“Start-Up” is a tvN drama about [you guessed it] start ups and the journey of a young team who has an interesting innovative idea and their relationship. It’s a very typical idea at its core but the actors and the screenwriter managed to make it enjoyable and educational at the same time
tvN is really one of the channels that made 2020 tolerable and “Start-Up” is one of those dramas where I lost track of time, the episodes run long (averaging 1 hour and 15 minutes) but they don’t ever feel that long.
I was planning on writing episode to episode review of “Start-Up,” I wrote one for episode 1 and 2 but due to personal reasons, I couldn’t write the rest. I am currently extremely busy but taking time to write a review of the first half to talk about just how much I am surprised and in love with “Start-Up” more than I ever thought I would be.
Table of Contents:
- Nam Joo Hyuk’s perfect choice
- Suzy is a perfect fit for “Start-Up”
- The concept of start-ups and Screenwriter Park Hye Ryun improvement
- The chemistry
- Why did Kim Seon Ho choose this drama? + Kang Ha Na
So, lets talk “Start-Up.”
1Nam Joo Hyuk’s perfect choice
If you’ve been following my blog for some time, then you’ve probably read about my admiration for Nam Joo Hyuk. I truly feared that 2016 was going to be his peak but he proved me wrong.
Silently, through his choices, I can tell he cares deeply about his craft and is willing to both experiment and go above and beyond to become a good actor.
Nam Joo Hyuk is not perfect for every character out there, but one day, he’ll be that, and I’ll be here every step of the way talking about his progress.
2020 has been an interesting year for Nam Joo Hyuk. I liked his Netflix series and talked about his choice at the time, and I like his choice with this one too.
The quirky smart shy guy who is at times boring but so loveable and cute, you can’t take your eyes off of him. Nam Joo Hyuk pulls off what could’ve been an average character so well. Nam Joo Hyuk gets to use his acting skills rather well here.
I like that he’s not taking on the rich capable guy but instead, your average joe. A struggling man in his twenties with a vision but no resources. He’s smart but also dumb in business and its been a treat to see his character growth over the episodes.
He also does well with comedy and manages to make it appear less corny than it is at times. It doesn’t appear as if he’s trying too hard to make you laugh, but he is. People tend to underestimate just how hard it is to make people laugh.
His character and his friends mesh well togetherHe is not overshined by Kim Seon Ho; which isn’t easy to achieve; because Kim Seon Ho is a brilliant actor. [more on that below]
2Suzy is a perfect fit for “Start-Up”
Suzy has evolved as an actress over the years. I won’t lie and say I always found her performances good, but I’ve definitely seen her improve over the years. Its okay if you don’t start out the best but as long as you show improvement over the years and show people that you take this seriously, they’ll also start taking you seriously. Suzy managed to do just that.
Idol actors are either a hit or a miss, very few get to pass being labelled an idol-actor but Suzy has managed to do just that. Over time, many people will either be surprised she was ever an idol or forget that she was that.
Not to say being idol is bad in any way but if you watch kdramas, you know that many idols start acting and many of them show subpar performances, hence, being an idol-actor isn’t always a good label.
I also don’t think Suzy suits every character out there but she’s perfect for this role too. She shines in rom-coms. Her performance in this drama is terrific. Its way better than her performance in “Vagabond” where I felt that she was out of her element.
She plays a likeable character who’s also the underdog, she’s hardworking but doesn’t shove it in your face. The screenwriter isn’t trying the best they can to make you like her through cliché exposition but rather show you slowly through her actions.
She’s nosy but she cares, she’s tough at times but a sensitive character. She is a dreamer and I like the work the screenwriter has done with the series so far, I’ll discuss that in details below.
Do San and Dal Mi are not only the perfect match but share similar aspirations, they cover each other’s flaws and are such an inspiration to all of us.
3The concept of start-ups and Screenwriter Park Hye Ryun improvement
I don’t usually like to get ahead of myself but Imma do it with this one because I am in love with this drama. I just hope it continues to be interesting and doesn’t disappoint me like “Itaewon Class” did with its second half.
A big reason behind my love for this drama has to be its script.
Screenwriter Park Hye Ryun has been around for more than 15 years and I’ve seen her scripts evolve as well. This has to be my fav script of her in recent memory.
Screenwriter Park Hye Ryun takes very average; and at times cliché; ideas and makes them into a fun interesting concept. However, her dramas tend to become slightly boring as time goes by because they become rather predictable.
Luckily for us, “Start-Up” hasn’t reached that point yet!
I speculate that “Start-Up” has been written and revised ahead of time because this time, Screenwriter Park Hye Ryun hasn’t missed a beat. To my knowledge, “Start-Up” filming began in the spring of 2020. I saw photos of the actors filming that spread online around the beginning of May. Kim Seon Ho also said his drama would start filming in April on an episode of “1 Night, 2 Days.”
