When news that a second season of popular drama Dream High would be airing, I was one of the many avid Dream High fans out there that was intensely worried about what was in store for Dream High 2. My primary source of fear was actually not that it would be terrible, but rather I wondered how a “follow-up” of the first season’s plot would work out. My worst nightmare was that the first season’s characters would come together for a terribly cheesy & completely unnecessary reunion in the second season. As more and more actors were announced though, I quickly realized that this would not be the case, & that instead, the Dream High 2 writers would be going for a totally different story. & just as fast as news of Kang Sora, 2am‘s Jinwoon & Sistar‘s Hyorin being selected lớn star in the series, a new worry spread throughout me: Just how different was Dream High 2 going lớn be from Dream High? Would it still retain the “Dream High” spirit of following your dreams, no matter how ridiculous & impossible they were? Would the drama still be horribly cheesy, but emotionally pulling? Would it have a wild unexpected ending like Dream High did?

And now, it’s April, almost a month after the last episode of the second season. Before I begin sharing my thoughts though, và which exactly I feel was the “better” season, take heed to lớn my spoiler warning now. Because I will be rabidly ranting.

The Plot

As I expressed previously, my foremost worry for Dream High 2 was that the season would be a terrible sequel lớn the first season’s story. I believe Dream High ended perfectly, and, though I know many were shocked at the ending, I would not have had it any other way.

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We begin Dream High as actually a very atypical plot line (at least, for the typical teen Korean drama). The viewers are introduced khổng lồ Go Hye Mi, a stubborn conceited girl, whom, lớn repay her father’s debt, is forced to lớn audition for the prestigious musical academy, Kirin Arts High School. After failing her audition though (much khổng lồ her surprise), Hye mi receives a second chance at enrollment by the director – she is to find two students, thành phố rat Jin Gook and country hillbilly Sam Dong, & convince them khổng lồ enroll with her. Hye Mi’s life at Kirin is far from the average student’s; while making ends meet, she must dodge the vicious attacks from her enemy, Baek Hee, keep her friend’s, Pil Suk‘s, head out of the clouds và strive to lớn be the best student at school, in her mission to become a vị trí cao nhất idol & repay her family debt.

Dream High 2 on the other hand, is a bit more modern. We’re introduced to lớn Shin Hye Sung, a diehard JB fangirl. Hye Sung is, to put it kindly, a loser. Her circle of friends consist mainly of the school freak, the class clown, & the school’s musical genius. Hye Sung takes up the role of the untalented in her clique. While Hye Sung suffers over at Kirin, a school that, since the first season, has now deteriorated lớn a laughing stock with no reputation khổng lồ hold, underage idols of Korea suffer from a new minors law passed: All underage idols must attend school at least twenty hours a week & cannot broadcast anything past 10 p.m. The idols at Oz Entertainment, including Hye Sung’s precious JB, are furious about this requirement, và their CEO is quick to lớn find his idols a school which is exempt from this law: Kirin High School. The rest of the season depicts the rivalry between Kirin’s students và Oz Entertainment’s idol groups, Hershee and Eden, to become the next mix of Super Idols.

While both seasons were typically cheesy, I can honestly say I enjoyed both seasons. I’m a sucker for cheesy high school coming-of-age stories, and Dream High has honestly been one of my favorite Korean Drama series. Both plots were good in my opinion, but (and I’m going to blame the production crew for this one), Dream High 2 had a ton of plot holes. A ton. I finished the first season fully satisfied, not a question in my mind. All conflicts were resolved, the characters ended up exactly where they were supposed to, and no love stories unfinished. Dream High 2 on the other hand was awful. I (as well as many other viewers, from my personal observation), was left unsated and the season ended terribly. Now this may have largely to vì with my unattachment towards the characters, but the way a lot of them ended up after the little time skip was just lame. Dream High 2 had too many unnecessary details và conflicts, và the drama script seemed so rushed, almost as if the writers were trying to add as much drama as possible into sixteen episodes.

Winner: Dream High

The Heroine

In Dream High, we’re introduced right off the bat to lớn Ms. Go Hye Mi, whom seemingly has it all: she’s talented, gorgeous, has an adorable younger sister, a loyal subject & she’s rich. She has everything that is, except for a likable personality. Right at the start of the series we witness her vain, conceit, and selfish arrogance as she horribly berates Yoon Baek Hee (who, up till this time, has followed Hye mày around lượt thích a trusty sidekick và tolerated her disgusting attitude) during their audition duet. Hye Mi’s character is much that of an untolerable person, and throughout the drama, the stubborn girl just can’t let go of her pride. Not to thank Kirin Teacher Oh Hyuk for letting her và her younger sister stay with him while their father runs away from debt, not to apologize to Baek Hee for her awful behavior, and most importantly, not khổng lồ realize/admit her feelings lớn Jin Gook or Sam Dong.

Shin Hye Sung, Dream High 2’s protagonist, is a completely different story. Hye Sung is everything Hye mày is not: she’s meek, humble, clumsy, “unattractive”, & “untalented”. Hye Sung starts off a much more “likable” character. Unlike Hye Mi, Hye Sung was not raised with riches, but instead with religion, her dad being a pastor & her family very homely. We later see how her relationship with her dad has strained due lớn her dreams of being a singer. Hye Sung is also more appealing in that the audience (or should we say fangirls/boys) can easily relate to her, for, just as I and many of you, Shin Hye Sung is a hardcore fangirl. Her innocence & childishness is much reverated in her obsession with JB, a fictitious đứng đầu idol star that makes hearts burst in Dream High 2.

