“The School Nurse Files” has dropped on Netflix not too long ago. The quirky Netflix drama is about a school nurse who sees jelly like monsters that are made from residue of human desire, she can also eliminate them. She senses something bad is about to happen at her school. She works with a Chinese language teacher who has special energy to eliminate those jellies.
The series is based on a novel and the novel writer also wrote the script for “The School Nurse Files”, as you’ve guessed from the title, I personally thought “The School Nurse Files” was a mess but an enchanting fun quirky mess, lets discuss this drama.
Note: this is a spoiler review, if you want my final thoughts without any spoilers, click on the final point in the table of contents down below.
Table of Contents:
- The script
- The characters and performances
- Will there be a second season of “The School Nurse Files”? and if yes, damn you Netflix but I also like you
- Should I watch “The School Nurse Files”? [non-spoiler final thoughts]
First things first, I have to establish this… I didn’t understand about 70% of the drama, I understood the basics but there is so much that’s never explained or explored. So if you’re here looking to make sense of the drama, you’re at the wrong place pal, I am like you still puzzled by whatever I just watched.
The premise itself is very interesting, the idea is honestly so childish yet so dark at the same time. It may sound ridiculous but it can become dark and frightening super fast.
Such ideas are great vessels to deliver commentary about our current society state and how disconnected and self-absorbed we’ve become. “The School Nurse Files” touches on that many times and despite its cute and quirky exterior, it is extremely dark at times, and the more you think about it, the more you realize just how dark the subject really is. The cute looking jellies aren’t so cute after all.
Let’s talk about writer Jung Se Rang who wrote both the novel and the script. While this should’ve been a good choice/idea, I don’t know if it turned out to be one.
I must be honest with you guys, I don’t know how harsh I should be in this review because I honestly can’t tell if the entire set up was deliberate or not. It feels messy and nonsensical on purpose, so I don’t know how seriously I should take this, but in my own way, I’ll try to navigate my way through this wacky drama that I actually liked.
I like it when scripts make sense, even in fantasy dramas, the term fantasy applies to typically a subject but writers and some viewers seem to take that the wrong way thinking that if its fantasy, nothing else has to make any sense at all, which is obviously wrong.
“The School Nurse Files” is lots of fun but definitely needed to be at least 3 more episodes longer. 6 episodes are too short and I can’t believe I am saying that considering just how much I’ve been advocating for shorter kdramas, but in this case, I feel its validated simply because it’s based on a novel, there is so much to explore and so much to explain.
Typically speaking, novels are at least 35,000 words, novels are usually long, to sum up so many ideas and pages into 6 episodes is nearly impossible in such a scenario, and even if you can’t place your fingers clearly on it, you’ll sense it watching the drama.
This is puzzling to me because the novelist should do a better job explaining the plot than any other screenwriter who probably doesn’t have any attachment or deeper knowledge about the characters and how they sound, act and so much more, the novelist him/herself knows the best about the characters they wrote.
Writer Jung Se Rang failed to summarize and explain the plot, and sometimes, it felt like a nonsense cartoon that you’d enjoy without thinking too much about it, but the thing is, “The School Nurse Files” attempts to tackle heavy subjects, thus it becomes confusing because you literally don’t know whether you should attempt to read into it or not. Every episode left me puzzled but also asking for more, I wanted to see how it ends and desperately wanted to understand it.
The novelist didn’t even properly explain the basics; it was like a puzzle missing so many pieces. The introduction is rushed through; the characters are suddenly friends helping out each other without a clip establishing that they somehow understood what happened and understood that nurse Eun Young can help them out. Forget the nurse, she’s used to this nonsense, what about the students? How come they just accepted that there are jellies everywhere around them?
It’s either an editing mistake or the writer mistake. The drama felt so choppy at times, we’ll discuss this in details later but I’d like to think it was an editing mistake.
