Heisui’s Thoughts: Less (dramas) is More

Heisui's ThoughtsOther

“Less is more.”  We hear it all the time.  But how many times do we hear this phrase being applied to dramas?  How many times do we hear hardcore drama fans go, ‘I will definitely get more out of dramas if I watch less of them’?  Um, probably NEVER!  😛

The thing about drama fans is that they always have the desire for more.  (a symptom of drama addiction!)  They always want more dramas, more episodes, more scenes of their OTP’s, more recaps, more drama news, etc.  The hardcore drama-addict mindset is that the more dramas you watch, the better.  No matter if you are marathoning a drama within a couple of days, forgoing your much-needed sleep, or watching dramas during every free moment in your day!  More is still better!  The problem is that drama-watching is very time-consuming.  Sometimes we just do not have time to watch dramas–or we shouldn’t be spending as much time on dramas as we are.   And yet our drama-addict mentality tends to get the best of us.  We end up watching more than we should be..and we watch dramas that we don’t really need to watch.

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I used to have this same mentality–that more is better and that I should watch as many dramas as I could.  Over the past months though, my view has started to shift.  I only live-watched 1 drama in the fall season of 2013 and no, my world did not end.  I didn’t even really consistently live-watch ANY dramas this winter 2014 season (although I watched parts of a couple winter dramas, I was not watching each weekly episode as it was airing..and I didn’t even finish those dramas >_>).  Looking back, I don’t regret not watching many dramas these past couple seasons.  If anything it made me realize that I don’t want or need an excess of dramas in my life.  Instead I just need ‘THE’ drama that is just right for me, one that will blow away the rest of the other dramas and leave me totally amazed.

Some of you might be thinking, ‘ok, maybe I do do those things that drama-addicts do.  BUT IT’S NOT A PROBLEM!  I don’t need to change my drama-watching ways!’  (This, my friend, is a symptom of major denial. 😛 )  I’m not saying that everyone needs to suddenly start watching less dramas, or that drama addicts are wrong for watching as much as they can.  I’m only trying to offer a different perspective to get you thinking about how you choose which dramas to watch and whether those choices have worked out well.  So, I wrote up some questions that will hopefully get you thinking about your drama choices!

Look back at your drama watching history.  How many…….

(My answers are in parentheses)

  • really stand out to you as a must-watch/would-watch-again?  (only a handful)
  • are unique and unlike any other drama you have seen before?  (a select few, it’s hard to find a drama that does not rely on drama cliches)
  • did you just watch because of one favorite actor/actress/character?  (way too many!!!!!)
  • sucked/totally flopped..and yet you kept watching?  (so many, WHY DIDN’T I DROP THEM!?!?)
  • were just mediocre and maybe you can’t even remember their titles?  (Again, tons.  The funny thing is that the mediocre ones are not even as memorable as the dramas that sucked.)

My point here is that many of the dramas I watched aren’t even very memorable or worth watching.  Some of them I even regret or I can’t even readily remember that I watched them.  O_O”  I look back on all those dramas that I barely even remember, the dramas that don’t stand out when I compare them to the must-watch dramas, the dramas that I regret watching…it makes me think, what was the point of all that?  Why did I watch all those dramas if they were not in the least memorable?

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Continuing onwards, here are some questions to consider as we enter the new drama season!  Consider these questions in terms of the dramas you are currently watching, or the dramas you plan to watch this spring season.

For what purpose(s) are you watching these dramas?  What do you want to see in them?

Is it to see a favorite actor/actress?  To laugh or cry?  To watch an interesting story?  For excitement?  To see eye candy?  (I KNOW THIS IS A HUGE REASON!  😛 ) To relax?  To distract yourself from your troubles in real life?

How well are these dramas fulfilling this purpose?

If a drama is not doing anything for you, just don’t watch it.  A lot of people have a hard time dropping dramas, especially when they have that tiny hope that the drama might get better later on.  Don’t drag it out, don’t think about the what if’s!  It’s not worth it if you’re not getting anything out of the drama!  And always remember that dropping a drama does not mean you will never have the chance to pick it up again.  You could always check the reviews after it has finished airing to see if it is worth it to start watching again.

Are they meaningful?  What message can you draw from the drama?

