This a smartly written dive into the lives and careers of those who work under the surface of the entertainment industry.
We review the Netflix K-Drama series Behind Every Star season 1, which does not contain major spoilers.
We can all imagine the hectic lives of those who operate behind the scenes of the entertainment industry. Whether working in PR, or as a full-blown talent agent, the demands are seemingly endless, and your colleagues sometimes cunningly ruthless. Or at least that’s what the Netflix K-Drama Behind Every Star, directed by Baek Seung-ryong and written by Park So-young, shows us in fictional form.
At the core of proceedings are those employed by Method Entertainment, a talent agency managing a roster of 30 actors. They’re all relentless workers, tasked with, as said in the first episode, “deliveries, schedule management, promotions, planning, contracts, marketing, and everything else regarding an actor’s career.” Nevertheless, the respective personalities of those inside the company do differ. Director Ma (Lee Seo-jin) is an occasionally prickly but always composed man, never shying away from taking control of a situation. Chun Je-in (Kwak Sun-young) is a determined, somewhat bullish agent, whose resourcefulness is matched with a defined resilience. Meanwhile, Kim Jung-don (Seo Hyun-woo) is a kindhearted yet clumsy worker, taking good care of those around him, just in a rather ham-fisted way. Then, So Hyun-joo (Joo Hyun-young) is the wildcard, a rookie with plenty of mistakes in her, though someone with palpable grit.
By and large Behind Every Star is entertaining stuff, in part thanks to the successful addition of actors playing exaggerated versions of themselves during self-contained stories that run alongside the main plot points. They offer up a refreshing change of pace, usually involve some well-executed comedy, and give actors like Lee Hee-joon a chance to show off a different side to themselves. Moreover, having these tales of actors within the agency makes the other moving parts feel more impactful, as we’re less exposed to developments on arcs like how the future of the company will play out until they’re absolutely necessary. Therefore, despite episodes clocking in at over an hour, there’s a real briskness in the pacing, and there doesn’t feel like there’s much extra fat around the edges.
With that being said, some dynamics do occasionally veer into being a tad too repetitive, such as the arguments between Je-in and Jung-don. Of course, they’re a natural part of working life, but when the topics of debate are so often the same or highly similar, it can all feel a bit circular. Though this is only a minor issue, particularly when Park So-young does an excellent job in writing characters that feel fully-fledged and packed with depth already, just two episodes in.
Of course, no show is complete without good acting, and the cast of Behind Every Star do a seamless job of bringing the script to life. Kwak Sun-young is excellent as Je-in, energizing her depiction of the headstrong agent to the point she is unflinchingly investable. Also noteworthy, rising actor Joo Hyun-young affords her performance as So Hyun-woo a commendably grounded nervousness rooted in relatability. As for others, Kim Tae-oh gives a fantastic showing as the flamboyant Choi Jin-hyeok, Lee Seo-jin remains consistent as the straight-laced Ma Tae-oh, while Seo Hyun-woo embodies the kindhearted awkwardness of Kim Jung-don for a memorable execution of his part.
Complete with a sleek office backdrop and a generally colorful palette, this Korean remake of the French series Call My Agent! could easily end up a sleeper hit. Witty, engaging, and dramatic in all the right places, it’s a show looking to be well worth its relatively breezy 12-episode commitment, particularly for fans looking for something that knows when to get meta.
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