the production, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. This was an amazing, emotional and engaging journey that will stay with me forever. I cared for the characters deeply, as if they were truly my friends. I cried, laughed and screamed with anger. Thank you for making me this emotional mess.
The show is more action and the characters/relationships driven compared to my initial assumption of it focusing on the story itself. The plot is quite simple: people turn into monsters, humanity has to survive, but in the midst of it, Sweet Home asks one important question "What does it mean to be human?" and explores it throughout all the episodes. It shows the best and the worst side of humanity - the will to survive that can unite or turn people against each other; the will to be humane as a way of fighting against the circumstances, but also using the horrifying situation as an excuse to abandon empathy.
Despite the show claiming to be in line with thriller, horror and psychological genres, it falls closer to action as a leading one. The plot might seem simple, but it did an amazing job connecting the dots slowly presented. Quite a few times in the 2nd half I recognized the continuation of the plots and hints dropped in the beginning episodes. While the main question might not be answered and the ending could seem disappointing and unsatisfying for some, I found it to be the best possible approach. Any other take would fall short and seem forced. It definitely leaves a lot of room for possible season two, but lack of continuation of the story would not make me angry either.
We are introduced to a brilliant cast of characters, that all have different stories to tell, that will resonate with the audience. In a short period of 10 episodes, I've got to see well built character development not only for Cha Hyun Soo, but also for many side characters. While I strongly disagreed with many of the character's decisions and behaviors, at the same time I could understand their reasoning behind it. If I had to pick my favorite characters (beside the star of the show Hyun Soo) I would pick empathetic Yoon Ji Su, brave Jung Jae Heon, resourceful Han Du Sik and level-headed Lee Eun Hyuk. That said, the chemistry between the whole cast was out of this world and they played off of each other well.
The wise advice I could give to anyone before starting: don't expect dark psychological horror. Even though the show explores quite a few psychological themes, as I mentioned before, it leans more towards action in addition to some dark humor, especially in the beginning episodes. That said, the thing it has to be applauded for - the stakes were real. You know the shows, where you feel close to nothing when characters are in danger because you know they will survive anyway? Not here. Each problem presented to them, each encounter with monsters, each turn made me tense, scared, but also excited for what's to come.
I'm not exactly one to pay attention to music in movies or shows, unless it truly catches my attention. Here, all the songs were extremely fitting and perfectly supported scenes they were played in. At first some choices might feel out of place, but as the drama progresses it starts to feel like a deliberate choice that somehow works.
If I had to complain about anything, I'd say I was not the biggest fan of the CGI monsters at first. Since I was expecting a dark psychological horror like Strangers From Hell, the cartoon-ish like models with questionable motion put me off. The moment I accepted this is not what I signed up for and started to enjoy the action, I started to appreciate the design of the creatures. Some had comical features (we see an a*s once), but it balanced well the dreadful emotional moments happening among the characters.
What's more, in the beginning episode the plot was not presented in a linear way, so it might be confusing. Later on the time jumps are barely happening and it's easier to follow the story.
In conclusion: I cried a lot. I got attached to each and every character. I cared for what's going to happen to them. I was curious about their past stories and how they affect their current decisions and actions. The show simply made me engage in whatever was happening on the screen, to the point of me binge watching it for 10 hours and forgetting to eat.
Warning: there is a lot of blood, some gore, story about child abuse and one for severe bullying. It talks about suicide and self harm. These themes might be too much for some viewers, so feel warned before giving it a shot.
The set up and idea behind the story is one of the most interesting things I have seen not only in BLs but any romance. The concept of monos and probes opens the door for so many different dynamics in a relationship and paths that could be taken. Monos hating the probes for messing up their current life. Probes hating and fearing monos coz of their possible obsessions. Monos being overprotective of their probes, since they are their way to see colors. This and so much more, to never be explored, coz it’s just a short mini series and not a full length kdrama…
The show focuses on the forming connection and relationship between Yeon Woo and Yoo Han, and the internal dilemma Yeon Woo has, when faced with his probe. Taking into consideration the length of the show, the romance between boys is well presented. The chemistry is amazingly natural and believable. The intensity of the emotions and decisions made coz of them, closer to the end, do feel a bit rushed, but it can be forgiven (trigger warning in the comment hidden under spoiler).
