K-dramas are known for their clichés, with which we have a love/hate relationship with. From wrist-grabs (ouch!) to love triangles (second lead syndrome, am I right?), you’ll be hard pressed to find a drama that doesn’t include at least one of these tropes. But for the times when that good ole’ evil stepmother cliché gets just a tad too old, here’s a collection of refreshingly non-cliché dramas that’ll make you want to see more of these kinds of stories in the future!
While this drama does have its share of clichés (wrist grabs are a staple), it also subverts some tropes as well. For example, Do Bong Soon, though tiny, is mighty: rather than the guy swooping in to save her, she not only saves herself, but more often than not, saves the main lead as well!
I also thought it was super refreshing how the main hero is the nice guy, and the tsundere (cold on the outside, warm on the inside) is the second lead. Usually, it’s the other way around!
Catch the first episode of “Strong Woman Do Bong Soon”:
It was super refreshing to see how healthy most of the relationships (from romantic to family) are in this drama.
I loved Jung Joon Hyung’s family dynamics. Even though his aunt and uncle aren’t his biological parents, they still raised him like he was their own, subverting the usual cliché of evil step-parents. He’s also on super good terms with his older cousin, who is honestly both the sweetest and most clueless guy ever.
I also loved how healthy Joon Hyung’s and Bok Joo’s relationship is. They actually communicate with each other and give each other space when the other person needs it. When Jung Joon Hyung is dealing with his mother coming back, Bok Joo is very supportive but also very firm with him on what his priorities are. She doesn’t baby him nor patronize him, but is realistic while being sensitive.
And of course scenes like this:
are also pretty far from conventional!
Catch the first episode of “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo”:
Age of Youth
Girl power? Yes please!
This drama is absolutely lovely in its portrayal of strong relationships between women. There are no “catty” fights just for the sake of catty fights, and the conversation isn’t ALWAYS about boys.
Women supporting women is always my aesthetic!
There are also few dramas out there that portray college life (off the top of my head, I can only think of “Reply 1994,” “Cheese in the Trap,” and “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo”), and for people who want to relive those glory days or are currently struggling through them, dramas like these are a fresh breath of air. Sure, sometimes we want to escape into a world full of chaebols and mythical monkeys that are actually Lee Seung Gi, but for other days, it’s the quiet simplicities of slice-of-life dramas like these that touch us the most.
Catch the trailer below:
Cheese In The Trap
There is one particular scene that is forever etched into my mind: the group project scene where Hong Seol has to do allllll the work.
It gives me war flash backs to my own past group projects LOL.
From dealing with tough professors to worrying about paying for college to sleeping through alarms for morning classes, this show is relatable AF for every college student. It is also so refreshing to see a school drama that actually shows students studying!
Catch the first episode of “Cheese In The Trap”:
Man, where to start with this show? As a whole, this drama is just a big breath of the freshest air, taking familiar tropes and spinning them on their heels. With three different relationships to follow, it could have gone messy, but with skilled acting and solid writing, this show touches hearts with its realistic portrayals of different relationships and all the ups and downs that come with it.
There are so many non-cliché moments I could mention. For example, Su Ji and Ji Ho have to deal with workplace sexual harassment. This isn’t something that’s addressed often in K-dramas, and like Ji Ho, many women are driven out of certain work fields because of it. But unlike Ji Ho’s situation, there is oftentimes no justice, especially for women who live in more conservative areas. Then there are other women who stay, like Su Ji, because they can’t afford to leave.
But one of the most refreshing thing about this show is the parallel between Ho Rang and Su Ji, and how they each define their identity as a woman.
Ho Rang has everything that Su Ji had wanted (respect in the work place and, in a sense, the boss of her own team), but she would give it up in a heartbeat to be a stay-at-home wife. Su Ji can’t understand that about Ho Rang, who would stake her worth on marrying (and in her eyes, on a man).
I thought this touched on societal pressures for the women of today, something that’s also rarely addressed so straightforwardly in dramas, like the expectation of marriage for women before a certain age, or the view that a woman who prefers a more “traditional” path in life is somehow less than a woman who decides to pursue a career (and vice versa). There are no definite answers or judgment, and the writer of this drama never pushes a certain agenda to her viewers; she merely portrays things as they are, and, perhaps, as she’s experienced them as well.
Catch the first episode of “Because This Is My First Life”:
It’s never too late to start pursuing your dreams, and the Crazy Fantastic Four is the prime example of that!
In particular, I really loved this scene, where Baek Seol Hee talks about how her dream is to be a mom. In a similar vein to Ho Rang and Su Ji in “Because This Is My First Life,” it feels refreshing because it addresses topics that aren’t often touched upon.
Catch the first episode of “Fight My Way”:
Dear My Friends
Writer Noh Hee Kyung is known for her beautiful and gritty portrayals of humanity, and this drama is no exception. This is a story about life from all walks of it, and even if you’re almost at the end, there’s still more and more to be lived. I thought it was so refreshing for these veteran actors and actresses to have a chance to portray roles other than the standard mother-in-law character or friendly next-door grandpa.
Catch the trailer below:
Two sweetie pie main leads means double the pain, but also twice the sweetness!
In a love triangle, it’s usually standard to have one nice guy and one tsundere-like character, but I thought it was awesome to watch a drama that finally has two really nice male leads – even if it does lead to some anguish at the end!
Catch the first episode of “Dear Fair Lady Kong Shim”:
Hey Soompiers! What are some of your favorite, non-cliche moments from dramas? Let us know in the comments below!
mayme22’s favorite Bible verses at the moment are Psalm 8:3-4.
Currently watching: “Hwayugi” and “Father is Strange”
Looking forward to: “Grand Prince,” “Live,” and “Mr. Sunshine”
All-time favorites: “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho,” “Queen for Seven Days,” and “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo“