Reply 1988 (also known as Answer Me 1988) tells the story of five families who live on the same road in Seoul in 1988. It explores their relationships as well as the ups and downs of their lives.
A little heads up before you embark on this drama. While it only has 20 episodes, that number is a bit misleading due to the extremely long episode length. The episodes range from 1 1/2 – 2 hours each. I did a little math, and if the episodes were only 1 hour long, this drama would average out to be about 32 episodes! So be aware going in, that it is a bit more of a time commitment than your standard drama.
Reply 1988 follows in its predesessors footsteps by creating intimate relationships between multiple families. Their lives all intertwine together to create a little world that we get to look into. This drama divides its focus between the teens and their parents. Five of our teens are the same age and are close friends. We also have a few older siblings around the same age.
I found I gravitated more to the storylines involving all of the teens. I just really enjoyed the classic coming of age issues and all that entails. We had great performances all around from Hyeri as Duk Seon, Park Bo Gum as Taek, Ryu Joon Yeol as Jung Hwan, Go Kyung Pyo as Sun Woo, Lee Dong Hwi as Dong Ryong, and Ryu Hye Young as Bo Ra.
But I did really enjoy the parents too. I actually think they may have got more screen time than the kids did. They are also close with each and form a tight-knit community. Unless you check out weekend and family dramas, you don’t usually get so in depth with the lives of regular middle-aged people. Just like the teens, we see their relationships with their families, their friendships, and difficulties that are unique to their age group.
And who can resist this adorable girl! Jin Joo (Kim Seol) is the only child in the neighborhood, and her primary purpose in the drama is to be cute. And I would say she succeeds with flying colors. She has definitely made my list of cutest kids in a kdrama.
The drama as a whole was a great watch. Since its primary focus was simply on relationships without a grander plot running in the background, I did find it a bit a draggy here and there (also possibly due to the longer episodes). I actually prefer dramas with crazy plots and fantastical characters. And there really isn’t any of that in Reply 1988.
But the drama nails its portrayal of average families in 1988 with a more realistic view of regular people. We get to see their ups and downs and simply go through life with them. Each family is unique with its own quirks and tribulations, but when it comes down to it, they really love each other. And really this is what the Reply series as a whole is all about.
We also get to go on another husband hunt. I’m one of those who doesn’t mind the little game and actually find it quite amusing. Duk Seon has a few potential candidates among her pals.
Ending Spoilers Below (Including Who the Husband Is)
So we quickly ruled out Sun Woo pretty early on. We were then left with Jung Hwan and Taek as our husband candidates. I did enjoy Jung Hwan and Duk Seon’s relationship, but it never gave me any warm, fuzzy feelings. He was just too closed off and kept too much to himself.
Of course, something similar could initially be said for Taek. He was certainly an aloof character, and he didn’t express himself well at first. But he eventually becomes quite open and honest. I loved watching him grow and mature with Duk Seon. And he was always one step ahead of Jung Hwan, which ultimately led to his success. I was team Taek all the way! And yay, Taek is Duk Seon’s husband! I was more than pleased with how it all worked out.
Now as for the final episode of Reply 1988, I was actually surprised by just how sad it was. But it’s not because anything terrible happens. I’ve watched my fair share of tragic dramas, but man, this was almost too much because of its realism.
The ending shows our teens all grown up, and all of the families have left the old neighborhood. The neighborhood sits in baron ruins, just a shadow of what it once was. Where there was once so much noise and activity, there is now just silence filling the homes and streets.
Duk Seon narrates about the fleeting nature of one’s youth. It’s a time you only get to experience once, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. It was a sobering presentation, and I couldn’t help feeling utterly depressed as the closing scenes rolled. I would have much preferred to leave the drama on a happier scene. Note to self, I prefer more crazy and over the top dramas to escape real life stuff like this!
But as a whole, Reply 1988 was an enjoyable and solid drama. It’s a perfect addition to the classic Reply series, and it has found it’s way into the hearts of many.
My Rating: 7/10
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