The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: Angry Mom

38 Comments

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Well-written and executed with an assured hand, Angry Mom is a dark horse in dramaland that manages to be engaging, thought-provoking and consistent, in spite of its varying tones and sometimes difficult subject matter.

Kim Hee Sun does an outstanding job as our titular Angry Mom, and the rest of the ensemble cast is pretty excellent as well. Almost everyone manages to deliver heartfelt, layered characters who feel like real people, and together, they amplify their drama world by making it feel all the more real, by extension.

Hard to watch at times, but so worth the journey.

Angry Mom OST – 사랑한다 미안해  

THE LONG VERDICT:

On paper, Angry Mom’s premise sounds fun, yet quite ludicrous. I mean, Badass Mom dons a uniform to go back to high school, to solve her teenage daughter’s bullying-related problems? My first thought was, this sounds potentially amusing, but how is that even borderline believable, that a 30-something mom would be able to pass off as her daughter’s classmate, right?

As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Not only does Kim Hee Sun pull off a high school uniform with ease, she looks pretty darn fantastic, thankyouverymuch.

Also, while Show milks the funny from the situation as I’d expected it to, it actually does one better. It also manages to be meaty, thought-provoking and, well, quite different from the average show in dramaland, which is quite an accomplishment any way you slice it. Big props and serious respect for writer-nim, PD-nim, and the entire production team.

WRITING & EXECUTION

Focus & Tone

Despite its light-sounding premise, Show is actually a lot darker than one might first expect.

With its unrelenting focus on bullying, violence and other predatory behavior, Show was undeniably hard to watch at times, it was just all so bloody and violent and sad. Let’s just say that at those points, it made other high school shows – including my beloved School 2013, with its fairly hefty serving of angst – look like fairy tales in comparison. Considering that this is a drama on a Big Three network rather than on cable, that’s a Pretty Big Deal, I think.

At the same time, Show does an excellent job setting up our story so that in just the first 60 minutes, it becomes not only plausible, but even inevitable, that Mom Jo Kang Ja (Kim Hee Sun) take things into her own hands, because no one and nothing can be trusted to protect her daughter otherwise.

Both the writing and directing are excellent, thoughtful and assured. Frame by careful frame, PD-nim creates a dark, foreboding, troubling world where our characters don’t know who to trust. At the same time, writer-nim does a great job fleshing out characters in a three-dimensional way, and we are consistently given a firm sense of our characters’ emotional journeys.

Pacing

Throughout its run, I was really, really impressed with Show’s pacing.

At the end of almost every episode, I found myself impressed with just how quickly Show chose to reveal various bits of information &/or back Kang Ja into a corner. And mind you, Show did this consistently.

Just when I feel like Kang Ja’s backed fully into a corner, Show ups the ante in the next episode, and backs her into an even tighter corner than the previous episode. It always feels like Kang Ja has no wiggle room left, and that Show might run out of places to take the story, but without fail, writer-nim finds a way to expand the story in a way that continues to make sense. That’s serious skillz, yo.

This kind of boldness in the writing felt very fresh, coz most dramas hold onto their cards for as long as possible, to stretch out their story. Not so Angry Mom. I felt like writer-nim dared to push the envelope as far as it needed pushing, and the reveals, tight corners and very effective cliffhangers were staples in this show before it even reached its halfway point.

This was a show where, from the get-go, I was interested to watch the next episode, and soon. Impressive indeed.

Balance

What I find quite fascinating about this show is that it doesn’t really feel like a typical kdrama. Instead, it’s got a unique flavor all its own.

On the one hand, it faces some hard topics with unflinching, gritty determination, and is far from being romance-centric. Which kinda makes this show as badass as its angry mom, coz they’ve both got bigger and more important things to focus on than romance.

On the other hand, Show allows for some recognizable kdrama conventions, and gives everything an overall treatment that is warm and hopeful. That warmth and hope is, essentially, one of the big draws of kdramas in general, and is instrumental in making this show the ultimately heartwarming, uplifting watch that it turns out to be.

Yes, there are times when believability is a stretch, but the storytelling is so very assured, and the emotional throughlines so clear, that I always feel like I can absolutely trust Show to take me where it’s going.

MY FAVORITE CHARACTERS

Kim Hee Sun as Jo Kang Ja

Kim Hee Sun is simply outstanding as Kang Ja, seriously.

Not only does she totally look the part (how youthful does she look, right?), she delivers the role with so much nuance that she completely and thoroughly brings Kang Ja to life. Whether she’s being an ahjumma, a concerned mother, the new girl in class, or the most fearless fighter in school, she consistently rocks it all, and is a genuine pleasure to watch.

Kim Hee Sun imbues Kang Ja with a simplicity, earnestness and determination that is equal parts admirable and endearing. In a drama world where rules don’t do a thing and authority figures are more to be feared than trusted, Kang Ja’s courage in wielding her own brand of justice is impressive in all of its rogue glory, and I rooted for her, so much.

[SPOILER ALERT]

There are so many things that I love about Kang Ja. Here are just a few of ’em.

1. She’s So Badass

I love, love, love Kang Ja’s brand of badassery, which is made up of single-minded fists and fury, a nothing-can-stop-me fierce protective instinct, and a distinct I-don’t-care-what-you-think swag.

There were So. Many. Times. in the show that I was in awe of Kang Ja’s badassery.

