Why do good dramas have to come to an end? That’s my biggest complaint about 18 Again right now. But it’s also true that when you drag out your goodbyes, they lose their potency, and although the drama really worked hard to stretch itself over sixteen episodes, the finale was nothing short of perfection.
Saner, Anisa and I gather one last time to say our farewells to a show that brought us so much laughter, happiness, and tears (both kinds) over the last two months, and the fulfilment of all our wishes. Settle in with your tissues, friends. 😭
Saner: Friends. FRIENDS. FRIENDS. *sniff* This show did the impossible, delivering everything I asked for on my drama wishlist last week AND THEN SOME and that which it didn’t give me, I realised I didn’t need. I ran into this week screaming, “IT’S FINALE WEEK!” and have run out the other end, nose snotty, heart full, faith restored. Ack. I’m bordering on incomprehensibility with my emotions.
Saya: I would like to say on the record that I ALWAYS believed. Even in the week(s) you two didn’t. I am patient and can wait for my payoffs. And what a beautiful payoff it was. 😭😭😭
Anisa: To be clear, my happiness with this finale in no way erases my complaints about Episodes 11-14, Saya. 😂 I was thinking of you during the finale, Saner! When the show fulfilled your wishlist, and I think everyone else’s too. We (me, my mom and my sister) were ALL crying. Such a satisfying, heartfelt finale. I’m sad to say goodbye to all these people.
Saner: Heck yes. Episode 16 was a long goodbye and yet, still too short. I miss all the characters already and want more more more. It’s almost devastating to know that I don’t get to watch those brilliantly warm moments play out anymore.
Saya: Do you ever feel like sometimes something is so perfect that you have lost all ability to talk about it? It demands contemplative silence with your hearts (and eyes) so, so full. Also hours of YouTube therapy with all those bonus videos JTBC has been putting out for weeks that I just discovered. And I can watch Lee Do-hyun play ajusshi for another twelve hours easy (which he totally does in these extras!). This show has put him on the map like nobody’s business.
Anisa: 100%. We were watching that scene where he throws basketballs one after another and begs to go back, crying in despair, and I just turned to my family and was like, “Where the heck did this kid come from? This is only his second role! Why is he so good?” Like who even remembers him from 30 but 17?!
Saner: YESSSSSSSS!!! The dumb friend—not even Friend #2 who looked old, just the third henchman there to round out the numbers. He went from Friend #3 to doing an absolutely solid/fantastic/amazing/stupendous/STUNNING job as the young ajusshi and gah, I wish him all the awards and recognition. That basketball scene looked like it physically hurt to be that emotional. It was so well-flipping-done!
Saya: Especially if you compare him to Ahn Hyo-sup right now—Lee is easily faaaar the superior actor in light of this show, whereas Ahn Hyo-sup remains cute but average (and a total waste of Park Bo-young).
Lee Do-hyun in 30 But 17
And! I didn’t even realise that he was the same guy in Hotel Del Luna (in a not-insignificant role), which I loved but not for him. I read in one of the behind-the-scenes that he tended to stay in character all the time on set, and that totally shows.
Anisa: He’s definitely getting major recognition in the 2020 Goguma Awards. I also have to say, though, I found Kim Haneul to be really good here too, and she’s not an actress I’ve found memorable in the past. Mostly it’s been down to her roles—I’ve always found her serviceable but not particularly charismatic. But Da-jung is like, the role she was BORN to play.
Saner: I’ve never ever seen her in anything—but my feelings for my Queen Da-jung are well recorded.
Saya: I’ve only seen her in one other project, the 2011 film Blind, in which Yoo Seung-ho co-starred alongside her (and coincidentally was Park Bo-gum’s screen debut!). She was very good in that, playing a rookie police officer who loses her sight after a horrible accident that killed her brother.
(P.S. I see we are not talking about me sending midnight threats that Lee Do-hyun had BETTER win a Goguma or else. 🤣)
Anisa: I have to admit, my opinion is probably coloured by the bad taste left in my mouth by A Gentleman’s Dignity, which semi-soured me on the entire cast for a bit. Saya, your threats are irrelevant because they were totally unnecessary! There was no other possible candidate for Puppy of the Year. You just preemptively came out swinging when no one was planning to fight you! 😂
Saner: Also, shout out to Ji-ho for working out the truth about Dae-young in one day, where it took other fully grown adults months to connect those dots.
Saya: Oh man, it was so satisfying. But you know, I still really wish the kids had learned it, eventually at least. I’ve thought all week about Woo-young, and how impossible it would be not to grieve the loss of a friend like that for literally the rest of your life. I mean, Woo-young was a character of his own, even if he was Dae-young playing a role. He was still real to Shi-woo and Shi-ah in such important ways, and that deserved a recognition and honouring of its own.
Anisa: I feel complex about this. During the first quarter of Episode 15, which I kind of hated to be honest, I was yelling at the screen for them to stop running around on ridiculous dates that might leave sketchy evidence behind, and TELL THE KIDS!
But after everything was said and done, I was actually okay with the kids never finding out. Because Woo-young did give everyone who really needed it a proper goodbye. That moment with Shi-woo was incredibly moving, and now Woo-young’s not his only friend, because Ja-sungie and the basketball bros have adopted him. *sniff* Woo-young had that little chat to Hye-in about how Deok-jin wasn’t his real dad and she should give him another chance. And I think having their parents get divorced and reunite in the space of a few months was probably enough upheaval for them at that stage in their life. An epilogue of him telling them two years later would’ve been fun, though.
Saner: I’m purely Team Never Tell the Kids—it would be like such a huge invasion of their privacy! Like your dad having read your diary or something *shudder* I think it’s enough that Ji-ho knows—he has a funny kind of wisdom that means he can smile wryly about the whole thing and deflect well. Loved seeing him on his date with Shi-ah and how that tied in to Da-jung and Dae-young/Woo-young’s date too!
Saya: Gosh I was so convinced that the couple would be busted any minute, just for one last crisis. I had to keep reminding myself, oh this is not that show. And you’re right, Anisa, it did take its time to give each connection a meaningful closure. Maybe it’s just me mourning Woo-young.