I think it is totally fine to watch dramas for eye candy or to see one of your favorite actors/actresses.  It’s fine to watch them for pure entertainment, to pass the time, or to just relax.  But I find that I often feel much more satisfied when I am getting some kind of deeper lesson from the drama.  If you are feeling unsatisfied with the dramas you’re watching now, maybe it is because they are not really stimulating your mind or giving you a message to ponder about.

How long do you think you will remember this drama?

Of course, it is hard to tell whether a drama is going to be memorable (in a good way I mean) when you have only just started it.  But if you think a drama is going to be memorable to you, I’d say go for it.  A memorable drama is much better than one that will just fade off into the distance after you finish watching it.  There are both good and bad memorable dramas, but I think I can be fond of both. O_O”  It might sound weird but sometimes a drama is so bad or crazy that it ended up being a good memorable experience?  LOL.  As for those that are memorable in a good way, those are the kinds that I think you should seek to watch.

What is different about the dramas you’re watching?  Are they unique?

Again, this goes along with whether or not the drama will be memorable.  It is totally possible for a drama to be full of recycled stereotypes, 2-D characters, and a mediocre plot and still be addicting.  (*cough* Last Cinderella *cough*) So I’m not saying that a drama HAS to be unique in order for it to be enjoyable.

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As you can see I mainly focused on the meaning and purpose of dramas in the questions above.  Of course there are many other factors to consider such as time limitations, how much of a commitment a drama is, etc.  To me a drama’s purpose is very important because it really gets at the core issue of whether or not you are getting anything worthwhile from your experience.  Hopefully these questions gave you something to ponder as we enter this new spring season! :3

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • Drama addicts have no satisfaction and perhaps this applies to almost everyone. There maybe exceptions but probably those who (1) are on the verge of leaving the drama scene already and changing their obsession or (2) cannot tolerate the mediocrity anymore or both.

    I also thought when you said “less is more” may apply to the acting. Tears with the right facial expression is more powerful than a barrage of shouting and hysterics.

    But to each his own. I may have regretted some of the dramas I’ve started and then left at the middle of the series, but still I had enjoyed it while it lasts. Perhaps in the near future I may find the interest to watch the remaining episodes and finished it. This is just like Pin to Kona and The Glass House and even Miss Pilot – 3 dramas I have failed to complete because I became disinterested and questioned some of the “logic”, but then again I finished Glass House just about 2 days ago.

    Sometimes what we do has no “sense” at all, but then again, we decide it. Time can tell how long we’ll be addicted to J doramas and if we’re to transfer our “allegiance” to the more powerful, highly-marketed and slick Korean productions… but then again, I have forced myself to do that and failed miserably… I guess I will be a J dorama addict forever – only the intensity may falter but the loyalty will remain.

    • Totally agree about how it could also be applied to acting, especially considering how much overacting there is in dramas nowadays. Hmm I feel like I often do not finish the dramas that I got uninterested in. It’s like at some point, I just don’t have the motivation to pick a drama back up once I’ve gotten out of touch with it for so long. >__<

      • Perhaps time will tell… I’m not really sure but for me it somehow works. 🙂

        The motivation comes because i like the drama in the first place, enough to blog about it, but then comes the annoying/disappointing part hence the drop. It also has to do with the cast – is it as if an “obligation” to cover everything the actor or actress has done. Like in Woman, I lost interest but since Hikari Mitsushima is a big big favorite, I have to reconsider, and perhaps because we both covered the drama, I was inclined to look it up again, since you highly recommend it, and it turned out to be great.

  • Ah, I’m harking back to my Romeo & Juliet reference in one of my Randomness posts. Dramas…are immensely dissatisfying. Oh, I still watch them, and some of them I love…but the dissatisfaction always lingers. It’s rare to find a drama that lives up to your expectations (unless you have 0 going in) and can really deliver what you hope. I am interested in dramas by cast members, but then I look at the plot and go do I really want to watch this? Does it sound remotely interesting…but then again…plot summaries that you find are usually rather bad and WAY off base. It’s rare to find a dead on synposis about what the drama truly is about.

