THE SHORT VERDICT:
This drama is really different. It’s zany, irreverent and funny, with a sense of humor that’s often outlandish and a bit manic. It’s not actually slapstick, though it can sometimes veer (just a little) that way.
It often took me by surprise, and I already went in expecting it to be different.
The style and humor can take a while to get into, but it’s well worth checking out. Even my mother was amused.
THE LONG VERDICT:
There are a lot things that this drama does unconventionally.
First of all, the characters.
We have an unconventional hero Oh Yoo Bang who’s not very good-looking at all, though I concede that that’s a matter of opinion, and maybe there’re lots of fans out there who think Lee Bum Soo is a total stud muffin.
On top of that, he doesn’t seem to be very bright and is a touch bumbling.
And we have an unconventional heroine in Baek Yeo Chi (Jung Ryu Won), who looks every bit the part of the pretty chaebol heiress, with her designer togs and perfect hair and makeup, but who’s rude and vain and cusses up a storm at the drop of a hat.
It’s hilarious how much of her speaking portions are bleeped out.
The more conventionally good-looking Jung Gyu Woon is cast as our resident villain Choi Hang Woo. This confused me somewhat, because I really loved Jung Gyu Woon in Dr. Champ, and I would sometimes catching myself rooting for him out of habit.
And that’s just the tip of iceberg when it comes to this show messing with your mind.
Rounding out our main characters is Cha Woo Hee (Hong Soo Hyun). Her character wasn’t as unconventional, though it was amusing that she was a highly intelligent researcher who was also rather vain and a bit of a ditz.
After last seeing her turn in The Princess’ Man as a fiercely elegant princess, it felt incongruous and therefore funny seeing her in this role.
The plot developments take unexpected twists in unexpected settings using unexpected and quirky plot devices, side characters &/or props.
In no other drama have I seen a corporate battle turn into an all-out war on a golf course, with an epic music score playing in the background to boot:
And neither did I expect to ever see a chicken in a hanbok on my screen, under any circumstances, let alone a chicken that harbors the secret to eternal youth.
This chicken is supposed to be 112 years old:
If you’ve not seen this drama yet, now is about the time where you go, “Say WHUT??”
But that’s exactly the thing. Salaryman is a drama that is blithely kooky and different, and you literally never know when it’s next going to take a sharp left turn.
The writers for this show were literally on fire.
The drama has a very different, refreshing sort of flavor, yet there are elements that help to keep the story relatable.
Yoo Bang is the everyman who is as underdog as they come. Unsuccessful in practically every area of his life, his dream is simply to land a job working in a proper company.
Any one of us can relate to the simple, humble nature of his dream.
As he bumbles his way towards achieving his dream, we get to experience the adventure vicariously through him.
His unlikely partnership with Yeo Chi not only brings the laughs, but also acts as a coming-of-age device for both characters.
Yoo Bang is thrust into a position where he has to find his inner hero in order to save the day, and Yeo Chi is forced to outgrow her pissy princessy antics when the world as she knows it collapses around her with a thud.
Together, our unlikely duo battles the baddies in what evolves into a quest for justice and truth.
The stuff of superhero origin stories.
I enjoyed Salaryman all the way through, though a minor gripe is that I wasn’t overly impressed with the final episode. The last episode felt a little predictable, which was a departure from the general sense of unpredictability in this show.
But you know, if there is to be a happy ending, we all sort of knew what that would entail, and so when the story finally starts to head in that direction, I guess it becomes pretty hard to surprise the audience AND go in the direction that we want.
And we all want a happy ending, right?
THE FINAL VERDICT:
A worthwhile fun ride. Be prepared to laugh out loud 🙂
FINAL GRADE: B+
For those who haven’t seen the show, here’s a quick teaser.