5 Variety shows perfect for the K-drama fan
Long before comedian Jack Black was pulling little red hearts out of his armpit on last week’s episode of Infinity Challenge, many of us in K-drama land had known that there is much hilarity awaiting us if we venture to dip our toes in the wild waters of South Korean variety and reality shows. Since it can be hard to know where to start, here is a cheat sheet to five of the best variety shows, and how you can use your K-drama predilections to help you navigate which one will be the perfect fit.
1.The Infinite Pleasure of Infinity Challenge
For those K-drama fans who always find themselves rooting for the hapless underdog or fish-out-of-water over the smooth chaebol lead, this is the show for you. Considered by many to be the first (and best) Korean variety show, Infinity Challenge first aired in back in 2005. While its format has changed slightly over the years, the humor remains rooted in the general unsuitableness of these goofy guys to attempt the ridiculous tasks they are given. Best point of entry? While watching Jack Black on Infinity Challenge is amazing, if he isn't your cup of tea, I also recommend starting with one of their music festival episodes, where the team members each pair up with popular Korean singers to compete against each other in a festival. The auditions, training, and performances span several episodes, and they are a phenomenal mix of awkwardness, humor, and fun. And I promise you will never look at BIGBANG the same again.
2. Running Wild for Running Man
Running Man debuted in 2010 and has given us us such Korean television treasures as the Monday couple (Gary and Song Ji Hyo) and my favorite giraffe, Lee Kwang Soo. The show features many television and musical guest stars, some majorly impossible tasks (build a boat out of blankets to row across the Han River, anyone?) This is a great show for the K-drama fan who needs a little hint of romance and chocolate abs to go with her variety show. The best point of entry is to pick a K-drama series you love and find episodes where any of the cast members are the guest stars. Or just pick the episode with the blanket boat. Because aren't you curious now how it ends?
3. The Return of Superman
Prefer your K-dramas with cute kids and a sweet confectioner glaze of adorableness sprinkled across everything? Then The Return of Superman is your variety show. The plot is simple. Korean celebrity dads are left to take care of the kids for 48 hours while the moms go off for some much-needed R and R. Hilarity and adorableness ensues. These are cute kids (including triplets!) and handsome dads, so go with any episode. You can't go wrong.
4. We Got Married
If K-drama romance is your thing, or in my case your all-consuming passion and reason for being, then We Got Married is the show for you. As the title suggests, the variety show pairs up different celebrities in faux marriages and makes them complete tasks and missions. This is the perfect show if you love to ship couples and love to hunt for evidence of real chemistry. Find your favorite Oppa and start there.
5. Strong Heart
Even though Strong Heart is no longer on the air, it is still the show for you if you just want to gape at your favorite Oppa, shout daebak at the screen, or give yourself a good cry. In this show, celebrities compete against each other to tell the best story about their own life. The stories run the gamut from funny to heartbreaking, and I think the only reason this show is no longer airing is because the guys didn't tell their stories shirtless. This show is good for any K-drama fan who is not a robot or afflicted with a heart of stone.
So there you go, friends, a show for any type of K-drama fan. What variety show is your favorite to watch?