A Youthful, Adult Drama: Still 17 Review

There are no mature themes in this South Korean show, but it tackles heavier themes that aren’t usually present in lighthearted, romantic comedy.

This is one of those rare shows that I re-watched twice. Aside from the perfect cast, that’s usually the case in most shows, Still 17 ties together light and heavy themes that people of all ages may find relatable.

[Spoiler free]

Synopsis

At 17, Gong Woo-jin witnessed a horrific incident that would haunt him well into adulthood. At thirty, he now works as a set designer who doesn’t want to have close relationships with others. Woo Seo-ri, an aspiring and talented violinist, was 17 when she fell into a coma. When she wakes, she is suddenly thirty years old, and she struggles to navigate the unknown world around her and her mental state.

What I Enjoyed

What I enjoyed most about Still 17 is the themes it addresses, whether that be light or dark. The balance makes it a show that’s endearing.

Seo-ri is a teenager navigating the adult world with no idea what she’s doing. She lost everything. Seo-ri goes back to her house and finds that it’s no longer hers. Surprise, surprise, Woo-jin, Chan (Woo-jin’s nephew), and Jennifer (a mysterious, hired housekeeper) are now living there.

When Seo-ri learns that Woo-jin is selling her house, she begs him to let her stay until the end of the month, hoping that she’ll find her uncle.

Light Themes

Still 17’s lighter themes showcase friendship and family and the interaction between these two themes. The chemistry between all the characters was so good. While the show had a love triangle, it wasn’t as heavily emphasized as most other romcoms, which was refreshing. Rather, it focused on building relationships between all of our main characters.

While Seo-ri and Woo-jin’s friendship gets off to a rocky start, they start genuinely caring for one another after understanding more about each other. They are also similar. Seo-ri is trying her best to move on with her life, but her circumstances strongly prevent her from doing so.

Woo-jin closes himself off from the world and is scared to move forward. Instead, he just accepts things as is. However, he knows the ins and outs of the “adult world.” Through this dynamic, Woo-jin and Seo-ri learn from each other, and they develop a solid friendship before it blossoms into romance.

Chan was the first person to help Seo-ri. He convinced Woo-jin to let her stay and continuously gave her strength when she was down. Seo-ri also supported Chan in his athletic endeavours. They were each other’s greatest cheerleaders, and their dynamic was everything you would expect to find in two kind teenagers who want the best for each other.

Jennifer is the house’s mysterious, reserved, and capable housekeeper. Most of her backstory wasn’t revealed until later in the story. And while she’s there for comic relief sometimes, she has a traumatic backstory. But she’s also comforted and cheered on by Woo-jin, Seo-ri, and Chan. She’s the perfect example that you need not be blood-related to be considered family.

I also love Woo-jin’s familial relationship with Chan. Even though they are in a love-triangle with Seo-ri, they are so supportive of each other. Chan doesn’t hesitate to act cute in front of his uncle, and Woo-jin also gives Chan a kiss on the cheek.

Lastly, you have Chan and his two friends (Duk Soo and Hae Bum). The three of them have great chemistry and refreshing energy that always makes you laugh.

The friendship between the main characters was heartwarming. It never felt forced for the sake of the plot, but it just came naturally.

Heavy Themes

The heavier themes talk about missed opportunities and facing reality.

We see Seo-ri trying to get a job after she settles back in at her house. However, because she was in a coma, she missed out on a lot of opportunities. She was set to go abroad to a prestigious music school and perform on the global stage. But she missed out on her entire career because of the accident.

While Seo-ri gets small opportunities to perform, she gets anxious due to her lack of self-confidence.

Also, Seo-ri also never officially graduated high school, which makes people reluctant to hire her even after she displays her musical talent. But after not playing her violin for so long, her skills are rusty. She gets rejected so many times simply because she doesn’t have a degree.

Seo-ri tries to make the best out of her situation, but she goes through a lot before she regains her confidence and wants to pursue music again. Similarly, Woo-jin fights his internal darkness. Our two leads face different things but are equally difficult.

The housekeeper, Jennifer, is also going through internal struggles throughout the show. At first, Jennifer is a mysterious character because she’s quiet and doesn’t show a lot of emotion.

Still 17 does an excellent job of showing the different ways people deal with pain. Some face it head-on; some remain stuck; some numb the pain.

What I Didn’t Enjoy

Seo-ri’s character is supposed to be innocent, cute, and endearing. While she is all of those things, there are times her character felt exaggerated. There were times I feel like she was 7 years old.

The show plays a lot on the “nearly missing someone” aspect that it gets unrealistic. Woo-jin and Seo-ri knew each other when they were in high school, but they always end up missing each other. Literally. There are times I feel like the mystery can be solved if they would just talk to each other.

Some questionable characters. So, there are two secondary characters that made me wonder what their purpose was. One is Chan’s “girlfriend”, a classmate who has a crush on Chan. She appears here and there but does nothing to move the plot forward except act as an occasional comic relief.

The other is Seo-ri’s high-school friend who became a doctor and is the person who looks after Seo-ri after she fell into a coma. He frantically searches for her after Seo-ri escapes from the hospital. You would think he plays a bigger role in the story, but he’s easily dismissed once Seo-ri settles in with Woo-jin and Chan.

Final Verdict

The story is sweet, and it’ll just fill your heart with warmth. The chemistry is also on-point. Highly recommended.

One thought on “A Youthful, Adult Drama: Still 17 Review

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