The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Flash Review: Because This Is My First Life

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The experience of watching this show is similar to what I imagine it would be like, to be on an exceptional winning streak in your favorite computer game: you are in disbelief as you clear round after round, trouncing the system in ways that you didn’t think possible. You start to wonder if you will – gasp! – actually be able to pull off a perfect game – a feat that is only rumored to be possible. You make it to the final rounds – OMG am I almost there?! – ..only for the system to beat you in the end, after all. *sadface*

And then you console yourself that, yes, you didn’t make it all the way through this time, but you still did really well – and maybe, just maybe, you’ll make it next time.

Sigh. That’s how I feel about this show, you guys. There was so much to love in this one, and it felt so surprisingly fresh in so many ways, that I thought we might actually have a thoroughly amazing drama on our hands. Alas, Show wobbled a fair bit in its final episodes, to my eyes. I’m disappointed about that, but just like in the analogy of the computer game, I’m consoling myself that being awesome for 14 episodes is still head and shoulders above most other dramas. Right?

Because This Is My First Life OST – Shelter 

 

FOR THE RECORD

Before diving into the review itself, I wanted to weigh in, a little bit, on the plagiarism scandal, that this show allegedly used J-drama We Got Married As A Job as its source material, without giving credit.

Thanks to my recent exploration of new and different drama pastures, I happen to have watched We Got Married As A Job (review here!), and now that I have also watched Because This Is My First Life, I just wanted to say, I don’t think one could really call it plagiarism, in all fairness.

One could possibly argue that Because This Is My First Life was inspired by We Got Married As A Job, in that there are a couple of similar elements between the 2 shows: both share a contract marriage, a socially awkward male lead who works in IT, and a quirky heroine. Broadly speaking, these details do make the two shows appear similar.

In fleshing out its story and characters and relationships, though, I feel that Because This Is My First Life feels different enough from We Married As A Job, to stand on its own merit.

..And that’s all I’m gonna say about that, in this review, mostly coz it would require delving into a lot of spoilery territory in both shows, in order to elaborate in more detail.

I feel like the best way to put the question of potential plagiarism to rest, is to watch both shows in full. And since both shows are pretty great in their own ways, I don’t consider either endeavor a loss. 😉

STUFF THAT WORKED FOR ME

Alright, so I started this review on a slightly regretful note, since I didn’t love Show’s final two episodes. But, that doesn’t negate the fact that for its first 14 episodes, Show hit a lot of right notes, for me. Here’s a spotlight on some of my favorite things in this show – at least for the first 14 episodes. We’ll take about the last two episodes later. 

1. The thoughtful writing

Generally speaking, I loved the execution in this show. From camera angles to sound editing (those Cat sounds! ❤ ), and color palette to OST, everything comes together in a lovely, cohesive way to create this drama world. I’d say the biggest hero in all of this, though, is the writing.

Nowadays, as the production of kdramas becomes more and more skewed towards being a commercial endeavor than an artistic one, the thoughtfully-written kdrama has become quite the rarity. This show definitely skews thoughtful in its writing, and I liked that a lot.

Here are my favorite things about the writing.

1. It feels nicely balanced

I really enjoyed this show’s touch of quirk. It’s not manic quirky like other kdramas I’ve seen; that’s a style I personally don’t do well with. This one is just gently quirky, which is perfect for my tastes. There’s enough understated personal quirk about this story, to make it all feel plausibly real despite the odd circumstances. And there’s just enough drama convention about it – contract marriage and forced cohabitation – to make it feel accessible.

At the same time, I like that there’s enough in our story, about pursuing your dreams, so that this doesn’t feel like it’s only all about the romance.

2. It remembers to create a thread of reason

One thing I really appreciate about the writing in this show, is that it doesn’t tend to leave things unanswered. I’ve watched too many shows where a “Ta-da!” moment of surprise is reached, but it’s never really explained how we got there. So the fact that Show actually takes the time to go back and answer some keys questions surrounding its “Ta-da!” moment, earned it extra brownie points, in my books.

