Random thoughts on Flower Boy Next Door

Flower Boy Next Door fills me with so many thoughts it’s hard for me to get them all down in something resembling structure. Which is why I’ve done so few posts on the drama. So I’m going to just write out all my thoughts from episodes 13 and 14, without worrying too much about creating a linear structure. (Sometimes, random is good?)

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Random-panda says random is awesome!

Spoilers through episode 14 below:

There are two things about this show that I consistently admire: the depth of the characters, and the complexity of the various relationships. And for me, a character that encapsulates both is, oddly, Do-hwi.

She’s a villain, obviously. A quintessential mean girl who brings in a lot of humor by the ridiculousness of her scheming (was she ever a serious contender for Jin-rak’s heart?), or a lot of pathos by the cruelty of her attacks (she is at her most terrible when she’s attacking  Dok-mi — so the pathos is on Dok-mi’s side, just to be clear).

But, and this might just be me, there’s more there. dohwisad photo ScreenShot2013-02-19at61343PM_zpse6f733b8.pngPart of it is in my reaction to her. I cannot bring myself to just dismiss her as a hissable villain who will soon get her just desserts. That she was Dok-mi’s best friend at one time, that she thought Dok-mi was stronger than her, that she thought she was the only one suffering when they were the two class-losers… none of that excuses her behavior, but…

Yeah, that “But…” pretty much sums up my reaction to her. I’m not expecting a big turn around where she and Dok-mi become best-friends-forever, however I do think we’ll get something more than Do-hwi face-planting into mud (or something equally hilariously humiliating) for her finish.

A reason I think we’ll get something more is Dong-hoon’s consistently taking her side. And not in a totally-gaga-for-her way, either. He’s always seen through Do-hwi’s set-ups and he’s never been really into her. However he still looks at her with a certain amount of sympathy. Which I suspect is the drama’s way of asking us to look at her with a certain amount of sympathy, too.  Which is pretty ballsy for a show that set her up as the quintessential mean girl and is saying something about bulling.

And FBND is definitely saying something about the ugliness of prejudice and bullying. Dok-mi has been shaped by it. And we learned in ep. 13 that Enrique’s been shaped by it as well. Dok-mi going defensive, while Enrique went for offense; her shutting out the world, he searching the world to try and figure out “why”.fbndblue photo ScreenShot2013-02-19at73714PM_zpsa34a5167.png It’s one of so, so many ways the drama shows their incredibly deep connection. First, that Enrique is willing to share that past with her, but in other ways, too. For example, Enrique is amazed at how blasé Dok-mi is about the hate-graffiti on her door. fbndcleaner photo ScreenShot2013-02-19at61631PM_zps8eceb725.pngShe doesn’t freak out, she buys cleaner.  But he was just as blasé about the hate-graffiti on his posters several episodes ago, commenting on their tagging skills rather than their message.

And then there’s their two planned mini-dramas that shape ep. 14.  Enrique’s is a hilarious attempt to steal a McGuffin (a very starred and underlined McGuffin at that — all they were missing was a golden glow when the trunk of the car opened) from Jin-rak’s no-good brother.  It gave us some epic images of the three boys, but ultimately ended in failure. (Hilarious, hilarious, failure.)

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stylish

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cool

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failure

Dok-mi’s is a heartbreaking attempt to get Enrique back to Spain to fulfill his dream. I’m not sure if it’ll succeed or not. (I mean, I know it won’t ultimately. But will Enrique buy it even a little?) But I thought it was fascinating that both she and Enrique came up with these carefully crafted story-lines that had a full arc to them. They are both storytellers. (As is Jin-rak who was in on them both.)

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Oh! And I have to say something about the relationship between Enrique and Jin-rak. It’s kind of heartbreaking to me. Even more so than the one-sided love Jin-rak has for Dok-mi. (I think because Jin-rak never really saw Dok-mi. So I think he was more in love with the ideal than the woman. He saw her as the princess but, as she points out, she’s more the witch — not locked away, but doing the locking. To herself, but still. Ooh! Another connection: Dok-mi’s not the princess her fan sees; Enrique’s not the fairy his fan sees. And I shall stop this diversion now.)

Enrique would really, really, really like to be best buds with Jin-rak. When Dok-mi defends him against Jin-rak, there’s this little moment where Enrique looks worried about Jin-rak’s hurt reaction.