    Have I been watching a lot of dramas? No. How is my drama tolerance? Um..not so good any more. It’s really bad if you pause a drama you were loving and pick it back up. The relationship has cooled. You really don’t know why you found it so amazing to begin with. Sigh. Glass House, I’m looking at you. That’s, of course, not the only drama. I did post on the status of my drama watching. It’s deplorable. I don’t finish the majority that I start. Why am I a drama blogger? Hmm…this might be why I’ve been focusing more and more on music vs. dramas. It’s getting hard to find that one drama that stands out that I really desire to cover. And some I do, for whatever reason…cast…plot…etc, are picked up by other bloggers much faster.

    There really is too much drama in real life sometimes to even spend the time and effort on dramas like I once did. This season? I’m being very selective once again. I doubt I’ll manage too many dramas this year and I doubt that I’ll make my 10. That’s okay. I’m thinking of saying byebye to current dramas and focusing on the dramas that I dropped without finishing the recaps for them just to finish them and feel somewhat accomplished (unless I really ended up HATING the drama with a passion).

    Will I stop watching dramas altogether? Heck no. But…selectivity. Like with literature…I’ve become a bit of snob. Oh well. Nothing I can do about that.

    • And yet you somehow manage to cover many dramas in each year!! How do you do it!?!?

      Yes, oftentimes even if a drama has a favorite cast member in it, it ends up not being very good. =_= I think the cast is the first thing I look for, and not the synopsis which is probably not a very good thing.

      I think it is funny how you are probably very selective with music as well and yet you end up with hundreds of favorite songs at the end of the month. 😛 Anyways I think we have both become more selective over the years…but sometimes even if a drama ended up being kinda crazy in the plot (Last Cinderella, Love Forward!) I kinda got a kick out of them? LOL. And I experienced them with you so it was fun hehe.

      • Oh, sheer insanity I suppose. This year isn’t looking good, though, lol. I have only completed 1 drama that I started last year. Also…I’m only recapping one drama right now and I used to do multiple. But that’s harder with dailies. I should swear those off, I really should.

        I’m a music snob. I’ve been focusing more on band and indie music and less on straight up idol groups and pop. I’ve been discovering some even more awesome music thanks to that. Which reminds me I need to do March, but I didn’t do a lot of music trawling for that month, so the top list will probably be very short. I did discover a song that made me cry. It was released 4 years ago. I still might feature it as it doesn’t have to be current does it?

        I love gushing with less than stellar drams with you. LC wasn’t what it could have been, but I still liked it in the end, tho I don’t recommend it to others. Same with Love Forward. Aww, our OTP!!!!! They are funner because we watched them together and talked about them together 🙂 That can make a bad drama worthwhile sometimes. Unless said drama is May Queen. NOTHING made that drama worthwhile, except for the new friends I made in complaining about it I suppose.

        • Your music choice is something I have to consider too. I am new to this Asian pop scene and I have been reading some of your posts on the music front.

          And I agree with Hesui, you have the ability to finish most of the dramas you’ve decided to review. It takes dedication to do that.

          • LOL, wow, I always wondered if people even read those posts at all 😛 They are scattered and not the best. And the sheer size of the playlists O_O. I do hope you manage to find some goodies in them.

            And thanks 🙂 If you saw my completion record when I first started…it twas very abysmal so I do have this desire to NOT drop what I review/recap and try to plug through even if it takes awhile and I may not enjoy the drama. *cough*May Queen*cough*

        • Even though you are only recapping one you are doing it at a good and consistent pace! 😀

          I think you could still include an old song in your monthly features. It brings back the old songs we might’ve forgotten, hehe!

  • So many dramas, so little time. I’ve been at it for about 2 1/2 years. I like to think that I have become a bit more selective, (HAH!) Sometimes a 5-10 minute rule applies, didn’t suck me in right away ? Skip ! Other times it’s 1 or 2 episodes. Others I’ll watch 50% and for whatever reason abandon it. Since I’m relatively new at this, I like perusing “Favorites” lists on blogs, then it’s off to watch a drama that was released 8 years ago, but if it’s quality, who cares?

    Quality, that’s what I want, ( so I tell myself ) , but then I stick with a show that’s a train wreck, **cough** Inspiring Generation ** cough**.
    Why stick with a junk show? Actor/actress crush ? Guilty ! Story? It has to get better, right ? Nope, it sucked to the end ! I’ll rationalize , “That won’t happen again”, but I’m sure I’ll get sucked in to another clunker.
    Exhibit A: I just started a weekend K drama where the story moves so slow , ( why not, they have 50 episodes, but I want to see unni actress, she’s so cute, I’m crushing on her 100 %, she’s portraying the “youth/young” version of the female lead) , will I continue watching the adult phase ? Hard to say.

