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Love Alarm korean drama review
Love Alarm
39 people found this review helpful
by Marshmallow-Chocoholic
Feb 22, 2021
8 of 8 episodes seen
Completed 2
Overall 5.0
Story 5.0
Acting/Cast 5.5
Music 5.0
Rewatch Value 5.0

An “ Alarm” Ahead For Terrible Screenwriting ...

Screenwriters Lee Ah Yeon and Seo Bo Ra evidently adapted this from the webtoon for their eponymous contemporary drama “ Love Alarm” centralising upon the same premise of high school student Jo Jo ( Kim So Hyun) and her love triangle with “popular student ” Hwang Sun Oh ( Song Kang) and his “ kind-hearted best friend” Lee Hye Yeong ( Jung Ga Ram), in a world determining love through one app.

By default, this drama should be a masterpiece; its source material and premise are fairly creative and original, the characters are intrinsically interesting and it has a top-notch cast as well. However, “ Love Alarm”’s biggest inconsistencies can be pinpointed to two focal areas; characterisation ( or the lack of it) and the lingering problems which arise through the existence of the alarm itself.

Perhaps the biggest elephant in the room to tackle is our main heroine Jo Jo. It is made pretty evident that Jo Jo actually has a lot of intriguing qualities as our main character; her circumstances growing up have been difficult, she’s struggled with trauma and she’s never been “ overly exposed” to the love alarm ( like the viewer) in the same way her fellow peers have .

Yet whilst Jo Jo has all the right qualities of being a relatable and well-written main character, her actual personality traits make her seem a fairly hollow “ Mary Sue”, rather than an actual flawed human being. She’s deemed as “ pretty, smart and popular” by her peers yet the two latter classifications were fairly flawed in terms of who Jo Jo is supposed to be as a character. Jo Jo being “ popular” isn’t an immediately ridiculous trope with the considered factors of her “ attractive” appearance and being book smart, but let’s be honest in considering that Jo Jo lives in a society still determined by trends as a form of social hierarchy .Even in an alternate society, this seemingly manifests to the idea of the app “ Love Alarm”, something Jo Jo prominently does not have. Whilst this in itself is of course not something Jo Jo would realistically be written out as suddenly “ not being popular” , it would still remain obvious even amongst Jo Jo’s social crowds that she isn’t up to date on certain trends and styles, something which was neither realistically raised or shown critically in the show at all.

Additionally, Despite Jo Jo’s seeming intelligence and her circumstances leading to at least some street smart personality traits , Jo Jo is a shockingly dim-witted character within putting herself in danger or helping to create numerous misunderstandings throughout the show. Of course this was supposed to intensify the “ drama” and make Jo Jo’s feelings more heightened for the two male leads, however, it seemed even if Jo Jo was more “ naive” of her actions than anything else, cruelly ignorant to lead on both Sun Oh and Hye Yeong, two individuals who clearly hold feelings for her, than create the amount of ridiculous dilemmas as she did in the drama. Whilst the drama wanted us to feel evident pity for Jo Jo in the season one finale, it was hard to truly feel attachment towards a character who had little to really offer in the first place.

Naturally this moves us onto the problems of our two main leads Sun Oh and Hye Yeong. Arguably, Sun Oh does have some more noticeable character traits than Jo Jo in the beginning of the series; he’s rich, and similarly popular , but acts out in his often “ stoic” manner because of his own inner psychological turmoil surrounding lacking parental love.

This in itself should have been something which drew Sun Oh and Jo Jo upon their similarities ; Jo Jo may not have parents whilst Sun Oh does, but they both lack that intrinsic parental love which most of their peers have had and thus struggle to find love in the same way. Yet as much as Sun Oh did have some interesting character qualities, he wasn’t given the chance to either grow or mature with his relationship with Jo Jo at all over the course of the series. In fact, Sun Oh is strikingly quite a selfish and fractious character who neither seems to actually reflect or learn from any of his mistakes even going as emotionally gaslight his best friend and
ruin his relationship with both Jo Jo and Hye Yeong rather than actually mature as an individual .

Arguably Hye-Yeong did have more likeable qualities out of Sun Oh as a love interest and Jo Jo as a main character; he often comes off as complacent, but at least this is actually made prominent as one of his flaws, which he learns to mature upon with his pursuit of Jo Jo - the girl he harbours a crush upon without the need of the app. On the other hand, what is undeniably annoying about Hye-Yeong as a character, is that he is often a little too forceful upon Jo Jo when she made her feelings evident at times in the show, and ironically too staid rather than sticking up for himself when Sun Oh began to emotionally gaslight him. Whilst Hye-Yeong had all the right qualities of being possibly one of the few well-written characters in the show, he often felt too irregular as a character; jumping from sudden growth to reversal in two seconds flat.

As for the rest of the characters of the show, Love Alarm is a halcyon for your typical minor trope characters, yet perhaps one minor character who arguably had many intriguing characteristics was “ outcast” Cheon Duk Goo( Lee Jae Eung). Duk Goo plays an undeniable major role within the events of the series and realistically has a lot of inevitable flaws including his own lack of self-confidence. Nevertheless, it was berating even with the app, exactly what Duk Goo, possibly one of the few decent characters of the show, saw in Gul Mi ( Go Min Si); Jo Jo’s “ popular” and selfish cousin. Perhaps it is entirely wrong to attack Gul Mi per say as being entirely “ horrible” as she did have some noticeable problems from being spoilt by her mother, as well as pressurised due to her popularity to “ fit in” with her classmates and Duk Goo’s involvement as her “alarm” entirely threatened this from her point of view. On the other hand, it was still fairly hard to see Duk Goo learn from his mistakes as well as Gul Mi actually maturing from being a selfish schoolgirl , in addition to fundamental questions about how the app actually works .

These dilemmas include; how such an app would be legalised or not face backlash ( protests or negativity) openly, if the app can or has made “ errors” or faced glitches over more than one love alarm per person , why the presumed “app developer” hadn’t been approached by greater technology firms wishing to invest or purchase the app’s rights, as well as of course more upon the “ love alarm” for same-sex couples. Although the show briefly mentioned about the public shame of the love alarm in this scenario, it felt a little sugarcoated not to explain or develop into characters who have faced this. Finally, there’s the most evidential problem of how this app actually works.

The ideology of the app is undeniably artistic licensing; we’re not really supposed to “ understand” the actual methods of the app and we can presume certain theories towards how this actually functions. Nevertheless, there were several lingering questions which were naturally raised about the app’s existence in Love Alarm throughout the series.

So, this leaves us on the most obvious question. Is Love Alarm actually worth watching? Love Alarm undeniably has an intriguing story premise, high production value and a top-notch cast. On the other hand, Love Alarm is simply its own worst enemy when it comes to avoiding falling into tropes, badly-written characters and plot inconsistencies. With a second season on the horizon, it’s wrong to entirely draw out that the story won’t smooth over some of these issues, and there are certainly some interesting ideas going forwards. It’s probably fair to say that Love Alarm isn’t a “ dire” show and certainly something to watch if you’re fan of “ cute, romantic and fluffy” dramas. On the other hand, this show is a waste of time if you’re looking for actual investment in well-written main leads, a sensical storyline and realistic and deep critiques which should have been raised in a show tackling such ideas of technology intermingled with relationships .
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