Aug 21, 2017

[TV] The Cravings Series Review

I really do enjoy eating with Tobie and our eating adventures have taken us to many different restaurants and other new places. And so it's no surprise that we also enjoy watching shows  that celebrate good food like the Netflix documentary series "Chef's Table" and others. And now we've found ourselves exploring other food-related programming.

It was a bit of a surprise me that it seems there's a whole segment of Korean television programming that ties shows to food. Whether it's cooking or eating (but eating seems to come up more), they have literal shows that has this as a key element.

So we took a gamble on The Cravings on Netflix as it featured ridiculously short episodes, and thus made for easier viewing scheduling. And we ended up blitzing  through the two seasons of the show rather quickly.

I'm not sure what the background of this show was given how at times it felt like something sponsored by Lee Kum Kee products or whatever. But hey, it's still a fun show.

Synopsis: The Cravings (Chulchulhan yeoja) is a TV mini-series that ran in 2013 as written and directed by Byeong-heon Lee. The consists of two seasons with a total of 16 episodes.

Jae-yeong (Hee-von Park) is an office worker at a travel agency who is going trough a break-up. Thus as night when she returns to her now-empty apartment, she finds herself imagining her ex-boyfriend speaking to her. So instead of losing herself to her depression over her being single, she opts to cooking something delicious for herself with what limited ingredients she has on hand.

And this ends up defining the tone of the rest of the show as we follow her in her day-to-day life. She struggles with her career as it feels like she's going nowhere and her main distraction from the sadness of her life is her best friend Wu-jeong (Woo-Jung Lee), he often joins in her eating sessions.

What I Liked: The show is really endearing with quick little stories given the limited length of each episode. It's not the tightest storytelling, but the show has nice short vignettes of moments in her life. And the moments that they choose to depict and the bits of story they chose to tell were nicely thought-out for sure.

The dynamic between Jae-yeong and Wu-jeong feels really genuine and in many ways becomes a big part of the show. Beyond that the way that every episode ends with a really quick recipe of what was eaten during the episode makes for a lot of fun. They do feel heavily sponsored, but then they're still fun to try to follow along (despite some quirky ingredients.

What Could Be Better: The brevity of the series results in some unbalanced storytelling. The first was cute but not quite as strong as the second one as the stories there were a little disjoint and at times seemingly random. And ending with the whole best friend is leaving scenario felt totally left field at the time.

Hee-yon Park on her own wasn't the most amazing protagonist for the show. At times her end of episode cooking segments had her being more animated than how she was in the dramatic parts of the show itself. It made for an odd contrast between in-show character and out of show cooking host behavior.

TL;DR: The Cravings is still a fun little show that is worth investing time in if you're looking to watch on Netflix. There are of course subtitles to contend with but it also means you get to hear the show with the original inflection of the character. Thus the series as a whole gets 4 quirky recipes to follow out of a possible 5.

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