Opinion| What Makes or Breaks a Good Series?

Opinion| What Makes or Breaks a Good Series?

Hello, hello BAYOG Fam! Your girl has been MIA, I know. To be honest, I have lots of ideas. The problem is I have too many. The biggest problem is trying to organize all these ideas… So please be patient, but look forward to some fun discussions and things from me~

Iu Jang Man Wol GIF - Iu JangManWol HotelDelLuna GIFs
Welcome to my world. The black hole that is Asian dramas.
Drama: Hotel del Luna

One of my recent hobbies these few months have been trying to trick my mom and grandma into getting sucked in by my drama series. On top of that, I enjoy putting it on the TV at work. It’s fun to see my customers get sucked into it too; Especially since we’re in the South. I’ll be blunt, the white folk in these parts don’t really watch things that require subtitles. Asian dramas are a completely foreign and curious concept. One that’s got them hooked now, thanks to your girl here. For reals though, I’ve unexpectedly drew in way more people than expected. You’re welcome Viki. That’s not the real point though. There’s a Thai auntie who comes in every now and then. It’s always when we’re watching a series. Usually a different one. She always gets hella sucked in. Bruh, one time she stayed for 5 hours to watch the series. She only meant to drop by for 30 minutes. She told me, “How come everything you watch is so good??”

Strong Woman GIF - Strong Woman DoBongSoon GIFs
A good series makes me happy!
Drama: Strong Girl Bong Soon

That, and some discussions with my K-Drama Circle girls got me thinking. What exactly makes a series good or bad? I’m not only talking about my Asian dramas. I mean everything: Asian dramas, manga/webtoons, and anime. There are so many series. Sometimes I can’t keep up with how many dramas or anime series came out for each season. I try to start a bunch of them, but I always end up dropping a majority of them. I suppose it could be because I’m very picky. However, there are little things that draw me into a series. These things come together, and they’re what makes me continue the series to the end. Again, these don’t just apply to my Asian dramas. It applies to manga/webtoons and anime too!

Park Min Young Kim Jae Wook GIF - ParkMinYoung KimJaeWook HerPrivateLife GIFs
I enjoy the cute little moments that build up in a romance.
Drama: Her Private Life

Let’s talk about the bad first. What makes me avoid or drop a series? I think one of the general, and most obvious, reasons is usually bad writing. A story from a drama, manga/webtoon, or anime is meant to draw you in. If I’m watching a mystery or thriller, I want to feel pulled into that mystery. I want to feel compelled to follow through, so I can find out the answers and conclusions. If I’m watching a drama kind of series, I want to feel like I’m pulled in like a nosey auntie. It better make me feel like, “YO. I gotta know the dirt!” I find a series wonderful when I feel like all my emotions are invested into it. Like I’ll straight up cry during sad or touching scenes. If I’m watching a romance, I want to see a proper build up. I want it to feel genuine. Make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. That’s how you make it feel believable. Seriously, I hate a love story that’s gone from A to Z in a snap. Let me enjoy the journey and development of the feelings!! Make me want to genuinely ship them, dammit! I want the story to tug at my heart strings! You get my point.

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MFW the story and pacing is a mess.
Drama: What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?

However, haphazard writing breaks that immersion. It doesn’t feel fluid. You end up breaking your concentration and immersion. Sometimes, it’s just that it’s so weak that it doesn’t even properly draw you in. We often get into a series that let’s us kind of escape reality. So often times we expect these very dramatic and romantic ideas. Fantastic, and out there kind of story lines are also another big thing. It certainly keeps it interesting. It helps make it stand out. However, a good story can also be good because of it’s simplicity. I like stories that feel fantastical. However, I also love simple stories that I can relate to, and feel like they could really happen. Pacing plays an important part too. I don’t want it to feel like it’s dragging on. However, I also don’t want to feel like everything is thrown at me all at once. I’m talking about the ones that leave you sitting there thinking, “W-What just happened…??” Again, there should be a proper build up.

This is such a poetic and beautiful quote.
Drama: Goblin: The Lonely and Great God

There should be a point too. Things shouldn’t feel like they were just slapped together. Don’t make things feel like they were forced to happen. It just breaks the flow and immersion. Cliches and tropes are fine, but don’t overdo it. Another thing that makes a series stand out is if there’s an overall message that stands out. A good series has memorable moments, but I absolutely love a series that carries a deep message and beautiful quotes. Gangnam Beauty isn’t my absolute favorite, but I love how they portray that physical beauty isn’t everything. I absolutely love how they’re trying to portray a journey to self-love. As for quotes, I adored the quotes from Goblin: The Lonely and Great God. It was romantic, poetic, beautiful, and you could really feel the emotions. Flower Boy Next Door also had a beautiful message and quotes. Again, it’s a series that deals with the journey to overcome trauma and to learn how to love oneself.

