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What We’ve Learned From 13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why, a book to television adaptation of Jay Asher’s young adult fiction, posits the transience of life and growing insensitivity among millennials. It is abundantly interspersed with prevalent concerns pertaining to suicide, sexual abuse, slut shaming, social isolation, peer pressure and so much more. Hannah Baker’s narration, of the events in her life that led her to take the plunge, is gut-wrenching to say the least. All of what she experiences brings to light exactly what’s wrong with the human mentality. Our inability to empathize, to value another person as an equal, to look beyond materialism, to take responsibility for our actions is our one-way ticket to a devastating future. Here are some reasons, drawing from the TV series, that call for a drastic change in our perceptions and the way we interact with one another:

  1. Live and Let Live. You are the master of ONLY your life. You DO NOT get to enforce your opinions on another. This includes, but is not limited to, judging, commenting on and mocking another person for the way they choose to carry themselves. Slut shaming is a serious affront. Somebody else’s personal decisions are none of your business. We see first hand, in the TV show, how rumors can snowball into becoming the most fallacious statements about a person’s character. Alex’s list that objectifies women is in a way the kick-starter of Hannah’s depression. The aftermath is truly appalling.
  2. Suicide Should Not be an Option. You may be in the worst possible situation, but remember, the sun brings with it a new start every day. Press the Reset button and Do Over. There is so much to live for, the least of which is yourself and who you could be in 40 years. Hannah’s decision to end her life is fueled by many incidents which make her want “everything to stop”. But even in the harshest of storms, it is upto us to cling onto the last thread for however long it takes. We owe ourselves that.
  3. High School Hierarchies are Bullshit. No amount of wealth can make you personally inferior in comparison to another high school student. It is a place for character formation and identifying your passions. Do not let it be reduced to cringe-worthy memories of bullying and succumbing to peer standards. Stand up for yourself and for others. Justin, Bryce, Marcus, Zach and the others parade around Liberty High by terrorizing others. Evidently, school hierarchies tend to place athletes at a higher pedestal, allowing them to demean the rest of the student population. It begets the questions, What about the morals being preached in school? Why are the powerful not answerable to law? What can be done to change that?
  4. Convenience. The pain of being someone’s convenience is starkly reflected in the episodes. Ryan publishes Hannah’s poetry in his magazine, despite being told otherwise. Bryce is of the opinion that every woman is for the taking. Sheri tries to cover up her misdeed, simply because no one of authority witnesses the accident. All of their actions, not only points to the deficiency in their upbringing, but also the skewed world view that they’ve developed, which calls for some serious attention. Keep your ground, and do not let anyone take advantage of you. Your consent is not up for bargain.

The back and forth structuring of the plot keeps us glued to Hannah’s story; as with every tape she delicately delineates the turmoil of feeling like an outsider. It has all been so realistically portrayed and the soundtrack is the final straw that leads to a whole lot of tears. Undoubtedly, some of the characters don’t intend to harm Hannah, but it is their negligence that drives a wedge between her resilience and despondence.

Spread Love.

One other thing that infuriated me the most is the lack of parental guidance. None of the parents in the show actually make a difference. Clay’s parents keep making futile attempts to resolve matters, but it’s no good. Even the teachers, principal and the counselor are totally useless. Their greed, thoughtlessness and refusal to take action paves the way for the continued corruption of the students. Between the poetry classes, helping out at home and visiting the school counselor, we see how much effort Hannah is putting in to hang on. But… I wish people had better morals. The story of Hannah Baker, although fictitious, could be the case with many other youngsters. No one should have to feel so utterly purposeless. No one.

Final Thoughts – The ending of the show is ambiguous. While the main theme is laid to rest, quite a few questions still remain. Nevertheless, it makes for a brilliant, thought provoking TV series. One that I binge-watched simply because of its quality execution.

Rating – 5 stars on 5.

Look Around, Pay More Attention. Every drop makes an ocean and each of us can contribute towards making this world a happier place!