[SPOILER] At the end of episode 8, Se Hee (Lee Min Ki) is shown coming to Ji Ho’s (Jung So Min) rescue from a potential attacker. It’s surprising and swoony in the moment, especially since he takes her by the hand (squee!) but I did wonder how Se Hee had known where to look for Ji Ho, and I just couldn’t think of anything. And when Show didn’t give us an answer soon after we opened episode 9, I thought that – sigh – writer-nim had probably pulled another ta-da!-plot-twist!-never-mind-how-we-got-here thing, BUT! Show explains it! AND, it makes sense! Huzzah! [END SPOILER]

3. It feels brave and sensitive, at the same time

Sometimes, dramas are written as if the writer is on autopilot, just throwing in tropes and clichés to fill screen time. This show doesn’t do that. Instead of relying on tropes and clichés, writer-nim approaches apparently tropey material with a fresh and thoughtful touch.

[SPOILER] Case in point: the introduction of the ex-girlfriend, which is done in episode 13. In most kdramas, this is shorthand for a love triangle situation, where the returning ex-girlfriend is clingy, and determined to fight dirty for the male lead’s affections. In this show, however, the introduction of ex-girlfriend Jung Min (Lee Chung Ah) is sensitively and organically done.

Instead of being the typical Clingy Ex, Jung Min is shown to have clearly moved on in life, and is a pretty awesome individual all by herself. Yet, she is critical to the development of our story and our characters. She is introduced as a way for Se Hee to face his Room 19 – the unresolved blight in Se Hee’s life which he doesn’t like to talk or think about – and I like it extra, that this is introduced in such a thoughtful manner, in Ji Ho’s voice. In this way, we see that Ji Ho doesn’t seem to see Jung Min as a threat to her relationship with Se Hee. Rather, she seems to see it as a necessary step for Se Hee, for his own sake. And that feels magnanimous, understanding and healthy. How very refreshing. This is definitely one time where I was not against the introduction of the ex-girlfriend. [END SPOILER]

4. It feels deeply organic

As I watched this show, it occured to me that this show feels very personally written, like writer-nim is drawing on thoughts that she has been brewing in her heart and mind for years, and is only now giving voice to them as she pens her conclusions into this drama.

There are multiple references to books, movies and poems in our story, and all the thoughts and impressions drawn from them feel real and properly chewed through, and the conclusions don’t feel like they were easily reached nor understood. I feel like writer-nim earned those conclusions with real engagement of the heart. To me, it just didn’t sound like this was something that you could gain simply from research.

[SPOILER] I particularly love the conclusion about words and the effect they have on the heart in episode 14. How hurtful words can kill a heart; how warm and thoughtful words can bring healing and life to that same heart. It’s so true, and this conclusion beautifully ties together everything that we have been witnessing on our screens prior, with regards to Se Hee, Ji Ho and Jung Min. In this way, I feel like this story and this gradual unveiling, was conceived long beforehand, and all this while, writer-nim has been carefully cultivating her characters and story, to fulfill the design for which they were born. I truly love it. [END SPOILER]

2. Lee Min Ki as Se Hee

I really, really love Lee Min Ki as Se Hee. ❤

He makes Se Hee so perfectly quirky, yet so perfectly expressive, in his own way. Because Se Hee is often portrayed as wearing a rather deadpan expression, Lee Min Ki’s micro-expressions really come into play, and he is so good. Even without Se Hee saying anything, or really changing his expression, we can often see the emotions pass through him, in the blink of his eyes, the flicker in his gaze, and the twitch in his lip. I never felt like Se Hee’s feelings were an enigma to me, as a viewer, and that’s thanks in large part to Lee Min Ki’s wonderful delivery.

The more I saw of Se Hee, the more I liked him as a person. He’s strict and sees things plainly, but he’s not unkind. [SPOILER] The way he reacts to Ji Ho outside the restaurant in episode 1 says a lot. He clearly doesn’t enjoy the company of strangers, but talks to her about soccer anyway. And when she rambles about the guy that she likes, he says that he’s handsome. And, he even gives her a fresh perspective while she’s despondent at the bus-stop, so much so that she feels comforted. [END SPOILER]

He’s always so logical and calm, but there’s also a thoughtfulness and compassion in him that shines through. When he explains his compassionate train of thought in that logical tone of voice – [SPOILER] like in episode 9, when he says he didn’t want to burden Ji Ho coz she would likely be hurt more by their divorce [END SPOILER] – it somehow makes his compassion even more precious. Like, to him, that compassion is the most logical, natural thing in the world.

