THE SHORT VERDICT:
A light(ish) melodrama that’s high on the cute and low on the logic, Bride of the Century is the kind of show that would crumble under too harsh a lens. Given the right lens, though, it’s a fun watch that even gets pretty cracky in stretches.
The good news is, that lens isn’t a hard one to put on.
Yes, the show is so full of drama cliches that it feels like someone took every drama cliche that ever existed, put ’em all into a box, and the writers of this show then played a game where they took turns drawing out random cliches from the box and had to find a way to work ’em all into the show. In the order in which they were drawn. Yep. Sometimes plot logic took a beating; I cannot lie. But think of Cliche City as a game, and that ups the fun by a whole lot.
The shining jewel in this rather haphazard crown, is that this show has enough cute to mitigate almost the entire weight of the excessive drama tropes. Who can say no to this show, when you’ve got this cute of a puppy on your screen, right?
THE LONG VERDICT:
There are only 3 things that you need to know in order to enjoy this show. Yep. 3 things. That’s all you need, and I’m here to tell you all about them. What can I say? I’m helpful that way. 😉
1. Lee Hong Ki is a Puppy
I’m gonna have to agree with everyone else; Lee Hong Ki is all kinds of adorable as Choi Kang Ju, our leading man.
If you’ve seen You’re Beautiful (2009), you’d already be familiar with Lee Hong Ki’s cute, little-boy charm as the effervescent, lovable Jeremy.
He’s cleaned up nicely for Bride of the Century, wearing with ease the dark hair, smart suits and suave smirk which Jeremy didn’t get to wear. At the same time, Lee Hong Ki really just can’t get away from his Core Cute. It shines through, even when he’s being all manly and debonaire.
So even as this new, manned-up version of Lee Hong Ki strutted his stuff on my screen, at the heart of it, I saw Puppy.
Basically, when Lee Hong Ki was being Fierce Kang Ju, like so:
I saw Fierce Puppy, like so:
And when Lee Hong Ki was being Sad Kang Ju, like so:
I saw Sad Puppy, like so:
And when Lee Hong Ki was being Nurturing Kang Ju, like so:
I saw Nurturing Puppy, like so:
To which, one’s response can only be, “Eeeeee!! Cutieeeee!! Can I squish you now??”
I found it endlessly entertaining to watch Lee Hong Ki wear his best manly air and strut his hero stuff. Not to be disrespectful or anything, it just felt like I was watching the cutest, littlest puppy ever, put on his best I’m-a-big-guard-dog shoes. ADORABLE.
Here’s more Adorable Cute Puppy for ya:
Isn’t he just the cutest lil puppy?
On a side note, I thought it was equal parts cute and sexy that Lee Hong Ki’s got such hairy legs. Cute, coz that’s so in character – after all, puppies have hairy legs too, right? Hee. And sexy, coz that’s such a manly sort of thing, having hairy legs.
Rawr. And, squishes.
2. The OTP is as cute as 2 Puppies
With such a cute leading man, having a cute leading lady (who’s almost as cute as her leading man) is pretty much exactly what we need.
Yang Jin Sung fills that quotient quite nicely, managing to take a pretty cookie-cutter sort of spunky Candy heroine and making her likable and appealing.
Together, our OTP was literally as cute as 2 puppies:
With that kind of cute resulting when the OTP is together, it’s no wonder that the show’s writers basically spend much of their time working out ways for our OTP to share screen time.
A good number of the tropes employed are in service of OTP skinship, and y’know, I just can’t complain about that. Not when these 2 are this cute together.
Mistaken identities, wrist-grabs, falling kisses, plus one Fake Engagement. We’ve got ’em all.
Although the arc of having an ice prince hero getting his heart melted against his will, by a spunky, warm heroine is nothing new in dramaland, it somehow didn’t feel stale to me, in this drama.
Maybe it’s the cuteness of the OTP that makes it work. Or maybe it’s this precise just-so combination of drama tropes that makes it work. Or maybe it’s the Goong-esque flavor of the fake engagement that gets me. As my first ever drama, Goong has a very special spot in my drama-loving heart. Maybe – probably? – it’s all of the above.
I enjoyed the fake fiancee set-up a whole lot, and looked forward to all the hijinks as they unfolded on my screen.
Plus, who can resist cute lil puppies as they make moony eyes at each other, right?
3. The entire show is a Puppy
Have you ever watched a play that’s written, produced and acted by young kids?
Almost everything about this show reminds me of that sort of an experience.
Despite the plot fails, and the sometimes nonsensical direction of the story, this is a show that seems to take itself seriously. But because this show is basically a puppy, watching it is like watching little kids put on a Very Serious Play that they wrote themselves. They memorize their lines and put their whole effort into the acting, the costumes, everything.
Overall, the acting in this show is really.. earnest. It’s not quite nuanced, and overall, it’s decent, if sometimes stilted. But the earnestness does shine through. Everyone – especially our main cast – tries really hard.
As I got deeper into the show, I realized, too, that beyond the outer shell that was all sparkles and rainbows (and puppies!), there was a nutso fantasy makjang brewing at the center. Curve balls came out of nowhere, and often didn’t actually make a whole lotta sense, especially if you thought about it too hard.
Back to our analogy, to the “kids,” it’s epic, important and Very, Very Serious business. For us watching, though, it’s just impossible to take it too seriously. Even during the angsty parts, it’s basically still a cute puppy, just that it’s trying to bare its teeth and flaunt its claws. So even when it’s trying to be all fierce and serious, all you can think of is, “Aw, Puppyyyy.” Heh.
There are loose ends and logic fails aplenty, and at around episode 10, I started to feel the drag and was even mildly tempted to drop the show.
If/when that happens for you, here’s a little vid to amplify how much fun it can be, to sometimes just let go of your need for plot logic.
Kid Snippets: stories conceived & voiced by kids
Sometimes watching the events unfold in Bride of the Century is akin to watching this kid video. If you’re expecting elegance, nuance or robust plot logic, you’d be disappointed. If you can look past all of that, though, you’ll be rewarded with ample amounts of cute.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Fun for when you want to give the ol’ brain a vacation and just indulge in large amounts of Puppy cuteness.
FINAL GRADE: A-