Age of Youth (aka Hello, My Twenties) is a 12 episode KTV show from the summer of 2016. The premise consists of 5 college aged girls/women living together in a rented home while they go about dealing with their lives, loves, families, jobs, and studies. It's a straightforward ensemble drama that will most likely grow on you pretty quickly.
Not to stereotype them, but the 5 girls can basically be best initially summarized as follows:
1. The sexy girl who's not shy about sleeping around. She cares mostly about herself, her looks, and how she can use those looks and her body to get various guys to be her sugar daddies.
2. The cute girl who's desperate to be loved but won't be until she can bring herself to break up with her loser boyfriend and find some self-esteem & maturity.
3. The serious girl who works hard to get ahead but can't ever seem to do so. She's had an unfortunate life, but her overly sullen personality isn't helping her in any way.
4. The fun loving party girl who tries so hard to get a man to like her and see her as a woman, but always ends up getting stuck in the friend zone.
5. The youngest and newest tenant. She's shy, has never dated, and is mainly concerned with just trying to adapt to the big city college environment and fit in with her new roommates.
The girls are mostly somewhat strangers to one another, but they get to know each other over time, bicker some along the way, make up with one another, and generally just learn to get along and support each other as best they can. They do bond together and stick up for their housemates when called for though, and they clearly care for one another, even though they don't always know how to show it or what to do to help one another.
Collectively, the 5 girls make a very nice mix of various personas & personalities, and this is one of the show's best attributes. They are all imperfect creatures for sure, and they each have their own back stories, a secret or two, and reasons why they act the way they do, but this only adds to their appeal as relatable characters, and you'll soon start rooting for all of them to succeed, grow, move on, or whatever it is they are each trying to accomplish.
Though not hugely famous film or TV stars as of yet, each of the 5 primary cast members is VERY good in their assigned roles here, and they consistently work well both together and separately throughout. This is a credit to both them and the director, and this is augmented by the oft smart screen writing throughout the show. Each of the 5 gets fairly equal screen time and story lines, so don't be fooled into thinking otherwise based on the first episode or two alone (which primarily focuses on the young new girl).
Aside from the writing, directing, and acting, one of the other things I really like about this show is its maturity. In a K-drama, you don't often see a woman nonchalantly ripping off her bra as soon as she gets home, or someone hoping her comatose brother would just die so she can get out from under medical bills and finally get on with her life, etc...The show was rated for age 15 or older to watch, and I think that's appropriate, but it has a very mature feel to it compared to most of the K-dramas I've seen of this age rating.
There are plenty of other things to like with this show as well; in-character Q&A epilogues after each episode fit neatly within the concept of the story without seemingly being tacked on for filler or for no reason, the story lines are varied and nicely thought out, the show bounces back and forth between glee, sadness, and a common middle ground with ease, and so on. There's not much in the way of super fancy production values to speak of, but you don't really need them to be in a drama like this, and everything looks fine.
The male actors in this show are basically all secondary characters; they do what's required of them well enough when needed within the framework of the overall story lines, but that's all they are there for. There are also several K-drama staples, clichés, & tropes thrown in as expected; debt collectors, some talk of a ghost, a stalker type guy or two, sick/dying/dead people, etc...however, none of this takes away from the theme of the show, which is simply watching the 5 girls continuing their daily lives regardless of any man, side story, or anything else that's taking place around them.
Overall, this is a really well done show. Perhaps the best compliment I can pay it is that it never wears out its welcome; the 5 lead characters, while you may not always like them or their life choices, well, they will be missed. Future KTV programmers, writers, and directors everywhere should take a lesson from this show, and that is: Always Leave the Viewer Wanting More!
Summary: I wasn't even planning on watching this because the premise didn't seem to be initially appealing to me. But, I caught a few early episodes, and I was hooked. It's witty, well written, engaging, and efficient. I will take a story like this anytime over the flashier and more popular, yet often predictably unfulfilling, ones that follow the same basic K-drama premise time and time again. It probably won't be a big hit with the masses, or crowds that are mostly interested in "Cinderella gets doted on by a bunch of rich young hot guys" stories, but it is quite good.
Bottom Line: Personally, this is my favorite K-drama of 2016 to date. I'm giving it 9 out of 10 stars accordingly...Totally Recommended!
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