Teen Dramas: The Ultimate Guilty Pleasure
Teen dramas have always had an audience, but they′ve made a mighty comeback in the last few years. If teen dramas like Gossip Girl and Glee are America’s guilty pleasures, Korea has been eating up teen idol dramas.
The second season of popular KBS teen drama Dream High is set to premiere on January 30, while tvN’s Flower Boy Band will attempt to fill the big shoes of its pretty boy-filled predecessor, hit drama Cool Guys, Hot Ramen, when it hits the cable airwaves on the same day.
While the two highly-anticipated dramas diverge in terms of storyline and casting, they are both not only competing for the same target audience of idol star-obsessed teens and 20-somethings, at the root, they both contain the key elements that have enabled teen dramas to enrapture viewers in the past.
So, what is it about these shows centered on the lives of a bunch of high school kids that we just can’t seem to get enough of? I mean, shouldn’t we be over high school by now?
Idol Star Power
We may rag on idol stars for their less than stellar acting skills, but, let’s face it, that’s why we’re drawn to the drama in the first place. Most of the hype surrounding Dream High 2 was related to casting and which new class of idol stars would be walking the halls of Kirin Arts High School.
The original Dream High featured an idol star-studded cast, including miss A’s Suzy, 2PM members Taecyeon and Wooyoung as well as IU and T-ara’s Eun Jung. And despite the roster of inexperienced actors and the occasional poorly-delivered, cringe-worthy scene, the drama did incredibly well.
The upcoming second season will similarly feature an idol cast led by T-ara’s Ji Yeon, 2AM’s Jung Jin Woon and SISTAR’s Hyolyn. And, yes, we’ll be tuning in—if not for the musical performances, for the idol star hookups, of course. Although we’d rather not see a repeat of the awkward Suzy-Taecyeon Ferris wheel kiss.
While Flower Boy Band doesn’t boast as many idol stars—if you want to get technical, Infinite’s L is the only idol in the drama—however, the cast of pretty boys who make up the fictional high school rock band Easy on the Eyes, have garnered a lot of interest in their own right, not only for their looks but for their musical talent.
As if it’s not enough that our favorite idols are on every music program, variety show and CF, on TV, teen dramas ultimately feed our obsession with idol stars.
Influence of K-Pop
You can’t talk about idol stars without talking about K-Pop music, and today’s teen dramas monopolize on the growing popularity of the genre and the people’s interest in the talent agencies that influence it.
Although the idol stars in Dream High may have been criticized for their acting, they more than made up for it through entertaining musical performances in the drama.
From Eun Jung’s breakout cover of A Goose’s Dream to IU, Suzy, Taecyeon and Kim Soo Hyun’s street performance of Girls’ Generation’s Genie, the covers were what had us hooked on the show.
And based on what we’ve seen in the teaser for Dream High 2, the second season performances look even hotter.
The fact that words like “trainee,” “debut” and “talent agency” are part of the Korean vernacular also point to the people’s interest in how idol groups are trained and produced.
If Dream High 2, set at a fictional arts high school attended by idol stars and trainees, is premised on how mainstream K-Pop idols are produced, Flower Boy Band aims to portray the edgier, underground experience. Still, both dramas are centered on groups of teenagers who dream of fame and want to be noticed.
Although teen dramas like Dream High and Flower Boy Band are about high school students and most of us know what it’s like to be in high school, the characters aren’t necessarily relatable.
While most high schoolers are concerned about taking the SATs and being asked to prom, the students at Kirin Arts High School have to worry about loan sharks, being sabotaged by their classmates and being an idol star—you know, life.
And that’s just the first season of Dream High. We’re also not badass members of an ultra-cool rock band.
But that’s why we watch—because teen dramas are aspirational. The characters have the lives we want (minus the being chased by loan sharks and being sabotaged parts, of course), or, at least, have entertained in our minds.
The element of aspiration is not only woven into the premise of the drama, of teenagers chasing their dreams, but teen dramas have served to be a space for rookie actors, like Dream High’s Kim Soo Hyun, to realize their aspirations.
If idol star power is what piques people’s interest and draws viewers in to the teen drama, rookie actors have the opportunity to launch their careers with a standout performance.
Not only do Dream High 2 and Flower Boy Band feature relatively new faces, the rookie actors have been cast in leading roles. There has been particular interest surrounding male lead Park Seo Joon and actress Kang Sora in Dream High 2 as well as Flower Boy Band’s cast of rookie actors.
We′re not ashamed to admit that teen dramas are our guilty pleasure, but will you be tuning in to these dramas tonight? Let us know in the comments below!
- Taecyeon (2PM) 20120130 Wooyoung (2PM) 20120130 Hyolyn (SISTAR) 20120130 Suzy (miss A) 20120130 Jung Jin Woon 20120130 IU 20120130 Ham Eun Jung (T-ara) 20120130 Kang Sora 20120130 L (Infinite) 20120130 Dream High 20120130 Ji Yeon (T-ara) 20120130 Dream High 2 20120130 Shut Up: Flower Boy Band 20120130 Park Seo Joon 20120130