For the most part, I have trouble understanding dramaland’s penchant for remakes. I mean, if something’s that good, why mess with it? Conversely, if something’s not good, why remake it? Uh, right?
In this case, though, I’m very pleasantly surprised by how much more I enjoy the remake, versus the original.
I’d tried watching the original some years ago, because I’d seen enough affection for it as a classic kdrama, to be curious. BUT. I couldn’t make it through even episode 1, no exaggeration. Mainly, I remember being bored by the slow pace, feeling somewhat thrown off by retro-everything (from styling, to production values, to storyline), and being shallowly unimpressed by Kang Dong Won’s rather gigantic eye bags.
Now fast-forward to the remake, which I inhaled in what can only be described as a giddy marathon. Woah. What a turnaround, right?
Of course, just because I basically inhaled this one, doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
For a start, I do think Show looks and feels more dated than 2016; the production values actually remind me of older shows like Save Your Last Dance For Me, from 2004. In particular, I found Ha Suk Jin’s suits poorly cut and really quite ugly, and I couldn’t help thinking that no chaebol who runs a hotel would allow himself to be seen in such awful clothes. I suppose this does make the remake part quite.. faithful? In that it recreates the old-school look and feel, in spite of its newer vintage? Heh.
Here’re a few more things to bear in mind, while adjusting your viewing lens to enjoy this one.
1. It might take a while to get cute
I personally didn’t much care for the show in the beginning. In fact, by the end of episode 1, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this one very much.
Not only did everything look and feel quite dated, the entire episode was exploding with tropes as Show rushed to complete its set-up. The characterization across all the characters felt broad and mostly quite thin and flat, with the main characters showing up as types rather than as interesting individuals.
My advice: hang in there, it gets better. Um. Well, the ugly suits don’t actually get much better until around episode 14, but in general, the cuteness factor does ramp up in a pretty big way as the OTP gets to know each other.
2. Jae In can come across as a bit of an ass
Right off the bat, I found our male lead Jae In (Ha Suk Jin) really annoying, and this was made exponentially worse by the fact that I’d just seen him in Drinking Solo prior to this, and in that show, he was almost as annoying and prickly as he is in this one.
I mean, I found him so annoying that I was doubtful that underneath all the extreme haughty attitude and borderline (and sometimes not so borderline) nasty behavior, I’d find enough positives about Jae In to actually like him, by Show’s end.
Thankfully, Show does a pretty good job of turning his character around, and I found myself changing my mind about him quite well, long before I reached Show’s final episodes.
3. It’s pretty tropey
If you’ve been in dramaland for awhile, you’d probably be able to create quite a fun “Spot the Trope” sort of game during your watch, coz this show is full of ’em. The good news is, though, that past the first episode – which I didn’t much care for – the rest of the show manages the tropes rather well.
My advice: instead of fighting the tropes, just roll with them as part of this drama world’s fun quirk. It’ll be worth it, I promise.
4. Some stuff really stretches logic
During my watch, there were several times when I found myself thinking, “Wait, is that even possible?” to some of Show’s plot points. Some stuff really demanded suspension of disbelief.
Here’s a quick rundown of the main things that left me scratching my head.
(i) The story behind Jae In’s adoption
The more Show revealed about the backstory to Jae In’s adoption, the more terrible – and unbelievable – it seemed. To be plucked away from your own birthday party, to go to your cousin’s wake, to be given away? Who does that? What goes through your head? “Oh, Jae In’s cousin’s dead, this is the perfect opportunity to get my son off my hands because I plan to get remarried anyway”???
I found this really, really implausible.
(ii) The fake engagement announcement
The whole fake engagement announcement in episode 10 seemed rather odd to me. I mean, I suppose it is possible to execute a fake announcement, but it seemed really far-fetched to then have Jae In’s own statement not be enough to quash the fake news.
(iii) The kidnapping arc
The kidnapping arc in episode 12 felt like a real stretch to me, and really felt like it came out of nowhere. Thankfully, it didn’t last long.
The good news is, these stretches in logic don’t occur that frequently in the show. Phew.
5. Some relationship milestones feel sudden
Generally speaking, I found the development of the OTP relationship pretty organic, which I liked. At the same time, there were a couple of relationship milestones that felt a little sudden, to me.
[SPOILER ALERT] For example, in episode 5, I did feel rather confused at how Jae In and Da Hyun (Jun So Min) were suddenly ramping up the skinship, and how she let him dictate whether or not she could call someone else Oppa, when they had been so feisty and outspoken with each other just a while ago. [END SPOILER]
STUFF I LIKED
At first glance, this looks like the shorter list, but honestly, these positives are big ones, and made this watch a pretty cracky one for me.
1. Everything is angst-lite
Even though some of the backstory stuff is a bit on the overly dramatic side of things, in general, Show stays angst-lite and easy to digest. The shorter episodes help too. Essentially, it feels like Show simply sliced off all the filler that we’d ordinarily get with most shows, and only served up the good stuff.
Considering that I was in the midst of being down-in-the-dumps sick when I watched this, Show’s light, enjoyable, fluffy touch and its short running time came together to hit the spot, for me. Basically, I would gratefully lap up each episode’s serving of romancey cute fluff, before quickly clicking on the next episode for more.
2. A relatable OTP
Since this show’s pretty much ALL about the romance, it counted for a lot, that I found our OTP relatable, whether individually or together. Here’s a quick overview of why this OTP worked for me.
Even though I began this watch feeling very annoyed with Jae In as a character, Show did a good job of making him sympathetic.
