“Love Alarm 2” is out, it’s finally here two years later and the internet is buzzing about it.
I’ve previously discussed the final episode in details since so much backlash resulted from it, you can read that here, but now I am back to talk about the overall drama, specifically the second season.
As the title of the article suggests, “Love Alarm 2” does a few things right, but if we take the overall story and execution into question, it really doesn’t live up to its full potential.
Here is why!
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
Note: this treats the drama as a standalone script; I didn’t see/read the original webtoon.
The Love Alarm app idea
I am gonna be honest here, I think the core idea is interesting and very fresh. This type of idea opens up a lot of doors to conversations that could otherwise be difficult to approach, because it’s about love, naturally there is the good and the bad side of it.
If used properly, such idea can spring many subsequent plots you can use to drive so many meaningful messages. Sadly, instead of doing just that, the “Love Alarm 2” team settles for the most basic idea that could result from it, this was Netflix’s first kdrama [to be produced entirely by them] and they didn’t take any chances, they capitalized on what makes the average kdrama popular overseas thus killing whatever creativity this could’ve sprung.
This is based on a webtoon, I know some of you will say that they were following the script, but basing it on a webtoon doesn’t mean you should follow it to a tee, you can still take liberty in how you choose to handle the basic idea.
In retrospect, I understand. When you okay your first project in such a region that’s finding massive success, you don’t want to be different so much, you want to appeal to the demographic that already enjoys kdramas. The easiest, simplest and fastest way to do it is to do it like the regular script we ended up getting. The classical damsel in distress, and a love triangle between two equally handsome competent men. One of them is the underdog who is overly nice to the female lead and the other is probably the handsome jerk who has mommy/daddy issues, but he’s filthy rich, handsome and popular.
Lets talk about the wasted potential.
First, they don’t explain how the app detects what makes you ‘like’ someone, because there are many types of love: between family, between friends and between lovers. I really disliked how they never clarified what makes the app tick.
Now let us assume the app is real and suspend our belief, I was sad that the screenwriter didn’t tackle what type of issues such an app would actually cause. It is there in the drama, but merely an afterthought, like a noise in the background, something to keep people tuned in but not covered deeply enough to evoke actual conversations.
Assuming the app works to detect ONLY when you’re attracted to someone as a potential lover, this opens discussion in so many places, for example attacks against the LGBTQ+ community that will occur because of this considering Korea’s treatment of the community. How the app could accidentally cause someone who didn’t choose to come out to do so, or someone who is confused about their identity, what happens then?
They did touch on the LGBTQ+ community and the terrible treatment a gay student received, but I wished there had been a deeper discussion about this subject.
There are also other subjects such as incest and pedophilia. Two more avenues you could’ve used to open a discussion on in relation to the app, and how the app can expose pedophiles or punish/expose family members who fancy their kids.
These are just some examples on the top of my head, this is not to mention cheating between partners and so much more.
So this is what I mean by it ‘Doesn’t Live Up To Its Full Potential.’
It’s reduced to a drawn out love triangle between two men that I didn’t feel so good about, lets explain why in the second section.
Sun Oh and Hye Young- two flawed characters
“Love Alarm 2” could’ve been so much more…. if you’re going to make a second season dear Netflix, then for the love of God, please make it worth it. There is almost no major character arc for the main ones, especially Sun Oh.
I will be honest with all of you; I didn’t like any of the main characters, not Jo Jo, not Hye Young and most definitely not Sun Oh. To me, a nice character isn’t necessary but I do care about character growth because a good story always has that.
I could argue that Jo Jo had a good character arc, probably the best among the three main leads, however, I saw almost no change in Hye Young’s character, you can tell they’re trying to do something with the sub-plot of his father being a murderer but it comes off so weird and so out of place, it doesn’t lead anywhere or contribute to the story. Why would a murderer father make a good man doubt himself? Why? Did he Hye Young do anything bad? is it he feeling guilty about something? What was that?
I also found Hye Young’s obsession with Jo Jo a bit too much at times, when he says he wants to be her lover, she reluctantly agrees, judging by her face, I was slightly uncomfortable by just how much he kept pushing it. It did turn her around eventually, but his ‘dedication’ towards her did irk me at times.
As I was watching “Love Alarm 2” I couldn’t help but ask ‘why?,’ not why it ended that way but why was it made… why? I didn’t see the point of adding six more episodes that could’ve easily been scrapped… add two more episodes to season 1 and end it at that. How necessary was season 2?
