It took me half a year to finally decide to catch the Heirs. For one, I thought patronizing Lee Minho was too mainstream (Bench‘s fault, haha) and although I love Park Shinhye, it’s just really difficult to get over You Who Came from the Stars. So I put on the Heirs DVD without much excitement.As expected, it was not better in any weight or measure than the Do Minjoon-Cheon Songyi story. Theirs was like the Secret Garden of 2013. Everything else just pales in comparison. A lot of times with the Heirs, I felt like hitting the fast forward button just to get to the good parts, but then the convoluted storytelling aside, the good parts were well worth it.
Lee Minho is Kim Tan, the second son of a giant conglomerate, exiled in the US for the sin of being an illegitimate child. Shinhye is Cha Eunsang, daughter of a mute housemaid who serves Tan’s mother. The pair meet by strange circumstance (as people do in dramas) in California. Sparks fly and don’t ever go out. The time-tested romance traps and story lines are there, and they work more so because Minho and Shinhye have intense chemistry onscreen. Whether together or apart, the actors also have the kind of charm that pulls you in and makes you believe, and their sincerity was key in making this drama’s many stories work.
Tan and Eunsang’s love story unfolds within the politics and drama of the rich and the powerful elite. They deal with it in school, where the student population is dominated by spoiled, frivolous inheritors who show no mercy to anyone they deem beneath them. They deal with it at home, where Tan’s father manipulates the lives of his two sons and two women like pieces on a chess board, all in the name of protecting his company and his legacy. One central theme it seems, is survival of the fittest. Only the ruthless survive in the world of the elite, no matter how heartless and selfish the means may seem.
Another theme is that of fathers and mothers, and the imperfect ways they try to protect their children. It is hard not to shed tears when Eunsang lashes out in frustration at her mute mother, not knowing who else to blame for their poverty. Tan’s mother is prisoner in her man’s home, and suffocates her son thinking that her unsolicited plans would secure his freedom. Choi Youngdo (Kim Woobin) plays the part of the school bully, blaming the world for his mother’s abandonment. Yoo Rachel‘s mother is willing to forgo love for the second time and again marry for money, to ensure that her empire will be there for her daughter to inherit. Even Tan’s father, for all his scheming, only wanted to secure the best for both his sons. These are sad vicious cycles, and for all the drama’s faults, it tries to show that the actions were not rooted on pure evil, but maybe from imperfect love.
Picture and video credits to owners.