THE SHORT VERDICT:
A quirky confection that is as sweet as it is strange, It’s Okay serves up an oddball-flavored 3-in-1 love package exploring romance, friendship and family, with a big dose of dysfunction and dramaland psychiatry on the side.
Show is not always big on the logic nor on the medical accuracy, but its characters and relationships are consistently delivered with heart and nuance, helping us to buy into and believe in its world, no matter how surreal things sometimes get. Excellent performances by our leads as well as many of the secondary characters, together with some very sparky OTP chemistry, help to sweeten the deal.
At its heart, It’s Okay’s charm is that it’s an imperfect show peopled by imperfect characters, to appeal to an imperfect audience.
THE LONG VERDICT:
To be honest, I liked It’s Okay significantly more than the last Noh Hee Kyung drama I watched, last year’s melo offering That Winter The Wind Blows.
While That Winter began by sweeping me away with its intriguing narrative, then eventually bemusing me with its inexplicable loss of logic, It’s Okay began by bemusing me, before eventually drawing me in with its heart. If I had to pick between the two, I’d say It’s Okay picked the better trajectory.
THE WEIRDNESS EFFECT
It’s Okay might just take the grand prize for the show with the oddest opening episode that I’ve seen to date.
I mean, it’s almost surreal, it’s so weird. We open with an apparent psycho being released from prison. Amid cheers from other inmates, Hero Psycho takes off his shirt and gyrates in triumph while prison officers walk on without batting an eye. Weird.
Then we go to a pool party that almost smells sleazy, there’re so many writhing scantily-clad bodies. And then before we know it, we get stabbing, and brotherhood.
The weirdness continues to permeate the episode, with
crazy mentally-unstable people running around amid spurts of random-feeling violence, topped off with a precipice near-disaster experience.
It all contributes to making this show feel odd, weird and quite surreal, like this is perhaps not a real world.
Yet, at the same time, the show also displays some rom-com elements, like the leads getting on each other’s nerves at first sight, and then going through An Event together that throws them into close proximity, all while lit by a gloriously warm Spring palette.
[END MINOR SPOILER]
It’s a very strange, puzzling kind of tone that the show presents in its opening episode. I.. basically didn’t understand a thing about what was going on. But I’m glad that I was intrigued enough to keep going, coz It’s Okay does have enough positives in it to make me feel like this was a worthy watch.
Ultimately, It’s Okay is a drama that simply refuses to be categorized. And whether one finds this pretentious or refreshing really depends on how forgiving one is, as a viewer.
One thing that I think most viewers would agree with, though, is that It’s Okay is a show that isn’t exactly comfortable to watch.
I think part of the discomfort with this show, is that it doesn’t fit any easy label. It’s not quite a rom-com, nor is it a straight-up romance, comedy, or melo. As we watch it, there’s a part of the seasoned drama-watching brain that is likely to determinedly spin, trying on labels and then discarding them, only to try them on again and discard them again.
And that, in the end, is one of the drama’s charms. It defies labels on purpose, and encourages us to do the same.
THE NECESSARY LENS
There is a lot of psychiatry in this drama world. Although I don’t know much about psychiatry myself and therefore can’t make an informed pronouncement on it, it’s not hard to tell that a lot of the psychiatry in this drama world is
nonsense quack doctoring.. extremely simplified.
The psychiatry in this world often feels as Mickey Mouse-ish as the law practiced in I Hear Your Voice. Basically, if you can’t look past it, you just won’t be able to enjoy the show.
I don’t necessarily believe in all the psychiatry this show dishes out, if dramaland’s previous levels of accuracy with medical, law or [insert any-other-profession] are anything to go by. But the important thing is, these characters believe in the psychiatry of this drama, and I can believe that they believe it.
While watching this show, your Psychiatry Blinders will need to be big, and you’ll use ’em often, and sometimes (oftentimes?) you might feel the need to roll your eyes at the ridiculousness of all its psychiatric posturing, but the emotional payoff is worth it. Well, I think it’s worth it, at any rate.
