Thanks to everyone who voted when I asked if you guys would be interested in new sections for Flash Reviews and Dropped Dramas.
Even though you guys have been the sweetest readers, it still blew me away a little, at just how many of you are in favor of these short little blurb types of posts (more than 90% of the votes, y’all. Thank you!).
It’s a new lesson I’m learning, that even though wordiness is one of my hard-to-shake-off traits, that I don’t have to be wordy for you guys to be interested in what I have to say. Thanks y’all, for makin’ me feel all important and stuff. 😉
And now, here’s the first drama to grace the Dropped Dramas section: My Secret Hotel.
LAYING IT OUT
Given that I generally have a good impression of tvN, and that I generally like Yoo In Na, I thought I’d check this out despite feeling rather confused/bemused/puzzled at the “killing romance” premise.
With some deft (& as far as possible, restrained) use of my trusty FF button, I made it 11 episodes into this 16-episode show.
On the plus side
1. Yoo In Na is cute as a button as our heroine Nam Sang Hyo, and looks pretty and professional; more of a rarity than one might expect in dramaland. Her cuteness was mostly charming without dipping into being try-hard, and I found her likable.
2. The OST has a number of cute breezy-electronica tracks, including My Secret Love, and they have the sort of vibe that sorta-maybe reminds me of “Together in Electric Dreams”, the song from 1984 movie Electric Dreams.
Here, have a listen to My Secret Love. It’s really not bad.
3. Nam Goong Min gets to be pretty charming in this. Sometimes.
4. Which means that sometimes, we do get some squee-worthy moments.
On the not-so-great side
1. The pacing is kinda jerky as the narrative tries to balance the two main elements: romance and murder. That, and the change in writer partway through didn’t help matters.
2. Thanks to only having seen Jin Yi Han playing very, very unlikable jerk-boyfriends (in Hooray for Love and Master’s Sun), I came into this without any existing affection for him. That.. well, didn’t help.
3. Despite Show’s best efforts, I didn’t really want our heroine to end up with either of her male leads.
Neither of them seemed right for her, from what I could see. I just wanted her to be strong and passionate in her chosen career, and live happily ever after, with or without a leading man.
As the episodes wore on, the writing forced our heroine to behave in ways that troubled me.
Getting coerced into a fake wedding and a fake honeymoon, to “save the hotel”? Argh. That annoyed me, to be honest.
And then in the later stretch, getting persuaded to spend a whole week with the man she’s decided to leave behind in her life, pretending to be his wife? Double Argh.
I get that our heroine Sang Hyo is written to be nice, and that these are plot points in service of getting the appointed OTP back together again, but it annoyed me that her life was so easily manipulated, and in such an offhanded manner too.
I kept thinking, “Noooo. She’s worth more than that. YOU’RE worth more than that. Don’t dooo eeet..!!”
Considering that I was protesting the chain of events that would, y’know, get the appointed OTP together, I was fighting a losing battle.
4. Nam Goong Min’s character, who was the less offensive male lead character to me, got harder to get behind as the story started steering us away from him. One of the bigger draws, nixed.
I’m not even a big fan of Nam Goong Min as an actor, and have found him only mildly appealing in other roles, so it says a lot that his charming moments added up to being one of the bigger draws of this show for me.
THE FINAL STRAWS
When I realized that our heroine was on a major trajectory that I couldn’t get behind, I just couldn’t muster up the will nor the interest to continue watching, FF button or no.
I wanted more and better for our heroine Nam Sang Hyo; more strength, more independence, more personal agency.
Seeing her acceptance of the unreasonable and ridiculous proposition at the end of episode 11 (which I mention in the spoilers above) was the last straw for me.
Another big clue for me that it was time to drop this drama, is that I was starting to use the FF button more than I was actually watching scenes. Eep.
Sorry, tvN. I like that you wanted to try something different to spice up the rom-com genre, but this killing romance just didn’t work for me.
PS: That cameo by Nam Goong Min’s We Got Married screen wife Hong Jin Young was very weird and distracting. That didn’t help. Honest. Please don’t do it again.