As some of you may recall, I did not like Flower Boy Ramyun Shop (and that’s putting it mildly.) So when I read that tvN was coming up with yet another flower boy drama — this time with an even more ridiculous name — I wrote it off immediately.
I was prepared to mock it endlessly, especially when I found out that one of the bands in the drama was called Strawberry Fields. If it was a new brand of yoghurt or a new line of air fresheners I’d understand but a rock band? Really? (ETA: I just found out that there’s actually a Korean rock band by this name. So this just goes to show you how much I know.)
So anyway, I was planning to come up with at least 20 different ways to describe the stupidity of this drama.
And then I watched the first episode.
Okay, just pass me the damn crow so that I can get it over and done with. (Spoilers for episodes 1 and 2)
This is Su-ah. I have no idea what she did in her previous life but it probably had something to do with saving a country and healing a colony of lepers.
Not only does she have hair to die for, she also lands herself her very own harem when she’s handpicked by rocker Joo Byung-hee (Lee Min-ki) to be his personal muse. Remember what I said about Nodame winning the grand prize in the Lottery of Life? This is six times better.
Yes, I know she doesn’t look too thrilled right now but that’s only because she doesn’t yet realise the power that she has over six hot guys. Forget superhuman strength or invisibility. My ideal superhero power is to be the mistress of my very own harem.
Introducing the Band
This is Byung-hee, the 4-D type. He’s the leader of
the Noona Killers Eye Candy and I guarantee you that even if you don’t find him attractive in these screencaps, you will fall under the spell of his eyeliner when you finally get around to watching this drama. That’s how much Lee Min-ki OWNS these two episodes.
Byung-hee is an artist. This means he has lots of feelings. Feelings that often cannot be expressed in words.
It also means that he has an immense propensity for BS. Byung-hee has some of the best lines in these first two episodes and I suspect that a fair bit of them were ad-libbed. This is one of my favourite scenes:
Oh Byung-hee, you’e so full of shit but that’s why I love you ;p
Since all the great artists had muses, Byung-hee decides he needs one too and of course, his muse has to be pretty as well. Long story short, he finally finds her in Su-ah, except that none of his boys are entirely sure what purpose she’s supposed to serve. I love Kyung-jong’s line of reasoning: “A muse is to bands what SNSD are to army cadets.” Oh Kyung-jong, if music doesn’t work out for you, you have a bright future as a stand-up comic.
Moving on, this is Ji-hyuk, the gruff one who’s actually a walking marshmallow.
He’s the lead vocalist who plays the Voice of Reason to Byung-hee’s impulsive free spirit.
Byung-hee: Chingus, let’s quit school.
Ji-hyuk: Byunghee-ah, let’s think about it again after eating lunch. You’ll just change your mind when you’re full.
I can’t remember when they had this exchange but I like how it showcases the dynamics of their relationship and the way they complement each other. I LOVE them ♥
And did I mention that Ji-hyuk is also one tall drink of water?
Okay, you boys have got to stop with those lopsided smiles and side glances. This noona’s heart can’t take all the cardiac stimulation…
…especially not when there’s still Lee Hyun-soo, the
sex kitty Cool (actually, make that Ice Cold) type to consider.
When he’s not jamming on his guitar, he’s slinking around teasing you with his come-hither smirks.
[via K-drama Obsession]
And if you haven’t noticed from the posters, he has this very bad habit of distracting you with his tongue…
DramaWiki tells me that Kim Myung-soo is a 92-er, which means that he’s just a toddler. Right. Going straight to hell…and I don’t even care.
This is Kim Ha-jin, the playboy. No idol group is complete without a player to call their own. It would be like a K-drama without the obligatory shower scene (speaking of which, I am totally expecting a swimming pool scene sometime later in this series.)
Ha-jin plays the bass and is in the band because chicks dig it. Well, at least you can’t fault him for being dishonest.