STUFF I LIKED
Excellent performances by our leads
Both Jo In Sung and Gong Hyo Jin are excellent as our leads. Both deliver natural, believable performances, each with enough nuance to make their characters pop, and with enough heart to make their characters feel real and honest, without ever feeling like they’re going OTT or trying too hard. If anything, I found both of their performances restrained and fairly understated, which I liked.
From the throwaway moments to the complex, difficult scenes, both of our leads put in committed deliveries that not only impressed me, but engaged my heart.
Here, I’d just like to highlight some of the scenes where Jo In Sung &/or Gong Hyo Jin blew me away with their performances.
1. Hae Soo’s breakdown in the stairwell
In episode 2, when Hae Soo finds out that her boyfriend Choi Ho (Do Sang Woo) has been cheating on her, she breaks down in the stairwell, rejecting his attempts to apologize and smooth things over.
Gong Hyo Jin’s performance in this scene basically blew me away. It’s so real and so powerful that I felt like I could feel every facet of Hae Soo’s emotions; first, the overwhelming disbelief and grief, spilling out raw and unbidden, given momentary free rein, until it’s all forcibly tamped down by the side of her that wants to remain in control.
The scene is short, but Gong Hyo Jin delivered so well that I believed every second of Hae Soo’s outburst, and felt her pain in dimension and detail. So natural, and so well done.
2. Jae Yeol’s steps towards the proposal
In episode 11, I loved how Jae Yeol’s steps towards his proposal to Hae Soo are so nicely mapped out. We can almost trace the path, from moment to moment, towards his realization and decision; from when he’s sorry to see Hae Soo leave his apartment, to how he seems to relish the signs of her having been there, to how he chases after her, not wanting her to leave.
As Jae Yeol surveys the traces in his apartment that Hae Soo has left behind, we can see the loving emotions and wistful, lingering thoughts towards her written so clearly on his face. And Jo In Sung plays it all so wonderfully and effortlessly that it’s quite mesmerizing.
3. Hae Soo’s confession to Jae Yeol
At the beginning of episode 14, Hae Soo finally confesses to Jae Yeol the secret that she’s been carrying, of how, back in high school, she’d selfishly pushed her mother (Kim Mi Kyung) towards Ahjusshi Kim for financial support, so that she could go to medical school.
It’s an emotionally charged moment, but it’s the moments after Hae Soo’s confession that really moved me.
Hae Soo cries in Jae Yeol arms, and Jae Yeol simply holds her and tells her, “I love you.”
I found Jae Yeol’s quiet continued acceptance of Hae Soo very moving, and I love the silent beat as they hold each other in those moments; her pain, and his empathy, communicated so fully with so few words.
4. Jae Yeol in hospital
In episode 14, Jae Yeol is essentially ambushed into the hospital, and it’s a difficult time for both him and Hae Soo. The entire episode is full of moving performances from both Jo In Sung and Gong Hyo Jin.
In particular, Jo In Sung is heartbreakingly good in the closing scene, where, as a patient drugged up in a hospital, he feels helpless and confused.
The way Jae Yeol looks at Hae Soo, Jo In Sung communicates so fully what Jae Yeol is feeling. He feels helpless, embarrassed, ashamed, confused, overwhelmed, sad, desperate, hesitant, and so reluctant to hurt Hae Soo or say the wrong thing.
As the scene closes, Hae Soo asks Jae Yeol not to call after her as she leaves, so that she will be able to come to him again. Jae Yeol, drugged and not in full control of his physical functions, whispers her name brokenly as she closes the door, “Hae Soo-ya..” as tears brim in his eyes.
Oof. Tears. In my eyes.
5. Jae Yeol with Kang Woo
Overall, I found Jae Yeol’s scenes with Kang Woo (Do Kyung Soo / D.O.) consistently excellent. Especially in the scenes where we see that Kang Woo isn’t really there, and that involve Jo In Sung acting alone, like this scene from episode 4.
