WHERE TO WATCH:
WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
The intoxicating charm of a flirtatious art school classmate pulls a reluctant love cynic into a friends-with-benefits relationship.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
There is a line in Drake's song, Doing it Wrong, in which he sings: "We live in a generation of, not being in love, and not being together. But we sure make it feel like we're together. 'Cause, we're scared to see each other with somebody else."
For me, this perfectly sums up the show, Nevertheless.
Based on a popular webtoon of the same name, the show follows two art school students Yoo Na-bi (Han So-hee) and Park Jae-eon (Song Kang). Na-bi meets Jae-eon at a bar one night after breaking up with her cheating boyfriend. Upon their first meeting, there is a strong attraction between the two. Jae-eon, who is obsessed with butterflies, invites her over to his place to "see butterflies" - how's that for a pickup line?
When she overhears him speaking to presumably a girl on the phone, she leaves without him. She meets him again at a team dinner for fellow sculpture students and is warned by her friend not to get too involved with Jae-eon because he is not the relationship type. But that doesn't stop Na-bi's attraction and curiosity about Jae-eon from growing. And, so the pair start a push and pull relationship, which eventually sees them engage in a friends with benefits relationship. When word of the arrangement gets out, and people start gossiping about her, Na-bi decides to end the relationship.
What follows is a back and forth with Jae-eon; she constantly questions her growing feelings for him and his behaviour. To add more fuel to the emotional upheaval, she reconnects with an old childhood friend, Yang Do-hyeok (Chae Jong-hyeop). Na-bi is his first love.
When it comes to character development, there is barely any in the lead characters. You get the sense that Na-bi is dealing with her own insecurities. She has issues with her mother, who has always been in and out of relationships, and while she resents her mother for that, she ends up mirroring her actions by getting involved in bad relationships too. The character is also extremely one dimensional. At the beginning, we learn that Na-bi wants to get into a student exchange programme in Paris; her motives aren't necessarily to improve her art but to get away from her mother. We also get glimpses that Na-bi is a very talented sculptor, but the series never really delves into that aspect of her life. We see her struggling with her art, and when she gets a breakthrough, it's very surface level.
As for Jae-eon, we never really get to know him; in the later episodes, when Na-bi leaves him, he tries to change but defaults to his "normal behaviour" again. He is aloof and keeps everyone at a distance, and other times he does something unexpectedly warm, like nurse Na-bi when she's sick. As a viewer, you're as confused as Na-bi is with this guy. He, too, has mommy issues, which again isn't adequately addressed, and he has a relationship with an old school friend/ex-girlfriend Yoon Seol-ah (Lee Yul-eum) that the series doesn't delve into. A lot of reviewers have bashed this character; however, I feel Na-bi's character isn't entirely the victim. She, too, takes advantage of people of the opposite sex at one point. There's a scene when they're arguing when he says to her: "Am I the only jerk here?" I found myself shouting "yes!" because both of these characters needed therapy to work through their personal issues before embarking on any relationship.
With all this said, you're probably wondering why I am writing a review on this show and why I kept watching, right?!
The show has gotten a lot of backlash on social media for promoting toxic relationships, which I don't necessarily agree with. I think that it gives a somewhat realistic look at modern dating, especially the choices we make when we're young and inexperienced. In an interview, director Kim Ga-ram said: "This series, Nevertheless, is about something that we all come across when we're in a relationship, the question of 'What am I doing?'"
I found myself relating to a lot of Na-bi's internal dialogue when you know that this isn't necessarily the right thing for you, but you're so caught up in the moment and the thrill of it all, that you just can't help yourself.
Another reason I kept watching was because of the chemistry between Han So-hee and Song Kang. The show has many racy, steamy scenes, which were filmed so beautifully. This amount of skinship (physical affection) is quite rare in a Korean drama, and when the pair was together on screen, they were really great to watch. You could basically see the steam between the two, whether they're arguing or intimate. As for their acting, I think they tried hard to make their individual characters relatable and real.
Other reasons I stayed was for the other storylines: there's Yoon Sol (Lee Ho-jung) and Seo Ji-wan (Yoon Seo-ah); the pair have been best friends since middle school but come to realise that they feel more for each other than just friendship. It was refreshing to see a same-sex storyline, which isn't always done in K-dramas. I also liked the slow burn relationship between the teaching assistants, Ahn Kyung-joon (Jung Jae-kwang) and Min-young (Han Eu-ddeum). These were healthy relationships, and it balanced out the somewhat problematic relationship between the lead characters. As a creative, I also enjoyed the artist elements and the themes around finding your voice in and through your art.
Last but not least, the soundtrack, which I have been listening to on repeat for a week. My favourite tracks from the show are; We're Already, Butterfly, Heavy Heart, Love Me Like That, The Rose Song and Summer Mathematics. With a quick Google translation of the lyrics into English, you can easily tell that the songs complement the drama so well.
Nevertheless isn't for everyone, but I do believe that it gives a snapshot into the messiness of navigating the dating world and young love. It made me slightly happy that I am single.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: