Sh**ting Stars (Korean: 별똥별; RR: Byeolttongbyeol) is a 2022 South Korean television series starring Lee Sung-kyung and Kim Young-dae. It premiered on tvN on April 22, 2022, and aired every Friday and Saturday at 22:40 (KST) with 16 episodes. It is also available for streaming on iQIYI in selected regions.
The series is about the romantic love story of top star Gong Tae-sung sharing a love-hate relationship with Oh Han-byul, the PR team leader of his management agency Starforce Entertainment.
Sh**ting Stars shine lights on behind-the-scenes people who prop talents up and clean up after their mess, from the agency perspective, Starforce. At the center of it all are top star Gong Tae-sung (Kim Young-dae) and head of PR Oh Han-byeol (Lee Sung-kyung). Who always bicker whenever they meet. Or rather, it’s him pestering her at every turn and her putting up with his nuisance…out of professionalism. Rumor has it that it all started six years ago, after she published an article with a typo’d headline of his new project, which made him barrel into the office and lash out at the PR department.
The rumor that got me curious of their dynamics, however, was their history as campus couple. Like, isn’t it intriguing that the alleged old flames end up working at the same entertainment agency? That could explain their cat-and-mouse dynamics but also made their past relationship more dubious. He is still all over her while she is a bit too cool — or immune? — toward his prowl… for them to be exes.
Their true history is peeled layer by layer as the episodes go on, while their heart is shown through movie not-dates: she stealing glances at him then, he now. They probably catch feelings for the other at different timing, but i wonder when/why she folded hers since he seems to be fishing for her attention/compliment and covering for her since forever. It wasn’t due to his diva-like reaction to her rookie mistake, though, but as early as three years ago, when his chumminess with her and ideal type description closely matching her naturally got her hopes up… then cruelly dashed when he ended up dating a costar instead. Oof. I totally felt for her. And side-eyed him.
However, he turns out to have been into her as long as she has, but only realizes it in episode 6, after hearing about his new manager Byun Jung-yeol’s (Jin Ho-eun) love story. Like, seriously? A national boyfriend dubbed ‘kissing scenes master’ needs to be prompted to realize his feelings for someone whose leg he has pulled for a decade?
Despite the much belated aha moment, he’s quick to accept it and decide to confess, then readily plan the timing and rehearse iconic lines… with Jung-yeol. Heh. Didn’t expect these two to hit it off this well. Heck, i didn’t even think the newbie would last long given his blunder-laden beginning that frustrated even the kind and patient manager Kang Yoo-sung (Yoon Jong-hoon) and Tae-sung’s tendency to be a handful artist, which chased the previous similarly-smiley new manager away. Fortunately, Jung-yeol has steelier heart and smoother driving skills owing to his tenure as ambulance driver (i wonder why he jumped ship though), which end up getting both men’s stamps of approval.
And i’m thoroughly loving their tandem, especially during their operation
proposal confession. So much so that i wish it would run for longer. To make up for his denseness and Han-byeol’s unwarranted heartbreak.
So, while waiting the entire of episode 7 for Tae-sung to succeed getting his feelings across and watching him failing at every turn no thanks to his past mischiefs, we got lawyer Do Soo-hyuk’s (Lee Jung-shin) instead. He manages to do it in one go, casually, with everyone around at that! Ha.
Although hardly a fan of love triangles, especially when there are enough single characters in the series to go around, i appreciate the cool and direct approach Soo-hyuk goes about it. His confession is smooth, timely, somewhat indirect yet unmistakably clear — and should i add rather swoony? Ahem. He isn’t pushy for answer and barely acting differently toward Oh timjang after the fact, and albeit knowing he’s heading for rejection, i’m digging his petty rivalry with the star (particularly the way he flexes calling her in front of his neighbor who couldn’t bring himself to) and simply savoring it while it lasts.
