Sweet Home: Season 1 Review

I had such high hopes for Sweet Home … such high hopes. I was writing about this series long before it premiered on Netflix but now that its over, I feel somewhat shortchanged. It may be an unpopular opinion but I was wishing that Sweet Home could have been more than a 10-episode setup for the second season.

Synopsis: Cha Hyun Su (Song Kang) is a newly orphaned teen who moves into the dilapidated Green Roof Apartment. A few days after moving in, people start turning into monsters and he finds himself suffering the symptoms but being able to keep his monsterization at bay.

I seriously don’t know how to feel about Sweet Home. It starts off with this intriguing epic scene and tapers off into an inconsistent series that focuses more on the politics and the musings of the survivors of the Green Roof apartment rather than the more pressing issue of monsters that just won’t die.

I get why Netflix plunked down a good amount of cash for the series (It is actually their most expensive Korean original series with a USD$2.48M per episode budget). The series used a lot of CGI for the special effects and really delivered on these aspects so it was money well spent. It had some good action scenes and made the more heroic moments even more dramatic. I also loved the the theme music which made the action scenes come to life.

However, I felt a bit shortchanged by the ratio of the action and the drama depicted in the series. It seemed as though the writers wanted to emphasize the injustices suffered by Hyun Su so much that they forgot the importance of developing his character.

For 3/4th of the series, we don’t see Hyun Su as anything more than an errand boy. Even the scenes where he performed dangerous missions just to he could get a bottle of sunscreen or a pack of dog food from an apartment was presented in a montage so we don’t see how much his fighting improved or how much he really put his life on the line for these menial tasks.

I liked Song Kang’s portrayal of Hyun So’s vulnerability. I felt bad that his connection to the rest of the characters was so poorly established because for the most part, they avoided him and judged him for being a monster. Even until the end, only a handful treated him like a human and a friend. Nobody really stuck out for him except for Mr. Han. My heart literally broke for him when he said the same.

I felt that the series could have devoted most of the budget in showcasing Hyun Su’s evolution and eventual monsterization. Its true that the final scene was cool and all, but it seemed like the entire budget was devoted to that one monster vs monster battle and nothing else.

I think the series would have benefitted from additional scenes to flesh out the characters that made an impact such as Han Du Sik (Kim Sang Ho), or war vet An Gil Geob (Kim Kap Soo). Rather, the series spent most of the time highlighting the useless and judgmental survivors in the first floor who survived way longer than they should have given their amount of idiocy.

I would have wanted to know more about Green Roof Apartment leader Eun Hyeok (Lee Do Hyun) to better understand his character instead of leaving all of his heroics as an afterthought in the end. The time would have been better spent on him than highlighting the unjustified rebellion of his sister Eun Yu (Go Min Si).

The series succeeded in developing two important characters — firefighter Yi Kyung (Lee Si Young) and gangster Sang Wook (Lee Jin Wook) although I felt like they wanted too much to to make the character of Yi Kyung to be a superwoman of sorts. Addtional MVPs include Yu Ri (Ko Yoon Jung), Ji Su (Park Gyu Ri) and Jae Hyeon (Kim Nam Hee). His final scene was beautiful and well deserved.

The action does pick up somewhat in the ninth and 10th episode when the series was trying to illustrate how evil humans can be. When Ui Myeong talked to Hyun Su and tried to convince him of his twisted logic, he did make sense.

It is true that there are monsters that don’t harm humans but are there humans who won’t harm monsters? — Ui Myeong

There was a lot of talking in this series, a lot of reflection about life and how the world is coming to an end. It drones on and on until you too begin to question why humans even deserve to live. By its end, I could not care less about whether the survivors actually survived.

Minor spoilers ahead: But you would expect this if you’re watching a series like this.

I felt like the entire 10 episode run of Sweet Home was just a glorified set up for the second season. Technically, we learn very little in these 10 episodes, and many of the established characters will not make it out alive, save for a few. By its end, we are left with even more questions than answers, but I don’t know whether I’m even interested to stick around to find out.

PS. Sweet Home is based on a webtoon developed by Carnby Kim and Hwang Young Chan. I made no comparisons to the comic because I haven’t read its entirety yet.