Touched By Television


P Television

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Okay, I admit it. I am addicted to television.

Well, actually I’m addicted to Hulu and other sources of television on-line since we no longer actually have a television set. The advantage to watching shows that way is that I have to make conscious choices about what I watch, and I can watch at convenient times.

The disadvantage is that, when time allows, I can go through a show watching binge. I gorge myself with past episodes until my head is so full of what I have been watching that it affects my dreams or sleep. I guess it is better than a food binge.

Last night, my decadent festival of sweetness involved catching up on episodes of Playful Kiss, the Korean drama that has me completely hooked. I cannot resist agonizing with Oh Ha Ni in her love/hate (but mostly love) relationship with Baek Seung Jo. For me, the show is an interesting study into cultural difference as well as a sweet dessert after a long day. Sometimes I want to shake Ha Ni, and make her walk away from the teasing cruelty of Seung Jo. Go find someone else, I want to scream. But then I see Seung Jo falling in love with her, and I fall in love with him a little bit as well. I am totally fascinated and can’t help but over-indulge.

This morning was a different track of deliciousness, as I caught the most recent episode of Glee. After sobbing through the entire episode, I have to say it is the best so far this season (and one of the best overall). It had an actual story, and the songs came from that story. In that way, like a sound track to a movie or a musical, the songs reinforced the emotion. I found that much more interesting and entertaining than the Brittany Spears episode that was frivolous and meaningless, emphasizing sex for no reason. I enjoyed the tears that came from fabulously sung songs. Manipulative, sure, but for me it was also a rich way to start the day.

Yesterday I wrote about reading, today I am writing about television. They each serve a purpose in my life. The each allow me new ways of looking at the world. Sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they make me cry, sometimes they make me scream. They allow me to feel, in the privacy of my home, so that then I can face the rest of the day with calm.

I wonder if there is something strange about that. Oh well, if so c’est la vie. I am excited about anything that gives me the urge to write.

“Playful Kiss”


WED/THURS - MBC - PLAYFUL KISS  장난스런 키스 (2010)

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The other day as I was browsing through Hulu I stumbled on the Korean show Playful Kiss and I got hooked. I found it to be a sweet, fun, quirky romantic comedy about a less-than-smart high school girl (Oh Ha Ni) who has feelings for a genius boy (Baek Seung Jo) who thinks he is superior and shows it.An earthquake destroys Oh Ha Ni’s home and she and her father move into Baek Seung Jo’s home (because the two fathers were close as children).  The show, based on a Japanese manga, reveals those roots (at least in the first 2 episodes) with some moments of pure fantasy.

After watching episodes 3 and 4 last night, I thought about the cultural differences that are reflected in the show. Doing research this morning, I recognized those differences are even greater than I thought. Insight into what others are thinking really made me see that we all perceive things differently. In those differences lies the complexity of our world.

I saw Playful Kiss as a comedy. I’ve even experienced the ever so rare laugh-out-loud moments watching this show. BUT, it is billed as a drama (and I believe that is how it was billed in Korea). If it is a drama, then some of the objections to the show might be legit, but if it is a comedy it looks at the world through quirky rose-colored glasses.

Some of the complaints I read this morning surrounded the idea that the 4th episode showed the Oh Ha Ni as drunk, and because Baek Seong Jo made a sexist (or harassing) comment about her small breasts. This is where culture comes to play. Yes, she was drinking, but under the supervision of the adults. They were celebrating her grades and offered her one drink which, of course, went straight to her head. Now, I’m not saying that parents should hand drinks to all there children. But, how often have American audiences watched as the parent figure on-screen (and in real life) turned a blind eye as their  perfect child throws a wild party that included enough alcohol to poison half the town?

As for the comment about small breasts, it seemed natural given the circumstances (Baek Seong Jo was carrying the drunk girl home by piggy back) especially as girls at that age worry about breasts and boys are fascinated by them. What I found more interesting (and reflective of culture) were the clear expectations that females should clean up and take care of males. Evidence of this appears throughout the show. Of course I notice these things, as I still reflect on remnant sexism that exists in American culture today, but I recognize it for what it is–different cultural values.

I think the show is interesting for the contrast it makes to American values in that the hero is the smartest kid in school (in addition to being cute and talented in every way). Yes, he is wealthy as well, but he is the heart-throb at school because he scores 100% on every exam. Wouldn’t it be nice if that happened in American high school dramas more often?

It seems to me that, in this time of technology providing so much access to other cultures, we should really spend time evaluating the things that make us different as well as the things that make us human. Meanwhile, I’ll keep watching Playful Kiss and enjoying ever sweet moment.


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