The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Dropped: Beautiful Gong Shim

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Sometimes being a curious cat and following the buzz of a show pays off, and you end up finding – and loving – a gem of a show that you might not have bothered to check out otherwise.

And sometimes, being a curious cat.. well, doesn’t pay off.

I know lots of folks loved this show right from the start, and I even saw enthusiastic endorsements of it from some of my most trusted drama friends. Sadly, try as I might, I never managed to really love this one.

Sorry, Gong Shim-sshi.. I still think you’re a pretty awesome person though.

WHAT WAS CUTE

Even though Show’s not particularly well-written, and its taste for comedy is broader and more low-brow than I generally prefer, there were definitely some things that I liked about it.

Here’s a quick list:

1. Min Ah is wonderfully quirky as Gong Shim. I love her all-in, unself-conscious take on the character, and I love her husky voice to go with. Gong Shim really does make a lot of sense at times, but at other times, I feel like she’s truly a weirdo. And I like that Show allows her to be that weirdo, without trying to “normalize” her in order to make her more attractive to the boys in her life. Plus, I love that she’s got many unexpected skills and is far from being a damsel in distress.

2. Nam Goong Min is also quirky and weird as Dan Tae, and it’s nice in the sense that this character allows him to show more personality than most of his previous second-lead roles, and it doesn’t require him to be a serial killer either.

3. Ohn Joo Wan is cute and likable as the reluctant chaebol prince Jun Su, and I like that he’s drawn to Gong Shim, and is completely undaunted by her unconventional appearance and quirks.

4. The mutual OTP crush is cute, even though it feels somewhat randomly inserted. Once I got past the lack of context around the mutual crush, the OTP was quite amusing together, especially in the moments where Show dialed down the broad comedy a little. I liked the weirdo + weirdo = a whole lotta weird dynamic of it all.

5. For a reasonably good stretch, Show is a pretty light and easy watch, if you ignore the birth secret and corporate shenanigans. I particularly liked seeing Gong Shim, Dan Tae and Jun Su becoming friends with one another.

For the first 9 episodes at least, I found Show watchable and entertaining enough, as long as I ignored the above-mentioned flaws.

Another thing that needs to be ignored, is the large age gap between Min Ah and Nam Goong Min. It seems to me that how well people are likely to enjoy this show (at least, this part of the show that I enjoyed) depends on 1, whether the age gap between Nam Goong Min & Min Ah is an issue to them, and 2, whether they like quirky Dan Tae. Coz quirky Gong Shim is, I think, universally lovable. But Dan Tae might not be your cup of tea, especially if you feel he’s too old for Gong Shim and shouldn’t be mooning over her.

Personally, I found it relatively easy to overlook the large age gap, and found the OTP chemistry to be pretty good, as a general rule.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH

Broadly speaking, I was able to enjoy the show in spite of its affinity for birth secrets and corporate politics. I didn’t even mind so much, the antics of Gong Shim’s annoying, entitled, scheming sister Gong Mi (Seo Hyo Rim), even though I know people who were, at various points, ready to tear Gong Mi’s hair out. It’s not that I’m extra saintly; I just figured the scheming sister was a necessary evil – at least in this drama world. Plus, I honestly couldn’t be bothered to hate her.

For me, the slippery slope towards bidding this show goodbye had a bit of a three-step structure.

Step 1: When it’s NOT romantic

Even though the OTP moments were generally cute, and there were moments of genuine heart between these two, it niggled at me that Dan Tae would regularly manhandle Gong Shim during the dramatic &/or romantic moments. I didn’t like the forceful wrist-grabs or the overbearing invasion of personal space, so that spoiled it for me, a little.

I also found some of Dan Tae’s smitten behavior downright annoying instead of amusing.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Like the time in episode 5, when Dan Tae calls Gong Shim repeatedly while she’s on a movie date with Jun Su. So annoyingly needy, I thought.

Additionally, I think writer-nim’s idea of romance doesn’t sit well with me. Like in episode 8, when Dan Tae asks Gong Shim not to go to Jeju Island, the scene is positioned as a confession of sorts. But, when you listen to the words that come out of Dan Tae’s mouth, the words are essentially self-centered.

