The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: It’s Okay It’s Love

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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.

It’s Okay It’s Love OST – I Love Party

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.

[MINOR SPOILER]

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.

It’s Okay It’s Love OST – 괜찮아 사랑이야

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.

[SPOILER ALERT]

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.

[END SPOILER]

OTP Chemistry

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.

It’s Okay It’s Love OST – Blue Day

[SPOILER ALERT]

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.

Rawr.

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.

So good.

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.

Love.

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.

[END SPOILER]

It’s Okay It’s Love OST – 최고의 행운

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.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Both Dong Min (Sung Dong Il) and Soo Kwang (Lee Kwang Soo) are pretty great characters in their own right.

Dong Min

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.

Soo Kwang

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.

Love. It.

[END SPOILER]

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.

[SPOILER ALERT]

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.

[END SPOILER]

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.

[SPOILER ALERT]

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.

[END SPOILER]

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.

It’s Okay It’s Love Pop OST – You’re My Best Friend

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.

FINAL THOUGHTS

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+

VISUAL TREATS

Here’s a quick teaser for those who haven’t seen the show:

For those who’d like to revisit our OTP, here’re a couple of MVs to ignite some of the feels:

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

42 thoughts on “Review: It’s Okay It’s Love

  1. Well, this show was never on my radar and I don’t see it going on my list, but I really liked your review. I see this had lots of OTP moments. That’s sweet.

    “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.”

    Can I please keep this bit of inspired writing for future reference? I deal with someone exactly like this everyday, it’s like having the life sucked out of you. They are often very insecure people almost to the point of being neurotic. If they feel you are dismissing them or don’t “believe” them for whatever dumb reason they latch on like a dog to meat and attack. When you finally grow irritated and upset they step back and pull an Urkel…”Did I do that?” And act like YOU are the one at fault and can’t understand why you’re so mad!

    If I have to see this behavior in a drama lead I’d hate them and start to hate the drama.

    Whew!! I needed that therapy. got that off my chest. Thank’s Dr. K

    I give this drama points for using Queen’s “Best friend” with a female singer. Very breezy and Folksy, I like it and must add it to the collection.

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    • Aw, glad you enjoyed the read even though this drama isn’t on your radar 🙂 The OTP is one of the big things that kept this show afloat for me, coz I had to suspend disbelief a whole lot where the writing was concerned.

      Gah, sorry that you have to deal with such an exhausting personality in Real Life! That must be so frustrating and tiring. :/ I think it’s wise that you stay away from this drama, in that case – dramas are for us to escape from Real Life a little (or a lot!), and seeing Hae Soo display similar aggravating tendencies as what you encounter in Real Life would probably be more upsetting than relaxing 😛

      And yes, the OST is one of this drama’s strengths. Although I won’t voluntarily listen to some of the jolly tracks used for the surreal effect, I do genuinely like a good number of songs on the OST, and that helped to sweeten the experience of watching the show 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. THIS. Ahhh what a way to start my December. Thank you for this! And I agree on every point. I really had to turn off my logic button on this one. And I sobbed like a baby at Jo In Sung’s barely whispering of “Hae Soo-yah” as she left him in the hospital room. Yes, Show was not perfect by any stretch but that it was unabashedly sure of what it is and what it could offer is good enough for me.

    Oh and of course, the LOVE of it all, in all shapes and forms. Though yes, I agree that Dong Min’s admission is squicky, I would have much rather that he did not say the squicky part out loud. Some people have feelings they don’t act upon with good reason. There’s no sense in letting the person in question know about it though–ESPECIALLY if they still have feelings.

    Awesome review as always. Have a good week!

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    • So glad you enjoyed the review, Jo!! 😀 I know you’ve been waiting for this one, and I’m pleased it didn’t disappoint.

      And oh yes, that barely whispered “Hae Soo-ya..” by Jo In Sung was so perfect. So much helplessness, brokenness, and so much yearning, all in those few syllables. Jo In Sung was amazing in this, and his fantastic performance is definitely one of my personal highlights in this show.

