Netflix’s “Doona!” was released over the weekend, and after binge-watching the series, its time to share my thoughts on it, so here we are!
It feels like its been a century since I last saw the lovely Se Jong, its truly been forever because he’s been out since late 2021 and only came back about two years after that fact, so was the wait worth it?
Yes and no.
Note: this will be a spoiler review of the drama. This is a subjective review.
Let us talk Doona!
Table of Contents
The screenwriter who worked on this drama is named Jang Yuha, and this marks their 1st script and their debut, basically. This drama is also based on a webtoon.
I must start by saying I didn’t read the webtoon but read a summary, and the idea itself is very basic. So, with just a little window into what it was and after reading countless comments from people who read it through, I was kinda surprised it was made.
A drama about idols struggling is honestly nothing new, we get about 1 to 3 each year and they all touch on very important points but at this stage, its been repeated like 100 times and we know what it was, is, and will be. So, in a sense, a drama about a falling idol is nothing special, in essence.
The difference here was the pairing and the fact that it was based on a very popular webtoon.
At first, I was like, ‘why was it made?’ but I honestly stopped thinking about that towards episodes 4 to 5. There is a sense of warmth to this drama and despite me not agreeing with certain plot choices, I still find the drama quite endearing. I would say, I had fun watching it despite its flaws. I can tell a lot of love went into this, it was a sweet drama.
I think the first couple of episodes were really lots of fun, but as we drive towards the second half and then the ending, it just felt that the space that occupied the first couple of episodes should have instead been a little bit more heavy to justify whatever that ending was.
There are many elements of the drama that are honestly very typical, from the stalker who goes after the idol to how damaged the idol is. I guess the difference with this drama is just how unfiltered some of the scenes are opposite to what it would look like if it aired on SBS or MBC or any other broadcasting channel in Korea. Since they generally would do a little more censoring when it comes to what idols do and don’t.
Another thing I liked about the main female character was how she was unapologetically a bad character or painted as such. You do end up feeling sorry for her. She is very damaged, and she is unstable at times and can get easily angry. She has a lot of issues to work through and I would have loved it if there was incorporation of some form of psychological therapy sprinkled into that and was legitimately surprised it wasn’t brought up.
I think the topic of idols and kpop idols, in general, is really run down, and I’ve talked about it before here I don’t think that this drama has added anything new to the conversation or looked at any aspect of this idol life in any way, shape or form slightly differently. I think it all felt the same. The only difference is that it airs on Netflix and that the pairing this time is super cute.
If you ask me personally, I don’t see the point of making K dramas about K pop and the industry as a whole, because I feel like everybody is rehashing the same points. There are a lot of fine k-dramas out there about kpop idols. They have made a lot of very strong points, but if you’ve been around K dramas and kpop for quite some time, then basically everything that needs to be said or talked about has been already said and talked about for quite some time.
And I think a good driver of the attraction to this drama will be primarily the pairing. And to me, if that is the primary driver for you watching a drama then it’s probably not going to be the best if the pairing changes, which begs the question, is it really that good or not?
Because a good drama is good regardless even if unknown [but good] actors were cast.
I think everyone will deduce an answer of their own, to me, I wished it was more, more concise, and heavier. I wouldn’t say I dislike this iteration of the drama or the way that it came out, but I definitely believe that it could have been better in many aspects, or at least have been slightly darker in a way that would have distinguished it from the many K Pop Idol dramas out there.
Having said this, it does not mean the previous case of idol dramas did not focus on the aggressiveness or the nastiness of the kpop industry.
I think in general, one thing that could have distinguished this drama slightly better was if the mentor of Doona was Portrayed in a more negative light. He did take advantage of a young girl and came up to her when she was in the eighth grade, which is creepy no matter how you look at it, very, very creepy. I think if they insinuated more or possibly brought up whether he groomed her, we would have gone somewhere a little bit different than what other kpop idol dramas tend to go.
What I’m saying is, I felt the drama needed more episodes to peel even more into each character, but at the same time, I think even with the addition of new episodes, not much would have changed my opinion about the drama and about how typical a lot of the writing for it is. If that makes any sense for anyone who’s reading.
If I had to pick my favorite character it would be I-Ra, but I honestly loved Jin-Ju too. Jin-Ju was a classy act all the way and its difficult not to like her. I-Ra is so over-the-top but in such an endearing way. The actress’s performance definitely elevated the character, it could have easily come off as annoying in the hands of another actress.
I honestly have mixed feelings about Doona. On one hand, I feel sorry for the bad things she’s been through, but I wish there was more pushback against her behavior in a way that would make her pause and look at how she can change herself. An apology would’ve gone a long way. I know the arguments people will make against this, but I would have loved it if she apologized to her teammates and generally learned to be a better human being through therapy throughout the course of the drama, not a thing we see HAD happened and alluded to at the 9th episode.
