This is the first time I wait for a drama to air for this long. I was really anticipating it from the very day it was announced sometime in March. I’m not crazy enough to remember the exact date, but I was SUPER excited to hear that Park Shin Hye and Lee Min Ho were going to star opposites of each other as leads for a drama that was supposedly the Korean Gossip Girl.
I don’t really expect a drama to blow me away from the first few episodes. I think I’ve learned with experience that just because a drama starts off strong doesn’t mean it will be a masterpiece, and other times a drama may be crap for the first few episodes until you realize you just can’t put it down!
Cha Eun Sang is a normal student that works various jobs. Her mute mother is the housemaid for the chairman of Jeguk Group, one of Korea’s largest business corporations. When her sister who is supposed to be studying in America announces her engagement, Eun Sang decides to abandon her life in Korea and live with her sister in the states. On her arrival to America, Cha Eun Sang discovers that her sister has been lying about her marriage and her lifestyle the whole time. Left alone to fend for herself in a foreign country, Cha Eun Sang befriends Kim Tan, the illegitimate second son of Jeguk Group. He has been exiled to America by his older brother who is afraid of his potential power on rising up against him and taking over the company. As two unfortunate individuals who happen to meet in their most desperate time of need, Cha Eun Sang and Kim Tan spend an adventurous summer together and fall in love.
My Impression of Heirs:
Heirs has all the right elements: interesting intentions for the story plot, amazing cast, the OST is very appropriate and not to mention that the screenwriter is Kim Eun Sook, who is famous for her successful projects: Secret Garden and A Gentleman’s Dignity. Everything about this drama seemed promising; the production team even had the wonderful opportunity to make this drama really come alive by actually filming their first few episodes in America. The drama has a very nice quality to it but it is lacking in creativity and imagination. Never was I even remotely surprised at anything that happened. The whole drama is based on coincidences. Even in the first episode, it feels like Cha Eun Sang meets half the key characters in America! I’m from America – I’ve been to California and L.A.X. It’s a big place, you know.
The coincidences don’t stop there. Kim Tan seems to be Eun Sang’s shadow. She can’t have one conversation or confrontation without Kim Tan slipping into the picture. Even when she’s all the way up in the mountains, Tan manages to creep behind her just as our Choi Young Do is having a serious conversation with her and trying to open up.
At first, there is a melodrama-ish kind of feel to it. It’s rather slow and there is often a plot-slump. It’s as if the drama is trying to tell us something but it’s not very good at expressing itself. Instead of being straightforward and getting to the point, we are taken on a very uneventful journey through Kim Tan’s overly-exaggerated problems. Many issues that are presented and built up are never given the proper attention.
Heirs was missing something. Something like a spark. It was like eating dry chicken-there was no flavor to it. Sometimes the content would seem like something’s about to go down, but the writer backed off last minute and chose to abandon the thought of any serious plot twist. This drama is painfully safe. You don’t feel like there’s much conflict. The small amount of plot twists are saved for episode 15, but even when they have these problems going on, it’s so easily resolved by simply running away from them. If you’re a sports fan, you may understand how it feels. You root for your home team out of loyalty, but they suck so bad! Every time they’re about to score, you feel excited and proud of this advancement but they always end up losing the ball to the other team.
It does start to pick up a whole lot after episode 15, but I was so frustrated by then that I really wanted to do was shake the writer and ask why didn’t she do this from the start? Everything is cliche and unoriginal but it’s way better than the dry fish we were chewing on for 3/4 of the series.
I believe the writer and PD missed out on something great. They had two of the hottest Korean actors in their production and what do they do? They have them fighting and going at each other the whole time. The golden opportunity to play with the fangirl population(and some fanboys) with a very anticipated bromance…they let it slip away!!!! It’s not like we haven’t seen that love-hate relationship between two boys.