      Absolutely agree with you that even if Dong Min felt the way he did, that he shouldn’t have said it out loud. I found that whole scene very disturbing. Especially since the few times (or was it just the one time?) that we saw him with his wife, they seemed to have a very loving relationship. It just felt so wrong for him to then tell his ex-wife that he really wanted to hold her. Ack. I hated that this was played off as a healing type of scene, when it felt so wrong. :/

      Still, all things said and done, I liked this show more than I disliked it, and that’s a good thing. Like you said, a lot of love. And I liked that. Especially Soo Kwang and his enforced bromance with Jae Yeol, once he realized Jae Yeol was sick. D’aw. Sweetness.

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      • By the way, I loved Hae Soo’s fashion! All the way to her statement shirts!

        Did you know that GHJ’s arm was broken right around the time they shot the scene where she wraps his head in gauze in the first ep? That’s why the other arm is just limp at her side while she brings JIS’s face to her tummy.

        What a trooper.

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        • Oh and I love the OST. Ship and the Globe is my favorite. 🙂 Okay obviously I love this drama. Will shut up now hahaha!

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          • Y’know, I liked Hae Soo’s fashion most of the way through too! Even the apron dress in E12, which I came across some dislike for:

            I thought it looked good on her, and found the design interesting. Of course, I don’t think I could pull off the same dress the way she can! I think that’s the whole thing about her style.. it’s quirky and so her, but it’s not something most people can carry off without looking odd. 😄

            I did read about her injury, and I guessed that that’s why they wrote in an injury for her too, in E1. I was actually really surprised when that injury magically disappeared quite soon after, and I wondered how she managed, with her broken arm 😛 She’s definitely a total trooper, but I couldn’t help being worried about her arm, the way it wasn’t in a sling most of the time.

            The OST is pretty good in this show, and I like many of the songs too 🙂 Since you like Ship and the Globe, and I didn’t feature it in the review, here’s a quick MV that I found on YouTube. It’s not real HD, even though the uploader listed it as HD, but still, it’s quite nice:

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  3. I didn’t watch the drama but have seen clips here and there…I think this is the first time I’m seeing GHJ so uninhibited in her romantic scenes and kisses…
    Also I LOVE the song by Davichi….it’s soooooo good and soothing!

    Like

    • Aw, thanks for reading, snow, even though you haven’t seen the show, and don’t seem to be planning to! ❤

      I’m not sure about Gong Hyo Jin being more uninhibited compared to her other roles.. I have the impression that she’s generally pretty touchy-feely with her co-stars. I’ve enjoyed her chemistry – and accompanying skinship – with other co-stars. I could be wrong, of course! 🙂 Also, I’m wondering if it’s to do with the direction and acting, since the role does call for somewhat more daring scenes, like the love scene on the beach. In any case, she did a fantastic job, and I really enjoyed her chemistry with Jo In Sung; so believable and sparky. ❤

      PS: The song by Davichi is my fave from the OST! Am listening to it as I type this – we do have excellent taste! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • GHJ always has great chemistry will all her leads….but if you compare them with this show, I think she has done more daring scenes….for example, in Master’s Sun, she had amazing chemistry with SJS but still the kissing scenes were pretty normal and not mindblowing as we fans wanted from them…there was skinship but not of that unrestricted romantic kind…

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        • That’s true.. Hm, I wonder how much of it is due to her becoming more daring, and how much of it is PD-nim’s direction. Maybe it’s a bit of both. But yes, I have to say her kisses with Jo In Sung felt very natural, without any traces of stiffness. Very nice! ^^ Hopefully this will be a trend? I’ve definitely had enough of stiff kisses in dramaland..! 😉

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  4. Yes, Hae Soo was sometimes a little prickly and had some character flaws – we all do. The thing I loved about this show most, though, was the way she and Jae Yeol worked through their conflicts with care and consideration for one another, not constantly blowing up their relationship over their squabbles and differences. They were so accepting of one another, flaws and all. It was really beautiful to watch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, acceptance was one of the most appealing themes in this show, I felt. It’s a theme that runs across the various types of love we’re shown; romantic love, familial love, as well as fraternal love between friends. I liked that a lot in this show as well 🙂

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  5. another nice review, keep them comping! 🙂 i liked the fact that every character in this show was “not quite normal”, still “the world didn’t come to an end” … and even more so: that wasn’t “the end/death of love”.

    as for the quote you disliked, considering it’s something a “not normal” doctor says to another “not normal” doctor (his ex-wife aka one of the few living people that know him best), it amused me … especially since it reminded me of a scene in another show where a fan, given publicly the opportunity, refuses to hug his idol (because “i’ve got a girlfriend”) and also because (imo) there’s alot of (unconfortable?) thruth behind those words. anyway: in a world where “no skinship in any form” is shown to be the norm, he did obey the norm (since he just said he’d hug her) and was thus “normal” … we, the audience, were subtly reminded that he’s actually “not that normal” by his rebellion against the norm (spoken words vs. unspoken words).

