A breezy series with interesting depth and occasionally engaging drama.
We review the Netflix K-Drama series Crash Course in Romance season 1, which contains minor spoilers.
The romantic comedy path is one well-trodden in the world of K-Dramas. Multiple shows belonging to this genre are released every year, with the occasional mixed bag of results doing little to encourage a switch-up in formula. The great entries are just that, and can often pack an impactful punch amongst the humor, while the poorer offerings overuse tired tropes, loading their episodes with filler.
Crash Course in Romance Season 1 Review and Plot Summary
Fortunately, Crash Course in Romance lands itself on the better, more polished side of the coin. Breezy, uncluttered, and seamlessly charming, it’s a series laced with pleasantness, even though some of the storylines favor a more serious direction.
Crucially, the show revolves around the life of two characters. There’s Nam Haeng-seon, an ex-member of Korea’s handball team who now runs ‘Nation’s Best Banchan’ in the midst of caring for her brother, Jae-woo, and niece, Hae-e. The former athlete is a determined person, taking on any given task with full commitment, but she finds herself in unfamiliar territory when having to enroll Hae-e in academy classes, and enter the competitive arena of private education. Then, there’s Choi Chi-yeol, a famous maths tutor lauded by both parents and students for his skills, with his classes always fully booked. Yet, perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s more than meets the eye with the instructor. He suffers from eating and sleep disorders, unable to find comfort in his life until he comes across the aforementioned ‘Nation’s Best Banchan’.
Despite some aspects of the plot having certain eye-rolling qualities – the two leads came across each other in the past, and are now set to go down the typical “enemies-to-lovers” route – Crash Course in Romance is a fun ride. Its diverse ensemble are all interesting, the private education backdrop works well amongst the subtle comments on social hierarchies, and the humor is well placed. Additionally, there’s never anything too complex happening on-screen, allowing the viewer to immerse themselves in this world without any needless stress. Of course, there are more sober plot developments, such as Chi-yeol’s deep-rooted trauma, and the mysterious hooded figure seemingly out to get the tutor, but generally, Yang Hee-seung’s script stays true to familiar, agreeable rom-com formulas.
Here, it’s worth mentioning that part of the series’ appeal is the acting chops of its leads. Jeon Do-yeon is excellent as Haeng-seon, giving real charisma to the selfless side dish shop owner, who would do anything for the people around her without hesitation. Jeon’s depiction is also likely to be relatable too, with the unspoken sacrifices and relentless work ethic deployed for the sake of those she cares for typical of many parents/guardians. Similarly, Jung Kyoung-ho adds layers to his performance of Chi-yeol, nailing the almost two-faced persona of a tutor who is innately cold towards others, yet passionate about those he helps guide towards better educational results. Jung builds sympathy amidst some of the egos, in turn ensuring his character feels like he has more bubbling under the surface. Also strong are Lee Chai-min and Roh Yoon-seo, who each play their parts as likable students Sun-jae and Hae-e with a youthful flair, and Shin Jae-ha, who paints the role of Chi-yeol’s assistant with marked compassion.
Is the K-Drama Crash Course in Romance good?
Complete with a colorful, warm visual palette that really makes the city feel welcoming to viewers, Crash Course in Romance mightn’t wish to avoid the usual rom-com tropes entirely, but it does do a more than serviceable job of providing its audience something substantial to sink their teeth into. The addition of some more serious plot lines helps with deeper engagement, and, as this series progresses, there’s a real incentive to return week after week. If you’re looking for something filling, yet equal parts nimble, this show might just land for you.
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