Seasonal Dramas, A Change in the Drama Pattern

There is a seasonal drama craze in the broadcasting world.

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Three seasonal dramas, SBS' "The Penthouse 3", tvN's "Hospital Playlist Season 2" and TV CHOSUN's "Love ft. Marriage and Divorce 2" are set to air for the first time next month, and the introduction of the seasonal system has been active.

Seasonal dramas have not been produced easily so far because the stories have to have continuity and conditions such as re-appearance of major cast members were hard to arrange. Regarding the recent changes, cultural critic Kim Heon-sik said, "As the competition for contents is fierce, the production companies can reduce risks and positively accept writers, directors, and actors to work together again with people who have confirmed good teamwork".

A rush in seasonal TV series

Recently, seasonal dramas have been led by writers. "The Penthouse" writer Kim Soon-ok and "Love ft. Marriage and Divorce" writer Im Sung-han are drawing attention by dividing dramas into seasons instead of mid-to-long-term dramas that they wrote in the past. Viewers are also highly immersed in the production because such production forms are relatively relaxed during the production period and broadcast after recharging with a break period.

Kim Ji-yeon (31), a viewer, said, "When I watch dramas with long episodes, I feel bored, but seasonal dramas feel like they are constantly rushing. I think I can concentrate better than medium-to-long-term-dramas".

Director Sin Won-ho, who showed a new type of season system with tvN's "Answer Me" series ("Answer Me 1988", "Answer Me 1994" and "Answer Me 1997"), introduced a full-fledged season system with "Hospital Playlist". He said, "I planned it because I wanted to create a drama that does not have an end. New ideas and ways of organizing it come out". For this reason, the drama's unique color has been established, which contains small and constant episodes in everyday life, rather than dramas heading toward the end.

From changing production environment to viewer consumption patterns

The success of tvN's "Secret Forest", OCN's "Voice" and SBS's "Dr. Romantic" has become the beginning of the current seasonal drama craze. These series were decided to be have second seasons at the request of viewers after the original release. Major cast members such as Cho Seung-woo and Bae Doona in "Secret Forest", Lee Ha-na in "Voice" and Han Suk-kyu in "Dr. Romantic" continued to star in the following seasons.

The season-based dramas currently being produced have a following season in mind even before it began. "These days, seasonal dramas go through pre-discussion stages for the season, including story composition and contracts for cast members and staff", a production official said. "In particular, as environmental variables such as COVID-19 and the 52-hour workweek play a big role, we'd rather go seasonal for long-term dramas and ease through production". Choi Young-kyun, a pop culture critic, said, "As there are many competitions recently, there is a tendency to secure competitiveness by organizing high-profile dramas into seasonal systems", adding, "There are many seasonal dramas overseas, and Korean viewers are also not reluctant to watch them through OTT since they have seen so many before. There will be more seasonal dramas in the future".