I was in a mood to watch something funny, short, and teenager-y, and the 16-episode high-school drama Dream High (2011) was on my hit-list. The fact that it’s set in an arts school and stars some of my favourite K-Pop idols cemented my plan to check it out.
What’s it about?
Go Hye Mi (Suzy) is a high-school student who is forced to give up her dream of attending the prestigious Julliard and training to become an opera singer because of her father’s debts. Instead, she auditions for the “third-rate” Kirin Art School, known for churning out pop stars, with her friend Yoon Baek Hee (Eunjung). She quickly looses Baek Hee’s friendship and becomes an outcast in the school because of her inflated ego and fierce pride. Put into the misfits class with country boy Song Sam Dong (Kim Soo Hyun), the “gangster looking” Jin Guk (Taecyeon), and Kim Pil Suk (IU) who has the skills, but not the looks, of an idol, all seems lost. Can their teacher, Kang Oh Hyuk (Uhm Ki Joon) spur the group into realising and finding their own dreams, or will the pressures of their difficult road get to them?
This series is one to watch if you’re a fan of K-Pop. With major roles played by JYP, 2PM’s Taecyeon and Wooyoung, Miss A’s Suzy, T-ara’s Eunjung, singer-song writer IU, and a number of cameos from other celebrities, you will be fan-girling/boying in every episode! The series also boast a pretty great soundtrack, with a number of well-loved K-Pop anthems, so you’ll be bobbing along the whole time. There’s also a couple of inside K-Drama jokes (cue: Almost paaaaaradiiise), that, if you’ve seen a couple of well-known dramas, you’ll pick up on. A lot of fun for anyone into Korean entertainment!
There’s a lot of fun to be had when watching Dream High! There are plenty of funny scenes and hilarious characters to get you laughing and keep you entertained (JYP was amazing!). The humour occasionally draws on the audience knowing who the actors are, but most of the time I was laughing due to good writing of characters, and excellent delivery. There’s also some really cute characters (Pil Suk!) and really cute couples in this series. Be prepared for some ridiculously cute scenes and interactions between characters.
If you’re concerned that this series might rely too heavily on cameos to get laughs, don’t be! Dream High has some of the best and most heartfelt character development to be found in drama. No matter what you think of the characters in the first episode, they will grow and change into completely different people by the end. I liked how the series balanced out the development of the characters; although there’s a change of which characters is “in focus” for development, you still get to see the other characters growing and changing on the sidelines, when it’s not their turn to be in focus. I liked that all the plot events are treated with a sense of realism and seriousness, which allows the associated development of the character to flow logically. It’s definitely one of Dream High’s strongest points.
Despite how enjoyable this series is, there are a couple of little drawbacks. For a start, especially in the first couple of episodes, the acting from the less experienced idols is a little stiff. I don’t know if it’s because of inexperience, or because the idols are working with others from their company (including their CEO), but there are a couple of times when they come awfully close to breaking character (Taecyeon’s probably the worst offender for this). It’s not a big deal, however, given how lighthearted the series is.
Anything else I should consider?
There is a bonus episode, in the form of a special concert. There’s a little bits that’s been cut to squeeze it into an hour format, but if you’re looking to check out some behind the scenes cuts and bloopers, and to find out what the actors were like on set, then you should definitely check it out.
Story: 7/10: Dream High has a very familiar feel for anyone who’s watched any western media of similar veins (e.g. Fame, Centre Stage), and although it may be predictable, it’s enjoyable nevertheless.
Characters: 8/10: With strong character development occurring throughout the series, and a bunch of likeable and interesting characters, there’s lots to keep you watching.
Dream High is a really fun and care-free watch. If you’re a fan of any of the idols starring in it, I’m pretty confident you’ll enjoy it, however, it’s also a cute and funny watch for people who don’t know anything about the actors, thanks to the great characters. Overall, I give it a 7.5/10.