As a bonus, Se Hee’s deadpan, unfiltered, logical honesty comes across as sweet at the most unexpected times. [SPOILER] Like, the way he tells Ji Ho in episode 5 that the wedding dress suits her more than he’d expected. Squee! [END SPOILER]

[SPOILER] One of my favorite Se Hee scenes is in episode 8, when he arrives to rescue Ji Ho from potential predator Bok Nam (Kim Min Gyu), and defiantly kicks Bok Nam where it really hurts – his fancy motorbike, ha. Se Hee’s grand gesture of running up the hill to save Ji Ho, and kicking Bok Nam’s fancy bike down, knowing that it would cost him big money, means so much more, and feels so much more precious, in the light of his earlier actions, where he’d hurt himself trying to avoid causing damage to the very same bike. He cares! A lot! Squee! [END SPOILER]

3. Jung So Min as Ji Ho

I love Jung So Min and felt that she was perfectly cast as Ji Ho. Her sweet warmth is pitch perfect for her character, and I loved her right away.

Ji Ho is portrayed as being warm, yet lonely; innocent and naive, yet strong and principled; crazy and quirky, yet earthy and compassionate. I enjoyed all of these apparent contradictions in Ji Ho, and kudos to Jung So Min, for making all of these seemingly disparate pieces come together in what feels like an organic, believable whole. I could believe that Ji Ho was a real person with a real dream, searching for her place in the world through thoughtful introspection and cautious yet curious experimentation.

[SPOILER] One of my favorite Ji Ho scenes is in episode 3, where she stands her ground and doesn’t cave in to the pressure from the senior writer and director to sweep the attempted assault she experienced, under the carpet. A less courageous person would have given in to the pressure; these were senior people, and they were influential, and they outnumbered her. But, Ji Ho doesn’t. She questions their motives and morals, and maintains her stance; she was attacked and it is not okay. She would rather quit her writing dream than sweep it under the carpet, and she literally does just that. That takes serious guts, and I admired her so freaking much, in that moment. [END SPOILER]

Because This Is My First Life OST – This Life 

 

4. Se Hee and Ji Ho together

Show does a pretty good job of convincing me that Ji Ho’s crazy enough, and Se Hee eccentric enough, to enter into this marriage contract. As a bonus, the more I find out about Ji Ho, the more I feel like she just might be weird enough to match Se Hee.

I loved that even though Ji Ho and Se Hee might be very different on the surface – she’s soft & warm, he’s cool & distant – that they connect where it matters. [SPOILER] In episode 2, they talk about why she kissed him at the bus-stop in episode 1. He understands her convoluted logic about why she kissed him, and is able to break it down in his own logic, and they agree. When she tells him that she showed up at the apartment complex looking like a wreck because she took a walk after having a bad dream, he doesn’t ask further questions. Literal or metaphor, it doesn’t matter to him; only the crux matters, which is that it was something bad. [END SPOILER] These two just seem to work together. Plus, they’re able to bond over beer and soccer, which is cute.

A lot of the appeal of watching this loveline, is seeing them grapple with the tension between the guidelines Se Hee and Ji Ho have laid out for themselves – or rather, that Se Hee has laid out for them – and the desire of each of them, to connect with the other. It creates all kinds of awkward, tentative attempts to bond, and gives rise to a kinship, almost against their will. It’s great stuff. [SPOILER] A great little example is in episode 7, when we see Se Hee being wistful when he doesn’t see Ji Ho at the bus stop. He’s the one who tells Ji Ho that they should avoid situations where they need to act as husband and wife, and yet, there is clearly a part of him that wants to ride the bus with Ji Ho, and that gets jealous when he sees her with Bok Nam. Fun. [END SPOILER]

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here are a couple of my favorite OTP highlights:

1. The seaside kiss

I love the way Show intersplices the lead-up to the kiss scene with the conversation between Sang Gu and Soo Ji, clueing us in that Se Hee may actually have feelings for Ji Ho already, even as Show sets up the kiss.

I love, too, the thoughtful nugget of wisdom that Ji Ho speaks, “It’s not like you know all about today just because you lived yesterday.” So true, and so wise. Ji Ho may not have experienced many things, but in this moment, she speaks wisdom that even someone who’s lived through many things may not have, and it resonates with Se Hee, enough to galvanize him into initiating the kiss, telling Ji Ho that the way she had kissed him at the bus stop only qualified as a peck.

“This is how you kiss,” he states, as he holds her face in his hands, before leaning in and kissing her.