We really believe that Jae Yeol believes that Kang Woo is real, even though we know that Kang Woo isn’t real.
Kudos to Jo In Sung for playing Jae Yeol’s hallucinations so convincingly, yet without making him come across as a crazy person. Instead, he makes Jae Yeol come across as earnest and a little broken, beneath the confident, somewhat eccentric veneer. He makes Jae Yeol feel real, and perhaps even more importantly, empathetic. Really, really well done.
I really enjoyed our OTP, both in terms of how they’re written as a pair of characters, as well as the chemistry that Jo In Sung and Gong Hyo Jin share, in bringing Jae Yeol’s and Hae Soo’s relationship to life.
As a pair of characters, Jae Yeol and Hae Soo are like kindred spirits, in a sense. They both have issues – and quite a few of ’em, too – and they’re each therefore better able to understand the weird quirks of the other.
It’s only on hindsight that I am able to fully appreciate the bathtub poster of this show. It puts across the message so well: “I can meet you in your place of weirdness; I will meet you in your place of weirdness; I can even love you there.”
At its core, Jae Yeol’s and Hae Soo’s love story is about two damaged individuals who may not be able to help heal each other, but who are willing to accept each other, damage, baggage and all, and there’s something rather beautiful about that.
Chemistry-wise, there’s something very.. well, organic about the way our OTP interacts.
The way Jo In Sung and Gong Hyo Jin appear so comfortable in close proximity of each other; the way the air between them can sizzle and spark with a single gaze; the way they touch each other, so comfortably and unabashedly. It all comes together in a wonderfully believable and engaging manner.
Here, I’d like to give the admiring spotlight to some of my favorite OTP moments.
1. Water Kiss
The water kiss at the end of episode 5 is early-ish evidence of their sizzling chemistry.
Just as Jae Yeol and Hae Soo are about to head away from the lake back to the car to continue their drive back into the city, Jae Yeol tosses Hae Soo into the water for some spontaneous splashy fun.
As our not-yet-a-couple splash and laugh, there’s this Moment, when Jae Yeol’s gaze fixes appreciatively on Hae Soo, as she laughingly protests at his playful splashing.
Next thing she knows, Jae Yeol’s long strides have moved him close to her from across the water, and in one fluid movement, he takes her face in his hands and kisses her.
After a moment, a startled Hae Soo pulls away, and the kiss is broken momentarily. But it isn’t long before their lips meet again, and this time, as if almost unconsciously, his hand closes in to the small of her back, and her hands rise to hold his face.
Without logic or thought to hold them back, our OTP cleaves together, lost in the moment. The kiss feels unhurried, natural & unabashed, and is very sparky indeed.
2. Hae Soo cleans Jae Yeol’s wounds
In episode 6, after Jae Yeol’s fight with Kang Woo’s father, Hae Soo finds a bruised and cut-up Jae Yeol in his bathroom and proceeds to clean his wounds.
There is just so much tenderness in this scene, as she tends to him. All her prickliness is faded away in the moment, and only compassion and tenderness remain.
I love how gently she touches his face. I love, too, how he quietly reaches for her hand.
So much is communicated wordlessly; Hae Soo’s concern and compassion for Jae Yeol; Jae Yeol’s gratitude for her concern, and the comfort he takes from her presence. All expressed and understood, through the touch of their hands.
3. Silent Embrace
In episode 7, after Jae Yeol misses his appointment with Hae Soo and gets stabbed & beaten up by his brother Jae Bum (Yang Ik Joon), he finally meets Hae Soo at the park.
The moment Hae Soo sets eyes on the injured Jae Yeol, she wordlessly embraces him to herself, and pats his shoulder comfortingly without a word.
Jae Yeol actually begins to put up a brave front, saying carelessly that he isn’t even that hurt. But in the face of Hae Soo’s gentle embrace, Jae Yeol’s initial brave smile gives way, and his face crumples a little, as he allows the tears and sadness to finally surface.
