|Episode 1||Day 1||| Review Score||3.5|
|Episode 2||Day 2||| Review Score||4.0|
|Episode 3||Day 2/3||| Review Score||5.0|
|Episode 4||Day3/4 – Good Mistake||| Review Score||4.5|
Very much a dose of reality as opposed to ‘forced reality’ TV, In the Soop: Friendcation gives us a glimpse into the Korean celebrity friend-group known as Wooga Squad. The gaggle includes K-pop star and BTS member V (Kim Taehyung) plus heavy-hitting K-stars including Choi Woo-shik (Parasite, Our Beloved Summer, Time to Hunt), Park Seo-joon (Captain Marvel 2: The Marvels, Itaewon Class) actor/singer Park Hyung-sik (Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, Suits, Juror 8) and rapper/singer/producer Peakboy (known for breakthrough hit Gin&Tonic, body positivity tune, Diet and the summer 2021 tune Gyopo Hairstyle).
From a glacial start, the guys eventually forget the cameras and relax into relatable conversations about their friendship, work and aspirations. From a somewhat sceptical kick-off – on all our parts – to a sweet reveal of the men behind the characters we’ve seen in so many performances, In the Soop: Friendcation gives us what we truly want from reality TV – real people getting real.
The skepticism kicks off as V invites the guys to lunch at his agency where he kinda hamstrings them into taking a trip together – on camera. They can decline, of course, and Park Seo-joon looks like he might. But they indulge their youngest who’s clearly so used to being always on, he doesn’t really see the issue. He’s enacted this several times before, after all, as BTS has done multiple on-camera holidays for their fans. However, he has the graciousness to look apologetic as the others reluctantly agree.
Once they get going, things come together and we start to see the relationships emerge. They even talk about their start, what drew them to each other and keeps them in contact amidst demanding schedules. Closer to the reality TV we know, there’re also some silly holiday activities, providing an opportunity to play together and forget the incessant recording.
Early in the short series, there’s an assignment of roles, which seems to hold true as we progress.
Unwitting Cast (and their group-presumed roles):
- Park Seo-joon– the father and emotional anchor
- Park Hyung-sik – the kind mom, a little softer than dad
- Choi Woo-shik – the trustworthy older son, leader of the kids
- Kwon Sung-hwan (rapper/singer/producer Peakboy) – the wild youngest daughter, always pumped up
- Kim Taehyung (BTS’ V) – the cute & mischievous youngest sibling
While this piece seems like the only ‘produced’ part of the series, it also seems to be pretty spot-on. But there’s way more to it than that though. As the days blaze by and they go deeper into their feelings, we see more of the dynamic. What starts with a drive then a nap becomes compelling viewing, even if you don’t subscribe to any of their content, as the guys dig deep giving each other advice and a shoulder as needed.
Short-lived but pleasant to watch, maybe it’s compelling because of the infectious laughter or perhaps because it feels so sincere and unexpected. Either way, if you’re into any of these celebs (and even if you’re not), it’s an enjoyable and easy few hours watching these five guys get real somewhere In the Soop.
Enjoying hearing about Korean reality TV? Excited to see the guys get real? Which of them surprised you the most?
For more stories on all sorts of content from this reviewer, click here: Kristen Lazur
Verdict - 8/10