The Fabulous sets itself up for a light, romantic watch for the holidays. Does it live up to its promise?
Meet Seoul fashion’s fabulous four: public relations specialist Pyo Ji-eun (Chae Soo-bin, Rookie Cops), photographer Ji Woo-min (SHINee's Minho, Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth), designer Joseph (Lee Sang-woon), and model Ye Seon-ho (played by real life model Park Hee-jung in her debut). The four are in an enviably tight ride-or-die friendship since they were young and dumb but not broke (because nobody is broke or ugly in this series!). The series follows them as they pursue their artistic and romantic passions in the fashion world.
There is a surprising lack of han (Korean angst) in The Fabulous. No one is out to get revenge or has a traumatic childhood. No one is trying to make a side hustle to inch her way out of poverty. In this world, everyone is wealthy, well dressed, and actually happy with his or her job. And while that is a welcome change in k-drama, it also means that we don’t get to care enough about the characters. While suffering is not a prerequisite for depth, it does elevate caricatures into characters. So yes, there is a refreshing lack of han, but there is, sadly, also a lack of heart.
It’s not for want of trying though. Chae Soo-bin really does try. She spends most of the drama running to and fro her absurdly egotistical clients, her incompetent boss, her loyal friends, and her dashing suitors. In her heels no less! But it's superficial. The whole drama is a Seoul fashion scene glow up. There’s a whiff of the seedy underside of it all: the possibility of eating disorders, cutthroat competition, and some form of abuse. But all these are given glossy fashion magazine filtered treatment and airbrushed with a bandaid solution. The fabulous four are all so successful but they hardly even try. Circumstances and fate seem to just align the stars so that their problems are almost miraculously solved with some effort and little consequence. Pretty privilege is real y'all.
Even in love. Main leads Chae Soo-bin and Minho have great chemistry but apart from smiling at each other, being confused when they're not dating each other, and looking ridiculously cute together, they don’t exactly have much of a love to fight for.
So perhaps the best way to enjoy this eight-episode drama is not to think of it as a drama at all but a sitcom. If you’re looking for a light romp in the fashion business with good-looking people, glamorous clothes, over-the-top characters that are actually quite funny, and a happily-ever-after, then you’ll love this one for sure. It's entertaining and breezy and cute. It’s bound to be on someone’s favorite list this year, just not mine.
8 episodes, available on Netflix