Netflix’s K-dramas have been mostly licensed acquisitions and they feel like it; they are nicely written equivalents of Hallmark films, filled with meet-ups, class differences and full of emo-music. So it’s refreshing when a Korean show comes along that breaks the mold.. The School Nurse Files is one of those shows where a school nurse swings a toy sword at monsters made of jelly to help students to help them.. Curious? Read on….
Shot Opening: A girl in a school sees another girl outside.. We hear an adult woman in voice over saying: “You have no idea how confusing at first it was.. I thought I had another pair of eyelids.. One that allowed me to see a special world of my own..
The idea is that the girl is given a psychological assessment at the school. The girl keeps reporting to her mother that she sees people excreting Jelly and the worse the person is, the more Jelly he or she secretes. She is judged that her mother should have custody of her daughter, which dismays her concerned father. She is so upset about separation that she envisions her mother melting into a puddle of jelly..
Cut to about 20 years later.. The now-grown woman flies to high school where she works as a nurse.. The school is a private school, where the principal comes on screen every morning and conducts chants where kids say they’re healthy and then for fifteen straight seconds they laugh.. When she walks through the halls, she sees jelly coming off of people everywhere.
When a student, who is about to witness his crush, nicknamed “Jellyfish,” gets challenged by the school lothario, nicknamed “Hoop Squid,” in an over-the-top courtyard display, complete with the marching band.. He feels something sting him and he goes to the nurse.. Eun-Young pulls a stinger from his neck but looks like a jelly heart pendant to her.. She tells him to go to the hospital, but he needs to head to the roof to tell Jellyfish how he feels..
She is immediately fascinated by the Chinese characters and teacher. But other things take her attention, namely the blobs of red gel that lead to a locked basement, one that has been locked since In-pyo’s grandfather passed away, the founder of the school.. She also sees unmoving copies of the student she treated just across the school..
She uses her toy sword to break the chains (not sure how she did it IRL), and she starts exploring.. In-pyo, who tried but failed to get in touch with the one company who should sanitize the basement once a year, goes down there to see what he can do and runs into Eun-young. She swings around her sword, looking like she is defeating jelly monsters all around, but also notices that the aura around In-pyo absorbs the energy from any jelly that touches it..
They go very deep into the basement and they find an apji stone on the ground, but the “ji” in the term “apji” means water, not land.. When he turns it over, a roll blasts Eun-young from the chamber.. As she scrambles up the stairs, all students fall down then crazily run towards the roof with their arms down.. The student who was pleading for Jellyfish, right after he had his chance to tell her how he feels, laughs as he tries to climb the fence on the roof, pulling the barbed wire at the top..
This feels less like a regular K-drama, and more like a show along the lines of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, where the main character acts strange to everybody else because she sees things that others don’t see..
From the first scenes The School Nurse Files feels more like a Netflix show and less like a standard K-drama where there are a meet-cute and lots of covers of American and British emo music. The story, adapted by Chung Serang from her novel School Nurse Ahn Eun-young, has elements that point out that the show is more a young adult fantasy dramedy than something that is about a romance and people with class differences. And it’s totally refreshing..
Serang keeps it simple: Eun-young sees jellies and she sees something with In-pyo that nobody else has had.. From the descriptions of the episodes, she will be solving various student problems via her visions of Jellies, her use of those colorful BBs and this ubiquitous toy sword.. What we wonder is if someone is going to look like a boy at the nurse and wonder why she does all these strange things..
But the show aims for the most part to be whimsical and Serang nails this tone with a good chemistry between Nam and Jung who play the main characters.. We’ve watched more than enough K-dramas on Netflix, ones that they have funded and ones that are licensed properties, and they start to feel the same after awhile.. This one is different, and we hope that Netflix encourages more Korean writers to adapt their books into series if we get results like this..
Sex and Skin: None.
Parting shot: Eun-young gets on the roof and tries to save the student she treated from jumping off, but she is held back by all the near-zombified students.
Sleeper Star: The jelly special effects are pretty good; we’re not 100% sure what seeing jelly coming from a person means to the nurse, but we’re sure it can’t be good either..
Pilot-Y line: Not sure if the nicknames “Jellyfish” and “Hoop Squid” are real nicknames or if they were lost in translation from Korean, but both seem like odd nicknames for high schoolers.
Our Call:. The premise of the school nurse files is refreshingly quirky and funny, and feels more in tone American series than a K-drama.. Not that there is anything wrong with K-dramas but we’re glad to see other voices from the South Korean entertainment industry..
Joel Keller () writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but doesn’t know himself: he’s a TV junkie.. His writing appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone. VanityFair.com, VanityFair.com. Companies such as.com, Fast Company, and elsewhere are also available.
Stream the School Nurse Files On Netflix.