Hurray! It’s the last episode! I was so happy that the drama was over that I didn’t even mind that the series signed off with such a strange and vaguely depressing ending. I’m thinking/hoping there won’t be another year at Kirin, so maybe I should savor this graduation as much as possible.
Considering that Shin Hye Sung (Kang So Ra) was the ostensible lead in this drama, it was a little surprising that she was barely in this episode. Surprising, but not unwelcome since she has been pretty annoying lately. The drama obviously thought it struck gold with Rian’s (Ji Yeon) dance since it showed it again in its entirety, this time with much needed assists from Park Soon Dong (Yoo So Young) and Teacher Hyun Ji Soo (Kahi) – nobody puts Sugar Cube in a corner. Would the drama have been better if it had centered around them? Ah, it’s useless to think of these things now.
I admit, though, that Rian’s performances were better than anyone else’s – JB (Im Jae Bum) fell and messed up his knee again, and Jin Yu Jin (Jin Woon) was rude. When JB went down my first thought was, Wow, JB is a fool. Then I thought, Wow, Hye Sung brings misfortune on all those connected with her. I don’t really get what the point of crippling JB like that was, other than to make his life super sad and the drama very depressing. No more idol dreams for JB. Yu Jin’s flake out came from him realizing that he still just wanted to be a two-bit rocker, so why not. I never really got much of an internal struggle from him about the whole rock vs. pop thing, so his very calm choice was not that dramatic. No more idol dreams for Yu Jin.
We flash forward 8 months later to graduation and we learn that while Rian won the audition, she wanted to be part of a group so everyone was a Super Idol. This graduation ceremony was only enlivened by Hye Sung’s cold letter to everyone in lieu of her presence – what a cruel woman. But everyone seemed happy as they took pictures. I would have been fine with an ending here, but no, we had to jump ahead 8 years just to see everyone be even unhappier than before.
JB has become an ahjumma and a music producer since he can’t dance anymore, and for him it was dancing or bust. Rian is a more successful something – I don’t think even the drama really knew what happened to her. Poor Soon Dong has become a relationship guru that basically means she acts like she’s still in high school except she doesn’t go to classes anymore. Her idea of helping Si Woo (Park Seo Joon), a now popular drama actor (of course he would go into acting), with his Nana (Hyo Rin) and Park Hong Ju (Kim Ji Soo) problems is to tell him that he should get out of the way of this successful duo. Yu Jin is following in the tradition of Counselor Ju and has become a failed rocker-turned teacher whom his students don’t even like that much. Hye Sung hasn’t been back to Korea in, like, 8 years (so cold) and is now a fancy Broadway producer (so much for songwriting). I think the students who had the happiest ending were Jung Ui Bong (Jr.) and Lee Seul (Jung Yeon Joo) – they are now together and run a dance academy which is churning out many pop idols. Like father, like daughter.
They are all brought together one last time, including Hye Poong who is now a student at Kirin (I guess she has no inappropriate relationship with Teacher Jin Yu Jin), because Hye Sung, Yu Jin, and JB wanted to put together one final musical, Dream High, which involved them saying depressing things and then doing a rendition of the original Dream High theme which made me miss it a lot. And so ends the glorified talent show that was masquerading as a drama. Anyong, Kirin.
I don’t need a dazzlingly happy and fake ending to all of my dramas, but this downer of an episode was one of the lamest things ever. The message of the drama became, Sure you can dream high, but it probably won’t work out for you and you’ll end up in your mid-20s yearning to go back to high school and relive your glory days. If there is a more depressing message than that, I’m pretty sure this drama would have shown it. No one’s original dreams came true, and I actually didn’t find this a natural conclusion. It’s like the drama went out of its way to make sure no one succeeded so that everyone had at least one big regret. If they wanted this drama to be a warning to all those idol wannabes out there, I’d say well done. Who would want to be an idol after watching this?
And that was it for the romance? Seriously? I know the first Dream High didn’t really focus on relationships (since they got in the way of Grammys), but compared to this season it was a sweeping and swoon-worthy love story. And I swear Yu Jin was initially meant to be the first guy and get the girl (it’s the K-Drama law), but I guess JB took over – he wins, since at the end it looks like Hye Sung and JB might get together after all. This reminded me of some earlier shows where it was less formulaic and the main guy was liable to change at a moment’s notice, like Hotelier or even the slightly more recent Sweet Spy – both dramas I didn’t really like. But that means Yu Jin kind of got shafted in love and in life. Whatever. I’m over it.
I probably liked the two female teachers the best – they should have taught their kids more. But not even their brief moments could save this drama. And why cast the great Kim Jung Tae if you’re just going to waste him like that? And there was far too much JYP. He should have focused on his new album and his restaurant in New York.
This whole drama was kind of a mess, though. Weak writing, weak acting, and weak performances all combined to make for a pretty weak drama. There were too many people, so everyone was kind of wasted. Why was Park Seo Joon even in this drama if they weren’t going to do anything with him? I got the impression that the screenwriter either deviated from the original storyline for whatever reason, or else there was no overarching vision and the scripts were just put together haphazardly. I hadn’t thought much of the first one, but this season made it look like art, and the original cast all seem like thespians. I even missed Woo Young as Jason – Jason!
I could judge this drama on its own and stop comparing it to its better, prettier older sister, but that might even make me think it was worse than I do now – the residual goodwill helped me see this drama in fuzzy, flattering lighting. Kang So Ra might be a good actress, winning a Baeksang recently and all, but she was terribly miscast in this role and kind of dragged the whole production down. She just got really unlikable all of a sudden – I mean, I suddenly really didn’t like her. I can’t even get mad at any of the idol actors since what can you really expect? I don’t know when I started to actively hate this drama, but maybe it was around the beginning. I’m prepared to forget this drama ever happened. I like to think of it as graduation.