Both Hye Mi & Hye Sung demonstrate obvious flaws throughout the drama, more predominantly in the beginning. Hye mi is a hotheaded stubborn và spoiled girl, while Hye Sung is a much too timid & soft pushover. Hye mày at first hates the idea of “idolism” in Korea, & finds that sort of entertainment “unclassy” and “trashy”. Hye Sung on the other hand worships idols, and longs for one day being able khổng lồ stand atop the same stage as her obsession, JB. However đáng yêu or quirky the characters are themselves is not what interests me though, because, as with any drama, character development is key. And with the idea of development, only one girl really stood out.

Hye mày started off a witch (in all politeness). Và as imperfect as her character was in the beginning, Go Hye mi grew. During the last episodehs of Dream High, as cheesy as it was, we fully witness this growth as she 100% strips herself of all pride, arrogance and selfishness as she cries her eyes out to lớn Sam Dong, confessing her heart lớn him whilst sending off to achieve his dreams. We also witness her growth in her forgiveness for her enemies, sacrifices for her friends and family, full realization of her dream và struggles to lớn achieve it. On the other spectrum, Hye Sung showed a complete lack of development. It would have been absolutely awesome if we saw Hye Sung grow from an awkward turtle to lớn a beautiful swan, but this never happened. Hye Sung continuously stayed timid throughout the drama, và as adorable as her character was, I honestly got tired of her by the 13th or 14th episode. She hardly stood up for herself, and on the few occasions she did (there were like, 2?), Hye Sung almost always seemed khổng lồ eat her own words & revert back to being a nervous wreck. Even worse so, Hye Sung ends up giving up on her dreams of being a singer, và becomes a composer after realizing she’s much better at composing than she ever was at singing. & okay, I know that, realistically, Hye Sung made the right decision, but this is a drama for crying out loud. Where’s the “Dream High” spirit, Hye Sung? If this were the first season, she would have kept fighting until the end, & extremely unrealistically probably would have become a super idol or something. That’s what should’ve happened.

Winner: Go Hye mày (Dream High)

The Love Triangle (or Square)

Though it’s already a well known fact, for just a little reiteration: the extremely typical love triangle (or square) is a very key factor in Korean dramas. There are times when I cannot stand the love triangle, và there are times where I die at its overwhelming cuteness. Both seasons of Dream High would be the latter.

The first season of Dream High presented a much more fairytale romance in my opinion. You have the main protagonist, Go Hye Mi, find herself caught between Jin Gook & Sam Dong. What I loved about their love triangle though, was that both Jin Gook & Sam Dong contrasted Hye Mi’s personality, in different foils. While both Hye Mi and JIn Gook were from the city, both these characters represented different aspects of the city. Hye mi is this prim và proper girl, and then we have Jin Gook who sleeps in a deserted building he likes to call his. Jin Gook is portrayed as the stereotypical thành phố bad boy, with his leather jacket, abusive father, motorcycle, & cliche understanding of seemingly the whole world, and this character is an obvious foil khổng lồ Hye Mi’s more closeminded và upright attitude. Meanwhile, Sam Dong also represents Hye Mi’s opposite, in a much more literal way: Hye ngươi is a hot city chick, và he a country bumpkin. But slowly, while the two don’t understand each other much at first, Sam Dong & Hye ngươi begin lớn be the light of each other’s eyes. This love triangle can best be described by one of my favorite quotes from the drama: Hye mi always cries around Jin Gook, because she’s comfortable around him, and he understands her, but always smiles and laughs around Sam Dong, because he makes her happy & never fails at protecting her (which is something Jin Gook greatly lacks in). Add the drama’s antagonist, Baek Hee, falling for Jin Gook into this equation, and we have Dream High’s love square.

Dream High 2 took a less fairytale like approach, but more a more unrealistic và very complicated one. The love square centers around Hye Sung, starstuck in love with JB, whom is still in love with his ex, Rian, the face of fictional girl group Hershee, whom is still likewise in love with him, while Yoo Jin falls hopelessly for Hye Sung. I love myself a complicated love square, và Dream High 2’s proved lớn be pretty darn complex. địa chỉ in the fact that Yoo Jin despises JB, JB eventually finds Hye Sung to lớn “not be like other fangirls”, & Rian finds Yoo Jin to be more of a man than JB ever was, và we have ourselves Dream High 2’s complete love story.

Normally, I’m not really a fan of uselessly complex stories lượt thích Dream High 2’s, but what I loved was how absolutely connected the whole thing was. The main four leads seemed to lớn always be switching in terms of main character; some episodes it would focus on Hye Sung, and other times more on Rian và JB. The complexity in each relationship was there, & the bond sewn deep. Though I don’t at all think Dream High 2 had more mushiness than the first season, DH2 had a more interlaced love story (such as the background in JB và Rian’s story), that, in my opinion, ended pretty positive. It would have been a shame to lớn see such lovable relationships crumble, and I loved that the characters involved were about lớn work out their differences và resolve the love square.

