When it comes to drama, i prefer to treat it as an independent entity in order to be able to enjoy it as freely as possible and then weigh it as objectively as possible. This includes news and/or details surrounding the production itself — before, during, or after air dates — partly due to available translations and whatnots, partly because i’d like to see it for what it is and not what it promised to deliver, was supposed to be, or the should/could-have-beens.
That is why i don’t normally dig much information about the team, such as the director and writer’s past works which could build unnecessary expectations or biases, or read (too) many comments or blog posts about a show i’m currently watching, which might dampen my viewing experience or affect my opinions about it. That was why i was aware of the controversies around Cheese in the Trap, for example, only in the last few weeks of the series.
I’d, however, do so once it’s over, as it allows me to relive the show’s good moments, spot things i may have missed, or get elucidations about matters i couldn’t get my head around, particularly those coming from the PD/writer themselves. Some are for mere pleasantries, some require reading between the lines, some are enlightening, some leave an even bitter aftertaste. I would be happy to look up and read post-series interviews containing a combination of the first three factors and a dash of any constructive criticism.
Among those i enjoyed are that on The Village: Achiara’s Secret, thoughts on Age of Youth (comment #47-49), and the insightful interview with PD Jin Hyuk, especially on the disappointment he had in Doctor Stranger‘s love line (part 3 of the video), mainly since it clarified that half of us viewers weren’t seeing things about the alternative pairing. Haha. It’s refreshing when those involved could be frank about something they like or dislike, although not to the point of undermining viewers’ interest in the drama itself, like what happened with Cheese. I mean, when the leading man himself expressed his dissatisfaction with the direction or yet-to-air ending, how were we supposed to handle the news and then watch the finale?
Cheese‘s case was probably the most frontal and chaotic in Korean dramaverse, though the most shocking one was delivered by the writer of W: Two Worlds, Song Jae-jung. One of the drama’s sources of conflict was Oh Sung-moo’s half-assed writing, as if to drive home a point the importance of good thorough writing, yet after fully reading her responses, i found her to be a lot similar to him than she could’ve expected.
I’ve posted my closing thoughts on the series, listing the issues i had with the show’s latter half. Little did i know that the plot holes were created through deliberate negligence. On one hand, i appreciated her for speaking her mind freely; on the other hand, i wonder how many readers feel cheated by her way and take of writing. I wasn’t upset or anything, but i was underwhelmed by it. I clicked on the article “looking for answers” and what i got was the sad truth that we viewers cared about the characters, flow, plot’s logic, and good ending more than the writer herself. While hoping this applies only to her, i won’t be surprised if many other writers use similar approach.
That ratings isn’t just a number is quite clear; low-rated dramas could get an early cut or affect the writer’s bankability. That the story or direction is altered/adjusted to cater to audience’s preference isn’t unheard of; the fact that she wrote development according to what she thought the audience would like and thus pulling in higher ratings isn’t inexcusable, it is her belief that people need no context or logic when watching fantasy dramas that is. Having a penchant for “ordinary people experiencing out-of-the-ordinary events” is perfectly fine, but you cannot build an otherworldly story without proper constructions, explaining the basics, making-sense development, and then expect viewers to understand and respond positively to it. Or threw a possible red herring and simply said we “misunderstood for a long time.” Or acknowledged the importance of (memorable) ending yet cared not whether her drama ended happily or sadly, or if it differed from the original script. How would she know why people reacted a certain way toward the ending when she didn’t even (like to) watch the final week?
Also, the possibility of the director altering the scenes/events without consulting the writer didn’t sit well with me. That was what caused the hoo-ha in Cheese or the disagreement in Doctor Stranger, though the latter case proves that the clashing opinions could still be discussed. But well, if she didn’t even care to check what the final product was like after completing the script, so why should we?
Yes, people can be too over-analytical or over-critical that sometimes i wonder if it’s really necessary to dissect certain scenes/happenings that deeply. I like thinking, but not overthinking, cuz at the end of the day, it’s just a drama. Maybe she wasn’t too clever for W’s own good. Maybe she wasn’t lost in her own inter-dimensional travel game. Maybe she introduced those unfounded twists because she supposed we liked topsy-turvy plot. Maybe they were written in to please us. Maybe it was our fault for responding positively to the early twists.
Like how Chul mistakenly believed there was more to the villain, i too mistakenly believed there was more to the story or the ending. I shouldn’t have watched Unfinished Story special hoping to get “the real final story”, or read the interview expecting satisfying answers. Because there are no answers.