There were some side plots that were either forgotten or nor addressed, with the missing mom being the cherry on top. I need to know more about it. I need to actually know the full back story, how they looked for her so far. Also, Kim Min Jae? More. I need more old man and the explanation behind it. His character alone was interesting enough for have a proper story written around him.
The best part of the show was Yeon Woo. Poor boy could not take a break between his mom missing, the aunt being overprotective and at times too controlling, and his forming bond with Yoo Han that scared the hell out of him. Not to mention, I actually enjoyed Yoo Jun’s acting quite a lot. Which is not surprising - he has been acting for years.
Talking about acting, I’m on the fence with Heo Hyun Jun’s performance. While his playful and cheeky side was perfect, any more emotional scenes and lines felt flat and robotic.
With a limited budget, the production value was truly good. It was aesthetically pleasing, most scenes were not cut in weird places and the flow was decent. The aspect I truly loved was the soundtrack. I need each and every song right now.
Overall, it’s hard for me to be objective, coz the unused potential of the plot just hurts me. This could have been so much more than just a romance. With proper world building, explaining how society works around the idea of monos and probes. So much to explore, so little time.
Still, for a short love story, it was fun. Me having wild imagination and seeing the potential - I need more.
+ Can we talk about Yoo Han's make up tho? Damn, boi was whiter than the snow outside of my window.
Rare case of love triangle done rightUnder the cliché high school romance full of tropes, there is a hidden depth. Don’t expect this show to change your life, but it might leave you with some thoughts to think about.
It’s a short story of finding yourself, standing up for your beliefs, improving and changing your environment. At first all the characters might seem stereotypical, but there is more to them.
Tae Kyung is not your typical introverted shy boy. While he might not be the life of the party, he is confident and honest, never scared of voicing his opinion to the people he cares about.
Shin Woo seems like a cold, distant lead? Could not be further from the truth. He is a shy, sweet and loving potato that needs some time to open up to other people. He values his friends, trying to stay honorable while not giving up on what he desires and loves.
Da On might seem too good to be true, but he is battling his own demons. The external and internal pressure to be a perfect student, friend, son took a toll on him, and we witness his slow change, as he discovers who he truly is.
Shi Woon is not just a comedic relief that is supposed to brighten up the mood. He is the most caring and emotionally mature of all the characters, always giving wise advice and making sure everyone is taken care of.
While the drama follows all the well known tropes, by changing some details, and giving the character more nuance, it becomes more interesting and engaging. The love triangle? Chef’s kiss. The way the story unfolds, you cannot stop yourself from understanding both main ships, since they both work and have their charming aspects.
The acting could be improved. I know many people say Tae Kyung is just that awkward character, hence the acting is fitting - for me it’s just not good. While I ended up liking the awkwardness behind Sae On’s line delivery (it was cute), I do think he needs to train his acting skills quite a bit. The rest of the cast did rather well. Some more emotional scenes from Seo Hyun seemed a bit empty, but So Hee’s character was not worth even caring about, so I let it pass.
Light On Me is an amazing step forward for Korean BLs. The audience wants a longer format, the audience wants better production quality and the audience will appreciate the hard work. This show proves it. While I don’t think it’s the best K-BL, I completely understand the sentiment of people who do believe so. With more and longer episodes, the main leads were fleshed out more, the story had a steady pace and the supporting characters were more than just extras filling the space.
I also have to appreciate the job done behind the scenes - the cast supporting the genre in the interviews. The whole production team seemed to do it for more than just money, there is a true important message they are trying to convey. Even the OST singers A.C.E showed support for the community on countless occasions. On the OST - opening song is such a bop.
Some complaints though. While I understand the purpose of So Hee’s character, I also believe the show could have done without her being the antagonist. The same result could have been achieved without making the only female character the "villain". Her character progression was also not quite believable.
Another small, but extremely distracting aspect was the makeup. Damn. What they’ve done to Sae On’s pretty face should land them in jail. It was extremely unnatural, which added to the robotic vibe Tae Kyung gave because of the, at times questionable line delivery. They literally looked like plastic dolls, with white faces not quite fitting the tone of the neck.
The last thing worth mentioning - the first episode does not represent the drama well. It was not the best introduction to the story and the characters, but I promise it gets better with each episode.
