I’m leashing a bucket of yuck upon you.
The show we are reviewing this week, A Prince’s First Love (aka First Love of the Prince) is honestly my least favorite Kdrama of all time—and yes, I’m counting Attic Cat, which I didn’t finish, and Coffee House which was just bad. Why does this drama rate at the very bottom of the bottom-dwellers? A show has never made me so angry before. And I’m including any American TV. Yes, I made it through the entire show, and enjoyed several parts of it, but then I realized exactly who the hero was (Crazy For Kdrama’s actual least favorite actor, Cha Tae Hyun). And the heroine by the end wasn’t much better. By the finale, I was so mad, I couldn’t believe I had wasted 18 hours of my life on that crap—there may have even been a long winded voicemail left for my one friend who enjoys Kdrama too.
Anyway, it’s going to be a fun review so here we go:
Oh, A Prince’s First Love, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.
Your hero sucks.
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. I think we’re done here–this may have been the easiest review ever.
I’m sorry, You need more? You need me to give you factual evidence as to the suckiness of the man-child you choose to have your heroine end up with? How about this? Remember that time they were working at the resort in the tropical island and as a joke Gun-hee leaves her at sea to die?
That’s right folks. Our hero, out of his own stupidity, abandons her (totally on purpose) at sea. I”m not talking he pretends to leave an comes back. He full on abandons her in the ocean and she almost dies trying to get back to shore. Okay, so this character is so immature he doesn’t realize he is leaving her there to die, however it’s several hours before he realizes the ramifications of his actions and lets someone know–not admitting what he did–that she hadn’t been seen since the snorkeling trip. I’m sorry. This is a deal breaker for me folks. I’m not sure actually how old he’s supposed to be, but he’s in college so at least out of his teens. I’d say 22-23? Maybe he’s an immature idiot but you can’t have a character act this way and then later on expect me to root for this couple.
One of the things that gets me is that this show had a lot of things going for it. The heroine, Yu-bin, is cute, spunky, and engaging for a good chunk of this show. I really liked her and rooted for her. I believed in the romance she had with Seung-hyun. The locations were beautiful. And if the story had just been about that, it would have been fine. Good even.
Perhaps my perception of what I thought this show was going to be colored my reaction to what the show actually was. I can’t help it. You read the synopsis and certain ideas come into your head–oh, I know this story, it’s totally going to be this… Yes, I know you should keep an open mind when starting a new show, as if everything turned out the way you expect, what fun would that be? Saying this though, I’m not looking to be right all the time. But if I’m wrong, it had better be better than what I expected otherwise we’re going to have a problem. For example, Scent of aWoman. I purchased this thinking it was going to be like Last Holiday (a fun lighthearted Queen Latifa movie) as the synopsis’ were almost exactly the same. Guess what? It was so not Last Holiday. Scent of a Woman took the preconceptions I had from the start, twisted them, and then proceeded to make me cry like a baby.
Wow. Tangent. I’m not even sure where I got here.
Okay, back to Prince’s First Love. Going into the show from the synopsis here’s where I thought the story would go:
Standard Kdrama heroine in love with Standoffish Guy who’s way out of her league. Goes on vacation, meets Immature Brat who immediately hates her, they later work together at a resort on a tropical island where he falls in love with her. At the same time Standoffish Guy comes to island falls in love with Standard Kdrama heroine, becomes not so standoffish. Usual love triangle fighting ensues. Standard Kdrama heroine chooses no longer Standoffish Guy. Immature Brat learns a little bit about love and a little bit about himself and moves on to start a less immature, more fulfilled life.
This is not what happens.
I think I was tricked by the synopsis and the Prince’sFirst Love title. And honestly, this would have been a better TV show.
Here’s what we were stuck with instead:
Standard Kdrama heroine in love with Standoffish Guy who’s way out of her league. Goes on vacation, meets an Immature Brat who immediately hates her, they later work together at a resort on a tropical island (where he almost kills her). At the same time Standoffish Guy comes to island falls in love with Standard Kdrama heroine. Immature Brat gets jealous, realizes he is in love with Standard Kdrama heroine, and begins to make ass out of himself by whining and acting like a child. Surprise Kdrama twist, Standoffish Guy and Immature Brat are secret half brothers. Parents ask Standard Kdrama heroine to stay away from brothers. Standard Kdrama heroine runs away, is stalked by Immature Brat, comes back. Standard Kdrama heroine gets engaged to standoffish and now inconsiderate workaholic guy. Standard Kdrama heroine becomes weak and insipid, waffles between the brothers, runs away again, before ultimately choosing the brother who almost killed her.
