So after just 2 episodes, I had shelved this show indefinitely, coz I’d found it really hard to get into. I pretty much planned to drop it, really.
And then School 2015 happened, where Nam Joo Hyuk charmed me all melty in spite of his limited acting range, and I decided to come back to this, to have a lookie at how he did in this show versus School 2015.
Well, ok, I also came back to gaze at him, heh. Still, a fangirl reason is a reason too, right? 😉
All in all, I hafta say that I’m happy I gave this show a second chance, in spite of its seriously WTH ending.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME IN THE BEGINNING
If I had to sum up what didn’t work for me in those first two episodes, I’d have to say that:
1. Everything was just way too out there for my taste,
..even though I knew going in that this was going to be nonsensical, campy, crazy kind of show. I mean, there were things I found entertaining, sure. But the first two episodes felt like campy-on-steroids and it all got a bit much for me.
2. I found all 4 leads hard to connect with.
This was the more important point, I think. It’s hard to want to keep watching a show when you don’t find any of your main characters all that engaging or likable.
For the record, I did like a couple of things in Show’s initial episodes. Like:
- Pervy Ha Ni (Jo Bo Ah) ogling Shi Kyung (Song Jae Rim) and wanting to bite his butt. And she’s not all talk either. It’s hilarious.
- The Secret Love Affair spoof, where Hyun Myung (Ohn Joo Wan) passionately “plays” his computer keyboard like a piano. That took me by surprise and made me laugh out loud.
It’s just, the level of OTT crazy was just kinda too much for me, and I felt like I was being bashed over the head with big, fat servings of intense crazy, with little to no breathing room.
Like I said, the bigger straw that ground this camel to a stop, was the fact that I found it hard to get on board with the main characters.
Here’s a brief rundown of my difficulties with each of our main characters.
- I found Ha Ni self-centered and oblivious to other people’s feelings or needs, to what I felt was an annoying and unacceptable degree.
- Hyun Myung was being treated so poorly by so many people that he was coming across as pathetic.
- Shi Kyung wasn’t coming off as cool to me, quite possibly because I’d been watching Song Jae Rim in We Got Married, and all his efforts to come across as cool in character as Shi Kyung, actually reminded me instead, of his dorky-cheesy efforts to impress Kim So Eun.
- And of course, Jin Ah (Park Ji Soo) was downright awful.
It made sense that Jin Ah was unlikable, since that seemed to pretty much be the main purpose of her character. But not being able to feel connected to all four leads just felt wrong, to me. Which is how I ended up shelving the show for so long.
WHAT I LIKED
Of course, then School 2015 – and Nam Joo Hyuk – happened, and that got me back on the Surplus Princess train.
Here’re the things that made me happy that I came back to this show.
I found The Funny more accessible
Happily for me, I found that the OTT was dialed down by quite a bit, from episode 3 onwards.
Stuff was still somewhat surreal, but because everything had been toned down, I just found the entire show so much more accessible. I found it easy to watch the show, roll with its punches, and laugh along with it.
Even better, I got a kick out of recognizing a number of references and spoofs as well.
Like in episode 4, when Surplus housemate Ji Yong (Kim Min Kyo) breaks into a heartbreak dance, I could actually place it as a spoof of G-Dragon’s Crooked MV. I found the spoof very apt, and very funny too.
On another note, I found it really cool that I understood what Hye Young (Kim Seul Gi) was doing, as a Mukbang BJ, and how the entire thing works, thanks to having seen this Eat Your Kimchi video.
As an aside, I think Kim Seul Gi would legit make an awesome Mukbang BJ, she’s such a natural!
And since we’re talking about the funny, I have to give Song Jae Rim props for being such a good sport.
Not only is his apple butt on ready display and subject to actual groping, he also has to do a lot of campy amped-up sexy for the camera, from sexy moans to come-hither poses. Especially given the context of his dorky persona in WGM, it’s awesomely hysterical.
Here, just coz:
I found the characters more likable
Fortunately for me and my second attempt at watching this show, I found the characters growing on me. Well, except for Jin Ah, that is. And that’s ok, coz I think she was supposed to be hateful, mostly.
Perhaps the most important turnaround for me, was that I no longer found Ha Ni irritating, and actually grew to like her as a character. In part, it’s thanks to the writing, while credit also goes to Jo Bo Ah for giving Ha Ni a rather endearing sort of wide-eyed naiveté.
More than the primary cast and their arcs, I actually found the housemates more engaging and amusing.
Kim Seul Gi as Hye Young was easily my favorite. She is as lovable as always, in her quirky grumpy way.
Coming in a close second is Nam Joo Hyuk, who is adorably dim as Big, even if his delivery is slightly stiff. Somehow, it works, and I found that I could think of the stiffness as part of his dimness.
I found some favorite relationships [SPOILERS]
Hye Young and Ha Ni
How Hye Young ends up knowing Ha Ni’s mermaid secret and ends up helping her feels super random and surreal, but I really liked the dynamic of the two girls being so honest and frank with each other.
