Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Only in Dramaland. . . or Dramaland Cliche Game Ideas

You're Beautiful (So many cliches in one shot.)
  Dramaland. A world where no cliche is too overused, no kiss too thematic, and no character too cookie-cutter. It's a place where no idea can ever be overdone, even if it is a horrible idea/cliche, because if "they" use it enough, "they" will either gain popularity by association with those who have used it well, or they convince themselves that SOMEDAY, someday they'll find a way to make it awesome. This is the Land of Dramas. 
  The Land of Dramas is a special place, where we can lose ourselves for a time in the characters and stories we come to love. We can even predict many of the things that are likely to come up in any given series with a surprising level of accuracy. And it's not just the Asian branch of Dramaland—some (many?) of the cliches I've listed here can be found in movies, stories, and tv from all over the world. 

  And while we may roll our eyes and groan whenever these hackneyed chestnuts crop up, sometimes they are done so well or with such a new and fresh take that we are forced to pay attention. Sometimes we even tip our imaginary hats to the creators of those flashes of genius. Sadly, those flashes are all too rare. 
Mischievous Kiss (Again, multiple cliches.)
  However, that doesn't mean that we must always live in dread of every cliche we may encounter in the magical realm of Dramaland. Instead, we can make each one a little nugget of fun if we change our perspective and attitudes and make spotting them or predicting them into a game. I Spy, anyone? What about Guess that Theme? Name the Character Type.
  I think I'm going to go with Cliche Bingo, and I've amassed a list of the little things we're likely to find in dramas. I have a page dedicated to the bigger drama tropes that are usually major plot elements, but here we're going to focus mainly on the little things. Also, I crowdsourced this post a bit, so you may see some of these chestnuts more than once.
  • Touching the face of a sleeping man, especially his eyelashes or eyebrows.
  • Getting caught in the rain always means that person will have a severe cold within the hour.
  • Cleaning up broken dishes will always result in the person (almost always the woman) getting cut—and someone else making a huge deal over the tiny scratch.
  • Themed kisses.
    Lie to Me (Coke kiss.)
  • Tomboys are almost always slobs (at least in romantic comedies), and the men they fall in love with are clinically obsessed with cleanliness. 
  • And there is no in between—someone is either a total and disgusting slob, or they are crazy clean. Nobody is ever just a little messy or has a bit of clutter lying around.
  • If a character decides they need some time alone, or their phone dies/gets lost, their family and friends will start a massive manhunt in case they might do something drastic.
  • Every couple who has not yet admitted their feelings for one another will have random strangers tell them how cute they are as a couple, or tell the woman how lucky she is to have such a great husband/boyfriend.
  • Sudden U-turns.
  • Long angsty stares with the main players in a particular conflict will be drawn out for a ridiculous amount of time and for maximum dramatic effect. (In my case, they usually get to the point where I can't stop laughing.)
    I Summon You, Gold (I swear this freezeframe had the longest setup I've seen to date.)
  • And the longer the drama, the longer the panning of those stares, prepping for the final freezeframe. (After watching King of Dramas, I'm pretty sure it's a time-filler, but it's still silly.)
  • No one has ever heard of the silence button on a cell phone.
  • Flicking someone's forehead is the worst punishment imaginable.
  • Denial.
  • Idol cameos.
    A Gentleman's Dignity
  • Pregnancy scares.
  • Disapproving parental buyoff attempts (where the parent of one of the lovers tries to pay the other lover to disappear).
  • Guys frequently call the woman they're not-so-secretly in love with/find deeply attractive that she's ugly. (Luckily, in most cases the woman just shrugs it off, but it would be nice if she'd stand up for herself once in a while. Just sayin'.)
  • Spit takes.
    My Lovely Sam Soon (Always better with food.)
  • Terminal illness.
  • Being stressed always leads to nosebleeds.
  • People are frequently injured in the facial region, which always causes a bloody nose.
  • Bloody noses are always pointed out by a scream of "Blood!" by an onlooker and near fainting by the victim when they see the blood.
  • Brooding shower scenes. (No complaints here.)
  • Gratuitously topless men. Especially if there are army abs involved. (Again, not a complaint. Who would complain about chocolate abs?!)
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Food themes. If you don't feel hungry watching a drama, something's probably wrong.
    Dating Agency: Cyrano
  • Flashbacks, especially to high school or university days.
  • Glasses=nerdy.
  • Glasses=age difference (usually used to make a character look younger in aforementioned flashbacks).
  • Glasses=ugly/plain. (Somehow, Dramaland is convinced that plopping a pair of oversized hipster glasses on a gorgeous woman makes her unattractive. FALSE.)
  • Ditto for perms.
    Lie to Me
  • People hiding (badly) in plain sight OR making themselves more conspicuous by holding something in front of their face, like a tree branch.
  • Product placement. Though to be fair, it's understandable in a medium that often doesn't have commercial breaks (from my understanding, anyway). 
  • Cell phone product placement.
You're the Best, Lee Soon Shin
4 things that go together:
  • Missed boats/ferries.
  • Having to wear crazy ahjumma clothes.
  • Awkward sleeping arrangements—almost always the couple in denial ends up "having" to share a room.
  • Basically any excuse to get the lovers to sleep together before they're actually a couple.
  • The Meaningful Object of Love. Usually a plush doll.
  • Women with disgusting eating habits. And the men always mock them for it in the rudest way possible.
  • Chaebols. Chaebols everywhere (and they're almost always men).
  • Candy characters. Also everywhere.
  • Man-boys.
  • Accidental kisses. 
    Secret Garden (A hilarious twist on this cliche.)
  • Stopping the car in the middle of the busy street when the passenger says something that shocks you.
  • Slow-motion missed connections.
  • Every trip to the hospital requires an IV, even if it's for sutures or a broken bone. (This may really be a thing outside the U.S., but I doubt it.)
  • People answer other peoples' phones and delete their texts.
Hje91 says:
  • Honestly, I think this is a big one: a girl actually ending up with a jerk. I mean, come on. While the rich jerk has some qualities that are attractive, if a girl knows she has a brain and worth, she will find someone that treats her right. . . . . and has lots of money. 
    Boys [Preposition] Flowers (Interesting tidbit: I borrowed that name for this show from Hje91. Thanks, Hje91!)
  • The fact that every relationship is a Cinderella/Beauty and the Beast story. Love it but an imaginary world.
  • Also, that everyone dies from nosebleeds because nosebleeds mean leukemia.
Dewaanifordrama says:   I often cut myself when cleaning up glass. . . so that one at least happens to me in real life. 