– Meera

The Vampire Diaries

Dear Diary,

Art is a form of magic that weaves itself into the lives of others. You can’t help but be affected by it. Everyone may not agree with your art, but it’s your expression and ought to be as untethered, as you see fit. The Vampire Diaries was one such outlet of expression, a story built by a circle of arms. It started out as a quintessential paranormal mystery, interspersed with dramatic elements. But what it built on, were the ideals of love, family and friendship. For this very reason, it stuck with me. For eight whole years. Albeit, the show had its ups and downs, it was so imbued with a sense of camaraderie. Bonnie’s innate selflessness, just as she dejectedly confides in Enzo, “I never get to have my chance.” is a stark portrayal of the lengths, one is willing to go when their loved ones are in jeopardy. And that sums up a major portion of the 8 seasons. Adversity always strikes Mystic Falls. A slew of characters are required to make ginormous sacrifices in order to save the day. But the point is that, they do. They are always “feeling epic”.

Despite the whole lot of bloodshed and heart-ripping-out scenes, it is the promise of a better day, that kept us glued to the show. It is the realization that, even if things are despicable, somebody would make amends. We need it in life, the knowledge that bonds are thicker than blood.

The amount of twists and turns in this show would leave you reeling. Kudos to Julie Plec, for bringing to life one of the most complicated plots and for delivering it in such a believable manner. The loopholes that play an integral role in this show, bring Vonnegut’s quote to mind, “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” You’d think that there was no way a certain character could be brought back to life. But, no! Think again.

Backed by a brilliant cast, an array of supernatural creatures and a stupendous soundtrack, what’s not to like? The series finale was the cherry on top, a delicate ending that glows with larger than life symbols. Many of the former characters make an appearance – Lexi, Aunt Jenna, Jeremy, Joe, Sheriff Forbes, Tyler, Vicki. They have come  full circle. Seeing the Salvatore brothers reunite, is absolutely blissful. Throughout the show, they function like the scales of justice. When one of them is taking turns in being notorious, the other tries to be noble.

The ending narration is a whiff of life, full of hope, “… Because peace exists. It lives in everything we hold dear. That is the promise of peace. That one day, after a long life, we find each other again. ” Beautiful, isn’t it? I believe this peace and love upholds the show.

*happy tears* TVD, you will be missed.

– Meera

 

Korean Drama Review — Mirror of the Witch

Disclaimer – All images in this post have been obtained from Google. I do not own any of them.

A Yoon Si Yoon and Kim Sae Ron starrer, Mirror of the Witch follows the story of a cursed princess Yeon Hee who was cast away by her mother in favor of protecting the son (Yeon Hee’s twin brother). She grew up in a house located in the midst of a forest, not knowing who she really is. For seventeen years she has yearned to glimpse the outside world. Her first encounter with a stranger happens to be Heo Joon, who is a slave’s son. He stumbles across her house and assumes she is the witch that everyone in the village has been talking about. A meddlesome relative causes great trouble when he disregards the warnings of The Taoist Priest who has been looking after Yeon Hee. And because of that one err, an avalanche of chaos ensues.

I enjoyed watching the drama from the very beginning because it is funny and well shot. The magical component is made believable because of the good quality graphics and brilliant acting on the part of everyone. While this was my first drama with Yoon Si Yoon, I had previously watched High School Love On starring Kim Sae Ron. I hadn’t really liked her part in that drama and so I was pleasantly surprised at how well she fit the role. Some of the other characters were a little flat. Like that of Yo Gwang, Choi Hyun Seo and King Seon Jo – they weren’t brave enough to do what was required of them and were mostly dilly-dallying their way through the drama. Especially the King, not only is he a coward but also a very gullible person – hardly possessing the persona of a King. Queen Shim too acted very entitled, high and mighty whereas she herself had done so much wrong. I wished that Yeon Hee would have been more firm with her and not so submissive.

Yum Jung Ah’s portrayal of Hong Joo is fantastic. She does a very convincing job of enacting the corrupt shaman. I liked the plot and I wish the characters had been written more suitably. The whole “lighting 108 candles” concept was interesting. Some of the common themes that this drama explores are good vs evil, slavery, love triangles, mob psychology etc. Heo Joon’s storyline is one of the best, more realistic and genuine ones in the drama. Another plus point for the drama is that it has a good soundtrack. My favourite songs are – Love by Lush and Distressed by Lim Jeong Hee. The time leaps in the drama were okay. And the ending was not too great. But over all, it was entertaining, although I won’t be watching it again. So if you like black magic, stories about royal families, then perhaps you could try this.