    I do try to keep a mix of shows, Korean and Japanese mainly, some Chinese, although for some strange reason Taiwanese dramas don’t have the same appeal to me. Perhaps I haven’t seen the right ones!? Then I’m off to watch more dramas in search of the quality ones.

    • “So many dramas, so little time.”
      ^TRUTH! I feel like people say this all the time! And yeah, I don’t know what it is about sucky dramas but sometimes they end up being super addicting and I watch them all the way through even though I tell myself I want quality. T_T

      For Taiwanese dramas, I think the problem is that most of the available selection to international fans are rom-coms. The rom-coms are ok but not the best, as they tend to repeat the same rom-com stereotypes. There are other well-written and unique tw-dramas out there, but they’re usually not subbed. So it is harder to find tw-dramas of other genres to watch.

  • for me since theres a TON of dramas out there, i have come to the acceptance last year that i will NEVER watch all of them completely. when i first started watching jdramas over 7 years ago, i would get everything, but a couple of years later it has gone down to get shows with either favorite actors/actresses OR if its really good.
    i just dont have enough time to watch everything i get. ive been stockpiling for years and i have a ton of shows to watch since i normally only finish 2-4 dramas completely with no skipping each year.
    people gotta realize that jdramas/kdramas are basically mainstream shows that the general public watch on tv just like how americans would watch their american tv shows. it might seem unique to us since were not japanese but since they are mainstream shows for the general public there will be a ton of bad shows, medoicre shows and some good shows, stuffed with good actors/actresses, terrible idol actors/actresses, one hit wonders. then for me theres the rare gem like kekkon dekinai otoko. my favorite jdrama that i rewatch every single year. the best jdrama for me 😛

    but ya its not a good thing to watch everything single jdrama out there since you will be burnt out from watching and feeling ur time is wasted from watching bad dramas.

    • Ok, I think it is funny that you came to this acceptance 6 years into your drama-watching history. 😛 I think sometimes it takes a while for us to realize just how many dramas we never finish. 😉

      Hmmm that is true. I guess the reason why we have such high expectations though is that each new season has many new dramas, so we can hope that maybe a lot of the dramas will turn out to be good. Whereas American TV shows have several seasons, so it’s not like we are waiting for an entirely new selection of shows to come out every season.

  • I definitely agree that you can’t watch everything! Sometimes I don’t finish dramas that I’m really enjoying, even. I still don’t think I’ve finished the last few eps of Coffee Prince or Arang and the Magistrate. Nowadays I’ll watch a few episodes, and then come back later, but there are times in my life when I watch more than others.

    For unique-ish dramas, I remember really enjoying Nodame Cantabile, Nobuta wo Produce, and Yasashii Jikan. Also Gokusen and Hana Yori Dango, but those were my first and I’ve realized they’re not that unique, so they’re mainly nostalgia. On the Korean side, I’ve really enjoyed City Hunter, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, and a lot of the tvN rom-coms. I’ll probably watch Bridal Mask at some point, but I know it’s going to be intense, so I have to get in the mood. I’ve also accepted that I’m just not going to finish every drama, and for the most part, I know how they end, so I try not to get too hung up on it. I would love to be able to do what you and the Dramabeans crew does, but I realize I am fairly noncommittal in most of my drama-watching. If it doesn’t grab me in the first episode or two, I generally drop it.

    It’s okay, though. When I find the one that grabs me, it just makes it all the more satisfying.

    • Good point about the nostalgia. I think a lot of the old dramas I watched way back in the day probably were not as good as I thought they were. But I still remember them so fondly!

  • I ‘m with you on the less is more front. I don’t really like to mindlessly consume dramas anymore, and I’m much better at dropping dramas that I feel aren’t worth my time or aren’t going to improve. That might not have been the case earlier when the addiction first struck. But now, it’s a matter of time and what suits my mood and what’s worthwhile to stick with. But to each his/her own!

    • Mood is a very significant factor in my drama choices as well. I guess if I’m feeling down I will tend to want to watch something that makes me laugh, etc.

