May 19, 2015 by museofmanymasks
I confess to having had this weird sort of snobbery concerning romantic movies/tv shows before I began watching Korean dramas. By this I mean I didn’t watch them unless humoring my mother for our mommy-daughter bonding and decried them all as dumb. The one exception was my love of classic Hollywood screwballs, especially those starring Cary Grant. Even then, I hardly acknowledged the reality that those movies did, in fact, fall into the dreaded genre of romantic comedies. I have since developed very specific criteria for any romantic K-dramas, or cinema at large, which allows me to maintain that I have not betrayed my nature.
- If it is a rom-com, it must be funny
- If I am not inundated with a steady stream of riotous/sly/satirical/punny or otherwise digestible humor, it won’t stick with me enough to stick with it. Furthermore, if such humor is outweighed by other nuisances, the result will be the same.
- I am picky with my mush. The quirkier and more off the wall the GRAND ROMANTIC GESTURE, the better. Or if these moments must be paint-by-numbers, undercutting is my best friend
- If it is a melodrama, tearjerking must be balanced by a tone of suspense, action, mystery etc.
- Preferences include plots with gangsters, assassins, conmen, spies, warriors etc. What can I say? Tears are best mixed with blood for highest entertainment value
- Subplots should validate the characters as people and not just kissy play things
- They should have thoughts, purposes, actions, etc. beyond their romantic entanglements. This extends their humanity, therefore extending my ability to empathize
- A sufficient motive for love or acknowledgment of the incompleteness
- If characters are going to risk life, limb, professional competence, etc., for their significant other, I need a fleshed out reason beyond he/she is pretty and/or nice. Fine to begin a meet-cute this way, but 16+ episodes of Sturm und Drang need more than this (again, for the sake of humanity and empathy).
- If there isn’t really a reason beyond general beauty/pleasantness, then it should be a recognized part of the plot. Which to the causes of variance and realism (“ugly”/mean people have relationships too, what’s their excuse?)
- Healthy interpersonal relationships that the OTP maintain on a regular basis outside of each other (dramas featuring love geometry seem to miss this more often)
- Now this is the one that I see get the most mention as a baseline requirement for others, but also one that seems to be pretty subjective. I remain fairly ambivalent with it. Some can claim a couple is the hottest thing since wasabi, but I won’t see it, and vice versa. Notably, I tend to look through the lens of the above criteria. Gauging chemistry also seems to be based on the viewer’s personal assessments of and attraction to the actor and actress as well, so again, *shrug*. I’d love to hear how others puzzle this out.
TL;DR: Romances outside of the bubble gum variety that have nuanced characters that don’t exist in a vacuum, and/or are extremely hilarious. Do you have any requirements of the genres you watch?
P.S. Eventually, I will update this with specific shows.