It’s over, it’s over! But don’t tell me how it ended!
So The Princess’s Man aired its final episode last Thursday. Since that night a week ago, I’ve become a fugitive of sorts, lying low and appearing only when the coast is clear. Twitter, Soompi. Even my own post on the historical background of the drama. Any place where people might spill the beans on the ending became a minefield that I had to avoid. Because I have my own plans, you see. My own farewell party. This weekend I will watch Episodes 19-22 again. After that, I will watch, for the first time, Episodes 23-24.
Don’t be misled by the drama’s title. At the crux of The Princess’s Man (2011) is not a princess and her man, it is a king and his brother.
More precisely, a sickly king and his power-mad brother. A brother so ruthless he will kill his own family members if that will pave his way to the throne. Who is this man and is he for real? To uncover the answers, allow me to take you on a quick tour of the history behind this gripping drama (fifteen episodes devoured in four days). The last time I did something similar (the devouring, the researching, the writing) was for last year’s best drama, Jejoongwon. With nine more episodes to watch, I do not know if The Princess’s Man will be my drama of the year this time but a Top 3 placing looks almost certain. Just the political feuding alone has me on the edge of my seat and positively salivating.
Family Honor (2008/2009) is many things: family drama, romance, comedy, thriller, Go-Stop manual. Its themes are myriad as well: relationships (parent-child; sibling; stalker-stalked; just name it), culture, tradition, revenge, recycling (not of clichés or plot devices but discarded bottles and sundry junk), redemption, coupling.
Of the last you need a notebook to keep tabs, because there are so many couples in the drama you keep wondering when it’s going to be great-grandpa’s turn; surely the writer’s not going to leave our beloved patriarch out of the dating game when everyone else is either hitched or ditched-and-hitched? That’s not fair, is it? After all, even the youngest in the family (Dong-dong; ten years old) has to ward off the advances of a girl who likes him so much she beats him black and blue.
Prosecutor Princess has an ardent following. I couldn’t get past eight episodes. It was a close-run thing, though. I might just as easily have carried on watching. I didn’t vehemently hate it. I just ran out of interest. It was a near-miss for me. Why?
Recently I sprang a question on Thundie: “What in your opinion is the greatest sin a drama can commit?” And then realized that I can’t give a very coherent answer myself. Perhaps, taking PP as a case study I could manage an analysis. Now, this isn’t quite on point because PP is by no means the worst sinner or worst offending drama I have encountered. But on the other hand it’s quite interesting to explore the borderlands. When a drama is very bad it is usually bad for fairly obvious reasons. When it is good it is just good. When a drama is in the middle for me, not bad but not great, what tips the balance between “ok, I’ll go with this and keep watching and take it for what it’s worth” and “forget it, I’m outta here”? Perhaps by analysing why PP fell onto the wrong side of the line for me I can figure out what makes a drama work for me. Or not.