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Yes, this show is for real. Please watch it lolol
Drama: Yuusha Yoshihiko (The Hero Yoshihiko)

For dramas, a part of what makes or breaks a drama can be production. A bad production can lead you to not feel immersed as well. Okay, it’s not an Asian drama…but there was an “American remake” of Boys Over Flowers. Boys Over Flowers is an incredibly famous and popular series. It’s a manga that had several adaptations in several different countries over the years. Many years ago, an American company wanted to do a remake. They touted how it was a high production. Y’all. It was bad. It was incredibly low-budget. I’ve seen YouTube videos that looked better. I could literally see that the guy was wearing a very obvious and bad wig. It was also very obvious that the actors were straight up reading the script right in front of them. Details like that in a production really breaks the immersion. I can’t buy the story you’re telling me. However, series like [The Hero Yoshihiko] prove that a high production value isn’t necessary for a good series. It’s the story and characters that are much more important. Seriously, it’s a low-budget show. However, the comedy and characters are gold. Also the cheap production is endearing lulz. Again, there’s a point to that though. So it really comes down to how they utilize what they have to pull you in. Things shouldn’t feel half-assed as well.

Siwon She Was Pretty GIF - Siwon SheWasPretty Tired GIFs
Ayy, Park SeoJoon…but DAYUUUUUM Siwon~ Dem abs.
Drama: She Was Pretty
Some Park SeoJoon eye candy for you. Seriously.
Drama: What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?
Ji Sung Actor GIF - JiSung Ji Sung GIFs
Who needs a man IRL when you got a cute/sweet onscreen oppa.
Drama: Kill Me, Heal Me

It’s not just how they build the world of that series though. It’s also the characters. Let’s face facts. There are a plethora of character tropes. Many of them are overplayed. Of course, physical details are a major pull towards a character. Like, DAYUUUM. Have you seen some of the eye candy from a drama or other series before? Looks aren’t everything though. They’re just a bonus. Eye candy is eye candy. What keeps me around is how the character is written, and how they grow.

Park Seojoon Whats Wrong With Secretary Kim GIF - ParkSeojoon WhatsWrongWithSecretaryKim MrLee GIFs
Such characters have a certain something about them. An AURAAAAA?
Drama: What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?

However, a well written character can really draw someone into a series. For me, I want to see how their story unfolds. They don’t even need to be super well written. However, they do need to have some kind of charm or appeal. Often times it’s a character that has a certain quirk. Sometimes, it’s that there’s something lovable about them. However, again, they don’t need to be super fantastical. They can feel fairly ordinary, but they just need to have some sort of characteristic that pulls the audience in. I think what’s most important is that characters should undergo change and growth throughout the story. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a huge dynamic character change.

Ah…Baek In Ho… One of my top 3 second male leads~
K-Drama Circle’s bae~
Drama: Cheese In The Trap

Some good examples of webtoons with great character growth is [Sweet Home] and [Odd Girl Out]. Drama-wise, everyone from [Goblin: The Lonely and Great God] is a great example. Baek In Ho from the webtoon and drama [Cheese In The Trap] is also a good example of what I’m talking about. Here’s a guy who’s basically a thug, and a bit selfish. However, he works hard to change himself for the better. He really turns himself around, and he shows genuine care and concern for Seol. Not just as a girl that he likes, but as a human being.

Goblin Kdrama GIF - Goblin Kdrama GongYoo GIFs
The bromance was legendary and endearing.
Drama: Goblin: The Lonely and Great God

I’m just saying that they can’t be stagnant. I think that’s the whole point yaknow? We follow a story because we want to see the journey. We want to see how they deal with different issues, and how they’ll grow from it. You can’t help but want to cheer them on, curse them out, cry along with them, or cry for them. It’s a success when you can really feel a character’s emotions. Being able to empathize and feel a connection to a character shows makings of a great story or series. You can tell alot of thought went into these characters. It’s great because at times you forget that it’s fiction.

When you can relate to a character, they feel real. That’s when you know the writers did a good job.
Drama: Flower Boy Next Door

Sometimes it’s also because you can really understand a character and relate to them. It feels close to home. They feel genuine and real. You know it’s good when you’ve become so invested in them and their journey and growth. Also, shipping amazing characters is so much fun~ Also, second lead syndrome is real. Seriously though, characters that have depth and growth are incredibly strong asset to a good series.