Like when she first goes to school, and within minutes of actually joining the class, proceeds to beat the best fighter in school Bok Dong (Ji Soo), while fending off earnest Teacher No Ah’s (Ji Hyun Woo) attempts to break it up, no less (above). How great is it, that the school jjangs end up respecting and even liking Kang Ja so quickly, that even the true power wielder, Chairman’s son Sang Tae (Baro), makes a move to prevent her expulsion?

In particular, I was awed by Kang Ja in episode 9, when she simply walks into Dong Chil’s (Kim Hee Won) trap without batting an eyelash, and faces him head-on without a hint of hesitation. She gave me chills with her fearless determination in the face of the very real danger posed by Dong Chil.

Kang Ja wears her badassery with poise throughout the show, facing all manner of threats and traps even when she herself is afraid or worried. Not only for the sake of protecting not only her daughter Ah Ran (Kim Yoo Jung), but also the entire student body at large.

She’s just So. Freaking. Awesome.

2. She’s All Heart

Another thing that I love about Kang Ja is that beneath the badassery, she is all heart.

The fact that Kang Ja started this entire journey out of a specific desire to protect her daughter, but then so naturally and instinctively expanded her protective instincts towards a bigger group and a greater cause, says so much about her.

When we meet Kang Ja, we see that she’s a typical mother; a bit of an ahjumma, whose cares and concerns revolve around her daughter, her family, and her livelihood. She has no interest in politics, nor does she see herself as a vigilante. But when she realizes how much the students are suffering because of the corruption in school, she takes on their cause as her own, simply because it’s the right thing to do. Notably, Kang Ja never doubts that for a moment.

On top of this, throughout the show, we see Kang Ja showing empathy and kindness to the people who cross her path. I love how she shows care and concern for Bok Dong, even when everyone else simply sees him as a bully. And how she encourages and supports No Ah, even when she’s undercover as his student.

Perhaps most telling of all, is how Kang Ja consistently gives Ae Yeon (Oh Yoon Ah) the benefit of the doubt, even though Ae Yeon has betrayed her in the past.

Kang Ja’s warmth and compassion is a bedrock of the show, on which other characters learn to lean, and even subsequently grow their own hearts, and I love her for it.

3. She’s a Survivor

Perhaps the biggest thing I love about Kang Ja, is that her badassery and heart is all there, in spite of a great deal of brokenness in her own life. She’s not compassionate and awesome because she has no wounds of her own. She’s compassionate and awesome in spite of her own multiple wounds. There’s something so very moving about that.

When we see Kang Ja in flashback, during her high school days as the school jjang, there is a distcint vulnerability and sadness beneath the kickass veneer. Deep down, she’s just a normal girl who craves her mother’s care and attention. We also see how badly Dong Chil beats her up, for dating his brother Beom, and how she’d (wrongfully) been put in prison for Beom’s death.

Despite all of this, Kang Ja survives to become the compassionate, caring person that she is, and it totally moves me, when we see glimmers of past wounds rise to the surface. Like the time in episode 5, when Kang Ja responds to No Ah’s care with a raw depth in her gaze.

In the moment, it felt like he’d touched on old wounds that, unknown to her, were still untended and painful.

Kang Ja is a wounded fighter, and I find that moving and very inspiring indeed.

We see this again in episode 14, when Kang Ja’s husband Jin Sang (Im Hyung Joon) has suddenly and unexpectedly died in the building collapse. Given the extremely tight corner that Show has backed Kang Ja into by this point, her husband’s death hits her extra hard.

Despite this, when new evidence comes through, Kang Ja gathers herself together to fight all over again, in the midst of tears. That’s just powerful stuff.

It’s one thing to fight. It’s a whole other thing to choose all over again to fight, when you’ve had almost everything ripped to shreds around you, and you’ve just lost someone dear to you. That determination rising out of the brokenness is extra profound, and I just can’t help but admire Kang Ja for it.

[END SPOILER]

Ji Soo as Kang Bok Dong

Ji Soo is undoubtedly the breakout star of this show, and for good reason too.

Not only does he fulfill the quotient for badassery well by playing Bok Dong with swag as a bad boy gangster type, in the relatively limited screentime available, he also manages to give Bok Dong dimension, imbuing him with what feels like an effortless amount of nuance, depth and vulnerability. So effortless, in fact, that it’s hard to imagine him not as Bok Dong.

In Ji Soo’s hands, Bok Dong is an interesting, layered character. Even without him actually saying the words, we can tell that Bok Dong doesn’t actually enjoy doing all the the gangstery-bullying stuff. At times, we see him allowing tears to rise and leak out, through the cracks of his tough guy veneer.

It all comes together to make him an empathetic character who feels very, very real. Ji Soo comes across as so naturally, effortlessly, organically Bok Dong, that I really feel like Bok Dong is a real live person who’s wrestling with his conscience, his reality and his feelings.

Ji Soo in Angry Mom reminds me a little bit, of Kim Woo Bin in School 2013; all tough and scary on the outside, yet tender and hurting on the inside. And seeing as how Kim Woo Bin stole my heart in School 2013, it’s no surprise that Ji Soo managed to steal a little bit of my heart in this show too.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Throughout the course of the show, Ji Soo shows us many facets to Bok Dong. Here are my favorite peeks into Bok Dong.

