The Bad Girl Syndrome

Who's that girl?

Whenever you see a gorgeous, well-dressed and confident female in a drama you should know IMMEDIATELY that she is not to be trusted. After all, looks can be deceiving and rightly so- in the Dramaland. She ought to be rich, talented, smart, and clever... in order to be ready to steal the hero away from the heroine! Otherwise, she was his long-lost lover and has come back to get him. Either way, if you're the heroine and are comparatively nice, please note that this girl will do whatever it takes to get him back.

Often, romantic comedies or melodramas are incomplete without the bad girls. They help in completing the love square and their characteristics pretty much remain the same in every drama. These can be:

- She is rich and famous - mostly having come from New York (America).
- She was nice once but circumstances forced her to become bad.
- She was in love with the hero then and claims to still be.
- She dumped him for "reasons" but now has come to get him back.
- She dresses quite well.
- Is rude and condescending to the heroine.
- Could be rude to everyone in general.
- Mostly, she is prettier than the main lead.
- Is observant and usually learns about a threatening secret of the heroine.
- Can do the most outrageous things for keeping the hero away from the heroine.
- Even if she is rejected constantly, she shamelessly hangs on to the hero.
- Sometimes there is a promise she made with the hero which binds them together.
- She will very be aware of the love of hero and heroine for each other but acts oblivious.
- It is difficult to talk her down.
- It is difficult to break her obsession of achieving the hero's affections.
- Thinks more about her goal of stealing the hero away from the heroine than anything else.
- Tells the hero she loves him but acts contrary.
- If necessary, uses manipulation to keep him by her side.
- Gets dumped by the hero in the end or lets him go.
- Ends up with the second lead at times instead.

These are the common qualities we observe in these bad girls (with a few variations). The saddest part of such characters is how under-used and stereotypical they are.

I always find the concept of bad girl silly. It makes me wonder if every good-looking, rich girl has to be presented as truly evil. They are presented as one-dimensional, shallow people incapable of caring about others. The character development in such characters is a long shot. While they add to the fun part, they can be extremely annoying to stand because of the way they act. Sometimes they can be rejected repeatedly by the hero and still hang on shamelessly. It's sad to see such females as they seem to lack self-respect. Also, they don't change until the very end or not even then!

So - what's the purpose of such characters in the story? Do we really need them?

The answer can be yes to both. We can do better without them because then our hero and heroine can just get together happily and easily. But again- if there is nobody trying to force them apart our story could just end in an episode or two and that would be boring. So... YES! We need bad girls. Who else would be there to provide us with frustration or even comedic relief (at times)?

I rather like bad girls because they show us how outgoing females can be. But I am not at all approving of their ever-vicious side. The cliched bad girl can be tiring to watch and as I mentioned- stereotypical. I am all up for giving a chance for these bad girls to grow up and redeem themselves. In that way, there could be serious competition between the good girl and the bad girl. In my opinion, these girls have more of a chance to develop and provide entertainment than ordinary already-perfect heroines. Flaws are what makes such characters believable. While the good girls do have flaws, they also come off as pushovers which is a huge turn-off and the ones to bully them are mostly the bad girls. 

Does anyone remember Kim In Hee from Personal Taste and her annoying obsession with the hero? She first steals her best friend's first boyfriend and then goes after the second one. She hardly grows and remains despicable till the end. The great thing is that the hero doesn't fall for her looks or manipulations.

Want to know what happens when you actually let the bad girl develop? We get reminded that she is also a human being and that nobody is perfect. We start relating more to the 'bad' side and also get to see the good in her. Once such character is Go Hye Mi from Dream High. It was hard to believe that she could be the protagonist of 'Dream High'. She felt more like an anti-heroine at times and one great thing about her was her confidence. Her shortcoming was her selfishness and inability to care about others. However, she grows to care about other people. I loved how she never seemed like a pushover and was in fact like an opposite of other Kdrama heroines. And guess what? 

*spoiler* She actually got the guy! *spoiler*

Another one of my favorite bad girls is Saeki Hikari from the Jdrama Taisetsu na Koto wa Subete Kimi ga Oshiete Kureta. She did awful things at the beginning of the show and it was impossible to believe that she could ever grow out of it. However, by the end, she truly matures and becomes almost a different person. She became somebody you could empathize with. Now, she was a high school girl in love with her teacher (who was already engaged) so you can't expect her to get together with him. But I expected her to understand that she was young, and to instead just move on with her life...and that's exactly what happens!

So the conclusion is that writers should dare to break from the bad girl cliche as well. They should be given a chance to grow, redeem themselves and if possible- get the guy. They shouldn't be under-used and limited as a plot device to separate the main couple. Just like how we give a chance to the bad boy to improve and get the girl, this chance should be given to the bad girls also. That could provide with some variation in dramas and make it hard to predict the ending!

Do you agree with my views? Have you seen dramas where the bad girl gets the guy? Who's your favorite bad girl? Post what you think in the comments below!

Comments (58)

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  • Reply
    mstfydgrl08 Nov 15, 2012

    I long for a drama that has a bright, rich, talented and good looking heroine!! Lol!!

  • Reply
    Palindrome Nov 13, 2012

    Completeley true! I really hate thate rich girl steryotype. It's like as soon as you're watching a new drama and you see someone who's dressed well and such you can practically just say "well she's gonna be the home wrecker!" I want to be surprised for one!