  • Sections where noble idiocy is the only plot device that moves anything forward—it can be done right, but most of the time it's not.
  • Having to suspend my disbelief because the character is supposed to be a boy but it is really obvious it's a girl—prosthetic makeup anyone?
    Sungkyunkwan Scandal
  • Those scenes where there is the forever slow camera sweep where characters just miss one another. . . then again this can also be done well.
I guess some of these are major. Most of the time the things that bother me are poor editing, bad writing, weak endings, bad camerawork, and poor music choices. Then again, those are things I watch for more than tropes, which can actually be used really well sometimes.

Tahira says:

  I have to say I am so used to some of these that it doesn't even bother me, but here are some:
  • Taking the phone battery out to turn it off.
  • Breaking heels so girls can walk easier.
  • CPR kiss.
    Rooftop Prince (This is NOT correct CPR.)
  • Everyone has awesome high tech phones.
  • Fevers lead to the hospital.
  • Getting wet in the rain leads to illness.
Siri (not the iPhone voice) says:
  • Falling in love over karaoke.
  • Seeing the person you are going to fall in love with in the worst possible circumstances.
  • The Cinderella makeover.
    Coffee Prince
  I know this is a long list, but hopefully it will help you find more answers for you Drama Bingo cards. Stay tuned for my personal bingo cards. I'll post them soon, and maybe we can all play together.
  What other cliches have you noticed in your drama watching? Answer in the comments.


  1. Something I've been thinking about, is how much these are cultural and how much these are human. The one about touching a sleeping person's face is definitely used in the Pysche/Eros story as well. We also have Sleeping Beauty. As far as the hospital thing goes, IV treatments are fairly common in South Korea as far as I know.

  2. Thank u for all of those cliches, I had big big fun reading them:)

    Cliche from me: heroine, no matter how poor she is, never wears the same clothes twice.