Hi! It’s Annie!
I’m completely back into wanting to watch some wholesome lighthearted entertainment where I can just turn my brain off for a while. This is definitely one of those shows. This drama marks the comeback of the Korean sitcom, which is a medium of television that they haven’t really been making anything in for the past ten years. It’s kind of easy to see why. Most sitcoms have aged out nearly everywhere, with most shows either going for a more dramatic feel or not wanting the laugh track to interfere with the way a joke lands. I’ll admit that I usually feel a little thrown off whenever I see something recent that includes a laugh track. But what really brought this show into the limelight was the immense amount of diversity. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch it at first, because when it first came out there were a lot of mixed reviews. This seems to be one of those shows where you either love it or you hate it. And I actually really liked it for what it is! So with that, I’m just going to get into this one.
Synopsis: This Netflix original is about a group of eight friends living in a foreign dorm at a university in Seoul. Sewan is a Korean native who is the RA of the dorm, she is very poor and often gets spare cash by having students pay her for looking the other way when they accidentally break a rule. Jamie is a Korean American student who hides the fact that his mother is a famous US actress. Sam is a Korean Australian who is the son of a rich food chain mogul. Minnie is a Thai student who is absolutely obsessed with K-Dramas and clubbing. Hyunmin is a half Nigerian half Korean student who was born and raised in South Korea, but needs to secretly stay in the foreign dorm because of his long commute. Carson is an American student who is known for being tough and world weary despite her age. Hans is a Swedish student who is a stickler for the rules. Terris is a Tribagonian student who, in the process of serial dating women, begins to figure out who he is. Together they form a tight knit college friend group who navigate the trials of life and love together.
MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW!!!
Sewan- I find that too often in sitcoms there will be a female character that’s written with the express purpose of being relatable, so she’s often not as fun and such a blank slate that she isn’t really relatable. They don’t do this here. Though she’s one of the most focused on characters, she had her own quirks and personality that makes her stand out just as much as all of the other characters. She’s known for swindling people out of their money, and this is used for comedy, but they also give her a relatable reason to back it up. Her mother is in constant debt and the debt collectors will sometimes even resort to finding Sewan at school instead of her mother in order to get the money back. She’s flawed and funny rather than being “normal” and perfect. I really appreciated that from the most focused on female character!
Jamie- He has to be one of the most adorable romantic leads I’ve ever seen. He’s known for being helpful, innocent, and smart but also often too naive. When he starts dating Sewan he has to convince her that he even likes her. Later, when American press realize that he’s going to the university in Seoul, he is insistent on telling the press that he is very devoted to his girlfriend despite the better option being to deny his love life at the time. He’s very sweet, sometimes to his own detriment, but he’s also one of the most comforting characters in the show. He’s seriously so cute.
Sam- Though he’s not focused on often, you always need that one friend in the group that constantly annoys everyone else lovingly. He’s the mischievous one who is most prone to getting in trouble and when he shows how devoted he is, it’s always sweetly, surprisingly. He’s also played by Choi Youngjae of Got7! Though I’m not super familiar with them, he was such a great actor and I was surprised to learn that he didn’t do acting more regularly. So many idols in South Korea are also absolutely excellent actors!
Minnie- She was one of my favorite characters. Firstly, her favorite K-Drama that she mentions most often is ‘Crash Landing On You’, which is one of my favorite K-Dramas of all time. I absolutely loved the constant callbacks! Her more carefree and lighthearted nature was a great foil for some of the more angsty scenes and she was so endearing it was difficult to not like her. I also want her wardrobe. Minnie is also an idol, this time from G-Idle. And she actually uses her real name for this, as most of the actors do. There are only a few exceptions. She is a very good actress!
Hyunmin- Though he’s commonly mistaken for a foreigner, this drama aims to tackle a different identity. He’s Korean born and raised. Which is a huge step considering portraying Black Koreans is still not very common. He spends most of the drama attempting to be reliable and failing because he relies so much on his friends. And while the drama doesn’t get fully into the problem it aims to tackle, he is one of the most comedic characters in the show and very fun to watch because of that.
Carson- She might have been my favorite character, and I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Carson is tough and known for being able to handle herself in any situation. This is brought up in an awful turn of events when her boyfriend of several years, who she moved to South Korea for, cheats on her. In her finding this out she realizes that the relationship had been over for some time, but this doesn’t stop her from punching him in the face for the way he treated her. She later gives several of her friends advice and even helps Terris in the most influential part of the season for him. I also want to say that I am so glad they didn’t make the American woman a huge partier. I see that trope quite a lot, and I’m glad that it wasn’t here.
