Recommendation for series like Coffee Prince?
September 9, 2013 7:08 PM   Subscribe

I really liked Coffee Prince, and now I'm looking for more series to try.

Coffee Prince has been one of my favorite Korean dramas since I first saw it, even though I usually watch historical dramas exclusively. I'm ready to branch out. Recommend me some series that will appeal to me. They don't have to be Korean, but I do need English subs available somehow if they're not already in English.

If I think about it, the reasons I liked Coffee Prince and didn't get burned out on it were:

* All of the major characters were likable. There was no "villain" to irritate me with their appearances on screen. The poor choices characters made were not unbelievable or frustrating either.

* It had an ensemble cast.

* The series ended before the plot could become too convoluted.

* It had a nice balance of drama and humor. Overall, it was just nicely lighthearted.

So what do you think I should try next? I also like procedurals but am burnt out on the "genius man demonstrates superiority to everyone, especially his female coworker" genre.
posted by Kutsuwamushi to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I have not seen Coffee Prince, but all my Tumblr friends who like Coffee Prince also really like Free! Itwatobi Swim Club. So maybe give that a spin?
posted by WidgetAlley at 7:39 PM on September 9, 2013

Try Wild Romance (난폭한 로맨스), about a bad boy baseball player and his tomboyish female bodyguard. It has pretty much all the same tropes as Coffee Prince, but is a different story.

Maybe you would also like Secret Garden (시크릿 가덴), which is about an egomaniac CEO who mistakes a stuntwoman for a famous actress he used to date. They then go to Jejudo and switch bodies, which is rather ridiculous, but all in all it isn't that bad.
posted by Literaryhero at 7:39 PM on September 9, 2013

Okay the best Korean Drama of alllll tiiiiiime is Secret Garden. So you should probably watch it. If you want happiness in your life.
posted by Mizu at 7:54 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're Beautiful is my favorite Korean drama of all time. It also has an ensemble cast.
posted by gnat at 8:06 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Coffee Prince was my gateway K-drama! Here are some of my favorites among the ones I've seen since then (most of which I liked for reasons similar to the ones you list):

My Name is Kim Samsoon (내 이름은 김삼순) - a classic for a reason. Possibly my all-time favorite.

Queen Inhyun's Man (인현 왕후의 남자) - in a nutshell, a time-traveling Joseon scholar ends up in modern day Seoul. Since you also like historical dramas, I think this one may especially appeal to you - it has both sageuk (historical drama) and modern rom-com elements. It also has one of the best romances I've seen in any drama.

The King of Dramas (드라마의 제왕) - great cast, great acting, great storyline, truly laugh-out-loud funny. It's a hilarious yet relatively candid look at the behind-the-scenes world of K-dramas. Makes fun of a lot of cliches and has a sweet romance to boot (which isn't necessarily the focus of the drama for once).

You're Beautiful - yes, another one of my favorites.

Bottom of the 9th with 2 outs (more frequently translated as the nonsensical 9 End 2 Outs) - two lifelong best friends now in their 30s start cohabitating... what do you think happens next. The baseball title is mostly just a metaphor.

City Hunter - more action and intrigue, if you like that kind of stuff.

Dal Ja's Spring - a bit like My Name is Kim Samsoon. Light and funny, adorable main couple.

Soulmate - ensemble cast, whimsical and witty. May not suit everyone's taste, but I liked it. Great soundtrack.

Also! I'm currently watching Master's Sun (you can find it subbed on Viki). It's my new crack - it's been pitch-perfect so far, though I can't vouch for whether it'll keep it up since it's only on episode 10 out of 16. It's written by the same people (the Hong sisters) as You're Beautiful.

...Okay, I'll stop there. May I also refer you to this amazing site? ;)
posted by st elmo's fire at 8:17 PM on September 9, 2013

These are my favorite kind of k-dramas!

Off the top of my head:

Reply 1997 (aka Answer Me 1997). One of my favorite ensemble casts; I loved the leads; brilliant mix of humor and serious issues; fun pacing; no villains.

What's Up? This is probably my favorite drama yet, but I'm a sucker for underdog stories that also have an excellent soundtrack.

Flower Boy Next Door. No villains. No chaebols, even. Perfect ensemble. Hilarious and sweet and perfect and wonderful.

School 2013. Sweet, sweet story. Although at times heart-wrenching. No major arcs, and you fall in love with all the students. No major resolution at the end, but it's just... a good drama with good storytelling. And lots of pretty young actors.

City Hall. It starts out a little slow, but it's one of my all-time favorite dramas. Fantastic actors, what you think are villains turn out to have their own stories and depth of characters, and it's probably one of the best drama endings I've seen (because dramas so often falter in that last half-hour, you know).

Dream High. I'm not a super fan of this drama, but it was super cute and the underdog ensemble was fun. And I just loved seeing Uhm Ki Joon playing the sympathetic teacher. Mostly cute and you'd have to tolerate a bunch of idols in your cast, but Kim Soo Hyun is brilliant and brings depth to where the idol-actors are lacking.

Bottom of the 9th, 2 Outs (aka 9 End 2 Outs). Less ensemble cast, more realistic look at romance and friendship. Seems slower than other dramas because it isn't filled with the standard tropes, but it's worth it.

Some of my favorite dramas that don't exactly fit the specifications, but I still think are excellent just in general:

A Man's Story (aka The Slingshot aka Story of a Man). Fantastic ensemble cast, although there's definitely a villain -- but the villain is smart and brilliant and you don't know who will win in the end. Lots of character growth. So, so good.

