This review does not contain any spoilers.
"The year was 1988, a time when it was chilly, but our hearts were fiery, a time when we didn't have much but people's hearts were warm."
After years of watching K-drama, it's hard to find a show that connects so deeply with the viewers that it stays with them forever. I found Reply 1988 years after it had aired, and instead of thinking "I wish I'd found it sooner", I thought, "I found this at the right time."
Reply 1988 shows a heart-warming story of five friends and their families living in Seoul, which we later come to know as Ssangmun-dong in the year 1988; a special year as the Summer Olympics were held in South Korea for the first time. Instead of focusing on the lives of these five friends, we're introduced to all the members of this ragtag group living in the neighbourhood. Each character has the spotlight on them at some point during the show, balancing it out and allowing us to know these characters more intimately.
For much of the show, these young friends are in their late teens figuring out life as they spend their youthful days, which hits home for viewers their age. They are a quirky, bashful, comical but also kind and passionate set of characters. The actors here made their characters come to life and made it feel like you could personally connect with them. You could see the way these kids were maturing throughout the show while trying to solve the conflicts they faced at their age.
The parents in the show played a big role in making this drama so pure. It shows the daily lives of the housewives as they stayed home while the fathers went to work. These parents too went through different hard-hitting points in the drama financially, socially, and in other ways. As neighbours, they grew close over the years resulting in sending food to each other's place during meals to going out of one's way to help someone else out. It's the simplicity of the characters that made it seem so real.The only complaint I might have is that one storyline was hastily wrapped up in the end, but it was only a small aspect of the otherwise fulfilling plot. The final monologue of the series, narrated by the female protagonist Duk-Seon sends goosebumps erupted in its wake and brought tears to my eyes. In retrospect, the show stretched over thirty-five hours of warm and wholesome stories; it was more than a breath of fresh air for me. If you're looking for a new show to binge that will make you laugh out loud, jitter your heart but also get you bawling your eyes out at the same time, it's time to join the Reply 1988 bandwagon. The series is currently available on Netflix.