Our Blues: New K-Drama on Netflix is a stunning and inclusive portrayal of everyday life

Our Blues' exploration of daily life is delightful even in its exploration of dark subjects. The observational style of capturing the lives of lead characters, and the abstract narrative is brilliant
A still of Kim Woo-bin in Our Blues
A still of Kim Woo-bin in Our Blues

The beauty of Our Blues lies in its abstract treatment of the lives of people who live in Jejudo. It is a slice-of-life drama that revels in simplicity. The struggles of different individuals are depicted free of exaggeration, and the beauty of life-altering decisions is enclosed in fleeting moments. The show doesn't beat its chest and calls attention to being inclusive. It doesn't manipulate audiences to get them to empathise with its characters but instead, trusts the characters' journeys to hook the audiences in and keep them engaged.

For instance, the first episode in this series introduces a middle-aged hard-working woman Eun-hui (Lee Jung-eun) in Jeju, and a bank manager Han-su (Cha Seung-won). The former, who has saved enough to be comfortable, continues to gather wealth with her business. The latter is in need of money to fund his daughter's ambition of becoming a golf player. When Han-Su is transferred to the branch in Jejudo, he reunites with Eun-hui and recalls her crush on him. How he almost uses her affection for him and lies to her about his marriage to gain access to her money could have been dark and jaded. Instead, the show deals with the conflict with surprising maturity. 

Even Eun-hui doesn't deal with Han-su with kid gloves. She confronts him, and calls him out for his intentions but also allows her friendship to soften the blow. She sends him the money that he had needed in the first place but ensures that he is aware of the mistake that he had made. Eun-hui and Han-su's tale is just one of the many promising explorations of daily life.

This is just one of the stories from the Jejudo that are showcased in Our Blues. With each episode, we see how even the melancholy and monotony takes on new meaning when seen from a different perspective. Be it the everyday routine of haenyeo (sea women who harvest abalones) or the lulls in the business of selling fish, and the highs of the people of the town, they are all captured in a documentary observational style. It adds to the mood of the show and elevates the overall experience. 

Another interesting attribute of the show is how it embeds others characters into the narrative. Eun-hui might be the lead of her story, but she is also a supporting character in Yeong-ok's story. So when the narrative shifts focus from one character to another, as a viewer we do as well. It is interesting to see how peripheral characters in one episode become the focus of the following episodes. Our Blues is an anthology, but this continuity works majorly in favor of the show. For instance, Lee Dong-seok (Lee Byung-hun) and Min Seon-ah's (Shin Min-ah) story unravels over multiple episodes. Within these episodes also lie conflicts that other characters experience as well.

To tune into an episode of Our Blues is like going on a day trip to a nice breezy beach town to read a book. The performance by lead actors, especially that of Lee Jung-eun, Lee Byung-hun, Shin Min-ah, Han Ji-min, and Kim Woo-bin is delightful. At the end of every chapter, the closure that one gets and the sense of gratification one feels when each character overcomes an obstacle is absolute. A glass of your favourite beverage, on a nice rainy day, in the company of a blues song, is just the mood that Our Blues captures.

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