tvN and Studio Dragon’s 2020 drama It’s Okay To Not Be Okay has made it to The New York Times’s annual list of Best TV Shows of 2020. This is the second time a tvN and Studio Dragon joint production was featured in the list, the first being Stranger in 2017.
Every year, the leading US media outlet selects the best TV shows from the US and around the world. The “Top 10 International TV Shows” category highlights popular shows from other countries and languages. This year, two Korean shows have made it to the list—the historical zombie thriller Kingdom starring Ju Ji-hoon and Bae Doo-na and romance drama It’s Okay To Not Be Okay starring Kim Soo-hyun and Seo Ye-ji. British mini-series Belgravia, French political thriller The Bureau, Japanese manga series Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, and Australian police procedural Mystery Road are some of the other shows that are featured on the list.
About It’s Okay To Not Be Okay, television critic Mike Hale commented on the show’s refreshing take on the romance genre by combining “a sex farce with the ambience of a dark fairy tale.” He also lauded Seo Ye-ji’s performance as the prickly, emotionally challenged children’s book author, calling it “mesmerizing” for playing “both Cinderella and evil stepmother.” Studio Dragon’s CP So Jae-hyun, who produced It’s Okay To Not Be Okay, said that he was happy to be praised for the drama and hoped that “people around the world will enjoy it and be comforted at the same time.”
Hale also declared South Korea at the helm of the action-zombie genre, placing the Netflix original series Kingdom in the same category as zombie movies Train to Busan and Peninsula. “While male characters exerted a lot of frantic effort to save the kingdom of Joseon from the treacherous and the undead, Bae-Doo-na and Kim Hye-jun shone as the plucky peasant doctor trying to contain a plague and the sociopathic queen who refused to hand over power,” Hale said.
It’s Okay To Not Be Okay is a fairy-tale retelling of a dark love story between a self-sacrificing health care worker (Kim Soo-hyun) who avoids falling in love and an anti-social children’s book writer (Seo Ye-ji) who has trouble caring for others due to her traumatic past. Kingdom, on the other hand, tells the story of a crown prince in Joseon-era Korea (Ju Ji-hoon) who sets out to fight power-hungry officials and hordes of zombies in order to protect his kingdom.