Overall, such a fun and enjoyable ride. It truly brought a lot of people on mdl together to discuss the characters and relationships. Getting so many people so attached and engaged speaks volumes about the show itself.
Laughing through misery.Saying it is a heavy watch would be an understatement. Not only will the show fuel you with anger, it will not help you calm down by the end.
Showing the grim reality of the broken military system, sprinkled with comedy, made this quite an emotional ride. We are shown how a few good people are not enough to fix the environment where bad behavior is rewarded.
While it was amazing to watch the main characters trying to make even small changes, at some point they've hit the wall and needed to face the reality of how powerless they are - how they are also part of the problem. We follow a patient and introverted Joon Ho and confident and street smart Ho Yul, as they try to find and bring back defectors. During their job they face a lot of issues ranging from external issues like unsupportive and corrupted superiors to internal struggles revolving around morality and their own principles.
Warning needed - D.P. is filled with abuse, both physical and emotional, and justice is usually not served. The drama shows how it is, without trying to make the topic more approachable and easy to digest. You will be left with building up frustration, and yet glad, you decided to watch it till the end.
The cast did an amazing job. Everyone delivered both the emotional and the comedic parts well. I laughed, I cried, I shouted with anger. Biggest props to Koo Kyo Hwan for his portrayal of Ho Yul. Outstanding performance that made me fall in love with the character.
The production and the writing left nothing to desire. Mixing the tragic aspects of reality with well fitted comedic bits was done in a good taste, not taking away from the serious topic tackled.
Overall, one of the best shorter dramas of 2021. Not an easy watch, might be too much for some people - was almost too much for me. It won't leave you on a hopeful note, but it is a story worth witnessing.
Makes you feel more lonely than you already are - in the best way possible.This is everything I want from a romantic comedy short story. Simple plot that is connected to all the characters, great acting, amazing chemistry, bop of a soundtrack and aesthetics shots.
To My Star is a prove that you do not need a complex, over the top, dramatic, and ridiculous sub-plots to make a good show. It's obvious the writer and director had a clear vision of what they wanted to show, and they focused on making it as high of a quality as possible. And they succeeded! All the sub plots connect and affect all the characters, so you don't feel like watching different shows depending on who is the focus of certain scenes. Things hinted at the beginning, are addressed by the end, and no loose ends are left.
Characters wise: pure perfection. There was not one character that felt redundant. They all were fun, unique and felt like real people. The chemistry between the leads are amazing, but it's worth talking about the awesome synergy between the supporting cast. Not one scene felt boring, and I truly enjoyed every second of the show.
From the opening scene I knew, To My Star will be a feast to my eyes, and I was not wrong. The show is just beautiful. Lately I am tired of the "shaky camera" and cuts and changes of frames and angles every few seconds. The still shots were a blessing. I could truly appreciate the scenes and what was happening in the story when I was not being distracted by random cuts.
The soundtrack. I mean - I need to google all the songs. I never care for the OST. As long as it's not distracting, I rarely even remember or care for one song. Here tho, I am truly speechless at how good it was.
With all the love I give and all the praises, why not 10? I want to start with the thoughts that, as I see it, for the majority of people this show will be an easy 10. But since we all have our own pet peeves, sadly this one hit some of mine... One being "crying without tears" and the other: random, poorly delivered English lines (acting wise, not language wise - clarifying so no one will get pressed again). But these are minor problems, that most people will not even notice.
Overall: Definitely one of my favorite BLs. Definitely one of my favorite rom-coms overall. I just love the simple and chill vibe it had, the wholesome feels and the great production value taking into consideration how small of a project it was compared to mainstream dramas. The acting was just gold, the chemistry made me feel lonely and in need of a relationship, the OST made me want to dance, and the aesthetic scenes made me take too many screen shots.
Make yourself happy - watch To My Star.
Perfect soft angst.You know that perfect angst that rather than making you feel like you want to die, makes your heart flutter? That was it.
Truth to be told, it strongly felt like every fanfic ever came to life and... it works. Pinning over each other for years, longing and wanting the other, but never taking the step forward, protecting each other, making sure the other is not hurt. All the best tags we can find in fanfics are here too. While the story is extremely simple, the directing, editing, acting, ost... everything works in such a harmonious and perfect way, I fell for the show and died a few times waiting for the next episodes to air.
