Twelve plus weeks ago I embarked on a personal journey, a quest to unravel the mystery that is Orange Marmalade.
Orange Marmalade is one drama that breaks almost all my ground rules of kdrama watching. As a self proclaimed old fashioned romance junkie, I tend to stay away from dramas or stories based on vampire, fantasy, time travel or paranormal themes.
Orange Marmalade embodies all of the above and some.
So how did I end up watching Orange Marmalade and even more amazingly, stuck with it through to the end? Because there was enough intrigue to this madness and it was sufficient to keep me tuned in each week.
I was fascinated by the boldness (or some may say craziness) of the production team to take on a challenge that is such a departure from the normal formula of kdrama success. It is supposedly an adaptation of the popular webtoon but it is nothing like its predecessor. It is but a myriad of cliche tropes, creatively brave screenwriting, mix in some non conventional programming, good looking casts, and there you go – Voila! Orange Marmalade!
At first I was charmed by the mini teasers which did a fantastic job of marketing the show. I was sold by the mystique of the elusive vampire girl and the puppy eyed, longing stares of Jae Min, the handsome class president sought by every other high school girl but Ma Ri.
Yeo Jin Gu’s superb acting won me over in those few seconds. I am already a fan of CNBlue’s Lee Jong Hyun therefore having him as the second lead was a bonus.
Two episodes in, I was ecstatic! The show exceeded my expectations. It started out really well in introducing the storyline depicting the struggles of the vampires trying to live incognito among humans; reminiscing of real life discrimination faced by many in our societies today. And throw in a few light-hearted hilarious moments, I was sold! My reaction…Wow! Did he really do that on prime time public television?
Episode 4 was the turning point for me. The pace was suddenly so fast it was like watching a completely different drama. Suddenly the show introduced all kinds of loopholes, sub-plots and question marks. And then the big reveal – flashbacks to the Joseon era. At this point I was close to dropping the show but curiosity kept me reeled in.
It turned out I actually liked the Joseon episodes the best even though I was cringing when I first heard about it. Lesson learned, never pre-judge! Everyone (or show in this case) deserves a chance.
I really enjoyed Shi Hoo’s story in the Joseon era. His character had more depth and layers than the other two leads. I was heavily invested in Shi Hoo’s story though how the show dealt with his re-appearance in the present day was a tad too convenient for my taste.
The bromance between Shi Hoo and Jae Min was cute and touching. The love story between Jae Min and Ma Ri was endearing but a tad ordinary and predictable. I actually felt more for Shi Hoo’s restraint love for Ma Ri. It was respectful but heart rending.
The chemistry between Shi Hoo and Ah Ra was excellent but in typical kdrama fashion it was too little too late, jammed pack into the last three episodes.
The remaining secondary characters were nicely interwoven into the show and the Joseon period closed the gaps in understanding the relationships of these characters and how they relate to the main characters in the present day.
The backstory and build up of the human-vampire conflict and how the pact was reached that carried to the modern era was another plotline that kept me interested.
Overall, Orange Marmalade had its moments but lost a lot of fans from the misleading advertising, inconsistent storytelling/pacing and the modern to historical jumps. But I am glad it didn’t suck and it definitely wasn’t a complete waste of my time.
So, was it a commercial success? Unlikely since it finished at an average of 3.4% AGB Nielsen rating.
So, was it a total flop? No, not really. It is a divided crowd. It finished with an average 7.0 rating on MDL but those loyal to the original webtoon abandoned it moons ago. But surprisingly it garnered positive final reviews from the below credible kdrama bloggers I follow.
There! It’s a wrap! I survived this challenge!