4 Worries when Hollywood remakes K-dramas
We are all K-drama proselytizers. Raise your hand if you have tried to get your spouse, friend, coworker, or family member to get hooked on the same addicting feels that are an essential part of our lives. If you are all honest, you are raising your hands. It looks silly, so put them down now. (Did anyone see you? Quick look! OK. You dodged a bullet there.) What do those same spouses, friends, and coworkers say? “It’s in Korean, I don’t want to read subtitles.” Then we heard the great news that some of our favorite dramas were coming to American TV. Woohoo! Finally! Then the fear set in—they, the American TV industry, are going to ruin our beloved dramas. How? Let us count the ways:
1.They will up the sex and kill the romance. We are all hoping for a few highly charged kisses.
We joke about chocolate abs and brooding shower scenes.
We tease about fully clothed wedding nights. The truth is, because there is an emphasis placed on old-fashioned virtue in both the hero AND the heroine, K-dramas bring real romance. Those kisses mean something significant to the characters—even when the heroine looks like she’s shocked to the gills to be enjoying a closed-mouth kiss.
2.They will not know when to stop. We have all hoped for a slightly longer story or agitated for a sequel to a favorite drama. Part of the charm to a K-drama is the writer’s willingness to pack in every plot twist and kill off whomever he or she wants in the 16-25 episodes of the standard drama.
Yes, there are dramas that run for a LONG time. Yes, there are some with sequels (e.g. Vampire Prosecutor, Iris, Dream High), but they are the exception. American TV rarely knows when to quit when they are ahead, and it is worrisome that they will hesitate to kill the people who need killing and will drag out every twist or fill the story with meaningless chaff.
3.The characters will not emote. Can you imagine American actors sobbing at the death of a parent or child?
No, they give the manly sniffle and occasionally bury their faces in the necks of their romantic partner. Heaven forbid they show real emotion like real people do. We want the feels! We want heartbreak in the rain, longing under the cherry blossoms, and a lonely hand touching the wind or rain. Feels!
Can Rain and Krystal overcome a tragic past to find new love? Find out in My Lovable Girl
4.The characters will lose their moral purpose. Why does the heroine give up her dreams and work hard at a low paying job? To take care of her young siblings! What are the challenges of a poor girl falling in love with the chaebol? His dreadful family duties! What American show will put duty to family in real conflict with duty to love?
In the idealized American TV landscape, romantic love is always the answer. In real life, that is not always the case, and I am not sure that American TV has the chutzpah to show it. K-dramas idealize virtue, of which romantic love is a part, not the whole. Even the villains can undergo a redemptive arc. No American villain ever says this:
Still there is hope! Perhaps all these fears are meaningless. Television is changing and adapting to niche markets and a new methods of entertainment delivery. That they are wanting to please the K-drama audience is a step in the right direction. Hopefully in their quest to tap into K-drama popularity, they will understand the elements in K-dramas that really make them tick. Oh, Hollywood? You might want to look up the Hong Sisters—because they know how to remake you.
What do you think, Drama fans? Are you excited or concerned? Is there an American actor who could deliver the feels? Are you hoping Park Yoo Chun or Rain will make the leap to American TV? Would they want to? Is it heresy to consider?