TV Superlatives: September, October, November – 2020

It’s TV Superlative Time! Except . . . there’s a problem: over the past few months, I’ve dropped nearly every television show I’ve started watching. I am officially in a TV Rut.

This is rare for me. It happens with books more often than I’d like and also with movies, but not so much with television. Which means that instead of our usual overly long list of nonsense superlatives, we’re gonna have to do things a little differently today. Thus I present to you my list of What I’ve Been Watching (And Abandoning) In Fall of 2020.

(Spoilers: it’s mostly K-Dramas again.)

*Disclaimer: Mild SPOILERS for Tale of the Nine-Tailed, and uh, Running Man, I guess?

Tale of the Nine-Tailed (Viki)
Favorite Show I’m Currently Still Watching, Favorite Wildly Dysfunctional Sibling Dynamic, Best Score, Honorable Mention for Worst Plan

I haven’t finished this one yet, but as I’m currently on Episode 9 of 16, I really think it might happen! I’m enjoying Tale of the Nine-Tailed so far. Lee Dong-Wook, who I first saw in Goblin, is enjoyable enough as our mint chocolate chip ice cream obsessed gumiho, but I’m really watching this show for Jo Bo-Ah as Nam Ji-Ah (the reincarnated girlfriend) and Kim Bum as Lee Rang (the murderous fox brother). Ji-Ah needs saving a bit more than I’d like, and sometimes I seriously question her plans, but I also appreciate how she goes for things, like, this is a woman who commits. And sure, Lee Rang has killed a whole bunch of people, which isn’t good, but . . . that grin, and that tragic backstory, and the BROMANCE. People, I have to tell you: I am here for it.

Record of Youth (Netflix)
Favorite Ship, Favorite Fashion, Show I’d Probably Have Finished If I’d Started It At Literally Any Other Time

I made it about halfway through Record of Youth and, initially, found it quite charming. I’ve adored Park Bo-Gum in everything I’ve ever seen him in; this was absolutely no exception. I was really drawn to Park So-Dam as Jung-Ha, too, whose unapologetic practicality was extremely refreshing. I also liked many of the side characters, particularly Hye-Joon’s mom, Han Ae-Sook (Ha Hee-Ra), and his agent, Lee Min-Jae (Shin Dong-Mi). I generally prefer my K-dramas with more supernatural elements, serial killers, or both, but I was surprisingly compelled by this one. It felt, IDK. Sincere?

However, I did start losing interest when it became obvious that a Dreaded Love Triangle was beginning to emerge. Some of the professional dilemmas started feeling a bit manufactured, too, which I found irritating. And unfortunately, I got spoiled for a few things before I could catch up with current episodes, things which suggested that I wouldn’t be particularly satisfied with the show’s ending. Any other time of the year, I suspect I would’ve pushed through anyway, but in this Season of TV Doom, my attention wandered, and I seriously doubt I’m going back now.

My First First Love (Netflix)
Fastest Nope

I tried out this Bunch of College Friends Live Together drama for precisely one episode before deciding it just wasn’t my thing. Which wasn’t a surprise, exactly, but I gave it a go anyway, because I was hoping for more fluff than melodrama, and because I wanted to see Jung Jin-Young in something other than Love in the Moonlight. (Cause damn it, he was awesome in that show, and I remain deeply salty about how much it failed his character.) I guess I’ll just have to find something else to watch him in.

Unsolved Mysteries – Season 2 (Netflix)
Best Season I Actually Completed, Most Likely To Make Someone Cry

That’s right; I watched all six episodes of Season 2! Aren’t you proud of me? I’m proud of me. If I’m being honest, though, I felt S2 was a little less compelling than S1–though I’d be hard-pressed to say why, exactly. Considering this is a show about true crime, I kinda feel like a monster; like, what, your personal tragedy just wasn’t as exciting as, say, that one guy who died in the hotel last season? It would be amazing if these episodes lead to cases being solved, though, especially “Stolen Kids.” I hope it happens, anyway.

And while I still wish we weren’t doing one supernatural episode per season–it just feels so out of place to me–I will say that the first half of “Tsunami Spirits” was fucking devastating, like, there were absolutely tears, maybe a bucket and a half of tears. Prepare yourselves accordingly.

Running Man (Viki)
Favorite Comfort Show, Most Justifiable Excuse For Homicide, Runner Up For Best Fashion

Increasingly, this has been our favorite background TV show–well, as much as it can be a background show, anyway, considering I actually do need to read the subtitles. Running Man has been going on for ten years now, so obviously, I haven’t watched all of it, but we’ve consumed a fair number of episodes by now, and it’s all silly games and outrageous cheating and Big Twists and delightful costumes. (Haha as Pennywise and So-Min as Chucky were certainly highlights, as well as absolutely everyone in Ep. 374. I straight up wanna own So-Min’s red suit.)

I particularly had fun watching the team members get punished with various terrifying tourist attractions. Of the four destinations chosen, well. I’ve already added Super Scary Labyrinth of Fear to my itinerary for a Dream Japan Trip. I could probably survive the Crocosaurus’s Cage of Death and the Cable Cart Ride in Indonesia, although I would never, ever, ever choose to do either of these things of my own volition. But if I had to go on the Nevis Swing, well. I guess I’d just die.

If I was Haha, I’d have murdered Jong Kook for making me go through this, and I don’t think there’s a court out there in the whole world that would’ve convicted me.

It’s Okay, That’s Love (Viki)
Most Obnoxious Male Lead

I checked this one out pretty much entirely for Lee Kwang-Soo, who I wanted to see in an actual drama, rather than a variety show. And it was . . . okay. I did like Kwang-Soo, and I was vaguely intrigued by whatever-the-hell mystery was going on with D.O.’s character; also, I liked how the show seemed interested in discussing mental health, rather than simply mocking it. (This reminded me a bit of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay–only with considerably less gothic fairy tales, unfortunately.)

