Genre: Thriller, Psychological, Romance
Origin: South Korea
Air-date: Nov 20, 2021 – Dec 29, 2021
Starring: Shim Da Gil as Koo Ae Jin / “Genie”, Choi Mo Bin as Kim Ho In, Lee Na Gyung as Genie /Sun Mi Jin, Hyo Jung Hee as Yang Ha Neul
Happy New Year! My first review of the year! Boom boom! Now as stated in Whatcha Watchin’, I’m in a drama slump and the only thing that was helping was rewatching Yanxi Palace. I was curious about Shadow Beauty and waited until it was complete so that I could binge it. I managed to not lose interest, but I’m not sure if my drama slump is over yet. Anyways, I thought this had a very interesting premise and was similar to True Beauty except that I liked the whole concept of her being an entirely different person online and this was promised to have some psychological elements to it. I also had read the True Beauty webtoon and was like meh about the drama. That being said, I think what this drama has managed to do is make me infinitely curious about the webtoon especially since I’ve heard that it wasn’t just high school but spanned her going into college too.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed watching this even if I did find that there were some plot holes and inconsistency. I felt like we were missing vital pieces of the story that were condensed down into these thirteen episodes and since it is still a currently releasing drama they had to do their own ending. This was probably one of the few dramas where I was able to really and truly sympathize with the bully character. The arc for Ha Neul was fantastic and I will give props where it is due! Heo Jung Hee did an excellent job. Similar to how Shim Dal Gi did wonderfully. I know a lot felt like her acting was OTT or out of balance but she owned the scene and the role. The variations in the way Ae Jin would seem like a poor, sad protagonist but also completely unhinged and vindictive was wonderful. I also liked that although In Ho and Ae Jin were so similar and for a while it seemed like they would become a love line, they didn’t, which was refreshing.
Unfortunately, I do think the story could’ve done a better job at really enforcing the way the beauty standard keeps society in a chokehold. The way the children kept bullying each other as soon as the other fell out of popularity was very typical. I know that the scene of having Sae Hee throw the hot water into Mi Jin’s face as the catalyst for the story, was a defining moment, but I personally believe they could’ve done a better job at character motivations. Then again, I don’t know if this is something that exists in the webtoon or not. I also think that they could’ve done a better job exploring Ae Jin’s relationship with her mother and that’s why dare I say it, this should’ve either been a longer drama? I also wonder about the fall out of all the brands and sponsorships.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with this piece of work and I wouldn’t reject the idea of a season two if the ending wasn’t the way it was. I am definitely finding the webtoon and reading it. I imagine that if you liked True Beauty this would be right up your alley except it’s not as fluffy.
Rewatch Value: 7/10