    Like

    • Aw, thanks INTJ, I’m glad you enjoyed the review AND the show!

      Yes, you’re absolutely right, all the characters were a little off-center of normal in each of their own ways, and the show did show us that that’s ok, that life goes on, that love goes on. That’s really one of the things that I found I liked about the show, the message of acceptance 🙂

      As for Dong Min’s words, I think the bits that disturbed me most were that 1, he didn’t use the word “hug” but said that he had the desire to “hold” her, which has a much more romantic connotation than hug, and 2, he referred to it as a “tawdry desire” which confirms that it has not only a romantic connotation, but a sexual one. While I understand that as imperfect human beings, a man could very plausibly feel that way about a woman who is not his wife, I found the fact that he articulate it – and articulate it so comfortably – to Young Jin extremely inappropriate.

      However, as you said, this is a drama world in which the people are portrayed as “not normal”, and they consistently behave in “not normal” ways. I suppose that’s also probably where the writers were coming from, in writing that scene. Still, it felt weird to me as a viewer, so I guess I’m not as “abnormal” or perhaps as “accepting of not normal”as the writers expected/hoped their audience to be? 😄

      Like

      • nah! each of us has different levels of tolerance and that’s ok. from my perspective as a man, even the sexual connotation was more of an compliment than (some kind of) “a threat” in the absence of action, only as an expression of thought. i guess women probably think men would never say “no” (to sex) and therefore it’s much harder for them to understand what a man really thinks if he’s only saying it. it’s similar to “i like that car” + “but i don’t really want it” + “because i know i won’t be able to drive it (for ex. no drivers license)” … and saying only the first part out loud.

        anyway, i wrote this just to show a different point of view and it’s probably better for you to hold on to your thoughts … at least until you meet your Mr. Right (whom you might want to understand/know a little better/more). 🙂

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        • Thanks for sharing your perspective on this, INTJ! It’s a rare male perspective that we don’t get too often in the blogosphere which is still mostly inhabited by female fans, and it’s good insight and good learning for us ladies coz the men around us probably see things not too different from what you’ve shared. Thanks for always being on hand to offer the man’s point of view, INTJ! 😀

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  6. This dorama is difficult to watch. And that’s precisely why I love it. I admit I abandoned it by episode 10, then my mom insisted and insisted until I went back and watched it all. I regret I took so much, because it was amazing. Last episodes were so heart-breaking and sweet at the same time that I couldn’t hold the tears. What I admire most about Koreans is they dare to show topics people want to avoid. And they do it in a fantastic way.

    About Hae Soo… yeah, she was annoying and I hated her, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

    Great job by the writers.

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    • Aw, so you have your mom to thank for insisting that you go back to this show, Rovi! That’s so cool, that your mom watches drama too – it’s a great thing to share! ^^

      Yes, the writers did a great job creating flawed characters that we are able to identify with, and yet, make their weirdness just that much more pronounced, so that it makes it easier for us to see our own weirdness, in a sense. Hae Soo annoyed me many times with her double standards and her 2 constant habits of bringing up how Jae Yeol acted with other women, and also, of asking her housemates to vote on Jae Yeol’s behavior towards her. Yet, I bet many of us would be able to catch ourselves doing similar things, which makes for a thought-provoking watching experience. 🙂 And thankfully, all in all, I found Hae Soo more likable than not, despite her flaws.

      Like

  7. Pingback: We are TWO! | The Fangirl Verdict

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  9. I like this drama and the songs! There’s a song that I like most which is played in the last scene. That starts with “if I have a chance my love…I’ll tell you my illusion…” Does anyone know the name of the song and the singer?

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    • Hi there Carrie! I’m trying to help you identify the song you mentioned, but I am confused because when I go to the last scene of the drama, there are two songs that play, but neither one matches the lyrics you stated.