Some people wished it was longer, but I honestly disagree. With this type of plot it would be hard to make a good show, which wouldn't be a cheap fan service. The storytelling here was perfect. Not once was I confused about the plot or characters' motivations. They used the screen time efficiently and showed a cohesive story from the beginning till the end. I think extending this drama could ruin it.
Tae Joo and Kang Gook are nothing alike, but that's why they work so well together. Playful and flirty Tae Joo driving the stoic and collected Gook mad. The dynamics of them, the jealousy they tried to tame... That's the highlight of the show- amazing chemistry between Gi Chan and Eui Soo.
Usually I don't pay that much attention to ost, but the songs used here were truly amazing and fitting. If I noticed them, it means they were really good :)
So why not 10, if I loved it so much?
There were a few scenes where I was not completely convinced by Gi Chan's acting (like the talk with his dad in the last episode). At times I could not connect to the emotions he tried to convey. Since the cast was small and the plot was simple, it all relied on the acting skills of Gi Chan and Eui Soo. I believed every line Eui Soo said, but felt disconnected from the few delivered by Gi Chan. What's more, I wasn't the biggest fan of how they executed the last few scenes. Not to get into spoilers, I was happy with the content, but not crazy about how it was presented and structured.
That said, I would DEFINITELY recommend watching.
Technically speaking, the plot is nothing new: guy who didn’t know he is gay, finds out he is gay and liked his best friend (ignoring the bullshit plot twist by the end). It’s simple, you can make it work, but not the way they did it here. The biggest problem was pacing. Good majority of the episodes showed Tonhon being a homophobic asshole, to magically be all “love is love” and accepting about his new found attraction in one episode. It was not gradual - he went from no homo to “love is love” in a matter of a few minutes screen time and one day drama time. Because of the poor directing and writing, the scenes that would usually indicate his jealousy (which would hint his feelings for Chon), truly just felt like he was angry at any gays getting close to him or his friends.
And don’t even get me started on “I loved you for a long time” bullshit coz I am about to (┛ಠ_ಠ)┛彡┻━┻.
Speaking of Tonhon… what a mess of a human being he was. The show tried to convince me that he was so homophobic because of his dad, but I didn’t buy it. He was a grown up man, he was not living with his parents, no one from his circle of friends was openly homophobic, and looking at some scenes in the 2nd half of the show, only his ex-girlfriend was homophobic. This leads to one conclusion: he was ignorant, unwilling to learn or to change his mind. I already talked about his unrealistic switch of personality, but what makes it even worse: he gives shitty excuses after breaking a promise. The fact he kept claiming as if he did not cheat on Chon was laughable. You kissed your ex. That’s it. There is no excuse that would make it not cheating (in the scenario they presented). Except from his looks, he had no redeeming qualities. I have to ignore the revelation of him loving Chon since they were kids, coz it contradicts everything that was shown in the previous episodes.
At first, I enjoyed Chon a lot. I liked how he did not judge people based on their looks, occupation and sexual orientation. He was a sweet boi with a massive crush on his best friend. But then a whole “let’s bait/force Tonhon to come out and admit his feelings even tho he is obviously not ready” plot hit me in the face, and the only thing I could think about was: this is gross.
Ai, Ni and Miriam are guilty of the same “crime”. Again, I adored their characters at first, especially Miriam. The more I thought about the situation tho, the more borderline toxic they became. One could ask, what was toxic about the adorable Ai and Ni? Well… for starters they enabled Ton’s homophobic behavior. How the guy was suppose to learn that being gay is not bad, when even his closest friends were agreeing to every homophobic line he was saying and went with all the crazy ideas of “what a real man should do” he had? I call that being bad friends. Miriam was quite a busy body and one of the biggest supporters of forcing Ton to come out. Enough said.
Amp was just trash. That’s it. Nueng was trash 2.0. He tried to rape Chon is a toilet, when Chon was drunk. And no one had close to any reaction to it. Like it’s not a crime. Like what he did was not disgusting. I am so done with this trope and the fact the perpetrator is never dealt with in a just way. Yes, let’s just ignore and not seek any punishment for attempt rape. No big deal in the land of many BLs I guess ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
I liked Chon’s mom but then she went “if husband and wife have a disagreement they should sit down and talk about it”. LADY! This is not a disagreement. The dude cheated on your son. Honestly, her whole speech about “don’t let that one woman ruin your relationship” was out of place.