Won Jun is the cutest, he’s a fantasy, a woman’s fantasy. It’s a character made for the female gaze down to every detail. There is hardly anything to dislike about him because he’s not meant to be disliked, he’s hardworking, a good boy, a filial son, a great friend, respects and sets boundaries, and on top of that, seriously good-looking. Like, this is what every woman wishes she could get.
He’s generally very typical, but also could be labeled a-typical because such a man does not exist, if that makes sense.
From a writing perspective, I’d say he’s the weakest link in terms of characterization because he can come off 2D, but here is the thing, Se Jong does such a great job with the character that I find myself unable to fully commit to the sentence I wrote above, because above all else, I loved the character. How can you dislike it?
I don’t normally reserve a spot specific to talk about a kdrama editing because I normally find them fine but here, I just had to. Because its probably one of the few things I disliked about this drama.
I don’t know what Director Lee Jung-Hyo was envisioning, because I don’t recall any of his kdramas having such type of editing. I am genuinely surprised because the editing feels a bit amateurish at times, if that makes sense.
It feels that some episodes or scenes have been cut. It feels like we’re missing additional context. I said it in my initial thoughts on the drama, but it also feels like it’s a fantasy or a fever dream judging from the way its edited.
I’ve seen many fans demand they release the deleted or edited-out scenes. I have rarely seen other kdrama fans bring up editing in kdramas but this one is definitely different.
It needed time, it felt like it needed a bit more time to be edited properly and the drama had already been filmed from July 2022 to February 2023. So they had ample time, and added to that, the drama itself is not heavy on CGI or needed much but still took its time to be released in October.
I don’t know or understand what must’ve happened behind the scenes, but I feel like we’re missing additional context.
The performances and chemistry
In regard to Suzy and Yang Se Jong’s chemistry, I’ve seen people divided. I personally thought it was dry at first, and their emotional scenes did not quite hit it for me, but I am not mad at the pairing because I think they look cute together. They’re a visual couple.
Suzy is good here in this drama. I believe that she was perfectly cast for the female lead. She does her job well and I think it was more than enough. She’s suited for such types of roles.
Yang Se Jong was a treat here. He’s such an amazing actor, and he is very, very Charming. It’s very difficult to look away from him. His performance is Immaculate, and he is definitely one of the best currently active younger actors out there. Does his performance here satisfy my cravings to see him in something that’s a little bit different? No, it does not. But at least we got to see his face.
I was certainly hoping that he would take on a Netflix drama after his discharge from the military, and honestly, I’m not going to be too mad about this being his comeback drama but would have loved for something a little bit darker, and maybe if he plays a villain role later in another Netflix drama, that would be very nice. He is a very good actor, and he has range. I really hope that we get to see more of him soon.
May favorite performance was Park Se Wan. I thought she was lovely and did such a good job with her character. It’s the type of character I wouldn’t normally like, but damn it, she does such a good job you can’t help but like her. It was probably the most difficult character to pull off since the writing for it wasn’t ideal.
Ha Young also gave a good performance. I liked her since “Now We Are Breaking Up,” when will her turn come to hit it big? She’s definitely a big star material but needs the right project.
More thoughts on Doona’s ending
I will start off by saying this, I noticed kdrama fans tend to be more critical of a project if the ending is not satisfactory. And even if a kdrama is objectively terrible in terms of writing but had a happy ending, a lot of its shortcomings would be brushed off.
In this case, a lot of people were invested in the cute couple, so them not ending up together was a blow.
To me, I liked the idea of them not ending up together mainly because I think Won Jun deserves better. It also never felt that he was ready for her and her career.
Granted, once Doona got help and such, she would make a good partner but she had a lot of things to work on, her tendency to latch onto male figures in her life immediately and the ways he craves attention tells me she needs therapy and needs to peal through her trauma.
However, I disliked the execution because it feels as if the screenwriter is somehow ducking their head in fear of the inevitable backlash this would cause, so instead, they opt for a vague unnecessary open-ending that leaves me frustrated. And this isn’t a unique case to Doona, many kdrama writers do this.
I believe if you have the balls to write a kdrama with a ‘sad’ ending in mind from the get-go, commit to the bit all the way through, don’t chicken out, for the love of God.
“Doona!” was nice, if I could describe it, I’d say it’s a cute drama if you know what you’re getting into. If you were expecting something grand, I think you’d definitely be disappointed.
Its not the type of kdrama I’d recall a month from now to be honest. The only memorable thing was the pairing but its not something I’d say was bad. Its because I personally knew what I was getting into, can’t say the same for everyone else.