      The first one is “You’re My Best Friend” by The Once:

      And the second one is 최고의 행운 (Best Luck) by 첸 (CHEN) (EXO):

      I hope one of these is what you’re looking for! 🙂

      Like

    • Carrie, in case you ever check back here, the IOTL soundtrack is available for streaming on Spotify. There were so many songs in this show that I enjoyed, especially “Hero” by Family of the Year and “Soul” by Brandon Pacheco.

      Like

  10. Pingback: Are kdramas getting worse / “dumbed down”? | The Fangirl Verdict

  11. done with this one few months back , i don’t hate it but did not like it much , oh , i did love Jo In Sung , he is so freaking handsome , and i find the female girl not matching in the looks department , she may be one fine actress but visually , i find the actor so much more nice to look at than the actress ,

    for me , it would have been better if the actress is prettier lol,

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    • Lol. Gong Hyo Jin’s got a very natural, earthy sort of charm, and it took me a while to warm to her looks and her eclectic style. Now, though, I think she’s extremely versatile in the sense that she can look as plain and unassuming as she can look glamorous and lovely, depending on the role and the styling. Maybe as you watch her more, you might change your mind about her looks too 🙂 And yes, I must agree that Jo In Sung is a very beautiful man indeed. 😉

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  12. the show was verified by the association of korean psychiatrists as being pretty fucking accurate so

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  13. Thank you for your reviews and this site as a whole. I will be enjoying exploring it for some time to come. I especially enjoyed your Gong Yoo posts! But onto the topic at hand, IOTL:

    IOTL is one of my favourite kdramas. It is not an easy show to watch and I agree wholeheartedly with much of your review, especially how you highlight that the show intentionally defies labelling and pigeonholing.

    With regards to the scene where Jae Yeol fights Kang Woo’s father, I wanted to add my view. I didn’t find the accompanying music to be light hearted. Instead, I found it, especially the lyrics, to be a tragic counterpoint.

    “I don’t want to be a hero” is exactly how Jae Yeol feels according the narrative to that point, and yet he takes on that role for Kang Woo, because his mother “needs some protection/but [he’s] a kid like everyone else” and so he cannot provide it himself.

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    • Hi there michelle! Welcome to the blog! I’m glad you’re enjoying poking around. 🙂

      You made a really nice point, about the lyrics being a counterpoint during the “fight scene” – I can see how that works, and it does help me to see the scene differently. Thanks! 🙂

      Like

  14. Dang if this is a B+, what’s an A? I think this show has outdone itself in terms of breaking the (almost) monotonic pattern of kdramas. The actors are amazing, the plot is fresh and organic, the shots are good. Although there are flaws, the argument applies to every other drama. What was your rationale in giving it a B+? And would you please give me an example of an A drama?

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    • Hi there Cyndi, welcome to the blog 🙂

      My reviews are a reflection of my subjective response to the shows that I watch, so it’s very possible that an A drama to me might be someone else’s B drama and vice versa. In this case, you clearly consider IOIL an A drama, while for me, it was a B+. I don’t see anything wrong with that, since we’re all unique individuals, and our unique experiences and lenses affect our drama experiences accordingly.

      If you’re interested to understand more about my rating system though, you can take a look at this quick run-down. For an overview of my ratings of other dramas, including dramas that I consider A and A+ and even A++, you can check out this list. 🙂

      In my explanation of my ratings system, if a drama doesn’t grab me, it automatically doesn’t make it to an A grade. B grade dramas are enjoyable to a wide degree, and often require moderate to significant adjustment of my viewing lens. For me, IOIL was a B+. I liked it, but didn’t love it, but found it a solid watch after I’d adjusted my viewing lens in the way I described in my review. I hope that helps to clarify 🙂

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  15. Pingback: Year In Review: 2015 | The Fangirl Verdict

  16. I just finished watching this drama and I absolutely loved it! The first episode was a little mind boggling but it was intriguing enough for me to keep watching, and I’m glad I did bc it was such a beautiful ending. Your insights into why u gave it a Bplus makes sense to me though too! But – I loved it anyway…tho I’ve raised my eyebrows a few times throughout the episodes where I thought, ‘ok, if this were real life, it ain’t THAT easy to overcome!!’. I actually had lived with a roommate that was diagnosed as schizophrenic when I was a college student and remembered having many a conversation about how it took him years to get to the right mix of meds for him to stop hallucinating and such…this drama actually made me appreciate him and how brave he lives his life! It also made me realise that we all have that piece of that “puzzle” that’s not quite in place, and though it may not be as severely disheveled as some others, it definitely exists in all of us.

