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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Balchikhage Gogo' aka 'Sassy Go Go': 12 episode KTV drama from late
2015. As usual for a Korean TV production, it goes by several different
names (which is a practice I absolutely despise). It's more commonly
known and referred to as 'Cheer Up' in the west. It's designed to be
like a softer version of 'The Heirs' meets 'Dream High', but it's a
show that has several problems.
Story: Six dance loving delinquent high school kids are forced to work together with the six rich smart brats to form a H.S. cheerleading squad. The 2 groups don't get along, but the delinquents want to get their dance club back and the brats need to pad their college resumes with extra-curricular activities. Each group conveniently consists of 3 girls and 3 guys, and they're all pretty good looking of course. Typical angst, fighting, friendship, and love stories occur as you'd expect from a Korean high school TV drama.
Be forewarned before reading further: I did not like this show very much at all.
The star of the show is Jung Eun-ji (lead singer for the idol group A-pink); she plays our spunky young heroine & leader of the dance club. There are 3 other primary stars as well, that are (surprise) two handsome guys and one other pretty girl; I believe the 2 guys were played by Grin Smirk-smile (as the main male lead) and Sulk Whine-pout (as the "other guy"), and the other pretty girl was played by Scheme Yell-cry The rest of the cast of "kids" are supporting players that basically include a couple of snotty hotties, a retard, and some others who are less annoying (primarily because they aren't given much screen time).
It should be noted, that I place little to no blame for the ridiculous cast characterizations on the young actors & actresses themselves. They are mostly still new to this field and performed as instructed (and sometimes did so quite well). Unfortunately, they are all at the mercy of the writers and director, and that is the main problem with this show. The kids are all basically treated as a one trick pony with a one track mind, until they each have some epiphany and are instantly changed for the better once their individual struggle is resolved. As bad as the kids are portrayed, the adults fare even worse. You've got one teacher and the cheerleading instructor that are mostly agreeable, and the parents of the two main leads are OK (although their little coffee shop "dating" chats are so boring that it makes for a good remedy for insomnia). Almost every other adult is an idiotic ass kissing douche however; the school principal and her skittish lackey are laughable characters, and the wealth of overbearing and abusive parents/school board members/"important people"/etc are comically pathetic. In particular, the actress who plays the mom of Scheme Yell-cry is the walking epitome of an obnoxious stereotype.
There are several episodes and story lines that are poorly thought out, and just plain stupid; are we supposed to pretend not a single high school student can tell the difference between wine and grape juice as some absurd excuse for them to get inebriated while expressing their feelings?...is it believable that after all the spiteful actions & antics that Scheme Yell-cry implemented throughout much of the show, that the rest of the kids would still support her & welcome her back?...does anyone really think that various news reporters, parents, and politician types, would give a crap about some innocuous lame ass high school cheerleading squad?...The answer to all of these questions is NO!, and the entire way the story is scripted and played out is often f*cking ridiculous!
This is a show that's purely about the melodramatic lives of high school kids, set against the backdrop of academic pressure and familiar themes of having to work together, overcome hardships, make friends, and so forth as said kids move closer to adulthood. That's fine, but the growth of these characters lacks any semblance of nuance or subtlety whatsoever as an example; Scheme Yell-cry is a spiteful conniving bitch for about 9 straight episodes, then, she instantly changes into a likable sweetheart virtually overnight. There is no effort by the writers to have her evolve or mature over time it's either black or white for every character, with no room for actual growth in between.
I expected plenty of H.S. angst and drama going in to this show, but I also expected a semi-decent bit of dancing and/or cheering to go along with it. Unfortunately, what little dancing and cheering to be had is terrible Many of these "kids" can dance a bit already, and one would assume the rest could be coached up accordingly, but the writers/directors chose to virtually ignore this aspect of the show entirely (despite the fact that it's supposed to be a show about cheerleading). The first episode of this show has the delinquent dance crew getting their groove on, Eunji shaking it on the rooftop, etc After that, it's the standard K-drama bait & switch format where the cast of "cheerleaders" stretch and flop around while doing nothing, until the next childish & predictable melodramatic plot point ensues.
On the plus side hmmm There are lots of good set designs, and there are loads of attractive young people to look at. Otherwise Yuk!
Summary: Look, I'm sure a lot of you are thinking by now: "This reviewer is just an old and bitter dude that just doesn't understand youthful oriented K-dramas" .WROOOOOONNNGGG!...Well actually, I might get a little bitter on occasion, and I'm definitely getting older, but I can still recognize a good K-drama when I see one (regardless of the target audience), and, I assure you this is not one of them. Its overall lack of heart & soul, as well as a lack of decent storytelling, just doesn't work very well overall IMO.
Bottom Line: 5 out of 10 stars!
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