Following the exceptional performance of "The Fiery Priest", which hit ratings of 20%, SBS now finds itself in a slump. All three of its evening prestige dramas put together, "The Secret Life of My Secretary", "Absolute Boyfriend", and "The Nokdu Flower", are barely managing half that performance.
"The Nokdu Flower" is doing the best of three, straddling the 6-7% range. But "The Secret Life of My Secretary" and "Absolute Boyfriend" have been embarrassments for the network, only managing to tread water in the 2-3% range.
While "The Nokdu Flower" had a strong lead-in with "The Fiery Priest", that can't explain everything. "The Secret Life of My Secretary" followed on from "Haechi", which managed to hit ratings in the 10% range. And "Haechi" itself followed from "My Strange Hero", a drama which at the time was considered a ratings failure for only managing to hover in the 5% range.
The Wednesday - Thursday timeslot has been in trouble for longer. While "Absolute Boyfriend" started out poorly "Big Issue" didn't leave it much to work with. But once again, "Big Issue" followed off of the major success of "The Last Empress", a drama so successful it even managed to shrug off controversial decisions, like the one to write out Choi Jin-hyuk's character.
Aesthetics is one obvious explanation for these differences. "The Secret Life of My Secretary" has been a fairly generic romantic comedy. "Absolute Boyfriend" is based off of a fourteen year old comic book that just isn't relevant anymore. "The Nokdu Flower" has some appeal going for it, as a historical drama in the same mythos as "Deep-rooted Tree" and "Six Flying Dragons", but that mystique can only go so far.
Right now the network has to hold out hope that its upcoming projects will be more popular. "Vagabond", "VIP", "Doctor John", and "Doctor Detective" all have fairly strong hooks and casts. But that alone may not be enough.
Written by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.
"[HanCinema's News] SBS Dramas in a Slump"
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