    I loved the love that the main characters had for one another, and how they helped in the process of healing one another. I mean what girl wouldn’t want a man that loves her the way he loved HeSoo ??

    I’m a big fan of “Pasta”, largely due to the story line and Lee Sun Gyun, but after watching Gong Hyojin in both “Pasta” and “Its Okay That’s Love”, I have to give her kudos for her acting chops…to me, her skills as an actress is what seems to bring out the best in the leading men she acts on screen with, hence bringing about such wonderful onscreen chemistry!

    Also can we just say wow to the soundtrack (OST)?? I haven’t seen many movies nor dramas lately where I immediately fell in love with the soundtrack but this one just did it for me! I had to go and download these songs immediately- they fit so perfectly the way they used it in the drama and it also stands out on it’s own even without the drama… KUDOS to whomever was in charge of the soundtrack ;))

    All in all, this drama left me feeling all warm and cozy and healing~ definitely watching the reruns on TV❤︎

    Like

    • Ah, how poignant for you, that this show touched on something that you’ve experienced yourself, with your friend. It’s common in kdramas for occupations/sickness etc to get simplified a lot for the purpose of the story. It used to bug me more, but I’ve since learned to just roll with it. This show definitely oversimplified psychiatric conditions, and I’m sure it must’ve frustrated viewers for whom the topic touched a personal nerve.

      Despite the oversimplification, I do agree that one of the best things in this show, is how the characters care for one another in their quirky, matter-of-fact way. I also liked the OST a lot.. very well-chosen and well-applied, as you said.

      As for Gong Hyo Jin, I like her a lot as an actress, and agree that she manages to have excellent chemistry with her leading men. Have you seen Master’s Sun? It’s not a very well-told story in my opinion, but her chemistry with co-star So Ji Sub was very impressive, I felt. 🙂

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      • I went to K town here in Tokyo to look for that OST from this drama, but to no avail😭They told me that it’s not out yet…so I’ve had to resort to listening on Youtube…it just puts me in such a dreamy mood❤︎

        I haven’t seen Master’s Sun, but you’ve definitely peaked my interest! I’m gonna have to put that on my to-Watch list!!!

        Awww kfangurl, ur the best!!!

        Hope ur having a fantastic week~

        Like

        • Hey there lily! Yes, I’ve been having a great week – I hope you’re having the same! 🙂

          If you’re eager to get the OST, you could consider ordering directly from Korea. I did that with the OST for Secret Love Affair (a masterpiece of a show, truly), and received it within a week or so. Otherwise, as you’ve discovered, YouTube works pretty great too, especially since the MVs bring back feels so well! 😉

          Master’s Sun isn’t a fantastic show in my opinion, but I will say that lots of other folks loved it to pieces, and Gong Hyo Jin possesses excellent chemistry with So Ji Sub. Their onscreen chemistry was so amazing that it sparked a full e-book (which I loved). You can check out my reviews of the show AND the e-book here and here. 🙂 I highly recommend the fanfic as a companion piece / follow-up to watching the drama. It’s SO well-written and explores the alterna-verse where Gong Hyo Jin and So Ji Sub really have sizzling feelings for each other off-screen. (Have I piqued your interest further yet? 😉 )

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  17. BEST COUPLE CHEMISTRY I have ever seen in a drama EVER – they just blew my mind. Well done and I hope to see them act together again in another drama.

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  18. Unfortunately i disagree with your characterization of the shows psychiatry. on one hand you state you don’t know much about psychiatry then you go on to state that the shows psychiatry is ”nonsense quack doctoring” . i feel you did the show a HUGE DISSERVICE when you said that .most of the psychiatric assessment of the show was spot on especially when they made jae yeul’s diagnosis of schizophrenia .He had the hallmark features of schizophrenia ; delusions and hallucinations .of course he had other psychiatric diagnosis like post trauma stress , obsessive compulsive disorder which the show also touched on. please do a little more research next time before making such statements especially as a blog writer.
    As a medical professional i was appalled at your ignorance in making such judgements and thats why i just had to comment . sorry if i’ve offended you but i couldn’t ignore that type of misinformation.

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