With plenty of time on hand with a self-imposed sabbatical from work, I casually asked my daughter what should I watch. Never realized this question opened me up to a plethora of shows on Netflix, though primarily Korean dramas.
I wanted to share the top 5 web series that I not only enjoyed watching but I also learned something from the show.
1. Anne — Anne with an E
If there is one show that I would like to watch every six months, it would be Anne. You look at this show differently depending on whose perspective you are looking at. This is unfortunately the only English show on my list since I did not get to watch the other recommended shows.
Anne is an orphan brought as help by her adopted parents Marilla and Mathew to Green Gables at Avonlea. You live through the struggles of Anne as a traumatized 13-year-old and how she overcomes to become a confident, mature girl.
This show touches upon almost every topic that prevails from women’s liberation, LGBT, racism, adolescence to the social class divide, and how Anne deals with these situations. Her decisions are radical with a futuristic outlook and what surprises is the relevance even to this today. Marilla and Mathew are siblings who have not had a fun and easy childhood themselves but make sure Anne does not get to repeat the mistakes they did.
Last but not least is the title song “Ahead by a Century” by The Tragically Hip. True to the title she was ahead by a century. The only Netflix series whose intro song I have not skipped even for a single episode. The credits music also has an upbeat sound that keeps you waiting for the next one.
Take pride in being who you are. Don’t fall into the trap of “fitting” into the environment. Be brave, be bold, and stand up for your cause. Don’t be afraid to be different.
2. My Mister
This show has a sad tone until the last 5 mins of the last episode. But those last few minutes give you so much joy and happiness that it erases all the sadness you have accumulated watching this show. So, in a way, this show is a therapeutic one. Park Dong Hoon works for a big company and his work is as mundane as it can get with a boss his junior in the college. You have seen it in your company where half talented people find their way up the ladder. Frustrating but it is a job you have to go about. Your team looks down upon you as you are not the ideal hero they can look up to. Things change when Lee Jian starts to work as a temporary worker in the company. She is smart, shrewd, gathers insider details, and uses them to make quick money to clear off her loans. Though she starts with this intent, she builds an unsaid relationship with Park Dong-hoon, discovering his beautiful relationship with his brothers, people in his neighborhood, and his forgiving and caring attitude that makes him almost unbelievable. It makes me wonder if such people even exist in this world of ‘me’ first.
One scene that stays with me is when Lee Jian carries her dumb and frail grandmother in a shopping cart to see the moon outside of her home. Park lends a helping hand by carrying the grandmother on his back all the way on a steep alley to her home. This scene sums up the personality of both Park and Lee Jian, their deep-rooted kindness that stitches them together.
Key learning from this show is that it is easy to be sad but difficult to be happy. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. So, stop feeling pathetic about yourself.
Ethics, good morale, empathy, help others when in need — these are the morals we would have learned in a moral science class but try to practice for real.
3. Itaewon class
This is a revenge drama of Park Sae-ro-yi whose father is killed by a rich guy’s son and put to jail for a crime he has not committed. The rich guy Jang Dae-Hee is a scheming, bad person with bad ethics and morale who has successfully built the giant Jangga Food group. His book is the bible that Sae-ro-yi wants to follow once he is out of jail. Leadership principles 101 — Study your competitor's success story before you start your own business. Though Sae-ro-yi manages to run a small restaurant in the midst of Itaewon called Danbam, he is soon challenged by the big shark. Sae-ro-yi is a passively aggressive leader who solves challenges meticulously and moves from one hurdle to the other. A good leader invests in the right team, believes in building the skills within the company, and trusts the team to do their job. You get to see all these qualities in Sae-ro-yi. When one of the team members leaves Danbam to join the rival Jangga company, he doesn't question. In fact, his close childhood friend also works for the rival company. While she is torn between her profession and personal ethics, Sae-ro-yi does not have that confusion. Clear thinking and strategy eventually makes Danbam a hugely successful company.
Dharma or the good takes on adharma or the evil and how good wins over the evil.
God throws challenges to test the good side but shows the path to fight the evil.
4. The Doctors
Another revenge drama but this time set in a hospital. What worked for me is the relationship between Kim Rae-won and Park Shin-Hye. Kim Rae won is a doctor(neurosurgeon) on a sabbatical and teaches in a high school as an interim profession and that’s when he meets the wild, disobedient with a don’t care attitude girl Park Shin-Hye. He plays a big role in molding her into a good student while he stays as a paying guest in her grandmother’s house. Due to certain events, they separate and after a gap of few years meet in a hospital with Park Shin-Hye as a resident doctor and Kim Rae won as an expert neurosurgeon. She aims to take revenge on the doctor who killed her grandmother due to a mistake in the surgery. What works in this drama is the romance between the two and the support extended by Kim Rae-won by just “being there” for her. Park shin Hye transformation from a wild girl to a dedicated professional who is not afraid to kick the bad guys makes her really awesome.
Young people should grab the opportunity when life presents them an opportunity to revive themselves and work towards a good goal.
5. Second Twenties
As the name itself suggests, there are things you would have missed out on doing in your twenties but why not rediscover in your 40s. Not many shows deal with women’s education in their 40s and hence made it to my list. Of course there were other relevant issues that a woman in her 40s like me could connect.
Our show protagonist No ra is a typical Asian woman who had to quit her education midway and follow her love/husband to another country. Twenty years of her life revolves around her husband and her child and nothing else. No me or self-development time. Every decision has to be validated and approved by the husband. On top of it, the husband decides to divorce the wife because she is boring and nothing to communicate with. No Ra decides to quietly enroll in a University to pursue her college education. What follows is a laugh riot with her husband, a high school friend who is now a professor, her son, and the woman with whom her husband is having affair all in the same university.
No ra rediscovers her love for dance — an art she had to quit in school, independent thinking and decision making, and rekindled love with her high school friend leaving the husband jealous, insecure, and repenting his decision.
Never too late to get back to college to pursue your dreams. Respect your partner/spouse and provide space for each other’s interest and self-development.