When regular reader Pranx recently challenged us to name our favorite K-dramas, I paused. Out of the ridiculous number of K-dramas I’ve watched, which ones really deserve to be favorites—and which ones are favorites just because I was in the right mood at the time?
Even more troubling, what about all the great shows I haven’t watched yet, which may become favorites in the future?
Picking favorites feels a little like choosing “favorite friends.” I don’t want to alienate the people who don’t make the top of the list.
But even though I find it hard to pick favorites, I love knowing other people’s favorites. How else should I pick which show to watch next out of my long, long queues on Dramafever and Viki? Innocent Man sat on my “future” list for six months before I watched it—motivated by seeing it was one of Pranx’s faves. (It was worth every tear-drenched minute.)
I tend to see a “favorite” as a recommendation. Someone else liked it, so I should give it a chance, right?
But sometimes we love a show we don’t necessarily recommend to everyone. Maybe the heroine reminded us of ourselves, or we watched a show for comfort during a tough time. Lately, I’ve been rewatching I’m a Flower, Too (2011). It was the second K-drama I ever watched (after Coffee Prince, of course), and the romance between prickly policewoman Officer Cha and self-made millionaire Seo Jae-Hee can still absorb me for hours in glaze-eyed admiration.
The show as a whole isn’t very good, though. The secondary characters are still among the most irritating I’ve ever seen in a K-drama. And I have to admit Yoon Shi-Yoon overacts a fair bit, though I can’t hold it against him (that would be like kicking a puppy—it’s Yoon Shi-Yoon after all).
Because the show is so uneven, I can’t call it a favorite. But I wish I could. The lead couple are favorites of mine and I want to share them with the world.
There are a lot of shows like that—shows I want to talk about and discuss, though they aren’t favorites. Pride and Prejudice isn’t exactly a favorite of mine in the sense that I would watch it all over again. But because it was the first show I ever wrote about week after week, it has a special place in my heart. It’s almost better than a favorite.
I’m curious how KDT readers choose their favorites. Does it have to be a show you watch again and again? Are your favorites the highest quality shows? Are there high-quality shows you respect but can’t quite love?
Do you have one show that’s definitely your number one favorite? Or is your K-drama love so wide-ranging you have to make a list?
Do you feel bad for the shows that almost but don’t quite make it onto your favorite list?
I’ll kick off the discussion with my list: 1) Kill Me, Heal Me, 2) It’s Okay, That’s Love, 3) City Hunter, 4) Shut Up Flower Boy Band, 5) Coffee Prince and 6) Master’s Sun.
Why do these ones make the cut? Kill Me, Heal Me, for being gleefully insane. It’s Okay, That’s Love for making mental illness really, really sexy. City Hunter for reinventing the revenge swashbuckler for the twenty-first century (and for featuring Lee Min-Ho’s most fun character to date). Shut Up Flower Boy Band for getting a coming-of-age story right, all the way to the unexpectedly intelligent ending. Coffee Prince for making an impossible plot device look totally reasonable. And Master’s Sun because its quirky ghost stories and weird central couple make me ridiculously happy even if they don’t always make sense.
These are all shows that I finished at least six months ago, so I know they’ve passed the test of time. (Has it been that long since Kill Me, Heal Me? Sniff.) It’s possible that I Remember You will make my favorites list at some point, once some time has passed. That show was definitely my kind of weird.