If you’ve been able to catch up or start new dramas this week, what have you been watching? What’s keeping you engaged these days?
Here’s what we started, finished, dropped, or kept watching this week.
(Note: We’ll mention some plot details, but major spoilers will have warnings.)
Mystic Pop-Up Bar [1-6]
Keeping it short and sweet this week since I’m a bit under the weather: This show brings a smile to my face. At times the comedic scenes can be a bit too over the top, which feels off in tone in contrast with the serious storylines, but on the whole this is a lovable cast of characters with a moving story-of-the-week every time. Hwang Jung-eum is hard carrying this show with her outsized charisma.
We’re seeing some lovely sad tension between Weol-ju and Manager Gui, and there’s a bittersweetness to the fact that she doesn’t know it’s him, but he knows (I’m 95% sure) that it’s her. Their dynamic already cracked me up, with them constantly bickering but secretly devoted to each other, but this extra layer of fate and tragedy under it all is really working for me in a way such storylines usually don’t—I’m surprised at myself. And I love how they’ve adopted Kang-bae into their little makeshift family. He’s glommed onto them like an imprinting duckling.
My Unfamiliar Family [4-6]
What can I even say about this show. How did they suck the souls of all these real people into my TV. I am dying every episode. Kim Ji-suk and Han Yeri are the MVPs here, but everyone is killing it with their roles, and the dialogue is the star of the show. This show reminds me a bit of Just Between Lovers, not in its tone exactly—this is funnier—but in how it grounds makjang tropes in realistic character dynamics. After all, it’s not the birth secrets, infidelities and murder plots that often make melodramas hard to swallow; that all happens in real life. But the cinematic metaphor that melos usually use tends to be so high-strung, frenetic and hysterical that the characters in the story begin to feel like aliens wearing people suits. My Unfamiliar Family is full of humans, reacting to the mundane but devastating tragedies of life.
Backstreet Rookie 
Well. I watched it.
There’s an hour I’ll never get back.
P.S. We want to do both a blog post and a podcast episode on what makes something problematic in a K-drama—and how that affects our experience of a show. Send us your questions, issues you’d like us to highlight, and/or specific shows you’d like us to address. Comment here, send us a DM on social media, email us at email@example.com, or record and send a voice memo which we’ll happily play on the episode. We’ll keep whatever level of anonymity you’d like.