Thursday, May 22, 2014

When 2nd-Lead Actresses Start to Outshine the Stars.

We've all been there.  Here we are, a kdrama addict watching a new drama, everything is going great until our focus slowly begins to shift from the main lead to the 2nd-lead. Sure we know that they are never going to get the girl, whether they are just too nice, friend zoned, or even sometimes a member of the family that killed the leads father/brother/mom/family pet?  For whatever reason, it is not meant to be.   And no matter how much you might ship an alternate couple, you are doomed for disappointment.  However, it is very rare that it happens to me with the 2nd lead actresses.  Usually I either like the leading lady to begin with, am not emotionally invested so I just don't care, or accept that I hate the actress and suffer for the Khotties.  But this week I had some twinges of angst.  Angst that I was stuck with boring leads when the 2nd leading ladies were so much more interesting and dynamic.  I can honestly say this is the first time it has happened so I decided to put my thoughts to paper (or computer in this case) and blog about it. 

The first show this happened to me was in "Big Man".  The story of an all around good guy with a slighty gray past (Kang Ji-Hwan - Lie to Me, Incarnation of Money) who is used and abused by a family who wants to literally kill him off and steal his heart for their ill son.  That's right, they plan on taking the beating heart out of his body and give it to their evil over-privileged son (Daniel Choi - School 2013).  Also involved in this shady plot (at least on a small level) is Kang Dong-Seok's secret girlfriend/secretary So Mi Ra (Lee Da Hee - Secret).  Due to his unexpectedly coming out of a coma before he is chopped up for parts, Ji Hyeok is passed off as a illegitimate secret son of the family to the press and starts living/working with the evil family from hell.  Everyone is flummoxed on how to deal with him (and by deal with him I mean get rid/kill him off).  And no-one is more upset than the youngest daughter of the family (unaware of the death plot) who had developed feelings for her "new" brother before he was her brother.   
The youngest sister, Kang Jin-Ah (Jung So Min-Can We Marry) is quirky, emotional, and funny.  A nice distraction from the single layered acting by leading lady Lee Da Hee.  This is Da Hee's first leading role, and personally I was fine with her staying in the 2nd lead zone.  She was perfect in her roles in I Can Hear Your Voice and Secret.  She did not have to show much acting range, and was perfectly adequate in those roles.  However when she is the one leading the female half of the romantic aspects of the drama, it is just too much for her acting style.  She has a very similar expression at all times and it is hard to tell if she is truly upset or just normal.  And don't even get me started on the lack of sparks between her and either man.  For someone who is supposed to be in love, or switching love interests, all we get are a lot bland angsty looks (the same look, since it never changes despite any nuances from the scene).   Look at the following three photos.  In one she is in love, in one she is upset, and another is just a regular scene.  Personally I don't see a lot of difference.
 I also like how much spunk Jin Ah has.  Not only is she not afraid to threaten her family and call them sewer trash for what they attempted to do, she also is willing to out them to the world in order to protect the man she loves.  It is also fun to watch her trying to constantly put the moves on her brother/not brother.  She is not at all subtle, but that is part of her charm which is all the more obvious when compared to our vanilla leading lady.  

For those of you who have been reading TCA for a while, you might remember the Shipping Wars of Reply to Me 1994.  We all were firmly on the Chilbong boat to the very bitter end.  Still cranky at that drama............But now there is a new battle brewing on the drama, Doctor Stranger.  Not between the two male leads (who are both beyond drool worthy, by the way), but between the two leading ladies played by Kang Sa Roo (Ugly Alert) and Jin Se Yeon (Bridal Mask, Inspiring Generation).  For those of you who have not been following any of the shows comment threads, fan pages, or blog posts, there is a massive battle going on about who Park Hoon (Lee Jong Suk- School 2013, I Can Hear Your Heart) should end up with.  Childhood sweetheart Jae Hee who died (I think that it says a lot about an actress if she is constantly killed off in every drama she stars in) and is suddenly back again as a North Korean spy Seung Hee (We don't know if it is the same character yet or two different characters.  But really does it matter.  I like neither version). 
Or new confidant female doctor Oh Soo Hyun.  The illegitimate daughter of the hospitals CEO who struggles with family issues as well as her need to make a name for herself in the hospital. 

I know that usually I would not even consider the 2nd lead as a viable hook up for the main guy.  But let me tell you why I like them together before you shake your head at my naivete.  1.They are hitting all the traditional OTP (One True Pairing) milestones.  Cranky and fighting all the time but eventually become friends.  Random moments of skinship including hugs, face touches (at least on her part), falling down together and having  awkward moments, she even slaps him and kicks him in the family jewels.  Also he walks in on her come out of a shower, does that not scream main couple? 
All these scenes usually scream OTP.  2. Add in the fact that the writers have focused 75% of the female development time on Soo Hyun, fleshing out her character and making us viewers really care what she is going through and how it relates with the leading man.  And I would be amazed if she did not end up in some kind of relationship with our hottie doctor.
The most we learn about Seung Hee/Jae Hee is that she was in medical school with Soo Hyun, was put in a concentration camp, and she likes to smile which is why he loved her.  Well sorry Soo Hyun, her smile does nothing for me, and I could care less about her storyline. I will be honest, a huge part of why I don't like her character is that I just dislike Jin Se Yun as an actress.  Her mannerisms and vapid smile just annoy me and it drives me crazy that she keeps getting cast in all these melodramas where she has to pretend to be upset all the time.  It has gotten to the point that I actually cheer when her characters get killed off (seriously, she has been killed so many times, it must be getting embarrassing for her) since then I am saved from her acting.  
So this viewer is going to stay Team Soo/Hoon til the very bitter end.  And even if my ship goes down in a ball of flames, at least I will know I went with the actress that can actually act, the one who moved me emotionally (and I am not talking the emotion of rage I get while watching JSY destroy yet another character.)  
Feel free to tell us what team you are on in the comments or on our FB page .  We always love to talk dramas and love a good couple debate.  I hope you liked this post, and if you have any other 2nd leads that are really interesting then let us know.  Maybe we can start a support group for all us poor souls who like good acting over who is ranked as first and second lead.


1 comment:

  1. Ah, you put it so well. You are absolutely right, Soo Hyun had all these interactions with Dr. Hoon, and slowly stole the show from the other gal, who was absent a lot anyway, and we all kind of forgot about her. Not a good way to build up a couple if they wanted them to be together. I could have easily dropped the show early, but after reading the shipping wars in Soompi, and finding out that the thread actually had to be closed several times because of it, I kept watching just to see how it all turned out. That was the entertaining part of this show, watching the outside events going on. The quack couple thread on Soompi started shipping Soo Hyun with Young Do from Heirs, and that was pretty funny too. That thread is more entertaining to read than the regular one for the show. The show was pretty awful, but the surrounding wars was fun.


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