The ending also felt flat and rushed, the characters spend so much time doing nonsense then rush through an ending that feels so forced it takes you by surprise. They attempt to wrap it up by using flashbacks to explain how everything ties together but there isn’t much there anyways.
The supporting characters including Mackenzie, A Reum and Hwa Soo needed way more screen time for us to care enough about their existence. Mackenzie and A Reum were very suspicious but needed to be a bigger threat for us to care enough.
Hwa Soo was a surprise villain but had like 10 minutes of screentime of 6 hours, I couldn’t care less and it didn’t have the impact I thought the writer was going for. This is why I say 6 episodes were hardly enough, 10 or 12 would’ve done the trick and helped us establish a proper connection to Hwa Soo that we’d care once we find out why she’s doing this.
It almost felt as if the writer wanted you to read the novel before watching “The School Nurse Files,” and if that’s what she was going for then I don’t know what to say. People who watch dramas/movies based on books rarely ever read the book, this is meant for the general public, having such assumption while writing is probably bad. This is my own assumption because I am trying to make sense of what I just saw and this is the most logical conclusion I’ve come to.
I can’t believe the one who wrote the novel couldn’t properly explain like 10% of it, couldn’t set up the characters properly, couldn’t work on an ending properly, etc. It’s probably one of the most flawed kdramas of 2020 but also one of the most fun to watch, and that’s because of the characters. The actors do their charm and do such a good job that even when it didn’t make an ounce of sense, I was still watching. I don’t know if I would have cared enough had the actors been other actors I didn’t particularly care for.
I also found it pretty weird that Eun Young lost her powers so suddenly and how the entire plot device was tackled, it felt so incomplete and lacking because it was such a grandeur event that should’ve had its spotlight, definitely more than 40 minutes.
There is so much more I can pick on and I can confidently say many of you probably already could as well, but since I enjoyed the drama regardless, this is where I’ll stop. These were the major plot points I wanted to discuss to explain the title of this article.
2The characters and performances
The beauty of “The School Nurse Files” has to be its characters, they’re all so unique and feel like real people, none of that ‘chaebol’ stuff we see in other kdramas, none of that ‘perfect’ male/female lead, even the supporting characters have their own unique traits which was probably difficult to establish with only 6 episodes. “The School Nurse Files” characters are some of the most dynamic I’ve seen from a kdrama in 2020.
I also love the fact that the main male character is a disabled person but that’s just a part of him not his entire arc. I loved loved Nam Joo Hyuk in this role; it was so fresh and so much fun. The character is by all accounts nothing special on the outside, but it works because he counters the overly dramatic nurse Eun Young. They make the perfect match.
Eun Young is an interesting character; the casting of Jung Yu Mi was genius because she was able to bring her to life while still keeping her grounded enough not to make her cartoonish. This is truly the work of a veteran actress; any actor who must play this character has to carefully navigate between her comical over-the-top side and her humane side.
Yoo Teo was amazing, just looking at his face was enough for me but he’s amazing in his role, I wished we saw more of him. I wished for so much after the drama wrapped up.
The actors who play student roles are fucking amazing, the majority are rookie actors but they were picked so well, each one of them was shockingly amazing, I couldn’t believe I was watching rookie actors.
The roles they students played were difficult and probably not the type of characters you’d want to be playing if you want to break into the market since they’re so risky, but this will probably be a great addition to their resume.
Also, I’d to talk a little about how proud I am of Nam Joo Hyuk. He’s not perfect for every role and he knows it, he’s been working hard to establish his career enough to be taken seriously even by the harshest critics. He’s evolved so much over the past couple of years. Seeing the type of projects he’s taking on clearly shows he does this because he likes it and he genuinely wants to show you how versatile he’s become.
“The School Nurse Files” isn’t the type of script that would normally attract a hallyu actor, I don’t mean anything bad by it, but if you’re looking for your big break or to continue your good string of luck and hard work, this probably wouldn’t be the type of project you’d pick.
