Spoilers for Nevertheless ahead.
Nevertheless is a ten episode Korean drama and Netflix original series that follows Yoo Nabi, a heartbroken girl who has all but given up on love. Her aversion to relationships changes when she meets Park Jae Eon, a fellow art student who she begins a friends-with-benefits relationship with despite her longing for something more. Though the relationship between Nabi and Jae Eon is the central story of Nevertheless, side characters and couples that regularly steal the spotlight outshine them. The relationship between Yoon Sol and Seo Jiwan, two side characters (and both women) stands out as being the strongest—and most romantic—relationship in the show. The women, beautifully acted by Lee Ho-jung and Yoon Seo-Ah, are the heart and soul of Nevertheless, and save an overall uninteresting show from falling into mediocrity.
The relationship between Sol and Jiwan, lovingly referred to by fans as Soljiwan, is simple—but not in a bad way. The two girls have been best friends since meeting in middle school, and know everything about each other—or used to, at least. As the show progresses, it is revealed that there are some significant secrets the girls have been keeping from one another, such as Sol getting the opportunity to study abroad because of her skills as an artist. However, the biggest secret kept between these two are their true feelings for one another. Sol, as the audience finds out, has been pining for something more with Jiwan for years, but assumes that Jiwan sees her as a friend and nothing more. Jiwan, on the other hand, is just beginning to realize the nature of her feelings for Sol, which go far beyond friendship. Over the course of ten episodes, the audience watches as the two begin to understand and explore their feelings for one another, with Jiwan fearing that her love for Sol will come at the cost of their friendship.
The biggest flaw in Nevertheless is the fact that Sol and Jiwan are not given as much screen time as the straight leads. The relationship between Nabi and Jae Eon is a tired, overdone story of a bad boy who wants to change his ways for a girl he meets, but who often delves into the realm of being manipulative and possessive. There were several times during Nevertheless where I considered skipping scenes between Nabi and Jae Eon because of how frustrating they were. However, the show was worth watching because of the gentle, beautiful relationship between Sol and Jiwan. Were the show to focus on them as the main couple, it would likely be much stronger than it ends up being.
The story of Sol and Jiwan rings true for plenty of LGBTQ women, many of whom discover their sexuality due to—often unrequited—feelings for their friend. Sol’s story in particular has resonated with the audience, as her struggle to repress her feelings for Jiwan grows more difficult. Perhaps the most beautiful scene of the show occurs when Jiwan, after having too much to drink, confesses her feelings for Sol. This throws Sol through a loop, as she cannot decipher how genuine Jiwan’s confession is. After loving her for so long, Sol worries that she is getting her hopes up. Whereas some stories may go back on such a confession, Nevertheless continues to pursue the relationship between Sol and Jiwan, with the women ultimately getting the happy ending that they deserve. They eventually decide to pursue a relationship with one another, despite Jiwan’s fear that she will lose Sol if they ever break up. Sol reassures Jiwan that her feelings will never change, and from then on, the two are official. It’s a beautiful, euphoric moment, and another one of the show’s strongest. All of the subtle looks and touches, all of the gentle words, everything that these two have shared finally comes to a satisfying conclusion.
Perhaps the best part of this relationship is the fact that both of them being women is not what is focused on. Sure, there are doubts about their relationship—but this comes from the fact that they have been friends for so long as opposed to internalized fears about their sexualities. Whereas other stories like this one have focused on doubts of sexuality and confusion over identity, the fact that they are both women is not the issue in this relationship. It’s never discussed, and it doesn’t need to be. They are given the space to be in love with each other without the need for further analysis on their sexualities. It’s beyond refreshing to see, and is something that similar stories have been lacking for a long time.
Though often underwhelming as a whole, Nevertheless is worth the watch because of the relationship between Sol and Jiwan. It is a stunning, refreshing take on the friends to lovers trope that LGBTQ media has been missing. The love between the women is genuine and stunning to watch. Despite other storylines lacking, this relationship—which is ultimately the heart of the show—is game changing, and the show should be acknowledged as an important piece of LGBTQ television.
Nevertheless is available to stream in its entirety on Netflix.