The last couple of weeks I have been captured by the 2013 Korean drama/comedy My Love from the Star (MLftS).
The premise is simple: It’s about an alien who lived for 400 years on our planet. And while he spend most time living in solitude, his last months are troubled by his new neighbor, a famous Korean actress and supermodel. Over 21 episodes we see them fall in love.
The premise drives totally on the execution: ‘opposites attract’. On one side there is the alien, Do Min-Joon. Because he comes from a different planet has superpowers like super speed and improved hearing. When he just arrived he used these powers to help others, only to learn that humans are humans. Bad things happened or even got worse when he did. So at some point he abstained from helping any further and lived in solitude until he had the opportunity to return home.
On the other side there is Cheon Song-i, who is an actress at the height of her career and completely in the spotlight. She is in almost every show and commercial, but also on billboards etc. Her face is basically everywhere and it quite impossible to not know about her. Unless you’re an alien ofcourse. There are a lot of side characters who are important for the plot progression but for the sake of spoilers I will not touch on them here.
Does it break?
For me the most important elements of a romantic drama and comedy are how the characters are written and performed. And while I’m not proficient to comment on acting skills, I absolutely hate it when it is over the top silly or the drama seems fake. In my opinion MLftS excels at allowing both drama and humor room to breathe. This show could be a reflection of life where two people start from a certain position totally opposite from each other and grow towards the other due to their interactions and their inability to ignore it when the other needs help.
Character growth in real life is about stacking positive subtle changes. Something which is often better portrayed in a tv show then in a film, simply because of run time. An important step to take in your personal growth is stopping negative behaviour and replacing it with new and healthier behaviour. I think that stacking subtle changes on each other is what this show does absolutely right. It also helps that the MLftS does not feel episodic but more like a film cut in 21 separate hours. It becomes very apparent very early on that this show takes it time to tell this story. And I’m very glad it does. Only in the last seven or so episodes you can clearly see how the subtle changes are stacked to change the characters in a believable way. This continues to the very end. And while I must add that I’m not too sure about what I think off the ending, I believe it is a better one than the two obvious other options.**
The importance of humor in drama
I learned a lot from watching MLftS. How it weaves its secondary plot in the main to stretch the characters further out of their comfort zone as well as bouncing an immovable rock with an unstoppable force over a longer period of time. The two main characters are the kind of people that sometimes take a brave step forward, only to step away from each other shortly after. They get in each other’s hair all the time by defaulting to (mostly old ) behaviour just to gain attention in the most silly ways possible. And it had me laughing hard. The humor is what drives this show home for me. It is on the spot, sincerely funny but never over the top. It lightens the drama and makes the important moments even more important. If you laugh with a character, you will cry with a character. It is attachment to the characters that keeps you watching and wanting for more. It is these qualities that make a good show.
It’s just life
There is one more thing I want to touch on. I recognise allegories and metaphors at an increasing rate in the media I consume. The one here is: how to love something alien. As mentioned before the two main characters are opposites, and at the start they are completely alien to each other. But over the course of the show they start to understand and love the alien part in their life, whilst growing as a person simultaniously.
When we want something in our life, it might be completely alien at the start. We don’t know its rules and possibilities. At least not on a conscious level. But over time, as we spend more time with this one thing we start to understand it. After understanding comes loving, and when you love something you are able to see more possibilities than you initially could when you started this journey of understanding.
When I started the crazy journey of writing a book most of the rules were completely alien to me. But I am learning; gaining understanding about the craft of putting stories to paper. And I would be lying if I’d say it is easy, but I’m sure that there will come a time that I can say I learned to love something alien.
**Which I will have here as a spoiler: Being 1: a character dies; or 2 she goes with him. *end Spoiler**