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And after the heist goes bust and Dong-hoon is assuring Jin-rak he still has his “little brother” and they’re hugging each other, Enrique goes to join in and gets rebuffed. He’s not surprised and it’s kind of played for comedy, but there’s a bit of angst there, too.

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group hug!

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…or not

It’s a nice twist on the usual love-triangle where the girl doesn’t want to lose her good friend even as she madly loves the other guy. This time it’s more Enrique not wanting to lose a friend he’s been trying to gain. (I think Dok-mi could take or leave Jin-rak at this point. Though, they could be building towards a beautiful friendship. If Jin-rak is willing.)

Only two more episodes to go. It’s going to be sad to leave this crew behind.

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2 thoughts on “Random thoughts on Flower Boy Next Door

  1. The thing that always gets me about Do Hwi, for me, is that Dok Mi truly, genuinely loved her once. Dok Mi’s the kind of perso who doesn’t need very many people in her life, but the few people she does have she’s fiercely loyal to, and she shares a deep connection with them. She had that with Do Hwi. Do Hwi was someone who was able to inspire that in her. The show gives their relationshop a lot of consideration, which is surprising because that kind of depth to a homosocial relationship is usually reserved for the boys–the bromances. But while Jin Rak and Dong Hoon get to have their moving moments, so do Dok Mi and Do Hwi.

    Cha Do Hwi: It was difficult for me. I needed other friends.
    Go Dok Mi: Was i not enough?
    Even though it was just the two of us, I was okay with just you. Better that having 10 or 100 other friends, I was perfectly happy with just you.

    What Dok Mi says there is the kind of thing some dramas would leave for the main romance, but this drama is so layered, so generous, that it gives it to us in a secondary relationship. ❤ ❤ ❤ It gives that consideration to what in another drama would be nothing more than the hissy villainess. Even Do Hwi’s (horrifying) actions are more than just fighting with Dok Mi over some guy. Their antagonism has a real sense of it being about a fundamental incompatibility between them, more than just a petty fight over a guy.

    And I love love love what you say about Jin Rak and Enrique. I think Jin Rak is best in this drama as a hyung, an older, surprisingly wise (and super grumpy) friend. Even with Dok Mi he’s at his best when he acts as a friend. And, like, that’s not any lesser than Dok Mi and Enrique’s romance. Romance and friendship aren’t pitted against each other in this drama. Do Hwi wanted more friendship; Enrique almost desperately wants friendship with Jin Rak; Dok Mi valued her friendship with Do Hwi; but everyone is also looking for romantic love. There’s enough space for both! There’s even a quote from Enrique, when he says that love is like a very close friendship, and that he loves that definition.

    Sigh. I’m gonna be a total wreck when this show ends. :((((

    • That’s it! That’s why I can’t dismiss Do-hwi as just another mean girl villain — you’ve hit on it exactly. Because there are these little moments when Do-hwi seems to glimpse what she gave up. And it’s not that she wouldn’t do it all over again (I think she really did/does need a group of friends in a way Dok-mi just doesn’t) but she recognizes, even just a little, that she lost something in the process. It’s kind of awesome that the show sees the tragedy in that. (I’ve also felt like Do-hwi’s current friends are genuinely her friends. Funny little group of shallow girls, yes. But I doubt they’d drop her on a dime like those groups are usually shown working.)

      (I want to awkwardly throw in a point that there’s two things Do-hwi realizes. One is just how incredibly cruel she was to another human being. I think she never fully processed how deeply hurt Dok-mi was by the mob-hate. And then the other is Dok-mi as a friend — realizing how important she was to Dok-mi. I’m still not expecting a full on redemption arc for Do-hwi, but I suspect her interest in Jin-rak is something beyond his supposed wealth.)

      I love your point about friendship and romance being treated so equally in the show and that female friendship is given beats usually reserved for the guys. Because it’s true and it’s lovely and that’s what gives this show an underpinning and depth rarely found in rom-com’s. (It’s actually very impressive that they found the time to put that depth in. That they made the time. It’s an incredibly dense show, I think. It’s going to be sad when the show ends, but at the same time, I’m really looking forward to rewatching it. Because I’m sure I missed stuff the first go-through.)

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