Sometimes, when you just need to get away from Real Life for a while but don’t have the mental bandwidth to commit to a full drama, a well-done little web series or mini drama can totally hit the spot.
I’m happy to report that Go Ho’s Starry Night is a great little bite-sized option that not only comes in short little 20-minute servings, but, given a little bit of time to settle, also possesses a pretty solid cracky flavor that had me clicking on the next episode, and the next – and then the next.
When I break it down, there’s quite a lot to enjoy in this little web series. Given the limited screen time it has, Show does a really nice job.
For the record, SBS also screened this as a 4-episode special, but I’m told that the 4-episode version is short of several scenes found in the 20-episode web series.
1. The fantasy
Right away, I’d say that the set-up itself is a fantasy that would appeal to a good chunk of female viewers.
I mean, you work hard and yet everything isn’t quite going your way in your life; your job leaves you no personal time, your colleagues take you for granted, and you’re patronized for being single. But then, suddenly you find yourself with multiple suitors crushing on you, and you’re literally spoilt for choice with the attention coming from all sides. That’s the vicarious experience we get to share via our female lead, and it’s a nice big emotional swing, almost from the lowest low to the highest high, which – I have to admit – is a really nice thrill.
To top it off, it’s all scored with groovy-breezy music that’s easy on the ears, and it comes in small bite-sized servings to boot. What’s not to love, right? 😉
2. General good handling
For a short little web drama like this, I must say that I’m pretty impressed with Show’s handling in general. From its story, to character and relationship development, everything manages to feel reasonably robust; time even seems to pass in a realistic manner in this drama world. Which is no small deal, given the very limited screen time Show gets to play with. How fun, that we get to experience what feels like a pretty fully developed drama world, without having to invest the time.
As a bonus, Show also manages to serve up a nice handful of cameos, with (among others) Park Shin Hye, Lee Jong Suk and Yoon Kyun Sang making appearances. Not bad at all, for such a short little show.
3. A relatable & likable protagonist
Kwon Yoo Ri does a solidly decent job of being our protagonist Go Ho. I found her likable, and she committed to the full range of delivery required of the character, from the happy moments, to the sad, and even to the comical. I honestly didn’t realize until after finishing the show, that Yoo Ri also has a day job with Girls’ Generation (you guys know I’m a kpop noob, though, right?).
It took an episode or two, but I soon found Ho to be an endearing and relatable protagonist. I liked that we get voiceovers from Ho regularly, which means that we get to hear exactly what she’s thinking, and that helped me feel consistently connected to her thoughts and feelings.
I liked, too, that Ho’s thoughts and feelings cover a whole range of topics, and aren’t just fixated on boys and dating. [MILD SPOILER] Like in episode 9, when her boss (Choi Duk Moon) takes her out to lunch as a reward for a job well done, she notices his gentlemanly ways and muses that this is the kind of thing that reminds her that she has the right to be treated like a woman. I like her thought process about this moment; it’s not about whether her boss likes her, but about her dignity and identity as a person. [END SPOILER]
I also love that as the show progresses, Ho shows herself to be a strong woman who’s quite capable of standing up for herself. [SPOILER] Like in episode 5, when tipsy hoobae Jung Min (Shin Jae Ha) plants a drunken kiss on her. Her response to the unexpected, unwelcome kiss on the lips, is a swift and indignant punch to the face. Ha! [END SPOILER]
One minor detail that I love about Ho, is how she squees out loud on her own, complete with a bit of flailing arm action, after a particularly thrilling romantic moment with her leading man. So cute! And, as a flailing sort of squee-er myself, I can totally relate. Ahem.
4. The bevy of suitors
It’s actually quite ridiculous that by the time we hit the later episodes, Ho has ignited the interest of at least five men in the office. Talk about a harem of adoring suitors! Given our context, though, this is par for the course. It’s all meant in good fun, and it totally helps to not take the inordinate amount of attention too seriously.
Out of the bevy of suitors, there are three – well, technically more like two – who are our main story players. Male lead Kim Young Kwang is suitably grumpy but still roguishly handsome, while Lee Ji Hoon plays his most serious love rival.
Essentially, hoobae Jung Min is there to lay the attention really thick on Ho, so that our two male leads can stew with grumpy jealousy, and basically be provoked into ramping up their individual courtship strategies with Ho (cue hijinks!).