And now, the only saving grace characters wise: Na. His behavior at first was a bit frustrating. He seemed extremely overconfident and too full of himself. The more I get to know the guy, the more I started to adore him tho. From the beginning he was honest and straightforward about his feelings and intentions. He was clear about the fact he is truly going to “hit on” Chon, and for him it’s not about making Ton jealous. Even after he got rejected, he was the one to support and talk with his love rival, making sure he is ready to accept his feelings and it’s not too much of a burden to him. He was just truly a good guy surrounded by trash and semi-trash.
Also, can anyone explain to me why they censored Ni and Ai kissing scenes, coz that was one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen. It was so obvious Toptap and Mike did not kiss once during the whole show, and that’s why the scenes of them being lovey-dovey with each other were cut in such weird places. If the actors for any reason cannot kiss on screen, either don't write any kissing scenes for them, or recast the characters.
Anything else I enjoyed except from Na? The production value was high. The show was pretty. I also did enjoy the cute scenes we got by the end between Ton and Chon. Don’t get me wrong, I was still pissed how nothing makes sense plot and pacing wise, but it was cute for the few seconds here and there when I was able to turn off my brain. So yeah… that would be it.
And you know what is the worst? All the problematic things in the show were added, and they don’t exist in the novel. And I’m just sitting here asking: why? What is wrong with people?
Overall: this ain’t that guys. The only reason I finished the show was to see how bad it will get. And let me tell you, it got worse with each and every episode.
+ Can we talk about the fact Miriam is pregnant? Okay... no. I don't want to think about that ridiculous plot line at the end.
Dating show with k-drama plot quality.The show was weirdly addicting, even though it was far softer compared to western dating shows. The focus on the feelings and not just sexual attraction made the stakes higher, even though I knew it’s all over the top behavior. They knew each other for 8 days, how much in love can they truly be?
The aspect that was for me as interesting as the show itself was the audience reaction. The double standards we had were strong, and it has been just hilarious to watch. JiA playing all the guys? Queen. Jin Taek showing interest in someone else, because he was not sure about the feelings for his first pick? Trash. So Yeon being true to her feelings and saying what she wants to say: honest and caring. Se Hoon being true to his feelings and saying what he wants to say: egoistic and selfish. And the same story happened with a lot of male and female contestants.
Truth is, the female contestants are not unproblematic queens that deserve better. They were all just normal people, who barely knew each other and had no obligation to stay loyal to anyone just because they picked them once. They guys were not trash, there were no red flags, we are all just hypersensitive about the most basic and normal behavior.
As entertaining as the show was, I had few complaints. First, it was way too short. I would say adding at least 2 more episodes would be better. Keep the 8 days format, but getting 2 episodes per day would be ideal. It would make it easier to understand the relations between contestants and understand their choices. I feel like sometimes we just missed the context, because it was never shown on screen.
Another thing was adding new contestants so late. If they decided to stir the pot, they should have added them after the first date - long term it would create more tension that they wanted, and not last minute cheap “twists”. Not to mention the idiocy of casting Cha Hyun Seung, when he knew few contestants, which goes against everything these shows are about (and the “not knowing each other's age and profession).
Overall, I had a lot of fun. My favorite person was An Ye Wow - the only one who took the show for what it was: a little bit of fun adventure. Everyone was so serious, as if they were about to get married the moment the program ended, while she was just having fun meeting new people and enjoying herself. The best chemistry for me was between Hyun Joong, So Yeon and Se Hoon - these three were such an underrated comedic trio who radiated best friends vibe, I wish we could just watch them chilling and joking around a bit more. Best thing was: I did not really feel bad for anyone. Picking extremely good looking, popular, successful people makes me take their love hardships less seriously. “Oh no, this hot dude in his mid 20’ just got rejected for the first time in his life, what a tragedy”.
An amazing journey of self-discoveryI know there are at least a few people who are on the fence about starting this drama since it's heavy on politics and it's not everyone's cup of tea. It sure is not mine. Yet, here I am, loving this drama and recommending it to everyone. And here's why...
Would I call it realistic? Not really. Did it bother me that it was unrealistic? No. Why? Because it was cohesive and consistent. I know that political dramas can be boring for people who are just not interested in the topic, and that's why adding some unrealistic, but definitely grabbing the attention plot points made this drama more approachable for a wider audience.
