[ K ] Just in case you are worried that I’ve abandoned the world of K-dramas for the high temple of Vermeer, Van Gogh, Crewdson and Webb, sorry, no such luck.
What have I been doing most nights in Amsterdam? Glued to Queenmaker on Netflix but of course.
The basic premise is simple enough – a jilted corporate fixer finally realizes she has a conscience and goes about riding herself of her guilt. To achieve that, she needs to drag someone into the water and try to make her Queen.
Forget about black and white, there isn’t, because just like humans in the game of politics, everyone is a sacrificible pawn.
Kim Hee-Ae is perfect as the Queenmaker. She seems 1000% ready for blood she didn’t get to extract in The World of Married. While I find her to be a good actress, she is prone to overacting, especially here. Her grimacing look, while understandable, makes me uncomfortable. Perhaps many will forgive that of someone torn between hell and heaven, and have a lot of unfinished businesses on earth. Her stares are evil, but overdoing them actually dilutes the effect. We want her to be dark, expect her to be dark. But you don’t become dark just by overacting.
The Queen (yes I deliberately omitted the ‘played by’) Moon So-ri is on the hand a different class. A much better actress, she is totally believable as a wacko rhino who is more than ready to be on the bigger stage. But she is normal too. She is a hardworking career woman who neglects her son and bad for the fabric of a moral society. But that has never been a problem with men who make the same mistake.
In many Korean dramas, men are often cast as the problem, not solution. Same here.
So we don’t really care if Carl Yoon, played by whoever, is a cunning fox with apparently some semblance of humanity because whatever little redeeming quality he has is motivated by guilt, not love.
Candidate Baek is no doubt despicable but his bad acting actually works out perfectly because when he is pretending to be nice, he is really devilish. Maybe that’s a talent?
I have often wondered if political scandals, class divide, revenge, gender inequality are all Korean dramas have to offer. However, I also think that’s what they do very well.
But Queenmaker is slightly more. Beyond the revenge and plotting is the friendship, the late-night smoke and chat, not to mention the sisterhood that will overcome everything, evil men especially.
As a drama, I will rate this high up, probably better than the much talked about Sky Castle, Crash Landing etc.
And it seems that at last, they have realized that if they can nail it well in 11 episodes, why do 12, 16 or 24?
Lastly, a spoiler – there is a happy ending.