First Impression: Melancholia

Drama Profile

Title: Melancholia
Main Cast: Im Soo-jung, Lee Do-hyun
Writer: Kim Ji-woon (Doctor John, Hyde Jekyll Me, Cheongdamdong Alice)
PD: Kim Sang-hyub (True Beauty, Extraordinary You, The King Loves)
Timeslot: Wednesday and Thursday 22:30H
Network: tvN
Episodes: 16
Genre: Drama

Plot Synopsis:

A competent and passionate math teacher meets a math genius in a highly corrupted and prestigious high school.

Grumpy’s First Impression

Another drama with high potential has entered our lives. Melancholia will only have two possible reactions from the audience: 1) it will excite the inner geeks in us 2) it will enlighten those of us who hate math. Using math as a backdrop for the story is already a genius move, because not every screenwriter can do that, albeit convincingly. But seeing the world through the fundamentals of math is on a different level. It awakens something in all of us who were hesitant in, or even suffered from, understanding math.

I’m not quite sure if we will have a love line between Im Soo-jung and Lee Do-hyun here and honestly, I’m not sure if I want to. He’s still a minor in the story, and if ever the show decides to take that route, I’m sure there will be a time skip given the current timeline we’re in is still 2017. Also, even though Lee Do-hyun is once again playing another good boy role, Melancholia hits different. He carries a dark vibe here, I guess it’s from the trauma of being tagged as a “failed genius” (which honestly is harsh for anyone).

The story revolves around two main characters – Baek Seung-yoo (Lee Do-hyun), a young math prodigy who had to change his real name (Baek Min-jae) after going back to Korea. At age 10, he entered the prestigious MIT but had to drop out of university for yet undisclosed reasons. He now studies as a sophomore at Asung High School, where he pretends to be bad in academics, hardly has friends, and spends alone time with his camera. He’s a mysterious kid who views the world through a mathematical lens it’s amazing.

On the other hand, Ji Yoon-su (Im Soo-jung) is a newly hired math teacher at Asung High School. She is passionate and good-natured but also stands her ground against the apparent corruption that’s polluting the school. I particularly liked how she connects math to the students’ lives, using real-world examples. The question on the bear color during the first few minutes of drama really sealed the deal for me!

The other supporting characters are also interesting. Yoon-su’s fiancée Ryu Sung-jae (Choi Dae-hoon) gives me traitor feels while the school director No Jung-a (Jin Kyung) confuses me. Why is Director No treated badly by her family? Is she adopted, a half-sister, or something else? I can’t wait to uncover more stinky secrets from this family.

Lastly, Sung Ye-rin (Woo Da-vi) exudes Sky Castle main character vibe (ugh). Her interactions with Director No, who doesn’t hesitate to give her much-needed reality checks, are super problematic yet satisfying. Though I feel bad for her for feeling this immense pressure from everyone.

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