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[HanCinema's News] "The Penthouse" Leads New Trend of Spicy Dramas


The success of "The World of the Married" earlier this year caught many by surprise. "The World of the Married" had an older female lead, focused on social elements, and utilized many soap opera elements, but nevertheless was both a major critical and commercial success. With "The Penthouse" the first attempt to recreate that success has finally hit screens. With strong ratings in its first week, the reception of "The Penthouse" is good news for other dramas produced with these themes in mind.

"Marriage Lyrics and Divorce Music" is one such drama, although it's release is still far off in December. The TV Chosun drama will come from screenwriter Im Sung-han, the emphasis screenwriter behind such dramas as "Princess Aurora - Drama" and "Apgujeong Midnight Sun". The drama, which centers around the pain many older women have felt at betrayal, will attempt to reframe In Sung-han's notorious soap opera sensibilities with more serious cinematic staging.

Such attempts at recontextualization are not as odd as they may appear given a fuller look at the recent drama marketplace. "Liver or Die" was a noteworthy hit in 2019 despite the drama's focus on melodramatic elements. Screenwriter Moon Yeong-nam will get another shot at trying to successfully merge low and high class drama trends with "A Happy Other's House" next year. But with a planned weekend timeslot, "A Happy Other's House" will also try to take this approach into low prestige timeslots.

Kim Soon-ok, Im Sung-han, and Moon Yeong-nam all have such markedly different styles and reputations it is in a way somewhat misleading to compare them like this. But then that's part of the appeal of the trend, is that it merges so many conflicting styles it's difficult to say which skills or emphases are crucial to making the ultimate product work. And if "The Penthouse" continues its current success, such experimentation will only continue to intensify.

Written by William Schwartz

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