It’s time to compare action-filled melodrama East of Eden with the more recent Giant! I’ll be using the criteria that I wrote about in the “Important Factors of a Good Drama” post that I published a while ago. In the end of this comparison post, you can decide which drama trumps the other one or if they’re both pretty equal. [SPOILERS INCLUDED!!]
These two dramas have the same genres- both are period dramas, which take place over a large span of time. The time period that both dramas open at is also the same. East of Eden and Giant also have loads of action and romance in them. In addition, they are themed around revenge against the corrupt and evil.
2. Plot (short summaries of each drama)
In East of Eden, Lee Dongchul’s dad dies in a tragic accident. After the accident, Lee Dongwook sets someone’s place on fire and his older brother Lee Dongchul takes the blame for the crime, fleeing and going into hiding for a many years. Many years later, the brothers reunite and Lee Dongwook eventually becomes a lawyer while Lee Dongchul gets caught up in the gambling business, becoming a prominent figure in that arena. The two brothers work together to avenge their father’s death; however, there is a little twist in this story. Lee Dongwook was switched with another baby upon his birth so he actually the enemy’s son and Lee Dongchul’s real brother is being raised by the enemy. What complications indeed. There are also many other characters in this drama as well as some love stories that bloom along the way.
Giant is very similar to East of Eden but in a way, more complicated. This drama is the story of not just two brothers, but also a younger sister. Lee Seungmo, the oldest brother, witnesses his father’s death, and soon after, his mother dies from the shock. Lee Seungmo decides to work under Jo Pilyeon, the one who murdered his father, with the goal of one day taking revenge. Lee Seungmo and his siblings Lee Gangmo and Lee Miju get separated from each other during their childhood, but reunite as adults and then Lee Gangmo and Lee Miju find out about the one behind their father’s death. All three go at revenge in their own ways while keeping their relationship a secret from everyone. Sadly, Lee Gangmo has fallen in love with Hwang Jeongyeon, the daughter of an accomplice to his dad’s death while Lee Miju falls in love with Jo Minwoo, the son of the man who personally killed her father. This complicates things a bit, doesn’t it?
3. Length of drama
East of Eden is 56 episodes and Giant is 60, so both require a very similar amount of time to get through. Compared to dramas that you may be familiar with watching, like the typical 16 or 20 episode ones, these two dramas are very time consuming. By watching one of these dramas, you’re giving up the opportunity to watch 3 or 4 dramas in the same amount of time, but trust me- it’s a decision you won’t regret. Or maybe you will, but only because they’re extremely addicting.
East of Eden started off with an 11% rating on its first episode and ratings steadily rose, staying in the 20% range for the majority of the drama. The drama ended on an all-time high of 30%.
Giant fared much better than East of Eden in terms of ratings. In the beginning, however, it stayed in the 10s range until episode 24, when it broke into the 20s range, and a few episodes near the end got 30% ratings viewership. But the big surprise came at the last episode, as it received a 40% viewership as compared to the 33% from the episode before. That’s a whopping 6% jump in just one episode.
I honestly did not read any reviews on these two dramas before watching them. Or I probably did, but not any in-depth reviews, just very short ones.
6. Main cast
No doubt the biggest and most recognizable name in East of Eden is Song Seunghun, who acted in Summer Scent, My Princess, and a bunch of other dramas and movies. Other notable names in this drama are Han Jihye (The Duo, Sweet 18) and Lee Dahae (My Girl, Chuno, Miss Ripley). I am honestly a fan of Han Jihye so seeing her in this drama was a plus for me. Some may also recognize Dennis Oh from Witch Yoohee here. Lee Yeonhee is still sort of a new face in the drama world, but she is one of the few actresses from SM Entertainment and I liked her acting in this drama.
Giant holds many older actors like Jung Bosuk who played the role of the main villain Jo Pilyeon. Jung Bosuk actually acted in High Kick 2 where I first saw him, so his acting in Giant truly showcased his acting ability with the entire character contrast. I loved that. Other actors here were Lee Bumsoo, who has acted in a very large number of movies, and Park Sangmin, who has acted in a few dramas. There’s also Park Jinhee (The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry) in this drama. However, I’d personally like to focus more on Joo Sangwook, who isn’t a complete newcomer but still a fresh face and Hwang Jungeum, a singer-turned-actress. She’s recently been participating in more dramas, and I think that Giant was one drama that really brought out her acting skills.
7. The first few episodes
Honestly, I found East of Eden a lot faster-paced than Giant. I think it’s partly because I saw this drama first and Giant is very similar. But the ratings didn’t lie either- they actually went with what I thought. Giant is interesting, but it doesn’t get good until episode 20 or so, when the ratings actually start to skyrocket. As for East of Eden, it starts getting addicting early on, as soon as episode 5. Big difference.
8. Beginning, Middle, and End
East of Eden was good, but I tend to feel that the writers got bored so they just inserting the same fighting scenes. However, I do admit that the beginning was very good and well-structured, as well as the whole switching babies scheme and the other lady that came back for revenge. Very nice. But after the brothers find out the truth, everything crumbles instantly. Their relationship dissolves into thin air even though they’ve been living together for so many years and relying each other for all those years. I wish it ended on a better note and I felt that this was unrealistic. Someone that you’ve built such a strong connection with, you suddenly become enemies just because you find out that you’re not blood-related? Okay, I see how that can happen, but still. And the end of East of Eden– horrible. I cannot believe that they brought us to this climax just for such a sad and lame ending. I was very disappointed.
Giant, like I mentioned earlier, starts off slower. In fact, it made me impatient because I wanted to fast forward to the future and Gangmo’s success right away. But the wait was definitely worth it. As the episodes progressed, this drama got better and better, and the writers just kept adding all these twists and turns that kept me hooked. However, I felt like things dragged a bit (as they did with East of Eden) and I was very saddened with Lee Seungmo’s problem later on. But I liked watching each sibling reach success in their own ways and the relationships they formed with others. What I didn’t like was the end, which felt a bit rushed to me, as it suddenly fast-forwarded over 10 years to the future in a matter of a minute. I wish that they focused on the year 2010 a bit more, but I guess the ending wrapped things up nicely.
It seems that someone always has to die though. That makes me sad.
I think it’s interesting to note that East of Eden was MBC’s big production specifically made for their 47th anniversary while Giant was SBS’ 20th anniversary drama.
Which drama do YOU think was better? Maybe not just based off of my personal evaluation, but yours. Especially for those of you who saw both dramas, which one stuck to YOU more? Comment below!