X-Man, Love Letter, Star Golden Bell, New Journey to the West, Running Man, the list could go on. In the land of Korean variety shows where every show seems to guarantee tear-inducing laughter, I didn’t think there would ever be a moment where I wouldn’t laugh. That is until I watched Oppa Thinking.
The premise of the show is innocuous enough. Guests star on the show in hopes to garner more fans. Each team competes to produce the video content that best showcases the guests. Pit both teams against each other, and watch the sparks sizzle! Team 1 consists of singer/TV personality Solbi, gagman Tak Jaehoon, gagman Yoo Seyoon, cartoonist Lee Malnyeon. Team 2 consists of producer/TV personality Lee Sangmin, actor Lee Kyuhan, flower boy gagman Heo Kyunghwan, and former idol turned entertainer Kangnam. With so many comedians and satirists, you would think the sparks would turn into flames. Instead, too many cooks spoil the broth, and you have the cast all vying for the spotlight instead of shining light on the guests. If the sheer amount of cast wasn’t daunting enough, the producers of this show also had a rotating cast. Idol members Eunhyuk, Joy, Lee Hongki, Cha Eunwoo, Kyungri, Kyulkyung, and Cao Lu have all tried to impress with their variety sense. Comedians Yang Sehyung, Lee Gukjoo, Yang Sechan, and Park Narae have all tried to get audiences to crack a smile. Does this list of names make you a bit cross-eyed? Now imagine tuning in each week to find different cast members in addition to different guests. It is no surprise that the cast finds themselves wanting the spotlight more for themselves since they all barely get enough airtime. Cast members rarely stay long enough on the show to build camaraderie with each other before another new face comes in.
For a show claiming to show new sides of guests through cast-created video content, they sure didn’t reveal anything substantial to audiences about the guests. Take Knowing Bros for an example. The show captivates audiences by allowing guests to share something they have never shared with even long-time fans! Or Running Man, where you see the more physical feats of your favorite celebrity. What does Oppa Thinking do? Put out the same content that we already saw Weekly Idol do the week before. WINNER members MINO and Jinwoo are so infamous for their lack of common sense that even a quick search on the web will show their names related to foolishness. If a netizen can do the same, how in the world do experienced producers of this show think it is refreshing to show how slow-witted the members can be when just about anyone already knows? TWICE also starred in another episode, and yet again nothing new was released. Fans already knew member Chaeyoung has a talented hand for drawing and photography. It is almost as if the producers put minimal effort in creating new situations where members can showcase something else.
If it isn’t having guests showing the same redundant talents again, the guests find themselves doing meaningless tasks. Show Me the Money contestant and decently famous rapper Sleepy found himself doing chin-ups in front of the cast. iKON members Bobby, B.I., and Junhoe were sent stumbling through a mundane haunted house that absolutely did nothing to make the charms of these members shine to the audience. Reactions were often contrived, and even the smiles of the cast were forced. If the cast themselves are even failing to crack a smile, how can the audience?
It must have taken a lot of pain for MBC to finally pull the plug on the once-hit show We Got Married. The show has seen the public fawn over the pretend-couples to the point where couples even got nicknames. Ships sailed hard on We Got Married, but after nine years of the same format and brewing fan jealousy, it was time for the broadcast station to move on to greater things. Or at least they had hoped for greater things, but sadly 16 episodes of Oppa Thinking was enough for MBC to think it’s time for a change and pull the plug. Ratings were off to a bleak start at 3.3% but became absolutely abysmal towards the end at 1.5%. For a major network, this is a big setback in their pride and role in the variety world. Adding salt to injury is the producers and cameramen strike happening now at MBC and KBS, the biggest in the history of Korean television. Looks like viewers are going to have to wait longer until we hear the sound of laughter ringing through our homes again.