1. The Fierce Badass

This is the first version of Bok Dong that we meet, and as I’ve mentioned earlier, he is suitably fierce and wears the ‘tude and the swag very well. From the languid drawl of his voice, to the sardonic curl of his lip, to the easy swag of his entire body, Bok Dong embodies what I would expect of any high school jjang worth his salt. It’s no wonder the other kids were intimidated by him.

2. The Little Lost Boy

Beyond the badass veneer, we see Bok Dong’s uncertainty and internal struggle rise to the surface. Ji Soo kills every scene, and shows us in detail – often without any dialogue at all – how uncertain and stuck and scared Bok Dong really is.

It’s in his eyes, really.

Ji Soo imbues Bok Dong’s gaze with all that we need to know; the lostness, the helplessness, the desperation, all shining through in his eyes. Particularly when Bok Dong is faced with pressure from above to do things that weigh on his conscience, Ji Soo plays him with a mix of deadness and fear in his eyes. It sounds incongruous, but that’s exactly what I see when I look at Bok Dong’s eyes at those times, and it’s quite arresting.

3. The Smitten Puppy

This is definitely one of my favorite versions of Bok Dong. He is simply adorable as the smitten puppy crushing hard on his noona and trying hard not to show it.

I really appreciate that Ji Soo treats Bok Dong’s hyperawareness of Kang Ja with clarity yet subtlety. Like the way he steals looks at her when she isn’t looking, or when he needs a moment to recover after she ties his shoelaces. It’s not belabored, but it’s clearly, subtly, naturally there, and I dig that very much. It just consistently feels like Bok Dong is genuinely wrestling with his feelings and trying not to show it, but yet just can’t help but implode a little, when Kang Ja is nearby.

I love that his noona crush very naturally gives rise to a fierce protective instinct that is at once super earnest and so, so hilarious. I found his efforts to protect Kang Ja from herself and the people around her, completely adorable, laugh-out-loud hysterical, and yet ow-my-heart heartbreaking all at the same time.

I loved it when he stormed Gong Joo’s (Go Soo Hee) club out of worry for Kang Ja; his lecture to Gong Joo was so heartfelt and so hilarious. I loved his almost-confession to Kang Ja, which was so full of uncertainty and angst and burgeoning feelings. I loved it when he punched Kang Ja’s husband, thinking that she was prostituting herself to an ahjusshi. And my heart broke for him when he willingly got beat up – and so, so badly too – in order to save Kang Ja from Dong Chil, if only for a while. Poor baby.

That’s the kind of fierce loyalty that epitomizes Bok Dong’s affection, and I love that about him.

[END SPOILER]

Go Soo Hee as Han Gong Joo

Although she’s technically a supporting character, I couldn’t help but love Gong Joo.

Her princess fixation is cute, hilarious and quite surreal. Her ballsy approach to everything is satisfying to watch. And her fierce love for and loyalty to Kang Ja is the stuff of legends.

Particularly when things got difficult for Kang Ja, I was always so comforted to know that Gong Joo would fight tooth and nail to help her bestie. We all need a bestie like Gong Joo, I think.

Ji Hyun Woo as Park No Ah

Ji Hyun Woo in Angry Moms is literally the nerdiest I’ve ever seen him, and he rocks the geeky-innocent-dork vibe so, so well.

As the most idealistic teacher at school, No Ah often comes across as more childlike and innocent than his students. Which just makes his growth arc over the course of the show that much more satisfying. As No Ah experiences the full gamut of emotions necessary for him to chart that growth, Ji Hyun Woo delivers excellent performances detailing No Ah’s happy idealism, eventual lostness, anguish, determination and ultimate fire, with equal aplomb.

It says a lot that I started out the show feeling like No Ah was a pretty helpless character, and ended the show feeling so gratified by his growth.

[SPOILER ALERT]

There are a number of times in the show when Ji Hyun Woo impressed me with his interpretation of difficult scenes.

In episode 4, we see No Ah’s grief and self-blame at Yi Kyung’s death. The lost-ness is clear in his eyes, and we can practically see him collapsing under the weight of all the questions and possibilities and anguish in his mind.

In episode 11, No Ah’s righteous rage at hearing the truth about Jung Woo (Kim Tae Hoon) is also very well-played. No Ah’s impassioned words in front of the mothers and the school bigwigs comes across as completely genuine. He’s literally putting his neck on the line to stand up for this, and he’s doing it without hesitation.

The most pivotal, difficult scene in my mind, though, is the one in episode 9, when No Ah reacts to the knowledge that his father (Jun Gook Hwan) bribed the school for his position.

Ji Hyun Woo plays the private moment with a lot of inner conflict, and I can practically see the dilemma written on No Ah’s face. He’s shocked, overwhelmed and horrified by his father’s actions, and he’s questioning everything that he’s ever believed about his father, but there’s also self-blame and self-hatred in the mix. I feel like he’s blaming himself too, that if he’d just been better, then Dad wouldn’t have had to resort to bribing the school.

Ji Hyun Woo conveys all of that, without actually uttering a word of dialogue. Kudos indeed.

[END SPOILER]

Special Mention: Kim Yoo Jung as Oh Ah Ran

Considering that Ah Ran is one of the main characters, I actually felt like Kim Yoo Jung didn’t get as much of the spotlight as one might have expected. Perhaps because the focus of the show is on Ah Ran’s angry mom, Ah Ran became more of a foil for her mom than a fully-developed character in her own right.