Winner: Dream High 2

The Villain

If you were to lớn ask me who the better villain was, up till the 14th or 15th episode of Dream High 2, I would have said Yoon Baek Hee, without any hesitation. I love Rian, but her “villainous” acts were pretty childish compared khổng lồ Baek Hee. I mean sure, Rian totally stole Hye Sung’s composition in a devious move, but Baek Hee tried to lớn kill Hye Mi, attempting lớn strike her head with a clay pot. If that’s not real evil I don’t know what is. I also don’t recall Rian ever trying to lớn steal Hye Sung’s main squeeze (something Baek Hee did repeatedly lớn Hye ngươi over Jin Gook)- or, at least not intentionally. As a devil, Rian had hardly anything lớn offer, and something tells me if these two were to lớn meet up and have a face off, Baek Hee would send Rian off crying.

Deviousness aside though, I had more reasons to lớn love Baek Hee than I did Rian. Simply put, Rian was a complete bitch. And that’s all she was. Why? She was mean, và this wasn’t just excluded lớn Hye Sung. I’m talking about being mean khổng lồ her mom, JB, her groupmates và practically the entire Kirin school population, for no reason at all. Và no, I do not count the reason “But she was her family’s only source of monetary support”. That does not give you an excuse lớn be an absolute bitch lớn people simply trying to lớn befriend you, your parents, or your ex, whom you’re still in love with. In my opinion, Rian just had a petty excuse, and was just a bully. Baek Hee, on the other hand, had complete right being so nasty. Hye ngươi had taken her when she was still vulnerable, sweet and innocent, và crushed her, embarrassing her in front of others và breaking down her dreams to lớn pathetic trash. Baek Hee only then grew to be spiteful and vengeful. Her initial purpose was khổng lồ make Hye mi eat her words & regret ever calling her talentless. Granted, Baek Hee got a little power nguồn hungry along the way, but we see her realize her mistakes after the Sexual Harassment scandal that happens lớn her. She & Hye mày simultaneously apologize to lớn each other, & we see the makings of a great friendship between the two.

Rian was a different story. Now having finished Dream High 2, I can fully say that I love both villains, but for different reasons. Baek Hee’s character was just brilliant- we see her downfall, her desperation khổng lồ prove herself khổng lồ others, her insecurities being an idol knowing that at any moment Hye mày can snatch it away from her, her hateful envy for Hye Mi & heartbreak over Jin Gook that lead to her breaking point, and her steady climb afterwards in hope of becoming a good person. Rian did not exhibit as exaggerated character development, but we see hints of it here and there. In my opinion, both characters grew, but differently. Rian went from being just a mean girl, with no real goals or aspirations in life, pathetically clinging onto the remnants of her & JB’s relationship, và letting her spite for Hye Sung grow, to one of the only decent characters in Dream High 2. A huge problem with that drama was that hardly any of the characters focused on their dreams, & were too busy getting sucked into stupid love triangles. In the end, Rian was the only one that just screwed everybody else off, and focused on herself and her dreams. Rian starts off the drama as the face of one of Korea’s hottest girl groups, & when her position as an idol is threatened, she is the only character that seriously fights lớn the death lớn make sure it doesn’t get taken away. I was tired of the lack of “Let’s achieve our dreams!” in Dream High 2, but Rian shining made the last episode worth it.

Winner: Tie

The OST

OSTs are an important part of any drama. But seeing as Dream High is supposed lớn be a “musical” series, with it taking place in a performing arts school full of aspiring musicians, Dream High’s OSTs have come khổng lồ be incredibly popular. Both OSTs are great, but in the end, I’m gonna go with Dream High 2 on this one.

In my opinion, Dream High 2’s OST was fantastic. Not a single tuy vậy was “boring” or misplaced. The OST for Dream High 2 was a combination of slower lãng mạn ballads necessary for those cheesy moments, great solos, and energetic pop works. I get bored easily, and not once did I ever get distracted when listening lớn this OST. Each tuy vậy was gorgeously made và connected to a subplot in Dream High 2 perfectly. For those mourning over JB & Rian, we have “Together” (which, by the way, is my favorite tuy nhiên off this OST). For those fans in love with the closeness of the “B Class” students, there’s “B Class Life”. & for those who enjoyed the cute love triangle between Nana, Siwoo và Hong Joo, there’s “Sunflower”. Each tuy nhiên brings a different aspect of Dream High 2 to lớn the table, and this is something I can’t get over.

Dream High’s OST was also good, but, while I can whole heartedly say each song in Dream High 2 was amazing, I can’t really say the same about Dream High. Dream High seemed to have only two types of songs: those that are easily forgettable, & the classics that shall forever more remain in drama history. What I mean is, I really don’t think I could name every tuy vậy on Dream High’s OST, because most of the songs weren’t captivating enough. And then we have the songs that everyone knows, such as “Someday” and “Love High”. Though Dream High does have those famous tracks, overall, Dream High 2’s OST presented more musical value.