The finale did help me answer this question, but throughout episode 1 to 4, I just didn’t understand why it was made.
Not to mention how Sun Oh almost has no growth across the two seasons. Only in the final 20 minutes of the final episode do we see that Sun Oh is trying to act like an adult.
Kim Jo Jo doesn’t handle pressure or attention well, it goes back to her parents suicide but I would’ve loved for the screenwriter to have done a better job connecting her past trauma to the way she treated both Sun Oh and Hye Young. She is a flawed character and I didn’t like her approach to dating at all but I understood it.
I don’t think she broke up with Sun Oh the right way, but since she was a teenager and this OFTEN happens in real life, we can argue that not every breakup is going to be clean, there are bound to be a lot of emotions involved and miscommunication at times resulting in terrible breakups.
Not every couple I know of out there ended things amicably. Many commented on how much they disliked the ending because they believe Jo Jo didn’t properly end things with Sun Oh and she hurt him, but if they broke up, it’s over guys. We can argue that she owes him an explanation, but she’s not interested in giving that explanation, so do you mean you want Sun Oh to keep pushing for one or choose to keep the relationship alive because he didn’t get a closure?
The above argument is very flawed because it means that every time a woman is to break up with a man must she sit down and over-explain herself until the man gets it? Can she not move on and begin a new relationship because he can’t move on?
When she cut him off, she cut him off; she didn’t go back and forth. She was very harsh and unclear, but she wanted out, why would you continue to force yourself onto her if she wants out?
If we approach this realistically; again; not all breakups happen two people don’t love each other anymore, there could be plenty of reasons why. Sun Oh didn’t pause even once to look beyond his feelings, while Jo Jo did that and looked at how she could cause issues for him down the line, he didn’t do that.
Every action he’s made stems from his own emotions and how he feels the need to ‘get back’ what he ‘owns’ because he didn’t get the ‘proper’ closure. Added to that, she’s now dating his former best friend since childhood, as far as I know, isn’t there a moral code regarding this? Like, if I am dating someone, maybe my friend shouldn’t approach them and make their feelings known to me and them? Regardless, wait to see if she works it out with Hye Young or not, if she doesn’t, then re-approach her, why do so when they’re still dating? Also, he has a girlfriend….. What about her? At least end things with her before you go kiss someone else… the audacity is what bothers me.
Sun Oh doesn’t show an ounce of respect to the time he’s spent with Hye Young, he doesn’t stop to see that he is hurting him. Hye Young has almost always had Sun Oh’s best interest in mind; this is why we can’t have nice things in life, because if you’re nice, people step on you.
Not at one point in “Love Alarm 2” did Jo Jo go back to Sun Oh or attempted to confuse him, he only happened to overhear something he shouldn’t have and inserted himself into this situation, only to be rejected once again. Jo Jo never gave him the okay sign to approach her because she was trying to move on and make things work with Hye Young. That look in her eyes is because she knows she fucked up with the way she cut him off, not because she is confused whether she likes him still.
What “Love Alarm 2” does right
Now to the other part of the article.
I sincerely liked how the drama ended, I liked that the message at the end.
The drama tries to explain to you that the app doesn’t measure everything properly nor should it be relied on since human emotions are complicated. What is better? To be in a relationship with someone who likes you but you feel neutral about them? Or someone you like but they don’t like you back?
It shows how dedication and sincerity win in the end. Hye Young was very sincere and even when he was hurt, he always put Jo Jo feelings above his, he tried his best not to jump into conclusions but was fairly upset by the shield and logically so, because that point meant a lot to him.
Hye Young deserves to win over Jo Jo because he always was there to pick up the pieces, this is also why Jo Jo eventually opened up to him and was worried about his feelings whenever something occurred.
Sun Oh realized he should try his best being nice to his girlfriend Yuk Jo because he knows well she cares so much about him and how much she put up with him. This is a good call, Yuk Jo is a catch and a very honest woman, I liked her character the best among all of them.
So these are my thoughts on “Love Alarm 2,” its flawed but has some charms to it, the core idea is interesting but the execution is at times weak. I hope in the near future, someone else remakes the idea but takes a darker approach to it, it’d be very interesting to see what a good screenwriter and director could do with that.
So these are my thoughts on “Love Alarm 2,” so what about you guys? did you like the episodes? let me know what you thought in the comment section below.