de Badass Bunny, Fevereiro 23, 2024

One day, as I was comfortably lying in bed, surrounded by my cats, I started to wonder why, whenever I feel sad and frustrated, I find solace in this years-old anthology, which some describe as perfect and others as boring. In this article, you can contemplate along with me, and in the end, we might find the answer together.


If you are a longtime watcher of Asian dramas, you might know this anthology by heart, but if you are a newbie and still haven’t heard about this comforting series, let me introduce you to it so you can have better context for this article.

The Reply anthology consists of three TV series that aired in 2012: Reply 1997, 2013: Reply 1994, and 2015: Reply 1988. As it is an anthology, all three series can be watched independently without prior knowledge of the other series in the anthology. But, even though it is an anthology, it does share a lot of similarities, which are: all three TV series are family-centered, and in each installation, the husband of the female lead is revealed at almost the end of the series—we only get hints of who it might be throughout the series.

As you can see, I have given you a very short description of the anthology, but this was done on purpose, as we are ready to dive deep into its magic.


The answer to this question is very complex and, at the same time, very subjective. When I asked this question to my friends, we all shared different but at the same time very similar points, which might contribute to the magic this series creates, even after all those years.


The first thing that comes to mind while remembering the series is definitely family! Yes, you might snicker and raise your brow because aren’t families present in almost all TV series? Truthfully, it is indeed true, but Reply’s family dynamics are completely different compared to other TV series, in a sense that the family is the main plot of the story, and the members of the family are considered to be the main characters of the anthology. Let me put it in a more simple way: if there was no family, there would be no Reply.


The second thing that is very present in all the series in the anthology is the unique telling of a love story. Romantic dramas have been around for years, and without doubt they did captivate many of us, so what does Reply do differently compared to other dramas? First and foremost, we do not get love lines out of nothing, and this does not mean the oftentimes cliché love stories where people meet under the most shocking circumstances. Instead, the love stories in this anthology are very ordinary, one would say. There are no rich conglomerates, no snobby rich men or women who gain the love of others with a blink of their right eye. No, the series shows ordinary people falling for ordinary people. It is also good to mention that the love stories do show the effect they have on the families, which are constantly present in the story, because it is normal that the love of two people might be the subject of talk in families. With ordinary romance, we receive ordinary dates, ordinary love, and an ordinary lifestyle.
So why do people love this “ordinary” romance?
Many will have different answers to this question, but my personal opinion is that people relate to this kind of romance because it resembles them in some way. I, for example, am a truly ordinary person who does not own super-fast cars or loads of gold. I am just me, so I like to watch how seemingly ordinary people, like myself, fall in love.
It simply looks touchable and real, which is very hard to feel when you watch TV series that use the typical “rich man, poor woman” trope, because this kind of love story is very hard to experience in real life.
But, even though the romances in the anthology might look “ordinary” and "typical,” each one is very unique and different. We have older woman/younger man romances or friends-to-lovers romances; we have love triangles, and we also have LGBT representation.
You might be curious about what the driving force of the anthology is. Usually, it would be the romance, or in some cases, if you are watching a thriller, a criminal case, but here the driving force is the family accompanied by romance. Many times we see episodes ending on a cliffhanger not because of a first kiss between leads but because of a family situation, which makes the whole anthology look very similar to real life.
Does our world stop because we receive a kiss? It might! But does our world stop when something serious happens in our family? Definitely, yes.


The next aspect that creates magic is music, which oftentimes interprets the feelings of the characters but also sets the time the series is placed in. Unlike modern series, where the soundtrack consists of new-age songs, the Reply soundtrack consists of songs that were truly made in the time period the series is set in. This means that not only are we visually transported to the new timestamp, but we are also hearing it. Thanks to the music and perfect sets, we truly feel as if the series we are watching was filmed in the old days.
Personally, I feel that many filmmakers fail at immersing the audience in the time period because the immersion is not complete—it is visually, but the soundtrack is still from present time. This habit is used all over the dramaland, but it is profoundly seen in historical series. Yes, the songs might be amazing, but do they fit the time period? Often times, they do not. Does it completely ruin the series? No, of course we might still love the series, but filmmakers often depreciate the meaning of music in series.

4. US

Now, the last aspect that creates the magic of this series is not a thing, but humans—us! Honestly, it is only thanks to our perception that we deem this anthology as something positive and highly rated. Why this happens has many answers, but let me share my personal view. When I watch the series, memories start to flood my mind of my childhood and youth and the family dynamics I had back then. Watching the anthology is like coming back home to my loud Slavic parents, who were strict but also loving. The parental figures in the series truly do make me smile because they are so real that the realness creates the warmth around them. The yelling and scoldings remind me of my own scoldings and fights. The humor present with the sheepish “sheep” sound reminds me of myself when I was growing up and made such truly stupid statements that nowadays I ask my family how they didn’t just burst out laughing at my stupidity.
From my point of view, I see myself in the child characters of the series, but when I watched it with an older audience, they saw themselves in the parental characters of the series, which was a totally different viewing experience. While I view the series as a memory line to my childhood and youth, the older audience oftentimes has melancholic feelings about it because, at the time the series was set, they were already adults and some even parents, which makes them relate more to the parents, who, of course, are different compared to the children's characters.


It took me a while to find words for how to end this article, because what are the right words to end this philosophical monologue?
If you click on the MDL listings, you will learn that the anthology was last “updated” in 2015, and we still don’t know if we will ever get another series in the Reply universe. But in the meantime, I want to keep the memory line going, and if you are missing this universe with me, you can try to do something that I started years ago—make video logs!
It might seem like something dumb and posh, even unconventional, but this is my own Reply, which I am making. This time, I am the main character, along with my family members, who hop onto my logs. For whom am I making it? Me, myself, and I! This is my own "romance" and “family” movie, and sometimes even a “thriller” movie.
After all, the anthology not only shows us how to love others but also ourselves. And just like each character in the anthology was a main character with charms of their own, it is time that you and I shine as well in our personal lives.
So, dear reader, if you find this article years later, can you answer me?
Reply 2024. Dear reader, tell me about yourself from the year 2024.

Edited by: devitto (1st editor)

kdrama reply1997 reply1988 reply1994