The simple pleasure of innocent drama November 19, 2020 cliffski My wife has now firmly got me hooked on Korean drama series, or ‘kdramas‘ as we now call them apparently. On an average day, I’ll likely watch 2 or 3 TV shows, and almost certainly one of them will be Schitts Creek, Star Trek:TNG or some Korean drama. I think a lot about the appeal of this show and why I choose them, and not any of the more popular ‘trending’ TV right now. Frankly, I think its a 2020 thing, or more a ‘the state of the world’ thing. Right now, a LOT of stuff is worrying. fake news, social media hell, the culture wars, the infighting in the USA, the looming catastrophic hell of climate change, coronavirus, and so on. There is, in other words, a lot of ‘real life drama’ and ‘real life misery’ in the world. We are surrounded by it, and can barely escape from it, thanks to twitter, smartphones and media everywhere. real world stress I think its no surprise then, that for those of us who feel bombarded by such negativity (especially if you HAVE to keep vaguely in-tune with it due to making a contemporary political strategy game), and who have problems staying calm at the best of times, there is some appeal in the idea of escapist TV drama. But the problem is, too much of modern TV is NOT escapist. Or its escapism into hell, or conflict, or fear, misery, death, suicide and culture wars. In other words, writers are trying to AMPLIFY the current anxiety in the world as entertainment, instead of offering a much needed temporary escape from it. Its very rare these days to find a TV show that does not have a bunch of content warnings about ‘suicide references, addiction, injury detail, drugs, explicit sex’ and so on. I started watching an HBO show (industry) about city traders. Kind of my thing, but in 2 episodes there has been one suicide, lots of abuse, and lots of frankly stupidly out of place and gratuitous sex and nudity. Thats fine, I’m not a moral crusader but…really? is it so necessary. I know what naked people look like, I know what sex is. You can easily imply that people had sex without us watching it. Its frankly not shocking, or edgy or artistic. Its just kinda tragic. The same is true in Game Of Thrones, or any other ‘gritty’ HBO/Netflix series that thinks its essential to have violence and sex in every drama. This is intimacy, Korean style For some reason, you get none of that in kdramas. Maybe Koreans are prudish, or the censors are. Who knows, but also who cares. I’ve got REALLY into a bunch of Korean dramas that are apparently romances, but the main characters don’t even kiss for fourteen episodes. One is about the military, but there has been so far, 2 scenes out of 10 episodes where someone fired a gun. One person has died. Just one. It was not explicit at all. And yet weirdly, it was still exciting and dramatic. If HBO or Netflix made star trek:TNG now, then there would be multiple explicit scenes where we saw Picard and crusher having athletic zero-G sex. If Worf had to fight someone with his bat-leth there would be blood and limbs scattered all over the place. We would all be tired by now of seeing riker stark naked. Wesley would be snorting cocaine in every other scene… And it wouldnt be any better a drama series at all. This is the ideal male body. You may not like it but this is what peak performance looks like. KDramas, and older shows like TNG, or even family-rated shows like schitts creek, show that you don’t have to bombard people with sex and violence to entertain them. We live in an age where even the US president is accused of paying off porn-stars, where politicians are often caught taking hard drugs, where the media is packed with the salacious details of celebrities addictions and sex lives and so on. There is enough of this in our lives. Its still ok for entertainment to be FUN. It doesn’t have to do ANYTHING else than entertain. You don’t have to be making statements about social-justice in every casting decision, and every scene. You can cast people of color in a role without them having to shoehorn in a race-relations plotline (even in space!). We are fine with just enjoying some escapism, munching some popcorn and watching fun things happens and hear people speaking witty dialog. You can have conflict without spraying blood and intestines at the viewer. People can fall for each other without us watching every sexual position in 4K. Give me more kdramas and less ‘gritty, brutal re-imaginings’. if I want gritty and brutal I’ll watch CNN.