The Unfortunate reality of SIXTEEN

So I’ve been keeping up with MNET and JYP’s new show SIXTEEN, which is the latest survival show/PR Stunt. This one focuses on the creation of a girl group, and follows sixteen girls on their way to becoming JYP’s next girl group. Eight episodes in and I think I can safely say I hate this show.

Warning: This is about to be a long ass post that is pretty much a rant. Want to continue reading? Under the read!

This show is nothing more than a massive PR stunt. This is not a bad thing. Actually this is the best thing about this show for several reasons. First, the predebut hype means they will have attention that they may not have under normal debut circumstances. Of course being in JYP gives them some leverage, but something like this never hurts. Having exposure prior to debut usually gives a greater window to outside opportunities, which means even more exposure and more money. Jihyo would pay off her trainee debts in no time (kidding, I don’t even know if she even has debt). Also this is great for bringing in fans. Shows like this are basically a shopping spree for the average k pop fan. Give them a bunch of girls, with likable personalities, talents, and looks, and watch people become emotionally attached. Theoretically it is the best way to find your new bias. Hell I even got a few favorites. Once they debut, you are looking at a group of girls with established fanbases, that can come together to make a reliable (enough) one for the group. It may not be big, but they will be established. These girls already have people chasing them down to take pictures of them to post on the internet. I bet by the time they officially debut they are going to have several fansites going.

SIXTEEN: The whole foods of survival shows

Anyway, a show like this offers a lot of good in theory. In practice JYPE has made use of it, but overall I am just not impressed with what has been offered.

The biggest beef I have with this show is format, editing, and pacing. The format of the show puts the girls into two groups: Majors vs Minors. The Majors are the girls that will end up being the group (in theory). They alaso are given “perks”, that in my opinion have been more or less useless or under utilized. The Minors remain trainees. The Minors have a chance to snatch one of the seven spots in the Majors if they perform well on a mission (as well as a Major doing poorly). So every mission there is a chance for someone to lose/gain a spot in the Majors. Also, to add more pressure there is an elimination. This has been the minor girls. We have not seen a case where a girl who just got dropped from the Majors to Minors and been eliminated in the same mission.

Now in theory this does not sound bad. However in practice, it has been… spotty. The girls have to be on the entire time, which is not asking a lot. You go in there slacking and your spot can be taken. That’s just how it is. However there have been cases where I was confused by what was happening. The biggest case was Jihyo who during the second mission was demoted to Minors because…wait for it…she was not skinny enough.  Despite getting praise for her picture, she was sent to the Minors because of that…not a good reason.

When you know your show is dull and you need to create drama for the sake of plot

Another one of the shows problems is the need to create something that wasn’t there and it unfortunatley going nowhere. Momo vs Natty didn’t need to happen. We all know it. Personal opinions aside, MoMo was (and still is) a better option for the group. A good dancer, works well in teams, people like her and she can carry a tune. That’s it. The myth that she needed star power was a moot point when that probably wouldn’t have been her position anyway. Sana, Dahyun, Nayeon maybe Somi with some more training would have been the girls to send to be stars. The idea that MoMo was anything less because she lacked “Star power” was totally not needed. I know that was less of MNET and more of JYP, but still…they reinforced it. Regardless of whether MoMo was as exciting as beige wallpaper, her role in the group would have not even been that. K pop fans have low standards and would have supported damn near anything. MoMo isn’t bad, and she had a following already. Her job was done, but the show wanted us to believe there was something more she needed.

Then there are the missions. Like practically everything else on this show, the missions aspects could be handled better. Most of it doesn’t have to do with the missions themselves, but the fact that they are edited on the show rather poorly. Of course this show is not only a competition, but it is a strong part of it. Seven episodes in, and we have only had like five or six missions. This sounds like it is proportionate to the amount of episodes, but So in six missions: The are you a star, the photoshoot, the 1:1, the group performances, the variety camp, and soon to be Guerrila Concert, it understandably takes time, and a lot of behind the scenes type of stuff happens.  In the show, we get to see them struggle with whatever, practicing, and some back story for certain ladies. That is all fine and dandy. However the show messes up in giving way too much that just drags these missions on. The variety camp took two episodes to complete (the back half and first half of each episode). All just to watch them act silly and do missions like they were on some show. Too much. The Group performance missions were even worse. It took over three episodes to get through that one mission. THREE EPISODES. Why? A lot of exposition that we didn’t need. We got to watch them rehearse several times, in front of a group of people who probably trained them, getting on stage, confessionals. We were basically watching what could have just been bonus footage on YouTube.

And then you add in the elimination aspect, and you can see how an episode that could have been done in 40, turns into a three episode arc. For a little more perspective: we are on episode eight and only three eliminations. Out of 16 girls, we have only watched three girls leave. Why is that? Because a lot of the missions tend to spill into the next episode (along with JYP not eliminating anyone on two occasions). We found out about the group performance mission in episode 4, we didn’t finish said mission until episode 6. We wasted episodes on exposition and background things that could have been done in just one. But…no…three episodes. That was the most drawn out mission of the show by far, and so far the next mission (the Guerrila concert) is looking to be just like the last one.

