“Terminal illness” and “comedy” do not exactly seem to match outside of the black comedy genre, yet Dramaland keeps trying to make it happen. Unfortunately, it usually fails. Even so, “Fantastic” is another drama which promises laughs and fluffy romance, along with great female friendship and other interesting concepts. The series does have promise and if it succeeds where many others have failed, it will be a pleasant surprise.
Lee So-hye (Kim Hyeon-joo) is a writer who becomes terminally ill with cancer, but decides to live life to the fullest. Ryoo Hae-seong (Joo Sang-wook) is a hallyu star who is a terrible actor and knows it. The two characters clash and eventually fall in love.
A Comedy to Die For?
Embracing sad concepts has become a taboo lately, so this “happy dying” trend is essentially there to hide melodrama in a pleasing presentation. That is not to say that life with cancer cannot be fulfilling and joyful, but I do not trust a medium which often lacks depth and has issues with tone shifts to portray such complexity. As always, I hope I am wrong.
Romance vs. Life
“Fantastic” has five main characters with unique lives and relationships. Adding to that a terminal illness, friendship and romance seems like a lot to deal with in a small series. In an industry where romance mostly trumps all, the show may not even have the time it needs to focus on other aspects of life and life with cancer.
Writer Lee Seong-eun and PD Jo Nam-gook have been around for a long time and they both have a long history with Korean drama. This is by no means a guarantee of quality or success, but it is a reassuring factor to have a crew which is experienced at handling the difficulties and surprises of drama production.
Good Main Cast
The main cast has veterans and rookies alike, but all the actors have experience in film and drama, but also works of varying genres and length. For a work which tackles two very different genres and which seems very character driven, if the promotion and descriptions are accurate, this is a great plus.
There is so much to consider when handling serious topics and comedy. This could very well end up a comedic or tear-jerking mockery of terminal illness, a fate Korean dramas are sadly all too familiar with. At the same time, the relentless optimist in me will always wait for the good ones. I hope “Fantastic”can be it.
“Fantastic” begins its run on September 2nd and will air every Friday and Saturday at 20:30, on jTBC. It is directed by Jo Nam-gook, written by Lee Seong-eun and features Kim Hyeon-joo, Joo Sang-wook,Park Si-yeon, Ji Soo and Kim Tae-hoon.