It’s such a sweet, tender moment, and so much acceptance and compassion is communicated, at a deeper and more profound level than the words that embellish the surface.
On a related tangent, although I honestly think that the show glossed over Hae Soo’s phobia of intimacy in a ridiculously simplistic manner, I really enjoyed seeing her be affectionate and loving toward Jae Yeol. The way she regularly reaches for him, kisses him and touches him feels so honest and so real, that I’m willing to shut off the “but she’s recovering from a serious intimacy phobia!” protests from my logical side.
The Housemates’ Dynamic
Another thing that I found appealing in this show, is the dynamic among the housemates in the “house of crazies.”
They aren’t always normal nor logical, but their acceptance and loyalty make up for it in spades.
Throughout the drama, we get to witness this bunch of people living together, hanging out, and basically going about their admittedly quirky and oddball daily lives.
What’s weird is, although it often feels like not a lot happens with these people, the small beats of closeness that we witness them sharing totally add up. Characters go from giving one another defiant scowls to sharing happy smiles and triumphant fist bumps, sometimes without a whole lot of explanation. Yet, the cumulative effect of their small moments of loyalty makes it all feel natural and not so weird after all. It’s amazing and cool and weird all at once, and quite appealingly so.
Honestly, what makes the “household of crazies” so charming really isn’t the fact that they’re crazy per se. Rather, it’s the relaxed, accepting dynamic of their relationships with one another, in spite of the crazies each of them brings, that endears them to us.
They bicker, holler and get peeved with one another almost on a daily basis, but at the heart of it, there’s a lot of acceptance in spite of each of their hang-ups and problems. Particularly since they literally have some crazy about them, and therefore find less acceptance than usual from other people outside the house, I believe the acceptance that they find in one another is why this house feels like such a sanctuary for them all.
Both Dong Min (Sung Dong Il) and Soo Kwang (Lee Kwang Soo) are pretty great characters in their own right.
Dong Min is quirky and huffy, and is grumpy almost as a general rule, but he’s also got a very reassuring, caring air about him, which I really like. He ends up being very involved in helping Jae Bum and Jae Yeol, and by extension, everyone else, and I really liked the father figure sort of role that he filled for everyone.
When I think about it, all the key characters that Dong Min helps – Hae Soo, Jae Yeol, Jae Bum and Soo Kwang – all don’t have fathers that they can turn to. I love that Dong Min readily and simply takes them all under his grumpy, gruff, caring wing, and helps ’em all.
There are a number of pretty great moments in the show involving Soo Kwang, but hands-down, my favorite of the lot is in episode 13, when Soo Kwang learns that Jae Yeol is suffering from a psychiatric condition.
I love, love, LOVE that Soo Kwang’s response to learning that Jae Yeol is sick is not to pity him, or avoid him, but to love him. That is so, so sweet.
I love that Soo Kwang puts his own life literally on hold, and takes the time to good-and-proper get in Jae Yeol’s face, even when Jae Yeol is actively avoiding everyone. He prepares breakfast for Jae Yeol, makes him eat, and forces him to take a break from his writing.
Most significantly of all, Soo Kwang finds a way to share his view and understanding of psychiatric patients, and how they’re just suffering from a few broken or misplaced pieces, and are mostly normal, whole people. Notably, this is all before Jae Yeol even knows that he’s sick. I love that Soo Kwang sows the seeds of understanding in a completely surreptitious manner, yet manages to be so matter-of-fact, off-handed and loving about it, at the same time.
Soo Kwang’s care and love for a reluctant and reclusive Jae Yeol, expressed in so many small-ish beats this episode, results in some awesome you-have-no-choice bromance, and is just one very endearing cumulative package of sweet.
STUFF THAT I LIKED LESS
So Nyeo as a character
To be honest, I didn’t really care for So Nyeo (Lee Sung Kyung) as a character.
