Admittedly, compared to its fellow contemporary and longtime rival Running Man, the renowned variety show 1 Night 2 Days doesn’t get as much love from international fans. While the show still has a sizable overseas fanbase, its popularity mostly circulates domestically in Korea rather than internationally. While this somewhat unfortunate fact is a little blatant, the show’s popularity in Korea really is still a force to be reckoned with. Once upon a time during its prime, the show’s ratings were floating comfortably around the forty percent range, a truly remarkable feat for a variety show. 1N2D consistently dominated its timeslot, easily beating the more internationally-popular Running Man with a pretty significant margin.
Another laudable aspect of the show is its longevity. The program first aired on August 5, 2007, with its first season ending on February 26, 2012 after a five year run. The show’s second season started on March 4, 2012 and is currently still ongoing, making the series’ total run extend for six years now. The show has been through a tone of line-up revisions over the years it’s been airing, but it has consistently appealed to audiences. Considering how fickle viewers can get, that itself is a feat; and this evidences the irresistible, long-lasting charm (and formula) that 1N2D has perfected through the years. All in all, 1N2D is an extraordinary variety program, in a class of its own; there’s no doubt that it has cemented its place in variety show history.
This entertainment staple has left much to be desired from other variety shows but the once-upon-a-time ratings monster hasn’t been performing as well in recent times. 1N2D‘s ratings have dropped to the mid-to-low tens, remaining shy of the twenty-percent mark. To be honest, these ratings aren’t necessarily bad per se, but they pale in comparison to the high thirties and low forties the show used to be hitting. And sadly, the show’s ratings have been on a slow yet consistent decline, something quite worrying for the once unbeatable program.
Sharing timeslots with Running Man, a show that has been on a decline, it’s apparent that the second season of 1N2D has been facing much of the same problems. Most notably, both programs have gained a new ratings competitor in MBC‘s new Sunday lineup of Dad, Where Are We Going? and Real Men. The addition of MBC’s potent Sunday lineup into the mix means that the two shows not only have each other to compete against — it’s a four-way match-up. What’s worse for the two former ratings monsters is that said new line-up has beaten both out for first place, throwing off the status quo considerably.
Likewise, similar to Running Man, the program’s problems aren’t just external; internal issues plague production as well. Namely, the show at its current point just fails to match or even close-in on the magic that was the original 1N2D. What made the original 1N2D so entertaining and successful — from the roughing up of cast members, to the amusing and almost petty interactions between celebrities and crew members, and also to the sense of brotherhood that defined and permeated the show — is so blatantly lacking in the show’s sequel. And unfortunately, the decline of 1N2D‘s second season only further confirms the unfavorable pattern of disappointing variety sequels.
When the sequel to 1N2D was first announced, the reaction was less than positive to say the least. On the one hand, fans were happy to be able to get another dose of quality variety show antics, albeit one with an altered cast and format. On the other hand, however, past examples of variety sequels haven’t met the most positive reactions from the general public, making the unfavorable reaction — and the resulting worries and complaints — to 1N2D‘s second season very understandable.
Truly, variety sequels have built quite a negative reaction in recent times due to an unfortunate pattern that seems to be occurring to said sequels. The instance first emerged with Family Outing 2, the sequel to the highly successful Family Outing. The show sunk fairly quickly, only airing 17 episodes, paltry considering the original’s 85-episode run.
The pattern seemed to repeat itself with Invincible Youth 2. While the show had a pretty modest one year run — not considerably shorter than the original Invincible Youth‘s one and half years on air — the show struggled with ratings throughout its entire run. Moreover, the reception to the sequel was less than stellar, definitely paling in comparison to the original Invincible Youth.
And now the fans’ worries seemed to have been justified, as the pattern seems to be repeating itself for 1N2D‘s season 2. While not yet off the air, the show’s standard is of a much lesser quality compared to the original, and it seems to be following the same path of the former two examples.
