This is going to be short (hah I hope so). Because my brain literally runs a piece of blank and empty whenever I want to say something about this drama (notice how I’ve never posted about it?). I’ve never quite seen something like it, so devoid and drained of everything mainstream and cliche, so plain and colorless, so simple and unassuming, so brimming with honest realism.
I’d refrained from writing about The End of the World earlier because I didn’t know where to begin. And how. Not that a review or conclusion post would be any easier, I just thought I’d peel on something worth my cents and time. And knowing how under the radar it’s been during the course of its run, you’ve just gotta give the drama the attention and exposure it deserves.
If I had to describe this drama in one word, I’m sure one would be able to guess right off the bat. Realism. Situational, physical, emotional, you name it, drama’s got it. So much of it in fact it overwhelms and challenges your though process. So relatable although one might not have been put thru the same tests. It’s a realm that you don’t always find in dramas nowadays, or rather so, something which is difficult to depict given the tight restrictions and inevitable adherence and pandering to the mainstream masses. And even if one tried, the result doesn’t always or may not end up perfect the way we want it to be.
The End of The World deals with a virus, a deadly virus that brings about a epudemic fear amongst the busy city center of Seoul. You think virus, you immediately think about a heroic doctor trying to save the city. Yes of course we need a heroic saviour, but what’s a hero when all he does is run around in plain clothes trying to nail down a virus carrier (yes, Virus I’m talking about you!)? What makes this drama different from the norms of such genre (or even drama in general) and unique in its own simple way is its incredibly honest and detailed focus on the most trivial unnoticed things. Things that slip past our eye so easily. Things that we take for granted. 30 mins and you already know how much effort and research it’d taken for the director and writer to produce a drama in such scale. Such scale of realism.
The whole process in tackling something never dealt with before, the drama dives into those with thought and excruciating detail. The technical aspect and the emotional aspect alike, every bit is dealt with extreme care. It’s almost too perfect, a carefully carved out storyline I can almost cry. Characters act like real people, their insecurities and weaknesses fleshed out almost too blatantly for us to take a liking to. The protagonists show signs of vulnerability, display monstrous inner thoughts that make us rethink and reflect on our own. Antagonists are explained, reasons that motivate their actions and reactions, reasons we absolutely cannot accept but can somehow understand in one way or another. The drama is almost just about research on human reactions.
You see. I don’t remember most of the characters’ names in the drama, I don’t even know half the actors in it. But is it strange enough that I remember precious moments and experiences shared between the characters? Is it weird that I remember scenes which only show people walking around, doing things that they’re supposed to do as they are put in the shoes of those? No, not at all. It’s that exact plainness, the ordinariness that settles in within the set, the characters and the surroundings. By Ep 3, the names don’t even matter to me no more. I could not have asked for more, for having treated to a journey that matters for every single character in the drama. Every character is given and treated with respect, their individuals emphasised in some way or another. There is no leading character in this drama. The stars are everyone involved in the fight against this virus. The stars are those who’ve succumbed and fought through till the end.
I cannot give enough credits to this ensemble. Director, writer and the cast. PD Ahn Pan Seok was as assured and grounded as he has always been in his other projects. Even having been slapped with a 8-ep cut he managed so effortlessly to conclude the drama without major glitches or obvious signs of disjoint. The flow, almost perfect from the beginning to the end. The writing, I couldn’t have asked for more. Realism at its best you cannot not applaud every single detail and meticulous effort put into producing something so frank and genuine. I cannot even find a flaw in the performances, not even a single one. From Yoon Je Moon, Jang Hyun Seung to Jang Kyeong Ah, even to the virtually unknown Kim Yong Min (plays Eo Ki Young), everyone showed immense sincerity and earnestness in their portrayals. Everyone felt so close to their characters you almost couldn’t say they were acting. That’s how amazing this drama was.
Though I’ve had zoned out dull experiences, though some technical scientific things failed to reach out to me in this drama, nothing beats the satisfaction and gratification I got from watching it. The ending, also bittersweet but perfect in its own little way.
This drama may not end up being watched by many, it may not get awards, heck it may not even stand a chance in nominations (but not that the award shows out there are legit anyway MEH). But a viewer knows a drama of quality when he/she sees it, and unless one chooses not to watch because of personal preference (taste is something I cannot judge), this drama will go down as one of the most perfectly produced piece in K-drama history (at least in mine).
Can I ever thank jTBC enough?
My Ratings: 9.5/10
credits: photos as tagged