- Starring: Park Hae Soo | Jung Kyung Ho
- Episodes: 16 (1 hr. 15 mins.)
- Aired: November 22, 2017 – January 18, 2018
- Network: tvN
- Where to Watch: Netflix
Okay, I know I wanted to watch Prison Playbook from when it came out but it just didn’t match up with my watching moods at any time. However, after watching and loving Racket Boys and seeing all the cameo’s and how they basically live in a similar universe, I had to start it. After binging, I’m so mad with myself because I thoroughly enjoyed.
We know how much I love ensemble casts and how can you get any more ensemble from a show about prisoners, prison staff and the people in their lives? The show lives and dies on it’s characters and maybe that is just what Shin Won Ho does as a creator because just like his other shows, the character dynamic is what drives the show. Our lead Kim Je Hyuk is the definition of a himbo and I love it! His moral compass is so simple and his faith in people is surprisingly strong. Yes, him and most of the other characters are in prison for horrible things, but it shows that redemption and rehabilitation is a real thing. I ended up liking Je Hyuk more than I thought because in the beginning, I wasn’t sold on him. Especially since his love line was with Kim Ji Ho, who is like 13 years his junior. He basically watched her grow up and then all of a sudden they love each other? It is something that took time to get over for me. But it was his relationship with his bestie and prison guard, Lee Joon Ho and his cellmates that made me like him.
Eventually as the show continued on, it became less about this celebrity who is in prison and more about how different walks of life end up in prison. How even though these people have broken the law, they are still human beings and they eat, breathe and feel like everyone else. There were so many compelling parts of this show that I could go on for hours. However, one stories that touched me the most was Yoo Han Yang or “Loony”. Han Yang on the surface was there for comic relief but having a character that was both a drug addict and gay and also probably dealing with depression felt really progressive for a Korean drama. The way they handled his sexuality felt really factual. He wasn’t in your face but he wasn’t hiding it either and especially when he had a conversation with Jung Woo about it, I felt like Jung Woo’s reaction was one of many people out there. But it was his struggle with sobriety that touched me. Withdrawal is real and seeing him suffer the whole time stayed with me. And throughout the whole show I was rooting for him to have a happy ending but alas, just like in the real world, not everyone can beat their demons, no matter how much they want to.
The character development was insanely good in this show. I also loved how balanced the show felt. Even with all the “good” characters, you had your villains. One scene that will stand out for me is when Je Hyuk stands up to Chief Yeom, who is basically trying to sexually assault him and baits him until Chief Yeom hits him in the head with a piece of wood that has a nail in it. ALL BECAUSE HE NEEDED AN EXCUSE TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL! LIKE WHOA! This show’s balance between humor and fun and then reality, felt natural. Also the soundtrack was AMAZING! The little times when someone would do something funny or mess up, and the bird sounds would come… genius.
I originally said that I couldn’t rate this show over an 8 because of how uncomfortable the romantic aspects made me. But honestly, it ain’t about that. I can’t deny that this show was done so well. The show basically teaches you not to judge a book by its cover and I have to not judge because so much other things outweigh that one thing. If had the time… I’d rewatch it right now. That’s how good it was.
Acting : 9.5/10
Story : 9/10
Music : 9.5/10
Overall : 9.5/10
Fave Song : OK – BewhY & Gray | The Door – Kang Seung Yoon, Mino & ZICO