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Racket Boys offers what I already expected from the show written by the writer of Prison Playbook — warmth, adorable and relatable characters, realistic setting, freshness, laughs, affecting narrative.

Brief Synopsis

The drama revolves around the sport of badminton. Kim Sang Kyung stars as Yoon Hyun Jong, an unsuccessful basketball coach who moves to the rural place called Haenam along with his son and daughter. His son is Yoon Hae Kang, played by Tang Joon Sang. He has been a successful basketball player in Seoul and naturally not too happy with this move. Hyun Jong joins the local school to coach badminton team consisting of only 3 players — Son Sang Yeon as Bang Yoon Dam, Choi Hyun Wook as Na Woo Chan and Kim Kang Hoon as Lee Yong Tae. The team is not performing well either. Shin Jung Geun plays the head coach Bae. Oh Na Ra plays another badminton coach Ra Young Ja, leading a successful team of girls — Lee Jae In as Han Se Yoon, the star player and Lee Ji Won as Lee Han Sol.

Characters and Execution

As per usual case with tvN dramas, Racket Boys is almost one and a half hours long. When the length of an episode is this long, it is bound to make certain scenes slow paced, affecting the overall pacing and grip of the drama. Sometimes I don’t get affected by the longer episodes of a show, but same was not the case with Racket Boys where I found my interest drifting away in few places.

I loved the main characters. Hyun Jong is super funny — he means good but is also clueless most of the times. The expressions of Kim Sang Kyung are pure gold. Tang Joon Sang is terrific as the leading character Hae Kang. As opposed to my initial expectation of him being a jerk and arrogant boy, I was pleasantly surprised to find him caring and thoughtful. He also has a mischievous side to him. The other character from our badminton team that stands out is Yong Tae, so cute and funny.

We also meet some more people of the countryside — the caring, affectionate Grandma Ome and the couple suffering from depression, played by Jung Min Sung and Park Hyo Joo. I’m not sure what exactly is the deal with the latter and what’s in store with their characters.

The rural background provides a mint fresh layer to the drama and also gives a soothing vibe to it. The mostly new faces in the cast also add to the freshness factor. More layers are peeled about characters and relationships as we delve more into the show. The drama is imbued with occasional humor that makes you smile as well as laugh out loud at times. There are emotional beats that provide a touching effect at times. I love how naive and cheery the three boys from the local school are, which helps in bonding easily with the uninterested Hae Kang. I’m also interested in knowing more about head coach Bae.

I’m confused about the relationship between Hyun Jong and Young Ja. They are husband and wife but we have not been explained why she was not living with her family, or why she seems a bit distanced from the family, possibly unintentionally.

So far the girl gang seems one note — Se Yoon is constantly grumpy and Han Sol is constantly defining the former’s personality traits. I hope we see more colors in their personality.

First Impressions

All in all, I enjoyed the first two episodes of Racket Boys — they are funny, fresh, calming. But my interest was fluctuating, I found the drama less gripping in few places.