“Mr. Queen” has wrapped up its run recently, and I am here to talk about the hit historical drama that you’ve probably heard about and seen a couple of videos of if you’ve clicked on this article.
“Mr. Queen” was a huge deal during its run time, it surpassed expectations and has been certified as one of the biggest cable dramas of all time, it is one of the top 10 highest-rated Korean dramas in cable TV history.
But was it worth the hype or not? Let’s discuss!
Note: this is a subjective review. I will share my personal opinion while keeping in mind how others might perceive it. This is a spoiler review
“Mr. Queen” has a very interesting premise, a man from modern times who while escaping danger slips into a woman’s body in the Joseon’s era. The man continues to long for his previous life and must navigate such an unfamiliar era in a woman’s body.
If you’ve watched some historical kdramas then this must remind you of “Scarlet Heart Ryeo,” the difference is, instead of a woman slipping into another woman’s body, it’s a man slipping into a woman’s body. This brings its own set of fun questions to explore and makes for hilarious predicaments our heroine must face. This is one of the show’s strengths and the reason I believe most people stuck around.
Initially, I was under the impression that “Mr. Queen” was 16 episodes long and after watching episode 10, I’ve come to find out it was 20 episodes. This is an important sentence so keep it in mind, I’ll revisit it soon.
While I enjoyed “Mr. Queen,” it had some issues that I must discuss, so let’s get into it.
The idea behind “Mr. Queen” is fun and all, often times, it was absolutely hilarious, and I’ve had a lot of fun watching it, other times, I felt like the humor part seriously undercut the serious parts.
What I mean by that is, for example take a serious situation where the stakes are high, almost always throughout episode 1 to 14, you’d see such scenes eventually be cut off by comical music and the entire build-up dissipates and loses all meaning.
At first, it was all fun and games, but often the case with Korean historical dramas; they end up in blood shed since it’s usually about families fighting for power. There are almost no comical historical dramas purely; it’s always about serious topics.
There were so many integral scenes to the drama that started out super serious only to end on a comical tone that ruined them. As time went by, it became more annoying because I couldn’t take anything seriously knowing well it’ll always end the same way.
Two screenwriters worked on this drama, one who is known to the public and has been active for a very long time, and a new rookie writer. You can’t easily tell that and I think it’s a good thing, but you can notice a shift in how serious the drama is taken at the latter part of the series, but you can also attribute that to the way historical kdramas usually are.
Still, I would expect better from two heads working on one project rather than one. The middle part of “Mr. Queen” was among the most stuffed kdramas with filler content that I have ever seen in a while and as someone who does this for a living, I tell you, it’s not easy to come by such a phenomena so often, let me explain.
Throughout the introductory episodes, the drama goes smoothly, however, around the middle part of the drama you start to notice a pattern, the drama begins with a cliffhanger, then the cliffhanger is either resolved or put on hold, then everything goes well/is normal for the majority of the episode duration, however, during the last 10 minutes something shocking happens and the cycle repeats itself over and over again, about at least 12 episodes of “Mr. Queen” follow this format and it became very annoying.
Whats annoying about it is how usually about 50 minutes is plain filler content sprinkled with some hint at romance/ comedy, it does drive the plot forward about 70% of the time, but it does so at a snail pace.
Certain cliffhangers feel so desperate and lead nowhere, some are better crafted than others but there are lots of them who added no substance to the story. You see the characters go about their day and a lot of mundane things happen, Shin Hye Sun literally carries the drama using her charms and amazing acting skills, but in another actress’s hands this could’ve easily gone South and fast, the casting director of this drama owes a big one to Shin Hye Sun.
I reckon it would be more annoying if you can spot it, or more annoying if you can write so you easily spot such plot devices like me, but the less consumed you are by the drama, the more you’ll notice that one fatal flaw.
I can easily subtract about 40% of “Mr. Queen” content and it would hardly have an effect on the plot or it’s progress. The drama didn’t need to be 20 episodes long, 14 would’ve been fine.
You might ask, ‘then why did you continue to watch this drama?’ and the answer is simple if you watch a lot kdramas like me. I seriously wanted to see the end of it, I desperately wanted to see how it ends.
Now, I know not many felt the same way I did, it will largely depend on how invested you become in this drama, if you love love historical dramas, you’ll really enjoy this one, but if historical dramas can bore you, this might be a challenge.
