Twenty Five Twenty One was one of the biggest dramas of 2022. I had it on my list for some time, and finally got around to it. It started slow for me, and then around episode 5 it became a binge. This drama was addictive because it had a good set of layers–it wasn’t just about romance (and actually I found other themes to be much more prevalent) but was also about coming of age, reaching for your dreams, and forgiveness. What a beautiful, special, and unique drama this was. Here’s my breakdown, with spoilers.
Plot: I like the thought of two individuals coming together to cheer each other on. This plot shows the obvious need and connection that Baek Yi-jin and Na Hee-do share–encouraging each other to greatness. Something I especially liked about this drama was that their romance wasn’t the focus. It didn’t even really come into the spotlight until the last few episodes! Their connection was so pure and special and it was able to be enjoyed platonically and later romantically. This made the show unique compared to other dramas where romantic connection is often the main focus of a relationship. On top of this, we have the struggle between Na Hee-do and Ko Yu-rim. The fact that they’re internet bffs and don’t know it is a perfect way to burst through their intense rivalry! With each main character facing complex challenges–Yu-rim and Yi-jin, financial, and Hee-do familial–it makes for a plot that has little to no filler. Almost every episode made me tear up and laugh out loud. Plot Score: 9/10
Setting: Going back to the 90s was a lot of fun. It makes me crave the simplicity of life before everyone was glued to their phone. The style, colors, and soundtrack made this blast from the past so enjoyable. I also like that we start in the present and travel back in time through Hee-do’s journals. I especially enjoy that we get to see Hee-do in the present and know that she’s okay with everything that transpired and has a healthy and happy life. This drama also had a few fun and memorable places like the school hangout room, the bookstore, and Hee-do’s home. Setting Score: 8/10
Characters: The subtleties in the characters was almost unmatched. So many things only perceived in facial expressions–it was wonderful. Hee-do was portrayed as her age, and Yi-jin his. Their age gap was so easy to see and that was helpful for character development and growth as time went on. My favorite couple was Ji-woong and Yu-rim. Ji-woong made me laugh the most in the drama and I desperately needed his humor to offset all the teary-eyed moments. I didn’t always know what the characters were going to say or do next, which is wonderful for pacing. Characters Score: 9/10
Theme: The theme of bringing someone to a better place was beautiful. Not only did this happen for Hee-do and Yi-jin, but Yu-rim as well as Hee-do was her internet, and later in-person, bff. Love and support was at the center of this drama. Giving someone encouragement to reach their dreams might be the very push they need to meet success. Additionally, the last episode’s theme of choosing to let go when all you want to do is hold on was powerful. Knowing when a relationship isn’t able to support the other person is something that comes to all of us. This depiction was special and so true to life. Theme Score: 10/10
OST: The OST is great! The sounds match the 90s era and there are some heartfelt tracks as well as bops! “Your Existence” by Wonstein stands out as my favorite upbeat song. The best ballad is “Very, Slowly” by BIBI. The lyrics are as fantastic as the sweet melody. OST Score: 9/10
FINAL: This drama was special because it gave such a true depiction of friendship, falling for a crush, and eventually being in love. So much of this drama was relatable and touched on things I’m sure many can relate to. But even more, it showed that sometimes beautiful things don’t last. The rainbow comes after a storm and is stunning and magical…but it doesn’t stay forever. So it was with the relationship of Hee-do and Yi-jin. The ending was so completely satisfying, even though I sobbed for the last 20 minutes of the drama. From her retirement, to the scene where he ties her shoe and they cry as they hug each goodbye, and then the dramatization of the journal entries–giving us a beautiful depiction of what this relationship meant to them, even though it was over–it all was one big crying fest but in the best way. Twenty Five Twenty One was so realistic and displayed the beauty of true connection with friends and loved one. This is likely why so many of us loved it and cried the whole way through! This drama will stick with me for a long time, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Final Score: 9/10
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