To be quite honest though, the beginning of 1N2D wasn’t that bad. While nowhere near the caliber of the original, it was entertaining and amusing, which is honestly much better than both Family Outing 2 and Invincible Youth 2. Actually, the start of 1N2D‘s second season was quite promising. The show had already handled countless cast changes in the past, but the departure of four members was much harder to accommodate. That being said, if any variety show could be trusted to handle such a switch-up, it would be 1N2D. However, after a promising beginning, the show progressively dropped in quality.
The three shows seem to take the same pitfalls that eventually lead to their declines. The main trap that the aforementioned shows are guilty of falling into is in fact their own hype. 1N2D, Family Outing, and Invincible Youth were all very successful programs, and referencing these shows alone would attract hoards of loyal fans. Whether it was the family aspect of Family Outing, the self-sufficiencies in Invincible Youth, or the camaraderie in 1N2D, each program had its own trademarks that fans had grown to love.
However, these signature qualities were slowly developed, as they were entirely reliant on cast interactions and chemistries. Their respective sequels, however, can be faulted into forcing these trademarks onto the show without the necessary development. This leads to the loss of the programs’ original purposes or appeals, consequently leading to upset fans.
To cite an example, one of the most distinctive relationships of Family Outing was the loveline between Lee Hyori and Kim Jong-kook. Their amusing interactions became engaging to watch, and it was a joy to observe the pair grow from their awkward mutterings to teasing banters. The show’s sequel, by contrast, wanting to replicate the popular loveline, introduced a new loveline between 2PM‘s Taecyeon and SNSD‘s Yoona almost instantly after the show’s conception. This loveline is blamed as one of the reasons for the show’s early cancellations, for its blatantly scripted nature and omnipresence in the show very became grating very fast, distracting from the actual family concept the show aimed to establish.
Likewise, there was the use of games in Invincible Youth 2. In the original Invincible Youth, games were used as a pastime for the girls in between chores, and these games became a bigger part of the show after the girls gained new responsibilities. In Invincible Youth 2, however, the show got a little too far ahead of itself and introduced high-concept games right away, taking away the self-sufficiency and work ethic of the show, which is unfortunately, where the core concept of the show lay.
Similar to its precedents, 1N2D lost focus of what made it appealing. One of 1N2D‘s main draws was its PDs. The PDs of 1N2D were truly one of a kind, for they were able to make such wonderful entertainment from simple tasks and/or objects. However, as the show progressed from its first to its second season, more and more PDs left the show to pursue other projects. This is also around the time the show lost sight of its main charms. The new PDs failed to deliver the magic of the original version. Their ideas weren’t as successful as before, causing the show to run out of material and also fixate on the most trivial matters. Moreover, one could even say that they were treating the men a little too nicely, for as twisted as it sounds, 1N2D just isn’t 1N2D if the celebrity cast isn’t suffering in one way or another.
And after losing their main appeals and consequently, losing fans, the three shows again fall into a similar traps: an over-reliance of guests and scripting. As the series kept going on, suspiciously, all three programs have called on more and more guests in efforts to compensate as the shows were starting to decline. This was particularly evident for 1N2D and Invincible Youth 2, for their original programs only called in guests for special occasions or member absences respectively. However, as ratings kept on getting worse and worse for the shows, even 1N2D and Invincible Youth 2 started employing guests with much more frequency. And the shows’ obvious over-reliance of guests would only further fuel a fan’s ire, for they only the distract the show further from its cast and main appeals.
Moreover, as the shows start to decline further in quality, they also turn to scripting, in efforts to compensate. Again, this move has attracted fan complaints; fans have consistently asked for more genuine and real reactions. Also, considering the natures of all three shows, where authenticity is highly prized, the use of scripting leaves audiences feeling cheated and wronged.
Overall, the curse of variety sequels seems to still run strong. In all seriousness, it’s really a shame for these shows to drop so severely in quality, for their concepts and cast line-ups are usually very promising. I guess in a way, the failures of these sequels show how special and iconic the originals are, to the point where they’re seemingly inpossible to replicate. Nevertheless, I still wish for a show to one day successfully deliver the magic of past favourites, as we can always use good, long-lasting variety in the Korean entertainment scene.
Readers, what are your thoughts? Have you also noticed the curse of variety sequels? What do you think of 1N2D‘s current situation?