Published on October 13th, 2013 | by porninja0
First Impressions: Heirs
Oh, Heirs… I wanted to love you, I really did.
I’ve been keeping up with all the Heirs hype right from when CNBLUE‘s Yonghwa was attached to the project and was rumoured to be casted opposite Park Shin Hye for what seems to be the third time. I’ve been vocal about my dislike for him as an actor because he doesn’t seem to be growing much with each project so if I had it my way, I’d rather stick him in as part of the supporting cast and when he gains enough experience after a couple more projects, then slowly upgrade him to leading man status. Apparently, his agency didn’t seem to think so, and promptly pulled him out of Heirs after learning that he wouldn’t be the lead. As for which role he was supposedly up for, it’s never been revealed, though I have an inkling it might have been Kim Woo Bin‘s. Well, I’m definitely not complaining about the change, and Yonghwa fans can still get their fix once Marry Him If You Dare begins broadcasting next week.
The first two episodes of Heirs have finally aired after what feels like forever, and this might actually be the most anticipated drama of 2013, thanks to its almighty cast of up-and-coming actors and idols. It was slated to be some sort of fusion between Boys Over Flowers and Gossip Girl and I liked both shows well enough to check this one out. Oh, who am I kidding – the cast alone had me instantly drawn to this like a bee to a flower – a damn pretty flower at that. I made sure to keep my expectations low because with a show like this, it can so easily veer towards the all-looks-and-little-substance category, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t excited. So! Much! Pretty! I’m pretty sure my eyes glazed over while I was watching the first episode as character after character was introduced.
The drama definitely starts off on the right foot, because how can you go wrong when you open a show with Lee Min Ho in a wetsuit? But unfortunately, it goes downhill from there… I’ll attribute some of this to the fact that we begin in America so most of the first two episodes, including all the interactions between our two main leads, take place there. Having part of a show set in the US usually means being subjected to terrible – hilarious, even – English, very stereotypical portrayals of American people and even worse acting. It’s all absolutely cringe-worthy and I cannot wait till we get the hell out of there and get this show on the road.
Min Ho’s horrible English aside (is it me or does the guy pronounce his words like he has a bunch of marbles in his mouth?), I feel like most of them are just cruising by on their looks and not really putting much effort into their acting even though I know for a fact that they can deliver. The chemistry between our two leads is suffice-able, but nothing to write home about. I mean, yes, they’re cute enough together, but that’s it. But one of my major gripes with this show is with its odd pacing – some parts feel slow and dragged out and others feel too rushed. Like the love line, for one. I can see why Min Ho’s character, Kim Tan, would be intrigued by Eun Sang (Park Shin Hye) but an almost-confession by the end of the second episode seems like a bit of a stretch.
Oftentimes, I feel like we’re being manipulated to feel a certain way when we’re simply not yet at that stage. We’ll definitely get there soon enough so I’m not sure why it’s so set on bulldozing its way through when we’re barely even introduced to all the characters yet. The long drawn out beats between Eun Sang and Kim Tan would probably look romantic on paper but ends up feeling far too soon when I’m actually watching it play out onscreen. Take the scene at the beginning of Episode 2 for example, where Kim Tan drives back and offers his place to stay. Yes, I get that it’s a big chivalrous gesture of some sort but the editing slows everything down by 50% and we’re just cutting back and forth between the characters as they stare at each other intently for what feels like a lifetime. It’s only the second episode! I’m sorry, but is that supposed to make me feel something? (One good thing about this though is that we get all that will-they-or-will-they-not business out of the way at the start which hopefully translates to more episodes of cute rom-com hijinks.)
I also don’t like that I feel like I’m supposed to feel sorry for Eun Sang. We’re barely shown scenes of her working her three part-time jobs and 30 minutes into the first episode, she’s already crying about how sad her life is. And the show just keeps stressing time and time again about how poor she is and how sick of it all she is. We get it already and the 101 times they keep emphasising the point only serves to make me feel less for her character. If it weren’t for the fact that she’s shown to have a bit of a backbone (like how she demonstrated some sass when she handled the guys who were sleazily hitting on her while she was on the job), I’d probably hate her for feeling sorry for herself all the time and moaning about how people like her will never get a happy twist in life.
The writing isn’t sparkling like I would expect from the same person who penned Secret Garden and City Hall. There’s some banter, of course, but everything comes off a little forced and I’m not left hanging at the edge of my seat each time. I’m not invested in any of what’s happening and that sucks because I really want to love this show, so much. The tone of the drama is a little less light-hearted than I was expecting and while that’s not an issue, the way each character and the older counterparts are all probably linked in some way all feels a little makjang for my liking and I won’t be surprised if a giant birth secret-sized wrench gets thrown our way somewhere down the road. I mean, the show can do cute moments, and even though it was trivial, I really enjoyed the brief scene between Myung Soo (ZE:A‘s Hyungsik), Bo Na (f(x)‘s Krystal) and Young Do (Kim Woo Bin), with Bo Na moaning about her boyfriend problems and the other two teasing her about it. I hope the different friendships get more spotlight in this show because I think it could really shine in that aspect.
At this point, none of the characters are very likeable, safe for Chan Young (CNBLUE’s Minhyuk) and Myung Soo, though both have such small roles so far, they hardly make a difference to the central plot – which brings to me to my next point. Too. Many. Characters. We’re finally introduced to most of them by the end of the two episodes, but I don’t really care for any of them because they’re not only not memorable, they’re either so predictably written or we don’t spend enough time on them to really get a feel of their character/get the opportunity to empathise with them (I barely empathise with Eun Sang, as it is). But I do concede that it’s still a bit early so things can change and hopefully, the drama will be able to successfully flesh out these individual characters a little more. The acting all around is decent enough but I’m sincerely hoping that some of these characters aren’t kept as two-dimensional as they seem right now. I really don’t want Rachel (Kim Jiwon) to be just another villainous second lead with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, existing only for us to hate.
But this is also why I feel like there’s potential in Kim Tan’s character, since he’s one of the few written with some depth, even though the way the show goes about showing us this is anything but subtle. Barely minutes into Heirs, we already get our angsty shower scene and while I appreciate that on a purely superficial level… really, though? And don’t get me started on the scene of him in the cafe, penning down his thoughts in a notebook – in English, no less – with this gem of a line as voiceover: “It’s when I’m writing that I think about the fact that I am thinking.” I guess we’re all supposed to get that this guy’s Deep and Thoughtful. But I do like that he’s not the typical hero and he’s actually not a snobby rich jerk, for once. It’s definitely a nice and welcome twist on the chaebol character.
All in all, I thought it was a lacklustre first two episodes but it does demonstrate the potential to improve, especially once we get our main cast together and interacting with one another in school. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I could hardly care less about Jeguk Group and all the politics surrounding the company, even though I feel like I probably should. Instead, I’m a lot more curious to know about the backstory between Kim Tan and Young Do and how that rivalry will play out once they’re back in school. I’m also interested to know how Eun Sang will fit into the picture now. Of course, I’ll still keep my eye on this drama, hoping it’ll prove me wrong soon enough. In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy it for all the eye candy it provides.