No mainpaging, please!
ETA: Gifs for interest and to break up the monologuing.
Recently, after several years away from it, partially due to job changes and babies, I started getting back into watching Korean television online. I'd forgotten how hugely addicting K-dramas are. American television has so few decent rom-coms, partially due to our penchant for the long-term, multi-season format. There's only so many seasons you can stretch out a romance before it's paper thin. But the foreign television markets have the rom-com and romantic melodrama formula down to a science, especially in the single-season, 16-20 episode format. It also happens to be very accessible — for free — through Netflix, Hulu and reliable market-specific streaming services like Dramafever.
I never realized what a gigantic rom-com hole there was in American television until I started watching Korean television online. It's often sappy and over-wrought, as rom-coms tend to be. But I got to thinking, why do I like these shows? What is different about them? And I realized that there are practically no stories like this available on American television, except perhaps on Lifetime, which is routinely mocked and often funded so poorly that the results are usually subpar. It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy: no one wants to watch this, therefore don't bother funding it, and then of course it fails. In any case, romance is generally not a major part of prime time here. In contrast, many K-dramas have great production values, air during prime time, and get the resources to hire good writers and actors to pull it off. Side note: when watching television from foreign markets, it's always a hoot watching the occasional Westerner pop up in the background, often playing a wealthy businessman, a villain, or a sexy model/temporary fling of a wealthy chaebol. It's interesting to see how (usually) Americans are represented when we aren't controlling the content.
It seems like romance is a largely untapped and neglected genre in the States, not to mention regarded as shameful because it indulges in women's fantasies instead of men's.
The success of the few prime-time shows who do attempt high-budget, romance-heavy plots like Scandal, Downton Abbey (which is British t.v., but has a strong fan base in the U.S.), and pretty much anything on the CW says to me that there is a hunger in local markets for high-quality romance written for and by women. Yet even these get flippantly written off as "basically soap operas" and "guilty pleasures", as though enjoying a romantic plot line is a dirty little secret.
What about you? Do you watch television from other countries? If so, why? Do you find yourself missing the rom-com and romantic melodrama in American (or wherever you are) television and film?
I do think romance, or at least the female gaze, is starting to seep back into the American market, but the going is slow, and I have yet to see the equivalent of, say, a Hong sisters drama, unapologetically appearing on American prime time.
tl;dr I just want to watch beautiful people make out, America. Is that so wrong!?