“Our Blues” has aired its 10th episode recently and as you guys know, it means its time for a half-way review.
I felt like over the past couple of weeks, “Our Blues” has divided the kdrama community more than I expected. I think its in part because the drama has more than one hallyu actor and expectations were high, really high.
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 of the first half of the drama, not the full review.
Today, I am here to discuss the drama and my thoughts on it for the first half of its run.
The script and characters
As I always say, expectations can make or ruin a watching experience. There were times I had little expectations of a kdrama and ended up being pleasantly surprised by how good it was, the opposite also happened way too many times for me to keep count.
I think many people expected the drama to be different than what it turned out to be. Personally speaking, not only was I not surprised, it turned out to be better than I had expected, I knew what it was going to be going in and it turned out to be exactly what I thought.
Not to say I am a genius or above anyone but I knew screenwriter No Hee-Kyung’s style and I also knew this was an omnibus drama. I think there was some ‘misleading’ marketing involved as well that led people to think otherwise. I’ll discuss more on that in another section.
So far, “Our Blues” has been a sweet drama. Its not mind-blowing or so out of this world, its exactly what you’d expect from screenwriter No Hee-Kyung. If you’re familiar with her style and seen some of her dramas, then you know what it means and how she usually writes.
Her stories are about real-life people, real-life struggles and while she utilizes cliches, its usually done properly and minimally, especially in her recent projects.
“Our Blues” is a character-driven kdrama so I will talk about the characters in conjunction with the script. I really like the way the characters were written and how most characters got the chance to shine separately despite the massive star-studded cast.
In another production, they would have tried to capitalize on their star power but they chose not to do it the way you’d expect. While I don’t like every character in the drama, I really like the way they were written, I like how original and different they feel.
The fact that we have 20 episodes means we’ll get to know them really well. Since its a massive drama, the screenwriter has a lot to write about too.
The marketing – was it misguided?
In the grand scheme of things, I think the marketing for “Our Blues” was not bad, but I’ll discuss what areas people were surprised by.
In the marketing for the drama, there was a lot of focus on the characters’ interactions and a lot of focus on the main four actors Lee Byung Hun, Kim Woo Bin, Shin Min Ah, and Han Ji Min.
The trailers will have you believe these characters appear a lot together and their stories would overlap. That wasn’t the case because in the first weeks, Shin Min Ah, for example, appears for like 15 minutes in a total of 4 hours of run time. Lee Byung Hun also doesn’t make a notable appearance until much later than expected.
So the fans who were looking forward to seeing those four actors or their interactions with their respective partners must have been surprised because the first couple of weeks focus on none of those four characters.
There was a slight focus on Kim Woo Bin and Han Ji Min at first but that also stopped and the drama redirected towards other people. So, if you walked in expecting to see these actors hard carry the drama, you were in for a surprise.
If you don’t particularly like or follow the supporting actors or care much about their characters’ stories, it wouldn’t be easy to get through the first half of this drama.
Some fans were also under the impression that it wouldn’t be this slow-paced, so when it premiered and it was slower than expected, it was a shock. Some people called the drama ‘boring’ because of that. The drama needs patience too. I think older people will appreciate this drama more than younger viewers.
Granted, “Our Blues” was never meant for everybody. If you don’t like slow-paced kdramas, you will not be able to tolerate how slow this drama is.
The first weeks focused on supporting characters and their stories, it focused on wrapping up those stories; for the most part; before moving on to what you’d call ‘the main course’ which started with episodes 9 and 10.
I get the screenwriter’s approach. First, the drama is 20 episodes long, thus, it would be weird to expect the four main characters to be in all of them with the drama’s type in mind. If she starts with the main stories and then moves on to the supporting stories, then most likely people will just stop watching once their fav characters’ arcs were resolved. Thus, the drama ratings would go down.
It makes sense to start with the supporting character stories, then to introduce the main ones. After that, the continuation of each story will be integrated to the last couple of episodes. At least, this is how I think she’ll do it.
Personally speaking, I was surprised that she took such a risk. Its almost unheard of in kdramaland that you’d actually not give the main four actors the main screentime and instead give it to unknown or rookie actors. VERY rarely do I see this and I’ve been watching kdramas for a decade. It takes guts to do this.
Despite what I’d call a slow start, “Our Blues” ratings are rising and with this week’s focus on Lee Byung Hun and Shin Min Ah’s characters, the drama was able to surpass the 10% mark for the first time.
I think the drama ratings will go up and down depending on what characters it focuses on. Regardless, I’d say anything around 7-9% in ratings for a cable drama is a success. Public channel dramas can only dream of reaching 7% these days and they’re free.
Performances and chemistry
First things first welcome back to the lovely amazing Kim Woo Bin who is making his first drama appearance in 6 years after he kicked cancer’s ass. I haven’t seen much of his character yet, but I like everything I’ve seen so far. Han Ji Min is doing so well as usual. I think they make for a very interesting couple, some say they don’t have good chemistry but honestly, I can’t agree or disagree because I am still on the fence about it. I need to see more of their scenes together before I can reach a conclusion.
Shin Min Ah and Lee Byung Hun are just.. [chef kiss]. Where do I begin with these two? Setting their amazing chemistry aside, I am so pleased to see Lee Byung Hun try on such a character for a drama. He’s rude to his mother and generally very angry, he also repeatedly kisses Shin Min Ah’s character when she clearly drew a line. He’s not a ‘nice’ character on first viewing and there are many things I don’t like about him but I am so invested in his story. I don’t necessarily need to like a character to be invested in their story and he intrigues me.
Shin Min Ah plays the mother role for the first time ever and I am so surprised she chose this role but also so happy. She could have chosen a character that makes her appear so cool and perfect but she didn’t and for that, I am so proud of her. I am happy to see her try new things. She’s in good hands with screenwriter No Hee Kyung.
Lee Jung Eun is amazing as always and I was surprised that Cha Seung-Won’s appearance was more of a guest role than a leading role as I’ve seen in teasers and posters. He’s marvelous as always. I felt so bad for his character.
Park Ji-Hwan and Choi Young-Joon really stole the show for me. Whoever cast the actors for this drama deserves a raise. Rookie actors Roh Yoon-Seo and Bae Hyun-Sung did so well, its difficult to believe they’re actually rookies. Especially Roh Yoon-Seo, this is her first drama ever. She’s a shining talent with a bright future ahead of her.
Basically, I liked everyone’s performance. Its so nice to see such amazing talents come together for such a huge show and for it to turn out the way it did.
Conclusion and expectations for the second half
“Our Blues” is not the type of kdrama that everyone will like, its slow-paced and deals with average characters and their life issues, it can also be a reminder to some viewers of their current realities so its not really something everyone would want to see, some people watch kdramas to escape their realities not be reminded of them. There are also some young fans who will likely struggle to find common ground with the characters or struggle to relate or be drawn into the atmosphere of the drama.
The drama got significantly more engaging as weeks went by, for those who didn’t have the patience to wait it out might have missed on a good drama but at the same time, you can’t really blame them for quitting because if they feel like they’re wasting their time, they shouldn’t be expected to keep watching for the sake of it.
This is not to say that “Our Blues” has the most unique plot but it is well made for a slow-paced kdrama, we don’t often see that. In my opinion, 20 episodes is a lot for a slow-paced healing kdrama but we’re only halfway in, we could be in for more surprises.
The thing that prevents me from going crazy over this drama is the fact that I never personally felt like I couldn’t wait to see the next episode. Whenever a new episode was out, it was the weekend [duh, it airs on weekends] and I would watch it after “My Liberation Notes.” Nevertheless, I never felt like I was missing out on a lot if I didn’t watch it the day it aired. The drama doesn’t create the best type of urgency which is to be expected because its slow-paced. I know some others would disagree with me on that point, again, it depends on how much you’re invested in the drama.
I am curious to see how the screenwriter plans on filling the second half of this drama. We have 10 more episodes, it is bound to slow down as all kdramas usually do around the half-way mark but since she didn’t bring out the ‘big guns’ yet, there is a chance she can avoid that depending on the direction she takes the script in.
I am curious to see whether every single character will have a happy ending, a part of me doesn’t want that to be the case because it wouldn’t be on track with the theme of the drama, but even if it did, I probably would still like it [if it was well constructed].
So these are my thoughts on Our Blues, so what about you guys? did you like the episodes? let me know what you thought in the comment section below.