de Suzy, janeiro 11, 2024

DRAMA SLUMP,  daunting term in the realm of drama-watching, signifies a phase where one struggles to engage with or complete dramas. While the rest of the world is busy watching dramas and discussing them, you would be left alone wondering what to do. 

I experienced this in the year 2022. I was not able to watch or finish any dramas, mostly due to the fact that I was really busy and also most of the dramas that came out that year didn't impress me. But 2023 was a good year where I was able to come back to dramaland and finish dramas, so I would like to recommend some top picks that might get you back into dramaland like they did me. I did also sprinkle in some tips that helped me overcome the slump.

Note:  There are some dramas on this list that were not released in 2023.

7. Marry My Dead Body

Tip: Start with a good movie, manage a 2-hour duration before moving on to dramas.

This one surprised me: A genuine, self-reflective, LGBTQ+-themed supernatural action-comedy film seems like an unusual blend that could potentially lead to chaos. 

While many of you may know Greg Hsu  from Someday or One Day, where he did a great job, it was Austin Lin's performance that truly left a lasting impression on me in this film. The movie seamlessly combines humor with addressing crucial issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community, particularly in the context of the significant taboos prevalent in Asia. The best way to enjoy it is to watch it with your friends. 

6. Death's Game

Tip: Watch dramas that are not too dialogue or plot heavy so it's not too complicated for you to keep up and stay focused.

Experiencing death once is terrifying, but imagine going through it multiple times—that's the premise of this simple yet captivating and intriguing story. It feels like a reunion of my favorite actors, all in one drama, surprising me with each episode.

With just eight episodes, this fast-paced fantasy drama resonated deeply with me. It highlights the importance of appreciating the positive aspects of our lives instead of fixating on the negatives. A must-watch, this well-crafted and superbly acted drama features some of the best talents in the industry. It's one of the best K-dramas of 2023 for me.

With its well-known cast, if you're a seasoned K-drama watcher this will be a treat for you since many of your favorites might be in it. I'm so happy Seo In Guk had this amazing comeback after a long time, considering it was his idea in the first place to make a K-drama adaptation for the webtoon. Do check this one out.

5.  A Familiar Stranger 

Tip: Try starting with dramas that have fewer episodes and shorter duration. 

This drama delves into the intertwined lives of two women, a convergence that unfolds with a significant shift, driven by fate or clever plot twists. To unravel the how and why and discover the unfolding events, one must immerse oneself in the storyline.

The drama boasts strong, skillfully portrayed female leads (huh, we don't get that often nowadays), adding depth to the narrative. The plot is thoughtfully crafted, steering clear of unnecessary misunderstandings (if you know C-dramas, you know) and allowing characters to communicate effectively. 

Authentic relationships take center stage, particularly the natural and gradual development of the main couple's journey, where we get to feel a genuine emotional connection. The cast's exceptional performances enhance the overall viewing experience, and the drama proves to be both addictive and rewatchable. This makes it an excellent choice to begin with. 

4. Twinkling Watermelon

Tip: Watch dramas that are uplifting and/or on the funny side, they will lift your mood and help you get through your boring day.

One of my top K-dramas and my favorite one of 2023, this is must watch from this list. Eun Gyeol, a talented CODA high-school student with hearing-impaired parents, who time-travels to 1995 and encounters his young father, Ha Yi Chan.  What is the reason behind this? What is he meant to do in the past? That will be answered in the drama. 

This show isn't just a series—it's like going on a journey with the characters. While watching, I realized how beautiful  life can be if you hang in there. The acting is amazing, and the squad goals vibe is a standout. The OST is a gem—every actor can sing, showing the crew's dedication in choosing the perfect cast. The tunes are still stuck in my head. The plot might seem basic at first, but it turns into one of the most beautiful stories I've seen. Give it a shot after the first episode, and you'll see what I mean. Trust me, you're about to embark on a rollercoaster.

3. Worst of Evil

Tip: Try switching genres. If you keep watching rom-coms, you will see a lot of repetitions, so keep on swapping between genres.  If you've watched too much romance, try a thriller. Had too much of dark mystery dramas? Try a slice of life!

This drama is a gamble, either you will be pulled into it or you'll never visit it again. But for me, I love thriller, and this one exactly fits the type I like. It's an undercover drama that is set in 1990s Seoul. A former DJ becomes a drug kingpin, introducing "Gangnam Crystal" in nightclubs. Rural police officer Park Jun Mu infiltrates the organization, only to find his wife, Detective Yoo Eui Jung, on the same dangerous mission, unveiling a mysterious past with the drug king. Amidst battling the drug cartel, Jun Mu is driven not only to dismantle the organization but also to ensure his wife's safety.

After so long, a fully packed action thriller drama! I had so much fun watching it, especially being a big fan of Ji Chang Wook, and also commend the remarkable performance from Wi Ha Joon. Both of them are very good at action and  shared an amazing chemistry (PS: and also hot and good-looking).  

