TYPE OF REVIEW : HINDSIGHT REVIEW
Lots of spoilers! For my First Impression Review, click over here.
tvN’s Flower Boy Next Door did not disappoint. It started out as a sweet and charming romantic comedy and it ended a sweet and charming romantic comedy.
That isn’t always the case. Sometimes Korean dramas start out all light and fluffy then turn into a melodrama, or vice versa.
But Flower Boy Next Door maintained its sweet and warmhearted tone throughout, telling the love story of Go Dok Mi and Enrique Geum while also helping the other characters find love as well. The series was cute and fun with touches of drama that never overwhelmed its lighter side.
We watched as Enrique (Yoon Shi Yoon) helped Dok Mi (Park Shin Hye) leave the safe confines of her apartment and re-experience the world she had closed herself off to. While the reason of her seclusion turned out to be genuinely sad and traumatic, it helped make Enrique’s efforts that much more meaningful.
Park Shin Hye did a great job taking Dok Mi from being a strange introvert that peeps on her hot neighbor to a vulnerable and hurt young woman to someone who has learned to love and trust someone outside the four walls of her apartment. She made you understand just why she is the way she is, but also allowed for that hope and promise that she had it in herself to change.
Yoon Shi Yoon has already proven himself, but here as Enrique, he is able to solidify himself as a versatile actor. He can be loud and outrageous as well as pensive and sincere. In real life, he’s shown himself to actually be more shy and reserved. So for him to be able to draw the laughs and use the big movements shows off his talent and range as an actor.
Park Shin Hye and Yoon Shi Yoon definitely have what it takes to carry a show on their own, but the series was definitely a great ensemble.
Kim Ji Hoon as Oh Jin Rak never really felt like a reliable option for Dok Mi, but he still did his part in the bigger picture, getting Dok Mi and Enrique together. Jin Rak himself though presented a great contrast in love compared to everyone else. As the series concluded with everyone finding their own definitions of love, Jin Rak’s own realization was still very interesting to watch. It was actually a lot more interesting than that whole chaebol backstory they touched on that really didn’t leave much of a mark.
Park Soo Jin as Cha Do Hwi didn’t really start getting a chance to shine until almost halfway through the show, but she did a good job bringing to life a character you never knew whether you wanted to love her or hate her or whether you understood her or not. In the end, she wasn’t all bad, but it was a realistic ending for her in that she might have realized the wrongs she’d done in the past, but she’s still going to find a hot, rich guy for herself.
Go Kyung Pyo did solid work as the sidekick in Dong Hoon. But it was definitely a pleasant surprise to see the great chemistry and sweetness that grew with Kim Seul Gi as their webtoon manager/editor. It was a cute final episodes for them that helped keep the series moving forward.
The same for Lee Dae Yeon and Kim So Yi as security guard (and owner!) Hong Soon Chul and youthful Im Jung. The little moments they had together throughout the series helped create a nice little family and community. It’s a shame Mizuta Kouki as Watanabe Ryu didn’t get more to do. But as exemplified by the groups’ various gatherings at his apartment for classes or dinner, without just one of them, there’d seem to be something missing. It really felt like a great group of friends, family, that presented another way to look at the word “love.”
But of course, the main event was the long journey between Kkae-Geum and Ahjumma. There was enough for them to do that allowed them to make the journey from first meeting to declaration of love take all 16 episodes. Not many series can do that without making several episodes seem like filler or make you feel like you’re going around in circles.
Flower Boy Next Door used that group of friends to give a natural flow to the story while slowly, but surely peeling back the onions that were Enrique and Dok Mi. That they’d end up together never seemed to be in doubt, but that wasn’t the most compelling thing about their relationship. Seeing them help each other grow, especially Enrique helping Dok Mi, was meaningful and satisfying. That they taught each other trust and friendship and most importantly, loving yourself and your own hopes and dreams as much as another definitely wrapped the series up in a beautiful fashion.
Cable dramas recently seem to be more creative and fresh than those on the three broadcast networks. At times light and fluffy and other times solemn and contemplative, Flower Boy Next Door continued that trend. It was a sweet, cute and charming story about love and friendship. And most important, it told these characters’ stories with plenty of heart.