K-viewers in 2021 Loving the Anti-hero Vigilante Justice Dramas Vincenzo, Taxi Driver, and The Devil Judge

K-dramas have always cycled through themes, if supernatural romance is popular then suddenly there are three more lined up in production, if noona-dongsaeng relationships are de rigueur then every network will have one in prep, and so forth. This year in 2021 K-ent is calling it the year of the anti-hero viligante, the baddie taking down even bigger and worse baddies on behalf of the innocent average citizens. Starting with Vincenzo, then came Taxi Driver (Deluxe Taxi) and now we have The Devil Judge (Demon Judge), it’s the same playbook with different elements is all. To be honest, Mouse also fits the bill but having the male lead be an actual serial killer was one step too far, even if it was beyond his control and also there equally bad if not worse villains around him. The feeling is that viewers feel catharsis when they see bad people punished even if it’s by another bad person, because so often a good person doesn’t have the ability to commit bad deeds for the greater good. I think this genre is hitting at the right time when people more than ever feel a sense of helplessness in life, but if it’s done too often the thrill will dissipate.


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K-viewers in 2021 Loving the Anti-hero Vigilante Justice Dramas Vincenzo, Taxi Driver, and The Devil Judge — 47 Comments

  1. Pingback: K-viewers in 2021 Loving the Anti-hero Vigilante Justice Dramas Vincenzo, Taxi Driver, and The Devil Judge - Kpopnchill - All About K-pop News

  2. Vincenzo is super fun to watch regarding punishment for the evils by anti-hero, Taxi driver’s amazingly written and directed that viewers cheer the protagonist till the end, plus, this made Lee je hoon shine more than ever, Devil judge’s plot is also unique which attracts audience who loves dystopian world and handsome main leads. But, for me, Mouse is special regarding plot, directing, acting. Everything is top notch, even the ending was so safisfying as well as heartbreaking
    Before,I wasn’t keen on Lee Seung gi’s performance but in this he nailed. He cried so convincingly that it was impossible to hate him. It means he delivered the inner turmoil of the character who did evil deeds however in the regretted till the death

    • I did enjoy Vincenzo I cant even believed my grandkid who is 4 yrs old( a premie) know what series is the one that red paint was poured.
      He also loves the classical.music.
      I ended up everytime I babysit him watch Vincenzo again ,& again.

  3. Vincenzo is super fun to watch regarding punishment for the evils by anti-hero, Taxi driver’s amazingly written and directed that viewers cheer the protagonist till the end, plus, this made Lee je hoon shine more than ever, Devil judge’s plot is also unique which attracts audience who loves dystopian world and handsome main leads. But, for me, Mouse is special regarding plot, directing, acting. Everything is top notch, even the ending was so safisfying as well as heartbreaking
    Before,I wasn’t keen on Lee Seung gi’s performance but in this he nailed. He cried so convincingly that it was impossible to hate him. It means he delivered the inner turmoil of the character who did evil deeds however in the end regretted till the death

  4. Sorry to be out of topic, can we just talk about that 90min divorce dialogue that was in Love ft marriage and divorce. It was a first for me, Wowww

  5. I understand the appeal of it as a genre, it’s a way to blow off a little steam about an unjust world. Park Jae Bum’s (Vincenzo) previous dramas also had the same theme – renegade accountant, renegade priest, now mafia.

    But it’s definitely dependent on execution, Vincenzo, Taxi Driver etc were well written and acted. The bar is higher for these than your typical fluffy romcom, they can’t survive off actor visuals alone, they have to be actually good.

  6. No no no k-viewer getting tired with anti hero drama,the devil judge rating stuck between 5-6% like mouse.Korean ahjuma still choose to watch makjang drama like the penthouse and love marriage and divorce 12% now win competition vs devil judge 6%.

    • Yes, makjang dramas come first for k-viewers. I don’t know what expectations were for The Devil Judge, maybe the network is disappointed, but 5-6% ratings aren’t bad.

      • 5-6% is pretty good for late wed/thur time slot like mouse but I guess they are looking at 6-8% for sat/sun 8pm time slot.

        I don’t know why korea producers like to do the same theme at the same time Eg time travel, noona romance, and now anti-hero …do they like to compete and see how can do it better?

      • Its not great and if had been LMH or KSH these ratings would be declared flop but since the lead is JS they are acceptable but his wife LBY hit 10% for a very boring makjang drama so it would be nice to see JS get higher ratings for his drama which objectively is the better drama.

      • Oh yeah, that makes sense about the weekend time slot. Plus, they had a string of big hits. Still, it’s doing similar numbers or better to shows like IOTNBO or Start Up that had a lot of hype.

        I swear writers and producers get together and come up with a themes list.

      • @Dyna

        Agree. Beyond Evil and Flower of Evil, for example, had lower ratings than IOTNBO. But I never saw anyone calling those dramas flops.