“I understand that you have to go to Jeju Island. But I’m going to be selfish from this moment on… and talk only for myself. I don’t want you to leave… Since we live in the same building, I could see you whenever I opened my door. I could see you going to work every time I had breakfast. When water floods all over the house, that’s when I get lucky. Because I could go over to your house and see you. I… I liked that so much. But… if you go to Jeju Island, that means… I can’t see you from now on. So please don’t go to Jeju Island… If you leave, I don’t know how I’ll cope. Don’t think too hard. And tomorrow, tell me that you won’t leave.”

First of all, can’t he say he likes her? Why does he have to make it about him? Nam Goong Min manages to give the moment heart, and Dan Tae’s weirdness gives me an excuse to give him the benefit of the doubt for the somewhat odd choice of words, but the words themselves still niggle at me.

Second of all, I can’t help but bristle at the choice of words right at the end, in particular. Instead of saying, “tell me your decision” he says, “tell me you won’t leave.” Uh. Domineering much?

[END SPOILER]

Step 2: When character motivations don’t really make sense

The episode 9 mark is about the point that the writing, pacing and direction seem to get into a bit of a mess. From everything escalating way too quickly, to not allowing the audience insight into Dan Tae’s thoughts and feelings, it all results in the plot points feeling like they were randomly strung together.

It literally feels like we suddenly crossed from a world made up of real-but-weird people, to a manhwa world with caricatures instead.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I mean, Dan Tae faints from realizing his identity, then plunges right into undercover mode at Star Group, in order to uncover his kidnapper’s identity, with cheshire grin in place? I don’t know. I guess it would’ve made more sense to me if we’d had more visibility into Dan Tae’s thoughts and feelings about his identity as Joon Pyo. Coz, if you’ve just discovered your family’s not your real family AND you’re really the missing chaebol prince you’ve been searching for, then surely we should see more reaction / internal conflict, right?

At the same time, Dan Tae starts behaving like a melancholic sad sack, loses most of his quirks, and starts to actively and protractedly avoid Gong Shim, when just a few (very) short plot points ago, he’d made his Big Request for her not to go to Jeju Island.

I rationalized (heavily) that Dan Tae was probably confused about his newly discovered identity, and wasn’t sure what to tell Gong Shim, and that’s why he was avoiding her, and that sorta helped. But really, Show could’ve done attempted a better job of making Dan Tae’s change in behavior make more sense.

[END SPOILER]

Step 3: When there’s just too much birth secret stuff going on

From the end of episode 9 through most of episode 13, I felt like Show completely lost its grip on what made it (somewhat) charming to begin with. Almost all our screen time was spent on birth secrets and corporate stuff, and it felt excruciatingly boring.

Random-feeling arcs – like the poisoned water arc – took up way too much screen time, and felt like nothing more than filler. Seriously, did we even need the poisoned water arc?

WHEN I KNEW IT WAS TIME FOR GOODBYE

Through all of the birth secret stuff, I figured – in a broad, general sort of way – that it was the Cute that was missing. Yet, when Show started back-pedaling in episode 13 to bring the Cute back, it actually fell flat for me.

Essentially, there’s no discernible causal agent, so the cute that does get served up feels completely random. [SPOILER] Like, why is Dan Tae now suddenly moony-eyed over Gong Shim again, when in the last few episodes, he’d looked so troubled and distant? Other than to facilitate the cute, I don’t see why there’s a sudden change in his behavior. Are we supposed to believe that it’s just because Gong Shim’s father asks him the favor of going with Gong Shim on her work trip? That’s not reason enough to explain his change in attitude. Which is why the cute all feels hollow instead of meaningful, to me. [END SPOILER]

With way too much time focused on boring birth secrets, and Cute that now didn’t feel very cute anymore, I literally felt like I was hanging onto this show just to see what happened. When I started on episode 14, which actually began with OTP cute, I realized that I didn’t actually care what happened anymore, whether it was about the birth secret, or about the OTP.

