SHINE BRIGHT LIKE A DIAMOND
Based on the American series, Entourage goes behind-the-scenes of celebrity life and the entertainment business. Cha Young Bin (Seo Kang Jun) is a rising star in South Korea and he navigates the high life with his three childhood friends, Cha Joon (Lee Kwang Soo), Lee Ho Jin (Park Jung Min) and Geobook (aka Turtle) (Lee Dong Hwi).
G2 – Young & Alive
Joon is Young Bin’s cousin and a has-been star that is struggling to find fame as an actor. Ho Jin gets thrown into the entertainment world when his best friend, Young Bin, becomes a star. He works as Young Bin’s manager but hopes to find his own success in managing other stars. Geobook doesn’t have strong career aspirations but is along for the ride. Kim Eun Gab (Jo Jin Woong) is the agent who turned Young Bin from a mere pretty boy into a rising star. He puts everything else on hold, including his own family, when it comes to managing Young Bin.
The plot pretty much follows the glam life of these boys and their antics in this black comedy. Unlike The Good Wife remake, I liked that this drama took the original concept but gave its own twist by incorporating elements that were characteristically Korean, especially concerning the business of the entertainment world. The drama depicts various anecdotes and episodic tales that were entertaining in its own right.
However, the drama clearly couldn’t hold the attention of viewers. Plagued with poor ratings, there are a number of reasons why the show didn’t perform so well but I think one thing that didn’t help the show’s numbers is the political climate of Korea at the moment. As the daily news featured people who abused their power to amass wealth and gain favors, I can imagine that the last thing people wanted to see is a drama about rich guys who flaunt their extravagant lifestyle.
That’s only one small reason that accounted for the poor ratings. One of the biggest problems is with Cha Young Bin’s story arc. Young Bin comes across as a character who is mostly cool and unaffected which initially found refreshing as Korean dramas tend to be filled with characters who are overly dramatic. Young Bin starts the drama at the top of his game but his career is already at risk of spiraling down which could have been sufficiently dramatic. The problem with Young Bin is that he is so under the radar about his emotions that I had difficulty understanding his motives.
While it is completely realistic for “creative” types to come across as childish and indecisive, the drama still has to be able to connect its characters with the viewer. Young Bin’s emotional reasoning may have played out in his head but it just didn’t come across on screen.
Dok2 – Put it down (Feat. 김효은, 창모) (Put it down (Feat. Kim Hyo Eun, Changmo)
I ended up pitying Ho Jin instead for having to deal with Young Bin’s indecisiveness. Unlike Young Bin, Ho Jin seemed like the drama’s main protagonist as the underdog dealing with difficult star, dealing with Eun Gab or finicky producers and directors. And in particular with Young Bin and Ho Jin’s relationship, I completely related with his confusion about where their friendship ended and where their professional relationship began.
At the same time, I loved the ups and downs with Kim Eun Gab. At the beginning he almost comes across as the heartless agent who has all the connections and the sharp tongue that you can’t argue with. As the drama goes on, you realize he’s just a big softie and that’s seen in how he interacts with his family, Ho Jin and Joy (Amber Liu). Jo Jin Woong does what he does best in this role and no one else would have been able to play the Korean version of Ari Gold as well as he did.
Reddy – 너라도 (Feat. 김보아 of SPICA) (Even You (Feat. Kim Bo Ah of SPICA))
While Young Bin is the apathetic star, Joon was the exact opposite. In fact, I had thought that Joon would be the annoying character but I was wrong. The drama illustrates how Joon’s fears and anxieties is what drives him to succeed but how it also serves as his crutch due to living in Young Bin’s shadow. Certainly, when you cast Lee Kwang Soo, that character is not going to be mature or even but beyond the comedy, Lee Kwang Soo always manages to find depth in the characters he plays.
As for Geobook, he’s quite aimless in this drama but that doesn’t stop him from seeking out his own idea of success. Whether it’s his internet broadcast, getting that one-of-kind sneaker or helping out his friends, he defines success under his own terms. Lee Dong Hwi brings his sense of comedy and slacker type of cool to the role.
The other disappointing aspect to the drama is that the show’s editing was often jarring throughout its run. Forget the fact that the show opted to edit with an American episodic style in which ended in cliffhangers but didn’t really pick up where it left off in the next episode. There were even scenes with the episode that ended abruptly or cut short a subplot leaving viewers to find their own conclusions.
On the upside, the cinematography and the OST were consistently fabulous. Painting the high life with bold, vibrant scenery, even the night scenes of Young Bin reflecting alone didn’t dismiss the use of bright city lights. As for the OST, I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack as all of the songs are so great. The melodies and lyrics emote the things that I wished Young Bin did in the drama. The show shouldn’t be relying on its music to drawing out the emotions as that’s the job of the plot and its characters.
I feel conflicted about this drama because there are a lot of things about the drama that I did like. It does represent the superficial world of the entertainment business in a humorous way and it was cast very well. I’m not sure if the fault with Cha Young Bin lies with Seo Kang Jun or the way he was directed but it’s hard to relate to a main character that internalizes their emotions.