Sunday, September 20, 2020

Kdrama Review: I-Land

 Drama: I-Land

Genre: music survival show

Starring: 23 awesome boys, Rain, PD Bang, and a random appearance by BTS, TXT and SEVENTEEN!

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

(This review is not spoiler free for anyone who thinks they might watch this and don't want to know the ending!)

I'm counting this as a kdrama review because I watched it on Viki, it was FULL of drama and there's also, you know, that whole K (AHHH!!! double meaning!) element to it. 

In the kpop world there have been lots and lots of music survival shows... where they bring together a bunch of kids who compete to be in the group that is formed by the survivors of the show. I've never watched one in real time, only after the fact (years later sometimes) and already knowing who makes it. Most of the time I refuse to watch because I KNOW it's painful and ruthless and very very manipulated. 

Still, somehow I found myself watching this one, out of curiosity... quarantine opportunity (more time) and I guess a bit because it was being produced by Big Hit aka. BTS' company... which meant I knew it would be big and everyone would be talking about it, so I wanted to be part of the buzz.

So anyway, it's 12 episodes long... and the finale just aired live Saturday morning. I got up at 5 am to watch it live (8 pm on Korean TV). And wow... as expected. It was brutal and ruthless.

The gist of this show was bringing together 23 boys (I think it was meant to be 24 but someone dropped out just before it aired) from all over the world, some of them Big Hit trainees, some of them just barely started in the business... to compete to make a group of 7 boys by the end. This huge AMAZING set was created just for this show... complete with high tech stages, living quarters for the boys and everything you can imagine. Right off the bat it was crazy because the boys, the second they arrived, had to perform each other and vote whether they stayed or left! Only 12 could stay! 

Turns out that the ones that got voted "off" actually went to a different place and were still able to compete for a chance to get back "in."  They called that the Ground and they fought hard to get back to the I-Land. 

Throughout the episodes, they had missions and tests to complete... different styles of music to sing and perform. They worked together as teams most of the time, even though they were competing against each other. Positions constantly changed between who was I-land and who was Ground. They were mentored by big wigs in the business (Rain for one. And he was awesome.) Conflicts happened all the time, but mostly, they bonded tightly with each other and formed lasting friendships.

And we the viewers fell in love with every single one of them!

At the end of part 1 they eliminated half of the boys... and they were done with no chance to come back. At that point we the viewers were able to start voting... and then one by one, the remaining boys were eliminated according to that vote... and also according to the producers' decisions. Until Saturday morning at the finale and we were left with the final seven.

I rooted for  many of the boys (some who had to leave at the end of part 1 of course) and voted evenly for pretty much all of them. But there was one boy (named K, see picture above) who was just amazing and I thought he would for sure make it... he scored high constantly and seemed to be a producer favorite. But there at the end, they shocked us by choosing to NOT save him... and he got eliminated. It was devastating.

This is one of the iconic performances that brought K a lot of attention. He's the one with the especially floppy hair hanging in eyes. The one that waves to us all there at the end. The first song in this medley is Rainism, which they are performing for Rain himself. I can't even imagine.

And now I see why everyone moans about these shows so much! And yet continue to watch them! They are such a draw, full of emotion and talent, and character, and everything. But it's so hard to know that they are all so good and all have such dreams, but then don't get their big chance. So painful.

The hope is that the ones who don't make it end up getting nabbed by someone who was watching and has their eye on them... and they get their big break after all. Here's hoping. 

So.. yeah. My first experience watching one of these things and having my heart ripped out! A blast! It's going to take me awhile to get over it! And here's hoping I can be strong enough to not get sucked up into another one of these things!

For the finale they brought back ALL the boys to perform this, their signature song. It's been stuck in my head ever since. They all looks so amazing. 

And this is the final test the remaining nine had to perform. They look so good. After this, two of them (including K) were eliminated.

And now we are left with a new group to love. They are called Enhypen. A very strange name that hopefully I'll get used to soon!

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