“Melancholia” Episode 1 And 2 Review- Tiptoeing Between A Growth Story And The Inappropriate Sexualization Of A Teacher And Student Relationship

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tvN’s newest drama “Melancholia” is here and here is a review of its premiere.

“Melancholia” was one of those dramas I was immensely excited about when the casting news was out. I love Im Soo Jung and Lee Do Hyun, and I know they mostly pick great projects so I was excited about it…. Until I read the initial synopsis. I tried to brush it off because a simple outline of the plot doesn’t usually convey the entire drama’s premise but my worries were brought up when I saw the teasers and trailers, and they were sexualizing the relationship between the teacher and the student.

Note: this will be a spoiler review of the said episodes in the title. This is a subjective review and only of the premiere.

After that, my excitement went down considerably and I became worried.

This is a review of the premiere so take it as such, and read it through before attacking me in the comments.

For starters, its important to say this, I need to clarify that the first episodes are set up in 2017 and yes, I am aware of that. In the press release for the plot outline, it says the two characters meet 4 years later…. Which in theory should fix the problem I have with this drama… and… it kinda almost did. Let me explain.

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The drama’s first episode was okay, it was a bit boring mostly because I, like many of you, don’t really enjoy math or topics related to math and the drama didn’t do a good job at making me care much about that either- so far.

Math is such a difficult topic to make people care about and if the focus is too much on the math, it could get derailed easily. Luckily, things do pick up in the 2nd episode which I enjoyed a bit more. There was much more drama and you begin to understand what’s at stake.

For a premiere, I would say “Melancholia” was average aside from what I am about to discuss.

When me and some people bring up our issues with this drama and why certain things aren’t okay, we get criticized as if this should ever be okay in any form. Sexualizing the relationship between a teacher and a minor student is not a beautiful sight. It doesn’t matter if the actors are adults, it is still very creepy and in many places around the world, such relationships are illegal and punishable by law, as they should be.

What slightly confuses me is the fact that the screenwriter seems to be fully aware of the issue brought up by her script but her writings after that acknowledgment are odd. In the plot outline, the teacher gets backlash because people make up rumors about her relationship with the student. If we ended it at that, I wouldn’t be this critical, however, that didn’t happen.

While the screenwriter realizes the concept itself is a difficult sell, it didn’t mean things went smoothly, because still… the scenes attempt to force romantic tones onto the two people and its not a nice sight. What do I mean by that? Let me explain

There are a couple of scenes in the premiere of “Melancholia” that suggest at a ‘fateful’ meeting between the two or at how the student seems to be getting slightly ‘jealous’ or uncomfortable with her, it isn’t played as it should be but rather as if the student is a possible love interest. The way he looks at her smiling and how that’s played out, come on man.

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There are scenes in which romantic music plays in the background and the camera pans in and glorifies what is supposed to be a romantic moment between the leads, this is where I have an issue and judging by the preview of the 3rd episode, it looks like this will be dialed up a notch.

So the screenwriter is aware its very inappropriate but still chooses to include scenes that would be used in the context of the beginning stages of a usual romantic relationship in kdramaland, how am I supposed to take this? How am I supposed to find any of the romantic moments beautiful if I know it is a minor and a teacher? Am I supposed to root for them?

I am sincerely curious, they shot those scenes and the editing team edited those scenes and they made them appear as if it is a fated meeting and should be viewed in a romantic light, this annoys me. Its difficult for me to enjoy the drama if this will be the direction you go with. I feel uncomfortable with the energy the drama created.

It seems to me that with the premiere they’re tiptoeing around that idea and the idea of a coming of age story. Its like they’re about to cross a line but not fully committed to it.

Of course, next week’s preview is only a preview and it could well be headed in a different direction. If it does, then I’ll be very happy because I will be able to enjoy this a lot more.

I am just curious as to why such a setting would be framed romantically from the get-go, why can’t it just be a regular story? There are many great kdramas of good relationships between teachers and students, appropriate relationships.

I love the actors involved in this project, and I want to like “Melancholia,” so far, I am on the fence about it for the reasons I’ve stated. I just hope that it gets better.

So these are my thoughts on “Melancholia” premiere, so what about you guys? did you like the episodes? let me know what you thought in the comment section below.

1 COMMENT

  1. Why must relationships in every movie be always appropriate? That’s not real life. In real life every kind of relationship you imagine happens and through the lens of those involved in the relationship it can be something very romantic even if it’s inappropriate. I watch movies and dramas to see the world for what it is, not what it should be or what is appropriate. I’m looking for real not ideal.

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