Likable characters, engaging story, lifelike struggles… boy, am i liking this drama already.
We usually find these elements in slice-of-life shows, and while i don’t think Fight for My Way is one, it certainly has that quality and feel. On top of that, there are fun dynamics and easy chemistry between the leads. We’re just in the opening week, and i wish not jinx myself, but it could be my favorite K-drama this year since Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo.
And i don’t mention the other series for nothing. Not for comparison, although the leads here do remind of Swag Couple. Like Bok-joo and Joon-hyung, Choi Ae-ra (Kim Ji-won) and Go Dong-man (Park Seo-joon) are childhood buddies with the girl being the savage kind and the boy the weak fellow. But unlike the first two, the second two don’t re-unite when they’re adults; they’ve been friends all their life since they were six. And while their respective highschool bestie has become an item during the intervening 11 years to the present, the friendship status between these two hasn’t changed in two decades.
Not that i mind, since i enjoy how comfortable they are around each other, in addition to how supportive and protective they are of each other. I also like that neither of them seems to have been nursing a crush toward the other. There are instances hinting otherwise, and the status quo may get shaken down the road, but so far the love is undoubtedly platonic. Albeit curious to see when the realization will sink in and how the buddies will turn to lovers, i am currently digging the friendship style, the playful banter, and the back-and-forth bickering* so much that i ain’t rushing to get there.
(*case in point: the aegyo Ae-ra displays to annoy Dong-man in episode 2 is the most brilliant, epic, and replay-worthy i’ve seen in the long while, if not ever.)
Delicious romcom setup aside, there lies a plaintive undertone derived from the characters’ career. People say to dream big, but as we get older, we’ll learn that we cannot be anything. Likewise, the main characters have their own big childhood dreams, but despite the burning passion they had during their younger days, their adult selves end up being anything but. Other shows would have us following them working toward reaching those lifelong dreams; here, we have unattained dream and third-rate lives instead.
Each character is working a decent job, yet is far from what they imagined back then: aspiring TV announcer Ae-ra now mans an information desk in a shopping center; taekwondo prodigy Dong-man becomes a pest exterminator; princessy Baek Seol-hee (Song Ha-yoon) who dreams to be a housewife ends up a customer service agent for a home-shopping channel; whereas Kim Joo-man (Ahn Jae-hong)…we don’t know what his dream job is, but he’s currently a buyer in the same company as his girlfriend Seol-hee.
Of all the so-called Fantastic 4 Knuckleheads, Joo-man seems to be doing well the most, but there could be something beyond the surface. Hopefully we’ll get to learn his circumstances soon. For now, Seol-hee is one step away from realizing her dream, if only her boyfriend of six years agrees to it. Dong-man abandoned taekwondo due to a certain incident in 2007, and unlike him, we don’t know what caused Ae-ra to get sidetracked into her current job though her fervor is still alive.
This is where the relatability comes from. Fight for My Way is past a coming-of-age drama depicting youngsters’ growing pains, neither is it a workplace drama with rookies learning the ropes and surviving their industry of choice. The Fantastic 4 are in the thick of navigating adulthood and coming to terms with what life has thrown at them, very well aware that this isn’t the kind they wanted yet something worth fighting for anyway. This is the situation that many of us may relate to. If you’re doing exactly what you set out to, good for you! Some of us, for whatever reason and circumstances, may have to settle for less.
Fortunately, this drama is far from depressing despite the occasional raw and vulnerable moments. And Show is doing a great job balancing the lighthearted beats with the bittersweet ones. They don’t feel jarring; they feel natural. If anything, there’s possibility that our leads would do something about their shelved dreams. In Dong-man’s case, his former coach (Kim Sung-oh) has been hanging around him, prodding him to return at every turn, though he’s ready to give up when he saw Dong-man’s weak form (whaddaya expect from someone who has stopped training for a decade, Coach-nim?). Meanwhile, Ae-ra certainly has a flair for emceeing that i wonder what she’ll do about it (or why she let it go to waste in the first place).
Suffice to say, i’m invested in the leads and in whatever road they’ll take going forward.