KBS’s The Producers premiered last week on the 15th of May to high ratings but mixed reviews. Netizens were mostly divided, some of them fully on the Producer bandwagon, while others rejected it as being too boring. As a drama being shot like a mockumentary, it is a rarity among other normal K-dramas, which may or may not turn people off.
There were a few aspects to this drama that are particularly enjoyable, despite the fact that only two episodes have aired so far. The first aspect would be the most special part of this show, the “mockumentary” format. This is shown by the constant interviews of the different characters that take place throughout the episodes. These interviews were the basis for some complaints made by netizens, as they deemed those scenes unnecessary and a waste of time. However, these interviews allowed viewers to understand the different characters in a deeper and more relatable level, and that this was a very unique way of presenting these characters. In a way, it is similar to the interviews featured in hit 2014 drama My Love from the Stars, which provided a lot of comedy and depth to the main characters. In the same way, these interviews do enhance and liven up the long Producer episodes, which go up to one hour and 20 minutes (normal K-dramas are around one hour per episode), in an effort to imitate a real Korean variety show.
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The use of real TV programs, names of producers, names of celebrities, and so on, really brings the level of realism in this drama to a new level. It also allows it to stay through to its mockumentary format and brings in a lot of comedy for viewers as well. For example, the constant mention of Na PD (Na Young Seok, producer of tvN variety shows like Grandpas over Flowers and Three Meals a Day) is hilarious, along with all the meta jokes being made throughout the show. Admittedly, it might be difficult to understand and enjoy these jokes if you are not well-informed about variety programmes in Korea, however, the show also has a lot of comedic moments apart from the meta jokes that all viewers can enjoy! A good example would be the car-scratching incident between our two main characters, Baek Seung Chan (Kim Soo Hyun) and Tak Ye Jin (Gong Hyo Jin), which took place in the first episode. The drama makes full use of the longer screening time and uses repetition to increase the effectiveness of its jokes, making for more enjoyable comedy.
Another part of the drama that’s greatly appealing is the four main characters, along with the amazing cast. Two characters in particular, Seung Chan and Ra Joon Mo (Cha Taehyun), really stuck out, mainly because they are the underdogs. In just two episodes, this pair faced several challenges and unfortunate situations, be it Seung Chan, the variety rookie who faces heartbreak and failures in his first two days at work, or Joon Mo, whose variety program is nearly cancelled and has to face scary old actresses. In the midst of these challenges however, both of them grew and developed in their own ways.
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In a short span of two episodes, this drama was able to showcase growth, no matter how minute in these characters, which was a definite winning point. It showed that the characterization for these characters were well thought out, and we can look forward to even more growth (hopefully) in the rest of the show. Ye Jin and Cindy (IU) haven’t really had the same character development yet, but their characters are, for the time being, imperfect and utterly relatable. Their conflicts and feelings come off realistic, which makes a bigger impression because they’re relatable and is something that is important for a drama to be successful. After all, if viewers were not invested in the lives of the characters, the drama would definitely be a flop.
The cast has, so far, managed to play these characters to a T, especially the more veteran actors Kim Soo Hyun, Cha Tae Hyun, and Gong Hyo Jin. They’re so natural in their roles that viewers are able to let go of their previous images. With IU, though, it’s evident that she’s trying very hard, but she definitely doesn’t seem as natural as the rest of her castmates. Her character, Cindy, hasn’t really had much time to shine so far, but she still has time to develop her character more. But overall, even though The Producers has just begun, it’s showing a lot of promise with its strong writing and cast that viewers will surely enjoy.
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