SKY Castle is a satirical black comedy about the lives of four wealthy women and their families and the extraordinary lengths they go to in order to make sure their children get into good universities and are successful in life.
We’ve got a lot of people to meet, so let’s jump right into the introductions of all of our wealthy families who live at SKY Castle. There’s the cunning and unwavering Seo Jin (Yum Jung Ah) and her doctor husband Joon Sang (Jung Joon Ho). Then we have the bright and elegant Sung Hye (Yoon Se Ah) and her professor husband Min Hyuk (Kim Byung Chul).
Next is the feisty Jin Hee (Oh Na Ra) and her doctor husband Yang Woo (Jo Jae Yun). Then there’s the kindhearted new neighbor Soo Im (Lee Tae Ran) and her doctor husband Chi Yeong (Choi Won Young).
Finally, we have our mysterious professional tutor Kim Joo Young (Kim Seo Hyung) who will do whatever it takes to make sure her clients get into a top school. This is an interesting character that will keep you guessing as to what her motives really are. Whew, that was a lot of people!
SKY Castle is a drama that I only checked out because it was a ratings monster that went on to become the highest rated cable drama ever. People raved about it week after week, so I couldn’t help but be curious to see what all the commotion was about. Especially since on paper, this drama sounded completely boring to me. I really had no desire to watch this one on my own, so it was just pure curiosity that led me to it.
And well, my experience wasn’t exactly like I had hoped it would be. I told myself going in that I would give it four episodes to win me over since it sounded like the kind of drama that would take some time to set it up. Of course, I was hoping it would win me over sooner than that though.
But sadly, that was not the case. I really was not feeling the first four episodes. I thought they were mostly slow with an engaging scene sprinkled in here and there. I just wasn’t interested in the story.
Also, most of the characters were pretty unlikable. Even the “good” characters were just okay for me. I definitely prefer to like the characters in my dramas. There are exceptions where I don’t mind if I don’t like them though. The key is that the story has to be really gripping to make up for it. Say something like Return where there was an intense murder mystery and some very over the top villains. But the people in SKY Castle were unlikable, and the story wasn’t that engaging in the beginning.
I really wanted to drop it at this point, but I was on a roll and went on to episode five. Things got somewhat better at this point. Still not really engaged, but it was doable. After reading lots of opinions on the drama, I really wanted to hang in there since everyone was saying how dramatic and intense it becomes. So I pushed on.
I eventually came to the conclusion that SKY Castle was the slowest burning drama ever for me. Every episode got marginally better than the previous. The first third was fairly dull, the middle was decent, and the last third was crazy good. It ever so slowly built upon each episode to ramp up the intensity.
And then that last third things just gets all kinds of wild! Everything hits the fan as all of that build up culminates in multiple story lines coming to a head. Lots of drama and fireworks ensue. Now this was my kind of show! The emotions were running high for everyone, and the tension was just through the roof. This drama turned out to be a whole lot more than just kids getting into good schools.
SKY Castle is a darker themed drama with a very heavy feel. It focuses on all sorts of issues like the pressure kids face to get into good schools, the lengths parents will go to get them there, suicide, murder, and so much more. These are difficult subjects for sure.
I do think that overall SKY Castle had a very good script and presented its story in a unique way. I just haven’t come across many dramas like it. It knew where it was going from the start and put a lot of thought in the details. The basic story of getting kids into good schools explodes into major family issues, criminal activity, and life and death stakes. The overall production was also wonderful.
Then the mostly veteran cast were all excellent and delivered impeccable performances. If you like good acting, this is a drama to see. Even the teens were pretty good. You’ll see plenty of dramatic reactions, intense encounters, and lots of plotting. The cast really brought this show to life.
There were a whole lot of main characters in this show though! There are nine main adult characters as well as their children. That’s a lot of people to get to know and to figure out. I tend to prefer getting to know a large cast little by little over time, but this one mostly throws you right in the middle of all of them. But on the plus side, that enables there to be lots going on all of the time. There was always plenty of new things to discover.
Each family has its own dynamic and quirks. It’s interesting to see how they all function as a unit and then how that influences their actions with other members of SKY Castle and the outside world.
And luckily, many of those unlikable characters sort of grew on me. Now I didn’t really come around to full on liking them, but I found several of them to be entertaining in their own ways. My favorites ended up being Sung Hye and Jin Hee. These two ladies certainly made me laugh. And most of the kids were pretty decent.
The main character, Seo Jin, was someone that I never came around to. Now on one hand, she is such a fascinating character. She is completely unwavering in her mission to get her child into a top school. Not only does she bring in a questionable tutor to help her, but as their lives begin to spiral out of control, she doubles down and won’t budge.
Some of the things she did were truly terrible. She does love her family, but what she does to achieve her goals made her very difficult to connect with. She was a truly interesting woman though, and it was neat to see a lead character like this.
The parents all have to go on their own intense journeys. All of them want their kids to get into good schools and go to great lengths to ensure that happens. Some are misguided and just put too much pressure on their kids while others are completely obsessive and ruthless to make sure they succeed.
And these kids go through some serious stuff. I really felt bad for how much pressure they were put under. Sometimes their parents were just downright cruel to them with the tactics they would use to get the kids to study and get good grades. They were put under immense pressure, and they couldn’t always handle it. It was sad.
The adults all have to eventually face what they are doing to their kids and ultimately decide if what they are doing is really best for them. It’s a process for all of them with some seeing that school isn’t worth everything if their kids end up miserable and others just not being able to break free from the belief that their kids must succeed in the way they deem best. It’s a heartbreaking process to watch as some see their lives falling apart and decide to change while others bear down and lose everything because they can’t change.
Although the drama is mostly quite serious, there are moments of levity throughout. Most is through some of the individual family dynamics and a bit of job fun at the hospital where several of the men worked. It breaks things up a bit.
In the end, I found myself feeling quite conflicted about SKY Castle. While I greatly appreciated the groundwork that was laid early on that culminated in some big payoffs towards the end, the slowness for such a large part of the drama really got to me.
The fact that it took over half of the drama for me to really warm up to it definitely affected my overall enjoyment. But thankfully, it got better as it went, and a good chunk of the last part of the drama was excellent and filled with tension. That left things on a good note.
The people who loved this drama all the way through seemed to far outweigh those who didn’t, so if the idea of a darker satirical comedy intrigues you, you should definitely give it a look. Its script, production, and talented actors work together for a very unique experience that pulls you into the twisted world that is SKY Castle.
My Rating: 6.5/10
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