Every once in a while I come across a drama that requires a review, not because it’s a supremely wonderful drama and I can’t control my love of it, but because it’s actually a very painful drama to watch and I feel it’s my duty to warm my fellow drama lovers about the dangers of diving into a particular drama. And that’s what I’m doing with this month’s review. Because I know a lot of people out there love the webtoon Cheese in the Trap (치즈 인 더 트랩) and as such, they may innocently turn to the drama version, thinking it will be as much fun to watch as it is to read, and well, I just want to spare as many of you from the pain of this drama as I can.
Originally airing on tvN from January 4-March 1, 2016, Cheese in the Trap (치즈 인 더 트랩) is a kind of slice-of-life, college drama that focuses on a group of juniors and seniors and explores their relationships both on a colleague/professional level and a romantic level. There are actually quite a few characters whose stories unfold as this drama progresses but the main story follows the relationship between Hong Seol (Kim Go Eun, 김고은) and Yoo Jung (Park Hye Jin, 박해진). As with any good drama, Cheese has a fantastic second male lead, Baek In Ho (Seo Kang Joon, 서강준) who steals the show (and my heart) early on and ends up becoming more of a main character as the drama progresses. Which is weird for a second lead role in a drama but as Cheese had quite a bit of off-screen controversy going on during shooting, the script was changed to focus more on In Ho and less on Yoo Jung which pretty much ruined the entire drama. Not that I was sad that In Ho got more screen-time, I was just upset that a drama which started of so well ended up finishing so very, very poorly.
Real-life drama aside, this story was a disappointment on so many levels. Hong Seol started out as a very strong, intelligent, independent, admirable character who could see the falsities in others that most people never picked up on. It was this keen sense of perception that caused her to dislike Yoo Jung so much at the beginning. She could see in him the darkness that everyone choose to ignore and that was awesome. However, after a year or so of hating each other, Yoo Jung decides he actually likes Hong Seol, simply because she never wanted anything from him. (Which, in his head is a very rare thing because he believes everyone around him was only by his side because they wanted something from him.) After much childish, albeit kinda cute, flirting, Yoo Jung manages to woo Hong Seol and therein lies her demise. After telling herself for over a year that Yoo Jung is mean and manipulative, Hong Seol decides it’s okay to overlook his darkness because he only uses his dark side to manipulate things in her favor and since his crushing of people’s souls and ruining lives is all done to benefit her, it’s all okay.
And that is my biggest problem with this entire drama. Well, that and the fact that only ONE out of an entire cast of characters, ever learned any valuable life lessons and made any effort to improve themselves and their situations. That’s right. ONLY ONE. Every other character in this story either stays as flawed and as they were originally or they digress to become something worse. Now I know there are some of you who will say, “But Yoo Jung left to better himself so that he could be worthy of loving Hong Seol.” And to that I say, HOOEY! Yoo Jung’s leaving was as selfish a move as any he’d made throughout this drama and the fact that he chose to run away when Hong Seol needed him most, proves that he cares for no one but himself. But why bother getting into the minute details of this drama? It seems like such a waste of time.
The point is this drama is SEVERELY flawed and it’s so darn painful to watch, I can’t even recommend it. I don’t even want to think about it anymore. Every character hurt me, in one way or another, and even my undying love for Seo Kang Joon isn’t enough to make me ever want to even think about this drama again. It hurts that much. For a drama that started out with so much potential, it crashed and burned so bad all I can do is drag myself away from the wreckage and hope the wounds will heal in time.
I’m sure there are people out there who loved this drama and I’m happy that you could find something in these 16 episodes worth watching but I could not. I wanted to find the good in this show. I wanted to love it as a whole as much as I loved In Ho. I wanted there to be some sort of happy resolution where Yoo Jung learns all sorts of valuable life lessons and Hong Seol stops being a weak and pathetic cry baby. I wanted In Ha to get the professional help she needed and not just be thrown into a mental institution as a way of manipulating the justice system. I wanted In Ho to run far, far away from Korea as he pursued his music career and I wanted him never to look back. But none of that happened so there was no happy ending for anyone – characters and audience alike.
So if you’re considering watching Cheese in the Trap (치즈 인 더 트랩), please think long and hard about it before you do because this one will hurt you. And make you cry. And cuss. And question why you ever started watching dramas in the first place. And it will take you a very long time to be able to go watch another drama because you will be afraid that this new drama will hurt you as much as this one did. Just trust me on this one. There are MUCH better dramas out there for you to watch so don’t waste 16 hours of your life on this one. If you really wanna know the story, go read the webtoon. You’ll be much happier, I promise.