Incarnation of Money. I was very obsessed with this when it aired earlier this year, and think it'll probably end up being my favorite drama of the year. There's a villain, but again, a smart villain. But also a smart hero. The cat-and-mouse games where fantastic and intense. But it's also hilarious at the same time. (There's this scene in episode 9 where the police raid a restaurant that is just... well, you'd have to watch it to understand, but I rewound and watched it a few times it was so delightfully surreal and hilarious.)

Que Sera Sera. Hard to describe, but every character is morally ambiguous. Or, should I say, human. No one is perfect, people make decisions and then live with those decisions, ones that made sense at the time. No real hate for the second leads because you can see where they're coming from. Bit darker than the average drama, though.

White Christmas. Ok, the only real thing this has to do with the list is an amazing ensemble cast, but I LOVE this drama to bits. It's only eight episodes, but it's a fantastic noir mind-bending story that everyone should watch because it's just good television. Not sure how easy it is to find -- I downloaded it from somewhere, so it's not up on the usual sites (viki, dramafever, etc).

I could probably come up with more if I have a chance to look over the dramas I've watched, but hopefully these will get you started. If you need more recommendations, let me know! I'm pretty much a bonafide drama addict. I may pop back in if I think of more.
posted by paisley sheep at 8:21 PM on September 9, 2013

I have a series that (imo) matches all four of your dot points. I'm departing from the Korean drama genre since you said that was okay.

The Book Group (2002-2003) had two series, ensemble cast, flawed but likeable characters (the kind-of-a-dick characters are more self absorbed than evil, but the show's progression fleshes them out to be 'real' enough to be sympathetic to them.) Comedic without being throwaway silly, bad choices are plausible, and delved into some stuff without being OMFG DRAMA. The one character I didn't really dig that much at the start was interesting to me by the end. I liked it a lot anyway.

I look forward to checking out these other suggestions!
posted by Trivia Newton John at 8:32 PM on September 9, 2013

I enjoyed Pasta for the reasons you list.
posted by bleep at 8:39 PM on September 9, 2013

On (post) preview:


-King of Dramas! I can't believe I forgot about that one. Really, really good -- helps if you've a feel of how dramas are done to understand all the in-jokes, but the lead actors are fabulous (and it made a Siwon fan out of me, which is something I never thought would happen).

-Dal Ja's Spring. One of my favorites, particularly for the fun blend of fantasy elements and the fact the female lead is strong and independent.

-My Name Is Kim Sam Soon. Honestly, I "just" liked this drama, but it's many people's favorite for a reason; so if you haven't seen it, you should at least give it a shot.

Regarding Secret Garden -- it's no doubt my personal taste, but I often have a hard time really getting into writer Kim Eun Sook's dramas (although as mentioned previously, I adored City Hall), and found my interest flagged after the bodyswap hijinks were over (around episode 10), so I personally don't think it's the greatest. But tastes, preferences, etc. It was definitely a huge hit when it aired. And Hyun Bin is always a favorite.

Wild Romance, though, is... not a good drama. I enjoyed it, but really the only thing that made it palatable was the delightfully unique character of Dong Ah (played by the same actress who plays my favorite character in What's Up?, not that I'm biased or anything). The plot was pretty confusing; I could never understand Jessica's character; and the ending was a big ol' WTF-just-happened. So I'd say try any of the other dramas suggested before you start with that one.

I've learned to be wary about the Hong Sisters' dramas due to last year's disaster with Big, but I agree that You're Beautiful is a fun romp, and if you like that feel, then check out their other popular dramas such as My Girlfriend is a Gumiho and Greatest Love. The currently airing Master's Sun (as mentioned by st elmo's fire) is definitely fun right now. It's making up for the bitterness I (and many others) felt after Big.
posted by paisley sheep at 8:39 PM on September 9, 2013

2nding "You're Beautiful", "Dream High", "Secret Garden." None of those have villains and are pretty lighthearted. "You're Beautiful" has a similar premise to Coffee Prince (cross dressing girl infiltrates boy band) so you'd probably like it, but Jang Geun Suk's character really steals the show.

I'm watching Master's Sun too and liking it. It (and pretty much every Korean TV series in existence) is on DramaFever with English subtitles.
posted by pravit at 8:50 PM on September 9, 2013

Oh, and Shut Up Flower Boy Band. Hits all the criteria on your list, as well as having an amazing soundtrack. Not to mention it's excellent and will give you overflowing bromance feels.

(I swear I'll stop now but I was just so excited because questions like these totally validate the thousands of hours I've wasted watching dramas.)
posted by paisley sheep at 8:50 PM on September 9, 2013

One thing about King of Dramas, it will always be in the back of your mind as you watch subsequent k-dramas, making you burst out laughing at incongruous product placement scenes, noticing the dark circles and worsening skin of the cast that even makeup can't cover (the brutal live shoot schedule!), and make you wonder if the story deviating from the initial synopsis was planned from the start or is due to ratings grubbing through audience pandering.

Like paisley sheep I lost interest in Secret Garden around episode 10 or so. I very much enjoyed You're Beautiful and Greatest Love. Reply 1997 was great, treading new ground in k-drama in its depiction of Korean idol group fan culture (the main female character is a rabid fan of H.O.T and an avid fanfic writer., while her best friend is a fan of Sechs Kies) and being set in Busan with the characters speaking in rapid-fire Gyeongsang dialect which sometimes required subtitles for Seoulites. More recently I liked I Can Hear Your Voice - there is a villain, but he's not evil for evil's sake, and does get a fair hearing. All of the major characters are likable and behave in ways that make sense for their characters, although the courtroom scenes demand some suspension of disbelief.

I am currently watching Master's Sun - it's fun and squee-inducing, definitely light-hearted (and has a lovely Yoon Mirae song as the main couple's love theme - music video may have some spoilers).
posted by needled at 7:26 PM on September 10, 2013

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