Teenage love stories are almost always magical, mostly because we never get tired of the feeling of first love, the benchmark it sets, and the lessons it teaches. It is also the time when most people are learning to navigate their way with the opposite sex, the right way to handle romantic relationships, or which feelings can lead to what kind of outcomes. It is all a sweet look at things that are pretty fail-safe, as long as one doesn’t get too carried away with how interesting they are. We have established in our previous reviews of this series that Nineteen To Twenty did not really teach the kids any real-life skills. The focus of Nineteen To Twenty, right from the beginning, was romance, and the only reason it did not work was because it was not entertaining. However, this is not the kids’ fault. The format of the show is what let them down, along with us.
It was a given that, considering the ages of the participants, Nineteen To Twenty was never going to venture too far into either the feelings or commitment areas. That is for a different show. People who are aware of Korean reality TV could have guessed that. Emotions are never running high at any point in time, and the disappointments that the participants encounter, be it on Nineteen To Twenty or Single’s Inferno, is dealt with with grace and dignity. This is not a criticism but an observation that staged emotions will lead to empty and superficial reactions. Probably because of that, we felt that Jung Yun was the most authentic. He was the guy who went to an all-boys school and was having trouble interacting with the girl he liked. But from our perspective, he was the only one who behaved naturally in terms of feelings when it came to showing or expressing them in front of so many cameras with such a huge audience watching.
Additionally, was anyone else irked by the whole play of the Dream date? What we mean is that should the first part of the show, where the kids were not allowed to date, have had an orchestrated dream career for them to justify the premise of the show and give some more meaning to the whole dream date concept? It might be a needlessly petty observation, but at the age the kids are, love is not going to be at the forefront of their priorities. They are going to have to figure so many things out, from their class schedules to how to take care of themselves, in addition to navigating the delicate area where they are considered adults but have yet to start adulting. Love as an emotion supports them at that time, but it is not what guides them through it or waves a magic wand to make it all disappear. Whether you find true love in that house or at that age, it is one of the many things in life, and if Nineteen to Twenty was really an educational show, it would have taught that to the kids.
However, we must give points to the hosts for their commitment to convincing the audience that the show was interesting. Cho Kyu Hyun may be our favorite because he was the only one who noticed things contrary to the other hosts, like when Seo Hyeon called the amusement park date a dream because she did not have to wait in line for the French Revolution ride, whereas Sang Woo was excited about spending time with her. It was sad and funny at the same time because Sang Woo’s energy and laughter were precious, and it was honestly disheartening to see him not get the result he wanted. A date becomes a dream only when it has a fruitful outcome. Sorry, we don’t make the rules. But we’ve got a bit of Korean pop culture education here. We were aware that amusement park dates were a staple of Korean dramas, but we did not realize that it had all been started by Stairway to Heaven, a drama that aired way back in 2003–2004 and established parks and amnesia into the fabric of Korean dramas.
As the reality show drew to an end, we found that the only reason we did not like it was because it had remained dull throughout. Probably if it had been a few episodes shorter and the students had learned some real lessons that would have given them some deeper perspectives of the person they may or may not have liked, the quality of this show would have been much higher. At the end of the day, we really did not understand which couples or people to root for, and the ones we did were because they had been together since the beginning or for longer than 3 episodes. This comparison by us might be overdone, but we are thinking about the dates on Single’s Inferno, where we understood the attraction between the couples and why some of them clicked while others didn’t. Couples that seemed impossible created chemistry with their personalities, and that is why the audience felt interested in their stories. We understand that expecting such a thing from participants who are literal kids is unfair, but then, what was the point of Nineteen to Twenty at all? It just failed to meet the standard.
In the final episode of Nineteen to Twenty, as the kids reflected on what their time in the house and the school meant, we were curious to know what they would say because, for the life of us, we could not understand what they got from all this. They certainly never learned any life skills in the school in the few days they were there, nullifying half the purpose of the show. Then, when it came to dating, how was it any different from what they would have done in their real lives anyway? Despite our best efforts, our opinion of Nineteen to Twenty has not changed, right from its first episode to its thirteenth. This is a serious waste of time, and unless the makers sharpen the format, there is no point of a Season 2.