Even though I felt the development on Ah Ran’s character was a little muted, Kim Yoo Jung did a very solid job. In many scenes, Ah Ran’s responses to her surroundings, as well as the situations she finds herself in, are practically wordless, and yet Kim Yoo Jung shows us, in a clear and effective manner, Ah Ran’s fear and paralysis.

[SPOILER ALERT]

One of the things I really liked about how Show treated Ah Ran’s character, is how she shows clear glimpses of her mother’s character in herself at various points, even though she starts the show not being on close terms with Kang Ja.

I liked the moment in episode 5, when Ah Ran’s quick on her feet like her mom. From not outing Kang Ja when she first sees her mom in a school uniform – while she’s in the midst of hysterics over Yi Kyung’s (Yoon Ye Joo) death, no less – to turning her hysterics into a cover in itself, by accusing everyone of killing Yi Kyung. Watching her, I felt like I totally knew where she gets those quick wits from, and I found it very cool to see.

Besides Kang Ja’s quick wits, I really liked that Ah Ran also inherited Mom’s big heart. I really liked the beat in episode 12, when Ah Ran reached out to comfort Sang Tae, even though she didn’t like him. That’s totally something that Kang Ja would do too, and I found it so gratifying to see the same trait in her daughter.

In terms of an outstanding scene, there’s a great scene in episode 6 where Bok Dong confronts Ah Ran and tries to get her to just leave everything alone and stop digging around about Yi Kyung’s death. I thought both Kim Yoo Jung and Ji Soo delivered this scene with very strong, believable emotion.

Bok Dong’s desperation to make the complications go away is clear in his eyes, as is his self-hatred, almost, while Ah Ran’s determination and fear and desperation is also clear in her eyes, as she struggles to make headway in a system in which she has no power.

An intense and powerful scene, compellingly delivered. Well done indeed.

[END SPOILER]

OTHER CHARACTERS: GENERAL TREATMENT & SPECIAL SHOUT-OUTS

In general, I liked that many of the characters in this show are thoughtfully drawn, in that everyone seems to have a proper backstory. Here, I’d just like to quickly highlight two of the supporting characters that actually surprised me with their growth trajectories.

[MINOR SPOILERS]

Baro as Hong Sang Tae

Sang Tae’s growth as a character was one of my biggest surprises in this drama.

Given Sang Tae’s jerkwad tendencies in the beginning of the show, and Baro’s decidedly stiff delivery, Sang Tae was not a likable character by any means, even though I did feel kinda sorry for him.

However, even though Show didn’t spend a whole lot of time expanding on Sang Tae’s character arc, I found his eventual growth and turnaround surprisingly believable. Credit to the writers – and to Baro as well – that Sang Tae 2.0 was convincingly empathetic and endearing, even.

Kim Hee Won as Ahn Dong Chil

Kim Hee Won has seriously carved a niche for himself playing absolutely repulsive characters. He made Dong Chil easy to dislike – or hate, even – for much of the show.

Like Sang Tae’s character, Show doesn’t spend a whole lot of time teasing out the humanity in Dong Chil and showing glimmers of change. Yet, by the time we see an actual turnaround in Dong Chil’s character, Show had dropped enough hints of his inner journey, for it to actually be believable.

Kudos to Kim Hee Won, really, coz I found Dong Chil’s more broken scenes quite arresting.

[END SPOILERS]

FAVORITE RELATIONSHIPS

Kang Ja and Bok Dong

Hands-down, this is my favorite relationship in the show.

Beyond the squee-worthiness of Bok Dong’s noona crush (which is already so adorable, seriously), I really, really loved the sense of connection between Bok Dong and Kang Ja. Theirs was a bonding of wounded souls.

Kang Ja sees through his tough-guy facade to the truth and the hurts underneath, because she’s been through similar hard situations. I love that they empathize and identify with each other, and that their loyalty to each other far transcends things like age, gender and romance.

[SPOILER ALERT]

One of my favorite moments between Bok Dong and Kang Ja, is in episode 13, when Bok Dong offers Kang Ja tofu for leaving the police station, and she offers it right back to him, for not going back to Dong Chil.

They then grin at each other and toast each other with their tofu. It’s just super cute, and so, so heartwarming.

And just coz I can, here’s a little more Bok Dong-Kang Ja adorable:

So! Much! Cute! Squee!

[END SPOILER]

Kang Ja and Gong Joo

Coming in a close second in my books, is the relationship between Gong Joo and Kang Ja.

I love how open and trusting their friendship is, and I love how Gong Joo’s always got Kang Ja’s back. Most of all, I love that Gong Joo spends much of the show posing as Kang Ja’s mom. So. Awesome. It’s not only the cutest thing ever, it’s also genuinely touching because Gong Joo actually takes the role seriously and gives Kang Ja all the motherly love and support that Kang Ja never got when she was in school.

It’s just all kinds of touching and awesome, without ever being treacly. I love it.

Kang Ja and Ah Ran

Kang Ja’s relationship with Ah Ran provided one of the big ironies in this show, in that while Kang Ja had the fear and respect of practically everyone at school, it was Ah Ran, the most bullied person in school, who kept refusing to listen to her – at least for the early stretch of the show.

Their shared scenes while Kang Ja was undercover were really amusing. Like when facing No Ah together, or when they walked to school together and muttered to each other under their breaths. Show did a great job mining the situation for comedy, yet at the same time, also remembered to imbue their relationship with heart.

It was gratifying to watch Kang Ja’s and Ah Ran’s relationship settle and blossom over the course of the show, and as I mentioned earlier in this review, it was also plenty satisfying to see Ah Ran take after Kang Ja, in more ways than one.

Kang Ja and No Ah

Another relationship that warmed my heart, was the one between No Ah and Kang Ja.

From being utterly bemused at each other in the beginning of the show, it was great to see these two very different individuals come to care for and comfort each other, while becoming allies fighting for a common cause.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I realize that both No Ah and Kang Ja don’t quite grasp the effect that they have on each other, but keep affecting each other in good ways, anyway.

Like the way that No Ah unearths – yet soothes – Kang Ja’s old wounds in episode 5, when he expresses his desire to protect her, as her teacher.

And the way Kang Ja is an inadvertent consolation to No Ah in episode 9, when he’s trying to come to terms with his father’s bribery, and she offers to prick his fingers for indigestion. The tears that he cries as a result, are so sad, yet so needed and so cathartic.

These two work really well together, on so many levels, and it’s great to watch.

[END SPOILER]

No Ah and his boys

Last but not least, I luff Bok Dong’s caring, fatherly relationship with his boys.

We see it more with Bok Dong, but that care eventually gets to Sang Tae as well, and it’s so great to watch the boys grow to trust No Ah as they would a real parent.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I loved the moment in episode 11, when Bok Dong leaves Dong Chil’s house, and No Ah immediately wants to apply to be Bok Dong’s foster parent. I loved No Ah so much, in that moment, for loving Bok Dong so instantly and unconditionally, that he genuinely wanted to be Bok Dong’s foster parent, and raise him as his own son.

It’s so great that Bok Dong knows it, too. I love that subsequent demonstration of trust, when Bok Dong told No Ah the truth about Yi Kyung’s death. That took a whole lot of guts and trust, and Bok Dong clearly trusts No Ah. And man, I wanted to hug No Ah, he’s earned that trust so well.

I just love that nerdy wimpy No Ah turns out to be the one protecting strong, streetwise Bok Dong.

One of the most profound moments of vulnerability and trust between these two, is in episode 11, after Bok Dong comes out of the prison visiting room after speaking with his hyung.

Poor, dear Bok Dong, whose tears were all bottled up but leaking out while in the visiting room, finally allowing the floodgates to open, in No Ah’s arms, as No Ah hugs him and tells him it’s ok to cry.

I feel like this is such a pivotal moment for Bok Dong, because it’s likely the first time an adult has ever held him in a protective manner and allowed him to be himself, allowed him to be the kid that he is, and cry.

This moment was so profound that I cried along with Bok Dong.

And now, to balance it all out, here’s the super cute scene of No Ah insistently hugging Bok Dong to bed.

I just love the happy gleeful look on No Ah’s face, even as Bok Dong protests at the indignity of it all. It’s just so great that No Ah is so genuinely happy to be with Bok Dong.

Sweetness. And so, so cute!

[END SPOILER]

[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING

Ultimately, Show delivers a solid ending that feels satisfying, yet manages to remain open-ended and hopeful.

All the bad guys in our stories got their just desserts without anything getting too pat, so that it still feels realistic. And all our good guys – and some not-so-good guys, even – achieve milestones of growth and maturity that feel satisfying. At the same time, there is a sense of open-endedness, so that we feel like these characters will continue to live their lives and keep on growing, long after the cameras have stopped rolling.

I found it quite poetic, that Sang Tae made a decision to become a prosecutor, so that he could continue working to uncover the kind of corruption his dad was in. I also loved seeing Bok Dong reunited with his brother, and finally looking completely happy and carefree. That was just gold, for me.

Perhaps most of all, I loved No Ah’s hero moment when he burst into Sang Tae’s room to save him. Sang Tae’s look of wonder at No Ah’s earnest concern is fantastic. And it feels so well-earned, that No Ah becomes the most respected teacher at school, without needing to compromise on his idealism. I just love that No Ah didn’t have to bend to the system that had pressured him all series’ long, to abandon his principles, and that he came out on top, with all of his principles and ideals intact. Now that’s boss.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

This show was often hard to watch, yet at the same time, it was so great to see love triumph over all.

I loved seeing everyone on Kang Ja’s team fully invested and on board, and all willing to take risks for the greater good and for one another.

And I loved seeing people rise above themselves, to learn to love, even in the absence of actual blood ties. Like Ah Ran’s dad, who died trying to do the right thing. Like Gong Joo, who was a great mom to Kang Ja. Like No Ah, to Bok Dong and Sang Tae.

All of that awesomeness unlocked, because of the gutsiness of one angry mom.

So. Badass. And So. SO. Satisfying.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Dark and even a little bit gritty, but ultimately so warm, hopeful and full of love.

