I recently read an article published late last year. CLOY was the most popular drama in 2020. It attained huge staying power and media coverage throughout the year, especially in international markets. But the writer concluded HB and SYJ mainly were rewarded for their popularity and not acting achievement. The main CLOY awards won were by popular fan votes and not for the content, script or acting of the show.

The writer opined that CLOY became a phenomenon solely based on beautiful fashion, a trapped romantic motif and the good looks of the leads.Viewers dismissed the unbelievable premise, huge plot holes, and simple characterizations for pure escapism.

The shows general themes seem to hit home during pandemic lock down. The writer thought (and infers their peers agree) that the actors had a muted opportunity to show their best acting skills and their chemistry was less than viewers amped it up to be because viewers needed in troubled times to have a simple fairy tale.

Popularity is the state or condition of being liked, admired or supported by many people. Professional achievement is being acknowledged by your peers for doing something successfully with great skill and talent. I can see the difference between the two concepts. I can also see how the two concepts can be perceived as the same thing. There is a subjective baseline. There may be a highly popular actor who does not have very much talent. There may be a highly talented actor who does not have much popularity. Popularity is a double edged sword.

“It was around 8 or 9 years ago,” Gong Hyo Jin said in an article, she thought she would not be able to become an actress for a long time. “That’s when I realized something,” she continued. “I really love this job but I’m very afraid of the loneliness that I will feel when the public starts leaving me so I start getting ready to let go of everything.” The fear of losing popularity can have an adverse career effect and be a drain on your personal life.

Popularity and public support are important to actors. It gives them an opportunity to continue to work. But it gives them a great deal of pressure in a vacuum of self-doubt. Does the public like me for my acting performances or superficial things like my appearance, my lifestyle or public persona?

Another commentator remarked that it was odd HB and SYJ continue to promote CLOY almost a year after the series ended. Their personal popularity grew immensely. It was because they broke the fourth wall to make their characters fairy tale romance that viewers fell for . . . real. The massive SNS fan attention has blurred CLOY and reality into a surreal continuation of the show.

A star may be standing on a mountain top of popularity. But fads fade; public support changes. Over time, old shows lose their luster. Personal life choices can intervene. Popularity can crash in an avalanche of disappointment.

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