  • *sigh* I’m so guilty of picking dramas based on actors/actresses and time after time I’ve been burned. Afterwards I would try to justify it by saying something like at least the middle episodes were good. It wasn’t a ‘complete’ waste of time LOL. And the dramas I’ve enjoyed recently, were ones I didn’t watch for the actors, aka A GOOD WIFE which you must continue! Although that was one of those rare ones I loved but probably don’t want to rewatch again.

    I guess watching lots of dramas isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You get to explore different themes, discover new favourite actors, learn something new…. but the trick is knowing when to drop them!

    • HEHEHEH……just from reading your weekly round-ups, I can tell you do that a lot. 😛 I think we try to rationalize our bad drama choices *cough* DG *cough*.

  • Man, story of my life. Not enough time for all the Doramas that I need to watch, then I MADE time!

    And then I watched some of them…

    And yeah, if you ask me for a synopsis of them all I *might* be able to give you 3 or 4 on a good day. I think we all get caught up in the self generated hype of any drama that sparks even the hint of interest, be it because of a favourite actor, song, setting, genre, etc. I mean, for God’s sakes I was excited about miss pilot just for Horikita Maki, whose works I haven;t even liked since Nobuta Wo Produce which was what almost 10 years ago now??? It’s crazy how just one positive viewing experience of an actor can positively jade us for such a long time. Multiply that by 10 if it’s someone we have a crush on, which is probably the case in about, oh, I’d say 99% of the time. This all ties into the inner world mental fantasies we all have.

    As for the reviewing (Heisui, Nee Nee, and others) as a reader of reviews I would most definitely read something more focused on shows worth watching as opposed to staying with some pile of garbage on principle alone. If you check something out and it sucks then just warn others, drop it, and forget it. Then more time can be spent doting over the good stuff. If you do that you’ll be more likely to stick with it as well.

    • I know right? Many times I become a fan of an actor/actress after only seeing them in one drama! And then I just have to try out all of their next dramas afterwards!

  • Dear HEISUI!!!

    Drama Addiction can be salvation from life-stressors, and this I have proven since the past 8 Months, which i started working. before that I had a great life.. of laziness and full of Drama <3 <3 lol
    but now with work I can barely think of opening Drama-Wiki to see what's upcoming! T_T
    and now I'm drowning with stress, so the 1st thought I had was, DRAMA! I should go check MY Drama TEA for glimpse of drama!
    you can never have enough of Drama! especially if you found that one treasured actor/actress which meets all the acting requirements of your own standards, haha

    Oh well,,, I hope my comment did not creep you out!
    ^^
    Thank you for keeping your blog up and posting lovely reviews and thoughts!

    • Hey Aye! You are so sweet, thanks for your compliment. 😀 I hope you are doing alright although work is stressing you out! Actually I have not decided which dramas I want to review this spring season yet, but I have tried out the first eps of a few new jdramas hehe. 😉

  • really stand out to you as a must-watch/would-watch-again? (only a handful though really my golden rule is not to rewatch anything (unless by accident) because there’s only so much time for anything)
    are unique and unlike any other drama you have seen before? (little to none. sometimes the most addictive ones feel like deja-vu)
    did you just watch because of one favorite actor/actress/character? (once or twice i jumped to a show solely to see the same expressions play over the same face in a different story. nowadays, that number is climbing which feels like a real pity. thank goodness for the “always” appeal of underdog and quirky-teamwork stories)
    sucked/totally flopped..and yet you kept watching? (more and in more varied genres than i’d like to admit)
    were just mediocre and maybe you can’t even remember their titles? (horrifying. i can actually remember titles now. mediocre dramas are everything that doesn’t grip(see above), when logic bothers in its failings, when listening to the story becomes one long trudge from day to day. today is a thousand hiatuses. mediocre titles are days spent doing nothing but scrolling and skipping through a list to look for the next story to “finally resume today”.)

    • Agreed about the deja vu feeling in addicting dramas. A lot of them use the same tropes so the storylines are rather predictable…yet addicting at the same time.

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What’s New?

-There are plenty of upcoming period c-dramas to keep an eye out for. Check them out here. Includes Lost Time In Love, Win the World, Nirvana in Fire 2, and more.

-I finally checked out the ancient fantasy cdrama, Three Worlds Three Lives Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, also known as Eternal Love. Read my first impressions review of episodes 1-7 here and my review of episodes 8-13 here.

-On an indefinite hiatus.

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