Here’s that revenge you ordered: A review of Remarriage & Desires and As the Crow Flies

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Revenge is a dish they say is typically best served cold – or piping hot, if you watch either of my watches from today’s review. My recent watches from Netflix are the K-drama, Remarriage & Desires and Turkish drama, As the Crow Flies. Both are fairly new additions to the Netlfix, with the latter being the newest series added to the service. Both dramas, although very unique, possess the common theme of revenge and a related strong rivalry between two female characters who are intent on each other’s downfall. Curious as to what on Earth I’m talking about? Let’s dive into one drama at a time.

Remarriage & Desires

As you would have guessed from previous reviews I’ve posted, I am a massive K-drama fan. Despite this though, I’ve been on a hiatus for the last few months, so this drama marks my (hopeful) comeback. Unlike typical Korean dramas, this one is only 8 episodes – which proves to be the perfect amount of time, to pace the drama, the plot and build tension, as well as character development. Without spoiling the ending too much, it has definitely been set up for a season two to take place – so be prepared that this drama will likely require a commitment of 8 episodes…but for now only.

This drama follows housewife (Seo Hye-Seung) whose life takes a sudden nosedive when scandal and an affair gone wrong force her husband to suicide and leave her unexpectedly widowed and a single mother. As she unfolds the truth of what happened to her husband, she sets her eyes on his mistress and decides to wage war – a decision that will come with tragic results.

By the time I was halfway through this drama, I was in full binge mode and had the full series complete in a few days. It’s honestly so juicy and packs a lot of punches. Unlike dramas like Sky Castle, which centres on the uber-rich, this drama is slightly different in the fact that it centres on two women who are infiltrating the world of the uber-rich but for different reasons. Jin Yoo-hui, I suspect because she’s always longed to be rich and envied the security wealth provides those that easily have it. Whilst, Hye-Seung on the other hand was doing so, not entirely voluntarily but because she saw it as a necessary step to getting closer to Yoo-hui and thus, getting her revenge.

This drama gets a 9 out of 10 for me. My only annoyance is that it was slightly slow on the romantic front. Although Seo Hye-Seung was in an obvious love triangle – her focus on revenge meant she didn’t really express interest in either guy in the triangle, so we couldn’t really read where she stood with either of them (and neither could they, based on how things were playing out!) So, to the directors of the show, when shooting the second season (which I’m convinced will happen), a little fan service won’t hurt – give us the romantic scenes we love; we want to see her enjoying herself and being in love! God knows she suffered enough in these eight episodes.

As the Crow Flies

Carrying on with the theme of revenge, we have the Turkish drama, As the Crow Flies. This series follows Lale Kiran a highflying news reader who seems to have it all, namely a national evening news show that she solely hosts. Her life starts to crumble quite dramatically, once an intern, Asli, who is determined to take her down by all means necessary, enters it.

Interestingly in this drama though, the victim of Asli’s elaborate scheming isn’t actually unlikable, this is what makes it harder to justify Asli’s scheme at all. Lale is a woman at the top with her own struggles behind the scenes (which, little does she know, are set to get worse.) I love the David Attenborough-like commentary in the show which compares the events which unfold in each episode to animals in the wild – mainly lions (those with power in the show) and the bird/crow (Asli – it’s an outsider but it’s ability to see things from a higher vantage point gives it a power the lions don’t have and easily underestimate.)

Ultimately, this drama is about power and although it’s specifically witnessed in a newsroom setting, this could apply to many industries and how they operate. A few people are positioned at the top and they maintain power typically through gatekeeping and tightening their network. Asli, as an outsider trying to get within ‘the gates’ is a bit of a rebel in some sense; determined to get power in any way possible. Her drive is really quite astounding, every move she makes is premeditated to the point you’re actually scared of her. She’s a typical Machiavellian character, her ‘two-faced’ nature helping her avoid suspicion as she plots Lale’s downfall. Asli’s downfall however, is her willingness to try and find a quick route to power, something Lale, as someone who has power, assures her does not exist. One way to look at it is a generational gap in the approach to success, Lale – in her late 30s or early 40s – grafted hard to get her role as a news anchor on prime time Turkish TV. Asli on the other hand doesn’t seem to have much skill but yet seems hell-bent on gaining a role she, therefore, isn’t even qualified for (which doesn’t make much sense.) She’s stubborn and doesn’t seem willing to put in the work to learn the skills needed for the industry, despite her internship providing the perfect opportunity to do literally just that.

