Original Release Date on Netflix: April 18, 2019 (Season 1) and July 26, 2019 (Season 2)
FYI – I am writing this review in 2021, but I watched in back in 2019 when it first aired. I have no desire to rewatch it, so we are going off of memory here and my partial notes I wrote on my google doc after I watched it way back when.
When he attends college, Yun Tae-o’s parents let him live alone in his grandfather’s house. Three of his friends seek him out to live with him when they have nowhere else to go. Along with another college friend, the five of them navigate love and find themselves.
UGH NETFLIX WHHHHYYYY??? Why are you messing with the Korean Drama format? There was no reason for this drama to be cut into 2 seasons. I hated that they did that to Love Alarm too, but at least with that drama, there was a flash-forward in time and a natural break in the timeline. But with My First First Love, it made no sense, it picked up where it left off. Why not just run it through? What did the 3-month break do except irritate your viewers?
It may have been partially the break in the seasons, but I had a completely different viewing experience from Season 1 to Season 2. I absolutely loved Season 1. It was a cute funny cohabitation/coming-of-age drama. But in Season 2, it took a nosedive with the handling of the love triangle and massive second lead syndrome set in. I actually got angry at this drama and I wished I never even started it.
But first, what I enjoyed in the first season. There wasn’t much plot, it simply was about five friends and their interactions together and their everyday lives. I’m okay with shows that don’t have much of a plot, as long as the show keeps us engaged and entertained with their characters. In the first half, it did as we learned about the personalities of each of the cast.
Yun Tae-o played by Ji Soo. He is personable and goofy and the girls love him. He has lived a relatively carefree life and hasn’t had many challenges. His parents spoil him by letting him live in his grandfather’s own house to live the college bachelor life at the young age of 20. He is childhood friends with Han Song-I and takes care of her in his own brotherly way.
Han Song I played by Jung Chae Yeon. After her father dies and her mom abandons her, she is left on her own, but eventually gets evicted from her house. With nowhere to go, she eventually finds her way to Tae-o’s house where she temporarily lives.
Jung Jin Young played by Seo Do Hyeon. He is Tae-o’s college friend. He is the only one that doesn’t live at the house. He is hardworking, sweet, and kind to Song-I and they eventually start a relationship. I loved him so much.
O Ga Rin played by Choi Ri. She is a rich spoiled girl who wants freedom from her family and runs away to Tae-o’s house. She’s naïve and bubbly and endearing.
Choe Hun played by Kang Tae Oh. A friend of Tae-o, his wealthy parents kick him out of the house after he drops out of college to pursue a career as a musical actor. He is super adorable. He was also really adorable as a secondary character in Run On and in Doom at Your Service. When is he going to get his lead role?!
Being mostly a character-driven drama, all five of the cast are pretty well fleshed out and growth is seen over the series.
Where things went wrong for me is the handling of the love triangle between Tae-o, Son-I, and Jin Young. The show spent too long shipping Son-I and Jin Young together. In fact, the entire first season and into the second season were with them as a couple. I really loved them together. They brought out the best in each other and genuinely cared for each other. In the meantime, the show showed over and over the platonic brother-sister relationship of Tae-o. So it really was mind-boggling how in the second season, suddenly there was a personality shift. Jin Young became more of a noble idiot and selfish. And Son-I suddenly felt romantic for Tae-o. But their on-screen chemistry was nil and I just didn’t feel it. I felt insulted as a viewer.
I’m not sure if the writers misjudged the chemistry Son-I and Jin Young would have on-screen and the lack of chemistry she would have with Tae-o, but none of it felt right. It felt like the script forced a character change that was not organic and that made me mad. In reading other comments, a ton of other people felt the same as me, so I know I am not in the minority here. Also, the ones that seemed to be happy that she ended up with Tae-o were more about the actor Jisoo. They were happy that he finally got the girl after so many supporting/second lead roles. But it had nothing to do with his character and whether the character should have ended up with her. It also was upsetting that by the end, we hardly saw Jin Young and the writers discarded him because his purpose to drive the leads together was done. How insulting to him and the viewers.
*spoiler alert over*
This is My First First Love had a strong Season 1 start. The premise was not new but it was fun and engaging. The characters were well developed and endearing. It felt like you were having a sneak peek into their lives. But with the second season, the writers took the characters in a direction that wasn’t like them, forced a romance on us that lacked chemistry, and basically threw away a beloved character that we hardly saw towards the end.
This is two strikes Netflix on your attempt to redo the Kdrama format by breaking it into 2 seasons: This is My First First Love and Love Alarm. Don’t you dare ruin Arthdal Chronicles when Season 2 comes out!
On a tangent. I wanted to address Ji Soo’s school bullying controversy since this may be the last drama I ever write about him being in. This aired in 2019, two years before the allegations against him being a school bully came to light. I honestly was not following this case closely, nor do I know what accusations are true or not. In general, I’m a little on the fence about canceling culture and actors or kpop idols having their lives canceled due to indiscretions in their youth. As a high school counselor, I am appalled by extreme acts of bullying. I really struggle through any Kdrama that depicts school violence is a somewhat glorified light (I’m looking at you Boys Over Flowers). I am in no way excusing his actions and he does deserve a consequence for them. But, as a high school counselor, I also fundamentally believe that people can change and grow.
I believe that a lot of students are partially products of their parents, peer groups, and society around them. It’s not until they have certain life experiences, get exposed to other people from diverse backgrounds, and basically mature, do sometimes their moral compasses recalibrate. I’ve had many students come back to me 2-5 years after they graduate to apologize to me or their teachers about what a “bad” kid they were. I always tell them, you weren’t even bad, you just made some bad choices. But now they are living a life where they make good choices and reflect and grow from their teenage selves. Who am I to freeze them in time and label them as bad because of some actions of theirs in high school?
But I also believe there are some actions that are criminal like sex assault that crosses the line and I could never idolize an actor or musician knowing what he did in his personal life. So I do understand and agree when some people get canceled from public life. Idols and celebrities are held to a higher standard than others because they have so much influence over their fans. However, it does bother me when celebrities get attacked immediately off of a rumor or are canceled due to a personal relationship that is none of our business as fans. I do think that Korea can hold them to an unreal standard whereas in America we sometimes are a little more forgiving. Conversely, America also should hold their celebrities to higher standards like Korea, because who gets idolized in this country is sometimes appalling to me. Both countries could learn a little from each other.
As for Jisoo’s case, I’m really not positive what exactly happened and what is true. Nor do I really care that much, he wasn’t a favorite actor of mine. I do however think that his previous dramas should not be judged or canceled because of his personal issues. I felt bad for the River Where the Moon Rises cast and crew when his controversy broke. A lot of people put a lot of hard work into creating these dramas. I know that statement may sound ironic since I just said to skip this drama. But I want to clarify, I say skip it because I really didn’t like it, not anything to do with Jisoo’s controversy!