As Extraordinary Attorney Woo continues to rise in global popularity, it is seeing everyone weigh in on it with their special takes. In a recent press conference, the creators explained the real reason why they chose not to have a villain in the show.
The plot revolves around autistic attorney Woo Young Woo as she navigates her new career at the prestigious law firm Hanbada. Woo Young Woo must overcome plenty of prejudice in order to make herself be respected as a fully competent lawyer. The show, however, maintains a bright and positive vibe as she does so with the help of a supportive circle of friends and colleagues.
This show of support from the characters around her has been met with some criticism from experts, however. While it does a successful job of creating a wholesome environment that allows Woo Young Woo to thrive, some experts have deemed it the most unrealistic part of the show.
And yet, it is one of the reasons why Extraordinary Attorney Woo does not have a villain. According to the creators, the real challenge for Woo Young Woo lies in facing the culturally ingrained prejudices that come from being visibly neurodivergent.
What we intended with the character of Woo is that she has both an extreme advantage and an extreme weakness together. The reason we didn’t set an antagonist is that the biggest difficulty for Woo to be a lawyer comes from autism itself and the prejudices that follow.
— Writer Moon Ji Won
In other words, a villain is not necessary when the protagonist is already faced with so much adversity. And in fact, in the case of Woo Young Woo, a cast of sympathetic characters is almost more important than an antagonist because they do more to show how neurodivergent people can thrive when given support.
Director Yoo In Sik commented that what he wanted for Woo Young Woo was for her to be surrounded by positive people who did not pity her. After all, the legal cases which she takes on already do a good job of presenting the prejudice that exists against her.
I wanted people to support the character of Woo not because they feel bad for her or because she is pitiful, but because she is lovely, vibrant and cool.
— Director Woo In Sik
This approach has been praised by Haley Moss, who, as a lawyer with autism herself, is grateful that Extraordinary Attorney Woo portrays Woo Young Woo as a fully-fledged human.
In the drama, Woo messes up, learns and grows along with others. What usually happens in media is that we focus on autistic people who don’t seem like humans with full personality and interests. We don‘t get the same opportunity.
— Haley Moss
After all, it is perhaps more authentic to show a neurodivergent character face the natural struggles that come with their condition rather than to ‘prove prejudice exists’ through painful encounters with an obviously prejudiced villain.
While there is room for improvement in the show’s portrayal of autism, it’s at least clear that the creators put a lot of thought into making this a positive and meaningful story!