I dunno. So Nyeo just rubbed me the wrong way, all series long. From the moment she appeared, I just found her character presumptuous and rude, and was peeved when she landed a job at the coffeeshop, coz that meant she was going to be appearing in episodes on a regular basis.
So Nyeo’s flippant, manipulative and self-centered ways annoyed me, but nothing about her annoyed me more than her habit of blatantly using Soo Kwang, while toying with his feelings. Bleargh.
It’s true that later in the series, So Nyeo accepts Soo Kwang, Tourette’s and all, and it’s one of the nicest things she does all series long.
Still, because the characterization around her character had been broad-stroked and clunky, So Nyeo’s niceness struck me as sudden and unconvincing, and I never got on board with her character.
As you can tell, I’m not a fan of the character, and would’ve been perfectly happy if she’d been omitted from the story altogether.
Hae Soo’s Contrary Streak
Much as I like Hae Soo as our female lead, there’s something about her which did annoy me, and that’s her contrary streak. Sometimes, it almost felt like she was being disagreeable on purpose, which I didn’t like so much.
For one thing, Hae Soo has a hot temper and a lot of pride. From early on in the show, we see that Hae Soo has a habit of getting very worked up, sometimes over stuff that’s not very big at all. Her pride also prevents her from backing down easily, and just as that wears out the people around her, it also wears me out as a viewer.
Hae Soo’s contrary streak rears its heads on a regular basis, and dances on the boundary between endearing and annoying.
Here are a handful of examples where I found her contrary streak more annoying than endearing:
1. The fact that as a doctor, Hae Soo regularly tells her patients that their will to treat their ailments is a big piece of their recovery puzzle, yet consistently, stubbornly lacks that very will to treat her own issues.
2. Hae Soo being all contrary on the plane with Jae Yeol, refusing to rest and stay quiet so that he’d be able to work like they’d agreed. She keeps talking while he tries to write, and is basically all kinds of inconsiderate. Worse, she plays the victim card when he gets annoyed.
Taking into account the fact that Hae Soo is fiercely protective of her own professional rights, I find it extremely insensitive and annoying that she doesn’t respect the same boundaries that I’m so sure she would’ve demanded had the roles been reversed.
3. Hae Soo has an annoying habit of asking her housemates for their opinions on how Jae Yeol treats her. It’s trying to create a majority-against-one sort of victory, which is really unfair. Every time she did this, I felt she was being unreasonable.
Not gonna lie; there were times while watching this drama that I found Hae Soo downright unlikable.
Yet, she is more giving than she first appears, which is Hae Soo’s saving grace as a character. After all, she even contacts and meets the annoying So Nyeo, just because Soo Kwang asked for a favor.
All the Drive-By Psychiatry
I mentioned earlier in this review that there’s a lot of dramaland psychiatry in this show. I so was not kidding.
On the one hand, there is a lot of dramaland psychiatry already practiced by and on a number of our primary characters. Just like Hae Soo’s fear of intimacy is conveniently glossed over, Soo Kwang’s growth as a charcter, is, again, a result of over-simplifying his condition.
It’s a big enough suspension of disbelief, to choose to close both eyes and just accept these conveniently simplified problems, like a fairy godmother – or, more accurately in this case, writer-nim – waved a wand and made it all go away.
What made the dramaland psychiatry even harder to ignore, was all the drive-by psychiatry that we tended to get, all drama long.
Each episode, almost without fail, there’s someone who needs help, and our motley crew is always right there to bring the psychiatric terms and the oversimplified, smug quack doctoring, before sending them along their merry way. Added to the primary psychiatric issues already in play, this just tipped the psychiatry balance into too-much territory.
Many times, these side arcs also tended to feel forced, like they were shoehorned in there to fulfill a quota. What made these feel even more forced, was the fact that these side characters were often played by less experienced actors. During the more demanding emotional beats, their inexperience was at its most glaring.