  • Reply
    dramaqueen4life Nov 12, 2012

    I agree wholy my dear..though havnt stil watched dream high..:D
    u gota see Han Jae Hee from Innocent Man..ul love to hate her but then again she has her reasons to do what she does.I love how she's so conflicted.Gives space for growing up and redeeming herself though i doubt with 2 episodes left she'll do that.But stil..a woman can hope..^^

    • Reply
      addicted2dramas Nov 12, 2012

      You needn't tell me to watch Innocent Man. I am gonna do that next month! :D

  • Reply
    thirdworld Nov 11, 2012

    I would like to see a drama where the "bad girl" wasn't rich and instead was poor. Also like you said. A drama where the main girl wasn't such a push over and was in fact kinda strong. And I mean they stay strong throughout the drama. I don't really like the drama's where the main girl starts out strong but then falls in love and is suddenly easy to be pushed around by everyone. That aggravates me.

  • Reply
    fayink Nov 11, 2012

    I would love to watch a series about a bad girl who wins. Also I would love it if the typical good girl rival was actually even worse than the bad girl. Twisted plots are fun!

  • Reply
    Elisabetta Nov 10, 2012

    Just a thought: if one analyzes those most cliched dramas, one may say that their message is that powerful women with successful career are witches and girls that who are often presented as not really smart and have submissive character are the good ones, and they will get the prince charming in the end (and then probably be dependent for rest of their lifes)-LOL it's not really such a good massage when you think of it that way:/

    • Reply
      SeRose Nov 10, 2012

      And the moral is: We as girls should be demure, clutzy and dirt poor for our prince charming to appear. ;)

    • Reply
      addicted2dramas Nov 11, 2012

      The way leading heroines are portrayed is WRONG. We are in a society where females are hard-working, independent and we definitely know how to dress well. At least most of us. :)

    • Reply
      nayosh Nov 11, 2012

      I agree about the 1st part , but about clumsy girls I think the point here every one should take the chance to be appreciated and to be looked to even if they does not appeare to be a big deal

    • Reply
      Elisabetta Nov 11, 2012

      I agree that even clumsy people deserve to be loved - I'm one of them after all ;) But the message you get about independent women is that they won't be happy.. like ever- if they make a career, they will miss their boyfriend, whom they won't get back anyway...

  • Reply
    Selty Nov 10, 2012

    good article ! i agree with the fact that we need bad girls, but don't forget that every rich pretty smart well dressed girls are not bitch !

  • Reply
    MyOwnJudgement Nov 9, 2012

    I personally don't need bad girls in rom-coms, like in Heartstrings there is nearly no competition and that felt so refreshing, it was great, no unnecessary hair-pulling frustrations. I hope more and more dramawriters are going to ditch the stereotypes, I'm getting so fed up with them.
    I also think that Japanese dramas are usually like that, they're less about rom-coms and more about character development, improving and maturity.

    • Reply
      addicted2dramas Nov 11, 2012

      I agree. This is one of the best thing about Jdramas. They don't drag the unnecessary parts and rather devote time for the main characters to grow.

  • Reply
    Chanrans Nov 9, 2012

    Even though Glass Mask is a on going drama Kang Seo Yeon is a bad girl who you just can't like... Seriously. She defeats everyone in this article.

  • Reply
    Sora Nov 9, 2012

    I like bad girls who mature at the end. :)

    • Reply
      addicted2dramas Nov 11, 2012

      Bad girls who change are my favourites. I have thing for both- bad girls and bad boys.

  • Reply
    concreteroads Nov 9, 2012

    I kind of liked the "bad girl" from 49 Days- she did horrible things and she paid for it, but she also starts to grow as a person/character towards the end.

    Also I feel like they tried the same thing with Se Na in Rooftop Prince, but it was so rushed and forced in at the end that it didn't make me like her at all.

    • Reply
      Skye-N-Rain Nov 9, 2012

      I HATED the bad girl from 49 days. I still hope she burns in hell, that evil wench!

    • Reply
      addicted2dramas Nov 9, 2012

      I hated the bad girl from 49 Days as well. She was too awful without any reason. Even after her "growth", she was still unforgivable imo.

    • Reply
      batoul587 Nov 10, 2012

      hated both the girl from 49 days and Se Na from rooftop prince
      Se Na would propably be one of the people who i wanted to just slap her sensless then knock some sense to her :P

    • Reply
      HAVA-RAVA Nov 10, 2012

      I loved Se Na from Rooftop Prince ~~

  • Reply
    mia14 Nov 9, 2012

    As always great article^^ so well written and profesional!!

  • Reply
    lizzybethy Nov 9, 2012
    Reveal Spoiler »
  • Reply
    lilymeid1998 Nov 9, 2012

    Who is the first girl? i know the others

    • Reply
      addicted2dramas Nov 9, 2012

      Are you referring to Kang Se Ri? She's from The Greatest Love.

  • Reply
    SeRose Nov 9, 2012

    The second girl from You're Beautiful is probably the bad girl I love to hate the most. Seriously annoying!!!!! Actually, I don't even love to hate her. She just annoys me, Lol. My favorite bad girl is probably the second lady in City Hall, who was married to the second lead guy. She may have been forever scheming against her former friend, but I really loved her relationship with her husband. They were cute.

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