Into the race of mental disorders we go and "Heart to Heart" sure started with a lot of enthusiasm. With 'Kill Me, Heal Me' off to an insane and loud start and 'Hyde, Jekyll and I' still incoming, this one takes a more understated, but quite human approach. The first two episodes gave us quite a lot for an introduction and we are now venturing into the thick of it.
The drama does not offer any easy solutions and this makes it interesting. A lot happens in these episodes, some of it quite serious, but mostly just very intriguing. In that sense, the show feels more like a gift you are asked to meticulously unwrap than a Jack in the box, which pops out and leaves nothing further to be discovered. It relies on the viewer wanting to dive into the world and characters.
It is these characters which fuel and propel the plot, as they all inhabit stereotypes, but diverge from them in surprising ways. Take the female lead, who looks like a typical damsel in distress on paper, but is actually more resourceful, smart, cunning and brave than most such characters. She also does not wither away when the male lead says hurtful things or give up when she needs to get something done. The characters have good and bad qualities and they do not conform to standard.
The male lead is also someone who is not as easy to figure out as your typical rich man. Rather than being mean out of pride or just to hurt people, he sometimes appears as if he just does not care. At the same time, he shows affection to his mother and seems just as mentally ill and messy and real as his female counterpart. He is very unlikable, but that is not shown as charming. The plot itself does not just spell who these people are out for the viewer and takes no moral stance yet, going for discovery over aggressive hand-holding.
This can also be considered its flaw at the moment. While the characters are more realistic, they are not people you are supposed to love right away. They are people that one must take interest in, but there is no wish fulfillment here. The show throws out questions to be answered, not answers to be developed. Audiences who want clear-cut characters, swoon-worthy men and shouty women, who want instant gratification and happy fun times will likely prefer more typical romantic comedy shows.
The other big topic the handling of which remains to be seen is the topic of mental illness. It is quite early to tell whether there is a respectful approach coming, since the first episodes did not exactly portray the gravity of these dire issues. Attempted suicides were treated a bit too nonchalantly and even humorously, which is rather worrying. Handling human pain with lightness can be done well, but it can easily turn into cruelty and disrespect.
"Heart to Heart" is a series which started by walking a fine line between comedy and drama, between oddity and normalcy. It is not one which belongs in the instantly gratifying and people-pleasing category. Its current strength is the curiosity it creates, but whether it will be entertaining and handle its quite serious themes well remains to be seen. Its potential is there, but direction uncertain.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing opinion pieces and database upkeep. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Heart to Heart""
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