Monstar is a raucous tale of high school students busy figuring out life and each other via musical talent and teenage angst. Marking Mnet’s first foray into drama, Monstar premiered on May 17th. The story stars Yon Jun hyung (of the group BEAST) as Yoon Seol chan, an idol (way to stretch reality) who has his life turned upside down with a viral video. In order to right his supposed wrong he must attend high school for three months to improve his image- long enough for him to meet our heroine, Min Se Yi (Ha Yeon soo). An oddball socially naïve girl, Se Yi is facing her own struggle as a transfer student figuring out where she fits in with the strong personalities of her home room class.
At first I was extremely hesitant to watch this show-a drama billed as a musical story of high school made me cringe in anticipation of a Zac Efron like production. I am happy to report that this drama pushes the High School Musical vibe far, far away and goes for the heart of the matter- what it is like growing up. I am a coming of age tale junky (hello Wonder Years) so I feel right at home cheering this show on.
The story as of episode two is a tale of glimpses- small hints at each character’s past lives and how they play into the future. It is apparent that the foundational moral of this story is that everyone acts a certain way for a reason. Once those reasons are found out relationships can be formed and people can grow past the painful bumps in their past. As of episode two we have only witnessed teasers of our character’s motivations- Na na’s gangster fighting ways for example- that promise an interesting story to come.
Yoon Seol chan, our hero, is appropriately egotistical but vulnerable, a mixture of traits that give viewers a look at someone who is the envy of many but an enemy of himself. We have yet to find out what is the root of Seol chan’s vulnerable side (I am guessing super duper family drama) but his emotional wound is apparent. On a non-story note I am really loving Yon Jung hyung’s acting. His portrayal of Seol chan is reminiscent of Siwon’s recent turn in the understated gem King of Dramas- an egotistically fabulous idol superstar that is perplexed when people don’t like him.
Min Se Yi, our heroine, gives off an out of this world eccentric vibe that does nothing less than make her uber endearing. She exhibits social blindness in her responses to others and in that way I find that this character (unlike other heroines that have tried and failed) oddball in the best way. I love how Seol chan is shocked that this girl is not his fan or an anti-fan- basically he is depressed by the fact she is neither black nor white in her response to his precedence, she is unknowing. In my opinion that makes this character that much more enjoyable given their burgeoning romance.
The secondary characters are no less interesting. The third leg in the romance of Monstar is the class president, Jung Sun woo, a person so bound by rules he ignores bullying in an attempt to keep social order. Sun Woo and Seol chan apparently have a history together, an element that has yet to be explained. I am thrilled to see where these three characters go and how the two brooding boy’s past is explained.
Lead characters aside I am really excited to learn the backgrounds of the other characters in this show, after all I love me a character laden plot. Monstar has delivered the different-personalities-thrown-together dynamic in a great way so far, can’t wait to see where it will go. From Na na, the gangster fighting bad girl, to Radio, the bullied boy that is traumatized beyond belief, I need to know how their stories started.
My desire to learn the background of these characters and understand their stories speaks to the addictive nature of this show- I want more. A story that makes me actually care about the characters speaks volumes to how the show was cast and written- after all a bad actor or bad writer can kill all good intentions and viewer interest.
Lastly, I love how this series masquerades as a romantic musical comedy while really telling us a coming of age tale. I am a sucker for this type of story- I feel like Monstar and I should exchange numbers so I can text the show I am sorry- for ever having doubted it.
What do you think? Is Monstar a coming of age hit in your opinion or a Mnet failure?