Edited by Young Jun Yang
Translated Yu Jin Kim
When thinking of fashion, love, friendship and growth, several movies and TV shows come to mind: Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada. The Fabulous is a drama series that combines them all with young actors leading the story and attracting viewers in their 20s and 30s. However, the glamorous visuals are all there is left after watching the show, instead of a good story and lingering feelings.
Every day is tough for Pyo Ji Eun (played by Chae Soo Bin), the manager of a PR agency for luxury brands. She is overloaded with too much work as she has to meet the picky demands of her bossy clients and work hard not to fall behind the trend. But that’s okay. Friends who have been chasing their dreams together in the fashion industry always have her back.
While everything is going smoothly, including her career, her love life takes a sudden turn. Turns out, Ji Eun spent a night with her ex-boyfriend Ji Woo Min (Minho) as she got carried away with her emotions. To make matters worse, her current boyfriend, Lee Nam Jin (Choi Won Myeong), dumps her because he thinks they don’t really hit it off well, while a toyboy named Shim Do Young (Kim Min Kyu) suddenly appears and makes her heart flutter. Will Ji Eun be able to seize work and love altogether?
However, more than the growth story in this series is needed for the series to become a good youthful fashion romance drama. Depending on which keyword viewers get attracted to between “youthful” and “romance,” having or not having a growth narrative in the story may not play an important factor in watching the series. But it’s undeniable that people watch such a type of series to see the characters grow while experiencing love and other various relationships in life.
But that doesn’t mean the show totally lacks a growth story. The story of Ye Seon Ho (Park Hee Jung) and Joseph (Lee Sang Woon) makes viewers sympathize with the characters as they strive to achieve their dreams of becoming a senior model and a fashion designer. But the problem is Seon Ho and Joseph are not the ones running the show. They are just close friends of Pyo Ji Eun and Ji Woo Min, who are the actual protagonists, and supporting characters who come in and out of the two’s lives.
On the other hand, Ji Eun and Woo Min’s story is less compelling than Seon Ho and Joseph’s as it’s mainly focused on their love story instead of their fundamental life problems and personal growth. For instance, Ji Eun’s story is all about showing off her “personal connection” with other people in the industry. When she faces a problem, a prince charming appears out of nowhere and snaps his fingers to make it disappear. If the show intently placed such an element to emphasize that ‘personal connection’ is everything in society, perhaps the show reflects the reality of our world all too well.
The use of some characters also crumbled into an eyesore. Viewers expected something new from Joseph as he stands at the forefront of the show as a rare queer character in Korean dramas. However, the great storyline given to him loses strength as the drama portrays him as a clichéd, flat gay character seen on media. It would have been better to make his character more dynamic than just a typical and sensitive gay individual. Meanwhile, Shim Do Young is depicted as someone you would never want to meet in the real world. Glamorizing someone who chases after people by tracking down their phone numbers and workplaces is somewhat very difficult to understand.
Despite some of its letdowns, the actors made viewers stay tuned to the show. After all, it was the characters that don’t make sense, not the actors’ performance. The energy of young actors Chae Soo Bin, Minho, Park Hee Jung and Lee Sang Woon as well as the heavy-footed performance led by Ye Soo Jung, Lee Min Do, Im Ki Hong and Shin Dong Mi makes the drama flow smoothly. In particular, Chae Soo Bin’s performance stands out as her bubbly and lovely charm makes up for the loose plot, poorly written characters and cringy lines.
The Fabulous fell short of its potential. If the drama had better presented the intriguing theme of the fashion industry and those who passionately work to survive in the field, using a star-studded cast, it would have been a lot more successful than it is right now. How can it be called “The Fabulous” when all there is left are a few fancy runway shows and Chae Soo Bin’s presence? (4/10)
Editor Yang Young Jun: There is at least one good part in every movie or TV series. A media geek who isn’t picky with genres.