To put it bluntly, I could have done with a lot less drive-by psychiatry, thank you very much. Maybe cut the cases by about half, and have those played by more experienced actors doing cameos. I think that would’ve helped a lot.
Sometimes it’s just too dysfunctional
As much as I appreciate the drama’s efforts to demonstrate to us that dysfunction isn’t something to be afraid of, there were distinct times when I felt like things were just a little too dysfunctional for my viewing comfort.
[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]
Jae Yeol’s family relationships
One of the biggies in this category is Jae Yeol’s family relationships.
By episode 7, we have a pretty clear sense of just how dysfunctional Jae Yeol’s relationship is with Jae Bum.
Not only do we know that Jae Bum has a habit of stabbing Jae Yeol every time he’s allowed out of jail, we see that Jae Yeol repeatedly lets his brother stab him and does nothing to avoid or stop him. In fact, in episode 7, when Jae Bum is caught beating up Jae Yeol and is about to have the cops called on him, it’s Jae Yeol that pleads with everyone not to call the police, while Jae Bum clings to him like a little kid.
There’s a twisted kind of logic to Jae Yeol’s family’s understanding of one another. Even Mom (Cha Hwa Yun) agrees that Jae Bum isn’t as bad as everyone else thinks he is. And Jae Yeol points out more than once how Jae Bum would’ve used more dangerous weapons and stabbed him in more critical places if he were truly dangerous.
It’s very, very weird, and extremely dysfunctional, to say the least. More dysfunctional than I’m generally prepared to accept as a viewer.
Dong Min’s “Sexy Friendship” with Young Jin
Dong Min’s relationship with his ex-wife Young Jin (Jin Kyung) is another biggie for me.
To put it bluntly, I found it weird and unhealthy for them to keep hanging out in the same circles and to keep having that darn divorce anniversary party every year (I mean, who does that, right?), and for her to keep holding a torch for him, and keep angling to spend alone time with him, all while he’s already married to a new wife.
This alone was enough to make me feel their relationship was strange and dysfunctional.
But to me, that wasn’t even the worst of it.
In episode 10, Dong Min and Young Jin finally confront the elephant in the room, about their unresolved feelings for each other.
Dong Min says to Young Jin, and I quote:
“I… really do love you very much. You know that? … There is… something that I’ve learned… through loving you. And that is, the fact that the sexiest kind of relationship in this world… is true friendship between a man and a woman. I really want to hold you right now, but I’m not going to. The sexy friendship that we’ve shared for more than 20 years now… We can’t let it become something tawdry just because of a momentary physical desire.”
This whole spiel makes me very uncomfortable, to be honest. I can buy the idea that Dong Min tells Young Jin as a friend that he loves her a lot.
But to have him tell her how he’d really like to hold her, but won’t, just gives me a case of the squicks. I mean, Dong Min is married, albeit to a perennially absent wife. It’s just not appropriate, nor is it respectful to his wife, for him to say to another woman that he’d like to hold her.
This arc didn’t sit well with me, and I do wish that they’d taken this in a different direction.
KEY THEMES & MESSAGES
Dysfunction as a motif
Throughout the show, dysfunction is presented as a motif.
One of the ways this manifests itself, is in the way scenes featuring weird or dysfunctional behavior is often backed by light-hearted, jolly music. This has the effect of giving the scene a surreal sort of flavor, not unlike the epic golf course battle in History of the Salaryman.
Considering how much dysfunction is served as a main course in this drama, this purposely jarring effect is employed on more occasions than I felt necessary.
One of the most jarring instances of this device is in episode 6, when Jae Yeol fights vehemently with Kang Woo’s father, as the light-hearted music plays in the background.
This device creates a surreal, sometimes almost dissonant effect, and I know that some viewers were annoyed by this discordance.
I think what the show is trying to show us, is that we all have issues, and that dysfunction is really quite normal.