Winner: Dream High 2

The Overall Drama

Apart from Dream High winning in almost every category, I’m gonna say that a huge reason so many more people were fond of Dream High than Dream High 2 was the emotional appeal. Dream High 2 was cute; it really was. The love story between Hye Sung and her idol, JB, is every fangirl’s dream, và the characters were adorable. A bit too underdeveloped, but cute nonetheless. & though I could rant on và on about how adorkable Dream High 2 was, I really want to stress that’s all Dream High 2 was. It was just cute. I’m a sobber, I admit it. I cry easily for dramas, and I enjoy it too (not to lớn be creepy). But not once did I shed a tear for Dream High 2. There were times my eyes stung, and I wanted to cry, but nothing happened. There were no tugging heartstrings for Dream High 2, no heartaches or stained cheeks. There were plenty of “awws” và gasps, but other than just spur-of-the-moment outbursts, there was no emotion. Dream High 2 was good, good for a drama you may want to lớn watch if you’re bored out of your mind & want something dễ thương to keep you busy. It isn’t good for a drama that you want to change your life, if even for a second, or make you cry your eyes out. Maybe if Dream High wasn’t so emotional & easy to connect to; if the characters weren’t so relatable, the story so lovable, or the friendships and crushes so unbelievably cute, I wouldn’t be here complaining about how Dream High 2 didn’t live up to lớn the first season. But Dream High was all of those things, and even moreso. It was a real coming-of-age story about following your dreams & growing up.

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This 2012 follow-up drama, lượt thích the original Dream High, follows the students at a performing arts school, chronicling their challenges as they fight to lớn achieve their dreams of becoming idols and performers. Their interactions are complicated by rivalries, history, family drama, và romantic attractions.


This 2012 follow-up drama, lượt thích the original Dream High, follows the students at a performing arts school, chronicling their challenges as they fight khổng lồ achieve their dreams of becoming idols và performers. Their interactions are complicated by rivalries, history, family drama, & romantic attractions.


Dream High 2: Series Wrap-up

by javabeans

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As you know, we started out with hopes for Dream High 2 that quickly fizzled, & recaps were dropped after the first two weeks. I don’t regret that choice in the least, but I did continue watching the show out of curiosity, & now that it’s over, I’m weighing in with some overall thoughts on what worked for the show và what didn’t, và why I feel like it had what it took to lớn make a good show but never got there.

SONG OF THE DAY

Dream High 2 OST – “Hello to lớn Myself” < download >

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Note: Spoilers are everywhere!

The Plot…

Let’s bởi vì this in hyperspeed, hitting the main points:

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Picking up where recaps left off (with Episode 4), the Superidol audition series commences, with each stage focused around a certain theme. The tension mounts between Hae-sung và Ri-an, who are on opposite teams (idols versus underdogs), reluctant roommates, và rivals for JB’s affection. I know, it’s weird; JB has something of an offscreen lobotomy và goes from sneering derisively at Hae-sung (because he still has feelings for ex-girlfriend Ri-an) to lớn declaring that he likes Hae-sung a few episodes later.

Yoo-jin continues to help hapless Hae-sung, who has so little self-esteem that she lets everyone walk all over her, and then apologizes to her harassers. Eventually she becomes the school outcast & even her friends ditch her, shuffling away for fear that her suckitude is contagious.

You’d think that Yoo-jin, the confident, brash lone wolf who doesn’t care what anyone thinks and who likes Hae-sung, would be the one who’d step up and stand by her side in the moment of need. & he tries a few times, early on. But as the drama progresses he falls behind, either failing khổng lồ come through or getting there too late. Maybe Yoo-jin’s failure to lớn come through in crunch time is what makes him ultimately unsuccessful in love. (I know! So frustrating.)

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Instead, JB is the one to lớn extend a friendly hand when everyone else is shunning her. It’s strange, because he was the assy mean boy who looked down on her. I’m not sure why he changes his mind, và it’s one of the drama’s several hairpin turns, but we go with it because we have lớn if we’re going to lớn buy the rest of the plot. (Although I don’t think we buy the rest of the plot in any case.)

Hae-sung is ostracized và ridiculed lớn such extremes — even by her own teacher — that she decides to leave school, per her father’s wishes. And for some inexplicable reason, after she leaves her “friends” cry over her departure, even though they were the ones who ditched her just an episode ago. Ugh. It’s this flip-flop that makes the supporting cast hard to care about for the rest of the drama, even though they have some đáng yêu moments. To lớn feel the cute, though, it almost requires you to turn off your brain khổng lồ the part that can’t quite make sense of their behavior changes.

This is a problem that pops up in multiple instances: that to lớn enjoy what’s unfolding in the moment, you have to actively ignore what just came before it. Consistency is a major flaw, with little thought khổng lồ story or character integrity.

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JB follows Hae-sung back lớn her hometown to try lớn bring her back, & works his way into the good graces of her family. Yoo-jin follows one step behind, and gets distracted by swooping to lớn Ri-an’s rescue, which sets up the four-way conflict for the rest of the series. Except, the drama really only fixates on the JB/Hae-sung angle, dropping potential development along the Yoo-jin/Hae-sung and Yoo-jin/Ri-an fronts. Basically, Yoo-jin is the drama’s saving grace, và then he’s wasted.

Ri-an pulls a few dick moves, like stealing Hae-sung’s first song composition, “Hello to Myself,” và claiming songwriting credit for it. Hae-sung, problematically, is such a pushover that she isn’t angry (thankfully, both boys are angry on her behalf) but actually manages khổng lồ work up some gratitude to lớn everyone for performing her song, even if she wasn’t credited for it.

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On the upside, she’s belatedly acknowledged as songwriter and discovers her new talent. With that goal, Hae-sung decides to come back to school & is welcomed with open arms, including the teacher who’d turned against her, who has now turned back. There’s a lot of character turning in this drama.

