Let’s talk “To The Beautiful You” for a sec.
I talked to Ree recently (check out her blog here) who says she’s in the minority in that she actually likes TTBY, but she may not be alone here because, at least for the most part, I like it, too. I can see why people dislike it, and there are several reasons to, but for its demographic I think overall it’s doing a pretty decent job of dealing with things.
However, I do think the bigger important elements are missing their mark, which is a bummer. For one, opportunities where the show could easily find substance (it needs a lot of it) are quickly overlooked and almost never revisited ever again. Like the Tae Joon vs Daddy conflict (which somewhat resurfaces in episode 5), or that fucking god-awful sexual assault scene, which could have opened all kinds of new doors for the lead characters, but instead was one of the most poorly handled rape scenes ever and – here’s the kicker – utilized as an excuse for oppar to be a hero. /vomits
Other things bugging me are how anticlimactic and oddly structured these episodes have been. Like episode 3. It literally built up to nothing. There’s no sense of urgency where there should be and the chain of events get all confusing by episode 4, where Tae Joon finds out homeboy is actually a girl. I had the impression he semi-knew (maybe?) Jae Hee‘s secret, but when he finds out-finds out, he doesn’t bat a single eyelash. And then he brings up the panties of episode 1 in episode 6? I don’t know, I can’t quite keep tabs on how much he knew and how much he’s letting us know he knew.
Those are just some of my complaints. Others include the general plot and how unconvinced I still am by Jae Hee’s intentions for stalking Tae Joon in the first place. Her brother agreeing to let her continue this behavior also bugs me, especially considering how strongly against it he was for a while. I was on your side, Daniel, what the hell!
Where this drama wins me over is in its lighter moments and its overall handle on Eun Gyul‘s character. I’m a lot more interested in his story than the leads, and now that he got the majority of an episode (six) to himself, I’m even more invested in him as a character. I’m glad that the drama isn’t diving too deep into some of the B-side characters and just letting them act as a solid supporting cast, because right now I couldn’t care less to get to know them (not to mention there isn’t enough room for this drama to start picking up side plotlines). When they are around they kick up the fun and adorable factor by 10 clicks and it’s just the right amount to give this drama its charm.
I’m all caught with this drama and so far I’m not completely hating it. Sulli is werqin it as Jae Hee and I’m relieved that she’s doing so well. Meanwhile, Minho is as dry and uninteresting as he is outside of this role and I have yet to be moved by his performance. Sometimes the ‘always in his own head’ thing works for his character, but oftentimes it’s not enough to come across properly on screen. It’s really hard to connect to him on any level, especially now that he’s supposed to be a lot more expressive, and I’m worried that he won’t be able to break out of his shell as the story progresses.
For the most part, I think the sound design is on point in this drama. I like hearing Eun Gyul’s heartbeat every time he’s flustered by Jae Hee feels and all the bells and whistles in between. Believe it or not, but the audio choices for a lot of Tae Joon’s scenes really help read what Minho’s trying to express, for without the tense or light atmosphere I’d literally be staring at a statue.
What I’m not 100% feeling, though, are the song choices, or more accurately, the SMTOWN best-of collection. My favorite use of it was at the shore house in episode 3, and my least was in episode 6. I get that this is an SM produced drama, and I’m not holding that against it, but hearing f(x)‘s music back to back from one scene to the other, once in the guy’s cafeteria and another in, like, a cafe outside school was pushing it. I love the OST tracks recorded specifically for this drama, because they’re utilized perfectly, but when they start introducing actual SM tracks left and right on a frequent basis, it suddenly starts competing with the content of the story. They killed me in episode 6, so I’m hoping they pull back a little next week.
This is an SM production, meaning the visuals are GORGEOUS. I hear that some people are turned off by how much attention SM put in to making this look glorious, but I don’t get why that would even be an issue because this is a freaking drama. It’s supposed to be pretty.
The color choices are so vibrant and it makes watching this easy.
I’ll check back in six episodes from now (if I make it that far) and serve y’all another round of quick thoughts of TTBY. For now, let me know if you’re watching this and what you think of it so far in the comments section below!