And the kiss itself is perfect. Se Hee is still his own quirky, analytical bot-like self, which makes the moment feel authentic and momentous at the same time. It feels like all the little conversations Se Hee and Ji Ho have ever had, created all these little puzzle pieces, and in this moment, all the pieces just glided into place – naturally and seamlessly. These two cleave together so naturally, and witnessing this first (proper) kiss, I feel like they truly belong together.

2. The date

I love the way Se Hee seeks Ji Ho out in episode 12, and takes her out on a date. Se Hee wanting to win the stuffed snail for Ji Ho is super cute and adorkable. Se Hee giving Ji Ho pretty earrings is very awkwardly, adorably sweet.

Ji Ho getting all twisted up through it all, because she couldn’t stop thinking about – and wanting (ahem) – Se Hee, after their first kiss together, is adorable and cute. She’s literally more interested in the skinship, than in the date itself. Hee. There’s just enough secondhand embarrassment in the mix to be funny, but not painful.

3. “Do you want to sleep with me tonight?”

In episode 12, Se Hee, deciding to pursue his right to be happy, and asking Ji Ho if she wanted to sleep with him, is intent and sexy. Rawr.

And the way that Show treats their first night together, in episode 13, is just perfect. Them spending time talking honestly and a bit awkwardly, Ji Ho getting all flustered and pretending to be asleep, only to give herself away when she answers Se Hee, Ji Ho opening her eyes to see Se Hee gazing intently at her, Se Hee asking if he can hold her (flail), Se Hee pulling her close, Ji Ho asking if she can kiss him, the two adorable lovebirds drowning in kisses as the scene fades out.

Ahh. So good. ❤

Of course, it’s also in complete keeping with their quirky characters, that Ji Ho promptly falls into a deep, snoring asleep the moment Se Hee excuses himself to get a beer. Heh.

[END SPOILER]

5. Soo Ji and Sang Gu’s loveline

I didn’t think I would, but I ended up really enjoying this couple’s loveline.

I love that Soo Ji (Esom) is such a strong, independent woman, and I love even more, that Sang Gu (Park Byung Eun) loves her as she is, prickly outer shell and all. It was sweet to watch Sang Gu basically win her over with his sincerity, even if it was sometimes against his better judgment.

[SPOILER] I thought it was so poignant yet adorable, that Sang Gu cried so hard in episode 9, because he had taken Soo Ji’s ultimatum to heart – essentially, that she would date him if he gave up his company – and genuinely believed that because he couldn’t bear to give up his company, that he wouldn’t be able to see her anymore. It’s so sweet that he’s so hurt by the thought of not seeing her anymore, really. Aw. It’s no wonder Soo Ji can’t resist kissing him. [END SPOILER]

[VAGUE SPOILERS] I love that through all the ups and downs, through all of Soo Ji’s prickly words and defensive attempts to keep him at bay, that Sang Gu continues to love her, and tries to embrace every part of her, including the parts of her life that she’s ashamed to show the world. Even though Soo Ji often tries to intimidate him into retreat, he just doesn’t give up on wanting to be there for her, in spite of it all, and that’s seriously awesome of him. [END SPOILERS]

The more this couple found a way to be together, the happier Soo Ji looked around Sang Gu – and the more I enjoyed having them on my screen.

Special shout-out: Ji Ho’s mom and Se Hee

I have a special soft spot for Ji Ho’s mom (Kim Sun Young). Even though she tends to be a woman of few words, there’s just something very caring about her, and I love when she extends that care towards Se Hee.

[SPOILERS] In episode 6, I found it sweetly heartwarming to see Mom reach out to bond with her new son-in-law. I wanted her to melt Se Hee into a puddle, with kindness, heh.

When Se Hee went to observe kimjang with Ji Ho’s family in episode 11, Mom looking so affectionately at her son-in-law, and protecting him from the other ahjummas, was lovely to see. It’s clear that she thinks Ji Ho’s married well. Aw. Se Hee’s tiny smile leaking out when Mom protected him, was pretty priceless too. I’d like to think think that this mom-in-law and son-in-law are going to become an adorable, inseparable pair in the years to come. [END SPOILERS]

STUFF THAT WAS OK

1. Ho Rang and Won Seok’s loveline

Among the three featured lovelines in this show, this couple’s story grabbed me the least, which is why it’s in this section. Not to say that their story wasn’t worth telling. Far from it; I felt that their arc was treated in a sensitive and organic way that felt true to life, for the most part.