Revenge is never really as fulfilling as dramas make it out to be, and I think this is reflected in the drama in some ways. Once successful, it really just starts a never-ending cycle that leaves you vulnerable – something we see at the end of the show was Asli claims she’s feeling a ‘chill’; a hint that something ominous is around the corner. I’ll give this show overall, an 8/10, closer to the end it lost momentum and some unplausible things started to happen, but luckily it recovered and picked up again (otherwise the score would have been much lower!) This series also feels set up for a season 2, so I’ll definitely be looking forward to watching that too and seeing what direction they decide to take with it.


What’s on your current watch list? Do you have any recommendations to share?

The Mystery of Love 2.0 – when love and tech collide: A Review of The One and Love Alarm (Season 2)

I’m sure if you surveyed the average person, they would tell you that they wanted to find love (if they haven’t already.) However, that journey is a tough, steep one that holds many challenges for several reasons. Social media, and much later, dating apps have already transformed the dating process massively in a relatively short space of time. The two most recent dramas I’ve watch watched on Netflix explore how technology (and science) could further impact dating and relationships in the future and what the effects on individuals lives could look like. Worth a watch or not? Have a read and decide.

The One

The One, Netflix review - the downside of scientific matchmaking
Rebecca Webb (right) with co-founder of The One and close friend from university days, James (left).

This is a new British sci-fi drama and Netflix original consisting of 8 episodes, based on a book of the same by John Marrs. I watched it recently after seeing it in my upcoming list of shows and being intrigued by the blurb (the apps good ol’ algorithm never seems to fail, eh?) In the drama ‘The One’ is the name of the company which provides a matching service based on DNA. It’s as simple as you think – people take swabs, send them to the company and find out who their biologically destined match is! The series follows Rebecca Webb, co-creator and CEO of The One as she goes through desperate lengths to find happiness herself and maintain her position of power at the top of the company. Yet, as the series goes on we find out Rebecca is a woman with a lot to hide and this begins to look less and less possible as secrets are revealed and lives are lost. Definitely worth a watch.

Although, a slightly deterministic approach to love upon initial reading, the interesting thing about this matching approach is that choice does play a huge role in the success of matches. This is contrary to what many of the users of the service seem to think in the drama. Their mentality is ‘we’ve been ‘matched’ so you must be my soulmate, we’re meant to be!’ Which, as you watch the drama, will find to not necessarily be the case. DNA alone cannot be a sole indicator of a good partner, several other factors have to come together to create a successful relationship. As many of the characters discover – secrets, selfishness and lies can easily put an end to any potential happiness you may have or think you serve with your match.

Love Alarm (season 2)

This K-drama is based on a popular web-toon (online comic) of the same name. In the drama, relationships are largely dictated or guided by a widely used app called Love Alarm, which is able to notify you if anyone within a certain radius from you has feelings for you. It was originally created by the protagonist’s (Kim JoJo) former classmate, Chon Duk-gu – an illusive and shy character, who admits he created the app because of his difficulty deciphering the feelings of people around him. To simply the app, it helps users answer the question ‘does my crush (or partner) like me back?’

Is Love Alarm season 2 getting renewed? Here is everything you need to  know!!
Promotional poster for the show – from L to R – Sun-Oh, Kim JoJo and Hye-yeong

For those that have battled with frustration caused by mixed signals from someone they liked, this app sounds quite dreamy. Yet – since there’s always a yet – it doesn’t take long to discover it, like the DNA matching service in The One, has its problems. We don’t necessarily see how widespread usage of the app is working, but rather we see a microcosm of its effects through the drama’s main characters. One obvious effect it provides a very awkward and public display of unrequited ‘love’. If two individuals are in close proximity of each other the app will notify one of those people that ‘someone who loves you is within close distance’. However, for the other person…it won’t which can be both scary and heart-breaking.

The app starts to act as an obstacle for characters who are in relationships on the show. For example, Sun-oh’s girlfriend reveals that she dreams about him ringing her love alarm – something he is not able to do when they’re dating. Similarly, due to events from the previous season, Kim JoJo is not able to ring the ‘alarm’ of anyone she likes because she has a feature called a ‘shield’ installed on her app. In her relationship with Hye-yeong, this slowly starts to torture her as she begins to suspect that maybe this is saddening her boyfriend and causing him to doubt her feelings for him.

