‘Goodbye Earth’ Review: Do You Need Yet Another Apocalyptic Series On Your List?


The literal translation of the Korean name of the Netflix’s series Goodbye Earth is “Doomsday Fool.” I suppose once you hear that title, the whole show becomes much clearer. If you’re one who loves American apocalyptic films, then I’d say Goodbye Earth will cast the genre in a new light for you. However, if you’ve dabbled in the world of K-dramas, then you’ll know that this show isn’t really bringing anything new to the table. I won’t lie and say that this show impressed me in any way. In fact, I found myself disappointed by the deceptive mandu of juicy meaty apocalypse offering up a bland mix of crime, religion, and love. It’s funny because the Koreans have always been a step ahead when it comes to doomsday films and shows. Take, for example, Train to Busan, Sweet Home, or even, in a strange way, Squid Game. They all brought something new to the table. However, it seems like there’s a level of arrogance and a certainty that a show about a dying world is somehow going to be a hit. I’m personally growing a little tired of it. It doesn’t matter if you give me a striking cast and a plot line inspired by a popular Japanese novel from 2006. I’m still going to feel bored because the journey is kind of given. Goodbye Earth is a dystopian crime show that tells the story of the people of Woongchun City who are faced with an asteroid that will hit Korea in about 200 days. With doomsday just around the corner, the people of Woongchun plan survival together for a hopeful and happy ending. 

As it goes, there has to be a traumatic incident for a new hero to be born, and then we watch as the hero’s arc takes them on a beautiful journey that is both heartbreaking and strengthening. In this show, our hero is a middle school teacher named Se-Kyung, played with grit by Ahn Eun-Jin. I must admit her range is quite fantastic, and she’s going to go a long way after this one. Besides her, there’s a plethora of characters that pull the story together, but I suppose with so much happening, you don’t really feel the impact of anybody. Yoo Ah-In’s Yun-Sang is a scientist, but we don’t really see him do any science. I’m quite certain that, minus one plot twist with him at the center of it, he’s kind of an add-on who isn’t necessary. Kim Yoon-Hye’s Kang In-A is a character who stands out. She’s got great acting chops and does well as a military leader who has to deal with insubordination as a woman in a position of power (wow, how new!). Jeon Sung-Woo is, how do I put this, kind of regal as the priest Woo Sung-Jae, who grapples with his identity as a priest, what’s right and what he’s meant to do. I suppose the kids are all fantastic, and there’s a special emphasis on Kim Do-Hye’s Ha-Yul. But both Kim Kang-Hoon and Kim Bo-Min do a good job as well. The adults are all actors we’ve been watching for many years, and there’s nothing special going on here. The grandmother we love is somewhat of a gray character, and that’s about it. 

I suppose the main trouble here is that because it’s an apocalyptic story, the show tries hard to pack in as much as possible in each episode. That includes characters and subplots. There’s this entire subplot about chickens, and I understand the idea behind it, but I don’t think I care enough to invest time and energy in it. Maybe I’m just bitter and need some happy and fun K-dramas at the moment, but I do think many will agree with me on the fact that this sort of story is getting a little bit tedious. In terms of structure, the show is non-linear and jumps between time periods through each episode, which really throws you off. I mean, the first episode honestly had me so confused that I almost gave up immediately. I guess it’s meant to feel like a warning for something terrible about to happen, but it only leaves one confused and somewhat bored. Additionally, I don’t think Se-Kyung’s subplot is as scintillating as the show presents it to be, and at the end of the day, everything is about morals and platitudes, so the whole thing somewhat comes across as patronizing. And of course, I can’t ignore the anti-abortion bit, which was really unnecessary and completely threw me off. 

Of course, visually, the show has a lot to offer, and it plays out in the same color scheme that all dystopian K-dramas do. Exaggerated greens and a hint of gray make everything look bleak and gloomy. Oh, and there’s a healthy dose of pathetic fallacy with an occasional bout of shower and snow to make it literally cold, both in appearance and in thought. The soundtrack is decent and, again, at the fear of repeating myself, completely ordinary. 

I guess if you’re willing to spend 12 hours of your time on a show that’s somewhat mid-tempo but has good acting, then I’d say you can watch Goodbye Earth. However, if you’re looking for something exciting and somewhat thrilling based on the trailer and the plot synopsis of this show, then I’d say steer clear because it will be disappointing. Oh, and obviously, the real monsters are humans! Though there’s no monster in this show, it’s an asteroid, but you know what I mean. One can say that the human nature of the series is what makes it worth a watch, but I can say the same thing about all the other films and series I’ve listed earlier and more. Despite all the death and devastation, I did not find myself saddened by Goodbye Earth because, with more and more of these shows coming out, I’ve become somewhat jaded to this kind of emotional damage, and that’s a terrible thing to admit. You give me so many complicated characters and twists that I think I’d still be underwhelmed if the number of shows kept growing in this manner. Is doomsday actually close? Or is Netflix having a gala time with a genre that keeps getting bigger by the day? I’d have to think about that. At the end of the day, I’d give Goodbye Earth 3 out of 5 stars because technically it flourishes, but as a viewer, I’m not very satisfied. 

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
When not tending to her fashion small business, Ruchika or Ru spends the rest of her time enjoying some cinema and TV all by herself. She's got a penchant for all things Korean and lives in drama world for the most part.

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