Let us quickly have a wonderful example of what I’m talking about:
Now don’t get me wrong, some of those fight scenes were pretty awesome. I just loved the intensity of the battle between Kim Tan-Young Do’s quarreling. It was awesome to see Kim Tan kick Young Do in the chest so brutally, but personally, I would have been okay if Kim Tan dumped Eun Sang and started a mended relationship with Young Do. There was a lot of wasted chemistry between these two. I even found myself getting attached to them as a couple in the small amount of scenes where they weren’t nipping at each other. Yup, I am a Young-Tan shipper.
Characters and Acting:
The first 3 episodes are basically character introductions and my goodness, this drama has a LOT. Nothing wrong with that, but there’s no technique to it. Basically, the writer had the characters define themselves in some form of formality that feels very similar to student introductions on the first day of class. It’s awkward and kind of pointless when there’s plenty of time to get to know all your students without turning a spotlight on them. The characters are shallow and 2-dimensional and their roles brought out the worst in a lot of my favorite actors that are in this drama.
We can see this first with the mighty Kim Tan. I’ve read comments about people not being big fans of Lee Min Ho’s acting. I may not be blind to this inability to portray emotionally inspiring scenes to its fullest potential but I’ve never had a problem with his acting skills. This time, I can’t say the same thing. Kim Tan is supposed to be a gloomy, unfortunate character so this role demands a lot of emotional acting. Instead of weary and broken, Lee Min Ho came off as sickly and weak. Yes I think that’s the best way to describe this character – WEAK! It’s understandable since he’s a high school boy >.> but the writer gave him opponents that no adolescent can take on. He has no power, it’s just him against the world. When he actually acquires the power he needs (from Daddy -_-), what does he do? Throws it away and becomes a self-destructive sissy boy. Maybe it was supposed to be seen as romantic and broken, but all I could think of while I watched this drunken-like stumble-bumble was ‘these teenagers think breaking up is the end of the world’. He’s obsessed with Eun Sang, and it’s not until he resolves to give up on life because of her, that I start to really worry for Kim Tan. His loneliness is finally starting to get the better of him. The boy needs help. Mind you, Lee Min Ho’s acting improves marvelously around episode 18 where I feel he was finally starting to understand his character but yeah…this drama is only 20 episodes long.
Cha Eun Sang is another frustrating character. If Park Shin Hye was aiming for a insufferable, nagging, whinny cry-baby, she nailed it. At first I really believed there would be some kind of character development because I couldn’t understand why the lead was so dull. My mind simply will not process how someone as privileged as Kim Tan, or someone as egocentric as Cha Young Do could possibly fall so hard for someone as boring and close-minded as Eun Sang, even if it IS Dramaland. There was really nothing special about this girl. Although I didn’t get a bad vibe between her and Lee Min Ho’s paring, I never really saw any chemistry between her and Lee Min Ho. It wasn’t until episode 19 that I actually said ‘yeah, MAYBE there’s something there’. Seriously, I had to wait freaking 19 episodes for me to be satisfied with this OTP just a little, ugh. But there’s nothing wrong with Park Shin Hye’s acting, I think she’s wonderful. The character and bad writing is definitely where the problem lies.
Choi Young Do (Kim Woo Bin):
Cha Young Do is your typical drama jerk but he goes the extra mile and can even be labeled cruel and charming at the same time (how is this possible?). Heirs did something a bit different. They made the sweetheart into the lead and the jerk into second-lead. I’m someone who tends to develop Second-lead Syndrome like a chronic disease. I always believed that it was because they are typically the nice ones that know how to treat a girl right and can protect her the best. Cha Young Do is disgusting in his evil bullying, but the more screen-time he is given, the more you start to love his character. I’m not going to say I wasn’t squealing like a school girl the first moment Kim Woo Bin was on the screen, but loving Kim Woo Bin and loving Cha Young Do are two totally different things (and yes, I was aware of that difference). Although I’m praising Cha Young Do for being the best of the teenager characters, that doesn’t mean he was a good character. In fact, when you stop to think about it, if it wasn’t for Kim Woo Bin totally nailing the role, Cha Young Do could have even been placed in the same category of awfully-written characters, like the rest. Even so, Young Do is the ONLY character in this drama with character development. He really out-shined everyone. Not just the character, but Kim Woo Bin’s acting is flawless! WOW!!! This coming from a model-turned actor rookie. He hasn’t been in the industry as long as most of these folks but he worked so hard and proved he’s not just another pretty face. He was actually able to use his looks as part of Choi Young Do’s charm, he was practically modeling his way through his scenes!
