Asian Drama Tropes #3

In my first post, I talked about the guy leaving the girl and foisting her off on another guy for whatever misguided reasons. In my second post, I talked about the overuse of some dramas of the near miss in which characters are always one step away from meeting, but at the last minute something happens to keep them from seeing one another. Those were more of rants and this…is a bit personal. So what happens when a drama trope meets real life?

Ah…this is a bit depressing. I’m saying this now. So…don’t read on, but thanks to recent happenings, I really feel I had to do this post.

I have never been a huge fan of the plot which involves a lead or someone close to the lead getting an “incurable illness” (which 8 times out of 10 probably ends with a miracle cure that is scientifically impossible…hence miracle I guess). Why? The scenarios go in only so many ways. Person A discovers the illness and does their best to hide it. When that’s not possible, they break up or run away from Person B. In that case, Person A makes the decision that is really up to Person B which is whether or not they can face the truth and stand by their side. The next most likely scenario is that Person A finds out they are ill and goes to Person B. The reaction? Does Person B stay by Person A’s side in their time of need and suffering? No. they jettison the person and run away. Scenario 3 comes into play if whether or not Person B feels guilty or moves on to greener pastures.

Miura Haruma, Saito Takumi

Case in point: Hours of My Life

Um…in this, I was always annoyed. I don’t think it’s right for the ill person to take all matters into their own hands and disregard those who love them by not being honest and giving them that opening for that choice – to stay and watch or to run away. I always found this unfair…but I get it. I really do. Is it right? In all honesty, no. But it is ultimately their choice even if the decision does not affect them alone. When it comes down to the choices we make, how often do they only affect only ourselves? Very little. Just as I never liked disguising the truth or running away, I also really didn’t like those who chose to run away for whatever reason. Fear of losing them, fear of watching them die. It’s a lack of strength, but not everyone can be strong.

In retrospect…or maybe because things are quickly spiraling downhill in my own life, this trope in particular really hits home and makes me wonder if I haven’t been a bit too closed minded about this trope in general. Will I run away from this difficulty? No. I won’t. I am facing it. I have no place to run to anyways and I’d probably hate myself for the rest of my life if I did. But experiencing this right now, it really does hit hard and you understand that burning desire to run away. It’s not just a fear of death or a lack of strength to deal with this unfortunate happening, but rather it’s just the pain. The pain of watching a person that you love slowly suffer and die and knowing there is nothing you can do. There is nothing the doctors can do. There is only that interminable wait.

But…choosing to stay. Choosing to be with that person whether a lover or family member…you get to spend time with them in their last days…shouldn’t you be treasuring them as much as you can? Even if it’s hard? Even though I do hate this trope, I do love seeing the dramas where the people do stand strong and firm and just love the other as much as they can while they are here. Yes, it’s painful. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, there might be times of resentment or regret…but in the grand scheme of things, it is a happier choice then regretting being absent from the lives of those they love.

I can also understand the other side of the coin very well, too, now.  I know that my grandmother would much prefer it if we didn’t have to watch her suffer. And she’s been suffering for awhile now. A woman of faith, a loving woman who is the closest thing to a mother I will ever know or have is wasting away. Given a choice…she may have made that decision to leave or to put herself away in a home for others to take care of so her family and those that love her won’t have to watch this slow, agonizing end. But, I do know my grandmother well. She’s not the type to run away and is very honest about her condition. The only thing she does every day is pray for an end.

I also know that feeling of not wanting to tell people about it. Not wanting them to know just how bad the situation really is. You see this in dramas, too, those that know keep it from those that don’t. Oh, sure, sometimes it is out of spite, but most time also out of love. To keep them in the dark so that they don’t have to witness this painful happening as well. But again, it’s not fair, is it? People deserve to know and deserve to be able to make their own choice. But it doesn’t make picking up that phone any easier. To make the call to gather, to beg people to come see a person so they don’t regret not being able to say goodbye.

So…yes. This is a drama trope I hate. But thanks to the fact I am living it in a sense, I can really understand this common plot and the decisions people in dramas make. Whether or not I believe in their choice is another thing, but it is their own  to make and you can really understand the reasoning behind it more and more.


  • I am sorry to hear about your grandmother. I think in her last moments though, she would be glad to be surrounded by her closest family members.

    I feel like tear-jerker kinds of dramas kinda gloss over the more complex mentalities of the characters involved in these scenarios. The first scenario makes it seem like the main character is the victim and is trying to take on the world alone without burdening their loved ones. It makes the main character into the selfless hero. The second scenario often makes the character that has to choose or stay seem….bad? O_O” I mean, if they choose to leave, then it’s like they’re instantly the bad selfish character. Tear-jerkers don’t always explore the deeper emotions behind the characters’ motivations..

    • I think so, too. She isn’t very happy as she overheard my aunt and uncle talking about how she’s acting just like my uncle’s father did before he died earlier this year. Not a nice thing to overhear, but not too surprising given just how bad she is right now.

      I also think you are right. Dramas don’t really go into some of the complexities in the mentalities facing those involved. Although, there are some where I think you can get a pretty good glimpse into the psyche and a fairly decent portrayal of the mix of emotions. But don’t you think that would also be hard to act since how many people have that experience personally, too? More than you think…but at the same time, not as much as you think either.

      • Well….I’m not really sure. It seems that a lot of tear-jerkers have younger actors (i.e. 1 Liter of Tears, Boku no Ita Jikan) so maybe they might not have as much depth in their acting to portray it. But then again a lot of young people have already experienced that before so…

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