On August 30, Disney+ will release the 4-part limited series ‘NCT 127: The Lost Boys.’ It is a docu-series that will allow the 9 members of the very popular Kpop idol group NCT 127 to reflect on their success since their debut in 2016 and ruminate on how their “lost childhood.” It promises to get intimate, and personal with each member as they speak about what it was like growing up under the spotlight, surrounded by the press and the fans, and growing up as successful idols since they blasted into the music scene.
Each episode will focus on two or three members and in the first episode, we are introduced to the band. We get to hear the 9 members talk about themselves as a group, what NCT stands for and what it really means (the answer is just as vague but interesting to hear from their own mouths), and then it segues straight into two of the hardest working members of NCT (and maybe even Kpop), Mark Lee and Haechan.
After all, these two members are not just singing and dancing with NCT 127 but with NCT Dream as well. They are learning the songs, harmonies, choreography, and lore of two different idol groups, both of which are very successful. Recognising that and starting with them was a pretty good move on the part of the filmmakers as they would have a larger appeal since their fan base might be a lot bigger and they can start at a place of tension – how Mark and Haechan are exhausted and might be feeling lost.
The show takes a very creative and artistic way of visualizing the narrations of the members. Instead of just simple talking heads or a basic interview style, ‘NCT 127: The Lost Boys’ uses an almost theatrical approach to this autobiographical documentary. In the show, they call it “performance art.” For Mark, he recreates his childhood with actors playing his younger self, his teenage self, while Mark plays his present day self. Other members can play other characters in Mark’s narration of his thoughts and memories.
For Haechan, they take the approach of therapists couch, or even a hypnotist allowing Haechan to question his own choices and to reflect upon the conditions of his youth that brought him to where he is now as a member of NCT 127.
As someone not familiar with NCT 127 (I am familiar with NCT Dream, though, so Mark Lee and Haechan opening the first episode was an accessible experience for me), the show has yet to sell to me the group. I was invested in the first episode because I am familiar with the two idols from their membership in another group. But getting a feel of the group as a whole, it wasn’t bringing me in yet.
It feels as if the show is tailor-made for the existing fans of NCT 127. Just more content that allows the fans to feel closer to their idols. Maybe as the next three episodes unfold, getting to know the other members might help a non-fan like me to see what NCT 127 is all about and what makes them special from all the other groups that are out there today.
It’s an interesting approach, though, to take: allowing the members to discuss their lost childhood. It opens up and implies what is lost when becoming an idol. Sure, these young men are dressed in designer clothes, are famous, and followed wherever they go. They get to sing and dance for a living, which is something they probably wanted to do (for Haechan, that was something that was passed down from his musician parents) but it comes at a great cost.
By using the creative execution of their stories, though, it can distract from the human element of sadness and maybe regret that can surface in recollections such as these. The fact that the process requires acting, costumes, and choreography can distance you from the actual heart of the message. It turns their stories into entertainment rather than a true meditation on the cost of fame.
Ending the episode with a performance from one of their hit songs may also be another way of catching the attention of non-fans and bringing them into the fandom, or just another way to satisfy the fans’ need for more content to watch and enjoy.
‘NCT 127: The Lost Boys’ is a glossy, refined docu-series that feels set to bring new people into the world of the idol group while giving longtime fans a deeper look into the inner worlds of the idols. It will strengthen that bond that is already there, but it won’t humanize them as much as the show envisions. It continues to prop them up as superstars and entertainers. Their humanity gets lost in the production values and creativity.
‘NCT 127: The Lost Boys’ is now streaming on Disney+. Watch it here.