At about halfway through, we enter the kinder, gentler half of Dream High 2, where characters are suddenly warmer to each other, even if it’s not quite understood why. It makes for a cuter, fuzzier watch, because I enjoy watching characters bond and tư vấn each other. But it does have the countereffect of dropping narrative flow, with everyone getting along.

This lack of clashing và tension means that the conflict has khổng lồ redirect to other outlets, và that happens in the khung of (1) romance, (2) sudden injuries, & (3) the Superidol auditions.

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With the romance angle, JB admits he likes Hae-sung, và they start dating. She finds herself the target of fangirl hate, but giao dịch with it even though everyone’s accusing her of being too ordinary to attract JB oppa’s affection.

There’s some lingering friction between Ri-an & Hae-sung regarding JB, but it never flares into anything serious because it seems the drama wasn’t sure whether to lớn make Ri-an into an antagonist or keep her likable. Và so it does both, to middling effect.

Even the idols-versus-underdogs tension loses what bite it had earlier on. It’s understood that everybody is still competing lớn make it to lớn the Superidol group at the end, but the competition lacks… well, competitiveness.

In Season 1, there was a raw, cutthroat element lớn the students’ efforts, which is missing here. When somebody loses in an audition round, they sort of sigh in disappointment và then move on — no ratcheting up of tension, no intensified drive lớn win. It makes it hard to lớn root for these kids when they don’t seem khổng lồ care very much.

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For instance, the idols thua thảm the “B” round (which I’ll talk about more below), & they look kinda bummed about it. Then JB shrugs & says that as long as Hae-sung won, he’s happy. Sweet for a boyfriend lớn say, but with the stakes supposedly so high (it’s a super idol group, not just idols!), there’s a curious lack of intensity.

A problem that presented itself early on was the huge disparity of talent between the idols & the underdogs. The idols have already made it; they’ve proven their musical & dancing talents và are working as professionals. The underdogs weren’t merely underprepared, but it’s doubtful whether some of them even have any talent lớn begin with (I’m left wondering why pseudo-psychic Soon-dong, for instance, ever bothered khổng lồ come to Kirin in the first place, while the headmaster’s rebellious daughter Seul is nice as a character but merely an accessory on the music front — she raps, sort of).

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So, the drama levels the playing field by taking a few of our idols out of commission. Nana develops cysts on her vocal cords that require operation and recovery, và JB gets hit by a truck. (Urg!)

Plus, since Nana can’t sing while she’s healing, Hersh
E is disbanded. The boys of Eden decide to take matters into their own hands & announce lớn the public, without consulting their management, that Eden will disband in solidarity. Which is nice of them, but again, it begs the question: If you’re going lớn give up your dream so easily, why am I rooting for you again?

Plus, at this point Shi-woo is back & cheerful & adorable, having magically cured his womanizing, street-fighting, troublemaking ways. I don’t complain about liking him all of a sudden; it’s just that I’m not entirely certain this is the same Shi-woo; is he really the good twin who’s managed khổng lồ swap places with the evil Shi-woo, who’s maybe locked up in a basement dungeon somewhere? (Except… would that make good Shi-woo the bad one? Hmm…)

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These aren’t actually bad things lớn have happen, in that you need a little dramatic tension for the characters. Especially once it’s revealed that the whole Superidol auditions are really just a sham, to lớn develop JB into a world star (against his knowledge, ’cause, yunno, that’s a good idea) — and the only reason Yoo-jin was picked lớn join the Superidols was because it would literally piss JB off & therefore make him work harder.

Here they co-opt that marathon-running term, pacemaker, dubbing Yoo-jin the tool that’ll keep JB on course. Instead JB gets hit by a truck.

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I do lượt thích the conflict of the pacemaker, since the boys were mix up from the start to be fierce rivals. I wanted khổng lồ see that play out, I wanted sparks lớn fly, I wanted the competition swinging from one to the other và back again, in a constant push-pull of dynamic one-upsmanship.

That could have then been reinforced by the romantic rivalry, because Yoo-jin’s pining for the girl who’s dating JB (sort of), who’s sort of still got a thing with Ri-an (sort of), who has a few flirty moments with Yoo-jin (sort of). See the problem? Enough with the sort ofs, Drama, and just get to the damn point!

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I’m sad that the Yoo-jin/Ri-an story never went anywhere romantic, because of all the potential couples, they had the most chemistry. Part of my mental block with JB and Hae-sung is that they had zero lãng mạn rapport — I kept seeing her as a noona humoring her cute little brother. Their real-life ages weren’t solely to lớn blame, but the fact that Kang Sora’s four years older than JB surely didn’t help.

I wanted lớn see Hae-sung and Yoo-jin have more flirty moments, but for me the Ri-an loveline was the bigger dropped ball. I say that because Yoo-jin’s relationship with Hae-sung was like a life coach urging his client do better while she felt sorry for herself. With Ri-an, I felt a reciprocal dynamic, with both of them turning into unexpected sources of emotional tư vấn for each other.

Yoo-jin turns out to have a painful past, with his early fame as a now-embarrassing child role ending with his parents’ bitter divorce. Now he’s estranged from Mom, và it’s Ri-an who prods him to make amends. He, in return, is there khổng lồ poke & prod Ri-an, & they develop a cutely bickering rapport.

