Hi! It’s Annie!
I think this post has probably been a long time coming. Arguably, two of the most popular KDramas of all time are ‘Boys Over Flowers’ and ‘The Inheritors’. Both of them contributed to Lee Minho becoming possibly the most popular and famous actor in South Korea. And despite the fact that I have been a fan of ‘Boys Over Flowers’ for quite a while and have made several posts on it, I was a little hesitant to watch this one. I have no idea why. I think I had heard some mixed reviews on it and I wasn’t sure if I was up for a twenty episode show. But, after my friend realized that a portion of the drama was filmed just down the street from her house, it was natural that myself, my sister, and my friend got together and binge watched all of it over the course of two days. It’s always more fun to watch anything with company! And so I have finally watched this drama as well, and I definitely have a lot of thoughts. Especially as a California native, because the first portion of this drama takes place in, and was filmed in, California. And this also contains one of the most hardcore hate to love experiences I’ve ever had for a character. Here’s your MAJOR SPOILER warning. Let’s get into it!
Summary- Eunsang is a poor High School student who lives with her single mother who is mute. The family also consists of her sister, who has since moved to California to make something of herself. When Eunsang attempts to visit California, her still poor sister steals from her and abandons her with nowhere to go, leaving a nearby onlooker, Tan, to look after her. Tan is rich and belongs to an elite Korean family who have abandoned him in California in order to get him out of the way. After falling in love in California, they each return to find that Eunsang’s mother is actually working for Tan’s family and that pursuing a relationship might be more difficult than either of them think. Especially when they both end up enrolled in a High School full of other rich teens.
Male Lead- As always, Minho has a very charming presence that’s difficult to ignore in any role he tackles. But this character is possibly one of my favorites I’ve ever seen from him! Though I like ‘Boys Over Flowers’, I have always found Jun Pyo to be a bit spoiled and I don’t think the end of the show completely redeemed him from some of his previous actions as a bully. So it was really nice to see Minho as such a warmhearted and sweet character from the beginning. Though Tan appears to be stand offish at first and often jokes around rather than taking things too seriously, he’s one of the most thoughtful characters in the show. The fact that he’s constantly fighting for his relationship and what he wants is admirable, and he often gives people second chances that don’t deserve it because he wants them to be kind. He wants to believe the best in people, and he doesn’t care if he’s treated badly for it because in the end he feels that if it benefits the other person, it was all worth it. Very selfless and charming. And absolutely clueless when it comes to romance, but he bumbles his way through quite adorably.
Second Lead- I hated Youngdo for the first half of this drama. Absolutely hated him. And one of my favorite things a drama can do, is make me absolutely fall in love with a character they made me hate early on. Not many dramas, or really any media in general, are actually successful at doing this, though many try. Youngdo was my favorite character at the end. I loved him so much, and I did end up suffering from SLS (second lead syndrome) by the end of it all. Youngdo is an incredibly awful bully at the beginning of the show. He’s violent, he’s manipulative, he’s got a massive ego. He is stuffed with every possible villain bully personality trait that there’s no way to possibly like him. I kept waiting for the redemption arc to begin and I thought it never would. And then he accepted his defeat in going after the main character, and this is actually when he started to change. He decided to start helping people for the benefit of them instead of himself. The show delved into his backstory and his abusive household. He even became so invested with the main couple that he would help them out if they needed it, but he was going to joke at their expense and that stuff was some of the funniest in the show. He even apologized to the guy he bullied and agreed to take the blame and guilt for the rest of his life. He accepted that this guy was never going to forgive him. I just wanted to give him the biggest hug by the end of the drama, and I almost wanted an entire spin-off just about him. Loved him. I don’t like him for the main character, but he’s definitely boyfriend material at the very end of the show.
Second Romance- The second romance is between Eunsang’s best guy friend, Chanyoung and Tan’s ex-girlfriend, Bona. They are introduced as a couple; so they are already together by the time the series starts. And they are such a good couple. I would argue that they are the only functional couple in the entire show. They are completely supportive of each other, and it’s clear that they are both very devoted to each other. But in a comfortable way. They have the feel of a couple that is already familiar with each other and completely knows the other person. They have one big fight in the series, but it doesn’t get to the point where they actually break up. They just accept that arguing is a part of most relationships. They are adorable and it’s hilarious to watch them poke fun at each other.
