Title: Boys Over Flowers (꽃보다 남자)
Released: 2009

Fix: Soapy Teen Drama
Platform: Netflix

Y’all. I have a shameful secret. Except it’s not really a secret because I keep telling everyone about it both in real life and on the internet. And it would only be shameful if I knew how to feel shame, which I don’t. But anyway, here’s my confession: I love Korean dramas. They are so deliciously bad! And you can watch dozens of them on Hulu, Netflix, and Drama Fever. Or I should say, you can watch dozens of them if you have an American IP address, which I no longer do. I am going through WITHDRAWAL. So in this week’s Stream It, I am going to live vicariously through you, American readers. I know I’ll do a terrible job selling this, but watch it for me anyway, because I can’t!

Netflix Summary:

This adaptation of the hit manga series follows unassuming high school student Jan Di as she stands up to — and eventually falls for — a spoiled rich kid whose clique reigns over their exclusive private school.

FYA Summary:

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, because Boys Over Flowers is not available on Netflix in the UK, I have to assemble this summary based on fan videos on youtube and my vague recollection of what happens in this show. I’m sure it will be fine.

This adaptation of the hit manga series follows the exact same plot of every other Korean drama! Unassuming high school student Jan Di enrolls at a fancy Korean prep school lorded over by four douchey rich kids — Hairsuit, Blondie McBlonderson, Ceramics, and Mafia.* The ringleader of this group, Hairsuit, is an incredibly spoiled (but misunderstood! always misunderstood!) sociopath who decides it would be fun to torture Jan Di for a little bit. Then, when she roundhouse kicks him to the face, he deludes himself into thinking she is secretly in love with him and does things like order his security detail to kidnap, chloroform, and makeover Jan Di into his new girlfriend. Only, unlike in Twilight, Jan Di does not think this is romantic. She hates him!

What is Hairsuit to do? He is falling for Jan Di! He even straightens his hair for her!** And now she likes someone else, because apparently being a total dick is not the way to a girl’s heart!*** Aiiiishhh!****

Basically, it’s like a teen Pride and Prejudice, but way more convoluted and disturbing. I’m hazy on the details, but there’s a lot more batshittery, including but not limited to: more kidnappings, several drowning incidents, relationship-specific amnesia, and an athletic competition to win Jan Di’s love. Oh, and Jan Di enters into some kind of incredibly fucked up indentured servitude wherein she is Hairsuit’s personal maid for a while. Also I think Hairsuit has a secretly not-dead father that his mother has had locked in a closet for half the series? Or maybe I’m confusing this with another KDrama. It’s hard to say.

*Not their actual names
**This is the best part in the whole series. His is hair is SO BAD, y’all.
***LOLZ just kidding. This is the only way to a girl’s heart, according to KDramas
****Hilarious in-joke for KDrama fans!

Familiar Faces:

Unless you are addicted to bad Korean soaps like me, you probably won’t recognize any of the actors here. But if you ARE an addict:

Lee Min-ho as Gu Jun-pyo

LEE MIN HO!!! Lee Min Ho is one of the most attractive humans on the planet. You might also recognize him as that man I keep casting as every Asian man ever in my book reviews. BECAUSE I LOVE HIM. Unfortunately, he has the stupidest hair on this show (see poster and bad hair link above), which is really saying something since he’s competing for that title with this fool:

Kim Hyun-joong as Yoon Ji-hoo

This guy is in KPop group SS501, where he looks even more ridiculous on a daily basis. I also once tried to watch another KDrama with him, Playful Kiss, but it was too much, even for me. I could only stand about ten minutes, during which time he kept morphing into a unicorn and back. NO.

Couch-Sharing Capability: Low

This show has the potential to be highly embarrassing, depending on a) who your friends are and b) how low your threshold of dignity is. Luckily, I have no dignity and at least three friends who would watch this with me! Unfortunately, they all live on different continents, but we can’t have everything.

Recommended Level of Inebriation: Medium

I wouldn’t be TOO drunk for this, because it’s hard enough to keep track of this show’s shenanigans whilst sober. Plus, you do have 24 hours of show to watch. That would be… a lot of booze. But if you’re having trouble making it through the numerous flashbacks and sports montages, here’s a drinking game for you: drink every time there is a flashback or sports montage! Problem solved.

Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Good

This may destroy all past and future credibility I hold, but I would argue that this is a solid use of your Netflix subscription. Don’t get me wrong – this is a terrible, terrible show – but it is also strangely compelling? And it’s not just me. This is one of Korea’s most successful dramas ever. It has aired all over the world and its cast became superstars overnight. I don’t know; it’s ineffable. I should hate it for its problematic misogynistic undertones and annoying KPop soundtrack, but like Hairsuit did to Jan Di, this series Stockholm Syndromed its way into my heart. I bet it can do the same for you.

Alix is a writer and illustrator who spends way too much time reading Jane Austen retellings of varying quality.