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Meanwhile, the Hae-sung and JB line undergoes a frustrating bout of noble idiocy, because Hae-sung is told she’s holding JB back. For one of the audition rounds, he had picked Hae-sung to lớn be his partner, which everybody believes to lớn mean he chose failure, just so he could be with his girlfriend. Ergo, love over career. (It requires a few leaps in logic, but I see what they did there.) So lớn bring JB’s focus back, she’s asked by several people khổng lồ let him go, using that dreaded phrase, “…for his own good.”

She breaks up with him, & he sort of refuses khổng lồ acknowledge it but sort of doesn’t insist on staying together, either. Instead, they continue kind-of-not-dating for a while. Gah, this drama is so wishy-washy it drives me up a wall. Và then back down. Và then around in circles. It can’t decide which way to go so it goes all ways, and gets nowhere.

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Then, khổng lồ return the favor, JB is later told he’s holding Hae-sung back, because she has the chance khổng lồ go to Berklee School of Music & turns it down to be with him. Therefore he should let her go “for her own good,” & off she goes.

And this leads us to…

The Ending (WTF?)

By the time the last Superidol audition rolls around, the extraneous characters have been whittled away and our finalists are the usual suspects: The idols, with Yoo-jin, dancer Eui-bong, & guitarist Hee-joo up for the final six spots.

There’s an added carrot dangled in front of the kids: the one winner will get the chance lớn be sent abroad solo as a world star. ‘Cause world stardom works like that, don’tcha know: Just drop an idol into a ready-made slot, & presto, fame!

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Ri-an rocks the audition & wins with a heartfelt tuy nhiên she composed, using lyrics Yoo-jin had written (this time taken with permission). JB has been hiding from everybody that his leg still pains him and collapses onstage. And Yoo-jin? He throws the competition for himself, choosing not to be pushed down another path before he’s ready, like he did as a child star.

So, the two people who don’t make the Superidol group are the ones we probably most expected: JB & Yoo-jin. Those who make the group: Ri-an, Nana, Ailee, Shi-woo, Eui-bong, and Hee-joo.

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Ri-an chooses, however, to lớn give up the solo gig & stays with the Superidols, saying that she made it this far because of her friends, và doesn’t think she can continue on without them.

When we jump forward eight months to graduation day, the Superidols have become big stars. Yoo-jin’s just a regular high school student, và he welcomes them back lớn school with a big wave. When asked how they feel about their respective fates, Yoo-jin và Ri-an echo each other: It wasn’t that they gave something up, but chose something else.

Then, we skip forward eight years….

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…and here’s where the massive disappointment sets in. (Even deeper, I mean.) I’m pretty sure the drama chose the eight-year jump lớn mirror Season 1, but in my opinion this show really shouldn’t be drawing any more attention to lớn the season-by-season comparisons.

The former Superidols all come back to lớn Kirin High, mobilized by Yoo-jin… who is now a teacher. WTF? You have the most charismatic, most musically interesting character & you make him a teacher? Urg, my heart feels for poor Yoo-jin, so wasted.

In the intervening years, Nana & Hong-joo have become a successful vocal duo — her voice can’t sustain a solo career, but together they’re doing well. The love triangle that served as comic relief is still going strong, with Shi-woo huffy over Nana paying all that attention to lớn Hong-joo. What’s that guy got that he doesn’t?

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Back in high school, Seul had patched up her relationship with her dad and asked lớn be allowed khổng lồ train as a manager. He’d put her in charge of the Superidols, and now she’s coupled up with Eui-bong, who teaches at a dance academy.

This is one of the only satisfactory resolutions, both romantic và otherwise, because while their xinh đẹp little loveline never occupied much screentime, it was one that made sense. Eui-bong was the one who urged her khổng lồ make nice with her father, & was happy for her when she finally did.

Meanwhile, Ri-an left idol-dom behind lớn become a successful actress who has been lớn Cannes, so I’m assuming she learned how to act at some point. JB is now a producer, who is working on a tuy nhiên recorded by Ailee, a non-dancing solo singer.

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Hae-sung flies in from the States… having become a successful Broadway director? Um, okay. But what about the newfound talent and her gift for writing songs that resonate with the mainstream pop market?

Yoo-jin is implementing a big musical at Kirin, which is titled “Dream High” and features the story of an ordinary, untalented student named Shin Hae-sung. Funny how “Dream High” was also the name of the movie Ri-an shot with Sam-dong in the first episode. Drama, you’ve already used that meta joke — you’ve gotta keep them straight!

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The musical is supposedly a Big Effing khuyễn mãi giảm giá and will be a joint collaboration between alumni and students. Curious, then, that there are no students onstage other than Hae-sung’s little sister, who’s now a student and who’s meant, I’m sure, khổng lồ echo Hye-mi’s sister in Season 1’s “eight years later” epilogue. It’s weird.

The epilogue is essentially an excuse lớn give us a final dance number with our main cast, who tell us in alternating voiceovers that nobody has achieved the dream they had at the outset, but that now they’ve all changed & developed with their dreams.

The end.

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The Characters

The drama is riddled with writing flaws, but in my view the biggest one — the one that I can’t rationalize or get past — is that the characters don’t make sense. It wasn’t even a simple matter of not liking the characters, but that I often had no idea what they were doing that I couldn’t decide whether they were supposed khổng lồ be likable or unlikable. They were just… there. Doing stuff. Pushing the plot along.

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If I care about the characters, I can put up with a lot, whether it’s questionable conflicts or bad acting or strange musical interludes. When you get invested in a character, you might start feeling like they’re real people, not just tools for telling a fictional TV story who are destined khổng lồ live comfortably within their four walls, with no connection to lớn your own life or the real world.

