Tis the season in dramaland, it seems, for the spotlight to be on immortals and their human love interests. I mean, just look at Goblin and his bride, his roomie Reaper and his Sunny, and the Mermaid and her human con-man. I guess it doesn’t surprise me that much, that the trend has reached web dramas as well.
What does surprise me, though, is how this little web drama – with its limited budget and screen-time, and its greener cast – manages to be more engaging and thought-provoking than its bigger, buzzier, full-length drama cousins. That’s some serious skillz, and I’m duly impressed.
STUFF I LIKED
I was quite enchanted with the premise pretty much right away, to be honest. An immortal with the body of a pretty young woman, but with the soul of a crusty granny; who’s lived for a thousand years, and earns a living by dishing out relationship advice based on a thousand years of personal experience, but now vehemently swears off dating herself. Just too cute, even on paper.
Happily, it’s just as cute in execution, and like I mentioned earlier, even goes one further, by bringing lashings of thoughtfulness and meaning to the table as well.
Here’s a quick run-down of the stuff that I enjoyed about this charming little web series.
1. Everything’s very pretty
Everything is very pretty in this show, and I really like Pretty.
From the gorgeous Spring color palette and the rich tones, to the pretty framing of many scenes, to the whimsical little touches like this shot of female lead Mijo’s pet turtle Baek Nyun (literally translates as “a hundred years”) scrambling in slow-motion on the sand under a cute, colorful umbrella, I dig it all.
Special shout-out to the lovely modernized hanbok dresses that make up Mijo’s wardrobe; they are so gorgeous that I want almost every outfit for my own wardrobe, for reals.
2. Hwang Seung Eon as Mijo
The stand-out for me, in this show, is Hwang Seung Eon as our protagonist Mijo. She totally looks and feels the part of a Joseon woman stuck in her Joseon ways, living in a modern world. Her speech patterns are perfectly, charmingly antiquated, and her mannerisms, completely fitting of the crusty old soul that Mijo is on the inside.
Mijo is the perfect combination of sassy and jaded, yet pure-hearted and hopeful, and it was a pleasure watching her wrestle with her jadedness with life and love, so that her weary soul could live and love again. Kudos to Hwang Seung Eon for bringing Mijo perfectly to life.
3. A poignant touch
I love that beyond the cute surrounding our premise and our OTP, that Show takes the time to explore the melancholy and loneliness that comes with immortality in the context of a mortal world.
[MINOR SPOILERS] Mijo is sassy and cheerful a lot of the time, but there are moments when we see the sadness that runs undercurrent, like when she fingers cracked mementos and thinks back on past romantic partners whom she’d loved, but who’d left her behind when they’d died. Or when she clings to Baek Nyun as a pet and companion, because turtles live longer than cats or dogs. [END SPOILERS]
Show uses these moments smartly, by pausing briefly over them, and allowing us to perceive and discern Mijo’s long-suffering loneliness as an immortal. This undertone of poignance adds a really nice layer of emotional resonance to Mijo’s story, and just makes everything feel that much more significant and compelling.
4. Relatively believable treatment of the OTP
In true and rather predictable kdrama tradition, our OTP gets off to a bickery start when he moves in above her apartment, and starts practicing loud music with his band, day and night. What I do appreciate, though, is that Show then regularly creates opportunities for our OTP to talk and get to know each other, often on their building rooftop, under the stars.
Because of these regular chats, I felt like it was organic and believable that these two would come to like each other and even fall in love. Big points to Show for making the development of the relationship feel real, and therefore engaging.
5. Mijo’s support group of random weirdos
I really love that Mijo’s got a support group made up of random weirdos, whom we mostly get to see in the episodes’ little epilogues.
I don’t quite get what they’re supposed to be in the story, but to me, they appear to be a bunch of people with tall stories whom nobody believes, basically, and who seem to come together to talk and share as some form of group therapy, just because nobody else will listen to them. I found many of their group interactions amusing yet poignant, and looked forward to the episode epilogues, because those often showcased the group.
Show even uses some of the group interactions to affect Mijo’s thinking and therefore our main story, which I found to be a thoughtful touch.
STUFF I LIKED LESS
1. Sometimes the acting’s a little stiff
Not gonna lie; the acting in this mostly green cast leans a little stiff, and sometimes made me cringe.
The most prominent offender, by virtue of him playing male lead Joon Woo, is Kang Seung Yoon. Kang Seung Yoon’s delivery definitely leaned on the wooden side of things right from the beginning, but afterwards, he seems to settle into the role some, and it feels like Joon Woo loosens up to feel like a more natural character in the later episodes.
2. Sometimes secondary characters feel too peripheral
Show does a lot of things right with its limited screen time, but I do feel like one of the casualties was the supporting cast. There aren’t that many secondary characters, but mostly, these characters got so little screen time that sometimes when they did get some screen time, their scenes felt random and not very meaningful.
The biggest casualty in this respect, is the character of Jason (Jang Ki Yong), who is Mijo’s neighbor and friend. Jason got so little screen time that every time he popped up, he felt insignificant to the story – even though he did turn out to be more important than just a drive-by neighbor. The problem is, by the time I realized that he was more than just a drive-by neighbor, I felt like I hardly knew him as a character. I do wish this had been handled a bit better.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
I hafta say, I’m surprised by part of the ending. If you’re spoilerphobic, you’d probably want to stop reading about now.
We see Joon Woo and Mijo deciding to embrace their feelings for each other, and choosing to live and love in the present, even without any guarantees about tomorrow. While this is rather predictable, I wouldn’t have this story end any other way, partly because of the feel-good happy ending it gives our OTP, but also because of the universal message it gives to us all: to be true to ourselves and live in the present, because worrying about tomorrow gains nothing.
On the other hand, I have to admit to being rather blindsided by the reveal of Jason’s identity. I mean, the reveal basically turns the entire story on its head. Show is basically saying, “Ta da! Guess what? This guy – who hasn’t graced your screen very much at all – is your real protagonist! HE’S the one who’s willing to love for a thousand more years!”
I.. am not sure how to feel about that. I mean, it’s clever and all, but the reveal lacks oomph because we literally barely see Jason on our screens all series long, and suddenly, he turns out to be this significant to our story. It also doesn’t help that Jang Ki Yong’s delivery leaned on the flat side, because he was unable to lend gravitas to the screen time that he did have.
All in all, I think it’s a clever twist, but I kinda wish Show hadn’t chosen to go there.
Still, I do love that we get to see Mijo being happy again, and settling right back into her relationship counseling ways, only this time, with a glow on her face and a twinkle in her eyes. That makes me smile, and is one of the reasons I will think of this show fondly.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Whimsical yet poignant; earthy yet sweet. A solid, charming little web drama.
FINAL GRADE: B
All 10 episodes are available on YouTube, subbed and in HD. Here’s episode 1, just in case you’d like to dip your toes in right away. You’re welcome. 😉