While JTBC weekend dramas such as “King the Land” are achieving mass success, concerns are raised over their artistic values.
The JTBC weekend drama “King the Land” has concluded, with its final episode recording the highest viewership rating of 13.7%, according to Nielsen Korea. In the finale, female lead Cheon Sa Rang (Im Yoona) decided to leave King Hotel and confidently opened her own hotel.
In this way, though the scale may be incomparable, Sa Rang and Gu Won (Lee Jun Ho) now stand as equals, and a grand wedding was held, concluding the series. Overall, while the element of quitting the company and starting a business was added, the ending of “King the Land” did not deviate much from the typical “Cinderella story”, where the main couple got married and lived happily ever after.
The happy ending of “King the Land” is very typical, yet the series still managed to break its personal viewership rating record. This means that “King the Land” did its job of entertaining the viewers just right, and that the Cinderella story formula can work in terms of ratings.
As a broadcasting company and production company that needs to consider commercial viability, this is a result worthy of raising the toast to success. Moreover, considering that JTBC dramas once experienced a period with high completeness but weak popularity and not much buzz around them, this success is seen as even more valuable.
However, is this a result without any significant consequences?
In fact, “King the Land” was a drama that had unique elements within the framework of a romantic comedy. Not only did it depict the sweet love story of Gu Won and Cheon Sa Rang, it also include interesting storylines where Cheon Sa Rang’s friends, Oh Pyeong Hwa (Go Won Hee) and Kang Da Eul (Kim Ga Eun) each overcome their struggles and take a hold of their own lives, both at home and at work.
However, ultimately, the drama follows a rather old direction and is achieving success through a typical clichéd ending. This highlights a shift in the brand identity of JTBC dramas, which once starkly differs from that of other networks, with high-quality and distinct societal perspectives.
Looking at the recent string of successful JTBC dramas, it’s evident that many of them have been planned with a strong focus on mass appeal. From “Reborn Rich” to “Agency“, from “Doctor Cha” to “King the Land”, these works have often brought in elements of typical genres to enhance popularity rather than focusing on experimentation or artistic quality.
Of course, weekday JTBC dramas like “The Good Bad Mother” or the currently airing “Miraculous Brothers” are generally more experimental and of higher quality. Nevertheless, when it comes to weekend JTBC dramas, a noticeable shift in color compared to past dramas from JTBC can be felt.
In short, JTBC weekend dramas have shifted their strategy. Instead of catering to the younger generation that seeks novelty, they have opted for works tailored to the middle-aged and elderly audience, which pull in higher viewership ratings. This has led to a considerably more “conservative” flavor. While this is not necessarily a wrong choice for a broadcasting company that needs to survive, it does leave a sense of regret since JTBC is not just any other broadcasting company.
“King the Land” brought in high viewership ratings with a typical Cinderella story, but at the same time, it also left behind a challenge for JTBC weekend dramas.
Now that JTBC weekend dramas have proven their mass appeal, it seems necessary for them to also elevate their brand value by bringing in the level of artistic quality.