2020 Favorites: The Frown Crown

I think we can all agree that 2020 is that year we’re all able to catch up on our dramas. My watched list for the year has reached a personal best record. And for that reason alone, I didn’t think I could come up with a comprehensive roll of my top 3 favorite K-dramas for 2020. My criteria for this year was really different, and I didn’t consider too many factors for a change. My previous top 3 lists were top-notch dramas worthy of Daesangs in their respective way.

As I said, this time, I couldn’t be any prouder to share that my personal favorites are chosen based on their re-watch value, and not based on the material or the acting. These three I think are my top-of-mind dramas whenever I want to remember the tumultuous 2020, a year that we all love to hate. And even though we are still in the middle of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the following dramas are what saved me from last year’s dark days. We are all survivors of 2020, a great feat to be celebrated in the years to come.

3. Start-Up

There’s something about 4Q dramas that make them stand out among the rest. I don’t know if it’s just me or dramas that premiere in the -ber months are usually one of the bests as if they were deliberately aired during that time of the year. Start-Up started strong and finished stronger. It was one of the well-made, well-written dramas of 2020. I know they have been filming since 2019 and that the drama had to change in the process, but what we saw was a cohesive drama through and through. I personally think that Start-Up was more than just a love triangle between the main leads, and I refuse to accept all those who wished Nam Do-san (Nam Joo-hyuk) ill during its airing. Whether you’re on Team Good Boy or Team DoDal, I think we can all agree that Seo Dal-mi (Suzy) was the real star of the show. She rose from the ranks using her charisma and hard work. I won’t discuss Han Ji-pyeong (Kim Seon-ho) or Nam Do-san’s journey anymore (just read our series review written by uri maknae here.) The drama was able to portray almost realistically how start-ups really work; the struggles of the founders no matter what field they are in; the desperate need for funding; and heartbreaking decisions that one needs to make to move even just a small step forward. If there’s one thing I’d change though was the way Seo In-jae’s (Kang Han-na) character was sidelined and overshadowed by the love triangle. Can you imagine the power of In-jae and Ji-pyeong if they were made as a couple, instead of Ji-pyeong pushing his luck with Dal-mi?

2. Hospital Playlist

Friendship dramas made by the perfect Shin-Lee duo are always very memorable and relatable. No matter what era, timeline, or setting, the found families are solid and every character has its own story. I think there are no minor roles in every Shin-Lee drama. Everyone is important. No one is a filler. You will root for all of the leads, and even the supporting ones you will love. Here’s a grumpy tidbit for all of you: I see to it that I re-watch Reply 1988 every year. And so far, since 2015, I have never missed it. And for 2020, that yearly tradition would change because of Hospital Playlist. It’s so good that I’m willing to surrender myself to the annual agony of seeing Winter Garden play hard-to-get and Chu Min-a’s (Ahn Eun-jin) one-sided crush. The drama’s re-watch value is so high it could crash every Shin-Lee project that existed. The dynamics between five best friends in their 40s and their not-so-mature selves are all worth every hour of bingeing. My favorite of the Mido and Falasol though would have to be Ik-jun (Jo Jung-suk) and his relationship with his son Woo-ju (Kim Joon). Can we fast forward already for Season 2??

1. Hi Bye, Mama!

It’s not my list if there’s no melodrama included. You know I love my family dramas, and this one’s the best of them all. I have so many reasons why Hi Bye, Mama! is one of my favorites and they can be summarized into four factors: Kim Tae-hee, Lee Kyu-hyung, Go Bo-gyeol, and Seo Woo-jin.

Kim Tae-hee: one of my most favorite Korean actresses is back this year and it gave me so much joy that she was able to prove all her haters wrong through this drama. I admit she’s not the best drama actress, but man, her effort shined through as the ghost-turned-human Cha Yu-ri. Lee Kyu-hyung: our dear Loonie! It was so hard to take him seriously at first because I loved him so much as Loonie in Prison Playbook, but Lee Kyu-hyung was able to erase my memory of his past character and made me appreciate Go Gang-hwa so much. I still can remember how Gang-hwa was so devastated following his wife’s death, and the path he took to eventually accept the reality and move on. Speaking of moving on, Go Bo-gyeol: I never expected that I’d like her in the drama because on paper, we are always ready to hate on the second wife as if there’s no chance for the grieving husband to be happy again. Oh Min-jung was the perfect symbolism that family is not defined by blood. And lastly, Seo Woo-jin: uri lovely Seo-woo! This child actor was so effective as the family’s daughter. Her relationship with Min-jung and Yu-ri may not be ideal, but it was heartwarming nevertheless. I love Hi, Bye Mama! so much it’s already my top favorite since the start of 2020.

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