Ratings – 7.5 stars on 10

Meera

Korean Drama Review — Ddanddara (a.k.a Entertainer)

Disclaimer – All images in this post have been obtained from Google. I do not own any of them. 

Ddanddara is a Korean drama that was aired on SBS, starring Ji Sung and Lee Hye Ri as the leads. The drama follows the lives of those in the entertainment industry, allowing us deeper insight into the struggles that threaten to break these people as well as the bonds that hold them aloft. Shin Suk Ho has been a business minded, arrogant manager for far too long. He, insensitively, mows down anyone who proves to be an obstacle to achieving fame and wealth. But an accident becomes a humbling experience for him when he is jarred by reality. No longer working with KTop, he is forced to start from scratch.

Jo Ha Neul (played by Kang Min Hyuk) has always been passionate about singing, but a death in the family put an end to it. Moreover, he is wrongly convicted for sexual harassment by a friend who ditched him to improve her own future. When he is confronted by Shin Suk Ho, he decides to join a band to continue following his dreams. Their camaraderie carves a path that untangles all the complexities of their lives. Their story is one of retrospection and self-growth. It draws you in, tugs at your heart and leaves you wishing for a second season.

I loved this drama from the start. The obnoxious way that Suk Ho managed his responsibilities; the composed manner in which Ha Neul dealt with his probation and all of Jeong Geu Rin’s (Ha Neul’s namesake sister) supportive, mature sensibilities. The plot, although seemingly rather ordinary, is actually wonderful. It had a unique way of building each character’s story and carrying it forward so that towards the end, we’re satisfied with where each of the story lines ended. Ji Sung is fantastic playing both personalities of Suk Ho. In fact he is so skilled that Suk Ho’s brotherly relations with Jo Sung Hyun, Jo Ha Neul and Jinu were the highlights of the series, for me. Their attachment to each other is so heart warming.

One of the things I wished had been different was Ha Neul and Geu Rin’s equation. Although it was reasonable, it wasn’t necessary to the story. Another thing that irked me was the ending. Up until the 14th episode, the pace of the drama is brilliant. All plot lines are ticked off in due time. But then the last three episodes are so rushed, I felt that they tried to cram too much story in too little time. If they had included 2 more episodes, everything could have been beautifully explored and concluded. Lastly, Suk Ho and Geu Rin’s feelings lacked conviction, as in it remains stagnant, which bothered me a bit. But then again, all dramas don’t need to focus on love. So I guess, it’s alright.

Two of the songs on the OST are absolutely spellbinding – Go Ahead Cry by Jo Bok Rae and Lost Child by Han Seo Yoon. Lee Tae Sun who portrays the character Yun Soo does so very charmingly. I liked the fact that the drama incorporated the “single father” angle and played it out very well. Seldom, do you see such characterization. Jae Hoon and Kyle (other members of the band) were the “cool” ones with a difficult family background. They too gelled well in the story and helped create an enjoyable package. Quite a few times during the episodes, I was a blubbering mess. That is not to say it is entirely sad or sappy. It is equal parts funny and lamentable. This drama is definitely worth watching once, if not more. So do give it a try.


Ratings – 8.5 stars on 10.

Meera

Korean Drama Review — Madame Antoine

Disclaimer – All images in this post have been obtained from Google. I do not own any of the images.

Madame Antoine is the story of conflict between divination and science. Go Hye Rim is a fortune teller who cons people into believing that she can communicate with the deceased Marie Antoinette. Rather, she uses exceptional analytical and observational skills to give readings. Her business is threatened when world renowned psychologist Choi Soo Hyun moves into the office above, and ultimately pinpoints her for being the fraud that she is. Both of their offices are called Madame Antoine which causes even more trouble as their customers wind up getting lost and stumbling into the other. Soo Hyun who is a tad bit insensitive realizes that their bickering relation may soon grow into something more, something he does not quite believe in. Whereas Hye Rim is forced to juggle not only her financial troubles but also the fact that she has to partake in Soo Hyun’s experiment in order to save her cafe.

This drama, with its cross between fortunetelling and psychology, is a unique idea. Sung Joon is a very convincing actor and plays the part of Choi Soo Hyun particularly well. We are persuaded of the fact that he is disbelieving about love and doesn’t really care for much else apart from his research experiment. Birth of a Beauty actress Han Ye Seul is our female protagonist and believably or not, she plays a mother. Although the show doesn’t focus on her daughter all that much, we are just made aware through photographs and phone calls how close their bond is. As mentioned before, the plotline is somewhat different from the usual kdrama, in the sense that its not about the Aegyo but showcases adults and the difficulties they face. However, being a psychology student myself, I felt that some of the information pertaining to psychology was a little misleading. Or maybe just that it wasn’t put across properly. I found that to be one of the minus points for the show.

This drama also plays around with some trite concepts like love triangles, unrequited love etc. But then again I suppose they are very much in keeping with real life experiences that people have so I guess in a way its justified.  Choi Sung Chan and Won Ji Ho help Soo Hyun with his experiment and in doing so end up liking Hye Rim too. I found that a little hard to believe. I mean what are the chances that three men, who barely know this women; are meant to deceive her and yet fall for her? That being said, Ji Ho is a bit of a childish character and doesn’t really grasp what’s happening around him. He doesn’t even get the fact that Yoo Rim has liked him for so long. The dialogues on the other hand are well written, entertaining with a dash of humor. Somehow I didn’t really like the chemistry between Hye Rim and Soo Hyun for a majority of the show. It felt a little forced and not real. Even though, supposedly, she actually liked him the whole time, I didn’t find it genuine up until the last few episodes. She helps him face the troubles of his past, and after that everything sort of falls in place. The soundtrack of this drama is decent – nothing outstanding though. All in all, its definitely an enjoyable drama but we’ve seen better from the lead actors and the writer.

Ratings – 7.5 stars on 10.

Meera

Korean Drama Review — Nail Shop Paris

Disclaimer – All the images in this post have been obtained from Google. I do not own any of them.

When amateur novelist Hong Yeo Joo, unable to churn creative novel ideas, stumbles upon a nail artist – Alex- she decides to make him her protagonist. Soon, she realizes that the Nail Shop he works at only staffs men. In order to continue being inspired, she disguises herself as a male, budding nail artist named Bunny. While she puts forth as manly an outward appearance as she can, as a women, she becomes smitten by Alex. The drama wraps up in 10 episodes and chronicles the difficulties of gender bending (love triangles included) while playing on one’s imagination with the use of a mythological creature popularly known as Gumiho.

This drama is very typical in almost every aspect. It has the love at first sight, unrequited love, love triangles, broken dreams, otherworldly creature to rescue and all that jazz. Parts of it are enjoyable but parts of it are so draggy that I had put the drama on hold for over a year before I finally decided to finish it. I found some of the dialogues to be lackluster and more often than not, I was wondering what is unique about this drama. As a gender bender, some of the scenes were definitely funny but nothing very gripping. The drama definitely showcased some rather extravagant nail art. Do people really wear chunky rhinestones on their nails? One of the things that, while it seemed unexpected, I liked about the drama was that it sends out a good social message in terms of helping those in need. Some of the customers of Nail Shop Paris had personal problems which the staff of the shop managed to solve with great persistence and affection. These parts were admirable and conveys how openly friendly their culture is.

Yeo Joo’s bestfriend Kim Ji Soo falls for Jin, one of the nail artists. There relationship too goes through rocky terrain when Ji Soo is unable to make up her mind between Jin and another man. Whereas Kay (another nail artist) begins to question his sexuality when he realizes that he has feelings for Bunny. Little did he know that Bunny was indeed a woman. There is a time leap at the end and the ending was unpredictable, so I’d give the show brownie points for that. And that ending was one of the few things which was different about this drama. Over all, it wasn’t great. It explores several concepts in the span of few episodes. I just wish that some sections of the plot had been differently done, probably then it would have turned out to be an intriguing drama. Maybe you could give it a try, but I don’t guarantee 10 hours of pure enjoyment.

Ratings – 5.5 stars on 10

Meera

Korean Drama Review — Pinocchio

Disclaimer – All images in this post have been obtained from Google. I do not own any of the images.

