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STRAIGHT OR FLIPPED, EXTRAORDINARY ATTORNEY WOO IS TV’S ‘WHALE EUREKA’

When the writing direction taps on sincere emotions, you know that your viewing experience will be worthwhile. Extraordinary Attorney Woo is one of those TV series that breaks the stereotypes about neurodivergent people. At the same time, perhaps, reminding us all that if we pay close attention, our similarities outweigh our differences. Kdramas commonly follow a particular Cinderella story arc. Girl meets boy; they journey from mundane challenges to tearjerking confrontations, then would end up living happily ever after. That’s pretty much the industry-proven concoction for television and cinemas. 

But amid seemingly uniform storylines and plot twists, some stand out by bravely tapping topics and stories that others would often avoid. Blame it on public persecution should the lack of proper research and consultation lead to a demeaning and inaccurate depiction of a person, condition, race, gender, religion, or political stand. One may be called naïve to think everyone will agree or like the end product. We all have different biases, world view, and understanding of things—not to mention the effects our social stand imposes on how we see things. To thrust through the frightening public scrutiny in the name of relaying a genuine story is an admirable act that creates pockets of spaces one will deem safe.

The trend that produces extraordinary things.

Scene from It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

Despite the standard direction and format in Kdramas, they have been really good at incorporating mental health issues in their storylines. Whenever they do, even though it’s just for a side character or an added story arc, it is almost always accurate. It doesn’t feel like an afterthought that was only added as a social commentary. When you have a good production team, impeccable writers, and great actors, sending the message across becomes easy.

One good example is It’s Okay To Not Be Okay. The way the series discusses trauma, depression, abuse, and neurodivergence became useful in promoting prompt conversations surrounding mental health. Another Korean drama that follows the same trend is Extraordinary Attorney Woo. This time, mental health is no longer just an added story arc for a side character. It’s the center of the story.

Whether it’s read straight or flipped, it’s Woo Young-Woo.

extraordinary

Extraordinary Attorney Woo is about Woo Young-Woo. Whether it’s read straight or flipped, it’s Woo Young-WooKayak, deed, rotator, noon, racecar, Woo Young-woo. That is how the protagonist would introduce herself. Introducing yourself using palindromes is undoubtedly an interesting way of making a first impression. But as mentioned earlier, we all have different receptions of things. What some would find interesting is downright weird for others. But that’s precisely the point of the series, I guess. It will not ask you to be compassionate or become an advocate for people with mental illnesses, though it would be great, too, if you would. It’s simply stating that the stigma we have all grown to know around people with mental illnesses is often exaggerated, if not inundated.   

People with autism spectrum disorder face ableism most of the time. Regardless of how exemplary their credentials are, many are still being ostracized. In Extraordinary Attorney Woo, the protagonist does not only rise against these odds. She also proves that they, too, can go head-to-head with the best and the brightest. Perhaps one of the most critical lessons from the show is how it’s opening possibilities for better media representation—that there are other ways to tell their stories without glamorizing them or their struggles.

Better representative, better public reception.

Media depictions of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are almost always a hit or a miss. They are either depicted as socially awkward individuals who are always misunderstood or individuals who cause harm to themselves or others. For Extraordinary Attorney Woo, the people behind the show are doing good by not glorifying the character and the people around the protagonist. Showing the undesirable sides of autism spectrum disorder is a bold move; sometimes, bold moves make the work done accurately without losing the genuine sense of things.

We don’t have to understand the law or even the struggles of people with an autism spectrum disorder to appreciate Extraordinary Attorney Woo. Instead, it offers us a chance for a reality check. It reminds us to check our preconceived biases, misconceptions, and how we act—that despite the nuances, utter respect borne out of sincerity is due to every human being we encounter.

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