Produce X 101 is 100% doing its job. I’ve learned a bunch of up and coming trainees who will make fabulous idols and I’ve grown increasingly attached to several already debuted idols that are on the show simply because their groups don’t get the attention they deserve or they didn’t make it for the long haul. Up10tion, MYTEEN, IN2IT, UNIQ, IM66, and, of course, Victon make up the heartbreaking list of those with reps on the show. These are all groups that I’m familiar with and follow – if not closely then with some modicum of interest – and it’s more than a little painful to see them struggling through this process after the huge amount of work they’ve already poured into their careers. They have so much on their shoulders as they forge ahead for their own careers and on behalf of their existing members and fandoms.
Part of being a hardcore fan of C and B tier groups is knowing that they are, in fact, struggling. They are insanely talented and put out great music but for whatever reason, be it fate or timing, they can’t seem to build the fan base required to stick around for the long haul. I love them, I pour my affection and dollars into them, but it’s all while knowing the risk that they may be disbanded because they just aren’t deemed worthy of their companies ongoing investment. In recent years, members have been routinely trotted out on survival shows to bring more attention to their groups while risking that they will actually be selected and be put into project groups for a period of time – Chan (A.C.E.) in UNB, Minhyun (Nu’est) and Sung Woon (HOTSHOT) in Wanna One, and Roh Taehyun (HOTSHOT) and Sanggyun (Topp Dogg) in JBJ. Some of those groups thrived with the attention and blew up in popularity following the shows and again once the members returned to their original position, but some didn’t make it. Some ended.
I don’t want that to happen to any of the currently promoting groups on Produce. They are all so charming I can’t stand losing them. So many of my top picks on the show being selected would mean that they are out of their groups for five years – FIVE – greatly changing the face of these teams and potentially ending them entirely. Think about it, five years in Kpop could be an entire career and for groups like Victon which debuted in 2016 and Up10tion which debuted in 2015, five more years brings us to military enlistment time for the older members. We’ve yet to see how enlistment impacts this generation of boy groups – some of the older favs are trying to make comebacks after the break, and some are seeing success, but we just don’t know what it’ll look like for these B and C groups.
As the rankings stand right now, one week before the final episode, Up10tion might be Up8tion and Victon might be down to 6. For five years. What a bittersweet feeling. They deserve all of the success they get. They’ve earned every opportunity and reward, but the cost is fairly steep for their current members and for the fans of those groups.
May it all work out for the best.
Time of Sorry, Victon