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Filipinos love K-dramas. Our local channels dub it in Tagalog while Netflix has a dedicated page for it under the TV Shows category. Because of this, most of us are probably familiar with the clichés and character stereotypes that a lot of K-dramas like to reuse: rich guy, poor girl; girl pretending to be a guy; much loved second leads don’t get the girl; and a childhood connection between the leads are just some of the plotlines we usually see in K-dramas.
There’s nothing wrong with these when they’re executed well, but we can’t deny that they have become clichés. For something a little bit different, here are six dramas that break away from these overused clichés.
The Tale of Nokdu
The cliché: A lot of popular dramas feature girls disguised as boys. Their reasons for disguising themselves differ but there’s always the conflict of the male lead being confused when they start to fall for the boy the female lead is disguised as.
The drama that broke the cliché: In The Tale of Nokdu, it’s the male lead that’s disguised as a woman. This results in a series of hilarious encounters as Nok-Du disguises himself as a widow to be able to hide in a village wherein men aren’t allowed.
Strong Woman: Do Bong Soon
The cliché: In most K-dramas (or in most movies or shows in any part of the world, really), it’s the male lead that protects the female lead from external danger.
The drama that broke the cliché: Strong Woman: Do Bong Soon completely flips the script by having the female lead protect the male lead. Min Hyuk actually hires Bong Soon to protect him. It’s also nice that the K-drama didn’t make Bong Soon dress or act masculine despite her strong powers. Her feminine actions and outfits are a nice contrast to her strength.
The cliché: The two main leads get together, and then viewers suffer second lead syndrome. The romance is usually established early on so we know always know to expect the happily ever after between the two main leads even if they encounter problems along the way.
The drama that broke the cliché: Dream High is one of the few K-dramas wherein the second lead ends up with the girl. In the first few episodes, the focus was on Jin-Guk. He’s a childhood friend of the female lead Hye Mi and they even shared a kiss. A kiss between the main leads usually cements their happily ever after but not for this drama. In the end, Hye Mi ends up with Sam Dong.
Lovestruck in the City
The cliché: The romance between the two leads is usually gradual. They have a meet-cute and then they start getting to know each other for a couple of episodes until they finally kiss. One of the characters is usually shocked by the kiss, and it’s not rare for the shocked character to have her eyes open and lips unresponsive.
The drama that broke the cliché: The romance between the two characters is established pretty quickly. We actually find out on the first episode that they already broke up so we see their romance in a series of flashbacks. The kiss also happens in episode 2 — days after their first meeting. The fast-paced romance might throw off viewers who are used to the slow burn in K-dramas, but that’s what makes this show refreshing.
When the Camellia Blooms
The cliché: In K-dramas, the two main leads are usually connected not only in adulthood but also in childhood. As the romance between the two main leads grows, the drama starts showing flashbacks to their childhood to prove that they have a much deeper connection.
The drama that broke the cliché: When the Camellia Blooms changes it up by having the childhood connection of our female lead, Dongbaek, with her friend Hyang-Mi. Dongbaek hires Hyang-Mi to part-time at her bar without knowing that she was the girl who protected her from bullies when they were still kids. They were both outcasts because they had an unusual family background.
What other dramas have you watched that broke clichés and stereotypes?