meganbmoore: (hwajung: jeongmyung revealed)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
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.

That said (and honestly, this post is 100% the result of my poking around to look at this week’s ratings for various shows and being newly annoyed by the poster) I can’t help but think this is a terribly timed show. It’s covering the same material Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People did, but shifting the focus to palace romance and conflict between royals. Rebel may not have been a runaway hit in the ratings, but it was a pretty solid performer despite almost no promotion, and received critical acclaim on pretty much every front, and a lot of that acclaim was for being the exact opposite of Seven Day Queen. Seven Day Queen is also up against Ruler: Master of the Mask, which MBC has been heavily hyping for...what...a year? Interestingly, Ruler was originally scheduled to premiere the day after Rebel’s finale, before Rebel’s final episodes were pushed back due to SK’s presidential election. While Ruler doesn’t offer the same levels of commentary and critique that Rebel did over both real-life politics and sageuk conventions, it isn’t exactly subtle with it’s messages about political corruption and the dangers of a puppet ruler controlled by a hidden figure.* Ruler, I think, is steadily pulling around 12-15% ratings, while Seven Day Queen debuted with ratings at about half of that, despite heavy promotion from KBS. Even if the show does end up brilliant, the timing may have killed its chances of success.

*Between Rebel, Ruler, Lookout, and Bad Thief, Good Thief, it looks like someone at MBC REALLY had a fire lit under them the last year or so, because they’re piling on the anti corruption, “small group of protagonists take on the powerful who escape/manipulate the law” political commentary. (Ruler is probably the tamest about this, but it was also pre-filmed, and the plot overall fits into normal sageuk narrative structure, unlike Rebel.) And I love it. But gosh, MBC, maybe pace yourself a bit before you burn out?


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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