I guess this is why “Start-Up” is concise in its delivery and is rather fast-paced, faster than I originally presumed it would be. The process of narrowing down competition and facing hardships rather came quicker than I had assumed.
The drama teaches people interesting accurate information about the concept of start-ups and that’s coming from someone who has worked on a start-up. The issues they faced feel familiar to me and I can’t help but smile hearing them talk about things I know about.
The screenwriter made what could’ve become boring exposition about how start-ups work rather interesting. Its not easy to pull of because most of the tedious work is boring to talk about. I appreciate the work that went into researching this concept.
The love line is interwind with the plot which can be a double-edged sword. I previously talked about how much I disliked the idea of the grandma lying to Dal Mi about the identity of the person who wrote the letter.
I still stand about what I said, I feel the idea is a bit too childish and unrealistic for a love line between two people in their mid to late twenties. I wished Screenwriter Park Hye Ryun chose a more mature concept considering the target demograph for this drama is around 20-45. It doesn’t make sense the grandma would run with this lie for this long and for her to continue to lie to her grand daughter ‘to protect her happiness.’
It gets creepier once you realize two adults basically set her up with a random stranger whom she has always felt a deeper connection to, and then they go on to be lovers. Thank God Nam Do San is a decent man but dude, if you love your granddaughter, how could you do this to her? It gets a bit more comical and a lot creepier once you start rationalizing this particular plot point.
This particular point felt not only forced but unwarranted. I understand why the screenwriter chose it but still don’t agree with it. The series focuses on the realistic aspects of running a start-up in this day and age but has this weird love line going on. I think I would’ve still loved it regardless of the love line.
Joo Hyuk and Suzy is one of the best on-screen couples of 2020 in my opinion. And to be honest, I didn’t expect them to suit each other this well. I think it also has to do with the fact that they’re both the same age but its also clear they worked hard on it. Dal Mi is the type to proactively attempt to get closer to people and fast, Do San’s character opened up to her rather easily considering her charm and I don’t blame him.
I think Suzy also suits Kim Seon Ho and since I love him and I’ve always rooted for him, I won’t lie and say I didn’t develop second-lead syndrome with this one.
5Why did Kim Seon Ho choose this drama? + Kang Han Na
Now onto one of my fav underrated Korean actors, Kim Seon Ho.
Can you believe Kim Seon Ho first took on TV acting roles in 2017? that’s three years ago and he’s already come this far which makes me wonder about why he chose this drama.
Kim Seon Ho is a great actor because he has experience as a theatre actor. He debuted as a theater actor in 2009 but only took on TV roles in 2017. He started out pretty late to the game being already over thirty years old when he took on roles for TV, but he’s so damn charming there is no way you can’t notice him.
He’s so charming that he often ends up overshadowing the lead actor, remember “Two Cops”? This is why his choice here is rather puzzling in my opinion.
The reason he didn’t overshadow Nam Joo Hyuk has to do with the way his character was written. In case you’ve been following online comments about Ji Pyeong, then you’ve probably already seen many talking about how much they hate his character.
This time, I truly feel that the character he took on is plain. Let me explain.
He tries his best to make the character unique but if this was your introduction to him, you’ll probably not become the biggest fan of him. I see through his character’s cold exterior because I care about the actor behind the role but I don’t expect all of you to do so which is why I understand why some don’t like his character.
He’s probably the only character that shows little to no growth over the first half [I am talking about the adult version, not the child version]. Its like he’s one of those supporting characters that only exist to utter cliché lines then disappear into the background, but he’s been made the lead actor somehow. Hsi story as a teenager was so heartwarming but after he became an adult, it felt like the writer thought her job was done with him, as if he was a done case. I would’ve loved more insight into his character and for him to have a life existing beyond just interacting with Suzy and Joo Hyuk.
It’s a waste in my opinion because he’s better than this and he can truly shine brighter. I feel like this particular drama choice will stifle his progress. He’s been the lead before in a drama, so I am shocked he took on this role.
The same goes for Kang Han Na who’s supposed to have moved on from playing the same stereotypical bad/annoying brat at this point in her career. I can say the second male and female lead are arguably better actors than the first male and female lead but miscast. They should’ve gone with lesser known actors for these particular roles.
I could change my judgement depending on how the second half progresses, but I’d say Kang Han Na’s character has been put aside, she deserves more lines indeed and I expected more for her. I hope that in the second half of “Start-Up,” We’ll get to see her more.
Despite the cliché and childish love line, “Start-Up” turned out to be one of the most fun and heartwarming dramas of 2020. It was shockingly funny to me and a great escape from the current situation many of us are in.
I have high expectations of the second half of “Start-Up” and I hope to god, the screenwriter won’t disappoint. 8 more episodes are a lot of work, story wise. So, I am hoping the screenwriter has enough material to cover the second half instead of leaning on the typical clichés she usually chooses towards the end of her dramas. I hope she surprises me even more this time around.
So what do you guys think of “Start-Up” thus far? Do you like it? Let me know what you think in the comment section below.