I’m watching Kiss Sixth Sense at the moment and am really enjoying it. Not just because it’s about grown-ups doing consensual grown-up stuff (a word of warning: very grown-up stuff) but also because the question this drama poses is one that really interests me.
The drama’s female protagonist Hong Ye-sool (played by Seo Ji-hye) has a special super power: she can see the future whenever she kisses someone.
Ye-sool facing a risky temptation in Kiss Sixth Sense
I totally get what an utter buzzkill it must be when you kiss your boyfriend and see a flash-forward of him in bed with someone else. But more importantly, through this set-up the drama asks: if you know that something is going to end badly, should you still continue or should you chuck it in?
And as drama watchers I think we are all very familiar with this particular dilemma.
I don’t have Ye-sool’s superpowers, but as a writer I often get an inkling that a drama is veering off course and then I drop it. Yes, I’m unashamedly a serial dropper of dramas. So, I totally understand Ye-sool in Kiss Sixth Sense: if you know something is going to end badly, just stop. However unfair that might be to the drama you’re currently watching or to the person you are currently dating.
Ye-sool pondering if it's worth it in Kiss Sixth Sense
A number of time-travel dramas pose this same question. We know there’s a bad outcome, a couple split up, get divorced, are unhappy, and then the lead (or lead couple) is catapulted back into the past to have another go at life.
It’s those dramas that most often give me severe Second Lead Syndrome and I’ve come to realise that it isn’t necessarily because of the second lead himself. It is because I want those characters to try something different and not to try harder at the same thing.
Actor Jang Ki-yong putting the Syndrome in SLS in Go Back Couple
Once, just once, can our heroine date the tall guy who really likes her—and who will get rich in the future—and let her husband continue to fawn over that flipping ballerina? I believe it was Einstein who said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing again and expect a different outcome. Dramas like this have to work really hard to convince me otherwise, and sometimes they fail at that (and yes, then I drop them).
It's probably why I enjoyed the C-drama Legally Romance so much. Once you suspend disbelief (no lawyer would have the kind of haircut the male lead has) this is a drama after my own heart.
Lu Xun's hair styling choice (front view and side view) in Legally Romance
Having just broken up with her long-term boyfriend, our heroine time-travels back to university days and the first thing she decides is: well, I’m never going to date that guy again! This time, I’m going to study hard and come top of the class to improve my future career. To make sure this happens, I’m also going to get my arch-nemesis together with his university crush so he’ll be the one dating and distracted, and that way I’ll easily get better marks than him.
That’s a story I can get behind, even though we know it’s not going to work out as planned.
In Kiss Sixth Sense, Ye-sool’s powers are really like that good friend who’s already finished the drama that you’re still watching, who gives you a warning that it’s all going to go horribly wrong. You know, while you’re still happily on the third episode of Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol, they tell you that the ending will not be to your liking but hey, continue at your peril. You know you wished you’d dropped it.
You after the last episode of Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol
Ye-sool’s life gets turned upside down when she’s shown a future that’s the equivalent of that same drama-watching friend saying: yes, yes, I know it’s boring/annoying/ frustrating/anger-inducing right now but trust me, it’s going to get really really good!
And it amused me a great deal when Ye-sool decides that if this is the case, she should just fast-forward to the good bits.
We’ve all been there.
Finally, one thing about the direction of the drama. Hong Ye-sool kisses someone and after the kiss, she’s shown to have had a revelation through a wide-eyed open stare. It dawned on me that if the director had instead chosen to show that during the kiss, we’d have a drama full of fish eye kisses and who would want to watch that?
Actor Park Shin Hye being awkward iconic in Heartstrings