FINAL GRADE: A

VISUAL TREATS:

Quick Teaser

Bok Dong-Kang Ja Goodness

Bok Dong’s noona crush on Kang Ja is one of my absolute favorite things about the show, so here’s a fun little MV:

Author: kfangurl

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

38 thoughts on “Review: Angry Mom

  1. yes, this show fully deserves it’s place on any kdrama A-list. it was well acted, funny, warm and thought inspiring … a good example of how any show should be … and therefore let’s just say i “forgot” what i felt was not ok in this show. 😀

    Like

    • Absolutely! That’s exactly my response to Angry Mom too.. It’s so good in so many areas that I found it easy to overlook any flaws that I did notice. Definitely deserves a spot on the A-list! 🙂

      Like

  2. It’s so funny and amusing to see badass Ji Hyun Woo of Queen In Hyun’s Man being all helpless (in the beginning) here as teacher Noah 😀

    Like

    • Ikr?? I couldn’t get over how super nerdy Ji Hyun Woo looks, in Angry Mom!! Which is quite a feat, considering how I found him so swoony in QIHM! That’s flexibility alright!! 😄

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: ANGRY MOM. MBC. | IKurate

  4. Thanks for this review , this will bb”e my next drama , just finishing The Three Musketeers, which i must say i love , 😉

    Like

    • Glad you’re putting Angry Mom on your list, Nancy! It’s definitely worth a watch, in my opinion! 🙂 Also, great that you’re enjoying The Three Musketeers! 🙂

      Like

  5. i marathoned it (= i was procrastinating). i wouldn’t have been able to watch it while it was broadcast I’m pretty sure i would have dropped it b/c the suspense was so thrilling. My heart wouldn’t have been able to take it. I salute the show for giving real cliffhangers at the ending of EVERY episode. The plot never ever ever ever felt like running in circles b/c the writer couldn’t come up with more twists. That’s why I’m even okay with the many circumstantials twists. It wasn’t all deus ex machina, but… it had its moments when events happened at a very convenient time and I was “hmmmm fine, you’re good, show, i’m willing to roll with it”. I really enjoyed the message of hope-yet-the-fight-isnt-over. It’s what life is about.

    The last scenes, though. I felt like I was back in King of Dramas and Anthony was trying to fit all the PPL they couldn’t do in the previous episodes. AND SOOOO can we say the fashion was on POINT? School uniforms aside, I loved EVERY OUTFIT. Ah Ran’s home clothes, Kang Ja’s clothes…. And Joo Ae Yeon… AAAAAH her clothes were so nice. And she rocked every outfit. Someone please teach me how to wear a jacket without putting on the sleeves and the jacket never falls off!

    I’m glad Ji hyun Woo found this role after “Trot Lovers”. I kinda wished Kim Yoo Jung would get to play bright characters b/c I’m under the impression that her acting range is reaching its limits. She’s pretty like a doll, so maybe producers don’t trust her to be something else than the chic girl. I don’t know she needs a reversal role or at least something more challenging. I actually liked what I saw in her in that one-episode drama she did, but it was a saeguk, so… I want to see what she can do in our contemporary era.

    Ji Soo gives me Yeo Jin Gu vibes soooo much. I’d like them to play brothers because they’d make a good duo.

    Now my real question is what do I do to get minions like Gong Joo has? I want minions like that…

    Like

    • Hahaha! I doubt princess minions are that easy to come by.. you’d probably have to groom them yourself, like Gong Joo did? 😄 I get what you mean about dropping a suspenseful drama if you’re watching it while it’s airing, Sunny! I’d find it too hard, to wait for new episodes every week, and probably end up distracting myself with some other drama. I do much better with marathoning when it comes to dramas that have suspenseful cliffhangers! 😄 The Angry Mom writers did a great job managing those cliffhangers.. they never felt gratuitous, and they generally weren’t resolved as fakeouts either. Writer-nim really did find new places to take the story to make those cliffhangers real, and I give Show mad props for that!

      YES to all the PPL in the final episode.. I noticed that too! But I could forgive it all, since Show did so well in other ways. Can’t begrudge them putting money in the bank where it’s much needed! ^^

      And yes, Ae Yeon’s clothes were very glamorous, and she wore the look well. I also agree that Kim Yoo Jung would do well to diversify her roles going forward.. I’d love to see how she plays a bright character. That might well be an acting breakthrough for her 🙂

      Ji Soo and Yeo Jin Gu.. that’s a nice combination! They both have that slightly darker, earthy vibe, while retaining the boyishness about them. They’d make great screen brothers! 🙂

      Like

  6. Pingback: Pure Pretty: Ji Soo | The Fangirl Verdict

  7. I am up to ep 3 of angry mom. I am a big fan of Kim Yoo Jung, which is the main reason I wanted to see it. She is excellent as is the lead acttress. At first it seemed to be going to be a straightforward serious drama, with perhaps a little bit of comedy to lighten the mood. but It looks more like the comedy element will have a significant role. I like it, but I think it will take
    me a while to get used to the different tones. I have no problems watching other dramas that shift tones. But for some reason, perhaps because of the subject matter, i’m having more difficulty with this one. Still I’m only on the 3rd episode.
    Sorry, I don’t find Kim Hee-Seon looks anything like a student. But I’ve gotten used to it.
    I kept asking myself why the teacher played by Ji Hyun-Woo, didn’t recognise her as an adult when he first saw her. I was wondering if he had bad eyesight or something, Those scenes were obviously to prepare for Kim Hee-Seon going undercover.
    It will be interesting to compare this to the the movie Thread of lies, which deals with the issue of bullying in a subtle way. That also featured Kim Yoo Jung, but as a bully. It’s an excellent movie which I would highly recoomend .

    Like

    • Aw, I hope Angry Mom will settle well for you, martin! I really enjoyed the watch, and think it’s a very solidly written and acted drama overall.

      As for Kim Hee Sun passing for a high school student.. I guess it’s a subjective thing? I thought she looked quite plausible as a high school student, especially since they wrote her cover as having been sick and therefore behind by a year.

