It was bound to happen one of these days, I knew I was setting myself up for a disappointment one of these days. For many 2020 was a life-changing experience, one good thing that came from it all for me was that my eyes were opened towards Korean dramas. And after watching a few of the best South Korea had to offer, Start-Up on Netflix became that dreaded misstep for me.
I am a recent arrival in the world of Korean dramas, the first series I ever watched on Netflix was Crash Landing on You. The moment I finished the 16th episode and went back and rewatched it again, I knew there was probably nothing that could match the excellence of that show.
The second show I watched was Descendants of the Sun and then Itaewon Class, the former was good, the latter had great characters, and there is a mountain of praise I can dump on Hospital Playlist. I knew one of these days my streak of good shows was going to be broken, and it happened with Netflix’s newest outing Start-Up.
Start-Up Netflix – Casting on Point But A Stagnant Story Holds Everyone Back
Before I sat down to write this I wanted to know a little about Bae Suzy. A few episodes of Vagabond later, I came to the conclusion that she is a talented actress, who got miscast in that action thriller and was dealt a bad hand with the script on Start-Up.
Seo Dal Mi was the main character of the show and Bae Suzy does her damnedest best to carry that role. She is funny, lovable, and extremely endearing, a person who went headfirst into a situation just because her heart told her to. It was so much fun to see Dal Mi control a crowd at her work and then not be able to properly help her grandmother at home, it was hilarious.
If that was the story they had decided to make into a 16-episode long show, I would not have hesitated one bit. Dal Mi‘s struggle at work, her desire to prove her father right, the pain of being abandoned by her elder sister and mother, it all amounted to an emotional content I was ready to tackle.
But then walked in the two knights in shining armor and it all went downhill from there. Seo Dal Mi was relegated to a bystander in her own show while the two boys decided who she should be with. I get that Korean shows have male characters coming to the rescue of girls, maybe that is what people like about K-dramas but this was not it for me.
And before you jump up and down and say that a North Korean Soldier helped a South Korean woman get home in Crash Landing on You. Or Jo Yi Seo deciding she was going to make her boss, Park Sae Ro Yi, into a massive success, as the same thing as what happened in Start-Up.
That was never the case with Start-Up, a prospective strong lead character was turned into a prize. Jo Yi Seo and Yoon Se-ri were strong on their own and that made the relationship between the leading romantic couples better. The opposite was the case for everything that happened on Netflix‘s Start-Up.
Dal Mi was either in love with the man who pretended to be Nam Do San or the Do San from her letters. Her mission to be successful was relegated to background music and one of the best characters of the show, Won In Jae, was turned into a reactionary board.
The central plot of this series should have been the difference between Dal Mi and her estranged sister In Jae. There were palpable tension and extreme love between the two sisters as the show went along but that tension and that love were never tapped into.
Do not lie to yourself, the moment when Dal Mi said she needed three years to top her sister, you got excited about where the story was headed. Well, instead of giving us a sister vs. sister battle, the story went round and round as the male characters took hold of the story and we got a mea culpa moment from Dal Mi, one we never needed or even asked for.
I was really pissed at how Dal Mi‘s character was handled, I am irate even now. And all of these missteps can firmly be laid on the misutilization of the cast and the donut-shaped story, which aged and got bad pretty quickly.
All the actors in the show were good to great, especially the “Money video” cousin. They all served a purpose but unlike the previous Korean dramas that I’ve watched, the supporting characters were mere spectators. The cast was made into a spectator and the driving force of the story was forgotten about. In the end, I just long for what could’ve been.
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