Pinocchio, aired on SBS channel, is a drama about the underlying corruption and discrimination that rules the media firms in today’s time. Albeit being set in Korea, it wouldn’t be far fetched to say that it mirrors the problems faced by reporters and producers around the world. In this case, the protagonist Choi In Ha (played by Park Shin Hye) has the Pinocchio Syndrome wherein she hiccups uncontrollably if she lies. Since childhood, In Ha has been craving to meet her mother who left her and her father to pursue her career as a reporter. Naive and innocent, In Ha believes that her mother would accept her when they meet in the future and so for thirteen years In Ha sends her mother text messages about her daily life. However, her mother leaves behind her phone at the house of a large department store owner. Seo Bum Jo (played by Kim Young Kwang) who is the son of the owner, intercepts these messages and as the years pass, grows to love In Ha. He is determined to meet her and so auditions to become a reporter at YGN.

Ki Ha Myung (played by Lee Jong Suk) is the son of a fireman who was accused of causing the death of his fellow firemen. As the reporters propel the case out of proportion, his father flees and is never heard of again. Humiliated and isolated in society, Ha Myung and his mother commit suicide. The only living member, the elder broth Ki Jae Myung is devastated and vows to right the wrongs of the reporters who pushed the family to take such drastic measures.

This drama was a treat from the start. The pain felt by Ki Ha Myung’s family is vividly portrayed and so exceptionally done that you feel for them. The plot isn’t as simple as it appears and there are so many layers to the story, each of which is peeled off one by one as the story progresses. The cutthroat environment that is created by rivaling broadcast companies is played out for the viewers to understand the functioning of news channels and the crooked tactics that they sometimes employ to obtain a story. While the character of Song Cha Ok is very detestable, Jin Kyung does a wonderful job of acting. She is so convincing in her role that even though I hated her for most of the drama, towards the end I was very glad for her. Her character development would be one of the best for the show. I also liked how In Ha and Ha Myung got to know each other and the entire process from them being friends to a couple was rather adorable.

Even though the Pinocchio Syndrome that was used in the drama is fictional, it proved to be integral to the storyline. Initially In Ha faces a lot of flak for not being able to lie, which is somehow “important” to become a reporter. As the drama draws to a close, we see how she becomes an  exemplary model of a reporter and teaches the others ideals and values to be upheld as a reporter. Being a media student myself, I loved this drama for its content and the morals that it showcased. While In Ha and Ha Myung were meant to be, I wished that Seo Bum Jo was given some importance. In fact he does serve a vital purpose in the drama and things do get resolved all due to him. But he is left behind with this unrequited love and for some reason I always wish that the main leads would pick the secondary characters. Moreover, I felt that In Ha’s behavior towards him was a little cold and she wasn’t as considerate of his as he was of her. Anyhow, the drama has been put together very well and some of the characters like Hwang Gyo Dong, Ahn Chan So were very endearing. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the drama and would recommend it to all.

Ratings – 8.5 stars on 10

Meera

Korean Drama Review — The King 2 Hearts

Disclaimer – All images courtesy of Google. 

The King 2 Hearts is a political drama that brings together the lives of multiple North and South Korean officials who train together to compete as a single unit in the World Officers Championship. Lee Jae Ha is the prince of South Korea, the next in line after his brother to become king and yet is shown as a spoilt brat who cares the least bit about his responsibilities as being a member of the royal family. His arrogance builds a wrong impression in the minds of the North Korean soldiers who are already apprehensive of the treatment they would receive in the hands of the South Koreans. Kim Hang Ah, the leader of the North Korean team, forced to become his roommate during the training, falls for his pranks and ends up getting hurt.

But the tension between the two is unavoidable when they must pretend to get along for the sake of their countries. Soon this tension develops into feelings. And being the crown prince, such matters of heart, were never his to decide. When their family and the public take it upon them to make peace, chaos unfurls. This drama is not only about the two couple who are the faces of manner and respectability for their people, but it also encompasses the meaningful exchanges and stories of others who strive to make a union possible against all odds and terrors.

