Report Card for Dramas that Aired in the Second Half of 2020

With the diversification of platforms, ratings no longer seem to be an absolute criterion in evaluating dramas, but one of the relative measures. We will look back on dramas that have made notable strides in the second half of 2020.

There seems to be no doubt that SBS’s The Penthouse: War in Life is the work that is decorating the end of 2020 more splendidly than anything else. The most appropriate word for The Penthouse: War in Life is “makjang.” Contrary to the definition of penthouse, which is a high-end residential space, it puts all kinds of “evil” such as kidnapping, confinement, assault, infidelity, abandonment of a dead body and bullying in one project, creating one crazy drama. Thanks to this, its ratings have been on the rise from the first episode, recording the highest viewership of 14.5% (based on Nielsen Korea). If we only take in viewer ratings as the factor to decide the success or failure, The Penthouse: War in Life will definitely take the top spot, but it does not seem easy to call this a “good drama.”

tvN’s Record of Youth, the last drama Park Bo Gum worked on before joining the military, recorded a stable viewership of 7% on average. Putting forth various characters with unique storytelling, surprise appearances of star actors and eye-catching performances of veteran actors, the drama attracted fixed viewers. However, excessive production and non-stop crises that the main character faces every time were deemed a series of cliches.

Credit: tvN, SBS

Just as it is pointed out that the figures derived from the traditional rating method are no longer meaningful, many works have shown solid results regardless of ratings. The best examples are My Unfamiliar Family, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay and Do You Like Brahms?

My Unfamiliar Family dealt with problems among family members that anyone today can relate to, drawing sympathy from viewers. Kim Soo Hyun’s first comeback project in 5 years, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, also received remarkable results with unique stories, sensuous productions, actors’ passionate performances and clear messages. Do You Like Brahms? has successfully proved that calm and emotional stories without provocative plot or dramatic events/accidents can still captivate viewers.

Of all the dramas released since June, only a handful of dramas surpassed the 10% viewership mark: The King: Eternal Monarch, Good Casting, Alice, Once Again, Fatal Promise, A Man in a Veil, Brilliant Heritage, No Matter What and Homemade Love Story.

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