I seem to recall writing something in the not too distant past about how the writers of dramas (of the Korean, Chinese/Taiwanese variety) are a bunch of lazy assholes whose female characters are caricatures of real women and whose plots have holes so big you can drive a double-decker bus through them.
As a result, I have mostly given them up and developed a nasty Netflix habit. Recently, however, there were a few that came up and seemed interesting. So I went against my own advice and watched a few. Four, to be exact. I won’t name names because the fans can be merciless. Needless to say, I saw some improvement. My guess is that with a growing overseas viewership the writers are slowly adjusting their style. They are relying less on the old tropes and shooting for quality.
However, there are still a few things which drive me nuts.
The first is the fact that most of the “human drama” is the result of simple miscommunication. And I’m not talking about the funny kind, I’m talking about three episodes worth of angst that could be avoided if any of the characters (but usually the female lead) were able to construct a simple declarative statement. Don’t get me wrong, crossed wires and misunderstandings are part of a human conflict. And, in a comedy of errors, they are the very backbone of the story. However, most of the time when I see it, its a crutch. And, to be honest, its just lazy.
I’ve heard the excuses about how culture informs drama writers. In some cultures its harder for people to speak frankly and confront problems directly. I get that. but manufacturing drama in such a ridiculous way is just annoying. Rather than encouraging me to tune in for the next episode to see how it unfolds, I simply lose respect for the characters and they become much less likable all around.
Another issue is the pervasive lack of critical thinking skills among drama characters. How do these people survive into adulthood? They don’t question ANYTHING. They fall into “traps” that any fourteen-year-old girl would’ve seen coming a mile away. They fail to ask even the most basic questions of themselves or others. On several occasions, I stopped watching a drama midway because the characters (usually the first and second female leads) were so dumb that I spent the ENTIRE episode cringing.
So, if any j-t-c-k-drama scriptwriters happen to be reading this (yeah, right) I implore you, step up your game. I understand that the market makes certain demands and deadlines are very hard to meet, but I am sure that viewers would rather watch six well-written dramas than twelve mediocre ones.
Unless your plan is to construct a world full of stupid, petty people who lack basic communication skills. In which case, carry on!