meganbmoore: (parker and sophie)
Last weekend I watched all the available episodes of Lookout, and this weekend I’ve watched 7 episodes of Bad Thief, Good Thief (I had already seen and enjoyed the first 3 episodes well enough, but wasn’t invested yet.) For other kdrama fen who got over-invested in Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People, both of these series are pretty good followup series, though neither is a sageuk.



Neither series is perfect, but qualify for “Korean Leverage of my heart and soul” status. Bad Thief, God Thief, IMO, should have held off on various revelations until later on, and Lookout is...very clearly by a newbie writer at times-the male lead is over-complicated ( as opposed to complex) in that way where “morally ambiguous” becomes “convoluted and will anyone buy redemption at this point?” (the right actor could pull it off, but while this actor does smarmy well, he doesn’t have the screen presence and charisma to quit pull it off) and things don’t always come together the way the writer thinks they do. Bad Thief Good Thief has the more expansive and complicated plot tied to current and past politics (and almost 4 times as many episodes) but takes a few episodes to get going. It has a lot of narrative similarities to Rebel, and a few spoilery things actually had me looking to see if the two shows shared and production members or writers, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. They do share several actors, though. Lookout is much more fast paced with action scenes and a heroine who regularly is a gallant knight in shining armor rescuing other women.



They both get the “It” that Leverage had* but most shows of the type miss. That “It” is that it isn’t just cool people being attractive and witty and competent. It’s a wish fulfillment fantasy that there is someone who will see to it that the people who the law can’t or won’t punish will still be punished, an justice will be met. This is also the general “Robin Hood” fantasy, though the dynamics play out differently when it’s in a historical setting than when it’s in modern times.



Unsurprisingly, both shows, like Rebel before them, are from MBC. While SBS is floundering all over the place to figure out how to still mostly depend on an international audience when they’ve lost their biggest outlet (China) and KBS is...doing something (Like, I dunno. They aren’t the mess that SBS is, but they seem trying really hard to make their mark different kinds of dramas this year more than usual, with mixed results.) MBC is pretty much running around yelling “VIVE LA REVOLUTION” at the top of its lungs. (Ruler: Master of the Mask is also pretty heavy on the political commentary, but it’s much more focused on “Puppet ruler under the control of unseen master, BAD IDEA” while Rebel, Lookout and Bad Thief Good Thief focus more on widespread corruption and abuse of power and social standing.)



As an aside, Lookout might require trigger/upsetting stuff warnings beyond what you’d expect for these kinds of political thrillers.



*ok, Leverage had several “It”s that other similar shows lack, but I’m talking about a specific “It” here.
meganbmoore: (hwajung: jeongmyung revealed)
See this poster for the newly-airing sageuk, Seven Day Queen? This poster is very pretty, and makes me very angry.




Park Min Young may be in the center, and she may be playing the title character, but she isn’t the POINT of the poster. She’s demurely looking down and away, and almost seems incidental to the poster. See Yeon Woo Jin and Lee Dong Gun there? they’re both looking directly at the viewer, and their eyes are ALMOST level. Not quite, and noticeably not actually level with each other, but close enough that, with both looking at you, THAT’s what demands the viewer’s attention, with Park Min Young conveniently positioned well below that focal point. The message the poster sends is perfectly clear regardless of if you know anything about the plot: The men are the point, their relationship or conflict is what’s important. The woman is there as the love interest for one or both, but not the point. or the show. (To be fair, while this is the poster for the show I’ve seen the most, it isn’t the only one. The other posters are better in that she’s more of a focus, but they’re also very clearly focused on the romance, and don’t give her the gravity or import that this poster gives the men.)



This has been aggravating me since it first showed up, and the previews (after the first with all the quick cuts and the white color scheme) only furthered the impression. I still held out hope (and still do-it was my most anticipated of the current crop of kdramas) despite the steadily increasing unease the promotional materials gave me, but the first episode seemed to reinforce that impression, with most of the gravitas of the episode of the conflict between King Yeonsan and Lee Yook/future-King Jungjong and their issues with each other and Yeonsan’s daddy issues. Our Heroine was endearing and plucky, but almost incidental to most of the plot in the episode, despite supposedly being the main character. As I said when I watched the first episode over the weekend, I’m hoping that the focus readjusts itself once the childhood parts are over and it ends up the show it could be instead of the show I fear it will be.



more sageuk babble )

ETA:

Compare that poster to this poster of MBC's Hwajung (another drama about a female historical figure who rarely gets used in dramas set in her time period) from two years ago:



Once again, we have the female lead (and the series actually was originally titled Princess Jungmyung) centered between two of the male leads, and standing in front on them.  However,  Lee Yeon Hee is roughly eye level with Cha Seung Won and Kim Jae Won, and she is looking directly at the viewer.  Despite being outnumbered two-to-one, she is clearly the focus of the poster, and there's no doubt she's the lead and that this is her story, with the men playing parts in it.  Mind you the relationships are different-while there is romance and a romantic triangle (tough very one-sided) in Hwajung, neither of these men are involved in it.  One plays Jungmyung's older half brother, while the other plays her nephew (who is older than her, because, I mean, Korean Royals...) but the point and difference remain the same.



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