K-Pop and K-Dramas: Imitation Episode 1

Promotional image of (from left) Jeong Yunho, Jeong Jiso, and Lee Junyoung for ‘Imitation’. Copyright goes to KBS and Kakao Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

An earlier post today. Weird, I know. But the first episode of ‘Imitation’ came out yesterday and of course I had to watch it! I’ve been indescribably hyped for this series since I figured out it was coming out. I should mention that I have actually read the first chapters of the original web toon of the same name, but I was not expecting this to be at all similar. Generally adaptations like this are drastically different from the source material and a lot of the time that’s a good thing. It’s generally changed to suit the screen more. And though I’m not exactly sure how many changes were made, from what I saw and from what people were saying it’s a lot. Of course, this is only the first episode of what is supposed to be a twelve episode series, so it really is only a little bit of what we’ll be getting in the future. And though I really do want to be optimistic, this show probably has to do a lot to win me over. With that said, let’s get into it. SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

The Good:

ATEEZ:

Right off the bat I have to say how proud I am of our boys. We got to see all four of them act in this episode (for those of you who don’t know the four members of ATEEZ in this drama are Yunho, Jongho, Seonghwa, and San) and they were all great. And I don’t say that lightly. I’ve talked a little bit about this before on the blog, but both my sister and I trained in acting in college. None of the boys felt awkward at any point in the episode. And for the first episode we actually got a lot more of San and Seonghwa than I thought we would. I knew we would get a lot of Yunho and Jongho because they’re playing characters that are slightly more central to the plot, at least in the web toon. We’ll have to see if the show gives San and Seonghwa more to work with. Every single time one of the members came on screen I was uncontrollably beaming. And Yunho was in here doing what he does best. Being a comforting teddy bear. Seriously, so far it feels like this role was meant for him. And can we talk about how adorable Yunho was walking into the press conference for the show yesterday? He looked so happy! I really can’t wait to see more of them acting their asses off.

The Acting:

Speaking of which, I thought everyone did a really good job acting their parts here. I know ATEEZ is not by any means the only idols starring in this show. All of them did amazingly. If you were to completely wipe my memory of any K-pop and ask me to distinguish between the idols and the trained actors on this show, I would not be able to differentiate between them. They were all so good! Nobody was over the top, everything felt realistic and normal; this show just has some great acting.

The K-Drama:

No, I’m not talking about this entire drama as a whole. In both this show and the original web toon the main character, Maha, ends up acting to try and get her group more recognition and also to try and make ends meet. In both, she ends up in an awkward situation because she is playing a small role acting opposite of Kwon Ryok, the brooding idol and the star of the show she is working on. In the web toon, this acting gig is on a show where he is playing a serial killer who specifically preys on women after seducing them. Really not the best. The scene requires him to kill her and he ends up saying things way out of line in order to get a genuine reaction of fear out of her. It’s an absolutely awful and uncomfortable scene. There is nothing about that entire scenario that is even the slightest bit ok. In this, they completely changed the plot of the drama and really everything about that entire scenario. Instead she is playing a small role in a historical drama he is the star of and he accidentally hits her in a combat scene after she was given the wrong fight choreography. This is definitely better and feels much less like assault.

The Side Characters:

After just one episode, the side characters have already caught my attention. And, yes, I am including everyone here who isn’t the lead two characters; Maha and Ryok. The sweetness of Yoojin is already one of my favorite parts of the show. I know that most romance shows go for the leading man that is brooding on the outside and warm on the inside. Personally, I’m always suffering from second lead syndrome because the second lead is always the absolute sweetest and that’s where my weakness is. And now Yunho’s playing the second lead which is just going to make this all the more painful for me. We still need to get more of Yoojin to really get to know his character, but I’m already melting. Hyuk is already way too adorable and I already feel like I’m becoming attached to the members of Shax. And I actually really did like what we got of Hyunji and Riah. They were both characters that seemed very warm and I just wanted to be friends with them. We got some more side characters, like Minsoo and Seyoung for example, that seemed interesting but we haven’t gotten much of them yet. All of the side characters seem lovable so far though.