      I have seen Thread of Lies, actually. Good movie, which I very much enjoyed. I think the focus is quite different, though, as Angry Mom explores a specific scenario where there is more to the bullying than meets the eye, while Thread of Lies explores the aftermath of a suicide prompted by bullying. I’m not too sure whether you’d find useful comparisons, but if you do have thoughts about it after you’re done with Angry Mom, I’d be interested to hear them! 🙂

      Like

  8. Another well done review. I agree with almost everything you said and AM is one of my faves in 2015 so far. Especially resonated with the below comment. I am not a big fan of shows dragging out the suspense factor, with one too many coincidences gone awry and only revealing the info in one big climactic ending.

    ‘At the end of almost every episode, I found myself impressed with just how quickly Show chose to reveal various bits of information &/or back Kang Ja into a corner. And mind you, Show did this consistently.’

    Like

    • Thanks Mitta! 😀 It’s great to know that you enjoyed Angry Mom too! And absolutely, Show’s pacing and boldness in expanding the story impressed me a great deal. I’d love to see more of this kind of bold and assured storytelling in dramaland! I know it’s a big ask, but a girl can hope, right? 😉

      Like

  9. Kf, Thanks dor your reply.
    Angry mom
    9/10
    Okay, so it wasn’t really about bullying. A nice cast, kept my interest throughout. As For the premise of a 34 year old pretending to be a student, It’s a ridiculus notion, that nobody wouild have copped it, but in order to enjoy the drama you have to accept it.
    Besides Kim Yoo Jung i also liked Oh Yoon-ah, who is probably a limited actress, but willing to take on different types of roles.and So Hee Jung whose face seems very familiar, but looking at her fiilmography at places such http://mydramalist.com/people/5298-so-hee-jung there is nothing else I’ve seen her in, yet I’m sure I’ve seen her in other stuff. Acttually unless she started acting in movies and dramas in the last 5 yearts, her filmography doesn’t seem to be complete.

    Like

    • 9/10! That’s great, that you ended up enjoying Angry Mom so much! 🙂 It’s a very solid drama, and deserves more love.

      Maybe I’m just more inclined to suspend disbelief; I didn’t find it too hard to accept Kim Hee Sun rocking the high school uniform. I actually thought she looked plausibly youthful, ie, not too much older than the young people around her. As for So Hee Jung, I’ve seen her in a couple of supporting roles, but can’t comment on whether or not she’s been around for longer than the last 5 years. It’s entirely possible that she started acting later in life than most other actors. 🙂

      Like

  10. Hi, umm i was just wondering if u have watched School 2015: Who Are You.
    If u have, it would be nice if u could do a review on it. 😉

    Like

  11. Great review as always – I really enjoyed this show. There was quite a balancing act with the humor and the sad, scary, stressful (and violent!) moments. They did hide a lot of the direct violence, showing a kicking foot but not the contact, someone falling but not getting pushed, etc… and the show made a deliberate effort to show the bystander characters hating the violence, thankfully. I was also surprised by Kim Yoo Jung’s role being a bit put to the side, but of course her acting was solid, she always commits so well to her roles. I was also really pleased with the character development for all the supporting roles, each person was affected by the angry mom, in that they found strength and righteous cause enough to change, even if not directly in Kang Ja/Bang Wool, i.e. Sang Tae allowing himself to like Ah Ran and following his heart, accepting justice and standing up to his dad and going after Ah Ran (and then he confronted her about leaving, desperately all like, you didn’t ask me, aren’t we dating… so cute!), then Ji Hyun Woo going from mild to tougher and being a great teacher, although showing knowledge of the law was a bit out there, I don’t recall that his degree was in law… There were a lot of subtle changes and displays of emotion that allowed me to appreciate that Dong Chil and Bok Dong were not as bad as originally thought. The show gives so much opportunity for us to see that you should pity them a bit, because lack of love and support makes monsters if you don’t intervene.. and the show proves that you can save them (at least to some extent), and they can also save themselves IF THEY CHOOSE. Of course some of the other characters.. there was less room for humanity 😉 And Do Jeong Woo and Joo Ae Yeon made too many bad choices – while you glimpse their humanity, the bit of affection is hard to accept, you find it hard to pity them because they chose to be where they were. These are all great actors, though, I have seen some of the seasoned ones in other dramas and they always fit the role, chummy grandpa, evil politician… or both… anyway, the ensemble cast is really well integrated with the development and story arc – the pace was great, and Go Soo Hee as Gong Joo with her cronies, so funny! The tiny tiaras, wigs, and cute costumes were great comic relief at all times, and yet her earnest care and seriousness and ability to just get stuff done was lovely support for friendship, helping Kang Ja and showing her motherly side. Adorable. I would watch this again someday, for sure, definitely marathon-worthy 🙂

    Like

    • Aw, glad that you enjoyed this show so much, lyricalpeach!! This is one of those underrated gems in dramaland that deserves more love than it gets. Strong writing, strong performances, and robust themes, with some funny tucked in quite nicely too. That’s a big accomplishment by any standards, and Angry Mom does it all so well. I loved so many of the characters, and Gong Joo is definitely one of them. She and her minions were so ridiculous, but always so full of fierce loyalty and heart. Love! ❤

