Charmed

Charmed was a show from the 90s about three sister witches. It was a classic to some and others just another 90s flick, like Buffy or Angel. I feel the show had a lot more distinction then that. It did take a while for it to REALLY come into its own, but the story was always there. It was fairly well thought out and the characters were well-rounded. The Halliwell sisters were a pinnacle to its time. Despite being the 90s they distinctly showed the feminist zeal of today in the limited allowance they were given. The sisters were not only witches. They were hard-working women who balanced full careers and family life. They had men in their lives they loved, but it wasn’t just this all-consuming thing; love gave them balance, it didn’t “complete” them. They were first and foremost the Charmed Ones, the most powerful witches that ever were.

I think considering the time frame they did an exemplary job at the story. Could it have been more diverse or went over more topics? Sure, but most shows today still struggle with that. It’s hard to expect a show from 20 years ago to branch out when it’s only just barely begun today. I only say this because of the impending reboot that seems to be saying that the original Charmed didn’t even try. They did. (Small SPOILERS ahead) The girls had careers of their own that they didn’t give up for a man, that they worked hard for despite the toll of their roles as witches. Phoebe spent years in school during the show to get a degree. Piper balanced being a witch, a club owner, a wife, sole provider of the money more often then not and a mother. Prue had been a top curator of historical items. Paige was a social worker. And it that wasn’t feminist enough, one episode stands out when Phoebe makes a social stand at a business that wouldn’t let Piper breastfeed her child (who was covered to boot) in a very bold statement (naked on a horse). Did the girls have romances? Yeah. But I think where feminism sometimes goes wonky is in the thought that women shouldn’t care as much as we do about finding love. That’s not true. Love can be great, but as women we don’t always make the right choice (love is blind and all that). I think with the romances in Charmed they more then show that. It shows how complicated love can be and that sometimes when it feels the most right is when it’s the most wrong. But also that despite the relationships they could still be strong women as long as they were with someone who didn’t try and take that away from them.

With all that being said,, below are some synopses of the seasons. It is a good show and definitely worth a watch. Just remember that it was the 90s, they did their best but there are going to be a few hijinks and things that seem outdated.

 

Charmed 1-3

The first season of this show was a bit slow and very 90s. There wasn’t the flow yet that later seasons would project, but it’s still enough to hook an audience to the unusual (at the time) story line. Throughout the next three seasons relationships and magic build between the sisters but there is still a lack of growth and depth that isn’t felt until later seasons. SPOILERS Ahead! Throughout the first three seasons Prue is the glue that holds that sisters together, but it feels a little empty. Watching this time, there just seems to be a disconnect on how Piper and Phoebe look up to Prue and how Prue actually acts. They view her as a mother, but through most of the show she feels more arrogant and bossy, then ‘motherly’. It’s clear through a few episodes that she doesn’t really view herself on the same level as her sisters. She seems to hold over them that she knew their mother longer, that they couldn’t possibly understand the full loss of their mother as they can barely remember her. I think this emotional separation keeps Phoebe and Piper from growing as witches and as women. They have been trained to rely on Prue for how they should react and what they should do, which ultimately turns Prue into the great “Charmed One” with her two sisters lagging behind. I liked Prue, don’t get me wrong, but I feel, in the end, it hurt the show more for her to be so disconnected from everything. She had her moments of sensitivity, but she’d always turn back to the way she acted before. A show needs emotional growth from the characters, especially a fantasy show like this needs to humanize the story and make it more real.

Charmed 4-5

After Prue’s death the sisters are dealt a major blow. With her demon murderer still on the loose, the girls are faced with the extinction of the Charmed Ones and without their strongest sister as their leader. Their lives get even more complicated when they find out that their mom and her white-lighter (guardian angel of witches and future white-lighters) not only had a romance but a baby who they put up for adoption to protect her. They aren’t even able to process this as the demon who killed Prue goes after Paige, their half-sister.

Once the drama unfolds, the Charmed Ones are united once more. Paige is thrown for the loop of a lifetime. Not only does she have sisters, but she is also a witch. Piper has to become the strong big sister and Phoebe has to accept the role of the middle sibling. Together they have to figure out how to be sisters and witches in what feels like a whole new world of magic.

By season 5, though, they’ve grown together as sisters but they all have their own individual hurdles. Piper is faced with having a child of her own. Phoebe is struggling to find herself after her separation from Cole without relying on just being a witch. Paige struggles with finding her balance between her who she was and her desire to become a strong witch.

