Fusion youth sageuk Moonlight Drawn by Clouds premiered this week with decent ratings, pulling 8.3% and 8.5% viewership on its first two episodes. While it falls behind competing dramas Doctors (which aired its final three episodes this week at 19.5%, 17.8%, and 20.2%, respectively) and Monster (grabbing 8.9% and 9.7% viewership ratings), it already made a big leap from predecessor Beautiful Mind, which ended only at 3.2%.
The first to premiere among the three highly-anticipated youth sageuks this year (along with another “moon” drama Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart: Ryeo and Hwarang: The Beginning), many are curious as to how Park Bo-gum’s post-Reply 1988 drama will fare – and if he will be able to escape the “curse”.
The “Reply curse” refers to the Reply series alumni having underwhelming comeback projects after their breakout Reply roles. Fellow ’88 cast members Ryu Jun-yeol and Hyeri were already both hit by said curse earlier this year, on their mediocre follow-up dramas Lucky Romance and Entertainer, respectively. Which reminds me, Park Bo-gum turned down Entertainer (the role that eventually went to Kang Minhyuk), meaning he actually avoided danger there (or would things have been different if the drama got him in the first place?)
It’s still too early to tell whether Park Bo-gum will face the same fate. But if the general sentiment towards Moonlight’s first two episodes would be an indication, then I am cautiously optimistic he’d actually overcome it. Consistent with the drama’s comical teasers and stunning posters, Moonlight’s premiere week gave us lighthearted fun, cheeky/pretty/endearing characters, and just overall cuteness that’s easy to fall for.
As a standalone it has potential. But if Park Bo-gum and the show’s lightheartedness are enough to go against the star-studded ‘Scarlet Heart Ryeo’, we have yet to find out.
Moonlight Drawn by Clouds (also called Love in the Moonlight) is an adaptation of a web novel of the same title, which follows the romance between a crown prince and a woman disguised as a eunuch in the Joseon dynasty. Park Bo-gum plays the troublesome crown prince Lee Yeong, who’s known for unpredictable behavior and seeming disinterest in studies. Opposite him is child actress-turned-leading lady Kim Yoo-jung as Hong Ra-on, a commoner girl who due to yet-unknown circumstances masquerades as a boy. Her reputation as a love guru gets her entangled with the crown prince, thus the beginning of a bizarre relationship.
A potential rival in love and politics is Kim Yoon-sung (played by B1A4’s Jinyoung), a noble who grew up with Lee Young. He meets Ra-on by chance and instantly recognizes that she is indeed a woman. We are also introduced to Kim Byung-yeon (played by actor-musician Kwak Dong-yeon), a silent swordsman always by Lee Young’s side.
I’m definitely getting some Sungkyungkwan Scandal vibes here, which is no problem at all. While the comparison is inevitable, Moonlight is clearly a cheerier version of its predecessor. That is, as of now. We do get an inkling of a darker backstory for the characters, but we don’t know for sure how far the drama will push the heavier elements. Right now, though, I’m good with where it is in the drama-comedy spectrum.
We’re still getting to know the characters at this point, but so far I am already enjoying the chemistry between the two leads. The combined charm of these two actors is simply lovely to watch, along with their impressive acting. And for a story that we somehow have heard of before, the characters’ presence and chemistry is important to get people invested. “Sageuk veteran” Kim Yoo-jung has pretty much got this in the bag, so I was more looking forward to Park Bo-gum’s approach to a playful yet obviously scarred character. I especially like Bo-gum’s liveliness and onscreen charisma, and with what I know of his acting style he’d be able to show more depth as his character gets peeled back.
I am pleased at where the show is going in terms of tone – not much meat yet, but it’s a sageuk that’s actually bright and youthful – and I look forward to seeing how the plot progresses from this point. I hope this is the start of an uptrend in viewership, mostly for the sake of the talented Bogumie. It will be interesting to see next week how viewers will fill the Doctors void – how many of them will go to Moonlight and how many will remain with SBS for the premiere of Scarlet Heart Ryeo, which on the other hand offers a bigger batch of beautiful men. Attracting viewers won’t be an easy task. Not at all. But I’m hoping for the best. What matters though at the end of the day is that Park Bo-gum and the rest of the actors continue to give a strong performance on the show.
Seriously though, these networks should stop pitting same-genre dramas against each other!
What do you think of this drama’s first week? Will Park Bo-gum evade the “Reply curse”?