It’s been a little over a week since tvN’s latest take on the classic Cinderella tale, Cinderella and Four Knights, finished airing and I think I’ve finally reigned my emotions in enough to be able to talk about it without making a total mess of myself. Well, I’m hoping I can anyway… Though I suppose the only way to find out is to sit down and write… So… Here goes!
I’ll be the first to admit that it took all of about two seconds for me to fall in love with Cinderella and Four Knights. I’m a hopeless romantic and have always been a sucker for fairy tales so naturally, I was interested in a modern spin on such a classic. Of course, setting this story in a sort of manga-esque reverse-harem, where Cinderella finds herself surrounded by four beautiful young men, certainly didn’t hurt anything either. I mean just having Jung Il Woo playing the lead was enough to secure my devotion to this drama but having Ahn Jae Hyun, Lee Jung Shin and Choi Min Sung on-board as well, only made this drama that much more irresistible.
But this drama was more than just a bunch of pretty flower boys. Beyond the flower boys (and all the silly fangirling they inspired) this drama possessed a certain charm that I found hard to resist. The leading lady, Eun Ha Won (Park So Dam) was pretty much perfect. She was spunky and adorable, strong-willed and independent, she was determined to make the best of her life no matter how crappy it was, she made even the most impossible things possible, she didn’t give up, and she could very much hold her own against the flamboyant Kang cousins. As an actor, Park So Dam did a fantastic job of bringing Ha Won to life. She was confident in her role and did an incredible job of making Ha Won shine, even when standing next to the likes of Jung Il Woo.
Beyond the leads, this drama possessed a pretty typical array of Cinderella-inspired characters, all of which were completely unlovable. The evil step-mother (Choi Eun Kyeong) and step-sister (Ko Bo Gyeol) were the epitome of awful. They were selfish and spoiled and mean and petty and jealous and vile and just the worst versions of humanity you could ever imagine and Ha Won’s father (Seo Hyun Chul) fared no better. He was petty and vindictive and completely undeserving of the love Ha Won gave so freely. The Kang Cousins’ grandfather, Chairman Kang (Kim Yong Gun) and his 5th wife (Kim Hye Ri) weren’t any better. The Chairman spent 98% of this drama trying to control his grandsons without ever once considering that if he actually acted like a grandfather, instead of a CEO, he might actually be able to get through to them. He was as selfish and manipulative as Ha Won’s step-family and the only real difference between the two was that he actually had the means to inflict his selfish plans on others. He actually deserved his scheming, conniving, traitorous wife and I really found myself wishing they’d all take a grand flying leap off the Han River Bridge so that the rest of our beloved characters could live their lives in peace. The second female lead, Park Hye Ji (Son Na Eun), was without a doubt, the most pointless character in the entire story. She did nothing with her life, she served no purpose, other than to make Ha Won’s life even more awful than it already was. I know she was supposed to have this tragic backstory and that, combined with her connection with Kang Hyun Min (Ahn Jae Hyun) was supposed to make for this touching, tragic romance but it failed. Miserably. By the end I didn’t want Hye Ji to be anywhere near Hyun Min or anyone else in Korea. I wanted her to fly off to that job in Paris and never come back. But when do drama characters ever do what I want them to?
With so many characters playing their part, the story itself was, for the most part, engaging, even if a lot of it ended up being rather predictable. However, that’s to be expected with a story such as this. I mean we’re talking about a Cinderella tale here, there are really only so many ways you can spin one and now matter what, you know how it’s going to end. Still, Cinderella and Four Knights added enough to their tale to keep it entertaining and honestly, that’s all I wanted from this drama anyway. I wanted something cute and fluffy and filled with flower boys and that’s exactly what I got. So from that standpoint, I thoroughly loved this drama.
However, from a critic’s standpoint, I was much less pleased, especially with the last few episodes. As cute and as well-paced as the drama started out being, by the end all of that magic disappeared and we were left with a sloppily thrown together mess of nonsense that left very few satisfied. Myself included. When the Chairman went into the hospital, the entire drama took a turn for the worst. Secretary Yoon (Choi Min Sung) lost all his charm, the Chairman’s wife proved herself a venomous snake, Kang Ji Woon (Jung Il Woo) went from punk to hero to martyr so fast it almost made you sick, Ha Won lost all of her fantastic gumption, and Hye Ji got waaaay too much screen-time. As disappointing as it was to watch so many characters change roles, it was the pacing of things that really left me disappointed. Everything from the Chairman’s hospital admission on felt rushed and as such, nothing was brought to a very satisfying close. I expected there to be some sort of happy ending for Ha Won and her Knight, but I didn’t expect every. other. character. in. this. story. to find their happy ending as well. It’s not that I have a problem with happy endings in general, but sometimes there are characters who don’t deserve a happy ending and this drama was FULL of them. Sometimes evil, vile, terrible people don’t deserve to be forgiven. Sometimes people don’t deserve second chances. Sometimes people have to live with the consequences of their actions and suffer as a result. On the flip side of that, sometimes there are beautiful, pure souls who deserve so much more than a quick second thought and a cheesy consolation prize. (I’m sorry but no matter how many ways I look at it, Kang Seo Woo (Lee Jung Shin) got ripped off in pretty much every way possible and that just makes me so upset!)
Even being as disappointed in the ending as I was, I would still have to say that, overall, I really enjoyed this drama. I had a whole lot of fun cheering on Ha Won as I swooned over Jung Il Woo. I loved suffering from cases of second, third and fourth lead syndrome. I even enjoyed plotting the deaths of every vile character in this drama. Because, yes, I am that kind of a person. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was how poorly it ended. But what can I do about that? As for recommending this drama, yes, I still would; at least to anyone who is a fan of flower boys or Cinderella stories or to someone is just looking for some cute fun. I really did have a whole lot of fun watching this drama and I’m know a lot of other people did too. Just don’t go into it expecting the ending to be as strong as the beginning. Though now that I think about it, isn’t that what we drama addicts end up saying about a lot of dramas? *sigh*
So now that I’ve thrown my two bits out there, I’d like to hear from you. What did you think of Cinderella and Four Knights? Did it live up to your expectations? Did you enjoy it? Did you not? Did you have a favorite Knight? What did you think of the ending? You know I always love hearing from you so be sure to let me know what you’re thinking by leaving me a comment below!