Sometimes you just need a cute but predictable plot in a fresh setting to make a drama must-see TV. Add in adorable new A-listers and you might just have me pressing play. Come see if School 2021 is going to stay on my current watch list!
Set in a vocational high school, School 2021 is about an ensemble of students whose troubled pasts cross and intersect in ways they never would have dreamed of. There are long-term crushes, a contract relationship, blackmail, childhood secrets, a traumatic death among friends, and a generous dose of noble idiocy to keep things moving forward.
The adults aren’t any less layered — there’s teachers who knew each other prior to their current careers, a twisted director who expertly presents herself as kind and caring but has an unrivaled temper, and a restaurant owner and her injured son who have their own mysterious ties to the school. Shoot, there’s even a brother-sister pair who are LITERALLY the good twin and the bad twin! All of these character stories add to the makjang feel of the drama.
Jin Ji Won (Jo Yi Hyun, Hospital Playlist) is a confident, capable girl who often lets her temper take the lead, but she loves fiercely. She’s very determined to make her own path in life in spite of her mother’s wishes. (Her family is actually a lot of fun to watch. The dad and the sister have very dry senses of humor.)
Gong Ki Joon (Kim Yo Han, A Love So Beautiful) is a mild-mannered student living with his grandfather. Their house is about to be sold at a bankruptcy auction because Ki Joon’s dad couldn’t keep his business afloat, so Ki Joon is pursuing any activity that will help him make money.
Jung Young Joo (Choo Young Woo, Police University) is a new transfer student whose bad boy appearance immediately spawns all sorts of rumors. He has a huge grudge against the director and Ki Joon, with whom he shares a mutual dead friend. The chip on his shoulder just barely lets him get through doorways, if you know what I mean.
Kang Seo Young (Hwang Bo Reum Byeol, Can I Step In?) is a determined loner who will do whatever it takes to make her life better. She starts a carpentry club at school to enter a competition, blackmails Young Joo into a fake relationship, and does whatever it takes to excel.
Throw in one teacher who has more connections than he should and a secret need to get off work EXACTLY at 5 pm, and one director who ends up with a large potted bush thrown through her windshield and decides that pressing criminal charges is the appropriate solution. Mix thoroughly and PRESTO! You have School 2021.
I had to give School 2021 four episodes, just because the story wasn’t compelling and I needed to make sure that it didn’t get more interesting later. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t. The story arcs are predictable, and the characters aren’t captivating enough to hold my interest. I love seeing Jo Yi Hyun in a new role, as she was brilliantly adorable as one of the twin interns in Hospital Playlist, and she will probably make the drama worth watching. However, for me, it doesn’t make the cut.
What about you, drama fans? Are you enjoying School 2021? Drop down in the comments and tell me all about it — I’d love to hear things from your perspective!
Until the next cute-but-predictable side character makes an appearance, I remain —
Karie the Maknae
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi