Two Worlds: Two Episodes, Two Views

One of the hottest K dramas at the moment is W -2 Worlds. My Twitter timeline is full of tweets singing its praises. I had planned to avoid the drama completely because of my aversion to the actor playing the male lead, but decided to check it out in the interests of objectivity. This is my reaction to the first two episodes.

watch yeah that’s how it is

The basic concept of the drama is one that had real potential. A murder mystery blending elements of The Truman Show and Stranger Than Fiction. Both those films feature actors I’m not particularly keen on but whose performances in those films impressed and pleased me. Despite my aversion to Mr Lee, I went into this drama prepared for the possibility that something similar could happen. So far it has not.

watch yeah that’s how it is

For me the pacing of the drama has been all wrong. It has not spent any time investing its characters with enough emotional depth for me to care about them. Instead of building an emotional connection by showing its characters as people to whom I could react, the drama has been hyper-kinetically frenzied. The lead character is accused of murdering his entire family, but no time yet has been spent on his character, his personality. Trauma doesn’t come much bigger than this, but you wouldn’t know it from the shallowness of his reactions, at least as shown to us. In both The Truman Show and Stranger Than Fiction the emotional impact of their situation was clearly obvious on the characters, and it was easy to care about them as people within their worlds. After two episodes, this drama has completely failed to do that. This failure is especially noticeable in the case of the female lead.

watch yeah that’s how it is

When I decided to watch at least four episodes of this drama, I expected to dislike it because of the male lead. I did not expect that the performance of the female lead would be my biggest single complaint by far. She has not yet been injured in the two episodes I’ve seen, but I suspect that if you cut her, she would bleed Red Bull. I have only seen the actress playing the lead in one other role, Shining Inheritance, and I liked her in that role. Here, she is literally tiresome to watch. I really hope it is primarily the fault of poor direction, and that does seem possible. The impression I have after two episodes is of a drama that is afraid to slow down and let viewers connect with the characters, instead feeling compelled to just keep running. It’s tiring to watch, and boring. I say boring because without being given a reason why I should care what happens to the characters, all the frenzied drama really isn’t that dramatic.

watch yeah that’s how it is

I play up my role as a cranky contrarian on Twitter, but giving this drama a try was not solely driven by some atavistic hipster urge to Snark about something that many, many people really like. I am genuinely happy that so many people are finding great pleasure in this drama, and the unusual degree of consensus did play a part in my deciding to give it a chance.

watch yeah that’s how it is

If I dislike it so much, why keep going? Given  my very negative reaction to the first two, why watch two more? The  reason I’m pressing on with episodes three and four is because of my experience with Doctors. I started that drama because someone whose tastes are often similar to mine and whose opinion I highly regard recommended it. The first 10 episodes were awful – tedious, unimaginative, clichéd, K drama 101 . Then all of a sudden it picked up in episodes 11 and 12 . The two leads started having conversations which surprised me by their maturity and reality. The drama went from a tedious chore to something I’m actually interested in. Perhaps something similar can happen with Two Worlds. I really don’t think it will, but if and when I drop the drama, I will know that I had given it a fair shot, and so will any who have read this.

watch yeah that’s how it is

I spent a week on Twitter endlessly raving about what is possibly the very best Korean drama I have ever seen, one that almost no one on my timeline is watching, or will watch. It makes me a little sad that an astonishingly well-written and well acted drama is so overlooked, but I didn’t tweet about it hundreds of times to try to persuade anyone to watch it. I did so simply to share my joy and delight and surprise at having found such a treasure, and to express my profound gratitude to the patient persistence of the person who endlessly urged me to give it a try. It’s been a long time since I felt that way about a drama, and even though the ravings of a self-styled cranky contrarian won’t end up persuading even one other person to watch it, praising it is something I have to do and will keep doing.

watch yeah that’s how it is

That’s also why I celebrate the enthusiasm of all who are enjoying Two Worlds. Instead of snarking about it endlessly, giving it a fair shot and explaining my reaction to it seems like a kinder, more mature way of celebrating freedom of speech, diversity of opinion and respect for others’ passions. Rather than rain on others’ parade, I’ll settle for being able to say to those who say “you don’t know what you’re missing”, “Yes I do. Not much.”

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watch yeah that’s how it is — PLEASE

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