I loved watching Witch’s Romance every week and seeing my favorite couple interact. As much as I liked it, though, I was not blind to its many, many drama clichés. Actually, what’s truly amazing about this drama is that it is incredibly well-done despite all of its clichés. As many have said, it’s all in the execution. It also manages to avert just as many drama clichés as it uses. But I’ll get to that later. First, let’s take a look at some of the prominent clichés included in Witch’s Romance. *Spoilers Ahead!*
1. Forced living situation! The man and woman coincidentally live next to each other + they end up having to cohabitate! Added bonus: they end up having to work with each other!
So Ban Ji Yeon screws up poor Dong Ha’s job as Santa and he ends up being unable to pay the rent. This forces him to move in with his best friend, who just happens to live right next to Ji Yeon. Who would have expected that? How wonderful, too, that it gives them ample opportunities to run into each other. Later, we see Ji Yeon get threatened when she tries to uncover the scandals of a celebrity. Her home is trashed and she gets physically attacked. Until her place gets fixed up, she starts living with Dong Ha and Soo Chul next door. Forced living situation achieved; so many clichés in so little time. Not to mention the fact that Dong Ha ends up working as Ji Yeon’s assistant after his part-time company is slandered by her disgruntled employees. There is literally no way for these two to avoid each other.
2. Love Triangle!
This drama started off with such a nice relationship between the two leads with no one trying to butt their way in between them. It was obvious from the moment they explained her backstory and previous almost-marriage that there would be an eventual love triangle, though. Sigh. Witch’s Romance surprised me, however, by handling the love triangle in a totally unexpected way. Almost immediately, Ji Yeon gets back together with Shi Hoon and they get engaged! I was not expecting things to progress that quickly. Over the last half of the drama, he returns, they get back together, get engaged, set the date, and then break up again. Unfortunately, during the Polar Bear debacle the drama lost a lot of its original charm.
3. Oh, I’ve just happened to run into you, and again, and again, and again….
Seriously, Dong Ha’s job as a part-time worker is literally just an excuse for him and Ji Yeon to run into each other. Wherever she goes, Dong Ha just happens to have to go there for work! How coincidental! Even though they live right next to each other, they somehow manage to cross paths everywhere else. At least with this drama, they don’t make it overly cheesy. Yes, they’ve happened to run into each other, but it’s actually used to move the story forward.
4. Pretend Boyfriend~
After Dong Ha spends an innocent night sleeping at Ji Yeon’s house, they wake up to find her mother ringing the door bell. Well, if he’s already there, why not use him as her boyfriend so her mom will stop trying to set her up? Perfect plan! I actually wish they had used this cliché more extensively, as it would have forced them to be closer in the earlier episodes.
5. The BACKHUG
Poor Dong Ha is completely in love with Ji Yeon, but she’s all confused over Polar Bear’s sudden reappearance. He makes lots of heart-fluttering gestures, such as confessing, setting up a romantic candlelit dinner, and eventually the backhug! I’m not even gonna pretend not to love this cliché, though, especially paired with Dong Ha’s heartbreaking words, “Can’t you not go to him?”
Other used clichés include the piggyback ride, left at the altar, and drunk confession time. However, Witch’s Romance manages to avert a lot of the common kdrama clichés, too. It was able to skillfully mix your standard kdrama rom-com expectations with a healthy dose of new and unexpected plot devices.
1. The lead male is a douche who has to learn to be a well-behaved and respectful human being. – AVERTED
Instead of the usual snobby rich boy, Dong Ha is one of the sweetest, most likable lead male characters I have ever encountered in kdramaland. He may be from a rich family, but it hasn’t turned him into a spoiled, narcissistic manboy. Whereas most of the male leads are constantly criticizing and pushing away the female lead, Dong Ha is nothing but respectful towards Ji Yeon. Even in the beginning, we actually see Ji Yeon being the character with a cold exterior. Despite her having ruined his job pretty spectacularly and preventing him from getting a much needed paycheck, he still steps up to save her from embarrassment during her colleagues’ horrible prank on her. Say it with me: awwwww.
2. Love at first sight/slow motion as they go right past the other person without noticing them. -HAHA NO
Witch’s Romance has to have the most unique introduction for a couple I’ve ever seen. Dong Ha is at one of his part-time jobs where he is working as Santa and giving out presents, one of which is a bicycle, to some orphaned kids. In comes Ji Yeon, dressed as a school girl. She quickly takes the bike and speeds off to get to her very important meeting while Dong Ha chases her down the road trying to get it back. Well, I didn’t see that coming. It’s a nice, unique way to bring a couple together for the first time.
3. Accidental first kiss or wide-eyed static kiss. -NO, THANK GOD
I was very surprised with the way Witch’s Romance handled the main relationship. Dong Ha and Ji Yeon do kiss for the first time under unusual circumstances. The despicable co-workers have hired Soo Chul to humiliate Ji Yeon by pretending to like her and then saying, in front of everyone, that he couldn’t kiss her because she was too old. Ouch. Dong Ha goes up to help her save face and, even more unusually, Ji Yeon actually responds to the kiss instead of staying stock still with her eyes wide open. Later, in what, for once, is a realistic series of events for two people who are obviously attracted to each other, they end up at her house. Ji Yeon is the one who convinces him to come in, and is the one to kiss Dong Ha first. They start getting all hot and heavy only for Ji Yeon to see Dong Ha’s ID and realize that he’s, in fact, 14 years younger than her. She promptly freaks out. However, usually in a kdrama they have to put in months of circling around each other without confessing, along with months of actually dating, before they can get more than a peck on the lips.
4. Second male lead is totally deserving of the girl but doesn’t get her. -ABSOLUTELY NOT
We do end up getting a love triangle eventually, but that’s only after Shi Hoon comes in halfway through the drama. Even as a second lead, he definitely doesn’t deserve the girl in my books. He may not have been responsible for being in a coma during the wedding, but that doesn’t excuse him from not contacting her for that entire six year period. Not to mention the fact that when he did get back together with Ji Yeon it took him forever to realize that she wasn’t happy or in love with him anymore. Shi Hoon was too selfish; he can be summed up pretty well by Seoulbeats’ nickname for him: Captain Asshat.
5. OST that consists of sappy ballads that are put on repeat for the entire series. -NO THANKS
One of things I really love about Witch’s Romance is the soundtrack. The main song is a fun, flirty track by SPICA called “Witch’s Diary.” It fits so well with Ji Yeon’s personality and it’s good enough to be listened to on its own. This isn’t to say that the drama doesn’t have any ballads, but they are used more sparsely, and in appropriate moments. One of the main ballads is also sung by Park Seo Joon, the actor who plays Dong Ha. “내 맘에 들어와 (Come Into My Heart)” is a nice, soft song that doesn’t try so hard to be melodramatic or overly emotional.
Other averted drama clichés include first love is the best love, noraebang scenes, evil/meddling parents, plain and plucky female lead, and annoying female second lead. This blend of common clichés and unusual elements proved a winning combination for me. Even if the love triangle bits got tiring, it eventually came back to the cuteness and spark of the earlier episodes. I would highly recommend Witch’s Romance to anyone interested in a new, fun, and flirty drama. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this show, clichés and all.
Images via dramabeans