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An intelligent and unconventional K-drama that's as terrific as it is polarizing.
Producer (i.e. The Producers): 12 episode 2015 Korean TV drama centered on the backstage efforts and personal lives of various Korean variety & reality show producers, writers, and stars.
Story: This is an innovative and unusual show; it's a K-drama at heart, but, it's also partly an inner workings glimpse into Korean variety/reality TV programming, and part self-parody of that world. The story follows 4 main characters; two show Producing Directors (PD's) in their mid-thirties, a younger PD intern, and a young singer-idol, that all work in the Korean entertainment industry in some capacity. The show follows the personal & professional lives of these people, and those people around them, while mixing comedy, romance, and drama amongst them.
'The Producers' starts off a little unevenly but everything settles in quickly enough, and this show really takes off during episodes 3-4 however, it is important to mention that this show also changed directors around this time (in what has to be one of the most ironic cases of life imitating art I've ever seen). There is a change in tone that comes with the change of directors, but it's not unusual for K-dramas to have tonal shifts like this anyway. I rather liked the basic groundwork the first director implemented, but I really enjoyed where the second director took the story once the baton was passed.
The main cast is great. The 2 older PD's are played by actor Cha Tae Hyun and actress Gong Hyo Jin. The young PD intern is played by actor Kim Soo Hyun, and the idol-singer is played by idol-singer IU. If you don't recognize all 4 of these people, you're not paying nearly enough attention to the Korean entertainment industry as you should be. Tae Hyun & Hyo Jin are both highly experienced and seemingly so at ease with any role they are tasked with; as expected, they each do very good work here, both separately and together, and they play off one other extremely well. As for the younger stars; all the Korean girls know who Soo Hyun is by now, and every Korean under the age of 50 knows who IU is at this point. I particularly enjoyed watching these two play mostly against type; he as the shy & awkward guy, and she as the alter ego version of her own public persona.
Supporting cast is rock solid, as is the story, writing, direction, production values, and just about everything else going on with this show. The soundtrack is terrific and very well implemented, and the endless amount of guest stars, cameos, name dropping, career stories, inside jokes, and so forth, is nothing short of spectacular. The camera angles can be a bit off putting at times due to the purposeful intent to portray a typical K-drama as some sort of reality show about people working on reality shows it's often reminiscent to how the British/American show 'The Office' was shot in this aspect.
The last K-drama I can think of that was similarly hyped as 'The Producer' was 'You Who Came From The Stars', and ironically, both shows feature Kim Soo Hyun in a leading role. Both shows share a common quality aside from that actor though, and that is they are each somewhat polarizing "Love It or Hate It" type shows. I wasn't particularly a fan of 'You Who Came From The Stars', though I didn't outright hate it nor did I give it a scathing review. I've heard and read a lot of comments from many viewers who loved 'YWCFTS' (and similar type shows) however, that just do not like 'The Producers' at all; they find 'The Producers' boring, not melodramatic enough, don't like how Soo Hyun's character is portrayed, etc they don't think 'The Producers' is as good as everyone thinks it is. But, these people are wrong, because 'The Producers' is good really good.
This show seems not to care which direction the audience wants the show to go in...it's going to tell its story the way they want. Of course, if the ratings would have stunk, that wouldn't have been the case. I like this approach A LOT and I'd like to see it done more often. It pleases me greatly that this show was well received by many viewers not just because I liked it and want others to agree, but because Korean TV desperately needs dramas like this to be successful. I've always felt that more diversity was in order within the K-drama world, and this show is quite different from the norm in so many ways. It still retains a K-drama feel and format, but I think this could be a pivotal show in helping change the industry for the better. Not every K-drama show needs to be (virtually) the same story over and over again in order to be accepted, and KTV land might find an audience they never even knew existed if they continue to try taking a more intelligent and adult approach to some of these shows. As for those of you who didn't like the show for the reasons mentioned in the previous paragraph Get over it!...There are hundreds of shows that fit your preferred criteria both past & present, and I can assure you that's not going to change (nor should it) anytime soon.
Summary: Personally, I loved it!...There's no question it's quite well done overall, and it is jammed packed full of extra goodies for long time fans of the Korean entertainment industry. And, if you happen to like both Korean variety/reality shows & K-dramas, it's a real treat. It might not work all that well for the younger generation or those expecting a traditional K-drama format; it is often dialogue heavy, story driven, and very light on the flashiness and epic love story melodrama. In the end, it's just different, and that is perhaps its greatest attribute.
Bottom Line: 8.5 out of 10 stars!...VERY WELL RECOMMENDED!
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