In Brazil, every day the amount of people - mostly girls - who watch Asian dramas grows. However, that’s not the only place in which engaging with this sort of TV show is increasing, as places like the US, Canada, and Australia are following the trend, too. A big reason for that is the development of plot content. What I mean by that is how Korean and Chinese drama directors and screenwriters are transitioning from making cliché and predictable plots to creative, unique, and unpredictable plots. From 2016 to now, it’s been easier to watch a K-drama or a C-drama that talks about mental health, - It’s Okay to Not Be Okay - critics to society, - City Hunter, Lawless Lawyer - and LGBTQIA+ community - Wish You, Reply 1997. That’s a relief because before, it was very rare to see those themes, and more often than not, their representation was a bit off.
Among very fun and different plots are two dramas that, to me, fall into the same troupe. They’re both about a group of roommates in college and in the workforce who are getting a sense of adulthood one way or another. What I like so much is how these dramas don’t revolve around just romance and have multiple main characters which are unique in their own way. There’s no major plot in this other than daily lives and the ups and downs of life. It’s raw, real and relatable. They are both older dramas, but are so enjoyable that I had to put them in the spotlight.
So, which dramas am I recommending?
Hello, My Twenties! also known as Age of Youth (2 seasons) - 2016
A slice-of-life story of growing up and becoming an adult in Seoul, South Korea. Five girls - who at first are strangers to each other - share a house called “Belle Epoque” and connect through their traumas. It makes the audience laugh, cry, and sympathize with the problems and struggles the young generation - mostly in their twenties - face nowadays.
I remember that my favorite character was Yoon Jin-myung because I can relate so much to her personality. For that reason, I loved seeing a character whose ideals and morals were a mirror to my own. The beauty of TV shows about friendship like this one is that different people can relate to different characters.
As far as music goes, I fell completely in love with the soundtrack. That’s because it features both songs in English and Korean with a wide range of artists. Besides that, most songs are very upbeat and make me smile.
Cast: Yoon Jin-myung (Han Ye-ri), Jung Ye-eun (Han Seung-yeon), Son Ji-won (Park Eun-bin), Kang Yi-na (Ryu Hwa-young), Yoo Eun-jae (Park Hye-su and Ji woo), and Jo Eun (Choi Ara).
Where to watch: Netflix
Ode to Joy (2 seasons) - 2016-2017
Similar to Age of Youth, this drama follows five women who live on the 22nd floor of a building called “Ode to Joy” which is located in Shanghai, China. Living in Shanghai isn’t a small feat as the city is both big and expensive. So, in order to live well, the 22nd floor women work very hard and face the struggles of adulthood. One thing that is very present in the drama is the culture of dating and marrying before you’re 30 years old. But it’s refreshing to see how three of them aren’t desperate for a match as they have other things to worry about.
Even though I love them all, my honorable mentions go to Guan Ju’er and Andy. Guan wears glasses, is introverted and has trouble standing up for herself which is very similar to my past self. So, I relate to her a lot and feel very empathetic towards her. As for Andy, she’s a strong independent woman who doesn’t accept less than she deserves, but is borderline antisocial and extremely individualist. She’s what I aspire to be minus the individualism and antisocial behavior.
If you are learning Mandarin, like me, this is great drama to practice what you already have while learning more vocabulary and slang in the process.
The soundtrack is mostly sung by the cast itself and other Chinese singers with their beautiful voices. As a lover of Chinese songs and ballads, I loved how the whole soundtrack sounds exactly like the popular songs you could hear if you visited China. They can be upbeat, mellow or even borderline sad.
Cast: Andy (Liu Tao), Qu Xiao Xiao (Ziwen Wang), Qiu Ying Ying (Yang Zi), Fang Sheng Mei (Jiang Xin), and Guan Ju’er (Qiao Xin).
Where to watch: Viki.com; YouTube (season 2)
Both of these dramas not only show the hardships we must face in order to grow up and live a fulfilling adult life, but also have some critics to society. Besides that, we can clearly see how culture and habits are changing in Asia. For example, women in their twenties used to first find a good job, and then, desperately go on the hunt for a boyfriend who could turn into a husband in a few year’s time. However, women are getting more independent and caring more about their careers and education which is a great sight to see. I really hope you enjoy these two dramas!