EXPECTATIONS: I didn't expect much before I started watching and I still don't expect much after the first six episodes...well, at least I don't expect it to be nearly as good as the first season. I don't normally watch sequels to dramas either because I hated the first season or the first season didn't really interest me to begin with. However, I really enjoyed Dream High so I'm giving the second season a shot. It's got nearly the same crew as they had for the first so I'm hopeful that they won't let this go downhill. Let's see how they're doing so far...
Shin Hae-Sung, our protagonist, started out as the loud-mouthed, outspoken, quirky manic that so many dramas have. You know how these loud-mouthed, outspoken, quirky manics tone it down after a while when the conflict begins to pick up and they somehow become an easy target for a group of bullies or a female bully, who is most often an ex-girlfriend or someone the main guy used to like? That happens within the first 2 or 3 episodes. Hae-Sung goes from being stupidly courageous to a timid pushover. Despite this, I like how they portrayed her as a fangirl because it's realistic to how a dedicated fan would behave, especially when she stopped being a fan because she found out JB was a complete ass. Hae-Sung keeps fluctuating between being outspoken and being shy, which is odd. I'm getting the feeling that was done on purpose since Yoo-Jin called her out on it. Another thing I don't like about her character is that they played the "fatsuit" story all over again—the ugly duckling turned swan. They did it in the first season as well except it doesn't seem like Hae-Sung will return to her former self the way Pil Sook did. She's also a great songwriter despite her vocal weaknesses. I hate that she has to be told by a guy how to practice to get back her determination when she had so much flair before. As much as I love flawed characters, this character was poorly-developed. Going from outspoken to timid before she even encounters stage fright doesn't make any sense. However, I will concede that that I am excited to see how she develops because I love seeing the underdog come out on top and I want to see her grow.
Jin Yoo-Jin is our residential rebellious punk. He has a love for music that knows no bounds and likes to rock out in public—even though his genre is more Alternative/Indie, which I love. I feel like the creators spent more time thinking through his character's development than anyone else. He has had the most fluid character development in the first six episodes as far as I can tell. He started out being someone who potentially hated Shin Hae-Sung but you see them finding more and more similarities in their hardships. I like the friendship they're developing even though we can see that he has romantic feelings for Hae-Sung. It's nice. I also like that he pushes and tries to mentor Hae-Sung to be a better singer but I feel like it's a little unnecessary because the writers already made her determined to become a better singer. The recorder thing was a good idea though. I just wish he would see eye-to-eye with JB and that the creators would quit trying to make the guy seem chivalrous all the time. Not just with him but with all the guys. It's tiresome. I'm also seeing some underlying problems; he's a fighter from the streets so he's bound to have a huge history. We'll see how well that plays out. As much as I like his character so far, it's also pretty cliched. Hopefully, it's different.
Then there's Rian. Good god, this character cannot be more cliched. She has the ingredients of the typical "vengeful ex" in a K-drama that I mentioned earlier and she's cruel to everyone around her. The funny thing is, she didn't seem that way in the beginning. She started off just as silly and easy-going as all the other characters. Suddenly, she became the bully, the character the creators wanted us all to hate. It was too predictable. I can see a potential friendship develop between she and Hae-Sung...actually, I can see a friendship develop between everyone and I'm hoping for it. I hope they won't play out the bitter ex-girlfriend (or ex-anything) with Rian. I really want to like her.
Last but not least, there's JB. The seemingly arrogant idol. We know that he currently has romantic feelings for Rian (or who she used to be) and that, for reasons unknown, he has a contentious relationship with his bandmate, Si-Woo (whom we don't know much about). Up until the sixth episode, his personality has been pretty dry. Pro-tip: Don't tell/imply that a person looks ugly when they're crying and having a hard time. It's not charming and it's not cute. It just makes you look like a jackass. I don't know why everyone loves that scene so much. It's common sense not to say something like that, even if you're trying to cheer someone up. The scene was cute until he said that. I feel especially strong about this because I cry like Hae-Sung when I'm really upset. Anyway, back to JB. Like I mentioned before, I wish the creators would stop making the guys seem chivalrous with stupid, cliched scenes like fights and embarrassing shit for the protagonist. I know that, because K-dramas love love triangles/squares, he's going to fall for Hae-Sung. That's a given. There was already some symbolism when he left Rian's cake in the practice room to hear Hae-Sung sing. The "jackass likes manic pixie dream girl" is really overplayed in dramas, whether they're a hotel heir or a pop idol, and I hope he won't be as predictable as he seems right now. The audience can see that JB isn't a total jerk here and there unless he's with Siwoo or defending Rian. It's also a good thing that Hae-Sung isn't a total manic pixie dream girl trope otherwise, I would have given up on this season. Despite all of this, I'm looking forward to seeing his personality more and watching why he hates Siwoo so much and how he'll grow.
