Let’s talk about the single greatest Korean drama in the history of humankind!
And surprise! It’s a cheerleading drama. And even more poop-your-pants surprising? It’s a flippin’ cheerleading high school drama! I know, I’m flabbergasted, as well. The 2015 drama that made me lose my ever lovin’ mind was basically Bring It On; Korean Edition.
How whackadoodle is it that in 2014 it was sexy spies and badass parkour that made me go hard on the fangirling —but in 2015? Nope. It’s a drama about social expectations, suicide, and cheerleading.
Granted, Cheer Up‘s profound themes and decision to work the romance as a secondary plotline definitely helps give it legitimacy, but still! Surprising. Our drama’s plot puts the smart popular kids and the dumb outcast dancers together to form a cheer leading club. But that is where the cliches end and the drama (pun not intended) begins.
In this world, our “bitchy prom queen” doesn’t want to steal Mr. Popular from Miss Edgy Tough Girl. Instead she wants his academic ranking, because she’s a twisted victim desperate to win her mother’s love via good grades and status.
Issues such as parental abuse, social pressure, questions of loyalty within friendship and even suicide are all explored, in…and let me reiterate…a high school drama!
Not only that but, brace yourself; this kdrama allows for character growth in both of its female leads. Our heroine develops an understanding and acceptance of others, while our antagonist develops an understanding and acceptance of herself. Praise be unto the drama gods for giving us zero girl-hate, and not even one boy-crazy second female lead.
There are powerful friendships between both sexes, and even a male-female platonic friendship. The secondary cast of parents and students acted like real humans, the heroine was a strong, vulnerable woman, and the drama was paced so astonishingly well. Conflicts naturally and seamlessly evolve as the story unfolded, and oh my Barbie and Ken…you just gotta watch it.
And, yes, here is where I always insert my tagline; “Shut me up, and go watch this drama if you haven’t already!” But this time? I really, really, really insist you go away and watch it! Because if you don’t, you’re gonna be spoiled…
First up, friends, nod your head and raise your hand if this show left you emotionally compromised you like it did me. There were so, so many profoundly powerful character moments. We witnessed everything, from a mother fearlessly defending her daughter in a culture and scenario this likely would not be the case, to the only instance where Danny Boy made me cry right before a badass speech made me fist pump the air …to, hell, even scenes which creatively underscored how cyberbullying is such a terrifying and tragic social issue.
Cheer Up is not just a kdrama; it’s a cultural commentary rolled into an ntertaining story of heartbreak and cuteness.
We got so much out of this drama, like fantastic directing and camerawork. The way the camera moved and utilized those stark angels to underscore how crazy-pants Soo Ah’s mom was about her academic career? Talk about exhilarating!
Then we go from that to heart-melting cuteness!
I loved its strong heroin, unique characters, and the nuance in the script was absolutely everything. I will never forget the abject emotion which punched me in the ass during the scene in which our heroine reads Soo Ah’s letter.
As the audience we hadn’t even been given the hint that Soo Ah planned to commit suicide after having come to grips with how corrupt her moral fiber had become. No foreshadowing, no obvious clues had been dropped, but with that one lingering shot and facial expression we knew. We. All. Knew. And that is damn good storytelling!
Such scenes paired with the amazing character development, attention to plot detail and pacing, they all elevated this show to an unbelievable quality.
So, the takeaway?
Go watch Cheer Up if you’ve not seen, you adorable drama-cheaters you, and go rewatch it if you have seen it. Why? Because you deserve a treat today.
Now excuse me, I gotta go fangirl detox.
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