The Realism:

I’m not an idol, so I can’t say for sure, but this really did feel like a peek into their world. Especially during the early scenes of the episode where we saw the dance practice of the trainees. That was insane and so much fun to watch. The premise of this show is bold and I can get behind that, but I do have some concerns. I’ll get into that below.

The Bad:

Depression Issues:

Please be warned that what I’m going to talk about could be possibly triggering for some people. THIS IS YOUR TRIGGER WARNING. Also note that these are all things that are in the show, which unfortunately does not give anyone a trigger warning at all. Even if you are an ATEEZ fan or a fan of any other group or actor in this show, if you have a high possibility of being triggered I would wait a while before watching. I’m going to start getting into it now. Last warning. The show is, understandably, attempting to tackle dark topics in the industry too. Which is not something I have a problem with at all, I feel like for the most part those topics need to be addressed. But when it comes to depression and featuring it in a show, there’s a line that needs to be walked and it is really difficult to walk. I know it’s unfair to compare anything to ‘Itaewon Class’ which is one of the best series of all time, but that’s the standard for dealing with depression. They were able to make it all realistic and still deal with it with care for the people who might actually be dealing with that. It was almost comforting in a way and their depression was never sensationalized for drama. Here’s where this show is already failing and, by far, this is my biggest issue with the show. The first episode contains a suicide and it is not handled well at all in the slightest. Especially with them drawing this drama out in order to make the audience question whether or not she really died. And when they’re doing this, they go for all of the dramatic shots. Including one of the bridge in South Korea where they have comforting phrases written on it in order to comfort people with depression. None of this is done with care and compassion and all of it feels like a plot device. I’m not talking about the moment where the CEO of that one company complains about how that girl’s death would effect the company, because that was done for realism. It is entirely different when a character from the show is unsympathetic and when the writing and shooting of the show feels unsympathetic. This was not handled with care or sympathy nor is it even talked about in depth. I’m not going to talk about this again in this post so EVERYTHING ELSE IN THIS POST IS SAFE. Thanks.

The Main Characters:

Neither of them have really won me over yet. And I know this was just the first episode, but I was seriously surprised at how much literally all of the side characters won me over and how I still didn’t feel so much of a connection with the two main ones. It felt like this first episode was trying to establish that Maha was awkward and Ryok was brooding and we didn’t get much beyond either of those things for either character. I feel like the only break in this was when Maha accidentally caught Ryok practicing a scene for the drama they were shooting. That scene was cute; but we definitely have a long way to go before we get to feeling the complexity of these characters.

Group Dynamics:

I think it’s going to take a while to truly start seeing group dynamics, because this was only the first episode. But my sister and I did notice that you really have to watch some of this with the eye of a television show viewer and not with they eye of a K-pop fan. Because most groups out there have been working together for a long time so everything they do on stage is really in sync. I would say that happens for most groups. They’ve worked on it to a point where they don’t even have to think about it anymore because they’re just comfortable with each other. That doesn’t come across here as much, especially when we saw Shax performing. They were still insanely good, this is just a massive nitpick. And I’m not sure I would expect any show to have this down either unless all of the people they cast were from the same idol group.

The Imitation:

In the web toon one of the main reasons why the group ‘Tea Party’ gets so big is because Maha looks like another idol singer, La Lima. People noticed when the casting for this show was announced that the actresses didn’t really look like each other. In the series Maha dresses up as La Lima for a small gig and the clip goes viral, seemingly because it’s funny and not because she really looks like her. At least that’s what I thought, I was a little confused. I understand that it’s very difficult to find actresses who look that alike so I’m not taking too many points off here. But I am extremely confused as to what they’ll end up doing with this in the future.

That’s it so far! There was a lot that I loved and a lot that I didn’t like so much. I have to say, the way they dealt with depression is a big red flag for me. That was probably the main thing that made me not enjoy this first episode as much as I could have and made me nervous for the future of this show. I’m just hoping that if they continue to bring stuff like this up they’ll stop over sensationalizing it. But I have already fallen in love with so many of the characters and seeing ATEEZ here just made me so happy. So I guess we’ll see what happens with the next episode!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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