Since I’ve watched it twice a week, there was this element of thrill to it, since most of you reading this will binge watch it, it’ll either go down smoothly or rather slowly, you don’t have to wait for new episodes and you’ll have more chances to ponder on the plot without being clouded with the fear of how it’ll possibly end.
Still, “Mr. Queen” had many fun moments and certain scenes that’ll go down in history as one of the best. Its done pretty well for itself. I can’t say its undeserving, but at the same time, I wished it was more concise in its delivery.
Since many “Mr. Queen” episodes were boring, the saving grace of this drama is their characters which are unique to say the least. The screenwriters have done a good job crafting the male and female leads.
The queen So Yong (played by Shin Hye Sun) is simply amazing, it’s such a hilarious predicament to be stuck in a body that’s not yours and you’re the other gender, completely different from the body you now inhabit. This was the saving grace of this drama, it delves into how a man attempts to come in terms with his new body and the obstacles he faces. There is also the question of his sexual orientation and power of the body and hormones over the mind. Often times, the screenwriters did a good job navigating this particular point.
King Cheoljong (played by Kim Jung Hyun) is another interesting character; he is not what he seems to be. Kim Jung Hyun has done a wonderful job at switching between his serious mysterious side to the goofy and oblivious side.
The supporting characters are crafted okay, they are the standard supporting characters in historical kdramas, there are some added quirks here and there to some of them, but for the majority part, they’re about the type of characters you’d expect from a historical drama.
I’ve touched on that a bit before, but I need to dedicate a whole section to rave about “Mr. Queen” cast. Their chemistry and the performances are so good you just can’t get enough.
Shin Hye Sun carries the drama on her back with grace and makes it look easy. This is not to invalidate Kim Jung Hyun’s hard work but the plot revolves around Shin Hye Sun’s character in particular and her shenanigans. Without her lively and greatly timed humor and facial expressions, this drama wouldn’t have been able to do as well.
Kim Jung Hyun is as pro as they come. He is an amazing actor and you can definitely tell you’re watching two great actors at work, it’s amazing. They’re so mesmerizing to look at and do such a good job that you can’t help but sit and watch their performances in awe.
They also make for a cute couple, I would’ve never thought of such an on-screen couple but damn it, it makes so much sense. who came up with the brilliant idea to pair them both please give them an award.
Rising actor Na In Woo also gives an amazing performance on par with the rest. Bae Jong Ok and Kim Tae Woo did amazing as always, they’re a treat to see.
I also wanted to point out how much I enjoyed idol-actor Youngjae’s performance. I am legitimately shocked at how good he is. Usually, idol-actors tend to make me cringe with their performances especially if they’re rookies, but gosh darn it, he was AMAZING.
The thing is, his character is the goofy one, but he takes it so seriously and does it so effortlessly that I had to double check whether he has been acting for a while or not. His pronunciation and facial expressions were just *chef kiss* I am so surprised and so happy to have discovered this gem. For the record, historical dramas are more difficult to pull off and this is why even some actors would avoid them. This was a great opportunity for him to prove himself.
If he picks good projects such as this one, he’ll definitely hit it big as an actor. Whenever he was on screen he was captivating and hilarious. I am telling you, the casting director deserves a raise.
Should I watch this drama?
In short, “Mr. Queen” was hilarious and had a fun story; however, it was nearly ruined for me by its overuse of filler content. The drama walked this fine line between teasing you with its next episode and completely ruining itself with filler content. At the end, it came on top by balancing filling these episodes with as much mundane events as possible while ending each episode with a bang, it might’ve annoyed me, but that’s a also a skill.
If you like historical dramas, then you really need to watch this. If you love the actors who are starring in this project then you’ll love this too. I would argue that this was Kim Jung Hyun and Shin Hye Sun’s best performances to date. If you love comedy and love to laugh, also watch this.
If you don’t like historical dramas, then this won’t be easy to watch, especially during the middle part of the drama. If you like fast-paced content like me then you might end up watching it, but there is a chance you will bored for at least 6 episodes.
Ultimately, I’d recommend “Mr. Queen” to almost all new kdrama fans, because even with its filler content, it is still one of the better written historical dramas and it’s not as heavy as your average historical kdrama, it manages to stay light for about 70% of its run and that’s also a difficult feat to achieve. I’d say its fun to watch to distract you from the difficult times we’re going through right now. Its not as emotionally demanding as the average historical drama I’d say.