Kim Won (Choi Jin Hyuk):
This handsome fellow played the mean brother that exiled Kim Tan from Korea. He always reacted like he’d stress an ulcer if Kim Tan was so much as mentioned in his presence. The writer didn’t do a good job of creating a sense of severity to the issue behind having an illegitimate kid brother (although it was mentioned enough times). Instead of convincing me that despising Kim Tan’s existence was a natural response, I was under the impression that Kim Won should be taken to the hospital for paranoia disorder. After all the damage he caused Kim Tan’s heart, he has the nerve to shamelessly ask Kim Tan to support him in winning over the company from their father. There was no depth to this character, he seemed to have been created with the sole purpose for Kim Tan to have another opposer. Sometimes it felt like the PD was just shoving this guy at us for no reason. Without the proper justification for Kim Won, I found it really hard to take him very seriously. Except for brooding over Kim Tan’s birth, he really didn’t do much.
Kim Nam Yoon (Jeong Dong Hwan):
For the most part, I found Chairman Kim’s to be an appropriate character. He was a disabled CEO that had no choice but to put his oldest son in his position in order to keep the power of the company withing the family. He’s that family member you often run into in dramas that wants to control the lives of everyone and split apart true love for the sake of saving face. Although I expected him to go nuts and make things hard on everyone, it’s a shame that his significance and true potential was not emphasized until the last quarter of the series. Sure he was always there, but for the longest time he just seemed like he was all talk, no action. Even when he finally came out as Mr.Oppressor, I feel that there was not enough air in that balloon, however, the acting was done wonderfully. I was shaking in my boots when that old man got up from his chair in a rage. *SCARY* He went psycho, and it was kind of random but it was the most exciting thing to happen in the entire series.
Yoo Rachel (Kim Ji Won):
Yoo Rachel is Kim Tan’s fiancee and step-sister-to-be of our Cha Young Do. She was chosen for Kim Tan as a political arranged marriage union from an early age. When she finds out that Kim Tan is finally truly in love with someone else, of course she goes ballistic, but she never truly fights for him. Probably because she knew that their union was phony and strictly business, but she’s one yappy chihuahua that’s got a reputation she never really lives up to in the drama. She’s just your normal catty rich girl but I can sympathize for her, somewhat. I’d be pretty upset if I was being ridiculed because the guy I’m supposed to marry is openly rendezvousing with some other bimbo. I know she’s got an awful personality but I actually liked her better than Cha Eun Sang. Rachel is smart, independent, and adult-like. Her maturity could use some improvement when it comes to dealing with other people but she never struck me as close-minded. There’s hope.
This lovely couple happen to be the only concrete romance I always looked forward to. From their first appearance, I got the impression that Cha Young was the sweet/reliable friend and Bo Na was some crazy witch this poor boy happened to get entangled with since Bo Na’s introduction was that of an overly-jealous girlfriend. She busts in on a friendly chat between Cha Eun Sang and Yoon Cha Young with an irrational mission to pull her man off some other girl’s clutches (even though, CLEARLY, there’s nothing romantic between the two friends). This is my first time watching Krystal acting and I happen to like f(x) but I thought her acting was over-the-top and kind of unnecessary. Even so, Krystal’s character grew on me pretty fast. It’s a HUGE shame that somewhere along the story, Yoon Cha Young and Cha Eun Sang lost that special bond. She forgot about her friendship and was all about Kim Tan. She no longer relied on her childhood pal who was like a brother to her and she didn’t even trust him enough to tell him where she was going when she ran away from Kim Tan. I’m not sure why she wouldn’t want to assure her friend that she was going to be okay, his loyalty was always only for her.
