2016 Kdrama Review

Yes, I am aware that it is the first day in March.

I finally finished The Flower in Prison this week, so now it’s time to rank the 2016* kdramas that I completed. It was a rough year for me as far as finishing kdramas were concerned. I dropped ten of them and only finished three.

Here’s the list of dramas I dropped:

  1. Vampire Detective
  2. The K2
  3. Signal
  4. Pied Piper
  5. One More Happy Ending
  6. My Wife’s Having an Affair This Week
  7. Madame Antoine
  8. Legend of the Blue Sea
  9. Goodbye, Mr. Black
  10. 38 Task Force

Top reasons I dropped a show were treatment of female characters, gross incompetence, and boredom.

As for the three dramas I did finish, they all got a different rating. (You can find an explanation of my ratings categories here.)

Check it out on a slow day

The Flower in Prison (MBC | 51 episodes | April 30 to November 6, 2016)

Sometimes you just need the kdrama equivalent of a generic mid-90s fantasy novel in your life. Flower in Prison isn’t the best told, filmed, or acted drama, but I loved it for the fact that it never forgot that its heroine and her personal journey were the heart of the show. Everything revolved around her, and no one questioned her right to be center stage. Unlike some of the sageuk I’ve seen, this drama filled its ranks with women of all ages and statuses, from bodyguards to water maids to concubines to the power behind the throne. If you want a long, easy watch, this is a good choice.

I would advise against it

Wanted (SBS | 16 episodes | June 22 to August 18, 2016)

Part thriller, part reality show from hell, Wanted never lost sight of its goal: having a mother do everything she could to rescue her son from his unknown abductor. Despite all of the solid components, the show was rarely able to live up to its potential. It was neither as terrifying nor as heart-wrenching as I’d hoped going into it, even though the cast did their best to elevate the material they had been given. Months later, Wanted has left very little impression on me. This drama isn’t necessarily a waste of time, but it is ultimately bland and forgettable.

I’ve already suffered–why should you?

W: Two Worlds (MBC | 16 episodes | July 20 to September 14, 2016)

The first half of this high-concept drama is a thing of beauty, filled with tantalizing possibilities as the hero of the story-within-a-story takes charge of his own life. Unfortunately, the main couple’s relationship lacked a solid foundation, and it quickly became apparent that while the writer could talk shit about lazy storytelling, she wasn’t above making those same lackluster decisions herself. The last third in particular is an exercise in frustration and thwarted greatness. This drama is best enjoyed as a tragedy—just turn it off once you’ve reached the “Bad End” midway through. It is more satisfying and makes more sense than the ending we actually got.

So what do you think of my rankings? Think I was too harsh? Too gentle? Let me know!

*Even though Solomon’s Perjury started in 2016, I go by when a drama ended. Look for it in the 2017 rankings.


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