Aimless Ramblings: When Tastes Change...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The other day, I started thinking about my taste in dramas and I realized that it has changed quite a lot over my drama-watching career. Having watched dramas for years now, it only makes sense - tastes change all the time, be it with music, books or films. 

But what's interesting is that it has changed not just in the sense of what kind of dramas I watch, but perhaps even more in the sense of how I enjoy to dramas in general. 

Back in the day when I was a newly converted drama addict, I watched a million shows at once (I still do, but more in an orderly manner), jumping from one to the next one, without finishing the previous. I had no time to think about what I just watched, I only craved for more. And I didn't even care about how they ended, I simply wanted a good romance fix.  

However, after I started reading blogs (mainly Dramabeans) and decided to start my own blog it forced me to actually analyze different shows, compare them to one another and think why some elements worked better in some shows, but not so well in others. 

I also started to be more diligent about completing dramas that I started, because I wanted to write reviews about them. No longer did I put emphasis on getting only my romance fix. Instead, I slowly started valuing dramas for other reasons - acting quality, story-telling, cinematography etc - and that in turn started influencing my choice in dramas as I slowly started sampling other genres besides romantic comedies.

Now, fast-forward three years later (Yup, I did a time-skip. K-drama style). I am still blogging, I am still watching dramas. But the way I react to dramas is different. Even my habits of watching are different. 

Back in the day, I mostly marathoned dramas, these days, I rarely do that. I usually just try to keep up with currently airing dramas and do most of my watching on the weekends.

I don't watch as much as I used to. This is partly because I have more real life responsibilities and don't have that many hours to spend watching dramas, but that's really not the main reason. Mostly it is simply because I don't feel like watching them as often as I used to. That is not to say that my love for dramas has cooled off, but it's rather that it's not a matter of how much I watch, but how much I enjoy what I am watching. 

Sure there's the occasional pressure to complete dramas so that I have something to blog about, but in general I'm now more willing to drop shows permanently, rather than put them indefinitely on hold.  

Another thing is that I multitask while watching, which I did not do at all in the past. For instance, I have the habit of reading recaps at the same time as I'm watching the episode because I want to make sure I don't miss anything important, but also to know when to skip the boring parts.  A more recent habit is screencapping, which I do for two reasons: because I need something to illustrate my reviews with and because I like taking pretty pictures. I often end up using those screencaps for my immediate reaction tweets on Twitter.

In fact, Twitter has been kind of an eye-opening experience for me as I've realized, after starting using it, that I tend to disagree with people a lot more than I did back in the day when discussing dramas. More and more often, I find myself seeing flaws in things that others seem to go gaga over. I guess I've become more critical towards popular dramas overall and I don't easily fall for the hype anymore. In fact, overwhelming hype actually tends to kill my interest.

For instance, there have been three crowd-pleaser dramas in the past year and a half: The Heirs, Man From Another Star, Fated to Love You. But with each of these dramas, I felt like the odd one out because none of them seemed to grab me the same way.

As it turns out, popular no longer means good, like it did in the past when I picked dramas that everyone seemed to recommend the most in K-drama forums. Now I realize that popular mostly means that the pretty will be distracting you from the drama's shortcomings, creating the illusion that what you're watching is better than it really is. I am forced to acknowledge that am no longer the kind of drama fan who lives for kiss scenes and happy endings. 

Moreover, when I think about my criteria for a good drama, it's definitely changed a lot over time. 

My criteria in the past:

  • story - easy and fun to watch vs too complicated (e.g. sageuks)
  • the cast - do I find leading actors attractive enough
  • romance - how much did I squee over the OTP
  • the ending - happy vs sad? 

My criteria now:

  • characters - their development and consistency throughout the drama 
  • acting - the portrayal of a character and ability to convey subtle nuances
  • directing - how scenes are filmed and put together, can the director get his vision across successfully
  • writing - consistent and convincing, with little to no writing missteps
  • story - and logical plot development within the universe of that particular drama

Sure, I still sometimes judge dramas based on the criteria I had years ago (because obviously the squee-factor is always relevant), but the important point is that now I would take good acting over a good-looking cast, I'd take intriguing characters over a fluffy romance, and I'd take a sad ending over a happy ending if it's more meaningful and makes more sense.

Speaking about happy endings...

Enough with the weddings and babies! There has to be another way to end a drama in a happy way, WITHOUT presenting a white dress and a bundle of joy as a solution to everything. And before you click away because I'm obviously saying terrible things, let me explain that I have nothing against happy endings. I do, however, have A LOT against unimaginative, uninspired happy endings with time-skips that have no other purpose than to make way for empty fanservice. I believe that we deserve better than that. 

In short, let's not confuse crappy endings with happy endings. Okay? End of mini-rant.

But to sum up this ramblings post, I guess we can say that I've simply become pickier. It happens to all of us...eventually. The more you watch, the more you start to notice the little things, and while it can be a good thing that you are able to capture all the details of the show, it means the flaws will be easier to see as well. It's inevitable, really.

Yet, there's one thing that hasn't changed. It is the hope that occasionally a show comes along that I whole-heartedly fall in love with like it was my first time discovering and watching a drama, proving that this one gem was worth digging through all the stones for. 

While pickier I now may be, I am still a drama fan. Fighting!

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  1. popular no longer means good
    Ahh, this trend. As someone who no longer watches dramas so often, whenever I DO want to pop back in, it's so hard to figure what I should watch. Especially when popular and trendy annoys me too, more often than it doesn't anyway.

    1. Hi, Rosie! Long time no see :D

      It actually depends on what we consider popular. I think it's always safer to go for something that's popular with people but not super popular, because dramas that are really hyped up are usually so because there's someone in the cast who people are crazy about (that was the case with both The Heirs and Man From Another Star, for instance) and that usually influences people's opinion a lot. But it's always good to try it out yourself because sometimes popular dramas do turn out to be deserving of their success.

      But if you're looking for something to watch then I'd actually suggest Misaeng. I don't know if it's something you'd be interested in but I'm enjoying it a lot, despite the fact it's a slow-paced workplace drama. It doesn't sound exciting, I know, but it's actually really compelling.

    2. I watched the first ep of Misaeng and LOVE it. I will definitely be finishing it :)

  2. It's so true how writing about kdrama inevitably affects the way you look at drama!! I've become pickier too!! It's been such an interesting journey for me, to see how using a more analytical lens to watch a show can either take it to a whole new level or, on the other end of the scale, totally kill the show for me. I've been experimenting on ways to consume my dramas & write about them without killing the experience for myself. Right now, I'm approaching different shows with different levels of attention & analysis, and that seems to help. I still hated the Heirs, but I genuinely enjoyed YFAS :)

    Then again, I've only been writing about dramas for 2 years though I've been watching for about 7, so maybe in another year, my opinions & experiences may have changed ^^

    1. Yeah, it can be sometimes tricky if you want to watch a show through a more analytical lens, without letting it ruin your viewing experience at the same time. There have been few times when I've found myself concentrating too much on the details and let that take me out of the moment, making me realize that it made it much harder to enjoy the drama in the end. But I guess you just need to find the right balance. And sometimes it's better to let your brain rest for a moment, enjoy the drama and leave the analyzing for later.

      I actually didn't hate The Heirs when I was watching it, but by the end of the series I was just so fed up with the main love triangle, so that whenever I now think back on the drama I think of less and less nice things to say about the drama.
      YFAS, on the other hand, is still on hold for me (will get to finishing it soon, I hope). With that one I can see why people enjoyed it and I mostly agree with them, but I personally just don't feel as emotionally invested in it. I believe it's partly because I felt pressured to love it as much as everyone else. The same with Fated to Love You, the hype just makes it hard for me to enjoy it on my own.

  3. Yeah, i drop dramas now as well, instead of putting them on hold. Well, i put them on hold, but after two or three weeks if I still haven't gone back to it, I consider it dropped. That's not something that I could have done 2 years ago. Yay progress!

    I don't consider Heirs to be at the same level as YFAS and Fated to Love You. The latter two were actually pretty good, and while they were overhyped, they weren't necessarily undeserving. And most people did enjoy them. Whereas Heirs was actually mostly disliked, lol. At least, in our circle it was; it was heavily criticised. Even those of us who for some inexplicable reason did actually like it (me included), we knew it was no good, and we would never recommend it to anyone to watch. I don't even know why I liked it. Kim Woo Bin, probably, lol

    1. I don't consider Heirs to be at the same level either, but in this post I meant it in terms of popularity and overall buzz (whether or not they deserved the attention). I definitely found YFAS and FTLY much less aggravating and did enjoy them more than Heirs. However, the hype was mostly what killed the viewing experience for me with all three dramas.

  4. I know what you mean, Ive been watching drama's for almost 10 years now and I realise that now Im older, I tend to watch more serious drama's :)
    lets follow eachother! Following you now, hope you will follow back :)



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