Season 6-8 FINAL

The girls have been through a lot at this point. Piper and Phoebe are especially feeling the weight of the years and it’s made them cynical to a happy future. Paige is coming into herself as both a witch and as a sister. The comradery between the sisters has grown to a comfortable level and all of them have matured. The last few seasons the sisters face some of their worst fears and battle against some of their most difficult enemies.

Season 8 is probably my least favorite, not only because it was a rushed finale, but the sisters seemed to lose themselves a little bit in the complex stories going on. They wrapped it up in a nice way that was fulfilling, but the season itself felt forced. The finale was definitely a whopper, but it would have been nice if WB (the channel company Charmed was on) would’ve given them a chance to work out the storylines a little better.

That Winter, the Wind Blows

This drama was amazing. It’s hardly worth calling it just a drama though. This story was masterfully done, beautiful to watch and was really a work of art. It’s not the typical Korean drama and it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. The characters are such raw actors and the story line is a modern epic. It has this almost noir feeling to it and it really speaks to the heart of humanity. The chemistry between the characters is excellent. Honestly no complaints on this one.
The story revolves around two characters who’ve both lost faith in life and humanity. Neither one of them can bring themselves to trust anyone anymore, until their lives cross one another. Soo is a high-stakes gambler and a con man; orphaned at birth and having lost his lover to a horrible accident he’s lost hope that life has any meaning. Young is a young blind woman. Her life revolves around the mercy of others and she has grown mistrustful and suspicious of everyone; Young’s bitterness has caused her to seek out death as her only escape. Her only hope in her constant game of wits is her brother who she was separated from years ago.
SPOILER: (Read if you’ve already watched the drama)
This story was great honestly. I usually don’t like such high intensity drama but the pure sincerity from the characters was so excellent that I couldn’t tear myself away. No one was who I thought they were and there were no flat characters. The actress playing Young did such an excellent job. Pretending to be blind can’t be easy. I also enjoyed the complexity of the plot. Soo, pretending to be her brother, then falling in love with her was such an interesting thing; not surprising, of course, but the emotion behind it was just absolutely compelling. I enjoyed seeing how things were never simple, because considering their situation it never would be. Soo would never be able to just leave a gangster life simply. And Young wouldn’t have some miraculous solution to the tumor. Although the ending was simple and happy, one can surmise that things were probably still somewhat complicated. Soo was probably hiding from the bad guys still and Young was probably not completely in the clear with her disease.

Moonlight Drawn By the Clouds

This historical drama was a fantastic find. I already loved Park Bo Gum from Answer me 1988 and he did such a fantastic job in this show. Unlike a few of the historical dramas that I’ve dabbled with it stayed steady in the drama intensity. A couple of the dramas I’ve watched would suddenly skyrocket in the intensity level about half way through and then the ending would be less then appealing. This drama had a steady mix of the historical Korean drama feel without that gut wrenching political warfare that takes up most of the genre.

Hong Ra On has had to disguise herself as a man for as long as she can remember. As a young adult she’s taken to giving love advice to forlorn souls, but when one of her poetic letters goes amiss she meets Lee Young, a young aristocratic, at least so she believes. Lee Young is actually the Crown Prince! A series of events leads Ra On to be sold into the palace as a male eunuch and once again into meeting Lee Young who she still believes is just a noble in the court. Both of them are soon pulled into a political power struggle. Despite not knowing each other’s secrets they unite under the looming darkness. The question is whether the realization of who each other is will make them stronger or break them apart.

So, this drama was just so fun to watch. I really love Korean history and the early culture is just so amazing to see on screen. The Korean cinema’s attention to detail on costumes and architecture for the time is just exemplary. Flawless, really. While this show is loosely based on historical events it still pays homage to the people and events at the time. The characters are just so fun and it really feels like even the most minute person has a personality that really sticks with the audience without overwhelming the plot. I would probably watch this multiple times it’s just that good.

The Master’s Sun

 

So, it seems I’m completely failing in adding some variety to this blog list; this is my third or fourth Korean drama in a row now? But despite all of that, this show is definitely a push in the right direction. Thus far I’ve watched the same modern romance stories, but this had me cringing in fear and laughing out loud all at the same time. Yes, I said ‘fear’.

The Master’s Sun is a brilliant horror/ghost/paranormal/romance all wrapped up with the bow on top of the perfect ensemble of actors. This drama starts out with Tae Gong-shil, a woman haunted by ghosts, who is so exhausted that she nearly looks like she’s dead herself, because of the constant harassment by the lost souls. Joo Joong-won is the president of a famous mall company who is obsessed with making money, but carries a dark and tragic event in his past that haunts him constantly. The two meet on a dark and rainy night when Joong-won reluctantly picks Gong-shil up as she’s stranded on the side of the road.