Funniest couple that aren’t the main characters.
Drama: What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?

It’s not just the main characters though. Well-written and charming side characters a huge plus. They help add support to the story and main characters. Not just that, they just add a little extra oomph and a nice break with their quirky characteristics and antics.

I’m lookin’ at you, Jung!
The only real flaw about that drama…
Drama: Cheese In The Trap

However, a stagnant character can make a story seem so boring. Not only that, I end up feeling like I wasted my time. Like, what’s the point if there isn’t going to be any growth or change? Especially for the shitty type of characters. A stagnant story and stagnant characters are just a big no-no.

Ask my friends and family. I legit make this face when I watch those kinds of dramas.

I also just despise characters that are too unrealistic. To be blunt, I hate dumb characters. Like characters who have absolutely zero common sense. Like hey, there’s a serial killer/kidnapper on the loose. Oh…that dumb bitch who just got attacked thought it was a good idea to go out alone at night? GIIIIRRRLLLL, YOU ESTUPIDO!!! It’s not just that though. Those kind of characters just seem so superficial! So there’s no pull. They feel very cookie cutter, and feel like there’s no real substance or depth to them. It also just feels repetitive to the typical tropes. There’s nothing to set them apart, and so they don’t feel very memorable. I just don’t feel the need to attempt getting invested. There are also characters that don’t feel realistic or make sense at all. They just have hella awkward characterization.

Seon Mi…You dumb bitch… (-‸ლ)
Drama: Hwayugi

Okay, take [Hwayugi]. Seon Mi/Samjang didn’t feel consistent. She is in her mid-30s. She’s supposed to be really smart and clever at times. However, sometimes she’s so unbelievably dumb??? Like okay, you can tell that one chick is tricking you. However, you see a red and black bell. The damn store owner tells you red is good for love, but freaks out over the black bell. Yet, your dumbass really just assumed and believed the black one was good?? Bitch… I also get that she’s never experienced love or a relationship. I get they were going with the trope of someone who had an innocence and naivete. However, she acted like a young teenage girl. I don’t mean that in a good way. It just came off really cringey and unrealistic. She just didn’t have any sense of maturity that a 30 something year old would have. It just didn’t really match.

I want someone to look at me like how Young Joon looks at Mi So.
Drama: What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?
Mi Secretary GIF - Mi Secretary Joon GIFs
I ship it.
Drama: What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?

I get wanting to show some kind of pure innocence. Which can be done. You just have to know what’s too much. A good series that did this would be [What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?]. The characters are like 29 or early 30’s. They too have no experience in relationships or love. Yet, they’re able to show a sweet innocence in a way that’s believable. It didn’t feel overboard. They didn’t act out of character for their age. It made sense in that you could see someone that age feeling or reacting like that. It wasn’t seen as cringey. It was just seen as incredibly sweet.

Another side note is proper casting of characters! Of course talent is the most important thing when casting a character. However, I’ve noticed something. Characters playing high school or college students should look close to that age. It shouldn’t be so painfully obvious that they’re nowhere near that age or look? It’s weird seeing a dude in his mid-thirties playing a college student in his early twenties. Park Hae Jin in Cheese in the Trap drama and movie..and really everyone in the Cheese in the Trap movie. I get that Park Hae Jin and some actors have great acting chops. Yes, I know Jung was modeled after him. However, y’all be breaking the immersion for me. You don’t look like a 20-23 year old. You look like you could be a professor or TA. Y’all ain’t fooling me.

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Me saying, “Fuck that”.
This ain’t a drama. Just Epik High’s “Trot + Technology” MV

There’s another thing that’s a big turn off when I try to get into a series. It sometimes ties into what I’ve already talked about. However, another main thing is romanticizing hella questionable and toxic things. Things like a dude being hella aggressive and possessive towards a woman. I’m looking at you Jung from Cheese in the Trap. That drama would have been good had it not been for the fact that they were romanticizing Jung x Seol’s toxic relationship. However, there are some series that were way worse. I don’t remember if it was a manga or a drama…but the dude basically raped the girl. They romanticized their relationship despite him having done that and worse to her.

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Not a drama. Just Masta Wu from Show Me The Money

I’m just “NO” on toxic behavior in general. Seriously, that’s no no. Like toxic characters cheating and mistreating a character, but thinking it’s not a big deal. Yet at the same time, they flip out if that character is suddenly being shown affection by a new character. Like…WTF?? There are times where a male character grabs and literally drags the girl around. Like he’s being hella rough. That’s not cute or romantic. That’s selfish and domineering. Also, it’s just rude AF. Seriously, don’t romanticize toxic and dangerous behaviors. That’s just fucked up. Like yes, toxic relationships are a thing in real life. However, those kinds of series make you say, “BRUH. WTF. That’s not how things would/should work??” I legit had that happen to me once. A random dude grabbed my arm and tried to drag me away. Yo. It wasn’t cute or romantic. It was terrifying as shit.

