I like historical fiction. I like learning about how different things were way back when. I like the pretty haenboks, the political intrigue that’s so much more interesting and cut-throat than today’s politics. Heck, I can even stomach the Mary Sue-ness of the lead females. But I’m not the only one who notices this trend, right? These dramas start off strong, keeping us refreshing our drama-supplying website of choice, making us neglect life, making us laugh, cry, and want to beat the spit out of the villains. Everything seems perfect for the first 5-10 episodes (depending on the length). But then the first major crises blows over (usually a character death or someone leaves) leaving the main/side characters scarred for life. And then, things slowly churn down to a crawl when the story fasts forward.
You get the side/main character who’s in love with Ms./Mr. Perfect who likes Mr./Ms. I-Shouldn’t-Like-You-Because-You’re-A-Jerk/Shrew-But-I-Do-Anyway (or Mr. Perfect and Ms. Perfect hit it off and everyone hates that they’re so gosh darned perfect for each other). You get episodes of said love-struck character moping away and drowning himself in soju and becoming stalk-y and maybe a bit rape-y (for the guys at least; girls just stay in bed). You get a character thrown in jail and tortured and a dozen Ministers being the puppet masters of it all. You get characters who play into the Ministers’ plans by being noble idiots (spoiler: The Moon That Embraces The Sun’s characters almost avoid the noble idiot route in episode 13). Eventually, crisis #2 ends and then you get filler that’s supposed to be suspenseful, but only comes off as annoying because the underlying conflict could have been solved if a character told side/main character the truth about whatever deep dark secret they had… 2 episodes ago.
And then, the audience finds themselves not caring as much. We make it to the end just to say we finished it, maybe in hopes that the payoff makes it all worth it. We hope that plot holes get filled and we get an ending we’re satisfied with.
Seoulbeaters, have you felt the same frustration with the saeguk genre or Kdramas in general? Are there any dramas (saeguk or otherwise) that you watched from beginning to end where you felt everything was worth it and all fell into place neatly? I noticed that many a saeguk tends to be based on a novel/legend, so does the transition from book to small screen make a big(ger) difference in your satisfaction, or lack thereof?