I felt sorry for both Won Seok (Kim Min Suk) and Ho Rang (Kim Ga Eun), for different reasons.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I felt sorry for Ho Rang, in that she’s in this long-term relationship with a guy she seems to really love and wants to marry, but he’s not even sure if he wants marriage. And when he eventually proposes marriage, he doesn’t feel ready to actually get married for another 5 years. After 7 years, the emotional investment is deep, so it’s a big decision for Ho Rang. She needs to decide if this is a deal breaker, and she has to figure out how important her own ideals of marriage are, in the context of all of this.

I felt sorry for Won Seok, because he does love Ho Rang, but he feels ill-equipped to take care of her the way she expects. His career isn’t taking off the way he had hoped, and even after taking the job at Sang Gu’s company, he doesn’t foresee having enough money for the wedding and other marriage expenses, for quite a long while. The pain of giving up his career dream of running his own app company, combined with the pressure of actually becoming a viable financial provider, is enough to crush him, and I can see why he would think that letting Ho Rang go would be better for her.

Through it all, I never doubted that these two loved each other deeply. It’s just that they had different expectations, hopes and goals, and unfortunately, they didn’t match. When they broke up in episode 12, I found it a really sad thing. But what do you do when your desires for the future don’t match up? And what do you do, when there is so much weariness in your relationship, after trying hard for each other, for 7 years?

When they break up in episode 13, the pain feels real, and the wounds, raw. Given their circumstances, though, I did feel that some time apart would help each of them gain some much-needed clarity and perspective, on what they really want.

[END SPOILERS]

2. The girls’ friendship

For the record, I liked the friendship among the three girls.

On the surface, the girls sometimes – or oftentimes – bicker, but underneath it all, they do really care about one another. [SPOILER] Like in episode 5, when Ho Rang and Soo Ji abruptly stop their petty cold war once they realize that something’s up with Ji Ho. All the animosity seems to be forgotten, as they face Ji Ho and try to understand what she’s telling them about why she’s getting married. I liked that. [END SPOILER]

The reason this 3-way friendship is in this section is because I found the friendship a touch muted in this show. Perhaps it’s because I watched this at the same time as 20th Century Boy And Girl, which also featured a 3-way gal-pal gang, and in that show, the friendship is given more screen time, and the love among the friends is expressed more overtly. I guess I just wanted even more, from this friendship. I guess I’m kinda greedy that way, heh.

3. The thing with Bok Nam [SPOILERS]

The way that Show set Bok Nam up to appear to be a stalker felt a little clichéd, basically because there have been a fair number of stalkers in dramaland of late. It was definitely a relief when Show revealed that Bok Nam wasn’t actually the stalker that we had been set up to believe him to be.

And while I appreciate that writer-nim works to explain how he would know so much about Se Hee and Ji Ho without actually being a stalker, I found the explanation too far-fetched. The key thing is, if Bok Nam had gone so far as to interact with the wedding party during the festivities, and even take the lead in getting a special photo taken for the wedding couple, it’s hard to believe that neither Se Hee, nor Ji Ho, nor any of Se Hee’s colleagues, most of whom had been helping out at the wedding, had any memory of him.

It would’ve made a lot more sense if Bok Nam had been written to have simply waited tables at the wedding, without actually interacting with the wedding couple.

STUFF THAT DIDN’T WORK SO WELL FOR ME

The penultimate stretch

While I did say that I didn’t really enjoy Show’s last two episodes, it wasn’t all bad. There were some things that I thought were done very well too. So here’s the breakdown.

[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]

The good stuff

I thought that the fallout from Ho Rang and Won Seok’s separation was handled in a very insightful fashion.

The Awkward Breakfast scene in episode 15, when Won Seok reflexively moves to prevent potential suitor Young Hyo from putting perilla seed powder in Ho Rang’s food, it’s so poignantly sad. How painful, to care so deeply for someone, and yet find yourself not in the position to actually demonstrate that care. Won Seok’s desire to prevent perilla seed powder from spoiling Ho Rang’s meal ends in such an awkward silence, because he’s no longer her boyfriend, and therefore, that same care is now uncomfortable and inappropriate.

The phone call between Ho Rang and Won Seok later in the episode, is so painful yet beautiful. There is no blame, only care. They still love each other, but are now cognizant that being together doesn’t help either person right now. And so, they say things to comfort the other person, even though it likely hurts with each word. Ho Rang telling Won Seok that she was glad she spent the best years of her life with him; Won Seok telling her to be happy. So much sincerity and love, and so much pain, at the same time.