Iu Lee Ji Eun GIF - Iu LeeJiEun HotelDelLuna GIFs
Drama: Hotel del Luna

So yeah, now you know what I’m looking for when I get into a series. A good story is one with a well written and immersive world. It’s one that has memorable and dynamic characters. You can’t help but want to watch their story/journey unfold, and to see how they grow. You grow to adore the characters, cheer them on, laugh with them, and cry with/for them.

The little extras that make a series even better is a good soundtrack. They really add to the story. It helps make you feel more immersed. It also gives insight to the personalities and feelings of the characters and the story. Also, it acts like another pull towards the series, plus it’s a nice way to find new interesting artists or music. I love getting interested in a song, hitting replay, but also have the series constantly on my mind. An example of this would be [Goblin: The Lonely and Great God]. Seriously, everything about that drama is fantastic. It’s exactly what I’m talking about, and the soundtrack is absolutely beautiful.

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Me dropping a series.
Drama: What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?

However, I find a series bad if the story is poorly written to the point that I can’t feel immersed into the story. Well written characters may be able to save such a series. However, I’m not a fan of shallow feeling or cookie cutter type characters. I get there’s a frame work or base for characters. However, they should have some personality and charm. What I hate most are stagnant characters. This a big thing for me. Stagnant characters feel so boring, and it makes me feel like I’m wasting my time. 9/10 times I’ll immediately drop a series if the characters are stagnant. Like, I need to see some growth dammit. Poorly written and stagnant characters get a no from me bruh.

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MFW a drama starts off good, but starts going downhill…
Drama: Hotel del Luna

Not every drama is perfect though. There are some awful or meh dramas. However, sometimes I stick around because of the characters. Sometimes, there’s a good story, but there’s a character or a few characters that are just a “nah” for me. There are also some series that start off good, or have the makings of a good drama. However, they’re just not consistent in the story and character development. So ultimately, my interest completely dies out. Although, I’ll admit that there are a few times I’ll still follow through to the end of an unsatisfying drama. Sometimes it’s just cuz I feel like I’ve already come this far? I’m looking at you, [Hwayugi].

Image result for what's wrong with secretary kim
It’s all goooood~
Drama: What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?

For me, it’s similar to eating food or cooking. It’s gotta have different spices and components. You gotta make sure it’s got some love and depth. Sometimes you can’t get it perfect. However, what makes it enjoyable is the varying amounts of different aspects. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should still be enjoyable and satisfying. The good ones are the ones that are almost perfect. Everything is pretty strong and enjoyable that you don’t even really notice or mind the flaws or weak aspects.

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I’m so thankful for good stories and characters.
Drama: While You Were Sleeping

Seriously, I’m thankful for the good series; Be it a drama, movie, anime, or manga/webtoon. They’re just really enjoyable. It’s gratifying to be a part of the journey and see a character’s growth. It’s satisfying to see how the story unfolds, and how you can become so immersed in a story. Those kinds of series are the ones that I find completely gratifying and memorable. Not only that, it’s just fun. I’ve made so many friends or gotten closer to people because we like the same series. Take my K-Drama Circle. We definitely got alot closer while discussions dramas. We enjoyed it so much that we made our little circle. We enjoy discussing it, and we enjoy seeing if it’ll follow our expectations or genuinely surprise us. It’s fun to make and hear commentaries. Of course this is all just my opinion. To each their own. Everyone has different tastes and criteria for what they like. What makes or breaks a series for you? What were some of your favorite series? What were some series that just didn’t cut it for you?

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Me after binge watching a series

BONUS! HERE ARE SOME OF MY FAVORITE SERIES/TITLES:
DRAMAS
– Goblin: The Lonely and Great God (KR)
-What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? (KR)
-The Beauty Inside (KR)
-Her Private Life (KR)
-Hotel del Luna (KR)
-Yuusha Yoshihiko (JP)
– SPEC (JP)
-Hana Kim (2007) (JP)

-Flower Boy Next Door (KR)

WEBTOONS
-All That We Hope to Be
-True Beauty
-Lore Olympus
-Sweet Home
-Ghost Teller
-Odd Girl Out
-Oh! Holy


ANIME
-Polar Bear Cafe
-Natsume’s Book of Friends
-Carole and Tuesday
-Your Name
-A Silent Voice

My Love Story!!

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