Ever since Extracurricular dropped on Netflix back in April 2020, I’ve been eager to watch it and I have to say, I’m so mad at myself for not watching it sooner.
This show follows Oh Ji-soo (Kim Dong-hee), a high school student who is engaged in a life of crime in order to graduate and escape a dead-end life. Along the way, things are thrown into chaos when someone from school finds out about his illegal side-business and from then on, things continue to get more dangerous and risky.
Throughout this review, I won’t be naming the aforementioned illegal side-business, mainly because it’s revealed in episode one and I, personally, found it more interesting to watch the reveal play out. That being said, the business does play a fairly big role in the overall story and is essentially another character in and of itself considering it has its own development as the season progresses. Also, the slightest change to it affects the human characters and vice versa making everything feel connected and raising the stakes throughout.
There is a fair bit of violence throughout Extracurricular as well as bad language and while both could be considered quite severe, honestly, it works. Both help to bring about the darker side of the show but the violence specifically drives home those risks and dangers of the crimes involved and how serious they’re becoming as the season unfolds. On top of that, the action sequences work well with the beat of the show and when mixed with the more emotional scenes, it provides some great momentum as the story progresses.
That being said, there are warnings on Netflix for: sexual violence, sexual threat, violence, and language.
Those more hard-hitting, emotional moments have a lot of force behind them and a lot of that has to go towards the talent of the cast. Within 10 episodes we are introduced to an array of characters but seven make up the main cast. While there’s arguably not enough time to completely flesh out everyone, we get to know them well enough that it’s pretty easy to quickly become invested. I certainly have my favourites as I’m sure a lot of people will but with the main cast being different in terms of personalities, lifestyles, family, and more, none of them feel like carbon copies of the other and instead, they each bring something different to the table. All of which makes them interesting and enjoyable to watch.
There are so many moments throughout the season that give a lot of the cast a chance to really show off their skills. Some moments shared and really drawing in on the amazing dynamics and chemistry throughout and more standalone moments where the attention falls entirely onto one singular character. While there is a lot of action that definitely requires specific skills and talents, sometimes those hard-hitting, pivotal moments really fall on something as stripped back as a character’s body language or facial expressions. Every actor — even those whose character I may not have cared that much for — was amazing to watch and I found I never wanted to skip anyone’s scenes.
While I’m reluctant to say the pacing and structure are perfect, as mentioned before, the story is constantly moving forward. Extracurricular has the right amount of highs with some lows mixed in that help to bring the tension and drama back down to a more settled level, allowing the audience to take a breath but not lose too much of that momentum before we’re thrown back into the thick of it. With that being said, there are really no wasted moments and there was never a temptation to skip any scenes.All in all, Extracurricular is a wonderful show. The finale is a bit open-ended (which makes me hope for another season) but it still manages to close up a lot of things and it feels more like the closing of a chapter than just an incomplete story. There’s definitely places the show can go but season one alone is worth the watch regardless of whether there’s more to come or not.