Over at Dramafever Me Too, Flower is described as proving “the power of love to defeat cynicism and boredom,” and having finished watching the show I’m inclined to agree. Me Too Flower is, at it’s core, a show about Bong Sun and Jae Hee: she’s the cynic and he’s the bored one. They are the centerpiece, the piece de resistance, and if they don’t work, then nothing else works. It’s what I like to call an OTP drama–you can’t watch it for the side characters, you can’t watch it for the plot: the only way to enjoy Me Too Flower is to be fully invested in the characters and their romance.
Now, most dramas have an OTP, but what differentiates an OTP drama from others is that the focus on its main coupling is so singular as to obscure any other points the story concerns itself with. It’s not that the only point of the drama is to get the two leads together so much as that the romance is the one driving force, a kind of vortex that sucks in everything else. For example, the Nana/Yoon Sung pairing in City Hunter is very important, but as audience members we are just as invested in Yoon Sung’s relationship with Jin Pyo and his identity as the City Hunter as we are in his romance; in The Princess’s Man the romance is just as important as the revenge plot (indeed, the one depends on the other); and in Kim Sam Soon, our heroine’s self love and struggles to exist in the world as herself are themes that are given more consideration than the romance. In contrast, Scent of a Woman, Playful Kiss, Secret Garden, and Paradise Ranch are all OTP dramas. In each of them the object of the two leads getting together is paramount and the obstacles the characters face are obstacles because they hinder their romance, or, the fact that they hinder their romance matters more than anything else they may hinder, which has a tendency to lead to cliches and a general lack of imagination in writing and plotting.
I would categorize OTP dramas as a subset of trendy dramas. Trendy dramas tend to be shorter and focus more on the romance between the two leads than anything else, so that makes them prime grounds for the possibility of an OTP drama. After all, if something is a sageuk, a family drama, or a workplace drama, that immediately means that it has concerns other than the romance. This doesn’t mean that the romance isn’t a highlight of the drama, it simply means that what happens in the story doesn’t happen because of the romance: the writers don’t create the plot specifically to feed into the romance, rather, what happens in the plot effects and enhances the romance without necessarily being born of it. For example, the relationship between Baek Ja Eun and Hwang Tae Hee in Ojakgyo Brothers, a long-form family drama, is definitely OTP level material. But the events within the drama don’t occur with the particular and single goal of having some kind of effect on their romance. When Baek Ja Eun returns to the farm, she doesn’t only rekindle her romance with Tae Hee, she also reestablishes her relationship with Bok Ja, his mother. Her actions have other implications and will effect more than just her romance.
Me Too, Flower, however, is the best of all the OTP dramas. Firstly, because it is driven entirely by characterization. The reason the audience is so enamored of Bong Sun and Jae Hee is because of the way they are written and acted, the interactions we witness onscreen–not because they are played by two stars. There is no Kim Hyun Joon or Hyun Bin to keep us tuning in, only these two characters we care for. Secondly, it asks the audience to care more than just about the lead couple being together–it demands that we care for them as individuals as well as a couple. While in other OTP dramas it would be completely ludicrous if the main couple did not end up together, I feel that in Me Too, Flower I would have been able to understand if they’d stayed apart, which serves to make their decision to date again all the more satisfying. If there had been more of a focus on Bong Sun’s family, if the Hwa Young had been explored as a character and been allowed to be more than a one dimensional antagonist, if the show had remained with Bong Sun and chosen to focus on her development, as it did in the last episode (which I adored) then it would be more than an OTP drama.
So, basically, an OTP drama:
- a trendy romance drama chock full of cliches or otherwise lackluster and hackneyed plot developments that are nevertheless meaningful because of the central romantic couple; a mediocre drama that is elevated by the main coupling; something I make up because I love Me Too, Flower so much and wish it could have been as great as the material it contains suggests.