Romantic and Idol, it had potential from the start, but there were a lot of factors that could have brought it down; happily, it turned out better than expected and will continue with new idols right away. The idols showed a lot more of their personalities than they are able to on scripted variety shows and several people’s images took pretty big hits, which helped prove the lack of manager presence.
As the show gears up for its second season, we can expect another emotional roller-coaster that will keep viewers guessing, cause you to hate idols you thought you liked, and satisfy that romantic inside all of us. There is no doubt that some of the situations were so perfect that they seem staged, or so painfully awkward that you may have wanted to shut off the video, but despite that, and some lulls in certain episodes, it was a show worth watching and worth keeping around for a second season.
When the show started, I wrote an article about some of the production company’s claims and about expectations and first impressions. Eight episodes later, I have changed my mind both about the show and about the idols featured on the show so many times that I can barely keep track. At first, the show seemed like it was going to be very unbalanced, especially in terms of screen time wise, because some idols were favored over others by their peers.
However, as the couples were switched up more and more during random couple change games (involving picking a random shirt, necklace or some, for example) screen time was less devoted to a certain person and more to whichever couple was the most romantic. Although seemingly harsh, it stayed true to the concept of the show as being similar to a romantic movie. This did leave the JB and Seung-ah couple in the dust a lot, because even when they weren’t together as a couple they never did find their feet, romantically, as individuals.
Speaking of JB, he and Mir have shown their personalities in ways that may not be good for their idol reputation, which seems to be part of the purpose of this show. Mir, as mentioned before, has always had problems controlling his mouth, which is part of his charm, but JB doesn’t have a background of unfortunate behavior to back-up his reckless antics on Romantic and Idol. The interesting thing was that they essentially switched roles as the show went on, with Mir switching from being the insensitive, unromantic guy to being a really cute and flustered guy with a crush, whereas JB did exactly the opposite. I hate to say this, but mid-show there was no one I would have rather slapped in the head than JB, after him being my favorite guy candidate in the beginning.
With JB proving his immaturity as far as dating goes and Mir saying everything he shouldn’t, the other guys hardly needed to do anything to maintain spotless images; but, Jun. K was very open with his personality and showed that he is completely obsessive. Now, this might be seen as a cute, and it certainly makes him seem human, but it seems doubtful that his managers would have wanted his image to include how obsessed he is with girls jumping up and down and the color yellow. Specific example aside, it was clear from the show that he fixates on things and thinks about them continuously, which is simply a personality trait, but not one he seems to be conscious of, so it is not something the fans would have seen on a scripted variety show. Hyung-sik is the only one who comes out unblemished, with nothing to be said about him other than that he seems to be a genuinely sweet, romantic, and thoughtful guy. If you are looking for a new bias, check him out, ladies (and gents).
The women maintained neutral images for the entire show, which is impressive considering the circumstances. They were all honest, so don’t mistake them not ruining their image as proof of the show being scripted, they simply seemed to know when to shut up when in front of the other people. Seung-ah went through the most difficulties in the show, hands down, and she maintained impressive composure up until the last episode, when she had an impressive break down. I’m not judging because I would have done the same thing she did, as ashamed as I am to admit it.
The least honest person, to me, seemed to be Hyejeong, because although she ended up with Jun. K, and he seemed to like her a lot, her feelings were always unclear. It may be that she was shy, or that the age difference affected her, but more than once it seemed that she was simply going along with the romance and not feeling it honestly herself. She clearly said in some of her interviews that being with Jun K. was somewhat burdensome, so her choosing him in the end seemed more like a default decision than anything.
For Jei it seemed that she just needed to find the right partner to unleash her inner romantic and Ji-hyun, the fated one, proved that she was just that with her honest, but sweet, apprehension at falling for Hyung-sik so obviously. The couples of Mir and Jei and Hyung-sik and Ji-hyun were the ones that felt the most real at the final selection. It was hard to find any alternative motive for their behavior and their body language spoke volumes about how they felt for the other person. Particularly with Hyung-sik running the last stretch to Ji-hyun and Mir having a mental collapse before he could even get to Jei, but then being totally steadfast in his decision to stay with her. If there is a public scandal about either of these couples in the next few months don’t be surprised.
More than anything else, the show as a whole gave a window into how different the genders are in how they think about things and how differently they act because of that. Although there is certainly a cultural aspect to the show for the international audience, as it is Korean vs. Western, the message was still universal that women are steadfast in their love and men are inconsistent in their feelings. The only one exempt from this is Hyung-sik; but let’s be honest, the amazing romance of fate between him and Ji-hyun is not the norm in the real world. In the real world, relationships tend to go more along the lines of Seung-ah and JB’s relationship, with a bad boy who hurts you over and over but you still go back to him.
So how do you take such an authentic relationship show and repeat it a second time? This is question came to my mind as soon as it became clear that a second season of the show was in the works. Part of the mystique of the show was how honest the idols were because they didn’t always know what to expect, but with the show having aired and idols being able to talk to each other the second season’s participants will already have an idea of what’s in store.
The second season is already confirmed with the idols being G.NA, Ye-won of Jewlery, Jiwon of Spica, and Eunyoung of Two X for the women, and Jong-hoon of FT Island, Kevin of ZE:A, Minhyuk of BTOB, and N of VIXX for the guys.
As someone who enjoyed the first season, I am looking forward to more addictive idol romance in the months to come. The participants are of a more similar age range this time, and there is still a mix of well-known and lesser known idols, not to mention some idols I am personally excited about, so the show has all the right ingredients to have another successful run. However, the audience’s preconceived notions about how things should play out because of what happened in the first season may color the success of this season, so we will just have to wait and see if the ratings will allow for more extended episodes. I’m not sure if I can handle finding out that Minhyuk is really an inconsiderate bad boy, so let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
What did you think of Romantic and Idol, readers? Will you watch season two, as well?