That’s when I knew it was time to drop this one. And I felt relieved at the thought too. 😛

CLOSING THOUGHTS

It was only as I sat down to write this post, that I realized that not only had Show lost its grip on the Cute, it had also lost sight of what made it charming in the first place, in spite of its flaws. All the little quirks that had felt unique and special to our characters, like Dan Tae’s super reflexes, and Gong Shim’s trusty bicycle bell, had fallen to the wayside, and, at this point of the show (14 episodes in), appear to be forgotten.

Which is a pity, coz I do think Gong Shim’s matter-of-fact bicycle bell habit is one of the things that made her a unique and pretty awesome heroine.

You just keep on being you, ok?

Author: kfangurl

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

19 thoughts on “Dropped: Beautiful Gong Shim

  1. Yup, that’s about the point I lost interest as well, when the quirky cute got run over with all the other stuff. It never felt the same afterwards. I also got very bored with anything to do with the birth secret. They still haven’t settled that matter and there’s only 2 epis left!

    This drama would have worked much better if it had been about 10-12 epis long. Way to much filler that gets annoying after a while.

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    • Yes, this one would’ve worked much better slicing out all the filler, and cutting it down to a more compact episode count. As it is, it feels overly bloated with uninteresting stuff, and all the interesting quirks have drowned and died in the process. Like, Dan Tae’s super reflexes just disappeared after a while, and it didn’t seem like a deliberate narrative choice either. I hear Show gets better at around E18, but it doesn’t quite sound like you feel it does 😛

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      • Some of the things that initally made me like the show are back but in my case it’s “too little, too late”. I skipped several of the ‘teen’ epis and mostly read recaps, then FF’dthrough ep17-18. Guess I’ll tune in on the last two to see how it ends.

        Show was very tropey even to begin with but Dan Tae and Gong Shim’s quirky relationship and Dan Tae/Joon Soo bromance were the things that got me to watch past the first fiew epis. Take those away and there really isn’t anything else to stay for. Chaebol Shenanigans and Birth Secrets are yet another two tropes I’m hoping would die a paiful death. 😛

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        • In a nutshell, “too little, too late” is probably true for me too. I wasn’t taken at all with the Cute that Show served up in E13 & 14, and I’m pretty sure that means too late, for me. I got on board for exactly the things you described, and sadly, Show didn’t get the memo. 😛

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  2. I was contemplating on watching this show, but hm after seeing your review, I guess not. 😐 love the way you made your opinions really clear in this post though, it really made me realise what I’ll love about this show and what I wouldn’t. 🙂

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    • Thanks, I’m glad you found the post helpful! 🙂 There are now people telling me that they’re enjoying the show again, at around the E17-18 mark, but since I never loved the show as much as everyone else even in the “good” stretch, I’m just going to drop this one and call it a day. 😉

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  3. I definitely agree with all of your comments , but I’m still watching hee hee. The weird,quirky factor and their strange courtship was definitely the draw at the start of the show but it got lost some where along the way.Gong Mi became unnecessary and really just a waste of a good actress.

    I guess I’ve stuck with it so far because I want to see the fall out of the birth secret and I want a happy bromantic reunion between Dan Tae and Jun Su. Also I love both leads. I’m so surprised at Min Ah and Namgoongmin is finally a nice guy. They both have such bubbly cute chemistry and good comedic timing.
    I still get a few laughs and its a nice light weekend watch for me although i do find it harder to complete each even numbered episode.

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    • Yay that we agree, Shountz! I’m so with you, that Seo Hyo Rim is wasted in this show.. Show doesn’t give Gong Mi layers or any kind of dimension, really, and Seo Hyo Rim can be so likable in the right role.

      If I liked this show more, I’d probably stick it out to see what happens with the characters in the end. But, for some reason, this one never grabbed my heart like it did for so many other viewers, so even in the “good” stretch, I was mostly only mildly amused. So the draggy birth secret and corporate politics episodes really sucked away all my remaining goodwill towards this show. I might dip my toes into the finale just to see how it all ends, but I won’t be going back to continue my watch, even though people are saying that it gets better at E18. 🙂

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      • *SPOILER ALERT * Hmmm I dont know about all that. How much can 2 eps really change things? They finally kiss in EP 18 which was another grouse i had with them…they took forever to give the OTP a real kiss. They missed so many opportunities with all these fake oust and dream sequences that it really took the steam out of it. I did squee but it was like squee of relief rather than enjoyment. I have yet to finish ep 18 as we speak LOL I need to get back to it.