I was unsure whether I’d truly like this drama or not because I’ve never been too fond or even observant of politics and military matters. But Lee Seung Gi was starring in it and I just couldn’t give it up without a try. Lets just say that despite being a (sort of) typical romance, it was one of the most adorable dramas I’ve seen. Kim Han Ah is so endearing and fierce at the same time. She has never been in a concrete relationship for long and doesn’t understand Lee Jae Ha’s intentions in making a fool of her. Lee Jae Shin is Jae Ha’s sister who is a very grounded, mature character and helps develop his personality to that of a courageous brave man. In fact his entire family plays a very integral role in his character development. At times I felt that the way he is, is a product of the way he has been brought up. So we can’t completely blame him for being childish and evasive.

There’s no denying that Lee Seung Gi is one of the best actors out there. You know he has a very fun loving personality and still he pulls off a serious role really well. Sometimes dramas have a tendency to become too unreal and only-on-tv like. But this show often brought out realistic sentiments and created scenarios that you could believe. Kim Bong Gu, who plays the villain performs brilliantly! Mostly because he is so annoying through out the show that you want to get up and kick him; which only goes to show that he justifies the negative role completely. He is one of those villains who are different, like on a psychotic level. The plot was different which was a plus point. I thoroughly enjoyed this drama. Only drawbacks were that it got very predictable a little too soon. And the lead couple’s “meant to be together” status was very evident from the beginning. It didn’t fool around with your thoughts and build a suspenseful atmosphere (where the romance is concerned). Definitely recommend it to fans of political dramas and otherwise too. Watch it! 😀

Ratings – 8 stars on 10.

Meera

Korean Drama Review — Dating Agency Cyrano


Seo Byung Hoon is a producer, who in an attempt to save his bestfriend’s theatre from being taken over by mortgage, starts a dating agency called Cyrano to repay the debt. He works with two others – Moo Jin and Ah Rang to pair up people; creating fake scenarios with the intent to bring out their inherent goodness. The clients who approach them are individuals smitten by someone who doesn’t reciprocate their affection. And this significant other becomes their target. During one such mission, the group crosses paths with the spunky female protagonist Min Young who works for another such dating agency. And their mission ends up ruining what Min Young had planned for her client.

At first she is furious but soon learns that their technique fits her fancy better than her current job and so she gets employed with them. Now this team of four brushes through missions swiftly and successfully. In between all that Min Young begins to like Byung Hoon who has eyes only for his high school crush (also his dead bestfriends meant-to-be wife). While Seung Pyo who owns the restaurant adjoining the agency befriends Min Young and falls for her. He seems to be hiding something that has a lot to do with Byung Hoon’s past and adds the mystery to the drama. With their good intentions, Cyrano Agency never thought that people were out to get them. But their efforts are overlooked when an unknown person kidnaps one of them in order to bring the agency to the ground.

This is my new favourite drama as of now! I don’t usually watch a lot of cheesy romance kind of shows so I never thought I’d love it so much. I don’t know why its so unheard of. It deserves a lot more hype and is one of those underrated dramas that only few know about. The casting was amazing – all people I’ve unheard of but will be looking forward to each of them in new dramas. Lee Chun Hee who plays Master a.k.a Seung Pyo was my favourite. He would make a really good lead actor in a show. Initially I thought the concept of a dating agency was so corny and that it would be one of those shows I’d give a 6/10 but it picked up pace and I liked everything about it. Byung Hoon is a very guarded character who doesn’t open up about his feelings to anyone. He tries to push aside his worries about Min Young and focus on the task at hand. They fight and argue so much its actually funny! Not to mention that Min Young is a very chirpy yet ballsy female who doesn’t like to take no for an answer. She persists and persists to the very end. The drama is not only about their clients but also how each of them grow and mature through each mission, learning more about themselves than they would’ve otherwise. Some of the missions involve their own emotional attachment for various reasons. Moo Jin is the silent and intelligent one who helps out with all technological aspects of the mission whereas Ah Rang is very happy-go-lucky like Min Young. There’s quite a bit of mafia action in the drama too. You might think that the show is just about their various projects/missions but its a lot more than that. Totally worth the time! I spent two and half days continuously watching it, which says something cause I don’t normally do that. Two thumbs up and just like like like. Do give it a try.


Ratings – 9 stars on 10.

Meera

*All images courtesy of Google.

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