The main point of the drama was the development and growth of the characters. It's a story of believing in yourself and what you stand for, fighting for the right. Discovering that just because there are winners, does not necessarily mean there must be losers. How to play the game that will make not only you achieve your goals, but also make everyone around you content. It's about slowly realizing your strengths and ways to use them. Figuring out that wanting something does not necessarily make you a bad person who is only led by greed. Many interesting lessons to learn with our main character. An amazing journey of self-discovery.
CHARACTERS & CAST
I was not sold on the idea of Ji Jin Hee being the lead of the whole drama. Especially after watching the first two episodes. Him being surrounded by all the strong and captivating side characters made me worried, if he can truly lead the whole show. And oh boy, I was wrong. Now I would say he was born for this role and he aced the character. Seeing Park Moo Jin slowly growing without giving up on his principles and beliefs was an amazing journey. It was refreshing to see a really smart main character that was also empathetic and, to put it simply, a good person.
It's also worth mentioning other characters that won my heart: Cha Young Jin, whom I loved to hate at the beginning and then just simply loved. Han Na Kyung who was the MVP of the badass team. Oh Young Seok, who made the drama even more thrilling to watch. Yoon Chan Kyung who was the true politician - I never knew where she was standing and what her motives were. Is she good? Is she bad? I guess you will find out for yourself, if you decide to watch it.
The show also talks about some serious issues in a realistic and not patronizing way. It helps with understanding the reasoning for specific choices characters make. The cinematography and the way it was shot was beautiful. Definitely a high quality production. The music was good; it was not exactly grabbing my attention, but it's a political drama, the ost is not the main focus here. The ending was perfect, and everything I could wish for.
Overall, I did not expect to like this drama as much as I did, but it will probably stay as one of my favorites.
The first few episodes made me so happy. I was in heaven with the cute and fun interactions between the characters. The romance was sweet and down to earth. Jung Ha was able to fight for her rights, Hye Joon stayed true to his morals and Hae Hyo was on the way to cross the villain line. And then… nothing happened.
There are quite a few plot lines here; basically every character gets one (Ha Myung Hee must be Oprah wannabe or something), but none is truly explored nor well established. At first, this messy and unbalanced way of directing and editing seemed charming to me. Life is messy and unbalanced you know. I liked how some important plot lines were not explained right away, but, for example, we got a whole scene of the female and male leads discussing how one should apply hand cream. It worked coz I was sure the plot lines will be slowly addressed as the drama progresses… Sadlyl, they weren’t.
All the characters were rather poorly written, though had great potential to be amazing. Hye Joon is boringly perfect and everything works out for him. Jung Ha has a great 180 closer to the end of the show, Hae Hyo was truly useless plot wise. All the supporting characters were there filling the space, but their motivations were never explained. Why do they do what they do? Who knows?
It had its moments. Park Bo Gum crying? A+. Well, that would be it.
⌧ So now, let’s drop some SPOILERS! ⌧
How did the relationship between Jung Ha and Hye Joon go from perfect communication and understanding each other, to never communicating what they truly want and feel and making all the decisions on their own? We had so many dramatic plot lines that could bring the tension in the last episodes, why add new bullshit one?
Why introduce Ahn Jung Ha’s mom into the picture when this story was never truly explained nor explored? She just shows up to give Jung Ha an excuse to be sad and cry, and then she is gone. They ONCE mentioned how Jung Ha has problems accepting help because of her mom, but it was never mentioned again, it has no meaning in the story itself.
Why did they never do anything with Won Hae Hyo? He was neither good, nor bad nor gray. He was just kind of there. How interesting would it be to actually see more of his internal struggle between being a loyal friend and disappointed actor?
Why give us a side romance between Jin Woo and Hae Na? Probably the most useless plot line in the whole show. This could let us explore more of the controlling behavior of Kim Yi Young or be another burden for Hae Hyo: one friend “stealing” his spotlight, and the other dating his little sister and hiding it, pushing him into “I have no one I can trust” state of mind and explaining his feelings for Jung Ha, who was always honest with him.
Why did they never truly use the Charlie story? It was always somewhere in the background, but at the end it had no lasting consequences on the characters at all. When dating make up artist affected Hye Joon more than having a famous designer as his gay sugar daddy? Where is the logic? Why even add the story when it was never important to anyone?