So I guess if you were rooting for that brother, you may have liked this drama more than I did.
I know, more seasoned Kdrama watchers would tell you, if a male character is an a-hole, he is obviously the hero. And I get that. Who doesn’t like to see how big the jerk of a hero acts all jerk-y at the beginning of the show? But that’s just it, at the beginning of the show. I don’t know about you, but I need my hero’s to at least change and grow a little bit. (I had the same issue with lastweek’s hero.)
In this show though, it’s not completely off the mark for me to go with the standoffish guy as the hero as Seung-hyun was no peach at the beginning–but he changed and grew because of his interactions with the heroine. Or started to at least. Due to the dumb secret brother plot twist and what had to be the writers thinking “Crap, we have to have a reason why she chooses the ‘Prince'” his evolution stopped. Not just stops, but regresses. After he changed into a better person during his time in Bali, he becomes a workaholic again. An incurable, uptight workaholic who’ll never learn to have fun. Really? This is your reasoning for why they can’t be together? Uhh, except for the fact Yu-bin had already changed him once before the melodrama broke out. We’re not supposed to think she couldn’t do it again?
Maybe this is why I’m angry. I enjoyed a lot of the beginning parts of this show. They even created some great characters. Gun-hee at the beginning was at least interesting. But they just kept shooting themselves in the foot. The writers relied on too many coincidences (secret brothers in love with the same girl just being one of them) to move the story along. Even worse, a lot of the conflict fell into the “If only they talked to each other” trap. Ugh. They were so busy creating nonsensical misunderstandings, they forgot one of the main writing lessons. Story comes from character. If the actions don’t match the character you have put in place, don’t do it! It’s lazy and just bad form.
Oh, my problems with the characters…
Gun-hee, once he fell in love with Yu-bin, basically becomes an obsessive stalker. She says no time and again, she tries to get away from him over and over again but he always tracks her down by any means necessary. All in the name of ‘love’.
In writing romance, you learn writing the hero is very tricky. While you want him to not give up, to have a take charge attitude, basically be an alpha male, you have to be very, very careful. If you look closely at the traits of an alpha male, they can easily turn from sexy to scary. When I was watching A Prince’s First Love, I couldn’t help thinking about how, if Yu-bin were my friend, I would be scared for her. There is literally no place on the earth she can hide from him. It’s like a game to him. I certainly don’t find that sexy.
Examples of more successful Kdrama Alpha males? Dr. Min Ki Seo: Thank You, Goo Joon Pyo: Boys Over Flowers, and Hwang Tae Kyung: You’re Beautiful(Thanks to my twitter friend @KaeKaed for the help when I had a brain-cramp)
For a good part of this show, Yu-bin stands her ground, staying a pretty cool character, but since the writers decided she and Gun-hee needed to be together, and were not willing to change the hero, she was the character who had to give. The fun spunky girl from the start became weak, wishy-washy and sniveling. It was hard to watch her cry again and again and again and… well you understand. Whenever things got too hard she merely ran away.
Sidebar. Another thing I was noticing is she is a terrible employee. She has got to be one hell of a QC for headquarters to put up with her. She gets transferred to Bali, and when asked to come back, refuses. She changes her mind, takes the transfer, works there for a short time and requests a transfer–I think she goes back to Bali? At some point though she gets a secret transfer to Tahiti after a few months there she requests a transfer back, then quits, and then… Man, if she were my employee I would not put up with that crap.
Any of the side characters, and there weren’t many, didn’t fare much better. Why is my mouth so dry? Hmmm… it must be all the flat cardboard characters the writers left us to chew on. Evil people were evil for no real reason, parents while better written, was a huge plot point we didn’t need, and other coworkers story lines were annoying and easily lifted from the plot.
As for the acting. I have to say, I really didn’t like Cha Tae-Hyun. I’ll have to be honest here, I don’t know if it’s because I dislike the character of Gun-hee so much, but I don’t think so. It’s almost as if his acting style belonged in another show. He just overacted and almost mugged for the camera. It needed toned down and brought back in line to the acting of the other people in the drama. Sung Yi Ri was great. She brought a great light to the character whenever possible–and at the end–well, at least she cries prettily. I’ll definitely check out something else she’s in. Kim Nam Jin, cute, but a little stiff–of course his character is written that way so I’d have to see something else he’s in to be sure. (He is cute, so that won’t be a hardship 🙂
The original concept of this show was good and could have been very interesting. The execution, mainly by the writers, but also the director and lead actor is what sunk it for me.
So in conclusion. Don’t have your hero be such a jerk (ie almost kill your heroine) that your viewers can’t follow you back to the romance.