I was surprised Nam Joo Hyuk took on such a role in “The School Nurse Files,” because with all honesty, his character is boring on its own but he makes it work so well and with the help of the nurse, he’s able to shine even more because he’s the opposite of her.
The last scene where he runs away from the jellies crying because his legs can’t carry him honestly got me, it was so so emotional and well done. It was one of the best scenes of the drama.
3Will there be a sequel? and if yes, damn you Netflix but I also like you
I have a love hate relationship with the fact that Netflix is expanding so fast in South Korea. Prior to 2020, I think I hated the idea so much because they’d make dramas and leave us hanging.
One of the main reasons I watch kdramas over American dramas is because they get to the point fairly quickly. One of the reasons I like kdramas is because they’re short, I usually watch all kdramas under 20 episodes and stick to the ones I like. The fact that an interesting idea can be wrapped up in 16 episodes is honestly relieving because I know they won’t toy around with us or try their best to milk one script and dilute the plot to the point of driving us; the viewers; away.
I feel like seasons don’t work with 70% of any American series and when a drama has the label ‘Netflix’ attached to it, I don’t usually watch it because I know even if it’s good they will drag this on for at least four more years and at the end, if the season doesn’t generate enough buzz, they’ll cut off the story.
If you guys don’t know, usually, American dramas get made with the possibility of leaving room open for another season, this is why the first season is often incomplete and ends with a cliffhanger, this particular theme doesn’t run well in the South Korean entertainment industry because actors almost never walk into a project with the idea of a second season (especially prior to Netflix entering the market), and the bigger they are, the less likely they’ll do. Their hectic unpredictable schedule is one of the reasons.
I said the above because I want you to understand what I am about to say because I might appear to be contradicting myself and to a degree I am.
“The School Nurse Files” would likely never had been made had it been a regular kdrama and this is why it works so well. The creative freedom that Netflix allows is amazing. If you watch kdramas, you know Korean adhere to certain standards and whether you agree or not with them, a lot of things get diluted for this reason. “The School Nurse Files” doesn’t hold back and you can clearly tell the premise wouldn’t have even succeeded had it been a regular drama that aired on a Korean channel.
And this is why Netflix expansion in korea is growing on me. BUT!!! What I fear is that “The School Nurse Files” was made with a second season in mind, because this is the only way I can explain whatever the hell I just watched. The ending was incomplete and it felt like the writer deliberately held back information to keep viewers guessing and asking for more.
I want to point out that I haven’t seen any discussions or news about a second season of “The School Nurse Files,” it could be they’re waiting to gauge the viewers’ reaction to it as well.
Regardless, if it’s true then I dislike Netflix but at the same time thankful they made such an interesting kdrama. Netflix dramas usually take 1 to 2 years to make, considering the amount of work this particular drama requires I lean on the possibility of a second season happening in 2022 if at all, again, this is an assumption. This is why I dislike Netflix dramas, they get you excited and hooked but then keep you hanging for at least a year before coming up with another season only to disappoint you mostly likely with the ending.
4Should I watch “The School Nurse Files”? [non-spoiler final thoughts]
“The School Nurse Files” is probably one of the most interesting and quirky kdramas of 2020 and possibly ever as well. The premise is super interesting and fun to watch. If you end up watching, you’ll likely fail to understand it but you’ll enjoy your time because the characters interactions and the ambiguity will be more than likely enough to keep you coming back.
“The School Nurse Files” is only 6 episodes which is really short but a binge-watcher standards. Don’t expect to watch and understand a thing but appreciate the effort that went to it. It might end up infuriating you depending on how betrayed you feel by the fact that it doesn’t make sense.
If you’ve read the novel, my guess is you’ll either complete love or hate this drama.
Regardless, if you’re looking for a change or something to possibly end your kdrama burnout, this could be it.
What about you guys? Did you watch this drama? if you did, please let me know what you thought of it in the comment section below.