Korean dramas often seem to reside in that treacherous land called Superficiality Central, with its mushy terrain of romantic angst, familial verbal fisticuffs and social-media spite. And surely few businesses can be as emotionally puddle-deep as acting, modelling and make-up, three worlds that collide in Record of Youth (Netflix, season one now streaming). All the above are puréed into this rite-of-passage tale in which the dreams, ambitions and perceived limpness of Seoul’s millennials clatter into the traditional values of their disapproving elders. Now, this might sound like a baloney sandwich, but let’s hold the derision dressing for a moment. Agreed, it can be a challenge to see beyond extended scenes of pretty-boy metrosexuals having their make-up done, not least when the make-up artist is herself rendered as the glowing apogee of fresh-faced female pulchritude. But is there more to the show? Yes. Sa Hye-jun (Park Bo-gum) is a fledgling actor not content with middling success as a model. Still, he finds himself caught between two stools, with his acting career stranded on the launch pad and modelling jobs becoming scarce. So he waits tables and takes jobs as a bodyguard to pay his way, all the while praying for his big-screen big break – and hoping to defer military service. Not that his extended family is happy with this, considering him a burden who should just join up already and leave the rest of them with more to eat. Meanwhile, Hye-jun’s best friend and rival model, Won Hae-hyo (Byeon Woo-seok), has enjoyed more success, thanks, it would seem, to family connections and his coming from a swanky neighbourhood. Not that loyal chum Hye-jun would ever hold either against him. Disrupting the cosy dynamic is “fangirl” Ahn Jeong-ha (Park So-dam), a junior make-up specialist destined to meet Hye-jun, her major Instagram crush, backstage at a fashion show in which he is appearing – and where she applies blusher to his face. (This could be the end of going to the gym as a means of impressing girls.) Jeong-ha tries to keep her cool, Hye-jun is intrigued and Jin-woo could be either a third wheel or the third angle in a love triangle. Watch this space. But for all the two guys’ good looks, Jeong-ha may prove the most adept at negotiating the booby traps and bitchy bosses of their intersecting fields. And while we wait for their three-way fraternity to ignite, we can marvel at Korean society’s passive-aggressive public relationships, balanced by intra-family screaming matches in private. Utopia – Amazon Prime’s dystopian thriller for our time “Sometimes it feels like everyone in the world is sick. It’s kinda depressing,” says Ian, a health-insurance salesman and comic geek, uttering lines written way before Covid-19 was even a spore in a Wuhan bat. Ian (Dan Byrd) is part of a gang of nerds obsessed with a fabled comic called Utopia , not for its elaborate artwork but for the coded messages and predictions within – encompassing the advent of Ebola, Mers, Zika and the next microscopic killer due down the conduit of calamity. Cynics beware: this stuff, as foretold, is real and it’s coming for you. The closer our heroes edge to exposing the realities of bio-terror and corporate corruption, the deeper the danger in which they find themselves. Unlike in the original British series they are assisted by a Bill Gates-style billionaire philanthropist (John Cusack) on their world-saving mission. But will a mere eight episodes of Utopia (series one, Amazon Prime, now streaming) give them time enough to succeed? The outlandish fantasy-character costumes alone are worth the admission money here. As for the revered comic itself – the truth is in there.