tvN’s “Hospital Playlist” is not only one of my favorite kdramas of 2020 but also one of my favorite in recent memory.
A lot of people have been requesting a review of “Hospital Playlist.” Usually, I do reviews of the drama half-way and when it’s done. Today, I’ll be reviewing “Hospital Playlist.”
Note: this is a spoiler-free review of episode 1 to 6.
To be quite honest with you, I didn’t really pay attention to this drama when news about the casting came out, I don’t know where my brain was but I wasn’t that interested. I like all the actors involved but I’m not crazy about them to follow every work they put out.
I was iffy about checking out “Hospital Playlist” at first because I am not that big of a fan of medical kdramas, they usually follow a very distinct route and I rarely feel invested in them. It’s not that they’re bad but very predictable and I like kdramas that surprise me. Judging from the title you can probably already tell, “Hospital Playlist” shocked me.
We’re almost done with April, and thus far, “Hospital Playlist” is easily one of the best kdramas and I bet it’ll be on a lot of blogs’ lists already. It’s that good.
The only regret I have is the fact that I watched it, as strange as this may sound. This drama only airs one episode per week and it’s challenging to wait for new episodes. I am used to the two episode format and the lack of it in “Hospital Playlist” is annoying me but I also understand.
The 1-episode factor
The PD stated in tje press conference that he decided to go with one episode per week to not lose his sanity, and as a person who hates to hear production staff getting mistreated or pressured too much; I welcome change in filming schedules. One episode per week is a lot more manageable from a production point of view, but I also think if it was another PD, his wish would’ve probably never been granted.
fyi, this is the same PD behind the hit tvN Reply series, he basically helped tvN become what it is today. I am not saying this is the definite reason, but I am sure the quality of his work played a role in this decision.
I think “Hospital Playlist” would’ve been lackluster if it had aired two episodes per week. The high production value and attention to small details is very remarkable and easily noticed.
“Hospital Playlist” has been scoring amazing ratings with each episode, each one better than the other. I haven’t seen one single negative comment about this drama on international kdrama community sites- thus far. Everyone is praising it.
The Script- Aimless At Times
“Hospital Playlist” script is not without a couple of what I’d call nitpicks but the drama cast literally carries the drama so it’s okay. The issue with “Hospital Playlist” script in my opinion is that I feel it’s without an end-goal, I don’t understand where the plot is going or what the purpose of everything is.
“Hospital Playlist” focuses on a group of doctor friends and how they interact with each other and their surroundings. Even if you take a look at the summary of the drama, it doesn’t explain much aside from what I’ve just told you. The PD of the drama stated in the press conference that “Hospital Playlist” is planned for multiple seasons and instead of having an end in sight,
“The viewers have to give us love for there to be another season. Holding meetings and discussions while leaving the finale open-ended allowed for a lot of new ideas and directions.”
I can definitely feel that the writer and PD are banking on the actors’ chemistry and characters to carry the drama, and it’s working.
“Hospital Playlist” does feel aimless at times, but for the majority, you’ll be too invested to notice that.
I liked the stories of the friends and how they became so close. I feel that they put energy into trying to make their friendship feel genuine and real.
“Hospital Playlist” feels very real, the stories, the characters, everything feels real. I can sense the writer either spent time in an actual hospital monitoring doctors or had doctors give their input to help with the writing for the drama. The lines uttered by the characters feel real and I like that.
There isn’t much of a story aside from these characters going about their day, but it’s done so skillfully that you can’t help but feel that you know these characters. Every action is explained and it feels like the characters lead the drama instead of being led, the writer isn’t trying to get the characters to do things because the plot ‘says so.’ I think that’s also one of benefits of having no end in sight.
There are no grand revelations or anything about a rich CEO or manager who wants to take over; there is no major conflict that causes friction so watching “Hospital Playlist” feels very relaxing. There is no love triangle or square, thank goodness. It feels like a drama for grownups who don’t like all that fluff that comes with the regular kdrama.
It also shows life and death, it doesn’t focus on a doctor miraculously saving the day every time no matter how skilled they are, sometimes; patients die even with the utmost care.
I also noticed the attention to details between the friends group, it doesn’t just say they’re good friends but shows you with actions, minor details helped me feel more connected to these characters. For example, how each one knows what the others like and dislike, their sleeping habits, dating style, quirks and how they work their way around them, I found that fascinating to watch.
You can definitely show “Hospital Playlist” to your mom, dad, grandma or anyone who doesn’t know or like kdramas.
I love the characters, I love how different they are from each other and how grounded in reality they are. They actually feel like real people, and in such types of dramas, I think it’s crucial.
There isn’t a main or supporting character I don’t like. I like the way they interact and how elaborate everything is. The supporting characters also feel real, not just there to drive the plot forward. They matter.
I wanted to focus on Jo Jung Suk’s character and say that for the first time in a long time, I like his character. Jo Jung Suk is a talented well-rounded actor, however, in recent memory, I can’t think of a time I liked a character he played. I always feel the urge to punch him in the face, Jo Jung Suk’s characters often come off pretty obnoxious and pretentious at times to me, whether intended or not. He just gets on my nerves.
Glad that’s not the case here.
I honestly can’t pick a fav character, everyone has flaws and shortcomings but you can’t help but root for them, and also feel jealous if you’re like me without such an accepting and loving friends group.
The beauty about “Hospital Playlist” is also that it doesn’t focus on one actor specifically. At first, I had a hard time figuring out who the lead was; I just gave up eventually because everyone gets their time to shine in this drama.
The camera work and directing
It’s stunning and even if you have no background or knowledge you’ll probably be able to tell that the camera work is just amazing. Everything about “Hospital Playlist” is well-crafted; this is what happens when you give the production team enough time to craft a good drama.
The directing also felt unique to the drama. I just love the attention to details and the way they edit the footage to pan from one scene to another.
“Hospital Playlist” is a safe kdrama choice, it’s something I’d recommend to every kdrama fan whether they like medical dramas or not.
“Hospital Playlist” is also only 12 episodes, so if you haven’t watched it, don’t. Wait until it’s over. That’s the only thing I can say.
2020 is okay thus far in terms of kdramas qualities, there are a lot of disappointing kdramas here and there, but I am happy the first half was made better with “Hospital Playlist.”
So these are my thoughts on the drama, what about you guys? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!