Kim Su Man was painfully dumb.
The "2년 후" aka the boring ending.
That’s it. Not really. But I have no strength left to write more. Damn… this could have been such a good show.
It’s obviously a straight story, but they were pushing the “gay love line” so bad. The scenes between ML and SL were more romantic and shot in a more “typical for romance” way than the ones between the actual main couple. As if they wanted brownie points for being “progressive”, but they were not willing to actually give us a gay couple, just bait us with stuff like we had here.
So, let’s talk about the characters, because there is quite a lot to unpack.
Park Jin Sung is a disaster of a character. I love me some flawed ones, but he had no redeeming qualities. While I can empathize with his initial decision to join the pilot episode of the show to get money for his dad’s surgery, the fact he kept going with this lie later on was laughable. Why? His reasoning for not dropping the show was: it will hurt my crush. What was in the brain of that dude? He became so amazingly preachy, I wanted to teleport myself into a drama and slap him at least a few times. This whole mess happened, because he did not think about anyone else except what Ah Jin thought and felt. What’s even more frustrating? He didn’t really lose anything in the end. He got his happy ending and we didn't see that much backlash happen directed at him. None of the characters were even that angry with him. Karma ain’t real here ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Kim Ah Jin… well. I like to think there are two types of naive female leads - nice naive and dumb naive. She is the latter one. When people questioned her on the reasons for the “gay chef” show, she had no real answer. She said she wanted to show how gay people are normal and not different than others, but that’s dumb, since the main focus of the show and it’s promotion was that it’s a GAY chef as if this was the most important description of him as a human being. She had NO IDEA what she was producing. It shows when she gets so amazingly shocked about these 3 people protesting and asking for the cancellation of the show. “Their eyes were full of hatred” YES HONEY, THERE ARE HOMOPHOBIC PEOPLE.
As someone who was willing to make a whole show focused on the fact your host is gay, you should do some research to know what you are getting yourself and said person into. So you can prepare. So when homophobes show up, no one needs to protect you and make you feel better. It’s you who should stand strong and defend your host and the program you are creating. Her whole character was so amazingly useless and no true development happened.
Luckily we were graced with Kang Tae Wan, the true star of the show. First, I want to say Lee Hak Joo is an amazing actor and I believed every line he delivered. When he was happy, I was giggling like an idiot, when he was sad I wanted to fight whomever made him sad. Thanks to that awesome performance I was able to engage in his part of the story more. I also appreciate that they avoided going with stereotypes and making the gay character “less manly” with over exaggerated movements, way of speaking and fashion. Tae Wan was none of that. I loved to watch his emotional journey and how he slowly learned how to smile and get close to people around him. I loved the closure he was given and his scene with the dad in the last episode.
The plot had so much potential and could have offered us so much, but for some strange reason they decided to not do it. Why did they give us the typical side couple? They could use that time to explore Park Jin Woo’s character more. Deliver more scenes of Park Jin Sung cooking while they film the show, with some nice messages and calming mood. Dive deep into the struggles of LGBT community. Let Jin Sung taste it a bit, so when he finds out Tae Wan is actually gay, it would truly hit him how much of a bullshit what he did was. Truth to be told, the whole 12 episodes felt like a beginning of the drama, just an introduction. What happened to the characters’ development? We only got Tae Wan opening to people a bit and Gyu Jang being slightly less of an asshole. That’s it.
Not to mention the random journalist which was used in the show two times, when the plot needed it. They should simply incorporate him more into the plot. Otherwise, him being so invested when we saw him only twice makes no sense. Then there is the last episode. They legit got the main couple to break up 20 minutes before the ending, then we jumped to the future and the last scene they met again… wow. hOw oRiGiNaL! In the last scene, I was hoping we will get all three main characters live their lives and move on, taking different paths and not seeing each other anymore. With that I would consider giving it 7.
That said, I might have disliked the story, but I truly liked the directing. How at times the camera focused on smaller details and not the faces of the actors as they were talking about emotional topics. Or when the screen turned to black as the important lines were delivered. This allowed me to truly focus on what was being said and how it was being said. How the whole drama was not overly produced and had this cozy feel to it. Not to mention that bop of ost. Need it all on my laptop asap.
