I had a hard time listing down my favorites this year, mainly because it’s a personally chaotic year for me, and my drama-watching drive was really at an all-time low. My final five is a different mix this time around – three are miniseries while two are full-length dramas. I like the tight storylines of the miniseries and the magic of seasonal dramas played a factor as well. My usual genre contenders are still here – the tearjerkers and the slice-of-life’s. These are the dramas that took me out of my slump and made me enjoy writing my thoughts again. They’re all good in terms of acting and execution, but the overall value that these works of art added to my life this 2021 is what made me choose them.
Queen Cheorin / Mr. Queen
I don’t care about the negative comments received by the drama because it gave me one of the best laughs I’ve had in recent years. Shin Hae-sun and Kim Jung-hyun were absolute rockstars in Mr. Queen and no one could persuade me otherwise! It’s a fantasy fusion drama, so you have to give them the creative freedom to interpret the story however they like (of course, still with respect to history books). Shin Hae-sun, my dear, is a gift that keeps on giving. She gets better and more hilarious in every episode. One must worry how could a man end up in the body of a Joseon-era queen, but only Hae-sun could pull it off convincingly.
Youth of May
Our summer’s tragic love story… Hee-tae (Lee Do-hyun) and Myeong-hee (Go Min-si) started off as two youngsters with bright futures ahead of them. They met at a tumultuous period, but that didn’t hinder them from loving with all their hearts. They made the most of their love, and it’s just terrible that Myeong-hee had to die on her wedding day. But that’s what’s the story is all about, right? Finding peace after loss. Healing. Acceptance. Fate. And it’s a beautiful story told by the most deserving lead stars. Youth of May, no matter how sad it may have been, will remain one of my best ever love stories of all time.
I know I’ve talked enough about how much I loved this drama in my series review, and I just couldn’t help but honor it again as one of my top favorites for 2021. I had fun watching the kids fight for their rightful place in the competitive badminton arena. They’re all young guns with big dreams, and the journey to the championship was a real pleasure to witness. Plus the found family in this drama is amazing! We all love our small community of characters who look after one another. We feel a sense of belongingness while watching their scenes. They make me want to settle down in a rural town, farm crops for food, and watch sunsets with my loved ones.
Hospital Playlist 2
There’s something about Hospital Playlist that lures you into their world. It’s the magic of the ShinLee project, a distinct characteristic of every drama they produced together. There was not even a hint of doubt that the second season of this fan-favorite would disappoint. It’s like we all poured our 100% trust into the drama, that no matter where the story goes, it’s still just going to get even better. And I’m thankful that the Hospital Playlist 2 still got the same old feel that we loved, but with characters whom we are all familiar with. Season 2 delves more into the relationship dynamics of all characters and the backstories of patients are still ever-present. What I loved about it though was the satisfying confirmation of love lines and the character development of everyone. We may have lost some old faces, but the new ones are always welcome. I treat the 99s as older siblings whom I can rely on every week. Their friendship warms my tired heart.
I think I have Yumi’s Cells for every category this year, except for the Favorite Couple. (All eyes on you now, Babi-ya) 🥰 My top drama for 2021 (and will perhaps remain to be undefeated for the time being) is this Kim Go-eun-starrer. I like the emphasis on Yumi being the only main character of her own life – it’s something that the webtoon is famous for, and I’m really glad that the drama stuck to it. The animated cells were also a breath of fresh air whenever scenes get too serious or awkward. It’s fun watching personified emotions and thoughts. The drama gave me internal monologues about my own “cells” and had fun exchanging prime cell theories with my friends!
Bonus scene: I don’t want to root 100% for the Babi ship just yet because we all know his role in Yumi’s life, but we can’t deny his maturity when it comes to love. He comforts Yumi when she needs it most without pressure. He understands what it feels like to be alone, and his Detective Cell (his prime cell!) really knows how to read people’s feelings. Are we all ready for the Babi era? 💔
- 2021 Favorites: Maknae’s Choice
- 2020 Favorites: The Frown Crown
- 2019 Favorites: The Frown Crown
- 2018 Favorites: The Frown Crown
- 2017 Favorites: The Frown Crown
- Favorite K-Drama Soundtracks of 2021
- Favorite 2021 K-Drama Couple
- Breakout Stars of 2021
- Most Unforgettable Scenes of 2021
- Queen Cheorin | Series Review
- Racket Boys | Series Review
- Youth of May | Series Review
- K-Drama Reaction: Hospital Playlist 2 | Episode 1
- Yumi’s Cells Season 1 | Series Review