As for the rest of the characters, there's not much to say. I either love how much personality they have and how great their singing is, especially Nana and Park Hong-Joo, or I'm apathetic to them. I'm totally loving Nana's sass and how she doesn't cringe from a little skin like so many female characters in dramas do. Hyorin's acting seems to come naturally; also, I really love raspy voices like hers. Lee Seul's character came out of nowhere and it also seems a little predictable: she's the "tough girl" who has a hard life because dad doesn't pay attention to her. It's the same exact storyline as Jin Guk from the first season. Yoo So-Young kind of fails as Hae-Sung's best friend but I'm getting the feeling they're not really besties. I'm curious as to whether or not these supporting characters will get a fleshed out story. Most likely not considering the sheer amount of them. Like the teachers from the first season, the teachers this season are all pretty silly, especially Jin-Young. I'm hoping to see them grow as mentors too.
The acting is almost like any other K-drama with the same level of screaming and the same glares, there may be a 1 or 2 gems but everyone pretty much needs more work done. Yoo-Jin's stare is amazing though.
As for the actual story, it's the same formula that's just been executed in a different fashion. This goes for the characters as well. So far, there hasn't been much of a story. We know each some of the main character's goals: Hae-Sung's is to become a better singer, Rian's is to become a better actress (and maybe even let her guard down every now and then), and Yoo-Jin's is to become a rock star. We're not sure what JB wants outside of a working relationship with Rian. We don't know what happened between Siwoo and JB for them to have such tension. Jin-Man may make his way back up the ladder to being a successful teacher with his band of performers and who knows what will happen to Jung-Wan. Hae-Sung definitely has some good songwriting ability; she just needs to work on the actual singing. Then there's exposing a little bit of the less glamour side of the things that you have to go through as a large public figure. While it's good that they show this side, I also feel like it's fleeting. It comes and goes. It'll look nasty one minute and go back to being completely nice and #firstworldproblem-like the next (something I feel is also true in the real world). The creators have used some of the same mechanics that most K-drama creators use which is something I'm really tired of seeing. It's the reason why I stopped watching K-dramas for four years. They've also used some of the same little gestures they used for their prequel like the "forcing someone to smile with your fingers" scene. Despite all this, a full-fledged story is only beginning to flesh out with this recent episode and I'm looking forward to seeing the story and its characters improve. Hopefully, it won't be as typical as it has been.
So far, I'm not loving it. I feel like they wasted a lot of time in the first five episodes with droll silliness and the embarrassing, cringe-worthy happenstances. The character development seems to be a lot worse than the first season and the lack of direction makes the water look a little too murky to tell how good it'll be. However, I don't hate it either. The show has potential so I'll keep watching in hopes that it will get better in its development. It definitely didn't start out as good as the first season did (although even the first season didn't start out well for me; I almost gave up because of it).
I'm not going to say anything obvious like Hae-Sung becoming a successful singer and maybe even a successful dancer. She's determined in her practice and she has a relatively nice singing voice. I loved her song/singing in Episode 6 in the scene with JB despite a few pitch problems—which I'm pretty sure was on purpose. Plus, we heard the same song she was singing in the aforementioned scene with JB at the end of the episode. I wish they didn't do that because now we know how she'll sound when her singing is fully developed. Ruins the mystery.
As far as relationships go, because it's a Korean romance-comedy drama and they can't go without relationships, I'm seeing some sparks between Shin Hae-Sung and JB (inevitable), Shin Hae-Sung and Jin Yoo-Jin (also inevitable), and Jin Yoo-Jin and Rian. I really hope Rian doesn't become the vengeful ex that K-dramas like to play out so much. What would really get me to enjoy this show more is if they created a friendship between the girls like they did with Baek Hee and Hye Mi in the first season. I hate rivalries and bitter hatred. It's cliched and really demeaning. I also gotta predict that there's gonna be a lot of chivalrous ~*~saving~*~ JB and Yoo-Jin will most likely push Hae-Sung out of the way of...water falling from the sky on-stage or something. I don't even know. It happens.
I'm hoping to see the story become more fleshed out since they've gotten most of the embarrassing/silly shit out of the way already and I hope they don't drag out the story like most K-dramas do. I can't really predict what kind of story they're gonna go for outside of the what we already know. We shall see!