At school, Lee Da Yeol spends most of his time living as an outsider. Not popular by any stretch of the imagination, Da Yeol’s only real joy comes from his time spent with the archery club. A talented archer whose skills have earned him a scholarship to the school, Da Yeol doesn’t mind being an outsider, so long as he’s free to pursue his greatest passion. But an ill-timed run-in with a devilishly handsome classmate lands him in trouble and places his precious scholarship in jeopardy. One of the school’s most popular students, Jo Tae Hyun has always enjoyed a level of freedom that very few high school students have ever attained. Able to get away with practically anything, the entire school has no problem believing his side of the story when he’s caught fooling around in the nurse’s office with another student and Da Yeol. Claiming Da Yeol was trying to make out with him, Tae Hyun thoughtlessly puts the archer’s scholarship at risk. Desperate to correct the misunderstanding, Da Yeol does everything he can to try to quell the rumors but no matter how hard he tries, it’s just not enough. Completely unremorseful about what he’s done, Tae Hyun seems to take a wicked sort of delight in doing everything he can to make Da Yeol’s life miserable; his favorite method being to follow Da Yeol everywhere. Unable to shake Tae Hyun, Da Yeol spends his days loathing his shadow but the more time he spends with him, the more conflicted his feelings become; leaving him to wonder, where exactly does the line between hate and love end? (Source: Viki) ~~ Adapted from the manhwa "A Shoulder to Cry On" (소년을 위로해줘) by Dong Mul (동물). Edit Translation
Where to Watch A Shoulder to Cry On
Cast & Credits
Rough path with some sweetness and the ending that lost focus…A Shoulder to Cry On delivered quite a few good messages that would resonate with teens and young adults, and even a few lessons that can change the perspective of the adults, as long as they are willing to think about these topics after the episodes end. A nice step into a different direction in a well known high school set up.
That said, is this truly the deep and complex psychological story as some people claim it to be? Depends on what you compare it to. It’s not as sweet and silly as many high school and university BLs, and there is an attempt to add layers to the characters, especially on Tae Hyun’s side. So compared to other K-BLs, one could see it as something more. If you look at it in a broader manner, sadly it’s just another enemy to lovers trope with trauma as a cherry on top.
Yes, it does tackle some serious and important topics like childhood trauma, lack of emotional support, repressed feelings, guilt, resentment, forgiveness. Yet, all on surface level. It’s like a weather talk - just a starter for the conversation.
I think the biggest disappointment for me comes from how black and white they tried to present really complex situations and how fast they moved away from them without truly putting time and effort to give a proper resolution, which was especially obvious in the last two episodes. How to put it… it lacked nuance. It made me feel like the production team does not trust the audience to handle difficult topics so they made them as approachable and simple as possible. God forbid someone finishes an episode with conflicted feelings about the characters.
Personally, my favorite part of the plot was Da Yeol’s doubts about his path. It’s an issue most young people resonate with and many adults still struggle with. It was best written, paced and concluded part of the story and I wish the drama focused on it a little bit more.
Then we have the acting, which was fine during the teen daily life scenes, and questionable at best during the emotional scenes. There were a few moments I could see Shin Ye Chan tried to convey strong emotions, but it just did not translate on screen. Similar issues happened with more “heart wrenching” scenes from Kim Jae Han. Realistically speaking, for debut roles, these were quite challenging, so I’m; not exactly surprised by the end product.
Undoubtedly the production was a massive improvement compared to other short k-bls. Longer episodes allowed the story to have a more even pacing without too many things being painfully rushed (putting aside the final conclusions). While it still lacks in comparison to mainstream dramas, it’s on par with other web dramas, which is far better than what we’ve got until this point from Korean BLs.
Improvement from makeup artists needed though.
Overall, it’s great to see a longer format and I’m glad it was given to a story with an actual plot that at least attempted something more than “sweet teen romance”.
ImpressionsAt the beginning I was not impressed with this drama, I'll be honest. I am not a fan of romanticizing bulling. But my brain apparently didn’t process the "psychological" tag among all the others and when I finally understood I looked at it with a different mindset. It got me hooked, yeah. I guess being in the same idol group helps a lot, because their chemistry was great and their dynamic felt natural. The last 2 eps felt a lil bit rushed, I can't put my finger on the why I felt that, but I can pass that because overall it was great.
Now, people and their obsession with kisses!!! Is that really the defining point to score a drama? for real?! my goodness. let me get this straight... So TBLs with mediocre plots and cringe acting are deserving 10 because they do have make out sessions, right?! But an exquisite KBL drama is no good if there's no kissing? I am pissed! A really great drama gets low score because of horny brats who didn't get what they wanted! Look... I get it, it's a romance drama among other tags, but you HAVE the romance. The touches, the glances, the subtle smiles and the straight up lovey dovey staring screams romance! The story was so beautifully portrayed, they had such a great chemistry, loved how natural their dynamic was(yes, I'm repeating myself), the character development was so nice and in the end they were so good at expressing what they feel that they dipped those red flags from the beginning in bright shiny green. From my pov, I am more annoyed when they do kiss but they resemble 2 dead fishes lip locked. I would rather prefer no kiss as long as it's a good drama. If they kiss and it's nice, halleluiah (enters Our dating Sim). KBL takes the industry like a storm and i'm here for it all in no matter if there's kisses or not. They build great background stories, the plot is well constructed and the actors chemistry is always on point... with a few small exceptions. So yeah, Let's go Korea!!!
In conclusion, IT IS WORTH IT!