Exploring the renaissance of mid-form and short-form dramas: A new era of lighter narratives

Exploring the renaissance of mid-form and short-form dramas: A new era of lighter narratives.

Mid-form dramas, running around 2 to 30 minutes, are making various attempts. Here, a domestic short-form drama platform, Topless, is betting on the “dopamine stimulus” of ‘2-minute dramas,’ expanding the possibilities of mid-form and short-form dramas.

Unlike long dramas of around 1 hour, attempts to capture niches with short mid-form dramas of 2 to 30 minutes have already been made. Earlier, KakaoTV presented various mid-form dramas such as the “Yeonnam-dong 539” series, “Lovestruck in the City,” “Mad for Each Other,” and “Welcome to Wedding Hell,” forming a rapport with viewers.

Fast-paced romance of 'Lovestruck in the City' captures audience -  Entertainment - The Jakarta Post

Already, “Lovestruck in the City” and “Mad for Each Other” lowered the entry barrier by lightly depicting the romantic relationships of young men and women. Meanwhile, the “Yeonnam-dong 539” series and “Welcome to Wedding Hell” presented the stories of married couples or couples about to marry in a realistic manner, providing empathy. Lightly unraveling everyday subjects while infusing realism to guide choices was one of the main strategies of mid-form dramas.

Mad For Each Other(Ep.1-13)-Ep.1-English subtitles & More -Korean drama-HiTV

Drama 2022] Welcome to Wedding Hell/ Marriage White Paper, 결혼백서 - Page 2 -  k-dramas & movies - Soompi Forums

In addition, Tving received significant attention with “Work Now, Drink Later,” which portrayed the daily lives and friendships of women in their 30s in an enjoyable way. The continuous attempts of mid-form dramas were based on the “flexibility” of OTT platforms, where there are no constraints on running time.

Work Later, Drink Now 2 - AsianWiki

However, due to the limitations of subjects, it was difficult to consistently produce hit works, and even KakaoTV, considered a leader in mid-form dramas, failed to produce significant hit works except for the “Yeonnam-dong Lovers” series. Currently, KakaoTV has suspended its service.

In the midst of this, LG Uplus is targeting niches again with “Well-made Mid-form” dramas. It also achieved surprising success by presenting genre pieces focusing on teenagers in short lengths.

By starting with the unique imagination of “Chicken Nuggets,” Netflix expanded the genre “diversity” with the original series “Chicken Nuggets,” a “strange” comedy characteristic of director Lee Byeong-hun, gaining praise.

Chicken Nugget (TV Series 2024– ) - IMDb

Furthermore, recently launched short-form drama platform Topless promises fast-paced development with 2-minute dramas, showing a clear trend of “shorter and lighter.”

Fox Media CEO Jung Ho-young explained the reason for launching Topless as follows: “Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, etc., are trends. They have a significant influence on our daily lives.” He also mentioned the difficult drama market situation, expressing a desire to open up a breakthrough by targeting the global market with short-form dramas in collaboration with domestic production companies.

As CEO Jung’s hope, drama production companies are pleading, “It is difficult to bear the soaring production costs.”

While making efforts to meet the raised standards of viewers and cope with various factors such as the soaring fees of top actors since the emergence of global OTT platforms, they are also expressing difficulties in handling it.

Among them, there is a positive outlook that mid-form and short-form dramas, which lighten the weight and compete with freshness or new attempts, will become new strategic cards. A web drama PD pointed out, “Works with the potential to succeed with large-scale dramas will naturally continue, but recently, cases of success based on word-of-mouth and popularity due to the strength of the work have been consistently occurring.”

He further added, “Efforts to capture viewers’ attention with light but substantial attempts will continue. If this trend continues not with overly light works but with diversity aimed at niches through unique subjects and completeness, it will be even better.”