Gender-swap roles in the K-drama world aren't new anymore but how they presented the whole drama was really interesting to watch. The usual gender-swap dramas usually look for the person with their body or soul and team-up on how to overcome it. But in Mr. Queen the two souls that have been swapped and never had an opportunity to meet to talk about what's happening with them, made it stood out. This uniquely wacky fantasy time-travel fusion historical drama brings together a complex mix of elements, for the most part pulling it off. It weaves together pathos and humor, drama and romance, modern sensibilities, and Joseon mores in a way that feels both organic and surprising.
Lead actress Shin Hye Sun was made for this role. The great thing was that she went all in for the role. Her mannerisms were very funny including her acting out Choi JinHyuk’s more manly personality while in the Queen’s body. Shin Hye Sun’s dramatic chops are as robust as her comedic ones, playing love, betrayal, anger, and grief to a perfect pitch that never tips over into overacting. Shin's outstanding performance in portraying the medieval-era queen, who has the mentality of a modern chef but has to serve royal duties for the kingdom, and the ensemble of the other cast were more than enough to entertain coronavirus-weary viewers, drawing them to home screens. Her portrayal is so brilliant you’d actually believe that there’s a cocky man inside her, delivering much of the drama’s knee-slapping moments.
Kim Jung-Hyun is also very good as a king who’s lived for years in an invisible cage, fighting to protect his people and his loved ones against stronger and more ruthless enemies. He is known as a puppet king who only rules in name due to his limited power. He comes off as not very bright, but in reality, he is very smart. Most people in the Royal court assume that he is dumb, weak, ignorant, and can be easily manipulated, but actually, he plans to find shreds of evidence to punish the corrupt officials. Since his marriage was arranged by the enemy clan, he doesn’t trust his wife at all and sees her as another corrupted person in his Kingdom. But, slowly things start to take an unexpected turn when the eccentric personality of the Queen and her actions start to draw the attention of the King.
Even though Choi JinHyuk portrayed Jang Bong Hwan for a short time, he slayed those scenes too. His master-level flattery using his cooking skills, which is good enough to be the chef of the Blue House, as he butters up the person with the highest power within the palace. Jang Bong Hwan has a modern mindset and attitude, lives on his own pride, and is quite obsessed with his masculinity. At the beginning of the drama, as his soul swapped with So Yong, it causes turmoil as she breaks the taboo of the palace with completely changed behaviors, giving a big laugh. All throughout the drama, we watched how Jang Bong Hwan struggled to figure out how to adapt to the entirely new world and body.
‘Mr. Queen’ may have gone into criticism for not portraying the Joseon era accurately as it was actually fictional. However, that didn't let damage the resounding ratings the show has gotten since its inception. According to Nielsen Korea via Soompi, the hit drama scored an average nationwide rating of 14.5 percent and a peak of 17.1 percent, taking first place in its time slot across all channels including public broadcast networks, and setting a new personal record. Not only did the ratings mark a new personal record for the series, but it also made “Mr. Queen” the drama with the fifth-highest ratings in the history, bested only by “Crash Landing on You,” “Goblin,” “Reply 1988,” and “Mr. Sunshine.” “Mr. Queen” also reached a new all-time high among the key demographic of viewers ages 10s to their 50s, with whom it scored an average nationwide rating of 8.5 percent and a peak of 9.6 percent.
This drama will give you unstoppable laughs. Mr. Queen’s perfectly-timed humor effortlessly welcomes you to a momentary escape from the harsh realities of life, especially with the current pandemic keeping us secluded indoors. The drama is replete with witty punchlines, a queer sense of humor, and funny antics without being contrived, enough to give you all the laughs—the kind we badly need in this time of the pandemic. Mr. Queen is pure comedy at its best. It was so much fun to see the series filled with epic moments by Bong-hwan inside the Queen’s body. Not to mention the reactions of people around her, totally confused with her actions and vocabulary, it was hilarious!
Overall, Mr. Queen was a solid watch. It excelled with the humor and laughs with Shin Hye Sun shining in her role as the Queen. The palace intrigue propelled the plot along quite well. People who aren't really period drama fans will enjoy watching this! You have to watch Mr. Queen if you need a good laugh or are looking for something lighthearted to watch after a long day at work.
* Rumaiysa M Rahman is a 10th grader at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, Dhaka