“Melancholia”, starring Lim Soo-jung and Lee Do-hyun, is a drama full of humanity created by the combination of math, education, and romance.
To give an explanation for tvN’s new Wednesday – Thursday drama “Melancholia“, we can say this is obviously a drama that is full of humanity in which math and academic materials are added to the romance. However, this explanation can remind the audiences of some certain dramas with similar formats. In other words, academy dramas in which children in families of the high social class enjoy preferential treatments being the top 1% thanks to their parents’ wealth and social status, are already well described in “SKY Castle”, “Penthouse” and “High Class”. Moreover, the relationship between the male and female leads with a large age gap also reminds the viewers of “18 Again”.
However, the theme of mathematics brought about by “Melancholia” and the way the drama solves not only the scandals at school but also the problems of its relationships are enough to break those prejudices. Mathematics in this drama is not the kind of math represented by scores considered as the key to entrance exam education required by professor Kim Joo-young (Kim Seo-hyung) in “SKY Castle“. Instead of that, “Melancholia” tells stories about mathematics in a closer view to our daily life, such as “unanswered problems”, “problems with no precise solution”, “problems in which the premise itself is false”.
The new math teacher of Asung High School – Ji Yoon-soo (Im Soo-jung) and the math genius Baek Seung-yoo (Lee Do-hyun), who is more interested in unsolved problems than solved ones, were introduced in the first broadcast of “Melancholia”. In order to select the students for her math club called Calculus at Asung High School, where the focus is put on education for the college entrance exam, Ji Yoon-soo gave the students a provocative question. Through this question, she wanted to prove to the students of the entrance examination education who have the habit of finding only the correct answers that math is not just like that.
All the students presented their answers, but no one was able to write the answer that their teacher wanted, except for Baek Seung-yoo. He wrote “False premise. Detailed explanations omitted due to lack of margin” on the answer sheet and left it on the bulletin board. After Ji Yoon-soo left a provocative memo saying this answer was “bluffing” in order to find out the student who gave the correct answer, Baek Seung-yoo came back to write down his solution.
“Melancholia” draws a line from other typical school dramas that follow the same formula of melodramas. When Ji Yoon-soo answered “all are errors”, Noh Jung-ah (Jinkyung), the eldest daughter of the chairman of Asung Academy, says “You must be joking.” Noh says this problem is “a problem that doesn’t fit” in her Asung High School and explained “Answering that there is an error in the problem means denying the problem itself. Our Asung kids don’t write this answer.”
However, Ji Yoon-soo conveys her conviction at these words. “Guessing the set answer is already a thing the kids do well. Sometimes I want you to experience problems that have wrong premises or no answers.” However, Noh Jung-ah reveals that there are also voices that always ask for a fixed answer. “Do our kids have to know that there’s a proposition that can’t be proved? Our Asung High School children don’t even have to know that.”
However, putting the mathematical problems aside, this melodrama eventually tells a story of love between a man and a woman, and dramas that presuppose conflict are bound to set up obstacles to love. The formula of melodrama is that men and women get through the obstacles and make more desperate and affectionate love, and it pays off or leads to catastrophe.
In that respect, “Melancholia” does not seem to deviate significantly from the common framework. In the end, Ji Yoon-soo and Baek Seung-yoo, who accidentally met for the first time, will get to know each other little by little and their relationship will progress. Noh Jung-ah will certainly give a normal and obvious look at the relationship as a “scandal,” but their relationship may lead to a different ending from other dramas.
Although it is based on mathematics, “Melancholia” may reveal that the simple gaze defines our relationship between men and women as love, infidelity, and scandal in accordance, and a simple formula is not the only answer. Affection can be created in the problems that can be solved together, but wouldn’t it be possible to exchange such feelings somewhere in the middle, not love or respect? Although the world may simplify it as a “scandal”, <Melancholia> wants to say that there are relationships that cannot be simplified because the premise itself is different. This is what viewers might be curious about in the future.