Hearing that Soo-hyuk beat him to it prompts Tae-sung to ditch all plans and simply go for it the next time he sees Han-byeol. Literally the scene after, thanks to Yoo-sung sending her there on an urgent errand. Hence the random timing and stilted flow, but also stronger reaction from her. She screams and runs off (LOL), yet is visibly fazed.
The ‘motae solo’ female lead hits the jackpot, having two fine men vying for her heart at the same time. It’s obvious whom she’ll choose, though the closing scene of episode 8 wherein she’s running over to meet Gong looks like a fakeout, if only for the lack of two-shot in the same frame. Also because he’s waiting on her out in the open, when he’s spamming her with what looks like movie tickets?
I’ve spent half the post recapping the lovelines, but they’re actually slow-burn-ish as Sh**ting feels more workplace-y so far. PR Department may be the central team, but it also covers the overall management, scouting practices, trainee life, as well as the media side. The work aspects are arguably exaggerated for effect, e.g. how agency staff are unable to date or undergo medical checkup in peace as there are always crises or scandals to attend to, and on stand by 24/7 for their talents; or how reporters are putting their lives on the line for scoops, that Jo Ki-ppeum (Sojin) has to be literally dragged to the surgery room since she won’t stop typing.
There are also plot points that could’ve been turnoffs but somehow didn’t irk me that much:
1) The volunteer program in Africa which is such a generalization. But it did make me wonder if he took it to retreat from the spotlight for some personal/trauma issues, or assume he was a selfless person.
2) Stuck-up top star. Tae-sung displayed those traits in the early episodes, and became much more accommodating when Han-byeol was around.
3) Borderline sexual harassment angle, when he began to strip to prove he wasn’t impotent as per her typo, yet was played for comedy.
4) Moderate verbal abuse, when Yoo-sung yelled at Jung-yeol for a noob mistake in front of everyone.
5) Smarmy ex-Starforce manager Han Dae-soo (Kim Dae-gon) and the rich brat rookie Jin Yuna (Lee Si-woo) who could’ve been the characters to hate.
I’ve warmed up to most characters by now, including the gossipy PR team, but i’m still on the fence about Yuna (her getting the role due to the casting team thinking her real-life attitude was an act during audition is a farce) or her loveline with fellow rookie actor Yoon Jae-hyun (Shin Hyeon-seung) as i consider him too nice for her, but their on-set friction is amusing, albeit giving their respective managers headaches. Case in point: the kissing scene they approach while grimacing… it’s a wonder to be okayed.
The other loveline is between Yoo-sung and bodyguard-turned-manager Park Ho-young (Kim Yoon-hye) which i didn’t anticipate either. Because he’s amiable to everyone and she’s respectful toward him, until a scene where she looks at him with stars in her eyes and he starts head-patting her as he leaves. Hmm.
Given the showbiz setting, we’re getting lots of cameos. I mean A LOT and they just keep coming. Sometimes i didn’t even realize it (some appear in more than one scene, and i’m simply delighted to see familiar faces here and there) until they didn’t return in subsequent episodes.
And despite the nitty gritty, i don’t spot many potential conflicts besides Tae-sung’s mommy issues, possible public scrutiny of his dating news, and the two-faced house assistant. Why did he decide to enter the same industry as his mother (Choi Ji-woo) if that’s what made her abandon her family? And why does he keep watching her movies if it only makes him rage-cry? Also, what hidden agenda does Ahjumma (So Hee-jung) have by working at his place if she’s super rich and ‘lacing’ his food? I hope there’s nothing else she puts besides ginormous amount of salt.
Those aside, Sh**ting has been an entertaining watch that does make me snicker from time to time. The day-to-day hectic worklife is dynamic enough i hardly skip anything. The random trivia and guest stars add a sense of realism to the show. The lovelines are quite a tease, i’m itching for more. And i’m enjoying the ride as it is — chaos, blunders, exaggeration, glitz and all.