When Real Life eats up my available drama hours, one of my go-to alternatives is the web drama. Most often, that translates into a fluffy, simplified version of some kind of rom-com. And that can work quite nicely, too. Noble, My Love and Go Ho’s Starry Night are two little web dramas that I found very enjoyable indeed.
Sometimes, though, I want something that isn’t a fluffy, simplified rom-com. Sometimes – especially if I’m feeling physically or mentally worn out – I want the warmth of a family drama, but without the commitment. This little show turned out to be quite the perfect fit for that.
As much as thinking back on this show makes me feel rather warm and cozy, this one’s got its flaws too. So here’s a quick list of things to keep in mind, as you adjust your viewing lens.
1. The production values are on the more.. basic side of things. Everything looks and sounds like a set in a studio, rather than an actual place that exists.
2. Because there isn’t a major overarching sort of narrative arc, sometimes it feels like nothing much ever happens in this drama world.
3. Not all the stories have happy endings. A couple of the stories were rather sad, I thought. On the upside, quite a few of the stories are warm and uplifting.
4. Occasionally, Show takes weird side-steps into attempts at being chilling &/or creepy. Those episodes were not my favorites. Thankfully, this didn’t happen very often.
I also figured it’d be helpful to mention that I haven’t seen the original Japanese series that inspired this one, so I can’t compare the two, nor do I have any bias between them.
STUFF I LIKED
By and large, I found this to be a good stand-by drama to keep on the side.
When I didn’t feel up to a full episode of drama but still wanted a bit of feel-good something, I’d reach for an episode of this. And most of the time, Show would deliver pretty well too. Additionally, the beauty of this show, is that taking long breaks between episodes didn’t affect my engagement with this show at all, because the episodes mostly stand alone. So perfect, for an episode-every-once-in-a-while sort of arrangement!
Here are the main things I enjoyed about this little show.
1. All of the food
Since the main focus of the show is bringing healing to the random patrons of the diner, mainly through food, the food itself gets a nice amount of the spotlight. The food that’s served up is varied, and Show always take care to present it as deliciously as possible. Quite a few times, I’d want to try a dish, just because it got showcased in an episode. Yum.
2. Kim Seung Woo as Master
Personally, I found Kim Seung Woo to be a really good fit for the role of Master. He comes across as quietly observant, empathetic, and a little bit sentimental. And since it’s through Master’s lens that we see his customers and hear their stories, that’s the general tone of this show as well.
A lot of the time, Master appears to be more of an impartial observer and facilitator of the stories that unfold before him. But as we get deeper into the show, we also see Master taking a personal interest in his customers, and forming friendships with them. I liked that a lot.
Most of all, I appreciated Master for the dignified, measured vibe that he exuded, because that also defined the vibe of the restaurant. Thanks to him, the restaurant felt like a safe haven where people could escape from whatever storms they were facing.
3. The growing bond among the regulars
In the absence of an overarching story that ties everything together, it is the regular customers of the restaurant that help to offer a sense of continuity in this show. As I progressed through the episodes, I found it heartwarming to see the relationships between the regulars growing, until there was a sense of community among them.
Somewhere in the middle of the series, the credits also add to this sense of community. Show tends to do a whimsical sort of thing with its credits, where we get to see past patrons and consistent regulars spill out of the restaurant’s doors at random, almost always in a celebratory sort of mood. Yes, it didn’t make logical sense, but I felt it was a warm symbol of togetherness, and a nice nod to what they have all gained from visiting Masters’ restaurant.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [MODERATE SPOILERS]
Show goes out on a warm note that veers on treacly, but it’s just earthy enough to still fall on the side of acceptably sweet.
I didn’t much care for Hong Seok Cheon’s cameo, purely because it felt like his character was more of a caricature than anything else. I personally found the flirtatious, hip-swaying persona they gave him disrespectful, and I would’ve much preferred a more down-to-earth, restrained treatment of the cameo.
Other than that, though, I liked the finale episode. In particular, I really enjoyed seeing all the regulars gathering around for a gizzard shad party. From their interactions, and from Cherry’s (Kang Suh Yun) personal messages to each of them, it’s clear that they’ve become so much more than mere acquaintances that happen to frequent the same restaurant. They’ve become friends who genuinely care for one another, and that’s feel-good, cozy stuff indeed.
The final montage of all the various customers from all the earlier episodes was the thing that I felt leaned a little over-sweet, but all in all, I enjoyed being reminded of all the people who had passed through Master’s doors, and the stories that they represented.
Ultimately, that’s the thing that kept me coming back to this show: the idea that everyone has a story, and that everyone has a safe place where they can share their stories, and their lives too.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Warm, simple and feel-good. Kinda like bite-sized servings of chicken soup for the soul.
FINAL GRADE: B