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How K-variety makes living less solitary

By OLEEN FLORENDO, The Philippine Star Published Nov 05, 2021 5:00 am

K-variety has steadily been amassing a global and cult following, and for good reason. Its popularity in the Philippine landscape has manifested itself in online communities, fan meets and forums dedicated to each episode. 

My first exposure to it was through South Korea’s longest-running variety show, Running Man. At the onset, it made sense why people were drawn to it: you’re both lulled and entertained by its distinct authenticity. It’s an organic experience that’s hard to come by in our average variety TV fare. 

The pandemic serving as a constant backdrop in our lives has a way of bringing in loneliness. Each passing day feels like it’s further pushing out our dreams of what used to be, but it’s shows like these that open up experiences that virtually lead us out of this confinement. 

My expectations were a few hearty laughs at best, but what I got instead was a reliable form of entertainment with a healing comfort so apt for our times. Young STAR spoke to K-variety fans and listed three shows that you can watch for escapism:

2 Days & 1 Night (2D1N) Season 4 

With a trusty food and travel format, 2D1N spotlights the provinces and flavors of South Korea. Its strongest draw is undoubtedly watching the members’ brotherhood grow and deepen over time. 

There’s a certain warmth from 2D1N that makes it feel like home. It features human connections that feel palpable, albeit on-screen. Almost like an extended family.

More of its magic plays out as the cast members embark on games to get their meals for the day and to win their way out of sleeping outdoors. The stakes and bones of the show seem simple, but each episode is made hilarious with their antics and the time it takes for them to catch on to the rules.

  2 Days 1 Night cast

Michelle Tamula, admin of a Filipino 2D1N fan page, shares, “During days where the stress of our day jobs and the anxiety over this pandemic gets overwhelming, the show somehow takes us out of our isolation. It introduces us to places and people from their country, and lets us taste and see their food and culture. It’s a really immersive experience.”

The page Michelle’s been handling has since grown to an 18,000-strong community. “It’s so great to see how a shared joy for a show gives us ways to connect with other people, especially when most of us have no choice but to stay at home. I think the creators and cast are aware of that need, and it’s the reason this is perfect at a time like this,” she adds.

While this season recently went through a change, there’s no doubt the show will remain what it is: an uplifting bit of cheer to dial down our uncertainties and a companion to find some solace in during bleak times. There’s a certain warmth from 2D1N that makes it feel like home. It features human connections that feel palpable, albeit on-screen. Almost like an extended family. That might sound like a stretch, but it’s truly what it is.

Sixth Sense 

Over the course of two seasons, the banter and dynamic of the cast members is still the defining charm of Sixth Sense. Yoo Jae-suk, known for being SoKor’s National MC, complements the chaotic chemistry and hilarity of his all-female co-cast (Jessi, Lovelyz’ Mijoo, Na-Ra, and So-Min), which would later add actor Sang-yeob in Season 2.

If you’ve ever played Mafia or Among Us, these would practically sum up the format of the show, but this time taken to an extreme.

  Sixth Sense cast 

If you need a little starter, the “Fortune Teller” and “Strange Consultants” episodes were in a league of their own. The latter, funnily, felt like I also went through a therapy session, which minimized the guesswork in pinpointing which location was fabricated.

With Sixth Sense, I get these small pockets of happiness and hope. It’s hard to describe, but you just feel a huge sense of comfort when you watch them and you feel like the world is healing again.

For Adamas Ybañez, a college freshman, it was refreshing to see the cast just freely enjoying themselves, but it was the love line between Jessi and Sang-yeob that pulled her further into the show. “It was a whole new kind of fun from then on from their confessions to the teasing and especially the open support of all the other members.”

The show has turned into Adamas’ happy place. “When the pandemic began, there were so many things in my life that had to change. It was very painful because I was just beginning to settle into the one I knew. I felt so helpless living a life I no longer had control over but with Sixth Sense, I get these small pockets of happiness and hope. It’s hard to describe, but you just feel a huge sense of comfort when you watch them and you feel like the world is healing again.” 

Sea of Hope

I picked this up after seeing Rosé’s cover of John Mayer’s Slow Dancing in a Burning Room. It was making rounds on the internet, and the sound of waves crashing on the shore, while their performance amplified the serenity, had me sold. It’s one thing to promise healing, and another to actually capture it.

Sea of Hope cast

The show provides a short escape, a little form of bliss by the sea. It comes through in its rawness, coupled with sumptuous food, live music stages, and good company. It’s the perfect formula for anyone in need to virtually zoom out. 

Vian, a fan of SHINee’s Onew, was also enamored by the concept of the show. “Watching it feels like a good break from reality. Onew and the cast convey their emotions so well through singing. This show just simply radiates hope and healing.” 

The show’s concept may seem like a multitude of things at once. As it provides an escape for its viewers, it also wishes to underline an environmental message — to keep our seas clean and safe. But it was Suhyun and Dong-wook unofficially getting their roles as the parents of the group that sustained their chemistry as a cast.

It’s a show that conjures a setting and the kind of connections we’re all salivating over at a time like this. They’re not exactly professionals in manning a bar, but watching the cast learn the ropes and try to serve a calming experience to every guest is worthwhile. 

Watch episodes of 2D1N and Sixth Sense on Viu and clips of Sea of Hope on their YouTube channel.