Overall, I would truly not recommend watching. Sure, Tae Wan was amazing, but the amount of frustration I had to deal with as I was watching the rest of the characters was unimaginable. If you decide to watch it, don’t get invested in any character in hopes of seeing them improve and have some nice development - it ain’t gonna happen.
U-turn on expectations and clichés.Not gonna lie - I dropped the show after the first two episodes. They were fine, but did not catch my attention. Next week I felt like watching a rom-com so I picked it up again, and from that moment I just enjoyed the silly ride it took me for. They really played into and broke all the cliches of kdrama rom-coms at the same time and it was so much fun to watch
The story is something we have seen countless times - a fake relationship leads to a real one. Rich guy falls for a poor girl, yet few twists make it much more compelling and interesting. The female lead is not a damsel in distress - she is competent, friendly, strong. The male lead is not a cold lead - he is a cute and soft potato. The father is not evil, rather funny and a bit childish. The best friend second lead deal is dealt with in a realistic manner.
While the conflicts and issues between the main couple come from their different backgrounds, the second couple’s issues come from the differences of their personality. Thanks to that we see a variety of interesting situations that kept me entertained.
That said, there was one side plot situation that had quite an impact on the characters and their behavior, but then was gone and never mentioned, because the current plot progression did not need it anymore. I wished we had some kind of closure or explanation for it.
The characters were all quite fun to follow. Except for the main cast that delivered a good performance, I want to talk about Seo Hye Won who played Jo Yoo Jung Young Seo's cousin. Girl was hilarious. Her random english lines with cartoonish subtitles on screen were some of the best scenes. She was extremely over the top, but it worked perfectly in the context of the show and overall tone.
While I have no huge complaints about any of the performances, I was slightly disappointed with Kim Min Gue. His character lacked expression. I get that he was this well mannered, stoic, logic driven guy, but I was just not completely convinced by his delivery.
It’s an over the top romantic comedy - funny sounds, funny animations, funny subtitles on the screen, but all of that was rather fitting and elevated the scenes - be it making them more funny, cute, sometimes cringe. I mean, the whole show is cringe, but I appreciate how they embrace that. Sometimes it’s the way to go - don’t take yourself too seriously, so people can enjoy it for what it is.
I don’t really have much to say about the soundtrack. All the songs were nice, cute and matching the drama, but the only one that truly caught my attention was Han Seung Yoon’s Whatever You Want.
Overall, if you are in the mood for romance, I don’t think you will find any better production from the past few years. It was cute, entertaining, did not have any over the top problematic plot lines, no random murder mystery we sometimes see in Korean rom-coms. Sometimes all one needs is good looking people falling in love with each other and all the cringe and sweet butterflies that come with it.
2x speed to the rescue.I have barely any thoughts, because this had barely any plot. They just threw things at me without establishing them well, so for each conflict that happened all I could do was ask “why?” or “since when?”. How did I view the plot? They did not have the content for 12 episodes, each 45 minutes long, so they stretched whatever they had to the oblivion. When you have a slow paced show, with your actors moving slowly and delivering their lines slowly, you should not be adding slow motion on top of that. 2x speed to the rescue.
The thing is, there were a lot of good elements in this. Great acting from both Mark and Zung. The supporting cast delivered a stable performance too. The chemistry was heartwarming and clearly there. The cooking scenes were beautiful and the soundtrack, even though at times cringy, overall, made me happy, and that’s the point. The directing just lost me.
Internal and external conflicts Aek was facing were not there until they suddenly were, and I was just supposed to accept that. Since when? All his outbursts of emotions made little sense and they never explained why he was so paranoid about every little thing in his life, when most of problems were exaggerated and could be solved with one conversation. The writer made him do quite a number of things that did not line up with how he was written in the previous episodes, just to insert more unnecessary drama.
Aue and his ex should never happen. One of the side plots that did nothing to either plot progression nor character development. She was there to add screen time. Instead , they could have shown more attention to the contest plot, explain why it's important for each character.
Overall, I don’t know. The show happened. I loved the first two episodes, good slow paced beginning to establish the characters and their surroundings, but then the pacing never picked up. It was slow the whole time, with few plot bombs dropped here and there. That said, I am excited to see more projects from both Mark and Zung, since I quite enjoyed what they delivered on screen.