The idea behind Drama Stew has been a long time coming for Nishtha Banavalikar and Raymond Wu, hosts of the new Radio Fodder show. They first attempted to host the show in 2020, but of course, COVID complicated things, so they’re ready to try again and I’m excited to see where they’ll take it! Nishtha describes Drama Stew as a “commentary podcast about Korean dramas”. Each episode they unpack the stereotypes of both popular and unpopular K-dramas, and ultimately consider the mass appeal of the genre.
“It’s refreshing to have a drama that feels close to what you know, rather than always having to adopt an American or British narrative. It’s fun to see people who look like you or the people around you.”
Nishtha and Raymond find comfort in seeing certain storylines played “over and over again” in K-dramas. Raymond praises the dramas as they “play around with tone a lot more than Western dramas”—no doubt a refreshing change. For instance, whilst a show may feature elements of the thriller genre, they also include light-hearted moments, adapting the original genre in the process.
Drama Stew has a different angle to other podcasts which discuss K-dramas. Nishtha and Raymond openly discuss the problematic themes which are often excused as ‘elements of the genre’. These themes include abusive power dynamics, rampant misogyny, and heteronormative storylines. When asked what their ideal dramas would look like, Nishtha and Raymond advocated for a balance of “light- heartedness, intensity and safety” for all characters.
Raymond is particularly excited for people to hear their “perspective on [their] favourite dramas, and dramas that aren’t [their] favourite”. They plan to air episodes focused on certain “‘dramas’”, for example medical dramas. Nishtha hopes Fodder listeners can “enjoy looking into another country’s culture”, something they may not have had the chance to do before.
K-dramas are stereotypically treated as lesser entertainment, and Raymond and Nishtha hope that through their critical analysis, listeners will be invited to further understand and appreciate the genre style.
Drama Stew airs Fridays at 3pm on Radio Fodder. Drama Stew’s graphics are by the extremely talented Vivian Li. If you have any questions about the show, or simply want to rant about K-dramas, Raymond and Nishtha can be reached on Instagram @dramastew.