The psychiatric conditions in the show are just to magnify the experience, but really, all of us have issues to work through, even though they aren’t psychiatric issues. And the light-hearted music is trying to communicate to us that it’s not doom and gloom, but that life is something to experience lightly.
Or something like that.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING
To be honest, I didn’t think the show had a very strong ending. If you look at it with even a slightly critical lens, the logic of the entire ending pretty much falls apart.
First of all, it’s conveniently simple how everything gets solved. Jae Bum’s and Jae Yeol’s relationship, magically smoothed over with an apology and a beating. Jae Bum’s and Mom’s relationship, suddenly improved by time spent together, leading to some context-shifting at the riverside memory. Jae Yeol’s hallucinations of Kang Woo, looking to be solved with one good long look at Kang Woo, and a sending-off gift of foot washing plus new shoes.
One moment Jae Yeol’s breaking up with Hae Soo coz he will never be cured and he doesn’t want to subject her to worrying about him for life. The next thing we know, he’s on the road to recovery coz Hae Soo says he needs to determine for himself that Kang Woo is fake, and he does, the moment she asks him to. Y’know, I’m pretty sure if this was the solution, that the other doctors tending to Jae Yeol could’ve asked him to look long and hard at Kang Woo, before Hae Soo did so.
At a symbolic level, though, Jae Yeol’s farewell to Kang Woo works. It represents Jae Yeol coming to terms with all that Kang Woo represents, and a releasing and letting go of the past, and an accompanying moving on, into the future.
Hae Soo once again being involved in Jae Yeol’s recovery goes against what we’ve been told with regard to disciplinary board and all, but I suppose this is where feels win out over logic.
Jae Yeol letting Hae Soo go looks like noble idiocy, but in this case, I don’t think it is. It’s more of allowing the person you love to live the life they want to, giving space and freedom for the one you love, to grow and mature and find their way. Jae Yeol lets Hae Soo go without any guarantees, and does it with a determinedly open hand, trusting – mostly hoping – that even as she spreads her wings, that she will find her way back to him again, in her journey of growth.
The mock indifferent reception the boys give to Hae Soo is cliched and not very believable at all, but I appreciate the sentiment, that Jae Yeol’s been thinking of Hae Soo so much, that he feels like he’s been seeing her all this time.
I actually rather like the matter-of-fact way that we’re told that Jae Yeol and Hae Soo are married. It feels like it was such a natural thing to happen, that we don’t even need to see how it worked out. Although, I do think that the show glossed over Mom’s disapproval way too much. From being so against the union, how did Mom come around to love Jae Yeol with such acceptance? That would’ve been worth touching on, even if only in passing.
Practically everything after this point in the episode, from the discovery of the pregnancy, to the hosing down in the garden, to the bickering in the living room with everyone and their partners, to the tomato-fight showdown, to the final scene involving Jae Yeol’s radio spot and fan encounter, feels a little too contrived and cliched, and a touch forced, even. But I get that it’s meant as fanservice, in the interest of a happy ending. Plus, both Jo In Sung and Gong Hyo Jin put in heartfelt, warm deliveries, and that definitely helps to sweeten the deal.
Towards the end of the show, Jae Yeol says to his listeners, “Remember that there was never a moment you were alone.”
That’s one of this drama’s themes. That you’re not alone, and it’s ok not to be perfect. That there is worth in everyone, even in the most broken people.
In the end, this is a show that dances to its own rhythm, and does so unabashedly. Sometimes it’s quirky. Sometimes it’s touching. Sometimes it’s just plain weird. And Show doesn’t care.
In that sense, I like how it walks its talk. It tells us as viewers that it’s ok to be different, and it’s ok to be imperfect, and it’s ok to live life proudly in spite of it all. And I feel like that’s exactly what Show is doing.
In being unapologetic for its own missteps and weirdness, and sticking to its beliefs with determination, despite not always making a lot of sense, it’s literally showing us how it’s done. And I kinda hafta admire that.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Sweet and strange. Mostly in a good way.
FINAL GRADE: B+