With the reveal of the backstory around Jae In’s adoption, and of him basically being a replacement son, his hidden pain became a lot more visible to me as a viewer. Ha Suk Jin’s delivery also gave Jae In enough nuance to hint at the pain that Jae In was keeping concealed, and that did a lot to take the edge off any prickly behavior he displayed. Not that I found his behavior acceptable; I just found him more understandable.
I thought it was especially telling in episode 14, when Jae In didn’t realize that Da Hyun was describing him, when she described the good man she wanted to meet. He’s literally a better person than he thinks he is, and that just made my heart go out to him more.
I very quickly warmed up to Da Hyun as our heroine. Every time Jae In was an annoying, entitled jerk to her, she simply wouldn’t take his bad behavior. So awesome.
Even more awesome, is the manner in which she refuses to accept his bad behavior. From the get-go, she’s strong and firm without being rude. So classy. She’s a strong woman with thoughts and ideals and dreams of her own, and not once does she lose sight of any of that, regardless of where her relationship with Jae In is.
[SPOILER] One example of Effortlessly Badass Da Hyun that comes to mind, is in episode 11. When Jae In’s ex-fiance Joo Hee (Seo Eun Chae) tries to meddle by rubbing her past engagement with Jae In in Da Hyun’s face, and insinuates that eventually they will get married anyway because of what her parents can do for Jae In, I love that Da Hyun isn’t at all cowed. She basically turns the tables by promptly calling Jae In to the scene, while literally refusing to let Joo Hee flee, using a well-placed wrist-grab and a calmly thrown gauntlet. Ha. So Much Yes. [END SPOILER]
Since our OTP starts out in a contract relationship, the fun is pretty much all in watching them develop feelings for each other, in spite of themselves. I found it highly amusing to watch them become confused between what was real and what was pretend, and then flounder their way towards the realization that they really did have feelings for each other.
Essentially, the more these two liked each other, the happier I was that I was watching this show.
I found Show’s treatment of their growing relationship quite down-to-earth, even amid all the tropes and chaebol tangents. This earthiness is presented mostly in the small moments, in which we can see how these two really relate with each other.
For example, there’s a short moment in episode 8, where Jae In makes it clear to Da Hyun that he wants to sleep with her. She admits to being tempted, before she decides against it. It’s a quick little scene, but effectively shows us how candid their interactions are, as a couple.
The other thing that stood out to me, is the motif of Jae In being able to sleep when Da Hyun is nearby. We see this in episode 7 (above), where he rests his head on her shoulder and is able to sleep peacefully, after the whole drama of the bomb threat. We see this again in episode 15, when Jae In says that he hasn’t been able to sleep a wink, but then falls asleep when he has Da Hyun nearby. I actually find this to be a really sweet motif; it shows that he feels at home with her, and safe. Near her, he’s home. Aw.
3. The crackling OTP chemistry
This is literally the thing that lifts this from being a cute little rom-com, to something that’s Seriously Cracky. The OTP chemistry is hawt, y’all.
From the bickering, to the tentative romancing, to the serious kissing, the air between these two is consistently filled with tension and meaning, and that just lifts the entire OTP interaction into a whole new sphere, almost. As a couple, they look very comfortable together, and – paired with their candid conversations that I mentioned earlier – they really feel like a real couple that I just happened to find myself spying on.
I very much enjoyed watching these two on my screen, all the way through to the very end.
Here are 3 of my favorite OTP moments, just coz.
(i) Sofa kiss
I love the purposeful way that Jae In moves in to kiss Da Hyun in episode 9, once he’s determined that she’s sober. Guh. The gleam in his eye as he purposefully moves in towards her; the whole way he basically climbs on top of her, and kisses her.
(ii) “Do you want to be with me, to the very end?”
In episode 12, the semi-proposal by Jae In to a drunk Da Hyun doesn’t sound like the most romantic thing on paper, but, he says it so gently, and so sincerely, that I feel like he’s allowing himself to be real in that moment. And the fact that him being real means wanting to be with her to the end, is melty stuff indeed. <3
(iii) I don’t think I can resist anymore
In episode 13, Jae In comes home to find Da Hyun in a robe, fresh out of the shower. It doesn’t take long for him to press her up against the wall and kiss her, muttering, “I was trying so hard not to eat you alive, but I don’t think I can resist anymore.”
Even more than the kiss itself, I find the way Jae In talks to Da Hyun in this scene, melt-your-insides sexy. It’s a low, almost-stuck-in-his-throat kind of whisper husky. It literally feels like he’s speaking only for her ears. And when that’s applied to him pressing her up against the wall, and telling her he can’t help himself anymore, well, gulp. And, rawr.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
Aw. It’s the sort of ending that’s simple and neat, and just all-around sweet.
I’m relieved that Jae In and Da Hyun didn’t have to wade through too much parental objection in order to get married, and I’m glad we got to see their married life unfold as they settle into their happy ever after.
I love that Da Hyun gets to keep on doing a job that she loves, while learning how to be a chaebol wife at the same time. Mum-in-law turns out to be sweetly supportive against snarky snooty socialites in their circle, and that’s cool. Jae In and Da Hyun continuing to be sweetly supportive of each other, and altogether loving, while learning to navigate their new life together, is the kind of candy-fluff I signed up for, so I’m a happy camper.
Tae Ha (Kim Hyung Min) becoming smitten with Hyun Jin (Im Do Yoon), and Office Girl getting paired up with Dorky Guy as well, is totally the stuff of neat bows and happy endings, but it’s cute and inoffensive, and just adds to the overall sheen of happiness of the finale.
All in all, I really enjoyed Something About 1%; so simple, so to-the-point, and so filled with melty heartfelt squee, that I can see myself totally reaching for this one again.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Simple, sunshiny and sweet. And sometimes, that’s really all you need. 😉
FINAL GRADE: B+