As long as there’s something in it for him, Ha-jin is quite the equal-opportunity Casanova but despite having an eye for the ladies, I think that if you’ve been watching this drama, it’s pretty obvious where his real affections lie…XDDDDD
This is Seo Kyung-jong, who I like to call the baby of the group because just look at him! Don’t you just want to pinch his cheeks and put him in your pocket?
Kyung-jong looks like a younger Yoon Kye-sang, except smooshier and cuddlier. He hails from Busan, plays the keyboard and is a bit of a wise ass. Like a puppy, he is also very affectionate, especially with Ha-jin.
Maybe people from Busan are just friendlier?
I can just about see the kind of music videos that are going to flood YouTube in the weeks to come. It’s going to be awesome :D
And finally, this is Jang Do-il, the drummer whose hair could launch a thousand L’Oreal ads.
Do-il is the
Mori of the group silent, stoic type. You know the kind whose hair is always falling into their eyes as they play their instruments. God, this brings back so many memories of being in high school and listening to Belinda Carlisle on the radio. *sigh* Those were the days.
Not much is known about Do-il right now but that’s okay. He can just play his drums and look hot. I’m pretty undemanding like that :D
I had no idea these boys even existed prior to watching this drama and I suspect that my days ahead will be filled with plenty of research. *ahem*
Seriously though, I wasn’t expecting Shut Up to reel me in from the very first episode. It normally takes a K-drama a while to set up its story and introduce its characters but this one took off like a rocket from the word ‘go’. One of the reasons for this is the chemistry the boys share with one another. They’re not just six hot young idols coming together to posture their way through a drama. You can feel the bond that they share through the interactions within the group. This isn’t something that you can just attribute to the boys’ acting abilities alone (to be honest, some of them are really raw but they’re so tight as a unit that it really goes a long way in covering up a multitude of flaws.) It’s one of those intangible things that happen when the entire cast connects on an emotional level. This doesn’t happen all the time and it isn’t something you can force but these boys have it. I believe that they are friends and that they belong to this band called Eye Candy and it’s this element of believability that’s making me root for them, not so much the fact that they’re underdogs in a posh school.
And who can talk about the first two episodes without mentioning Lee Min-ki? I had never seen him in anything prior to Shut Up so to say I was unprepared for how much I wanted to be his groupie is an understatement. (Something tells me I’ll be watching Dal Ja’s Spring in the near future.) As a character, Byung-hee was like one of those old school rock musicians — he was flamboyant and eccentric but he also had the authority expected of a leader. No doubt about it. His was a charismatic performance of the first order. Period. <spoiler> Having said that, I know a lot of people are saying the writers shouldn’t have killed him off but personally I think it was a necessary move. We live in an age of technology. I can’t really think of how they could have sent him away without the others trying to get in touch with him. Also, had he been a permanent character, I’m not sure I would have wanted to see him and Ji-hyuk having a falling out over Su-ah. However I will say that I wish they hadn’t killed him off in such an abrupt manner but that’s just a slight niggle on my part. </spoiler>
Other things I like about this drama:
- Its tone and muted palette: I was expecting a drama with the glossy varnish of Boys Over Flowers, not one with such a gritty, melancholy air. What I like about it is that it feels authentic — it’s an organic extension of the boys’ circumstances, not some contrivance for the sake of being hip. Some people have compared Shut Up to Gokusen but I think it’s more like What’s Up in this respect.
- Su-ah: I’ve only watched the first two episodes but I think Jo Boa is doing a pretty decent job in her first role. Her character is obviously a girl’s girl and that’s fine with me as long as she remembers she has a spine. This does not seem to be a problem so far. If anything, the scene she has with Ji-hyuk in episode 2 where she insists he apologise to her properly is a pretty good indication that she isn’t a pushover.
As Javabeans and a few others have mentioned, I wish tvN hadn’t pushed the Flower Boy label so aggressively because it gives the impression that this drama is nothing but mindless fluff, which is not the case at all. It has a good story to tell and a cast of compelling characters with fantastic camaraderie. So if you haven’t watched Shut Up yet, don’t let its name dissuade you from giving it a go. It might be a little premature for me to say this but I have a feeling it’s going to be one helluva crack drama.