Heirs is undoubtedly the most talked about show of 2013. From the time it cast Lee Min Ho till it aired its last episode, people were constantly discussing it. It received huge ratings and popularity across the globe. Its entertainment value depends on the expectations and the mindset with which one approaches it. I found it very enjoyable but basically it is a mediocre drama which has its delightfulness in its characters and moments. It is not meant to be taken seriously as it has larger-than-life people and situations. I went into crazyland for 10 weeks of its run, getting excited for every new episode, preview, behind-the-scene; anything related to Heirs!
Heirs has a thin plot with nothing new to offer as far as the story is concerned. There are rich school kids with issues and age-old story of star-crossed romance between rich guy-poor girl. Add some corporate hijinks and family problems.
What makes it a fun watch are the interesting characters which are present in abundance. The centre is of course our main couple and I fell in love with them right off the bat. I usually don’t like ‘love at first sight’ but here I let it pass as the protagonists are teenagers and it’s natural for them to get attracted like that. The drama takes leisurely pace in establishing their initial interactions and then moves forward to bring them closer. Both the leads have that vulnerable and innocent charm which I really liked and made me care for them. I was with them throughout their journey: be it cuteness, flirting, sweetness, angst, sadness, passion, separation, reunion.
Character wise, our hero Tan is very much different from usual heroes as he is not an arrogant jerk and is thoughtful and caring, I did get annoyed whenever he showed some bossy boyfriend tropes but thankfully they were not much and I took it as the writer’s style. He is hopelessly devoted to his love and I really found it refreshing that he has most of the usual second leads’ characteristics. Our heroine Eun Sang started off well by being a non-cliched candy but later became all weepy and sad but finally had her moments to shine. She was awesome when she showed her spunk and gusto. These two are definitely flawed and take stupid decisions at times but I could relate to that as they are only 18 years old. All in all, I loved our main pair. They shared some great scenes when they were together: funny, giddy and romantic. I swooned and got irritated at times for them.
Coming onto our second male lead Young Do, at first I was annoyed because he was seriously a jerk who was bad because he enjoyed bullying others. But as the show progressed, I started feeling his loneliness and sadness. He had a nice arc and growth. Then there are some funny characters like Bona, Myung-shik and Tan’s mom whose antics provide laugh out loud moments in Heirs. I especially liked the fantastic scenes of our OTP’s moms. Tan’s senior Hyung Shik is another of my favorites who provided much-needed calmness in a show where almost everyone is going through extreme emotions. And Bona-Chan Young couple is an amazing add-on who are so simple and cute and natural. Secretary Yoon was also interesting.
Heirs is tossed up with enough fun and delightful pieces which make it enjoyable. Whenever humour comes into picture, those scenes are great. There is heart but not everywhere. It cannot be watched with the lens of reality.
I simply loved all the scenes where the people actually acted like kids like the school trip or exam time/ results, the small bickerings, teasing, etc but the bullying and I-hate-you-because-you’re poor behaviour was simply aggravating and off-putting. Which makes me come to the point that there is so much untapped potential in Heirs. The school setting could have been so much fun and endearing but because of too much focus on bullying and angst and useless love triangle, it left me dissatisfied.
The camaraderie was half-baked which is not something I want in a high school drama. Bromance was also not completely explored. Certain characters are criminally under-utilised like Won and Hyun Joo whose romance is also least compelling of all things. The arc of Tan and Won’s relationship is also not fully grown and rushed at the end. Plus, the tone is serious and melodramatic instead of a hard-core romantic comedy which does make Heirs a heavy watch at times.
Also, the push and pull between the OTP becomes repetitive and tiring sometimes but when both of them are together and happy, we get some golden moments- all California scenes, the lovely and subtle party scene, all the hugs, kisses and playfulness.
Ultimately, writing is the main flaw here which is incoherent and underdeveloped and doesn’t make use of the talent of sprawling cast as well as the promising set-up. Well, if you ignore these quibbles, Heirs has lots of eye candy and pleasures for you. The cinematography is spectacular, especially in the US scenes, it is superb. The OST includes some songs which I really liked like Serendipity, all Big Baby Driver numbers, tracks by Lena Park and Lee Min Ho. At some places, the songs are overplayed.
Heirs is a case where writing doesn’t help much but it is the actors who provide more than what is on the paper. Lee Min Ho is at the heart of Heirs and with his mannerisms and expressions, we cannot say that a 26-years-old is playing the role of a teenager. Playing a heartthrob, he plays off his role with consummate ease. He shows innocence, cheekiness, cuteness and vulnerability. And I simply love his intense gaze. Park Shin Hye looks ethereally beautiful. There are tears and smiles for her and she is equally deft in both. The chemistry between these two is really sweet and warm. I was happily amazed to see that for the first time Park Shin Hye was so much at ease in all her romantic scenes. Lee Min Ho and Park Shin Hye are simply picture perfect together. Kim Woo Bin again impresses with his charismatic acting and bringing an edge to his character.
Kang Ha Neul shines in all his scenes, bringing heart and smarts to his role. The veteran actors Kim Sung Ryung and Kim Mi Kyung are terrific and have a great chemistry together. They get some of the best scenes in the drama. Kim Ji Won is good but gets a stereotypical role of the negative second lead. Krystal gets the most delightful role which is like a breath of fresh air throughout and she plays it with sincerity. Kang Min Hyuk is cute while Park Hyung Shik is funny. The most wasted actors are Choi Jin Hyuk and Im Joo Eun who never got chance to showcase their acting prowess but are fine in their respective scenes.
In a nutshell, Heirs is sporadically entertaining and fun ride if you go for it with low expectations. As for me, I see it as the 20 hours of cherishing my love for Lee Min Ho and Park Shin Hye.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10.