Remember when everyone seemed to love Ho Goo’s Love but I ended up dropping it? Uh, pretty much the same thing happened here, with Ex-Girlfriend Club.
I’d heard more than a few glowing recommendations for Ex-Girlfriend Club, and phrases like “underrated little gem” were thrown about enthusiastically whenever I’d seen this show mentioned. I was optimistic. As a bonus, I already liked Byun Yo Han, Song Ji Hyo and Lee Yoon Ji.
Sadly, try as I might, I never was able to get into this drama. On the upside, just because this drama didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. 😉
WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME
After giving it some serious thought, I realize that there are a number of reasons why this show didn’t land so well, for me.
1. The sense of humor
After my experience with Ho Goo’s Love, I’ve come to realize that while I can adjust my viewing lens to appreciate a measure of OTT campy, I really don’t prefer the manic type of OTT crazy that some shows dish out.
I found some beats in this show amusing, and there were even times that I might’ve giggled out loud. At the same time, there were also numerous times that I felt more bemused than amused at Show’s idea of Funny.
Because The Funny affects characters and plot lines in a pretty major fashion, whether you’d enjoy Ex-Girlfriend Club has A LOT to do with how much your personal sense of humor aligns with Show’s.
Stuff I found funny
Generally speaking, I was amused by some of the ex-girlfriends’ quirks. For example, I found Lee Yoon Ji’s Lioness quite funny, with all her wide-eyed, frenetic antics. Ryu Hwa Young also made her good-hearted diva character Ra Ra likable and amusing.
I was also most often amused when the antic leaned more harmless and no one was actually hurting anyone else. In episode 5, when the group weaves an elaborate web of lies in order to keep up appearances in front of Hwa Young’s fiance, I found it all quite ridiculous and rather amusing. I was especially tickled by the final scene, where Myung Soo (Byun Yo Han) and the girls run around like headless chickens trying to hide together in the room that he’s sharing with Soo Jin (Song Ji Hyo).
Stuff I didn’t find funny
I realize that all of the times that I wasn’t on board with The Funny (which was, unfortunately, about 90% of the time), it often fell into one of three categories.
The first broad category is when the the campy is just too manic for my taste. I’m not a big fan of gag comedy, so my tolerance, even with an adjusted viewing lens, is not super high.
The second category is when The Funny is milked from violence or any other kind of behavior that hurts another character. One big example of this, is the catfight scene that we see play out at the end of episode 2 and the beginning of episode 3. The claws-out catfight, with contorted faces and hair-pulling and people getting dragged around the room, screeching, was obviously played for laughs, but I watched this scene both times with a distinct feeling of bemusement. I didn’t find it funny. Instead, I found it quite odd and OTT.
The third broad category is when The Funny is grounded in thinking or behavior that I can’t get behind. Which I’ll talk more about in the next couple of sections.
2. The premise & its execution
Broadly, I actually find it a potentially amusing premise, that one man’s ex-girlfriends get thrown together and end up as a singular circle of unwilling friends.
In its execution, though, there were often times that this didn’t land so well with me.
For one thing, I really didn’t think it was cool for all the ex-girlfriends to be obsessing over one man, like we see them do, in episode 3. In my mind, since they are exes, they should really be focusing on moving on, rather than acting out jealously over which ex-girlfriend Myung Soo’s being cozy with. I found that dynamic quite distasteful and undignified, to be honest.
The other thing is, I didn’t think it was cool either, when the ex-girlfriends meddle endlessly with the OTP. Going by the same logic, since they are exes, whether or not Soo Jin likes or is dating Myung Soo really is none of their business, and I felt that Show gave the exes too much power, in that sense. Which is why I wasn’t very amused by all the Funny that Show served up via the meddling exes. Sadly for me, there was quite a lot of that, and it got old for me pretty fast.
3. Character behavior
I believe Show was trying to be quirky, in serving up some OTT character behavior. Sometimes, it worked for me, like with Lioness Hwa Young’s frenetic personality. Other times, I didn’t enjoy the quirks so much.
Like in episode 3, when Ra Ra uses her sexuality to get what she wants out of Myung Soo’s dongsaeng roommate (Go Hyun). Show was playing it for laughs, but I didn’t find it tasteful, and couldn’t get on board with the Funny.
The other example I want to mention is Ji Ah (Jang Ji Eun), who’s presented as the elegant one among the exes. I often found Ji Ah quite unlikable, particularly in episode 9, when she disdains Soo Jin as Myung Soo’ girlfriend and meddles to boot. I think Show was angling for Funny, but I found it so unfunny that I’m not even sure, to be honest.
4. OTP chemistry
Again, I like the friends-to-lovers premise, but I’m not such a big fan of the execution, in this show.
I’ve heard people mention that they really like the chemistry between Song Ji Hyo and Byun Yo Han in this show. To be bluntly honest, I.. didn’t see it, nor feel it. I thought they pulled off the friends bit convincingly, but when the relationship finally turned romantic, I couldn’t feel their romantic chemistry.
Additionally, I found the the awkward shyness between the characters, as they learned to navigate couplehood, better in concept than in execution. I mean, I think it’s true to life, that a pair of friends who take the next step into romantic territory, would have some major adjustments to make, and I appreciate that Show wanted to shine the spotlight on that. I just wasn’t feeling the execution, and found it more painful than indulgently amusing to watch.
If I had to pinpoint the things that made this pairing not work for me, it’s probably that I found the awkward shyness overdone. And all the skinship that I did get to witness felt distinctly lacking in the rawr department. I mean, all that playful fun is good, but at least a little bit of electricity needs to be in there too. Otherwise, where do the feels come from, right?
A SLIGHT UPTICK THAT EVOLVED INTO GOODBYE
The Mild Uptick
To Show’s credit, I actually started to settle into the watch at around episode 5. Although it was slow in the coming, I did feel engaged enough by episode 5, to actually be curious about what happened next in our story.
I was admittedly less interested in the love story between Myung Soo and Soo Jin, for the reasons I just described. But, I did like the concept of the ragtag team of ex-girlfriends working together and maybe becoming friends. I also found Jo Geon (Do Sang Woo) a potentially interesting addition to the story, in that his character kept things moving along, plot-wise. I also found his oddly intent interest in Soo Jin intriguing.
When our story hit a more thoughtful stride in episode 9, I actually surprised myself by enjoying it quite well. I felt like characters were finally actually dealing with issues that warranted dealing. [SPOILER] Like Soo Jin wrestling with her insecurities around Myung Soo’s first love, and trying to settle into her new role as Myung Soo’s girlfriend. [END SPOILER]
I also liked the mellower, non-fighty scenes among the 3 exes, as they came around to the fact that they’d become more than just acquaintances.
In spite of my comparatively better enjoyment of the show in episodes 9 and 10, I must admit that there really wasn’t all that much hooking my attention.
While I’d expected Jo Geon to be interesting, I felt that his character was under-utilized and under-developed, which made his actions feel quite odd. [SPOILER] Like in episode 10, when Jo Geon realizes that he really does like Soo Jin, it feels distinctly odd and unbelievable because Show neglected to give this arc a proper build-up. [END SPOILER]
10 episodes into my watch of this show, Real Life kicked in, hard, and I had to stop watching all my shows temporarily. As I gained more breathing room and drama time, I returned to my shows as time allowed.
Three months after watching episode 10 of this show, I realized that I’d never once felt inclined to pick back up on the last 2 episodes. That’s when it hit me. Whatever enjoyment I’d gotten out of this show was basically too little, too late. I simply didn’t care enough about these characters to go back to them. Which is why I’m finally officially dropping this show.
It just never worked for me. But, just because it didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. I mean, this could totally be your cup of tea, right? 😉