Han Ki Ae (Kim Sung Ryung):
Kim Tan’s mother came off as arrogant and rude at first, but she’s got a hurt pride when it comes to her position in the family. She happens to be the mistress of Kim Tan’s father(Tan is an illegitimate child but no one except Choi Young Do know this), so she is not allowed to leave the house and lives her entire life drinking wine and basically being no less free than a caged bird. Her only comfort is that her son can one day be part owner to his father’s company and expects a lot from Kim Tan in the future. I have nothing bad to say about the acting for this character. When I was supposed to dislike her, I did, and when I was supposed to accept her, I did. I could understand why she was so miserable and why she wanted her son to prove himself as a proper member of the family. She gave up the right of calling him her son in order for him to have a fighting chance, which would be difficult for anyone to do. She may have acted like a diva sometimes but the truth is that she was just the chairman’s pet that had no say in anything concerning herself. She was an interesting character that I would have liked to see more emphasis on, she even had a comical sister-mance with Cha Eun Sang’s mute mother who seemed to have no problem setting Ki Ae straight. Some of my favorite scenes involved those two.
Heirs is full of other supporting characters such as Yoon Dong Wook (Choi Won Young who plays Cha Young’s father) and Ester Lee (Yoon Son Ha who plays Rachel’s mother) that have a romantic history together, which is only mentioned once or twice after a steamy kiss scene between those two(the point of this detail is….?). There’s also Choi Dong Wook (Choi Jin Ho) as Yong Do’s father and finacee to Ester Lee; and of course Eun Sang’s mother Hee Nam (talented Kim Mi Kyung). These characters are KIND OF important but not emphasized enough. The reason I think this is because you really shouldn’t make so many important characters when you’re running on such a limited amount of time and focus ONLY on the OTP when you’ve got all these great sub-stories.
I do have to give my huge approval at how kind Heirs was to me with their cameos of VIXX and BTOB. In this same episode we get a cameo from Super Junior‘s Heechul (and who doesn’t love that guy?), but with my BTOVIXX crush on trubo mode these past few months, a surprise cameo almost had me fall off my seat.
The drama’s OST is awesome, the music is perfect for this series and simply amazing to listen to. My favorite song is the ballad song by Bromance (Park Jang Hyeon/Park Heon Gyu) -” Love Is…” You can listen and download this song right *HERE*.
I really liked the production quality and OST of this drama. I thought long and hard on what to rate Heirs so my rating for this drama feels right. The wasted potential really bothered me, but it wouldn’t be fair to rate it just because some things didn’t go the way I would have hoped. However, the badly-written plot and messy character development is something I can’t over-look.
For me, it’s a 6/10.
Boys Over Flowers – High school romance with poor girl-rich boy theme and Lee Min Ho.
Hana Yori Dango – Japanese version of Boys Over Flowers.
School 2013 – High school drama with love-hate relationship between two boys (A.K.A bromance) and Kim Woo Bin.
I know I criticized Heirs pretty harshly. I didn’t say anything out of hate for this drama because although I do believe this drama is very poorly written and rather boring at times(particularly the first half), there’s some times that it would pick up and cause the viewer to perk up in their seat. There’s some really good moments in this drama but the drama’s OTP was always in my way of the other interesting characters. I’m glad that I didn’t drop it because the last quarter of this drama was not so bad and my OCD would not allow me to drop it, anyway. I respect anyone that thinks differently than me and I hope no one perceives my review as an excuse to critique any particular actor or the creator of the drama. I am but a humble drama-addict who has her own opinions just like anyone else.
P.S I’m sure going to miss
Kim Woo Bin Cha Young Do.