A lot of the time, I look for the full package when I’m choosing a drama to watch. Basically, a show that boasts an interesting story, is delivered by strong actors, and features an OTP that’s believable and shares great chemistry. If I get lovely music and gorgeous cinematography on top of that, all the better.
This.. is not one of those times.
After a physically and mentally exhausting several weeks, all I wanted – or could handle, really – was drama comfort snack food. Y’know, something light, easy, packaged in small bite-size servings, and that hits the right notes without requiring my brain to actually do any work.
Happily, Noble, My Love fit the bill nicely.
For the record, this show is far from perfect. There are definitely flaws to be found, even if you choose not to look for them. In the interest of managing expectations, here’s a quick list.
1. Acting isn’t the best
Leads Sung Hoon and Kim Jae Kyung aren’t the most experienced or nuanced actors, and it does show.
Sung Hoon’s delivery of Kang Hoon lands on the more stiff and wooden end of the scale, while Kim Jae Kyung adopts a much more dramatic style in her delivery of Yoon Seo. It still sort of works because he’s supposed to be a stiff-upper-lip type chaebol prince, while she’s supposed to be a free-spirited Candy. Still, it would’ve been so much cooler if he’d managed to show more nuance, and if she’d been able to show more, well, subtlety and restraint.
On the upside, they both do solid enough jobs of making their characters engaging. In spite of their various limitations in delivery, they managed to make me care, and that counts for a lot.
2. Show is trope-filled and predictable
Show is quite literally Trope City, and if you’ve been watching drama for a while, you’d probably be able to predict each one before it actually unfolds on your screen. Coincidental meeting of the OTP, an Event to get them in the same space, bickering, piggyback rides, leap-hugs (above), falling kisses, wrist-grabs.. Show’s got ’em all, and then some.
Importantly, Show executes the tropes pretty well, and makes them narratively cohesive, even at their cheesiest.
I was quite amused by just how tropey everything was. You could probably up the fun of this show by watching it with a friend and playing a game of Spot The Trope.
3. Cold Chaebol Jerk Alert
I know a cold chaebol jerk male lead is built into the story, and pretty much also into dramaland’s collective consciousness, but this was a bit of a problem for me, at points.
I think it’s mostly a product of where I am, in my drama journey. When I first watched Secret Garden years ago, I was very much taken with Hyun Bin’s cold chaebol jerk character, who often manhandled his love interest Ha Ji Won in the name of romance. I didn’t care then, that he was pretty much bullying her. Now, though, watching the same scenes makes me uncomfortable.
Same thing here. There are times when Kang Hoon bullies/manhandles Yoon Seo, and it’s supposed to be romantic, but it just makes me cringe instead.
Like in episode 5, when Kang Hoon bullies Yoon Seo over her “reward” for saving him. Him bullying her is just not cool. And then there’s how she stomps on his foot, then beats his chest (cringe), and then how he grabs her wrists to make her calm down, and then later laughs about the whole thing. Cringe, cringe, cringe. I was never more thankful for this show’s short episodes than I was at this point.
Considering that almost everyone I know marathoned this show in big, heaping gulps, there’s gotta be some pretty significant upsides to this show, right? (If you’re curious, I finished this one in 3 separate sittings, over 3 days. I would’ve finished it faster, if I’d had more drama time to spend.)
1. Pretty Leads
Both Sung Hoon and Kim Jae Kyung bring large servings of Pretty to the screen.
Kim Jae Kyung’s very pretty, and reminds me of Kim Ji Won, a little bit, especially with her big eyes, full lips and those bangs.
And Sung Hoon is chiseled, buff and handsome, while reminding me strongly of a younger Lee Byung Hun.
It also totally doesn’t hurt that Sung Hoon spends about 90% of his screen time either in sharp suits, shirtless, or going from shirtless to a sharp suit. 😉
Not bad at all, dontcha think?
I haven’t fallen under Sung Hoon’s spell like some of my dramaland friends have, but let’s just say that I definitely see the appeal. 😉
2. Strong Chemistry
In spite of limitations in their delivery, Sung Hoon and Kim Jae Kyung share a sparky onscreen chemistry that translates very well. Whether they’re getting in each other’s faces while bickering, or getting in each other’s faces with romantic intent, the tension between them is sparky and engaging.
Special shout-out to Sung Hoon, for doing a solid job of bringing the sexy laden-with-intent sort of gaze when needed, coz that definitely upped the squee-factor in this show.
I especially love the comfortable, cozy vibe of this last screenshot. They totally look like a real couple here, to the extent that I feel like I’m spying on them. Which is a big accomplishment for any OTP, I’d say.
3. Short, well-handled episodes
One of Show’s big pluses, for me, is how it handles its episodes and its sense of time.
With other web dramas (like Her Lovely Heels, or Love Cells, for instance), I often don’t feel like the sense of time is well-handled or believable. The episodes are so short that it can feel like we’re just hitting story and OTP milestones for the sake of it, and not because the milestones are well-earned.
In Noble, My Love I really felt that time was passing in a believable manner, and that the OTP milestones were reasonably organic to the story. [SPOILER] Like, I can believe how Kang Hoon might fall for Yoon Seo, since she saved his life, and was there for him when he needed someone. That made his romantically-driven actions towards Yoon Seo afterwards so much more believable, for me. [END SPOILER]
Additionally, I like how the writers give us enough OTP goings-on in each little mini-episode, without it getting to be too much. We do also get to see Yoon Seo spend time at work, and with her friends, and Kang Hoon at his workplace, doing chaebol CEO things. That helped to flesh out the drama world beyond us seeing the OTP spend time together, and I liked that.
Plus, a bonus of seeing Yoon Seo at work, is the cute cats and dogs. Eee!
On a random tangent, I really liked the random “yowr” sounds that Yoon Seo’s cat contributes to the show. So cute, plus, it adds to the manhwa flavor of the show.
4. There’s someone to “hate”
Despite many of the story milestones being predictable and quite contrived, they still worked, and I give a fairly big chunk of credit to the fact that Yoon Seo had a bitchy friend or two in her life, who looked down on her and enjoyed lording it over her.
Mostly, I just wanted the bitchy friends to be put in their place, and it didn’t really matter how Show did it, as long as it got done. The satisfaction of seeing the shocked faces of said bitchy friends made up for everything, basically.
5. Funny Secretary Kang
Park Shin Woon brings quite a few unexpected laughs as Kang Hoon’s secretary.
He’s an odd, funny mix of snide sarcasm, knowing tease and adoring mother hen in one, especially when interacting with Kang Hoon, and it’s a total hoot. I found his brand of funny a little weird at first, like when he popped up in the backseat of Kang Hoon’s car like a jack-in-the-box, but I soon started to look forward to his scenes, coz he’s, quite simply, hilarious. Definitely a plus, for this show.
All in all, Noble, My Love isn’t a very inventive nor remarkable show, and that’s ok, because it never sets out to be remarkable anyway.
In spite of its shortcomings, I found Show to be sufficiently entertaining that I didn’t mind clicking on the next episode, and then the next, and the next (those short 15-minute episodes are so handy, that way!).
Sure, I totally knew that Kang Hoon and Yoon Seo would get their happy ending, and I could even pretty much guess how they’d get there, but there’s just something easy and comforting about watching them get there anyway. Plus, there was lots of cute to sweeten the journey.
And that’s all we need, sometimes, from our comfort drama snack food. Right? 🙂
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Warm, feel-good, fluffy (and mostly mindless) fun.
FINAL GRADE: B