Any drama fan would be able to see that Tae Ho (Kim Young Kwang) is romantic endgame, and be able to predict a good number of the plot developments, but it’s still fun to see it play out. The vicarious experience, as our players become hyper-aware of feelings, and start flailing over how to deal with those pesky feelings, is good, delicious, cracky stuff.
5. An emotional core
One of the things I really appreciate about this show, is that even through the fun hijinks, it takes care to flesh out and preserve an emotional core. Our characters (particularly Ho) display depth of care and emotion as they face their specific circumstances, and that helped me feel engaged with their journeys. The fact that they felt their emotions so strongly and sincerely made it easy for me to feel emotionally connected with them.
For such a short little series, Show manages to pack a pretty solid amount of melty into its compact little story, a fact for which I am happily grateful.
Beyond his grumpy exterior, Tae Ho starts to soften his gaze and leak secret stifled smiles around Ho, and this increases in frequency and regularity the deeper we get into the episodes. Every time his stern expression gave way to a stifled, amused, affectionate smile, my heart squee-ed a little.
As Ho and Tae Ho become closer, I found myself really liking how he keeps taking her face in his hands. His hands look so large as he does that; somehow, it just makes me feel like he’s a good protector.
This might not sound like the most melty of moments, but I really do love the conversation that Ho has with Tae Ho after her spying mission under the table in episode 12.
It feels open and honest, and at the same time, cozy and intimate. The air between them isn’t awkward or fidgety in spite of the awkward topic they’re tackling, and there’s an ease about the atmosphere between them that I really like.
I love that Tae Ho’s gaze is unwavering and matter-of-fact, even as he admits to having had a one-sided crush for a long time. This grabbed my heart, and I love that it was nothing to do with skinship, and everything to do with emotional honesty. <3
Of course, the actual moments of skinship come into play too. Like this moment in episode 15, when Tae Ho grabs Ho by the waist during their “some” sort of date. Eee!
And then there’s the photocopier dream that Ho had in episode 19, ahem.
I mean, I know it’s a dream and therefore technically didn’t happen between our OTP, but it’s just too hot to ignore. The way Tae Ho comes up behind Ho and presses up against her. Omona.
Dang, that’s hot. *flails for air*
And then there’s episode 19, where our OTP finally goes on a proper date and shares their first kiss.
Truth be told, the kiss itself is an average kdrama kiss, in that it feels a bit stiff and awkward, but I dig the context of it, where Tae Ho confesses all the things that he knows about her, and admits that his temper had gotten worse because he’d been jealous of her dating someone else.
My favorite thing about this scene, is the quiet, gentle look in his eyes, as he softly says to Ho, “Isn’t it time we date now?”
Of course, Show has its shortcomings, and here’s a quick little list, to help you manage your expectations.
1. There’s a fair bit of PPL
…but that’s normal for web dramas. Just roll with it. And maybe consider buying some of those products if you come across ’em, heh.
2. General treatment of Ho
Even though she is a strong woman, Ho gets bullied at times, and thanks to her workplace norms, she doesn’t fight back. That can be hard to watch for some viewers, I think. What makes it worse, is that there’s a sleazy side character that literally harrasses and even feels up the women in the office. On the upside, he gets what he deserves, at least a little bit.
3. Some boring/lame/overly cheesy bits
There’s some stuff that didn’t work so well for me. Like the intra-office competition in episode 11, which I found pretty lame. Ho’s dad literally showing up as a ghost in some of the smaller beats was also decidedly weird. Seriously though, why??
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING
All’s well that ends well, and we get to see Ho and Tae Ho cutely tease and bicker happily ever after, which feels fitting for this OTP.
What I really appreciate about this ending, though, is that beyond the romantic resolution, the ending also expands to include a thoughtful voiceover from Ho, which allows us to delve a little bit, into some meaningful themes.
I love the idea that the star ratings had more dimension than was being shown in Ho’s webzine articles; that every person has different sides to them; that understanding the different sides gives us a fuller picture of the person; that there are things worth appreciating in every single person. I also like the accompanying idea, that things aren’t always what they first seem; that our initial understanding may be limited and therefore flawed; that things tend to look very different, once we get a fuller picture of any given situation.
What a thoughtful note to end on; made all the more impressive, that this lovely bit of perspective is served up by such a compact little web series.
Nicely done, Show. Nicely done.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
A satisfying spot of heartfelt fluff.
FINAL GRADE: B+
It turns out Kim Young Kwang has a pretty decent singing voice! Here’s the track that he sang for the OST. Enjoy: