I meant to cover Broduce 98 from ep 1 but as I said in the VIXX post, I’m a pretentious academic in real life, and Broduce had the misfortune of airing when pretentious academia prevented me from covering it, so I finally got to marathon everything once I had free time so this will be my massive ep 1-5 recap/review.

dumpster fire

Even before the first episode, Broduce 98 was looking like a massive shitshow. Trainees were dropping like flies with others revealed to have checkered pasts. News leaked of behind-the-scenes abuses such as use of rankings to determine where members eat, train, and take a shit, and threatening trainees. Yet another ~controversy~ involved the contestants from already-debuted groups. This is not unprecedented, as a couple of DIA members participated in the first season (for all the good it did DIA), but it’s particularly egregious in this case considering that four of those contestants are from NU’EST, a group that debuted five years ago. This move pleased pretty much no one–NU’EST fans were affronted at the indignity of their faves on some trainee show while non-fans chafed at the unfairness of seasoned idols competing with trainees. It doesn’t help that the show leaned heavily into a pity-porn narrative, which was probably Pledis’s intention all along. It seems to have worked.

A bit fucked

However, the show must go on, and I must recap it. During the auditions, Kahi described the male contestants as “calmer” than the girls, meaning they couldn’t be arsed to give much of a shit. I have no choice to conclude this, as the majority of the auditions vacillated between aggressively mediocre and watch-from-between-your-fingers cringeworthy and I refuse to believe anyone who gave a shit would perform that way. Standouts, naturally, include the horrendously terrible ones or the actual good ones, and the former are often more memorable (and definitely more meme-able) than the latter. The YG spinoff’s trainees were some epic trolling–everyone assumed trainees associated with YG would be awesome but they all got Fs. Then there’s Daehwi, who has… let us say not the most hypermasculine of images but comes on doing some self-composed hephap shit with his labelmates, which threw me for a loop. Everyone was dragging him as the center when the group performance of “Pick Me” aired on M!Countdown and it’s kind of hilarious how everyone changed their tune with whiplash-inducing speed once Broduce 98 actually aired.

NU’EST tried to suck up to Kahi by covering “Because of You” but borked it up too badly for her to justify giving higher grades than a C to Minhyun and Ds to everyone else. Samuel of Brave Sound, whose claims to fame are being in the now-defunct 1Punch, almost being in Seventeen, and being mixed-race, is clearly being molded into this season’s dark horse à la Somi in S1. The highlight, however, was Old Man Sungwoo, who at 30 (in Korean age) was practically Gandalf next to these zygotes.

He lived my whole life twice


Sungwoo “sang” Rain’s “Love Song,” with “sang” in quotes because Sungwoo really can’t sing for shit, but then he decided to show his abs and the female judges had some interesting reactions.

love song

Another noteworthy contestant is Jang Moonbok of Superstar K fame/notoriety. He leans so far into his notoriety that he’s practically falling over (it also could be because he can’t dance for shit, not that that matters). He’s developed something of a cult following among ifen, though he’s been slipping in the rankings, probably because we’re not allowed to vote. MNET, I would just like you guys to know this is voter suppression.

My favorite audition is this gem of a cover of Exo’s “Growl.” It is truly amazing.

The fun really started when the trainees learned the guy version of “Pick Me.” So much bad dancing, so much choking in front of the judges, so much drama. The song itself was disappointing in the sense of not being as annoying and earwormy as the original flavor “Pick Me.” However, the brilliance of the song did not strike me until I watched the contestants practice, as the high notes ensured that it was impossible to sing live while dancing–BoA said as much. Nonetheless, they still had to do it in practice.

Shit pressure

When it came time for evaluations, it was the biggest clusterfuck since the last koreaboo dance contest stateside. Pretty much everyone sucked ass except that one F guy who got his shit together enough to move up to the A group. The frontrunners then did a dance-off to determine the center and it was mildly less agonizing than the cheerleader dance-off on the CW’s Riverdale. Daehwi saved the day and won center by dancing O.G. “Pick Me” which endeared him to me. Perhaps Riverdale should’ve made its vixens do “Pick Me” which would be far preferable to any of Archie’s “music”. Actually, KJ Apa would probably be right at home on Broduce 98. He and Sungwoo could bond over their ab training regimens and ask people to guess which one is 30.

The group evaluations are my favorite, however. As a messy bitch who lives for drama, intra-group squabbling and catfighting are my favorite things. These boys delivered. NU’EST’s Minhyun decided to be the Frank Underwood of Broduce and mustered up the most popular trainees to be in his group. Daehwi got overconfident and called his group the Avengers. Thankfully, nobody from NU’EST had to perform Seventeen’s “Mansae” because well… awkward. Instead, Ren ended up in a nauseatingly cute group who did SHINee’s “Replay” while wearing pink, and even their competitor group knew that they might as well just go home now. Moonbok and Hyunwoo forged the show’s first bromance during their “Call Me Baby” stage.


Many groups struggled with that dead weight member who can’t dance for shit, and leaders had their work cut out for them. JR of NU’EST was in such a situation with Hyunbin, and you gotta feel for this boy–given the fate of groups he’s led, he’s gotta have issues.

I got the droms I was looking for with one group fighting over the center position, because the dude they had picked was too “fierce” to pull off the center, according to Kahi. She recommended the center position to to Jisung, a boy of many facial expressions who quickly became a personal favorite.

jisung grin

The coup of the “Mansae” groups was Woodam, a long-faced young man with a Julius Caesar ‘do, hitting those dog-whistle notes and pulling the Taylor Swift face when he saw people actually voted for him. I still don’t understand this belief that male idols have to be handsome when most of Beast Highlight have careers. Alleged sex offender Minho argued with the trainer over putting unnecessary rap in Super Junior’s “Sorry Sorry” because it’s clearly a great idea to fuck with an iconic song to insert your shitty rap in it. The trainer shut that down, thankfully.

The show spread all this out over two eps until the first elimination episode, which exhibited mastery in wasting air time. Highlights include Jung² and Eunki’s homoerotic contemporary dance that ended homophobia, and an amusing arm wrestling match in which Baekho almost made Haknyeon shit his pants.

haknyeon oh shit

Baekho is a mess, y’all. He is a raggedy ass bitch with stubble and his hair shoved under a grubby snapback but when it comes to the stages, he really cleans up nice. I suppose this is why he earned the nickname of “sexy bandit” from knetizens.

Baekho in practice:


Baekho onstage:

Then it was elimination time, droms and man tears everywhere!

man tears

Early favorites like old man Sungwoo, Woodam, Kenta, and the NU’EST members lived to see another day. Jisung went full Dongwoo and threatened to drown the entire studio in man tears when he made it through eliminations.

jisung collapse

The big showdown was between Samuel and Jihoon, an early fan favorite that I frankly had entirely forgotten about until that moment, with Samuel finishing in second.

And last but not least, the tearjerker of the evening. Hyunwoo ends up in 61st place, breaking up the intense but short-lived bromance with Moonbok. Many man tears ensued.

Aaaaaand that brings us up to date on Broduce. Episode six will get its own recap, as will remaining episodes, as I watch them. I probably left out a shit ton in this recap since I’m doing it entirely from memory (each ep is two hours long, y’all, I ain’t rewatching) so my apologies for any mistakes; I try to check stuff but something always gets by me. I’m old; my memory ain’t what it used to be. Until next time!