To Conclude…

Overall, I would say that both dramas show how technology – as we undoubtedly already know – can do more harm then good, even if created with the sincerest intentions. We already use much tech at work and in the home successfully. But with widespread and frequent usage in many circumstances we run the risk of using tech as a crutch, much to our own disadvantage. It tends to happen gradually and then – next thing you know, you can’t remember the birthdays or phones numbers of your friends with your phone, for example! (Based on a true story.) In both shows, we see technology has altered the process of dating and its requirements for many people. The agency seems to shift from self to tech so instead the characters fall into the trap of not thinking for themselves enough. Don’t get me wrong, love is an amazing thing but I think it needs a bit of mystery and effort; surely then the product is more rewarding?

An Honest Review: The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez

 

Trials of Gabriel Fernandez poster

TW: References to child abuse, neglect, physical abuse and domestic violence

I write this review with a heavy heart. In all honesty, I haven’t even finished this docu-series – I started today and am on episode 5 out of 6 – but I feel so strongly about the content that I will write a review of my thoughts so far anyway.

I myself wasn’t aware of the case of Gabriel Fernandez before this series. However, the UK is not a stranger to such cases, with the case being reminiscent of the ‘Baby P’ case in London that received heavy media coverage and exposed numerous flaws in our social system services which helped to enable the abuse. In summary, Gabriel died at 8 years old in 2018 after several months of abuse at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend. The case covers the trial of the perpetrators but also looks more widely at systematic flaws that prevented the abuse from being stopped. The series covers so many themes I could not possibly do it justice or unveil all my thoughts; however – I will try and do my best!

One thing that was different about the reaction to this case was that the District Attorney of LA decided to prosecute the social workers who were aware of or working on the case. Initially, when I heard about this I applauded in my head – the logic behind it seemed straight forward; they were made aware of the chain of incidences which clearly indicated removing Gabriel from his home was necessary but yet they failed to act accordingly. However, as the series progresses it seems that prosecuting the social workers seem insufficient in comparison to the size of the problem. One of the colleagues of the tried co-workers states she thinks they are scapegoats in this case and I suspect she might be right. After all, several members from the sheriff’s department also visited Gabriel’s house – the site of the abuse – and failed to intervene or detect such abuse was happening. So why weren’t the visiting police officers arrested? If you’re going to use that same logic to arrest certain parties then use it consistently and arrest them ALL. It does indeed seem suspicious that law enforcement received such immunity.

It is also quite annoying that systematic issues within large organisations are highlighted but never dealt with. By arresting and firing different staff within bureaucracies the problem doesn’t automatically disappear. If the system is inherently flawed then those staff will be replaced by people that will only continue to enforce the flawed system. Authorities need to put it in the leg work into changing work cultures, changing legislation and conducting appropriate reviews on their operations. Systematic change won’t happen overnight but if the failures aren’t properly addressed another tragedy could strike until it happens.

Something that struck me throughout was that not a single person – his teacher aside – thought to speak or interview the victim himself, Gabriel. If the police or members from social services wanted confirmation of details or verification of Gabriel’s welfare or state of mind – they asked the parents. This fact frustrated me because Gabriel was eight. Of course in some cases the children are too young to adequately express themselves but that wasn’t the case here. If Gabriel had just been given the chance to speak confidentially to someone things may have been different. Abuse typically thrives on secrecy. If the parents themselves are the perpetrators then, of course, they would say whatever’s necessary to ward people off the scent of their crimes. And that’s just what they did. The failure to consult Gabriel or actually listen to his cries – he was actually quite vocal about his abuse -indicates a wider problem. Where in the midst of everything the children are ironically forgotten; or the adults around them make the decisions affecting them but they themselves are never consulted. In this case, prioritising Gabriel’s mums right to custody of her child over Gabriel’s safety/welfare and right to live ultimately cost him his life. If predominately dealing with children such services need to adopt models with children and their rights at the centre.

Although I would recommend this docu-series, I would definitely warn that this is by no means an easy watch. It will make you feel uneasy, angry and frustrated. On the plus side, it does dig deep into the wider issues that Gabriel’s case highlighted. They also interview a wider range of experts and people involved or affected by the case – from a journalist that broke the story to one of Gabriel’s classmates who continues to mourn for him. Not many stones are left unturned and this is helped by the fact it a docuseries. If you feel it may be intense, simply take it one episode at a time but definitely do give it a watch.

The trailer for the Netflix docu-series can be found here.