The drama is predictable but won't make you feel bored and some of the scenes ar so well-played out that they will keep you on the edge of the seat. Especially the set-up of the drama was just so interesting to watch. A real appreciation to BIBI, she was just amazing considering it was her first K-drama.  I would really recommend you to check this out.

2. Reset

Tip: Choose a fast-paced drama that has some mystery to keep you interested.

I will never stop raving and recommending this drama to all drama lovers. It's such a treat to watch and shocking of a good drama from Chinese dramaland. College student Li Shi Qing is trapped in a perpetual time loop on a bus destined to explode, along with fellow passenger Xiao He Yun. Together, they strive to alter their fate by ensuring the bus reaches its destination safely, facing numerous challenges on their desperate quest.

This drama is a thrilling ride with a fast-paced plot that keeps you eagerly anticipating the next episode. With no filler scenes, every moment and dialogue is crucial, contributing to a well-written and logically sound time-travel storyline. The cast delivers outstanding performances, complemented by commendable set designs. This will keep you on the edge and constantly biting your nails just thinking about how it is going to turn out in end. The drama is perfectly wrapped up and makes sense until the very end. If you love thrillers, this will make you find your way back to dramaland.

By now, I hope you would have come out of the drama slump, because I did, but it's not always the same. To keep the journey going, let me suggest some more!

1 . Mysterious Lotus Casebook

One of the top dramas in MDL's top shows and deservedly so. This drama brought back the bromance that I was missing for so long. This one also revolves around solving cases but it unfolds into something big that we never imagined. I could not even summarize the plot, go into this without knowing anything and then you'll get the kick of it. 

What struck me the most is the intricately woven cases that the main characters must solve to progress the storyline, skillfully blended into the overarching narrative. The drama offers a perfect mix of humor and impactful action scenes. While the initial episodes might seem slow, they serve as crucial world-building, allowing viewers to familiarize themselves with the setting. The interplay between Cheng Yi's character and Joseph Zeng's character is both amusing and captivating. Their on-screen chemistry injects a delightful charm into the drama, and with the entrance of Xiao Shun Yao's antagonistic character, the plot takes on an even more compelling dimension. These dramas emphasize that meticulous effort in every frame and attention to minute details result in creating an amazing viewing experience.

Bonus:  A Journey to Love

Another one of the most loved Chinese drama of 2023. This drama offered something that I wanted to see for the longest time—A story where the two leads are equally strong and have common sense (which hardly any characters in Chinese dramaland have nowadays). I watched it while it was ongoing and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I forgot how many times I revisited some scenes again and again. 

The story follows female assassin Ren Ru Yi, the former left envoy of the Scarlet Guards, who becomes a member of the Wu's State's escort delegation to save the King of Wu, who has been taken hostage by the State of An. Together with Ning Yuan Zhou, the leader of the Wu State's Six Realms Hall, the free-spirited Yu Shi San, Princess Yang Ying, clever teen Yuan Lu, and the imperial guard Qian Zhao, they experience love, life, death, and grow together. 

This drama is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially for someone like me who always cheers for strong female characters. It fulfilled all my dream story elements with two lead characters who are both strong, intelligent, communicate authentically, stand by each other, and make mature decisions. Writing an entire article about it seems tempting. The well-crafted side characters contribute to the journey, making me feel like part of their world. Each character is multi-dimensional, avoiding clichés, and ample time is dedicated to understanding them. With zero fillers, every scene and dialogue holds significance. The extensive OST collection, featuring over 50 tracks, has me hooked on the OSTs for a while now. 

Liu Shi Shi excelled in the fighting scenes, portraying a complex character with finesse. Liu Yu Ning, being the second lead in his previous dramas had me rooting for a lead role, and he delivered exceptionally well in this drama. Every cast member's performance was remarkable, leaving me hopeful for their future roles.

Just beware: The ending might not be okay for some, even I myself had some objections to it as I felt it was rushed and they tried to fit in so much that I had to rewatch some moments to get a grasp of it. The drama needed 6 - 8 episodes more, but I guess the 40-episode rule made the last episodes shrink. But the journey matters, and I had a wonderful one, so you can go for it!

Some other favorite 2023 dramas of mine worth checking out:

  1. Meet Yourself
  2. Revenant
  3. Black Knight
  4. Perfect Marriage Revenge
  5. Oh No! Here Comes Trouble

After a considerable hiatus from article writing, I trust you found my recommendations enjoyable and worthwhile. Take a moment to explore them, and I'd love to hear about your experience with drama slumps. Hopefully, this list sparks your return to the captivating world of dramas. Feel free to share your own drama recommendations; I'm always on the lookout for new shows to explore. Let's look forward to all the dramas coming out in 2024. 

Happy drama watching!

Edited by: devitto (1st editor)

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