I loved seeing Hye Young help Ha Ni, from the practical stuff like mopping off her tail, and taking her shopping, to the heart-to-heart stuff, like advising her how to get closer to Shi Kyung.
Their burgeoning sisterhood was one of my favorite things in the show, and I loved the matter-of-fact kind of I-totally-accept-your-weirdness protective tough love that grumpy quirky Hye Young dished out to Ha Ni.
Hye Young and Big
Eee! Big’s noona loveline with Hye Young was definitely one of my most favorite things about the show, it gave me the happy squees. <3
I loved how Big’s feelings for Hye Young grew with each circumstantial skinship situation they found themselves in.
From his confession role-play, to the hug on the crosswalk, to rehearsing for her audition, I loved watching how Big’s nervous hyperawareness of Hye Young grew and grew, until he couldn’t help but move in for the kiss.
It’s all really super cute, and the happy resolution of this loveline made up for a lot of Show’s OTP missteps (more on those missteps in a bit).
In the meantime, let me just say that I found their Heirs spoof in episode 10 quite perfect. I totally didn’t see it coming, which is part of what made it awesome. That, and how this time, it’s the girl who’s all aggressive and possessive over the guy.
I love how Hye Young grabs Big’s wrist and refuses to let him pick up the phone, then spits out that famous line, “You.. Could it be that I like you?”
Pwahaha! This totally turned the tables and made me laugh.
I also do love that Big gets to keep Hye Young on her toes with his fake-out refusal, before swooping in with the biggest bear-backhug. Eee!
And I love, love, love how, as the Heirs music continues to play, Big engulfs her in a hug, then a kiss, and then tells her, “From today, you’re mine.. Mine, I said” which then makes her squeal out loud.
Hee. I’d squeal out loud too, in her shoes. 😉
Ummph. These two are just so, so cute! Just revisiting this scene makes me grin with happiness. <3
Quick shout-out: Ahn Ma Nyeo and JH Chairwoman
Somewhere in the middle stretch of the show, the writers started to tease at a potential loveline between the JH Chairwoman (Jin Hee Kyung) and Ahn Ma Nyeo (Ahn Kil Kang), which I found pretty cute too.
It’s totally a peripheral arc, but it was amusing and entertaining whenever it showed up. The girlish excitement that she felt whenever she saw him was very cute, especially when contrasted with his bewildered gruff politeness.
Plus, I do love that she admires his food ethic so much and is even inspired by him, despite the very different scale of their food businesses.
TREATMENT OF THE OTP
To put it bluntly, I felt like the main loveline was a mess. All series long, the writers give us mixed signals about who Ha Ni’s true love is.
On one hand, the structure – the introduction with so much context and sympathy for Hyun Myung – implies that Hyun Myung is endgame.
On the other hand, the actual treatment feels like a different story. Show spends an inordinate amount of time teasing the mutual attraction between Ha Ni and Shi Kyung, so much so that it actually feels like the writers are pushing Shi Kyung as endgame.
The unfortunate effect of this is that in the end, neither loveline feels true.
[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]
The mutual attraction between Ha Ni and Shi Kyung is regularly foiled, which means Ha Ni and Shi Kyung don’t have a chance to even try getting to know each other properly.
At the same time, so much time is spent on that, that we don’t actually see a proper build-up of the mutual attraction between Ha Ni and Hyun Myung, which just makes the eventual swing in Hyun Myung’s direction feel sort of shoe-horned in and very hasty.
Of course, it didn’t help that Show got cut down to 10 episodes and the writers had to resolve this confusing loveline in a truncated amount of time.
The writers definitely had to cut corners to bring the story to a much earlier close, and that didn’t help our confusing love triangle and its resolution one bit.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING
On the upside, our supporting characters pretty much all get some kind of happy resolution.
Big and Hye Young are the cutest couple ever, Ji Yong becomes a full-time staff at JH and even has a lovey-dovey office romance goin’ on, Sun Kyu seems happy to come out as the rich, influential guy that he is, and even JH Chairwoman gets a second chance with Ahn Ma Nyeo.
All good stuff, really.
The big downside, though, is that the ending that the writers chose for Ha Ni and her loveline, can only be described as WTH?
I mean, yes, the drama got cut short, and that can mess with a story’s coherence. But honestly, the writers could’ve still gone with a clearer, less ambiguous happy ending than the one they chose.
The ending they chose makes so little sense, really, and no explanation is given whatsoever. Which leaves us with so many questions.
Why did Ha Ni disappear? Did Hyun Myung not love her truly? Did she not love him? And how in the world did Ha Ni come back? Didn’t she disappear into, y’know, nothingness?
It feels quite unfair, really. It feels like the writers were giving everyone the metaphorical finger for having their show cut short, to which I say.. Okayyy.. But aren’t we the ones who stuck with you to the end in spite of it? You really didn’t have to take it out on us, right? Right??
On a happier note, have I mentioned that Big and Hye Young are the cutest couple ever??
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Fun and endearing side characters help to soothe the sting from the confusing OTP and ending.
FINAL GRADE: C++