Sassy, Go Go has wrapped up, airing its final four episodes. Tragically, while Sassy, Go Go has provided some of the best writing and acting of 2015, its ratings have never been reflective of that, with Sassy, Go Go ending it’s run having never even cracked five percent. And I have no idea why.
Sassy, Go Go was a drama that managed an artful balance of lightheartedness with dark, yet realistic turns as the cheer team finds themselves facing issues from the standard, i.e. class rankings, to the tragic — one of their own attempts to take their own life.
Episodes nine and ten focus most heavily on Soo-ah as her life slowly crumbles. It is discovered that she stole the midterm Yeol was blamed for, with both Yeol and Yeon-doo giving her three days to confess before they out her. But when the decision is taken out of either of their hands, Soo-ah truly begins to fall apart .
As her mother begins plans to send Soo-ah abroad to study — and more importantly, save her reputation so she can get into Harvard — Soo-ah takes a hard look at her life. She realizes that she doesn’t like who she is, or what she’s done, and doesn’t want to live like this anymore. So she leaves a note for Yeon-doo and spends the day, not studying, but having fun, enjoying life, and telling Dong-jae her mother won’t be nagging her anymore.
Because Soo-ah is planning to kill herself.
She doesn’t succeed, but it was a very close call; Dong-jae had to literally pull her back from the brink of death, after which she goes nearly catatonic. Her mother simply keeps on making plans for Soo-ah’s future, but constant messages from the cheer team make her realize that she’s not alone, and there are other ways to live than under her mother’s thumb. Instead of running, she returns to Sevit to face the music, becoming a happier person making her own choices. She isn’t forgiven, but rather is given the chance to earn that forgiveness, and she uses that chance well. It’s a nice ending that says no one is beyond redemption, but that redemption takes work.
Sassy, Go Go amazes me with how well it portrays depression and suicide, especially in teenagers, a group in South Korea whose leading cause of death is suicide. Depression is stasis, the inability to move in any direction. Ha-joon is depressed, with only Yeol to lean on, and not able to do much more than go through the motions. As time goes on and he gains more and more support, Ha-joon is able to break away from his abusive family, and truly live.
Suicide, on the other hand, is an active goal, one that often fills those planning on is with new energy — in fact, if a person with serious depression suddenly becomes calm or happy, it’s a sign of suicide risk, not improvement. Soo-ah’s last day is full of this, as she plays arcade games, plays in the park, eats ice cream and makes her amends with Yeon-doo and Dong-jae, all while seeming lighter than air. But underneath it all, she’s broken, and coupled with the fact that, unlike Ha-joon, she cannot see a life free of her mother, that it’s clear she’s not starting over, she’s taking her last day to have all the fun she’s missed.
From that, Sassy, Go Go gets some epic mood whiplash. While episodes nine and ten are dark and angst-filled, revolving around a character’s descent to suicide and the dawn of her slow recovery, eleven and twelve are about flirty step-siblings. A side-plot has been that Yeol’s father and Yeon-doo’s mother are dating, but their children have no idea, and the parents don’t know about their kids, so when the clash comes, it’s bad.
The sudden shift in tone does make sense: Sassy, Go Go has always had a balance of fluff and pain, but fluff has no place in Soo-ah’s suicide attempt, and the residual is exploding here. It also keeps the drama from ending on such a dark note. Plus, flirty step-siblings are a personal favorite trope. But while I understand and even like it, the shift is so quick I’m writing this with a neck brace.
The revelation that both parents and children are dating leads to some great moments. For one, it reinforces the theme that both children are very like their parents. Yeon-doo grills her mom about her boyfriend, before the two dissolve into a pile of giggles, while the boys barely talk. But in the end, both couples get their happily ever after.
Because that’s what dramas like Sassy, Go Go do. They tie everything up neatly, in a perfect bow. Teacher Yang’s contract gets’ extended, and Instructor Nam has stayed on to coach cheer. Soo-ah’s mom is under investigation, but has a better relationship with her daughter, while Ha-joon’s dad has a restraining order against him and mandated therapy. Soo-ah and Dong-jae have started dating, and the whole team is a 13-member glom of friendship.
But you know what? That’s not bad. Everyone’s lives are better for knowing each other, and sometimes, people need a little happily ever after, especially when they worked so hard for it. Sassy, Go Go has become one of my favorite dramas of all time, and I cannot recommend it enough.
(images via KBS)