REVIEWS: Answer Me 1988 / Reply 1988 (2015)

The Answer Me franchise is known for two things: first — being realistic and grounded, bringing a sense of nostalgia, being an emotional roller coaster and having awesome moments with so much heart that you can’t help but love the characters and those moments. The second is the famous mystery of who will end up with the heroine. So enjoyment and appreciation of this show depends on your preferences. If you’re bothered by this mystery, and don’t want to give Answer Me 1988 a chance, it’s a big loss because the show is brilliant. Yes, it has a husband mystery game but the main focus is family and friendship. And of course, moments!

Nothing great from a plot perspective. We looked at different family lives over the years, with 1988 as the starting point. The intersection of life and maturity remains the main theme as we see their personal lives against the background of various events that occurred at that time, be it political, cultural, social or anything related to film or music or television. I’m sure Korean audiences will enjoy these pop culture elements and references more than international audiences. Nevertheless, it is fun and with the help of historical knowledge one can get to the bottom of it.

As I’ve mentioned before, the crème de la crème from Answer Me 1988 is the beautiful connection of the whole family. They are each different from each other, by sharing their own happiness and sadness. Very realistic and often brings tears to our eyes. The relationship between the different families is also extraordinary. They know each other well, especially the friendship between mothers. Warmth and affection and heartwarming moments abound throughout the show. Friendship among young people is also well displayed. The ’80s feel is palpable — clothes, hair, songs, movies, trends, sets, and fashion. The beauty of the simplicity of life in that era was depicted deftly.

Coming to the romance part, this drama plays with viewers’ hearts by bringing back its old game — who will be her husband? I supported one couple but as the show progressed my interest waned because to keep it a mystery, we never had a solid romantic relationship between anyone. So when we found out about the end game it didn’t cause any emotion from me and I’m not sure about that. In fact, romance and better partners come from other couples in the drama whose journey we watch from beginning to end. Another complaint I have is the length, which is too long. Drama could use more editing.

While each character makes an impact, there are few that I love more than others. The first is of course Ra Mi Ran. She is an amazing character and I don’t have enough words to praise Ra Mi Ran’s acting. Then there’s Jung Hwan. He won my heart with his I-don’t-care-but-I-so-care-for-everyone attitude. I also love the relationship between Bo Ra and her father, which brought tears to my eyes many times.

There is a consistency in this drama where no one is what they seem at first glance. Just like in real life. The layers peel off gradually and it’s great to understand it fully and watch it grow. The show’s music is another highlight, covering popular songs as well as the songs themselves. It is also like a knowledge book where we get to know the various events and things that dominated the 80s and 90s in South Korea. There’s a lot of great humor in the drama, along with nostalgia and emotional substance.

Answer Me 1988 is full of amazing acting talent. All the parents were great, acting so naturally. Ra Mi Ran, Kim Sung Kyun, Sung Dong Il, Lee Il Hwa, Choi Moo Sung, Kim Sun Young — they are so warm and charming and perfect. The younger cast also put on great performances, especially Ryu Joon Yul, Park Bo Gum, Ryu Hye Young, Go Kyung Pyo and Lee Dong Hwi, who were hilarious. After everyone’s concern for casting, Hye Ri was liked in her role and gave a good performance.

In the end, 1988’s Answer Me was another feather in the lid of this franchise. It is warm, poignant, beautiful and makes us produce for those simpler moments.

About Kalika Ayuna

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