We also get a couple of painfully honest conversations between parents and their children; Se Hee and his dad, Soo Ji and her mom. It’s stuff they’ve avoided talking about for years, but it’s finally coming out now. It’s kind of liberating, but also, hard and painful at the same time.

In terms of Se Hee’s and Ji Ho’s journeys, I can see how and why each of them would reach the points that they did; Ji Ho realizing that she wanted more than a marriage of convenience, and Se Hee realizing that he needed to give Ji Ho more than the implicit understanding that he cared for her. It’s heartbreaking to see Ji Ho feel so sad, and it’s also heartbreaking to see Se Hee’s stunned expression at Ji Ho’s request to end the contract, but I also feel like this is a necessary step for them, because they need to have the chance to choose each other all over again.

The not-so-good stuff

All of episode 15, I have to admit to feeling somewhat confused at what was going on with Ji Ho and Se Hee. I found myself wondering how we got here, to this state of affairs. How did they become so uncommunicative and distant from each other, so suddenly? It wasn’t that long ago that Ji Ho and Se Hee were sharing the same bed, and if that doesn’t say something about this being more than just a marriage contract, then I’m not sure what it says.

I understood that Ji Ho wanted more than a marriage of convenience, and that she felt stuck because she felt that she was living a lie. But. In the way that she handled things with Se Hee, she gave no hint that she was open to continuing their relationship. And, before she dropped the news that she wanted  a divorce, things had been going reasonably well between them, with them having night-time bedroom visits, and him going out to meet her on her way in at night. That seemed to establish that they were liking each other for real, mutually, and that this was more than a marriage contract. So to have this much distance and lack of communication between them, suddenly, I felt very confused.

Plus, it was just really, really hard to see Se Hee feel so sad and broken. Sniffle.

I had hopes that Show would shed some light on this for me, in the finale. But.. that didn’t work out so well.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING

Do you guys remember how I felt about the ending of Fight My Way? I kinda feel similarly about this show’s ending, albeit from a different angle.

One thing the two endings have in common, is that Show sacrificed character interactions that felt raw and real, in service of something else. In Fight My Way, it was in service of popping neat happy bows on everything and everyone. Here, it was in service of the neat narrative circle. And I am so disappointed in writer-nim for making that choice.

I get that it’s narratively clever to have Ji Ho and Se Hee end up housemates again, by accident, at the end of the show. It echoes the very similar circumstances that started this story in the first place. But, the narrative hoops that had to be jumped through, in order to set up that situation in our story, was just not worth it, in my opinion.

Ji Ho as a character suffered the most, because of this decision. I understand her desire for more than a contract marriage, and I understand that she feels uncertain about the relationship that she and Se Hee share. I understand  – and even endorse – her desire for some distance and time, so that she can figure out what she feels, and so that Se Hee can figure out how he feels. BUT. To have her do so, without actually attempting to have a conversation with him about it, feels so out of character. If I think about the Ji Ho that we have come to know in the first 14 episodes of our story, I feel like she would at least try to talk to Se Hee about it; that she wouldn’t shy away from asking the hard questions. And when I think about the Se Hee that we have come to know, I feel like he wouldn’t shy away from answering those hard questions either. The conversation would likely be shorter and more robotic than most couple conversations, but I feel like these two characters would have talked honestly.

Instead, Ji Ho is written to leave without an explanation. Worse, she is shown to harbor premeditated intentions to reconcile with Se Hee. She mentions it in passing to Jung Min, and she even signs up for a baking class, in order to bake that cake, in order to have a fresh start with Se Hee. When she finds that he’s no longer at the apartment, she is disappointed, thinking to herself, this was supposed to be our new first day together. Worse, the next morning, after Se Hee wakes up from his drunken slumber, she acts like nothing’s happened, despite the fact that he had drunkenly cried about how bad she was, and how miserable he was. At breakfast, when he asks her how she can eat spicy crab like that, she appears to not understand his confusion and bemusement, and asks if he’d prefer she leaves.

That, to me, is SO out of character for Ji Ho. It is a disservice to Ji Ho the character, for writer-nim to do this to her, making her look like a thoughtless, self-centered person who would first smile at Se Hee’s emotional outburst because it was the first time she’d seen him angry, rather than respond first, to the pain shining out of his eyes. The Ji Ho that I felt I had come to know, would not have smiled at Se Hee’s pain. I feel that she would have responded to his pain first, with compassion and gentleness, and then, later, tell him (alright, maybe with a smile), that she was happy that he would show his anger to her.

