Time flies by fast and “Backstreet Rookie” is already half-way through. Today, I am here to discuss the controversial SBS drama and share my thoughts on episode 1 to 8.
Note: this is a subjective review, its one opinion so don’t take it too seriously. If you can’t handle opinions that might differ from yours, Plz don’t read.
Note: contains slight spoilers of episode 1 to 8.
I was originally thinking of reviewing “Backstreet Rookie” episode by episode if it was either especially good or especially disappointing, which explains why I have only reviewed one episode (ep. 1). In short, I think “Backstreet Rookie” is average and aside from the controversies it had gotten itself into, it’s not that memorable- thus far.
My opinion can change since we’re only half-way through, but thus far, “Backstreet Rookie” has been average at best.
I want to try and avoid discussing the controversies of the drama as much as possible in this article since I plan to discuss them in lengthy details in another one that I will publish soon. However, it’s very difficult to discuss the script without circulating back to those controversies one way or another.
Luckily, “Backstreet Rookie” toned it down a lot (when compared to the original work). The drama focuses on Saet Byul’s life in her twenties… since they took away the extreme; they ended up with the average and this is where the issue with the script lies in my opinion.
Thus far, the drama hasn’t quite started for me. Let me explain:
Saet Byul is in love with Dae Hyun but she’s a ‘changed’ woman, so she isn’t actively taking initiative to make him fall in love with her after finding out he has a girlfriend. She doesn’t actively try to steal him so she becomes the clingy young character that doesn’t know when to call it quits despite seeing how head over heels Dae Hyun is for Yeon Joo.
Dae Hyun is too nice, respectful and in love so he won’t leave his girlfriend because of Saet Byul and he doesn’t even see her as anything beyond a little sister.
The drama made sure to cement this idea in our heads… Dae Hyun is the type of character that goes above and beyond because he’s too nice and an honorable man. So his actions and reactions to Saet Byul are not done with romantic feelings in mind but done because he’s that type of person, which defeats the entire purpose of the first half of the drama.
So we end up in a limbo where the plot isn’t going anywhere beside minor incidents that shows cracks in Dae Hyun’s relationship with Yeon Joo, but that’s too slow and too annoying to be interesting.
Yeon Joo is not a nice character so whenever she’s on screen we’re bothered by her, we’re not rooting for her and don’t really care for her.
If they had established her otherwise, it would’ve been interesting because if both girls are nice, there is conflict. Viewers won’t know who to root for and would feel bad for Yoon Joo. This adds substance to the script and makes it more interesting.
We’re only interested in Saet Byul’s interactions with Dae Hyun. The first couple of happenings and misunderstanding between them are tolerable and understandable but beyond that, it becomes rather expected and dull.
I know that the writer will risk losing viewers if he decided to make one of the leads the ‘bad’ character but by playing it safe in every single direction in the romance department, it ended up becoming just another drama.
The best episodes of “Backstreet Rookie” were the 3rd and 4th by far, it was fun exactly what I want in a rom-com, but the series never peaked beyond those episodes.
I understand that in real life such things do happen and it takes a long time for either party to realize they have feelings or act upon them but this is a drama that’s meant to be dramatic and fast-paced. It’s not like “Backstreet Rookie” is a healing slow drama either.
I also want to complain about something I haven’t seen many discuss, the relationship between Dae Hyun parents which is toxic to say the least and very painful to watch.
I don’t know what they have in mind and if those two characters are meant to be funny, but I don’t mind them funny at all. His parents relationship is beyond toxic and is portrayed as ‘okay’ which I also found troublesome. The husband gets beaten by the wife and is treated with so much disrespect but somehow no one bats an eye. If it had been done to the female character instead, people would’ve lost their shit.
It’s not right either ways and I feel so sad and bad watching the father getting treated like that. It breaks my heart.
How I’d fix it
If it were me, I would’ve changed “Backstreet Rookie” genre from a rom-com to a drama about life. I think the material suits that idea very well and it would’ve been more interesting.
A young man who’s too kind that he harms himself, he’s fallen for a rich woman and feels conflicted and bad about not living up to expectations and always being beneath her, taking it in that serious direction would’ve made it at least 100 times better.
The screenwriter wanted a light drama but it became too light to be taken seriously. I also feel that the screenwriter is trying so hard not to make it as deep as it could’ve been.
This is possibly the most subjective part of this review because humor is subjective.
There were moments I liked in “Backstreet Rookie” that were funny and had jokes that landed well, but I’d say that 80% of the time I didn’t laugh.
I don’t easily laugh at things in general, and I found many of their attempts simply childish and cheap. I don’t expect the drama to cater to me, this is why I think I am being harsh in this department.
Fart noises, over-the-top action cartoonish scenes, using black/ African culture for laughs and such don’t make me laugh but make me cringe.
And don’t even get me started on Dal Sik, I don’t understand why his character exists and I don’t understand how any of what he does is considered funny. Moaning while drawing naked or nearly naked women doesn’t make me laugh, it creeps me out.
I like both Saet Byul and Dae Hyun. They’re the best part of the series for me and they’re made to be likeable, I know many of us are still watching this drama because of them.
I find the characters in this drama interesting aside from that Dal Sik. Some of them annoy me but they’re all there for a purpose. If explored properly, this drama would’ve become legendary, but instead of taking the difficult route, the writer took the easiest one possible.
They could’ve explored why Dae Hyun parents have such toxic relationship, or why Dae Hyun’s sister is so manipulative and crazy about money. Or why Dae Hyun is so hopelessly kind to every creature he sees.
Or why Dae Hyun knows he’s losing Yeon Joo but is still trying so hard spending so much money to appease to her knowing well of her background.
The focus is mostly on Saet Byul’s circumstances and difficult life, she’s the most fleshed out character in the series but aside from her, the writer isn’t even trying to explore the rest.
I didn’t expect I would like the pairing but I did. I was one of the people who found it controversial but I can see that Wookie is comfortable around Yoo Jung and that plays a big part in their chemistry.
In his last project, I could tell that he wasn’t that comfortable. Wookie generally has good chemistry with all of his co-stars and the same goes for Yoo Jung, and the pairing is the best part of this drama for me. Its whats keeping me going.
There were many moments of them together throughout episode 1-8 that I liked. I still feel conflicted on their relationship eventually becoming romantic because I like their sibling-like relationship but I like how much he cares for her, he’s a kind person and I like how adorably she reacts to his antics.
I think the chemistry is what brought me back each time but I am growing impatient. We’re done with episode 8 and there is zero progress in their relationship. What is the writer trying to do?
“Backstreet Rookie” is either-or for many fans. Some will support wookie regardless of what controversies happened because of this drama, others will ditch it. You can’t really blame either side because they each have a point of view, I might not agree with either but I understand why one would still support this drama or completely trash it.
I need to watch more episodes to judge whether “Backstreet Rookie” was ultimately disappointing or not. I didn’t have high expectations going in so I am not that disappointed but watching episode 3 and 4 showed me just how good the series could’ve been which makes me feel sad and disappointed that the drama will likely never have such episodes again.
I also feel bad about how great the series could’ve been had they made it a drama focusing on life struggles instead of a rom-com.
What about you guys? do you like this drama so far? Let me know what you think in the comment section below!