There was a time when heroines in stories were damsels in distress who cried for their “perfect” and “flawless” Prince Charmings and Knights in Shining Armor to save them, sweep them off their feet and ride into the sunset.
When this became too much of a cliché, we finally got our strong female leads; a step up from the singing, weeping walking mess of the old century. Yes, they still needed a bit of saving from their counterparts who were still often good at everything, but at least they didn’t need them so much anymore to steer their character developments.
When the times changed yet again and gender equality came through, storytellers gave us the ultimate ‘Alpha’ women and femme fatales. Ladies who were so amazing men fall to their feet declaring their love for them instead of the other way around–but they would end up with the ‘Alpha’ males, naturally.
But we, the readers/listeners/watchers are fickle. Storytellers know that. They have to mix and match to catch our ever-changing tastes. And in this era where we have almost seen it all, they have very little choice left but bring characters home to what is more relatable—because whether we like to admit it or not, most of the time, we–the readers/listeners/watchers–become them, the characters to where we most fit.
Which now brings us to Hwarang.
It’s not the best of dramas, obviously. It’s mediocre at best, however I am glad the writers were unafraid to keep their characters’ dynamic a bit away from what’s mainstream…and that’s what makes it enjoyable to watch.
It’s always refreshing to see characters who are seriously flawed…
Ah Ro | street-smart and endearing but cries at absolutely the tiniest things.
Moo Myung a.k.a. Sun Woo | handsome and loyal but is pretty much uneducated and generally untalented.
Soo Ho | the beautiful flirt but who’s supposedly stupid
Ban Ryu | the intelligent one but totally sucks at music
…or when the Alpha characters don’t always get what they want…and are found wanting…
Sam Maek Jong a.k.a. Ji Dwi | he is “king" but doesn’t get the girl
Princess Sook Myung | perfect as main lead, but isn’t one
…meanwhile still not forgetting to put in the favorite fluffs we often see in shows we love…
Soo Yeon | the bestfriend who talks a lot
Han Sung | the precious cinnamon roll who most of us think will die in the end just because. Lol.
Yeo Wool | the neutral but mysterious character—who we are willing to trade for Han Sung for the death part. Lol.
And lastly, it’s quite noteworthy that the writers managed to tie together all the characters well, from the principal to the cameos. It’s not perfect, yes, but we must remember that this show is —
…not about Ah Ro and Dog Bird’s love story
…not about Dog Bird’s secret past
…not about King Jinheung and his journey to the throne
…not about Min Ho’s infatuation with the Queen
…not about Soo Yeon’s star-crossed love story with Ban Ryu
…not about whether Yeo Wool and Han Sung is a ship worthy of sailing :)))
No..at least, not only.
It’s about the coming together of The Hwarang, a true event romanticized with all of the above fictional storylines for our enjoyment–with every single character essential in the storytelling.