Crash Course in Romance Season 1 Review – A crash course in genre-blending

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 11 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 12 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 13 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 14 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 15 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 16 – | Review Score – 3/5


Crash Course in Romance is a fun romantic drama… except when its not. Much like many of the new K-dramas releasing recently, tvN’s latest prime-time drama attempts to blend genres, with the show dabbling into comedy, mystery, thriller and suspense, but doing so with mixed results.

Despite its wobbly screenplay – especially late on – the characters do go some way to overshadow any issues with the writing. Everyone puts in a fantastic performance, while the chemistry between the two leads is palpable and keeps the drama feeling fresh and fun throughout its run-time.

There’s a bit of Weightlifting Fairy in here, alongside a smattering of Twenty Five Twenty One and Sky Castle, while the main romance echoes parts of What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim, and throughout the drama you can really see those influences bleeding through.

There’s a good deal of commentary surrounding the Korean education system, including the harmful impact this has on kids. However, unlike shows like Sky Castle, this is only really surface level and the show shies away from really deep diving into this in a way where there are consequences and serious side effects.

The main character we follow is Haeng-seon, a retired national athlete who now owns her own side dish store. She does what she can for her niece Hae-e whom she’s taken under her wing as her own daughter. As she works to get Hae-e enrolled in the top academy, Haeng-seon inevitably crosses paths with the charismatic and sought-after math tutor, Choi Chi-yeol.

The pair hit it off and become friends, with the faint wisps of romance in the air. However, forces conspire against them, including nosy mums at the school, society’s expectations for those inside the education field and a metal ball killer.

As the episodes progress, Crash Course in Romance looks in danger of crashing, especially late on when the tone swings wildly into suspenseful thriller territory. The jarring tonal shift is especially egregious because it still tries to blend in cutesy romantic and comedic moments, and it doesn’t work particularly well.

Anyone who has watched a mystery or thriller in the past year will likely guess who the culprit is by around episode 6 but the show takes until episode 15 before it even wraps this up! That long of a slow burn ultimately makes the thriller feel underwhelming when the predictable conclusion rolls round, which is a shame.

In fact, this mystery is interwoven around several subplots toward the end that feels like busywork to try and stretch the drama out to 16 episodes. There’s a last minute twist involving Hae-e that doesn’t work particularly well, while other characters – like Yeong-joo and Jae-woo – are thrust into an awkward plot that has absolutely no build-up whatsoever.

The show does remedy some of those complaints with the main couple’s chemistry and some genuinely enjoyable segments dotted throughout. When the show leans into the romance and examines what it means to be older and in love, the show excels. In fact, this is one of the rare occasions where the original title – One Shot Scandal – feels like a much more fitting name for this drama, as Crash Course in Romance (along with sounding very similar to Crash Landing on You) feels like its going to be a cutesy romcom – and it really isn’t.

While the blending of genres is becoming more common in K-land, Crash Course in Romance doesn’t quite pull it off in a way that’s wholly satisfying. The show has its moments, and the romance is great on the whole, but the unresolved and flimsy subplots hold this back from being better. It’s certainly not a bad drama, but this could have been so much more than it is.

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  • Verdict - 7.5/10

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