Several students in an underachieving class in their second year of high school face conflict in their academic and personal lives. They also have to deal with simply growing up and becoming who they want to be -- something their teachers attempt to guide them through even as they come across similar problems of their own.
School 2013 is another successfully done take on the life of being a teenager, and all the conflicts that arise from it.
The plot is simple but powerful, as we watch a class tackle common problems; the clashing of different 'cliques', the stress of getting good grades, breaking and mending friendships all while feeling like the whole world is against you. But what this show does well is contrast the kids with the adults, showing how no matter your age, you can become disillusioned and sometimes need that one person believing in you.
The acting was great. There were no great romances, just people becoming friends, and each other's supports, which for me was even better than the romance, because it was universal theme. And everyone had a great character arc, with the groundwork laid out early so there were no overnight changes in personalities.
School 2013 is a lot like Answer Me, 1997, another show that aired this year in Korea. Hopefully this trend of great high school shows showcasing universal themes that everyone can relate to continues, because I, for one, can't get enough of it.
I was actually very hesitant to start this one, because I wasn't really in the mood for another high school drama, as I was expecting something full of fluff and cliches. But I heard multiple times that this drama was amazing and that it was different, so I decided to give it a shot.
And I'm glad I did! The tone of it reminded me of Gokusen at first, with the teacher trying to reform her kids. The drama definitely addressed a more serious aspect of school but after a few episodes it became clear that this was no Gokusen replica either. Teacher Jung was not always strong and sure of herself and the decisions or actions she made, and I liked how the drama portrayed her struggles to decide on how best to interact with students and their unique qualities. Students that annoyed me at first redeemed themselves later on in the drama. One thing that also sets this drama apart from Gokusen is that it never felt repetitive. Each character (and not only the students) presented their own set of troubles that they had to face.
Yet this drama also didn't feel bogged down by its serious tone and never became too overdramatic--it was all done just right and it may have come the closest to realistic situations as we can get in dramaland.
I was glad that they didn't decide to develop love lines--even though they are a part of school life, taking out the love lines probably was for the better in avoiding any cliche moments. There were hints, and there was bromance so all in all I was immensely happy with the relationships portrayed between the characters. Perhaps why I like this drama so much is because the interactions between the characters led to the growth of all the characters involved, and not just the main protagonist. Sure, there were some open ended things or characters that didn't change from their ways, but that all contributed to its realistic feeling.
I would most definitely recommend this drama if you're looking for something with a little less fluff, while also being a feel good drama at the same time. The chemistry between the cast is great and there are plenty of characters to love.
Both of these series put friendship and optimism for the future before all else, making them not about anyone's fate being set in stone, but about the journey and the unique open path in front of each character.