Terris- He doesn’t get too much for the first part of the season. His friends call him a Casanova due to his penchant for serial dating. But he never really seems happy in it, and his friends take note of his happiness diminishing the more he dates. Eventually Carson is set up with a guy Terris knows and finds out from this guy that he loves another person, which is a relief to Carson who isn’t ready to start dating after such a long term relationship. Carson discovers that this man loves Terris, and the reason for Terris’s stagnant dating life is because he has realized that he loves this man back. This is such an adorable turn in the last couple episodes. I hope we see more of it and Terris in a second season.
Sewan and Jamie- This is the major relationship in the show and I wasn’t sure I bought it at first. But after they got together it seemed only natural to me. They both understood each other in a way that it made their characters just click so effortlessly. Though they bickered a bit, it wasn’t the foundation of their relationship. They felt realistic. I think everyone aspires to be in a relationship this understanding.
Women and Men- This is one of the only shows I have ever seen in general where the way women talk about men is pretty realistic. Specifically Sewan, Minnie, and Carson talk often about how stupid men are and lament liking them. But they also talk about wanting boyfriends in the same conversation, which is painfully accurate. They easily call out their male friends for dictating what women want to do with their own bodies or constantly bringing up ex-boyfriends in judgment. This was also dealt with very naturally instead of having to stop the storyline in order to point out that they were doing this to begin with. The show never patted themselves on the back for doing the bare minimum.
Wholesome- In general, this drama is very wholesome. While it isn’t one with very deep storylines, it’s the kind of lighthearted show you’d definitely want to watch at the end of a long day at work. I appreciate it for just aiming to be about the general camaraderie of a friend group.
Hans- This was the only character from the eight friends that I wasn’t sold on by the end. For the most part it often feels like his friends don’t even like him. He often gets them into trouble because he reports everything they do, he gets sued for stubbornly not understanding the laws in South Korea and bullying a business because of a mistake he made himself, and he constantly threatens to reveal that Hyunmin is secretly living in the dorms. While he isn’t the one who eventually gives away Hyunmin’s secret, all of his friends believe him capable of it and avoid him for the last couple episodes because they think he did do it. His brand of comedy was also not very funny to me. Speaking of which…
Sense of Humor- I’ve talked about this before, but I’ve found that some K-Dramas I’ve watched that had a focus on comedy used some pretty infantile comedy. There are quite a few fart and poop jokes in this. Not enough for it to be too distracting, but definitely enough to be noticeable. Especially with the character of Sam, which sometimes made me appreciate him less. Maybe it’s just that I don’t have this sense of humor. But it’s odd that this is a young adult series with jokes like that to me. But it could just be personal preference.
Minnie and Sam- I know that it’s very common to put the constantly bickering friends together, but Minnie and Sam just didn’t work. And it also didn’t seem like the show thought they worked either. Sam was either too forgiving or too uptight about what Minnie did, and Minnie often didn’t care about Sam at all. In fact, at the end of this season it’s actually left up in the air whether or not Minnie is cheating on Sam. It appears that she was kissing another guy. So far, I’m just hoping this couple isn’t endgame.
Laugh Track- So, I know this is a staple of any sitcom, but the laugh track didn’t work. It wasn’t used consistently, to the point where sometimes I would be genuinely surprised to hear faint laughter in the background. It would take me a couple seconds to remember the sitcom thing and I would watch the screen with a furrowed brow and a thousand questions about it. Like why sometimes it could clearly be heard while sometimes it was barely there, almost like the writers were afraid that the joke wouldn’t be that funny. Anyways, I don’t think they needed it. I think laugh tracks are being used less everywhere for a reason.
Overall, I really liked this show! It wasn’t the most profound thing I’ve ever watched, but I really needed a pick-me-up and this was definitely that. The camaraderie on the show also felt so familiar and comforting. This is definitely a show I would return to if only to turn it on in the background to make everything feel more comforting. It had that feel of eating comfort food. If you’re also looking for a pick-me-up, I would highly recommend this drama. If you want to get into something serious and well thought out, maybe skip this for now. But definitely come back to it. Because I think we could all use a drama like this every once in a while. I, for one, will be waiting for the next season to come out and hope that it feels as light and fun as this season did. Now I have to go back to absolutely reeling from the fact that ATEEZ will be spending an extended amount of time less than two hours from where I live.
See you across the pond!