Thanks to the four-episode KBS Drama Special Adolescence Medley, based on a webtoon that takes place in a rural town where teenage protagonists are on their way into adulthood, I’ve been soaking in a generous dose of warm, organic energy. I was also reminded of the messages like “Stay cool” and “Stay sweet” that my American friends carefully, or sometimes casually, composed with their glitter gel pens in my first yearbook. Have I stayed cool and sweet?

Although Adolescence Medley strikes success in all parts – story, acting, filming, and music –  one reason shows that throw back to the bittersweet days of youth are emotionally effective might be in the inherent value attached to that period of life when we had seemingly great potential to stay cool or sweet. When we were less likely to care about where our friend lived or what car her father drove.

The singer of “Essay and Car” who is now a grown man regrets the exact thing. I remember listening to this song in high school and thinking that I’m so tainted because I had already started ascribing enormous meaning to things like where I lived, where my mother worked, what she drove, and so on. For that reason, songs and shows like Adolescence Medley feel very special because they remind me of the kind of thoughts that I used to keep as a kid, the things I could have done instead of ruminating and fretting, and also the choices I could be making now that I’ve grown a little (at least I hope I have).

Music on this drama is so satisfying because it blurs effortlessly with the story and the image presented in the show. And there was a reason for this; Lee Han-chul of Bulldog Mansion is in charge of the music on the show. With one episode left to go, I look forward to finding out how our heroes handled the stinging farewell and went on to full adulthood.

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