Decoding the Ratings Success of “Misaeng”
Watching the series before reading this article is recommended. Watching SNL Korea’s spoof of the series afterwards is highly recommended
Misaeng, the highest rated Cable TV series of 2014, is proof that old school concepts (read romance) are not the only ones that get high ratings. The show, based on a popular online comic book, is about the trials and tribulations of an under-qualified Geu Rae as he tries to succeed in a ruthless and competitive corporate environment. Told as a narrative, the show focuses on not only Geu Rae but also his fellow interns, his boss and his team. When it comes to the other three interns, the characters deal with their problems on their own. This is something unique to this series as opposed to a clichéd storyline in which the protagonist always has a role to play in solving everyone’s problems.
An evolved setup and a complicated storyline usually spell disaster when it comes to ratings. Misaeng was not an exception and started off with 1.6% rating for the first episode which is modest for a show on cable TV. However, viewership kept growing with each episode and the show finished with a whopping 8.4% rating for the finale – 5 times more than the beginning. The growth can be attributed to the clever way in which the focus shifts from different characters as the series progresses without losing focus on the protagonist and his boss.
Geu Rae and Oh’s conflicts and bonding happen only in the beginning and ending of the series. For the major part (Ep 7 to 14), they are shown tackling the team’s challenging deals. This is the same time when the other three newbies get some importance in the form of problems with their bosses and Young Yi’s mysterious and problematic past.
Initial increase in interest for the show was purely because of the boss-junior relationship between Oh and Geu Rae which helped the series breach the 4% mark. After this, every milestone in terms of ratings can be correlated to the shifts in focus on different characters and the story arcs.
5% Rating – 7th episode. When Young Yi and Beak Ki are facing problems with their teams and Sales Team 3 is facing business plan challenges
6% Rating – 11th episode. Conclusion of the fraudulent Jordan deal. Young Yi and Beak Ki’s problems are temporarily solved, but Suk Yool starts facing problems with his boss
7% Rating – 15th Episode. All 4 newbies are facing problems with their work and Young Yi has to deal with her money leeching parents
8% Rating – 18th Episode. Conflict between Gue Rae and Oh over Oh’s desperate effort to make Geu Rae a permanent employee.
With the production quality and the star cast of this series, a romantic storyline would have had all the chances to shatter the highest rating record – currently at 11.4% held by Reply 1994. Nevertheless, a gripping story with consistent and timely shifts in character focus has helped the series achieve the unachievable.
However unique the series might be when compared to other Korean dramas, it is not entirely devoid of the clichés. There are indeed a few of them which helped prevent the series from being a completely alienated show for mass audience. Check the funny video below and you will know 😛
If you have watched the series then you will find this SNL spoof of Misaeng hilarious.http://subsplease.com/2015/03/misaeng/http://subsplease.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/misaeng-1-1024x708.jpghttp://subsplease.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/misaeng-1-150x150.jpgInsightsKoreanInsights,Korean Drama