Platonic Relationships- That’s something that I loved about this show! They had the main female character’s best friend be a guy and he never became a love interest. We really need a lot more male/female platonic friendships in media in general and I was surprised to see one so good in a show that was almost ten years ago at this point. Especially considering that this is still an issue.
Side Characters- This show was great at side characters. I often miss the friendship and camaraderie of ‘Boys Over Flowers’, because most shows now mainly focus on the main characters and fall flat with the side characters. I was glad to see that this show also had that feeling of camaraderie. I already mentioned the secondary couple, but I also loved Myungsoo and Hyoshin. They are other High School students who are friends with the main characters, and both of them are hilarious and made me happy whenever they were on screen. Myungsoo isn’t a very deep character, but his constant lightheartedness and jokes were something I never got tired of. Hyoshin was a character who battled with both depression and unsupportive parents, and you couldn’t help but feel for him. I also loved the mental health representation there. He was also very dry and sarcastic. When Hyoshin and Myungsoo were together, I usually couldn’t stop laughing. Both of them had stolen my heart by the end.
Locations- This show very obviously had a pretty big budget. The locations in California and South Korea were all gorgeous. It’s such a pleasing show to just look at.
The Moms- The Moms in this drama were so good, and that doesn’t often happen. They also had an amazing friendship! It was the only real female friendship in the entire show!
California- This is where me being a California native comes in. And this is probably where the most commentary came from my watching group. The private rich High School that Tan goes to is actually a college. It is the University of Redlands, which is something that reads clearly throughout his time being there. They call the school something completely different and they apparently hold regular classes in lecture halls for some reason. The logistics of pretty much every single place they go is also completely wrong. The show says they are at Malibu when they are very clearly at Huntington Beach. And Tan lives on the beach, which is nowhere near Redlands which is very inland comparatively. Tan’s house also actually appears to be by Malibu Beach, though the beach he’s always surfing at is Huntington, which is over an hour away. They also hang out a lot at Balboa Park, which is actually in San Diego. A good two hours away from where they were portrayed to be. There’s even one ridiculous moment when the two main characters are running on Hollywood Blvd, then at the Grove, and then in Balboa Park. It was honestly more funny to me than anything else!
Female Lead- Once again, I couldn’t stand this female character. I started out really liking her. She seemed to have a lot of personality. It was the plot that ended up messing up her character in the end. She stopped having a personality and it felt like everything just happened to her. Her only reaction would be to do nothing, which frustrated both Tan and the audience. It felt like Tan was fighting so hard for the relationship, while she wouldn’t do anything for it at all. I started missing Jan Di’s yelling and standing up to other people for both herself and Jun Pyo. And me missing Jan Di isn’t something that usually happens. At the end I thought both the main male characters were too good for her. I wished they had both found someone more willing to fight for their relationship. Because she wouldn’t fight for either one of them. Friend or boyfriend.
Third Relationship- The brother character was one that I already felt needed more development. But the relationship with the tutor or teacher, really didn’t have anything to it. There was no depth and I didn’t understand its presence.
Rachel- There didn’t need to be two possibly jealous mean girls, Bona already had that covered some of the time, and every storyline with her felt forced. I loved this actress in everything else I’ve seen her in, so it was really weird for me to dislike her character here. But I would have been fine with Tan being forced to blind date rather than this addition. And pairing her off with Hyoshin just felt completely random. This either needed to be developed or cut entirely.
Too Many- There were just way too many characters that they tried to focus on. They needed to have less characters or really focus up on a couple storylines. There were times where I completely forgot certain characters existed. The show could have done with about six less characters. And I am absolutely certain that there are important characters I am completely forgetting about. But that is probably because I forgot them.
Female Friendships- There were almost none. In fact, all the teenage female characters all seemed to hate each other. I really wanted to see a lot more positive female relationships here.
Overall, I really enjoyed this drama even despite its problems. But it did have many problems, especially towards the end. I think that might have been because they were trying to meet the episode count. There was an episode about four from the end where it felt like it was ending. And I really do think that it should have ended there. Many of the last minute twists were unnecessary and I really do think that it could have done with some more focused storylines. But it was a fun watch and it was nice to see what all the hype was about! And seeing the California locations was something I enjoyed, and the mistakes were pretty funny too! I would definitely recommend it!
See you across the pond!