Hello and welcome to another TV series deep dive! This time it’s on the 2020 K-Drama- Private Lives, that’s steaming on Netflix!
As always this would be a spoiler free review, but TV series deep dives consist of synopsis versus expectations, segmented episode recaps, mid run review, final episode predictions and spoiler free revie s such as this one. You can check out all the posts on Private Lives by just clicking the link here. Now onto the review!
Before we start here are my top favorite OST tracks from the drama – Things to love by 6BAND and The Most Ordinary Day by Yang Pa. You can click this Spotify link to have a listen of these songs as you read as well!
Title : Private Lives (English), 사생활 (Korean), 私生活 (Hanja), Sasaenghwal (Romanized)
Country of origin : South Korea
Language : Korean
Written by : Yoo Sung Yeol
Directed by : Nam Jun Hyuk
Production studio : JTBC studios and Production Plan
Starring : Seohun, Go Kyung Po, Kim Hyo Jin, Kim Young Nim, Tae Won Seok
Theme music : Kim Joon Suk
Number of seasons : 1
Number of episodes : 16
Status : Completed
Duration : 70 minutes on average per episode
Broadcasted on : JTBC (Korea), Netflix (international)
Broadcast date : October 7 to November 26 of 2020
Genre : Crime, Drama, Romance
The drama starts with a narrative about privacy, how we have all sorts of information about ourselves all over the internet and other places which make it easily monitored and used for the wrong purposes. With that being kept in mind, we are introduced to our characters.
The protagonist of the story is Cha Joo Eun. Her parents are con artists and do several small scale com artist jobs they call “documentaries”. Joo Eun doesn’t want to continue this path and would rather have a normal life but she occassionally helps her parents fulfill their documentaries.
They meet a group headed by a woman called Bok Ki that makes Joo Eun’s father con the people of a church as a pastor to launder money under its name. Needless to say Bok Ki and her team run away with the money and Joo Eun’s father is jailed. Helpless Joo Eun turns to continue the con artist work to live, along with her parents friend Han Son.
Eun Joo tries to take her revenge on Bok Ki but fails miserably and is jailed. On being released she’s given another job which is when she meets Jeong Hwan from GK telecom. The two start dating and decide to eventually get married but on the day of their marriage she finds that Jeong Hwan is dead in a freak car accident.
Distraught and bewildered, Joo Eun later finds some suspicious information about Jeong Hwan and his past and start to dig it out when she comes face to face with Bok Ki, her story, and a plethora of characters that form a huge network of privacy related crimes, corruption and other crimes.
The first thing I felt when I read the premise and watched the initial episodes was that this drama is going to be something different than the usual run-of-the-mill drama. My expectations were quite high with the plot built up on a huge privacy scam network and four con artists who could outdo each other at any moment.
Until episode 8, I was quite hooked into the story and was dying to know what the real face of all the characters are and what is behind the bigger picture of the plot on which this story is based on. Right after episode 8, the momentum did pick up with some more revelations about the characters and the plot.
But that’s where things also got quite complicated for me.
By the second half of the series there were a lot of complex and new characters that were introduced for too brief of screen time for my mind to actually register and connect them all with the plot. I’m no theorist or mastermind when it comes to complicated plots and cast, but this one did leave me quite confused but I continued to watch it since I started it, hoping it would all make sense down the road. I usually never feel this confusion at the middle of the show but usually only at the beginning when we are laid out the entire drama to build up on with further episodes.
But things got worse. The pace of the drama was not at at all satisfying and with my confusion and disinterest from the slow pace increasing I found it hard for the show to keep me captivated. Unlike a lot of my friends, I try my best to hold onto something I check out even if it’s not amazing because I want to see the whole thing through before passing judgements.
With all these problems, if the plot was good in the end I would have forgiven it, and maybe enjoyed it, but the complicated plot points led to such simple solutions and endings that I just didn’t feel a sense of satisfaction with it. I also feel they didn’t use the completed potential of the privacy scam that was hyped so much when the series started nor the complex characters.
The ending of the series kind of kept many things we thought we will see from the beginning of the series still open – I’m not sure whether they are planning a second season or whether it was just a result of inconsistent writing either.
Coming to the characters, they literally were the only thing that kept me going. Yes, the bad execution didn’t let them rise to the potential but all the actors did do justice to their characters as much as they could within the limitations of the script. There were a plethora of additional characters that could have been used better and to the advantage of the plot but neither of that was done. The villian to be honest is really unclear, although I think it’s more symbolic – the villian being the corruption and Crimea more than specific characters – something that aligns with the reality that we know of.
Aside from that the series didn’t give me any exceptional points to talk about , be it the cinematography. The music was however quite well suited to the drama as a whole, which you can listen to, as I’ve linked it at the top.
My final verdict ? I really wanted to like this series but sadly I was not able to. I rarely complain about shows or movies to the extent that I openly say I didn’t like them, but ultimately it was the slow pace of the series that killed it for me – it might have been enjoyed way better if it was shot as a 2 hour movie than a 16 hour TV series. However I do not want my feelings to impact your watching of the show. This show doesn’t have any cheesy romance breaks or humor but sticks to the point and delivers a story of power hungry corrupted criminals and characters all amidst a huge privacy breach. If that sounds like your thing, please do check it out!
Let me know in the comments what you felt about the series too!
You can check out the teaser for the drama right here. Please do check out all the other detailed posts on the series by clicking the link at the top!