      Like

  12. Pingback: Review: Who Are You – School 2015 | The Fangirl Verdict

  13. Will you love and give it away
    7/10
    I think a better title for this would have been “Letting Love go”
    Anyway theere are two main issues. A family trying to get over the past, and
    Two couples (young and let’s say not so young deciding to give up on love for the sake of another couple. The problem for me is that the couple who the other two pairs do the sacrificing for, are in my mind the least interesting. Now it kind of sorts itself out at the end, but not completly. So Even though that dissapointed me, I have to give it points for not having it run out completly the way I expected it to.
    Bit If somebody wanted to point a finger at korean dramas, and wonder how anubody could fall for this kind of stuff, then this is the one they should use. The reasoning behind the younger couple’s giving up on love is to this
    middle aged guy’s eyes just a bit silly. As another character says “idiot. moron” I have to agree with her. There is also so many coincidences.
    On the acting level. Well, i watched this drama for Shin Da-eun, and she
    is wonderful in it. Everytime she appears, she lights up the screen. She is so full of warmth and good humour, and energy, and cute as the proverbial button. You just want to put her in your pocket. But her performance here is
    so different than the one she gives in family’s honour. and just as convincing.
    I guess the main male lead is Lee Sang-Yeob. His acting is good, but for me his charactor is a bit too much. Okay, There are scenes where he goes into his father’s room at night, and I’m thinking “Jeez, let the man sleep, for gawd’s sake” But maybe that says more about me. On the other male lead
    Seo Ji-seok. It took a scene where he has an argument with his mother
    for me to see that he was a better actor than I thought he was. Before that
    his expression always seemed to be the same.
    As for the other female lead Hong Soo-hyun, she is good. but on this performance at least doesn’t do much for me.
    good acting overall.

    Like

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on “Will You Love and Give it away” Martin. 🙂 I haven’t seen the show myself, so I can’t comment. But it sounds like it’s not especially fantastic, so I won’t be seeking this one out. Thanks for the overview!

      Like

  14. There is also so many coincidences, that you couldn’t anubody for saying “oh, come on, ot’s just getting ridiculus now”

    Like

  15. ok, third time lucky. There are also so many coincidences, that you couldn’t fault anubody for saying “oh, come on, it’s just getting ridiculus now”

    Like

  16. You are welcome.
    But it’s just my opinion, so I presume you are basing your choice not to see it, on other reviews as well.

    Like

  17. Oh. Well, I wouldn’t decide to watch or not watch a show based on one person’s opinion, especially mine :). Anyway it’s not a bad show, just not a great one. In my ratings system. 6=good. 8=very good, and 10=excellent. Odd numbers means I’m mot sure. eg 7 would mean I’m not sure whether to give this a 6 or an 8. ie sometimes I might thing it’s a very good, but other times I wasn’t as impressed by it. I’m beginning to think I focused too much on the negative aspects of the show. I know I said that if anybody
    was to use a series to show why you shouldn’t bother with korean dramas, then this is the one to use. But If you are used to korean, you will find those coincidences easier to forgive.
    Did it bother me . Well, I laughed at the coincidences more than anything else. Maybe a better way of saying it would is, If you want to get someome into K dramas, I wouldn’t show them this one first.
    It’s not boring, I wantedto know what happened to the characters. I obviously don’t think it’s a great show, but I wouldn’t tell people not to watch it.

    Like

    • Lol. Don’t worry, Martin. Since I wasn’t planning to watch this show anyway, your sharing only confirmed my preference. I don’t watch that many family dramas because they’re long, and there’s just not enough time to watch many of ’em. I really do enjoy a family drama that’s well done, though, so I choose the ones I do watch, extra carefully. This one didn’t make that shortlist, and for now, it’s staying that way. 🙂

      Like

  18. Pingback: Review: Sassy Go Go [Cheer Up] | The Fangirl Verdict

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

  20. Pingback: Flash Review: Page Turner | The Fangirl Verdict

  21. This is the first time I’m commenting here, but I must admit, your reviews are amazing. I wasn’t ready to watch Angry Mom because I didn’t think it would be interesting, but I decided to give it a try since you rated it well. And Jove, it is amazing!!! I can’t get enough of it at all. Mostly I end up skipping episodes and fast forwarding, but Angry Mom had me gripped from the start. Especially JI HYUN WOO!
    Hope you continue to do more of these reviews, because I watch dramas only after seeing how you’ve rated them. 🙂

    Like

    • Hello Anya, thanks for coming out and leaving a comment!! I’m really glad you’ve been enjoying the reviews, and that you find them helpful in making your drama decisions. It makes me feel so.. useful! 😉

      YAY that you loved Angry Mom, this show deserves more love than it gets, imo. Which is why I feel like I need to love it extra, heh. And yes, Ji Hyun Woo was adorkably endearing in this!

      Like

  22. This drama had me invested within the first five minutes. There were some tough parts in this drama (Dong Chil/Kang Ja flashback) and the writers did not shy away from showing long term effects of trauma. The acting was very, very good and many of my favorite actors were in this drama. Lilly’s ‘dance’ during that long speech was brilliant.

    My favorite scene was the last meeting of Dong Chil and Ah Ran. A lot was said in their conversation. Talk about ‘reading between the lines. Well done by the writers.

    Another one on your review list done! 😃 hooray!

    Like

    • Aw, I’m glad you enjoyed Angry Mom, phl!! I loved this show, and felt that it deserved more love than it got. Truly well-written and well-executed, and the cast was great. Kang Ja is such an awesome badass. ❤

      Like

Leave a comment:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s