My Liberation Notes fails to make a strong impression in its opening episode.
This recap of My Liberation Notes season 1, episode 1 contains spoilers.
It’s a very busy time for k-drama on Netflix at the moment, and with that in mind, it’s hard to say whether a really laidback and mellow slice-of-life drama like My Liberation Notes is going to make much of an impression. Its premiere was a steady and somewhat bland affair, lacking a bit of spark, chemistry, and energy, though that isn’t to say it doesn’t have potential.
My Liberation Notes season 1, episode 1 recap
The point here is to introduce the siblings – Mi-jeong, Gi-jeong, and Chang-hee – at the center of the drama. Their dynamic thus far feels a little thin, but we should give it time. There’s a sense of small-town ennui, the idea of going nowhere fast, that defines these three, all of whom feel hemmed in by the pettiness and pointlessness of what they perceive to be dead-end circumstances. Their relationships with others are falling to bits. They’re bored.
Boredom is a tricky thing to depict since it kind of requires that nothing happen. It’s the same with, say, repetition – you only get that feeling from enduring something multiple times, and watching someone endure the same thing multiple times is just… bland. This is the difficult tightrope that My Liberation Notes is treading here.
That isn’t to say the ideas and themes aren’t worthwhile. It’s morbid to see characters with financial woes, who’re cut off from their friends geographically, so far removed from the social action that they feel completely isolated. And I totally understand the necessity of making this point in as clear a manner as possible, so the minor acts of change and rebellion that are inevitably coming feel more meaningful and impactful.
For this kind of thing to work, though, I think you need to really buy into the characters, and at least for now, I’m not sure I do. The siblings at this show’s core just don’t have that instantly arresting chemistry you sometimes see in TV relationships. I’m not sure I buy the dynamic. And perhaps more damagingly, I’m not sure I buy them as people. They’re actors playing characters, going through the motions of what seems to be a pretty unambitious script. There’s still plenty of time for improvement, but thus far, My Liberation Notes hasn’t made the strongest impression.