More melodramatic magic!
Penthouse: The War on Life is Korea’s latest Majestic/Melodrama, and it’s a dramatic feast! With a total of three seasons and many dramatic plot points, Penthouse has taken the year 2021 by storm, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down anytime soon.
If you’re done with this one and looking for something similar, we’ve searched the archives and saved 10 choices for you to look at as an alternative.
To make it easier for scrim readers, we have added the similarities.
Of course, we’ve also included a handy link for all the series we’ve reviewed, so you can read our thoughts on the series and see if it’s something you want to waste your time on.
So without further ado, here are 10 TV shows that should whet your appetite after watching Penthouse: The War on Life.
Similarities – characters and tone
Sky Castle has one of the best ratings on the channel (almost 24.5% in the finale) and for good reason. It is a remarkable result, especially when we look back and see that the first episode of the series only got a meager 1%.
The satirical drama revolves around four housewives who live in an exclusive residential area and are desperately trying to get their children into college despite everything.
Though simple in theory, an examination of Sky Castle’s class and culture partially explains why the series works as well as it does. At the same time, many reflections spark discussions about parental pressure to excel in school, mixed with the usual dose of high mahjang (a Korean term for surreal melodrama), making Sky Castle one of Korea’s best dramas.
Agreements – Large Ensemble
Considered one of the best plays in Korean drama, Reply 1988 is a true journey into the past – and perfect for erasing the bitterness of Penthouse life. Tucked away among other similar dramas, Reply 1988 stands out for its lighthearted tone, but finds its strength in its characters, all of whom are well-written and rich in dramatic moments.
There are also surreal and hilarious moments (“Aigoo Kim Sajang!”) that mingle with the most heartfelt and moving parts of this expansive story.
Divided into four different families and hailed as one of the most accurate depictions of Korean life, the 20 episode series is divided into long episodes that follow a good dozen characters from 1988 to 1994. There is also a mix of romance, comedy and drama, meaning Firefly Lane fans should love this series.
Read our reflections on the 1988 response in our recap of the full season here!
Common Ground – Romance, Characters and Mystery
The Korean drama “Fine Friends” is a mature and surprisingly suspenseful thriller. The story revolves around a loving husband, Gun-chul, who goes out of his way late at night in an apartment. Then it turns to the corpse of a man named Kang.
While his friends all cover for him and the real killer remains unknown, a game of “guess who” begins as the events of that night slowly unfold.
Despite a disappointing ending, Graceful Friends offers you a very good detective story and definitely keeps you guessing until the end. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely worth a look if you like something more mature and trendy.
Read our thoughts on Beautiful Friends in our full season review here!
Big little lies
Similarities – characters who keep secrets
Although the pointless second season dilutes the experience a bit, the first season of Big Little Lies comes very close to being a perfect story. With incredible acting, a mystery that slowly unfolds, and amazing revelations in 7 episodes, Big Little Lies is without a doubt one of the best miniseries in recent memory.
The story essentially follows three mothers and their families. A struggling Madeline struggles with her children growing up and no longer needing her, while she struggles with conflicting feelings toward her current husband Ed.
There is also some tension between Nathan and his new wife Bonnie, as Jane struggles to find her son Ziggy again after he moves to the city, accused of biting Renata’s daughter at school. Their feud is the glue that holds everything together, but there’s a much darker central mystery here.
And she comes in the form of Celeste, who seems to have a perfect life with her twin sons and her handsome husband Perry. Unfortunately, beneath this painful veil of laughter and smiles lies an unstable relationship based on violence and fear. It’s something to behold.
You can read our thoughts on La Grande Petite Cuillère in our full season review here!
The similarities – the characters, the romance and the mystery.
If you haven’t seen Desperate Housewives, you’re missing out. At first glance, it looks like a simple trashy soap opera with few redeeming qualities.
Only Under the Hood is a fascinating and entertaining show that weaves many mysteries and truths through the lives of girlfriends in a suburban neighborhood.
The mysterious suicide of a neighbor is the catalyst for all this gossip, but it quickly becomes reality in a surprisingly convincing way.
Similarities – Dark Tint
With many imperfect characters, Extracurricular adds a slightly different spice to this kind of teen drama, increasing the pace and tension in the episodes.
The story itself revolves around Ji-su, a model student in the eyes of teachers and other students. He keeps a low profile, has no friends, and spends most of his days taking exams and going unnoticed.
Behind this façade, however, is a darker side of Ji Soo’s personality, revealed as early as the first episode, and made worse when his brain closure surgery goes horribly wrong.
Well written and compelling, it’s really worth watching – even on Netflix.
Read our thoughts on extracurricular activities in our full seasonal overview here!
The world of the married man
The similarities are business and revenge.
Married World is the most watched drama in the history of Korean cable television, and for good reason. An excellent Korean adaptation of the British series “Dr. Foster,” the series manages to strike a balance between well-written characters and a plot that develops over time. While the exciting story is central, “Married World” continues to develop over the weeks.
The story here revolves primarily around a married couple whose mutual betrayal leads to a whirlwind of revenge, grief, forgiveness and healing.
The lead actress, Kim Hee Ae, won the award for Best Actress at the Baeksang Arts Awards, and the series also won the award for Best Director. It is definitely one of the best Korean dramas of 2020 to watch.
Similarities – characters and tone
Estate is another great HBO series about the Roy family, who are the dysfunctional owners of Waystar RoyCo, a global media and hospitality empire. Their struggle for control of the company is undermined when the health of family patriarch Logan Roy deteriorates. When he leaves his post, it changes everything.
Funny as hell, toxic and full of annoying characters you love to hate. Legacy is a delightfully well-written series and highly recommended again if you liked Penthouse.
Hyde, Jekyll, I…
Agreements – Mental Health
The film presents itself as an eccentric comedy: Hyde, Jekyll, I dive deeper and ask some pretty deep questions about split personality disorders. This alone elevates this Korean drama above mediocrity and makes it a worthy commentary on mental health. Penthouse fans can see similar themes surrounding Joo Dan Tae’s past.
The main plot revolves around Ku Se-jin, who turns out to be a man with a split personality disorder. One of his personalities is as cold as Hyde and the other as sweet as Jekyll. Not surprisingly, the show takes on a romantic tone. Although some of the final episodes are a bit slow, the drama is still a joy to watch.
A worthy woman
The similarities are the story and the tone….
Serious, dramatic and spread over 20 episodes, Woman of Dignity is another great success of Korean drama. The series follows Ah Jin, a beautiful woman who enjoys her luxurious life by marrying into a wealthy family. Through her insight, she discovers the truth about President Ahn, who turns out to be her stepfather and the head of the household.
When the couple is looking for family help, they stumble upon the simple but sophisticated Bok-ju, who seems to be a perfect fit for their family. But Bok-ju has other plans and, after seducing President Ahn, wants to take over the leadership of the family.
With strong power themes, it is ultimately the dynamics between the characters that make this book so compelling. The story itself is not bad, but the main attraction here is the characters, all of whom do a good job with their roles.
Next we offer 10 TV series if you watched Penthouse: The War on Life on Wiki.
What do you think of our selection? Do you agree with it? Are there any glaring omissions? Let us know in the comments below!
Click here to see more TV series recommendations!
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