In eight episodes of a possibly ten episode season, we have maybe gotten through only five or six missions, only had lost three girls, with the Minor and Major thing being a much more consistent aspect of the show. I would rather they did focus just on that instead of having to eliminate girls. The elimination aspect added unnecessary stress to a group of teen girls who were already stressing out over having to try to take protect their spot. There have been  very few eliminations, on top of the group being rather small for what would end up being a seven member group in the first place. It just doesn’t make sense thinking about it now.

Something else that has bothered me is the lack of consistent judges. I don’t like the fact that JYP has been the only consistent face making decisions for them, and he has only seen the final product. This sets the narrative that JYP is in anyway responsible for all decisions that come to this group AND MAYBE OTHERS. Look I’m not saying we’re stupid, but K Pop fans truly believe that ONE person is making decisions about a group. The CEO is synonymous with BIG DECISION MAKER, and to be honest, that is more than likely not the case. As we had seen in that Nine Muses documentary, there was a scene in the movie that focused on the fine details of the group: their look, the song, the dance, all that was being discussed by a group of people. The CEO was there making decisions, but best believe a lot of that was above his paygrade.

The man who is to create the next big girl group. God bless us all.

 

I have no doubt that whoever the CEO of JYPE is, he is not making decisions in the creations of a group on his own. A lot of that shit takes a village. Let me tell you. The first episode of SIXTEEN probably gave us the reality of how groups are formed in some cases. They have AR pick trainees (more than likely with the assistance with the bigwigs of the company), and that is some first draft of the group. What I am basically ranting about is the fact that there isn’t a consistent group of judges who are tracking the entire progress of this group. Ga in and San E are fun exciting guest judges, but they are there for one episode, and like JYP only get to see the final results of what is happening. It would be interesting what would have happened if JYP had learned about Minyoung and Dahyun (albeit one had a legitimate reason) missing days of practice before their group performance. That is something you need to tell the guy making decisions about who would be in the group.

(Sidenote1: At least we got to see the people who are actually working with these girls as trainees)

There is also the idea that these girls are all fighting for the same spots when they themselves have different strengths.

Let’s look at the make up of the original 16 in terms of skills

  • Vocals: Minyoung, Jihyo, Jiwon, Jungyeon, Nayeon
  • Rapper: Chaeyoung, Dahyun*
  • Dancer: Eunsuh, Chaeyeon, Chaeryeong, Mina, Tzuyu, MoMo, Natty,
  • Misc/Diverse: Sana, Somi,

(Sidenote2: A couple of the girls tend to be a jack of all stats, master of none types)

There are some nuances I am not really wanting to get into. But ultimately we had a lot of dancers…and usually they don’t make up a large portion of the group for a reason. Keep in mind that we didn’t hear many of them sing until the group performances around episode 5. There is a reason for that. They not trying to get into the group for their singing talent, they were there for their dancing abilities. Yes some of them can carry a tune, but they would have been singing at most five lines the entire song, and the people with main/lead vocalist/rapper under their name would have carried the song. Yet and still they want me to believe that these girls are all competitors? Let’s be honest, they were not all going to make it. And not because they are not talented enough, but because realistically speaking, the group was not going to be full of dancers who can carry a tune.

Even if they all had managed to take over the Majors and stay there until the very end, JYP would have pulled a surprise and bring back some voices to actually carry the group.

K pop is the place where the groups are designed a certain way. More often than not, we can look at groups and find the designated vocalists, the rappers, the dancers, the person meant to be on tv. K Pop is super obvious like that, and for this show to try and make it seem like the norm of K Pop will not be taken into consideration is insulting. And I garauntee you, TWICE will do nothing to break this. The final line up will have the girls in neatly defined spaces, and I cannot wait to roll my eyes.


 

To end this post I just want to talk about the ladies a little bit. Who I think/want, and all that.

Who I think: Jihyo, Minyoung, Jungyeon, Nayeon, Sana, Chaeyoung, Dayhyun, Somi/Mina/MoMo (Surprise return)

Who I want: Jihyo, Jiwon, Jungyeon, Sana, Chaeyoung, Chaeryeong, Nayeon, Mina/Tzuyu/Somi

I really think certain people have it in the bag. 3/4 OT4+Sana (the remnants of 6Mix) are more than likely in the group. Mostly because they have been incredibly consistent, well liked, and kept to themselves. The only exception to this is Minyoung, who is way down on the polls, had a hard time at the beginning, and was in one of the big drama moments of the season. Still I can see her somehow sliding into the group, now that she is back in the majors. Chaeyoung is a strong maybe leaning towards yes: she is popular on the polls, has been just as consistent as most of the other girls, and is the only legitimate rapper in a sense. I could see them going with Dahyun and taking one of the other girls if going with seven members. However I don’t see the group just being seven members, too many good ones to have them wait an extra year. Also the reason why I chose MoMo is because…she would be a plot twist that gets the blogs talking.

Overall, the show has been a bumpy ride. Outside of it’s positive effects in exposure, everything else has just been a bad to me. I didn’t like the narrative that was created, the format of the show seems even more stupid with time, and certain aspects that would have seem to be great have just backfired. But it happened, the drawn out missions, the unnecessary addition of back story and behind the scenes rehearsals…all of it just filled up the 40-50 minute space the episode allowed.

I’m going to be looking out for TWICE (a stupid ass name), because I do want to see how JYPE will be handling a new idol girl group in the wake of their slow and steady rise back up the food chain. But it is going to take a minute before I get rid of the bitter taste this show has left.


 

Sources: Tia xxi, pmrowla-kpop

 

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