Shinhwa Broadcast broke its own ratings record when it achieved a rating of 1.87% for the Seoul Metropolitan Area (figures from AGB Nielsen Media Research) for the episode aired on 23rd June. With this, Shinhwa Broadcast has broken the 1% ratings mark for the 4th consecutive week, and with viewer ratings for general programming channels averaging 0.3-0.5%, the program has established itself as jTBC’s flagship variety program.
The 23rd June episode of jTBC’s Shinhwa Broadcast featured Shinhwa leader Eric being the victim of a hidden camera prank by his fellow members. Though it was fun to see Eric thoroughly humiliated by the embarrassing punishments, viewers were also moved by the Shinhwa members expressing their faith in, and affection for their leader Eric via their video messages. So what are the key reasons that keeps us looking forward to Saturday nights with Shinhwa Broadcast?
1. Humiliation without hesitation – Shinhwa’s “letting-go” variety
“Letting-go”, as defined by Shinhwa’s little prince Shin Hyesung, means “letting go of myself (my inhibitions)”. Shin Hyesung, who melts female hearts with his delicate features and emotive voice, wore a Tarzan suit for Shinhwa Broadcast, and drew laughter for his unexpected physical comedy. His “bad acting” and “bad emceeing” – as assessed by the members – is a new side to him that can only be seen on Shinhwa Broadcast.
However, more than anyone else, Eric – who played a chaebol in ‘Phoenix’, an arrogant top star in ‘Spy Myungwol’, a ruthless killer in ‘Bittersweet Life’ – has proven to be the greatest character reversal. His striking features and his deep voice have created a perfect misunderstanding as the public thinks of him as a man of few words.
In Episode 1, Eric managed to still look sharp as he transformed into the ‘Six Million Dollar Man’, but by Episode 15 his’stupid hyung’ image was established as he did the pelvic dance in flowery pants, and strutted down the marketplace wearing a short lacy skirt.
They may be thinking, ‘do we have to embarrass ourselves to this extent’, but the two of them – known for their oil-and-water relationship – have thrown aside their image, and have drawn laughter for being “unexpectedly” candid and black-hole. With variety veteran Junjin, and fellow members Lee Minwoo, Kim Dongwan and Andy, naturally working themselves into the plot, this episode drew even greater laughs.
2. ‘Pretend if we have to’ – The perfect 14-year teamwork
Apart from the time they spent as SM Entertainment trainees, the members of the longest-running idol group Shinhwa have already spent 14 years together, and during the filming process, they know what one another is thinking – “he’s really angry”, “he’s sulking now” – just by looking at one another’s faces. Such impressive teamwork seems even more exceptional with the members uniting to make Eric’s hidden camera episode a success. Eric, who’s usually quick on the uptake, couldn’t see through their ploy right until the end.
The performers working together, the performers’ reactions and the characters they create, these are the most important things in variety. To these 6 guys, it seems that they don’t need the ‘variety adjustment period’ to be in sync with one another. When Kim Dongwan pulls one of his childish gags, his cut gets spared from getting edited out when he earns either a hit or a reprimanding reaction from Eric; while Andy gives it his all in ‘over-dancing’ and creates the new variety character of ‘O-dance Master’. As they understand one another’s character, they are unpretentious and don’t try to force laughs.
In the ‘MT Channel’ episode, although Shin Hyesung makes a potentially fatal blunder when he mentions the upcoming game (which they are not supposed to know about yet), the other members cover up for him by slyly and naturally changing the topic to divert Eric’s attention. This ‘pretend-if-we-need-to’ chemistry among the members enabled the hidden camera conspiracy to conclude successfully.
But even with such perfect teamwork, they’re still hopeless at soccer.
3. Endless possibilities with ‘OO Channel’
The final reason why Shinhwa Broadcast is receiving a lot of love, and will continue to do so in the long run, is that it doesn’t have a fixed format, and thus there are many different challenges they can take on. Shinhwa is able to bring laughter with every new theme and challenge they take on. Shinhwa fans who are familiar with Shinhwa as ‘idol singers’ will be able to see a new side to them, while the public can get to see the real Shinhwa, and thus the number of Shinhwa Broadcast viewers are also steadily increasing.
Of course with the many ‘real variety’ programs out there,the material shown on Shinhwa Broadcast isn’t exactly original either. But the main concept is to capitalize on Shinhwa members’ understanding of one another’s strengths and weaknesses to draw laughs, thus making it subtly different. PD Yoon Hyun Joon highlighted this very point during the press conference in March. “I believe that even if it’s something that has been done on other shows, Shinhwa will be able to give it a new lease of life.”
In addition, Shinhwa Broadcast’s production team is now accepting ideas from viewers via the guestboard on the show’s official homepage. With a wide range of ideas and suggestions being collected from the guestboard every week, it looks like there won’t be a lack of materials for the time being.
Overcoming the limits of general programming channels, Shinhwa Broadcast is now starting to make its presence felt and leaving its distinctive mark. Not only does it rank among the real-time top-searched keywords before and after the show, it has also leapfrogged over its lowest ratings of 0.3% for its first episode to be given the honor of being labeled as the ‘Infinity Challenge’ of general programming channels.
To Shinhwa, who is prepared to fight to the end with Shinhwa Broadcast, “Do you hope that Shinhwa Broadcast can become a long-running program just like Countryside Diary? As long as you can keep this up, it will happen. Don’t you worry!”
Credits: TV Report + Absolut Shinhwa