However, I really disliked the arrogant male lead and thus just did not give a shit about his personal arc or the main romance. I wasn’t enjoying the show quite enough to stick with it, so I gave up after a few episodes and watched a handful of Kwang-Soo’s scenes on Youtube instead. Turns out, that was enough for me.

Lovecraft Country (HBO)
Show That Most Deserves to Be Finished

I started Lovecraft Country back in, oh, August? And at first, I was extremely into it. For whatever reason, though, my interest started faltering after the first couple episodes. Perhaps because the narrative is more episodic than I initially anticipated? (I gather that this is similar to the book? I never did read it.) I think I only made it about halfway through Lovecraft Country before just sorta . . . forgetting to go back. And I still might pick it up again, at some point. The cast is magnificent, after all, also the soundtrack, and FFS, the whole season is only ten episodes long. But I do have other things on my radar, and I suspect if I don’t get back to it by February, it’s probably not gonna happen at all.

Alice (Viki)
Most Interesting Time Travel Mystery, Worst Plan, Possibly Worst Romance???

Finally, my last show that I sort of accidentally abandoned. This one’s about time travel and mystery and murder, and has both Choi Won-Young and Kim Sang-Ho, so I was really expecting to stick with this one. However, it quickly got put on the back burner, probably because I just didn’t find the lead guy particularly compelling. (K-dramas absolutely love the Sociopathic Hero trope, and I’m not gonna lie: I often enjoy it, too. But I never quite bought it from Jin Gyum; mostly, I found him a little flat.) I’d intended to push past this because, well, time travel and murder and Choi Won-Young . . . but then I heard hints about a romance that I emphatically did not want, so . . . yeah, I might not be going back to this one, either.

That’s it for now, I’m afraid! Hopefully, I’ll have watched more TV by the end of February. (Probably. I suspect I’m nearing the end of this particular TV slump, but, well. It’s been a hell of a year, so we’ll see, I guess!)

4 thoughts on “TV Superlatives: September, October, November – 2020

  1. I love that you love Running Man as your background show. I have a reference to it in a fic I’m writing, where the characters (who are all Kpop idols) have to go on the show (well, it’s ‘Sprinting Guy’ in the fic, but…)

    I’ve been waiting for Nine-Tail to end so I can binge it, but I’m so excited to hear that you enjoyed it.

    • LOL, Sprinting Guy, that’s awesome. I don’t always pay full attention to the show, especially during the introductions b/c they sometimes go on for 80 YEARS, like, my inner editor is occasionally screaming. But I really do enjoy Running Man a lot, and wish there was some kind of American equivalent where they’d have Name Tag Elimination and the like, and you’d actually get, like, not just C-list people hosting or guest starring. (We’d never get this obviously, but it’d be neat.) Same for Busted, which I adore for presumably obvious reasons.

      Yeah, Nine-Tail is fun so far. I can’t say the main romance does much for me, personally, but it’s fine. I’m hopeful for a good resolution.

      • Now that I’m actually watching it (and only just remembered that you had been too, so sorry for the weird rec on Discord), I’m kind of… all over the place about it. It’s like it has all these disparate elements I like, but when they smash together, it’s like almost nothing is working. The one exception being the Lee fox bromance (with adjunct Yu Ri and Shin-Joo). But like… the main romance is so meh. I’m so bored of the ‘I just want to be human’ trope, though. Like… why? Seriously? Your dreams are boring and you should just let me pick new ones for you. And the plotting is just… all over the place and often doesn’t track for me, to the point where I’m wondering if they’re missing parts, or if I am.

        But Lee Dong Wook is working for me as a ‘don’t really give a fuck about most people’ fox god, so… I’m good.

        What this REALLY is making me crave is a romance between two immortals – one who just lives forever, and one who keeps going through the cycle of reincarnation. Like… you could milk so much angst out of a story like that. Have you run across anything like that?

        • For me, the main romance is okay? Like, I don’t hate it. It doesn’t fill me with rage or anything. (It’s not Starbuck/Apollo from BSG, anyway, which I judge all romantic relationships against on the “How Much Do I Hate This? Let Me Count The Ways” scale.) But I’m also not even remotely compelled by it. I find almost every other relationship, romantic or otherwise, to be much more interesting. But I also can’t say that’s exactly an uncommon reaction for me? So, it’s not one of my bigger problems with the show. Just, as you said, meh.

          100% with you on the ‘I wanna be human’ trope and “your dreams are boring,” though, HA. That trope is so goddamn overused. It can work, of course, but this isn’t one of those times. Mostly cause, seriously, WHY? Usually, a show at least gives me some kinda reason the character feels that way, but here, I never really understood it. It almost felt inserted after the fact. (I presume it’s mostly that whole vague ‘a human and a fox can’t be together’ drama. Boring. So boring.)

          My biggest overall challenge with Tale of the Nine-Tailed, I think, was plot conveniences. I’ll keep it vague b/c I don’t know where you’re at in the show, but it’s been a while since I’ve wanted to strangle characters this badly for their exceedingly poor planning. Alyc. I was INFURIATED. I definitely had structure problems here. But I did really like so many of the cast and characters. Apart from the ones I already mentioned: Yu-Ri and Shin-Joo were adorable, I liked Ji-A’s work friend (the girl, that is, she was cool), and–always being a sucker for this type of character–I kinda loved Taluipa. Also, I really like the scores a whole lot.

          I don’t think I have run across anything like that, but if I ever do, I’ll let you know. (Alternatively, you realize you just have to write this now.)

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