Honestly, that’s all I want to tell you, because the best part of a drama like this is the mystery that involves them. I have to say that although I was jumping out of my seat on occasions (the ghosts were sometimes quite scary) that I felt the show was really well-done. I loved the actors in this and the story was not only fleshed out, but it stayed interesting. It had a lot of great (albeit sad) stories per episodes and a constantly evolving plot.

 

Protect the Boss

 

This Korean drama is a spitfire hilarious cinematic journey. It still doesn’t compare to my top Korean dramas but it’s still very good. This show takes all the usual twists and turns of a corporate romance and shakes it all up. All the things you expect (jealous exes, corporate betrayals, angry rich mothers) are still a part of the story, but because of the fantastic heroine everything is turned upside down.

Eun-sul, a once punk teenager, is trying desperately to find a respectable job in an office, but because of her past and even her current attributes it seems impossible. When she lands the job as the secretary for a notoriously difficult chairman, Ji-hun, she jumps at the chance. Using her kick-ass fighting technique and her fierce determination Eun-sul flies onto the scene shaking up everyone’s lives. But then the unthinkable happens: Ji-hun and Moo-won, fellow chairman and his cousin, end up falling in love with her! Suddenly she’s the focus of the DN Company and the cousin’s family who aren’t at all pleased that their son’s have been ‘seduced’ by Eun-sul ( who’s only fault is being an awesome chick).

I don’t really have much to complain about this drama. At some points I felt it maybe lagged, but besides that it was a really and enjoyable watch. Sometimes I felt like I was watching the adult version of Hana Yori Dango. What I also liked was how it showed how children can get pulled into the darker part of corporate business because of their parents.

She was Pretty

 

My Korean Drama fanaticism continues. I have to admit I’m a little disappointed with this one. I guess I just didn’t like the way the story went and I felt the chemistry between the two ‘main’ characters was lacking. Besides that this was still a pretty cute drama, albeit a little wild.

The story is about Kim Hye-jin, a woman with crazy frizzy hair and freckles and a pretty eccentric personality to boot, who gets contacted by her childhood friend and first love, Sung-joon. Both have changed quite a bit. Hye-Jin was quite pretty as a child with straight hair and no freckles (quite a shocking change from her current appearance) and Sung-joon was a fatty who is now a handsome, lean, successful businessman. On the day they’re supposed to meet Sung-joon doesn’t recognize her; humiliated she asks her beautiful best friend to take her place, because she doesn’t want him to be disappointed. Not much later Hye-jin starts a new job where she meets ‘lunatic reporter’ Shin-hyuk, an eccentric colleague that immediately befriends her, and, once again, Sung-joon, her childhood friend who thinks she’s someone else and is also her new boss.

So, the story in and of itself, is pretty great. They have great fun characters and an upbeat story that moves pretty well, but for me it wasn’t a favorite. I’m not really one for slap stick comedy or constant silly hi-jinks and Hye-jin was completely eccentric and odd. Also, like I said, the chemistry between Hye-jin and Sung-joon was just not really there and, at least in my opinion, felt forced.

Spoiler note:

I can’t really not say how upset I was that Shin-hyuk got cast aside. Honestly I felt that he was a much better match then Sun-joon and the chemistry between him and Hye-jin was really great.

Oh My Venus

 

So I know it seems like I’ve watched a ton of Korean dramas lately, but I just kind of go through phases of what I’m in the mood for. This drama was great for a lot of reasons, not only was it a great Korean show, but it was also about becoming healthy, losing weight and having hope overcoming some of the most difficult problems such as disease, obesity and injuries.

Kang Joo-Eun, once Daugu’s Venus (meaning she was the High School beauty), has devoted her life to becoming a great lawyer, but she ends up giving up a lot in the meantime, including keeping her weight down. Obese and insecure she goes from one diet to the next with no luck. Kim Young-Ho is a personal trainer with a hard past of childhood illness who has come to Korea to escape from a scandal in the states. Destiny, or what you will, brings the two lost individuals together in a miraculous way.

This show was different for a lot of reasons. Kang Joo-Eun obviously wasn’t the normal female protagonist, being overweight. For this reason, the viewer really gets to see the insecurities and problems that come with obesity, but also gets to experience the benefits when you lose it. Besides this the show has really great characters and some of the scenes are just so fun that I couldn’t help but to smile like an idiot at the screen.

Oh My Venus is so fun, but it is also serious. I think more than anything this show examines the ups and downs in life and how quickly things can change. I’d really suggest this show; it is just such a great watch.