When I don’t care about the characters, no matter how great the story is, I’ve already got one foot out the door, my mind only partially engaged. What Dream High 2 did, seemingly, was tick off boxes khổng lồ make sure it had all the components there — the voice, the rebel, the rocker, the outcast — without figuring out how lớn turn those single elements into real people.

And it’s not like it’s not possible. See Dream High 1 for proof of how, with a little thought, a seemingly flat character can break out into more dimensions. The underdog in the beginning isn’t the underdog at the end; people freed themselves from their initial trappings and went on lớn develop facets. In Season 2, everybody’s all surface.

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One huge failing was the character of Hae-sung, who should have been the one we rooted for whole-heartedly lớn overcome her mediocrity & find her talent. Yet even when she tapped into her songwriting potential, she was such a frustratingly weak, meek character that I just wanted to shake her. She starts out with such low self-esteem that when people abuse her, she practically apologizes for sucking so hard that they were driven khổng lồ the abuse. She means to be modest when saying, “I have no talent, but…” What I hear is a morose, sad character who has no spine. And no matter how much you want to lớn give somebody spine, that’s something they’ve got khổng lồ figure out for themselves.

I thought that as the drama headed into the final stretch, at least we could look forward khổng lồ her spreading her wings and standing on her own two feet. After all, she outlasted JB in the audition round, & is still in the running for making the Superidol cut. Và what does she do?

She declares, “My dream is… making JB’s dream come true.” She gives up her second original composition & forfeits her audition slot khổng lồ him, to keep JB’s dream alive. Blech. I want to like her, but I just can’t get past her wishy-washy, mealy-mouthed nature. You want to yell at her to have more respect for herself — you can have a spine & still be a good person!

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Speaking of JB: He’s another flawed characterization, though rooted in a different problem. In the drama, he’s the one marked for superstardom — so much so that their hoity-toity producer designs the competition to lớn hone his talents. This is a point that requires suspension of disbelief, because everybody waxes poetic about JB’s superior talents, & then he goes out & performs & I’m left wondering, Him?

I mentioned this in the last podcast, that the drama was unwilling khổng lồ actually portray the characters as they were described và therefore sacrificed story credibility for vanity. Ri-an’s supposed to lớn be Hersh
E’s pretty face and nothing more, yet she takes the stage & Ji-yeon sings well — because you can’t have her singing poorly, can you? Similarly, Yoo-jin is supposed to lớn be a poor dancer who gets schooled by JB — và while Jin-woon shuffles a few steps, in the over there’s no real disparity between the two.

There was also the laughable “Proposal” themed audition, where JB and Hae-sung sing a tuy vậy together that gets everybody marveling with jaws dropped, saying that Hae-sung radiates light và has never been better… but the tuy nhiên is mediocre at best.

As a result, confused viewers are left wondering if the characters are supposed to lớn be good or bad in this scene, rather than trusting the drama’s presentation lớn tell us.

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As I said, characters change without explanation, which is bad enough. But in some instances the drama essentially rewrites its own history, lượt thích with the idols. At the outset, Eden is on the verge of self-combusting with Shi-woo always in trouble & JB wanting a solo career. The Hersh
E girls acknowledge that Ri-an holds them back and an early episode shows tension between Ri-an & the others.

But later in the series — in its Nice Half — flashbacks take us back lớn the trainee days, when they were all a big happy family, forming bonds that have lasted till the present day. Not only does it confuse you, it invalidates its own self by changing its tune later down the line. Oh, then maybe Eden wasn’t a contentious duo after all. Maybe Ri-an didn’t suck. Even though Episode 1 tells otherwise.

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I won’t complain about the characters getting nicer, because despite the show’s numerous stumbles, at least the đáng yêu moments between the cast buoyed the tone. If I didn’t think too hard about why the characters were behaving in such a way, I could enjoy the squabbling, the petty rivalries, & the group bonding. They never got me in the heart, but as a loose string of amusing encounters, they were fine. Better light-hearted fun than needless angst, right?

In that, I’m reminded of the K necklace: cute, but random. The pendant makes brief appearances throughout the show to get passed along from person to person. It’s supposed khổng lồ be a callback khổng lồ Season 1, though it doesn’t have the same function: Last year, we were curious every time it got passed on, because we know that the person left with the necklace would be K. Here, it has no such meaning. Ri-an gets it from Sam-dong when they’re shooting “Dream High” in Episode 1, và it acts as a good-luck charm. But it carries no real significance — it’s an empty meta reference, is all.

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As for the romance: a huge dropped ball. A show doesn’t have to lớn have clear-cut romances khổng lồ be satisfying, and I can think of a number of dramas where that’s true. Dream High 2, on the other hand, actually sacrificed story xúc tích và ngắn gọn to keep its romantic entanglements alive, so it’s especially aggravating that nothing concludes to satisfaction. (Seul và Eui-bong notwithstanding.)

No Yoo-jin love? Damn, if you were going lớn leave him hanging at the end, you could’ve at least given Hae-sung & JB their neatly tied romantic ending (and I say that having disliked their relationship). How can this show have given up everything it had going for it & exchanged it with everything that didn’t work? Urg, urg, urg!

The Music

I’ve already outlined my dissatisfaction with the musical numbers in the previous recap, và I won’t belabor the same points here. Suffice khổng lồ say that the same complaints hold true throughout the show, although they did improve. The 10-minute music-video montages that cluttered the initial episodes mostly worked their way out of the show, and the musical numbers that remained were mostly tied into the audition process. So, score one for relevance.

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I did wish they’d taken more care to be realistic with the performances, which all sounded lượt thích CD tracks laid over a scene. At times I was confused whether the characters were supposed to lớn be singing “live” or if they were lip-synching — lượt thích in the scene when the Eden and Hersh
E idols band together và sing (“I’ll always be by your side, I’ll hold your hand”), and suddenly there’s background music in an a cappella (?) scene. Where’d that MR track come from? In another scene where Hong-joo performs onstage with his guitar, suddenly we hear cello & piano accompaniment. Er?

The thing is, the raw, in-the-moment version is often much more moving anyway. Shut Up Flower Boy Band showed us that, giving us performances that sounded live — and so did Dream High 1, in fact. Pil-sook’s hospital guitar scene with Jason listening outside the door? Guh, had me in near tears. Trust your story, I want lớn say.

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However, there were some shining moments too, with several musical numbers rivaling Season 1 for thematic resonance. Many didn’t, but a few selections elevated the show by tying in a performance khổng lồ a character arc, lượt thích with Hae-sung writing “Hello khổng lồ Myself,” or the underdogs coming together to lớn write “B các mục Life” together. Given only the word/letter “B” as a prompt, they struggle lớn make meaning of the direction — is it Bi (as in singer Rain), or bi (literal rain), or B (the letter)? They draw on their status as the misfits và compose the lyrics that go:

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Dream High 2 OST – “B급인생” (B các mục Life) < download >

I am a boy, just a boy
Just one boy out of countless others,I’m not special, with nothing lớn show off
I am a girl, just a girlthe kind of girl you’d just pass by
I’m not pretty at all, just totally ordinary looking

We are the B, B, B danh mục life
We want to lớn be A list
We are ab, ab, abnormaland want lớn stand at the top
We are the B, B, B menu life
We want khổng lồ be A list
We are ab, ab, abnormaland want to lớn stand at the top

I’m just a nobody, with no real use
Just sweating pointless beads of sweat
More than my own frustration,I tire seeing those frustrated expressions around me

One day I’ll find that special something inside me
Will that day come?
Before I lose the dream fading inside me
Will I be able to shine my light?

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There was also Seul’s song selection for the last audition, which was supposed khổng lồ be sung on behalf of someone else. She toys with the idea of using the moment as a great big fuck-you to lớn Dad, who embodies the philosophy of “Dirty Money.” Thankfully with some urging by Eui-bong, she changes her mind và chooses a tuy nhiên about a childhood dream she’d forgotten as she grew older; “But when I’m troubled, I want to run & play like a child… In my bygone childhood, I dreamed a beautiful dream of flying in that yellow balloon.”

She offers a balloon khổng lồ her father mid-song — outing their relationship to lớn the school — and tells him she wants to lớn try liking him from now on. Và crusty old Dad sits there holding a balloon with a big goofy grin on his face. *Tear.* That might’ve been the only moment that made me feel something in the heart, & I wish there had been more like it.

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In that same audition, Yoo-jin extends the olive branch lớn his estranged mother, whom he’s always told people was dead. At Ri-an’s prodding, though, he manages to invite her khổng lồ the show, và dedicates “I’m Sorry” to lớn her, singing his apologies for hesitating & hiding his feelings.

These are the flashes that showed us what the drama could have been, if it had tried a little harder, if it had stayed a little truer lớn its characters và not tried to stuff them into an imitation of Season 1.

Final Thoughts

I feel like Dream High 2 pretty much encapsulates the Korean concept of mi-woon jung, aka hate-affection. It’s the kind of grudging attachment you develop despite feeling friction, irritation, or outright hate. It’s true of the characters — they start out all awash in dislike and clashing personalities, và grow into their bonds — & it’s true of myself as a viewer.

Clearly there was something there that kept me tuning in, despite the numerous frustrations with the show, so it wasn’t all bad. It’s just that you really vì chưng have lớn lay aside that need to make sense of the world, lớn have a story with a proper rise & fall, or a resolution that fits with the rest of the show. Funny enough, I think if I’d stuck with recaps of the show, I would have quit quickly, and with a lot of aggravation — recapping requires a much closer watch, and the show just doesn’t hold up khổng lồ that kind of scrutiny. As a casual viewer, though, I was more willing to turn off my brain and shrug when something didn’t make sense, just khổng lồ see where they were going.

Sadly I think the ending nosedived from the rest of the series (which was already on shaky ground), because it neither worked for our characters nor gave us satisfactory conclusions. If you’re abandoning lô ghích to the wind anyway, then why couldn’t you just throw in some happy resolutions and fanservice while you’re at it? Funny that the whole show was a big ol’ exercise in fanservice at the expense of narrative, but it didn’t even deliver on that last front.

If I have one takeaway from Dream High 2, it’s Jin-woon, who was charismatic and looks khổng lồ be pretty musically talented lớn boot. The others, I could take ’em or leave ’em. (Mostly leave ’em.) A lot of us were willing lớn give this drama a whirl based on the strength of the original, but if the Dream High franchise continues, it’ll have khổng lồ prove itself all over from the beginning.