Much has been said about this drama that I think thoroughly if I should still add up to the messy conversation or not. But I feel like my ahjumma self won’t be able to sleep soundly if I won’t be able to give my two cents to this space.
Nevertheless is a scary drama. It’s a horror story that every girl should stay away from. Well, if you’re an open-minded person who can discern the good, the bad, and the evil in a relationship – you may watch it with caution. Anyway, we consume fiction as a way to escape reality, to rest for a bit from the illogical pressure bested upon us by this unforgiving world. But what if fiction depicts too much realism? I’ve mentioned in one too many instances that slice-of-life dramas are my favorite, but Nevertheless is a clear exception.
Before digging deeper into the drama, I’d like to point out that the life phase used for Nevertheless is a perfect setting that we should never forget – college. The early 20s are a dangerous stage in our lives where it’s easy to make mistakes. Our 20s are filled with extreme experiences that would train us how to deal with real problems later on. It’s a point in life where people don’t expect much from us while we put too many expectations on ourselves. We’ve already graduated to the fairytales, and yet we don’t have a concrete representation of our ideal man except that he should look like well – prince charming. And in this story, Yu Na-bi (Han So-hee), an average college girl, became the apple of the eye of the campus crush, Park Jae-on (Song Kang). A seemingly perfect set-up for a romance tale on paper but a dreadful plot in real life.
Watching Nevertheless triggered so many asleep emotions buried deep at the back of my head. Everyone also gave their fair share of heartbreaks with guys like Jae-on. Manipulative college boys who mastered the game of push and pull. They take care of you and make you feel loved. These fvckers will praise you for the smallest things. But at the same time, they also make you feel indifferent and insecure about everything. You yearn for their validation again and then, you become skeptical – is it sincere? This tedious cycle will never end unless you wake up and free yourself. This is the game that Na-bi lost. And the price? Her self-worth.
This is especially evident when Na-bi tried her best to stay away from Jae-on but at the same time, tying her hair up because she knows Jae-on likes it. Or the constant monologues about Jae-on being a flirt and yet she’s always weak for sex. Jae-on had indirect control of Na-bi’s actions. I’m not saying Jae-on is solely responsible for this. We have to remember Na-bi is already a broken girl when Jae-on came into the picture. I also blame her ex, the dirty old scumbag, for Na-bi’s scars. And I’m sad that Na-bi is blindsided for mistaking her feelings for Jae-on as love. She longed for him even though she knows his dating ways. She’s aware of the imminent doom but she willingly let Jae-on stay in her life.
My major disappointment in this drama, though, is not Na-bi. The story wants us to see her as a foolish girl who accepts toxicity and twists it as love. I will not condone this message but it’s also the alarming lack of character development of Jae-on, which annoyed me so much. I was hopeful that he would at least confess his sincere feelings to Na-bi in the last seconds of the drama, but I was wrong. Up until the end, there was no remorse for the distress that he brought to Na-bi’s life. Yes, he realized Na-bi is in pain but where’s the self-reflection or self-improvement? Yes, he took the time off to stay away from Na-bi but for what purpose? He’s still the same, old aloof boy who doesn’t recognize his feelings. And yes, the poor heroine welcomes him back with a kiss like we’re all living in a Taylor Swift song.
And then, here comes the “good boy” of the story. Yang Do-hyeok (Chae Jong-hyeop) is carved out of a second lead cookbook – nice guy, childhood friend, basically, everything that Jae-on is not. He liked Na-bi first and was about to confess to her 10 years ago. What he did in 10 years is up to our imagination, but apparently, he still likes Na-bi and decides to pursue her now. While I don’t support Jae-on’s actions towards Na-bi, Do-hyeok isn’t exactly “the one” for her either. Don’t start with the “he treats her better” argument because he also has some toxic tendencies. I can picture him as the clingy, territorial type of boyfriend. Don’t forget that he just randomly blurted out that Na-bi is his first love in front of her school friends. That’s Na-bi’s crowd and he pressured her by his unnecessary announcement. And for what purpose? To shake Jae-on? And also, I despise people who use timing as an excuse for their failed love. Do-hyeok is the type of guy who’ll get over this first love fiasco and move forward to a greater love later on. I’m almost sure.
At the end of the day, Na-bi didn’t deserve both guys. And as much as we disagree with the end game, I remind myself that the characters’ lives don’t end with the drama’s finale. As they said in Extraordinary You, when the show is over and the lights are off, they return to their life “outside of the stage.” In my version of this off-stage, Na-bi is happy rebuilding herself alone, excited to finish college and enter her late 20s. College love is frustrating, intoxicating, and complicated; nevertheless, it teaches you valuable lessons in preparation for when the right love comes along. And yes, I believe Na-bi and Jae-on won’t last. He’s just a temporary character in her life. He’s not her one true love.
🚩 All side love stories can stand alone as a separate romance drama.
🚩 Sol (Lee Ho-jung) and Ji-wan (Yoon Seo-a) are my favorites! I admit I gave Sol the benefit of the doubt at first because I didn’t want to insist a certain identity to a character who yet to out herself. But when it’s established that she likes Ji-wan for real, I rooted for them with my whole heart! They’re so pure!
🚩 The cute blooming love between Gyeong-jun (Jeong Jae-kwang) and Min-young (Han Eu-ddeum) brought some Fight My Way vibes.
🚩 Oh Bit-na (Yang Hye-ji) and Nam Gyu-hyun (Kim Min-gwi) are also fan favorites. Bit-na is a girl version of Jae-on, but a bit more liberated. She’s carefree but at least she had character development in the drama. She became ready to commit once she realized that her love for Gyu-hyun isn’t just fleeting.
🚩 Another useless character in the drama was Jae-on’s ex, Seol-a (Lee Yeol-eum). I didn’t feel anything significant about her existence in the story. She’s not an effective plot device either.
🚩 People have been debating about the end credit scene: Na-bi got distracted after randomly seeing Do-hyeok inside a café while she is walking hand-in-hand with Jae-on. I’m not sure how to read Na-bi’s weird reaction but I feel like we don’t have to overthink about it. It’s as simple as randomly seeing an acquaintance on the street. What do you think?