Welcome to the Ending Explained for “Celebrity,” a new South Korean drama releasing on Netflix this weekend. The series is directed by Kim Cheol-kyu and written by Kim Yi-young. The director has worked on other shows, like the already classic Flower of Evil. At the same time, the writer has amassed a huge amount of experience creating writing for period pieces such as The King’s Doctor and Haechi. However, Celebrity turns the team’s talents into a story that feels a lot more current, dealing with themes and subjects that have become the norm in the past decade and will keep evolving along with the internet and social media.
The way the internet has managed to transform the human condition is something that cannot be understated. The ability to be connected with millions of other people around the world has opened people’s perceptions of other cultures and realities, but it has also made bitter many other people who have not been able to relate to others in a meaningful and productive way.
The internet has also created new forms of exploration and abuse, and it all comes down to how much humans are willing to take in others to still be part of a whole instead of becoming alienated from the group. Celebrity uses its flashy aesthetic and subject to explore dark themes.
The following paragraphs contain spoilers for Celebrity. Read at your own risk.
How Did Seo Ah-ri Become A Mass Influencer?
The series begins In Medias Res, a narrative used by storytellers to grab the audience’s attention right from the moment the story starts. Most examples of In Medias Res have the story start right before a pivotal event.
There are no explanations or context for the event, and thus, the audience is pushed to ask questions. This intrigue is supposed to make people want to keep watching the story. Celebrity begins in this way, and we are introduced to the story via narration from our main character, Ah-ri.
Ah-ri tells us that once she was a nobody, she started to climb the ladder of the influencer world and became one of the most powerful influencers in South Korea. Ah-ri explains to use the amount of money she makes. So much that she doesn’t even know how much she makes, but it is a lot.
She also has the power to bring one brand into the spotlight with one single picture on her Instagram profile, which basically makes her a walking advertisement agency. She is not wrong, the world of influencers is quite volatile, and the right post from the right person can really help any business flourish.
Ah-ri begins her story because, well, right now, she is dead. Ah-ri tells us how she became the victim of everything that comes with being an influencer. A lot of money and prestige are involved, but there is also a lot of hate, abuse, stalking, and the like. It is a dreadful tale that she explains to the audience little by little.
Ah-ri begins her story outside the world of influencers, but she gets compelled to become one as she gets involved with the members of the so-called Gabin Society, a group of influencers representing the 1% of the group. They are some of the most powerful in the medium.
Ah-ri starts becoming friends with these influencers, who see her as a pet project. However, when Ah-ri starts getting bigger on social media thanks to her personality and demeanor, Ah-ri sees herself as the target of the Gabin Society, who are far from her real friends.
Is Ah-ri Really Dead?
Ah-ri goes through one hell of an arc in the show. She starts as a very hopeful entrepreneur and ends up being one of the most powerful influencers in South Korea. However, in a move that cannot be taken in any other way but as brave, the show goes inside Ah-ri’s psychic and explores how this event changes her as a person.
The amount of stress that Ah-ri is suffering is not healthy at all. Yes, she is meeting with all these beautiful influencers, making connections, making money, and the like, but her mental health is anything but good.
This is something that basically all content creators suffer from at one point or another, especially when it comes to the burnout effect. We might believe that maintaining the image these people portray on social media is very easy, but it is anything but. On top of that, the ending of the show jumps straight into the cyberbully, with the revelation that the terrible “bbbfamous” an Instagram user who has basically focused their entire time hating on Ah-ri, is just a girl suffering from some very serious mental issues.
Ah-ri makes a fake live stream, which shooks everyone. She is supposed to be dead. But in fact, she has been working from the shadows to bring down all the members of the Gabin Society, who are using the influencer privileges to do things that do not seem as good at all. Ah-ri ends up exposing their crimes and secrets, enacting in this way her revenge. However, when it comes to bbbfamous, Ah-ri confronts the girl face to face. It is a very powerful scene. We have all wished we could have faced our cyberbullies at one point.
However, the girl becomes completely irrational. We learn that she believes she has nothing in the world and that hating Ah-ri was her only reason to live. She believed that she had pushed Ah-ri to commit suicide, and Ah-ri reveals that she almost did. Now that Ah-ri is face to face with her, the girl reveals just how sick she is, and then instead of facing her crimes, she opts for the easy way out and commits suicide in front of Ah-ri.
The show ends with Ah-ri realizing that while there were a lot of people against her, being an influencer has also brought a lot of good things, including millions of people who worry about her and support her. Now, Ah-ri sees the rest of her life with new eyes and gets ready to return to social media and her fans.