We are almost done with our End of Year recaps which means it is about time that we share our favorite dramas of 2018. Come find out which shows made our list.
Karie the Maknae
As I work on these end of year posts, I keep coming back to the actors in Come and Hug Me. The story was extraordinary, and so well-written, that the tension and terror made it hard for me to watch. But the characters in that story — strong mom Ok Hee, broken brothers Hyun Moo and Na Moo, and sweet and strong Nak Won — have stayed with me, and I’m going to have to go back and watch this drama again.
My other favorites are lighter, but just as well-written. For instance, there’s I Am Not a Robot, with its incredible balance between humor and serious issues like hostile corporate takeovers, as well as the fantastic pairing of Chae Soo Bin and Yoo Seung Ho. The supporting cast is equally talented, and I loved it so much that I’ve watched it three times already.
Terius Behind Mealso performed a balancing act between the seriousness of So Ji Sub’s spy world and his job as a babysitter, never straying into sitcom territory and allowing all the characters to be smart in their own ways. There was nothing silly about the drama, and yet I found myself giggling a lot, and then gripping the edge of my seat. I really loved it.
I feel like I’m repeating myself with Still 17–it was delightful, gentle, and whimsical, with a strong cast of characters and a well-written story. How many times can I say it? Just go watch it! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? and the Ponytail of Glory also performed a balancing act between dramatic childhood trauma and the awkward romance in the present day. Park Min Young and Park Seo Joon were impressive–in most dramas, the narcissistic character is a complete turn-off, as is the secretary who feeds his ego. Instead, I found myself rooting for their charming relationship from beginning to end.
And last, but not least, is Feel Good to Die. Kmuse had to talk me (and the rest of the fangirls) into watching it, but once I got into it, I couldn’t stop! I’m a huge fan of redemption arcs (Chief Kim is one of my all-time favorites), and Baek Jin Sang’s redemption arc is PHENOMENAL. All the ways they killed him off cracked me up. Being a kdrama, though, it’s not just about all the ways he died — I loved the subtly built romance between him and Lee Roo Da and the depth it added to the story. Kang Ji Hwan was fantastic — he handled the range of emotion necessary for the redemption to believably well–and Baek Jin Hee was everything I wanted her to be in Jugglers. I’ll be looking for both of them in other dramas. So if you’re looking for a Beauty and the Beast office drama with a Groundhog Day twist, this is the drama for you.
I feel like I am repeating myself (and the other fan girls), but there were a few dramas that just really stood out this year!
My favorite Kdramas of 2018 were What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim, Come and Hug Me, and Just Between Lovers. My favorite Chinese dramas were Legend of Fuyao, Ever Night, and Rise of Phoenixes.
Just Between Lovers was dark and heavy, but the acting was superb and the story arc kept me fully invested. What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim did have a few plot holes, but the chemistry between our main couple was off the charts! Come and Hug Me was suspenseful and heart wrenching all at once. I want to watch it again, but this time now while on the treadmill. I am still seeing the chiropractor for that drama-watching injury!
The dramas that I loved the most were both in the beginning of the year. One was the melancholy-with-a-side-of-hope drama Just Between Lovers. Something about the mood grabbed me immediately and I just loved all the characters. Except the drunk mom. The other one, which I am rewatching now with my granddaughter, is I’m Not a Robot. It’s so original and cute! This fall though, Room No. 9 gave them a run for their money. Even though it was difficult to figure out at first, I ended up on edge waiting to find out what happens to the characters.
The other Fangirls have listed some of my favorites from this year: Just Between Lovers, Come and Hug Me, Still 17, and Secretary Kim. They are all ones that I love and have listed their characters on various lists already so I’ll leave it at that.
Prison Playbook: Since Netflix held this drama hostage until 2018 started, we all watched it together and did a recap on it. Recaps always ingrain things into your brain, and so maybe that is why I remember these characters so distinctly. It is also the magic of this team. They create characters who walk off the screen and into your heart. I both laughed and cried throughout this drama, and really felt each character’s eventual freedom, or sadly their demise. Loony’s character was done with such elegance, never making fun of his sexual orientation or his relationship. I don’t know if I have ever felt the impact of reality hit me so hard while watching a drama, like I did during his final scenes.
Misty: Endings mean a lot when I’m judging a drama, but this one had no impact on my overall opinion of the show. The directing was divine, the musical score perfection, and the tension kept me on the edge of my seat the entire show. But the real reason this show is on my favorites list is the female lead cast. Kim Nam Joo was utterly fantastic.
Feel Good to Die: I was late to watching this one, and I actually still have the final hour of it, but it is firmly one of my favorites of the year. I would not have predicted how delightful it was to watch them kill the boss over, and over, and over again. Nor how happy I was at his very (VERY) slow progress at his redemption arc. But because they didn’t change him overnight, and he had to endure many rounds of dying and learning how big of a jerk he was, it made it so much sweeter when it finally happened. I watched most of it in a two day period, then finished the rest over the holiday break. The storytelling was very strong, and I will look forward to this new writer’s next outing.
I know that because of copyright issues not everyone was able to watch Life on Mars but it still is at the top of my Best of 2018 list. This show was brilliantly acted, written, and directed. It was truly a joy to watch on all fronts and I hope that someday it might show up on one of the legal sites so the kaddict masses can also appreciate this quality drama.
I also have to give kudos to Prison Playbook for not only creating a wonderful story but also being so memorable that I have feelings 12 months later. It is 100% a must watch drama in my opinion.
Return is probably not everyone’s cup of tea but I felt that it had to be added regardless. It was able to achieve that level of crazy addictive revenge makjang that I have yet to see in another show. I didn’t like any of the characters but I was entertained from start to finish.
Feel Good to Die was the dark horse on my list. It was a show I was all ready to ignore but once I started watching I couldn’t stop. The character arcs were so satisfying and I truly feel connected to all the characters.
Everyone licked all the Kdrama cookies so I’m going to branch out here. I will say that I agree with my fellow fangirls on most of the picks. Still Seventeen and Come and Hug Me tied for my favorite Kdramas.
Let’s talk about the drama that all the fangirls fangirled over this year, Legend of Fuyao. Smirky shirtless Ethan Juan and everyone’s girl crush, Yang Mi, took us on an adventure that all the fangirls talked about pretty much 24/7. This was the very first Chinese drama I watched all the way through, as in really watched, I didn’t skip around like I normally do. I dedicated roughly 50 hours of my life to this drama and I don’t regret it at all.
So many great dramas mentioned this year. Did your favorite make the cut? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check out all our previous END OF YEAR REVIEWS.
Til next time,
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi