A review of the ‘Crash Course in Romance’ series: Academic stress, competition, and love in the face of parental trauma

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A still from 'Crash Course in Romance'
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A still from ‘Crash Course in Romance’ Photo credit: Special Arrangements

The drama of A crash course in romance, Contrary to its English title, ‘Romance’ is not just a crash course, nor is it a romantic comedy. The 16-episode K-drama begins as a seemingly quirky romance between banchan (side dish) store owner and former handball player Nam Hang-seon (Jeun Do-yeon) and a famous math instructor — yes, It is actually one. Big Talk – Choi Chi-yul (Jung Kyung-ho). When his sister walks out on the family, leaving their young daughter behind, Hang-soon takes her under his wing, and also has to take care of his brother Jae-woo (Oh Eui-sik) who He has autism.

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The couple’s early flings, banter and misunderstandings are a breeze, mostly because they’re refreshing characters in their early forties. With great actors like Do-Yeon and Kyung-Ho, the energy never wanes and the actors seem to be trying to outdo each other. When it comes to emotional scenes, when they are perfect and strike all the right chords, there is no shortage of some sweet, sizzling chemistry.

Their romance, however, as mentioned in the beginning, is not the only focus of the K-drama. There are competitive mothers, pressure from high school academics, jealous classmates, parental trauma, scheming professional rivals, a dozen scandals, and a murderous psychopath on the loose. And they don’t always come together.

A Crash Course in Romance (Korean)

Director: Yoo Ji Won

Cast: Jeon Do-yeon, Jung Kyung-ho, Roh Yoon-seo, Oh Ee-shik, Shin Ja-ha

Episodes: 16

Running time: 70 minutes

Story: The story of the bitter relationship between a Bunchan shop owner and a top Hagon instructor

Haeng-Seon’s shop is located near an academic district, full of tutoring academies that high school students and their parents line up for. It’s a world where mothers line up in front of The Pride Academy not only to register their children for Chi-Yeol’s math classes, but also to get them seats right at the front of the class. . Author Yang Hye-seung does a great job of setting up this world for the audience, depicting the academic pressure and the extent of the system that students who are about to enter universities, and their parents, face. Trying to navigate.

Mothers in particular rise to this challenge, often performing at their humble best in this battle for college entrance exams. A workaholic attorney Jung Seo-jin (Jung Young-nam), whose first son has been pushed to the brink by academic pressure, is now focused on making sure her second son Lee Sun Ja (Lee Chae-min) don’t hold back. Also at the bottom is Su-Hee (Kim Sun-Young), a social media high school academic mom-influencer who is obsessed with her daughter’s studies and apparently struggles with her mental health as well as her cheating husband. is oblivious

Hang-seon soon realizes that he needs to step up for his niece, Nam Hee-yi (Roh Yoon-seo), and struggles to fit into this world of competition and intrigue. However, she plays a parent who lets He-Yi do things at her own pace and has her best interests at heart, which is largely absent from the other mothers on the show. The trauma that parents like Seo-Jin and Su-Hee knowingly and unknowingly inflict on their children, who are already struggling under the burden of a flawed education system, is touched upon in large part by the show, and then Even in reality it can never be solved. completely. Despite this parental pressure and the resulting trauma being revealed later in the show as a motivation for the murders, hardly any time is spent on the interactions between the mothers and their children.

The show’s many subplots are ultimately its biggest downfall. Too much time is spent on the killing spree and despite stretching this plot point to the end, there is a lazily written conclusion to try to tie up all the loose ends. The reappearance of a family member and the sudden inclusion of romance between two secondary characters working together could have been avoided altogether in favor of more screen time for the main couple, or He-Yi and her school friends. . Yoon-Seo and Chae-Min give measured, sincere performances as He-Yi and Sun-Jae and even Lee Min-Jae, who plays their classmate Jeon-Ho, in his small role. are shining

As it tries to touch on a budding romance as well as the pressures of high school academics, the show constantly makes tonal leaps, especially during its latter half, and the writing is often chaotic and disjointed because of this. Appears as clutter. However, amidst the chaos, the evolution of relationships between the leads, high school friendships, and the lone parent relationship that seems to work (Haeng-seon and He-yi) redeems the show, almost ending the chaos. Is.

Without these style jumps, A crash course in romance, which has emerged as one of the biggest ratings hits among releases this year, would have made for the perfect watch. But as it is, the warmth of his leads and his attempt to explore the dark side of education are nonetheless compelling.

A Crash Course in Romance is now streaming on Netflix.


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