        Unfortunately, the standards are sky-high for Hallyu stars. Or should I call them Hallyu targets because of how people are ever-ready to fling sharp darts of ridicule, vitriol and hate at them. ‘Overrated’, ‘overhyped’ are two darts out of many that get thrown around all too often. Thank the drama gods Vincenzo didn’t flop or how the hyenas would have eaten SJK alive. *Shudder*

      • The actors got so much attention from IOTNBO I honestly didn’t realize it was considered a flop.

      • IOTNBO was only considered a flop to some because it starred KSH. Remove him from the equation and everyone will say it’s a hit. It got so much buzz domestically and internationally during its run and then go on to receive shout out from NY Times, Forbes and 8 nominations at the Baeksang awards. Tell me another flop drama that garnered so much recognition.

      • @Mimi

        When the drama was airing, yeah, the ratings brigade kept popping up in the recap posts on here to emphasize how it was a flop and how they had dropped it (and even made personal attacks on the two leads.)

        Every. Single. Week.

        You could tell some of them were salty TKEM stans who wanted to get back at Koala (who liked IOTNBO) for how she snarkily took down TKEM in her recap posts and others were bitter BR stans who couldn’t handle that PBIO was more popular and got mostly positive reviews while BR got overwhelmingly negative feedback.

        Plus, there was the camp whose only joy in life is to bash popular dramas just because they’re popular. And with IOTNBO’s massive popularity yet lackluster domestic ratings, it was too good a target to pass up. Nowadays, you’ll find the last group on K-drama Twitter using SYJ’s scandal to drag the drama till kingdom come.

      • To an extent the argument that a KSH drama getting only 5-6% is considered a flop or mediocre is understandable based on his past drama ratings. A lot of times these actors are cast purely for their ability to bring in ratings and not for their acting so if that basic criteria isn’t met yes people tend to call it flop. Having said that for tvn a 5-6% is average ratings neither hit nor flop but mediocre and not in line with their production budget. For jtbc 5-6% is pretty good definitely not a flop but not a mega hit either but still a successful work more or less. At the end of the day it comes down to whether or not the ratings are above or below the expectations of the channel executives and financial executives who invested in it. Selling a drama to Netflix brings back money but doesn’t necessarily make it a good investment if it is panned by the audience.

  7. Pingback: K-viewers in 2021 Loving the Anti-hero Vigilante Justice Dramas Vincenzo, Taxi Driver, and The Devil Judge – SanIsidro

  8. I like the anti-hero theme though I disliked Taxi Driver. I liked Vincenzo and The Devil Judge is good. Glad the k-viewers are liking them.

  9. Are there any other anti-hero kdramas in the line-up to air or are being produced after Devil Judge, or does DJ cap the anti-hero trend?

      • Hometown Cha Cha Cha is set to replace Devil Judge. I’m not surprised tvn goes to a completely different theme for its Sat-Sun 9pm slot. The promo machine is out to push double dimple couple. I dropped Vincenzo after 2-3 episodes for various reasons. Haven’t watched TD & DJ. Not interested in this genre. Interesting to see how HCCC will fare ratings wise being put in the most coveted timeslot. I’m personally invested as I adore the OTP. The Mon-Tue tvn dramas are either dismal or so-so this year & feels like it’s cursed. Seo Hyun Jin’s You’re My Spring keeps dropping in its rating.

  10. You know what I would like to see? A female anti-hero kdrama, ala Killing Eve. That would be dope, but not sure if kdramaland is ready for this.

    • That would be dope but the villain in DJ is already pretty dope. Her and Yohan have a very Killing Eve dynamic between them.

    • Interestingly, I read online a while back that a Killing Eve K-remake is in the works, starring Lee Young-Ae or so. Checking out the comments, most I-viewers (moi included) weren’t happy about it since dramaland wouldn’t be able to do justice to the thrilling, sexy cat-and-mouse game between Eve and Villanelle which is a core part of that show. The synopsis of the planned remake also didn’t sound anything remotely like KE, more like very loosely based on or somewhat inspired by KE.

      I haven’t watched Taxi Driver and therefore have no idea how it ended so this might not be feasible. But if that alleged season 2 comes to fruition, maybe they could pass the baton (or steering wheel) to Esom so that she becomes the new taxi driver? Then again, dramaland’s target audience is predominantly women, most of whom sign up to watch a handsome oppa looking cool as he does badass sh|t so…

  11. This is probably a minority opinion but trends when done right are extremely fun! The anti-hero trend is a great change up from the feel good romcoms or medical dramas. I personally would not mind a few more of these dark anti-hero dramas to be honest. They are sleek and stylish but also the plot moves quickly and the cliffhangers are actually exciting. The take downs are generally gratifying and not always predictable!

    • They’re fun now because they’re kinda new. But after the inevitable oversaturation, viewers will get sick of ’em and roll their eyes like, “Argh, here we go again. Is this all dramaland has to offer?” Romcoms and medical dramas were heavy in demand at one point, too.