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        • Eep. It sure doesn’t sound like much fun, tbh. It sounds like stuff is way too drawn out, and that the execution is leaning underwhelming.. Thanks for affirming my decision to drop this one, Shountz.. I really don’t think this show’s for me. 😛 Plus, there are so many other dramas jostling on my plate for some attention, I honestly don’t even feel the loss 😉

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  4. I feel you on this. I was iffy on the first few episodes but fell in love with the quirkyness… and then it got left behind while I was on vacation. I’m planning on finishing it, but at a much more leisurely pace.

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    • I actually felt iffy in the beginning too, but eventually I felt somewhat charmed by the quirkiness. Unfortunately the birth secret and corporate politics episodes lost me completely. I just don’t have enough goodwill for this show to sit out more draggy episodes. Hope you have a better experience with your watch than I did! 🙂

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  5. I actually quite liked this show in the beginning but I was immediately concerned when I got to realised that this show was 20 episodes long. My major concern was that aside from all the cute, it really didn’t have much of a plot. I was also pretty concerned about “Another Oh Hae Young” having received a two episode extension as *ahem* those never end well, but, quite surprisingly they managed to pull it off (yay). Back to the topic of “Gong Shim”, the one thing that the show lost along the lines is the cheery friendship-thing that the show had managed to establish early on. The trio shared a airy dynamic, which the show just… forgot about (?) just like they did with the super reflex and bicycle bell trope (Sigh, I know, a real shame).
    Another major quam I have with this show is how they use Gong Mi according to their convenience. Correct me if I am wrong, but I hardly ever see Gong Mi really adding to the plot. She just enters the picture, does what most evil sisters usually do, and then exits, and this seemed so flat and so… short-sighted.
    At this point they could rename the show to be “Beautiful Dan Tae” and I won’t even notice a freaking difference because this show seems to have completely lost it’s cheeryness and instead of showcasing Shim’s journey to growth, it’s just about Dan Tae’s identify which could have been resolved if he would just confirm shiz from his “bff” instead of giving him the death stare everytime Joon Soo coincidentally messes stuff up.

    I have finished watching ep 18 (I usually just skip through the majority of scenes) and I can tell you for sure, it doesn’t really get much better around then either. So really, you are not missing out on much.

    P.S. You should really watch Task Force 38. IT IS REALLY GOOD. I prefer it over “Uncontrollably Fond” (Sorry, Kim Woo Bin 😭) Also, the first two episode of “Let’s fight Ghost” have been pretty promising and FINALLY I get to see Kwon Yool in a role I like (I swear if it would be the role of a jelly second bf, I would flip everything there is that can be flipped)

    P.S.S So excited for W (Ugh, just thinking about Lee Jong Suk Oppa returning to my screen makes me squeal😍)

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    • Yes, I felt the same way about Gong Mi. It often felt like she was just popping up and then disappearing, without much thought or attention to what happens to her character between scenes. It felt rather random and jerky to me, and I didn’t even make it as far into the show as you did. Also, I totally agree that Show’s not putting Gong Shim’s journey of growth front-and-center. Which is really odd, since the show is named after her. There’s just way too much birth secret chaebol stuff going on, and whatever growth Gong Shim experiences feels incidental to Show’s main focus. That really niggled at me, while I was watching. I felt like Gong Shim had been shortchanged and treated unfairly, heh.

      Thanks for the recommendation on TF38. Because of your very enthusiastic endorsements, I’ve shifted it up my list. I can’t start on it yet, since I’ve got too many other dramas on my plate right now, but I will check it out sooner than I’d originally planned – thanks! 😉 And yes, W does look intriguing!

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  7. Took your advice! Almost literally! I jumped to the last episode and exercised my FF button! Wow, if my FF button is a person, I want to squeeze and hug him (yes, him :P) tightly!!!!

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    • Lol. Good job, my dear! I know you often try not to drop shows, but from what I read about the ending, and from the little I saw from dipping my toes into the ep, you really didn’t miss much. This is one time that I do believe you’re fully justified in dropping a show! 😉

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