Last Monday and Tuesday saw the first two episodes of tvN‘s newest installment in the Oh! Boy series, Shut Up: Flower Boy Band. With other attention-capturing dramas out there — such as Dream High 2 (which also began airing last Monday and Tuesday), as well as The Moon That Embraces the Sun (the super-successful fantasy saeguk that’s currently blowing all the other dramas out of the water with near 40% ratings) — it’s easy to overlook this drama. I’m not going to lie — if it weren’t for the pretty lineup of actors taking the reins in this drama, I probably would have charted it down on my five-mile-long To-Watch Korean drama list for this summer. But the first two episodes of Dream High 2 disappointed me with its spotty acting (with the exception of Kang So-ra) and lack of plot so far, so I thought that I’d give this drama a shot.

The members of Eye Candy, the name of our lovely flower boy band, are Byung-hee (Lee Min-ki), the crazy leader, Kwon Ji-hyuk (Sung Joon), the guitarist with sticky-uppy hair and a steel spine, Lee Hyun-soo (L from INFINITE, eep!), the second guitarist with a smoldering glare, Jang Do-il (Lee Hyun-jae), the resident pretty boy drummer, Kim Ha-jin (Yoo Min-kyu), the flirtatious bassist, and Seo Kyung-jong (Kim Min-seok), the cute keyboardist.

Although the boys of Eye Candy are talented, they have no money. They can’t afford to buy instruments and play gigs. On top of that, at least half of them have family issues at home. The drama hints at daddy problems for Do-il, money problems for Hyun-soo, and legal mommy slash inheritance problems for Ji-hyuk. Seriously, talk about angst. Family problems are a must for most Korean dramas; with my short attention span, I usually get tired of them pretty easily (such as the mother/daughter complex in Shining Inheritance), but Shut Up: Flower Boy Band doesn’t let the angst sink in too much before breaking the tension with a ridiculous moment. It’s enough to let the emotion shine through, but not too much to cause viewers to roll their eyes in exasperation.

Due to some complications, Eye Candy is transferred from a run-down high school to an upscale one with rich, snobby students. Ooh, goody! Time to find our antagonists, yes? As poor students with scrubby clothes and attitudes, the boys are immediately outcasts at their shiny new high school. This is where we meet Su-ah (Jo Boa), our female protagonist, and Seung-hoon (Jung Ui-chul), Su-ah’s arrogant pursuer and the prince of the school. 

Clearly, there are going to be clashes between Seung-hoon and Eye Candy–it’s the stereotypical setup for conflict: raging hormones and competitiveness (here, in terms of music). I spy a love triangle!

Byung-hee immediately pegs Su-ah as his muse after seeing her in a music store where Eye Candy went to go check out instruments that they cannot afford and Su-ah went to pick out a birthday present for Seung-hoon. He becomes enamored with her in his own eccentric way, which causes Su-ah to feel intrigued, curious, and amused by his actions. She goes along with it, much to the disappointment of Seung-hoon. The other boys in the band don’t think much of Su-ah at first, especially Ji-hyuk, who sees Su-ah as a pretty rich girl with no substance. It’s going to be interesting so see how she changes their minds about her! As for the ramyun noodles, it’s an endearing little detail tvN added to the drama that you have to watch in order to get the full effect of, reminding me of Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, the previous installment in the Oh! Boy series.

Speaking of Flower Boy Ramyun Shop (oh, how I miss Cha Chi-soo and his Pororo obsession…), I was pleasantly surprised to see that while Shut Up: Flower Boy Band has a much darker feel as a drama, it still keeps the same quirky sense of humor and hilarious situations. For example, there’s an adorable six-way bromance between the members of Eye Candy that reminds me of the bromance between our four favorite ramyun shop workers. They bicker, but at the end of the day as we watch them laugh over bowls of ramyun, we know that they’ll always have each other’s backs. It keeps the drama light and easier on the heart, even with the angst (I’m not sure how long that’ll last though). Shut Up: Flower Boy Band does a great job of balancing cute, comical bromance-y moments with short emotional scenes, where we get glimpses at the vulnerability of each character.

I was totally sold on the cast of the drama fifteen minutes into the first episode. In fact, I probably would’ve kept watching even if everyone else sucked at acting–that was how good the dynamics of the actors playing the six members of Eye Candy were. Lee Min-ki was captivating as the leader of the band, equal parts typical teenage boy and charismatic leader. I’m a little upset because he won’t be sticking around, but Sung Joon does a fantastic job with the character of Ji-hyuk as well, so it’ll be interesting to watch him take over the lead for real in the next two episodes. His portrayal of Ji-hyuk’s feelings toward Su-ah are convincing and heartfelt. As for the rest of the band members, Lee Hyun-jae, Kim Min-seok, and Yoo Min-kyu (who was cast in tvN’s reality audition program Flower Boy Casting: Oh! Boy) did a great job characterizing the camaraderie between the band members. Oh, and there’s L, who’s basically getting paid to act the part of himself in the drama. Even the names are similar–Myung-soo and Hyun-soo. I enjoyed his expressions during the first two episodes the most–L is seriously good at doing sexy smolders. I also sense that there’s substance to his character as well, so it’ll be interesting to see how that kicks into the plotline later on. 

There was much concern leading up to the airing of the first two episodes of this drama about Jo Boa’s acting skills in particular. It’s her first drama and many hopeful viewers were worried that bad acting would ruin Shut Up: Flower Boy Band. It seemed that she stood her ground though–the character of Su-ah doesn’t call for a lot of spunk or fire, just the role of an innocent, rich high school girl. Jo Boa made Su-ah easy to like as the protagonist, which was the most important thing for most viewers this week. I’m interested to see how Su-ah’s conflicts in the drama will pan out and if she’ll develop more of a backbone and not be as scared of other people’s thoughts about her as she is currently.

A drama about a band’s passion for music has to have a kickass OST. If the music sucks for a music-central drama, then it becomes very difficult to enjoy it. Fortunately, the music director of Shut Up: Flower Boy Band is Lee Jae-hak, a member of the rock band Loveholic. He is a well-known songwriter who has had experience working with soundtracks before, so I was pretty pumped when I found out that he was going to be working on the OST for the drama. No idol pop tracks for this one, that’s for sure!

I love pretty much everything about Shut Up: Flower Boy Band. I love that it’s gritty with angst, but not overly so, with humor laced into conversations and situations. I love that it’s youthful and energetic, but not in an overwhelming way. I love the acting, the music, the emotions, the promising plotline, the bromance, and L’s sexy smolder. I feel like I’m going to be blowing off lots of homework in the next month or so because of this drama, but it’s going to be totally worth it.

Have you been following Shut Up: Flower Boy Band? If not, are you planning on starting it?

(dramafever, thekoreandrama, dramabeans (Episode 1), dramabeans (Episode 2), tumblr, tumblr, dramabeans (OST), dramawiki)