  12. I really liked Vincenzo and Taxi Driver. They were very different. I don’t like Devil Judge, Ji Sung character is too theatrical. But the direction is really beautiful.

    • Very much agree on Devil Judge. I’ve caught up to the latest episodes and my opinion I expressed in the DJ recap post still hasn’t changed, despite liking Ji-sung as an actor.

    • It’s funny how different opinions are. I think Ji Sung has been playing it to restrained and wish he would play it more theatrical.

  13. Sorry for saying this but this is a dog-shit list.. I dropped all of them specifically devil Judge but all were equally impressive imho

    • I meant unimpressive typo on my part… I actully liked the first 4 episodes of Nevertheless but none of this 3 series which I THINK is surreal seeing them as favourite of any relevant list

      • @Asad Muradin Yusuf
        I am like you.I dropped all 3 dramas even though I liked a lot “taxi driver “in the beginning.I never was impressed with SJK so I dropped most of his dramas-i think all- and I love JS but his two latest dramas is not for me “Doctor John ” and “the devil judge”

      • @Asad @marthoula

        Lol. I too thought Vincenzo was a trainwreck. It was a drama that just tried too hard. FL tried too hard to be Cheon Song Yi with her atrocious overacting. Taec tried too hard to be the cliche mad villain with his atrocious acting. The comedy tried too hard to be funny that they literally had a drum roll to alert the audience that a funny scene was coming and so we had to get ready to laugh. Most of the drama’s comedy was cringe and fell flat. And let’s not even get started on the mafia worship. Now let’s see how many hormonal oppa stans queue up under this comment to say they strongly disagree because it was the best drama evah and achieved blah blah blah and they’re going to fight us for not liking the drama. LMFAO.

      • @~ Didn’t watch full episodes of Vincenzo, but from clips of what I saw, the FL’s acting is so cringey and try-hard. Can’t stand the way she tries to be quirky with the skip in her walk. So overly orchestrated.

  14. often times, I feel the execution very formulaic and doesn’t do much writing geniunly compelling character. more focus on the plot, which make me less invest with the character. antihero is my fav troupe if done right and more focus on the character rather than plot and case.

  15. I dropped Vincenzo. I didnt enjoy watching it. Taxi driver, i got bored in the middle, tried to continue and thank God they changed the writer, the last episodes were epic!
    Devil Judge.. i love it. Too theatrical yes, but i somehow watch the whole episode without fast forwarding some scenes. I like it. Jisung is always a good reason tho.

    • True… Ji Sung never fails to impresshis fans. He gives his all and HE IS VERSATILE in every thing he does. We love him…not just an ACTOR but as a PERSON and FAMILY MAN
      And we all love him this mych🥰
      #JiSungTheLegendaryOppa

  16. We loved Vincenzo but that final episode where he didn’t intervene when the chairman’s brother tried to grapple with the chairman was just dumb. Not something Vincenzo would have done. The script writers had been excellent up to then. It was a black mark in a wonderful series. The writers needed a slap over that one.

  17. Lol dropped all of them by 2nd episode, guess this antihero trend isn’t for me. Beyond Evil so far is the only drama I have finished this year 😂 and there’s only few upcoming dramas this second half that I’m curious about, Hellbound, Sea of Tranquility and maybe Snowdrop

    • Sea of tranquility will be amazing according to my own prediction. It has Gongyoo who never do any drama comeback since Goblin and the talented bae doona who we know always pick good Netflix project. I always predicted it will be a phenomenon worldwide.

  18. LOVE this anti-hero trend. I just love when the protagonist isn’t a pushover goody two shoes who forgives everyone and I’m sick of stories that glorify the police/justice system as if the law is ever fair and not there to protect the rich and the powerful.

    I think these dramas mentioned in the post are worthy of their success and rave reviews. They are well-received partly for the refreshing anti-hero trope but also because of their quality.

  19. J’adore anti-heroes and greatly enjoyed watching both Vincenzo and Taxi Driver; waiting for DJ to become more accessible before starting (remind me again why this isn’t on Netflix?). All 3 dramas are high-quality and have put their own spin on the theme.

    Anti-heroes make up some of the most iconic figures in literature and pop culture, and their stories make for rich character studies and social commentary. Count me as a fan of this trend!

  20. Incidentally, I love a female anti-hero kdrama called All About Eve starring a young but wildly talented Kim So Yeon, Chae Rim, Jang Dong Gun & way back in 2000. It was so popular that spawned 2 remakes from Philippines and China. I would love to see this kind of drama again. Not overly makjang but tragic with some romance thrown in. KSY & CR reminded me of of 80s mini-series Master of The Game about a woman who survived the world of diamond trade and passed on her business legacy to her twin granddaughters. One twin is evil as while the other is an angel.

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