In this stretch, it felt like Show had lost a bit of its soul, which had previously been raw, tender and thoughtful. The Ji Ho that I felt I had come to know, might have been crazy and quirky in her way of thinking, but she was also tenderhearted and compassionate. This all just didn’t feel like her, truly. It almost felt like some kind of alien had invaded Ji Ho’s body in the last 2 episodes of this show, and was controlling her actions and speech for the last two hours of our story; it kinda-sorta felt like Ji Ho on my screen, but it also didn’t. It all just felt very strange, to me.

Aside from this, I concede that in Show’s last 20 minutes or so, Ji Ho and Se Hee return to a more believable dynamic that feels true to their characters. I thought the yearly contract renewal an unusual choice, but it felt quirky and odd enough, to be something that this quirky couple would choose for themselves.

I wasn’t surprised by Won Seok and Ho Rang’s reconciliation, and appreciated the sentiment that they needed time apart from each other, to figure out what they really wanted in life. I thought the misunderstanding over the sofa was more clichéd than what I had expected of this show, but whatever, it got these two back together again. The thing is, though, I didn’t like what Ho Rang said, about having discussed her marriage with Won Seok’s mom, before they’d actually reconciled. It’s an almost throwaway line, but it doesn’t make sense to me. If that is true, then Ho Rang would have done so presuming that Won Seok was willing to reconcile with her. I didn’t like that so much.

I did love Soo Ji’s big motorbike entrance moment though. That was so stylish and so badass. I cheered on the inside, coz she looked so free and so empowered. I love that Sang Gu is so supportive of her new business venture, and would even trail her into lingerie shops; something that most men seem uncomfortable with. And, I thought it was cute and very much in character, that Soo Ji would be the one to propose to Sang Gu, on the pretext of it being purely to share their frequent flier mileage points, heh.

All in all, I am more disappointed by this show’s finale than I had expected to be. But, to give credit where it’s due, when Show was at its best, it was truly wonderful.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Would’ve been near perfect, if Show had remained consistent to the end. Thoughtful, quirky and charming for the most part.

FINAL GRADE: A-

TEASER:

MVs:

Author: kfangurl

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

36 thoughts on “Flash Review: Because This Is My First Life

  1. Okay, this was not on my list, but once again, your thoughtful reviews made me feel like i watched the whole thing. When I read your expectations and disappointments – like with the out-of-character issues in the end, it helps me understand what NOT to do with my own writing. Sometimes writers use their characters like robots and they become tools for whatever the scene calls for and viewers definitely catch on to that. It frustrates them.

    It seems like the writer was trying to create some pat ending, like Ji Ho behaving sort of selfishly at the end, not understanding his feelings. It’s like the writer is saying – we’ve been through all these conflicting emotions, and I don’t have the time to draw out or create any more. So lets brush aside issues with a smile to fit the episode time. It happens when a writer gets tired, and so they leave it up to “all the conversations, etc. took place off screen.” The viewer has to assume things by this point.

    I could be totally wrong, because I haven’t actually seen the show, but your description of the scene and the character’s behavior before the end is vivid.

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    • Aw, thanks for taking the time to read a review for a show that you not only haven’t seen, but don’t even plan to watch! You are so sweet! ❤ And that's so great, that you're even taking it as food for thought, for when you write your own characters and stories.

      Yes, it did feel like the writer was working to create something clever and pat for the ending, and decided that having them accidentally become housemates again would be a good thing. I'm all for starting over and finding a new, more power-neutral space, but it just didn't have to go down this way. I feel like Ji Ho was sacrificed as a character, and I can understand fans getting upset at Ji Ho, for hurting Se Hee in such a needless and selfish way. Plus, Se Hee endeared himself to me so much – like a proverbial precious cinnamon roll – that I just couldn't bear to see him so hurt and broken, and for those terrible reasons, no less. For me, though, it's clearly not Ji Ho would ought to shoulder the blame; it's writer-nim. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for putting into words how I felt about this drama. Especially this –

    “making her look like a thoughtless, self-centered person who would first smile at Se Hee’s emotional outburst because it was the first time she’d seen him angry, rather than respond first, to the pain shining out of his eyes..”

    “it felt like Show had lost a bit of its soul, which had previously been raw, tender and thoughtful. The Ji Ho that I felt I had come to know, might have been crazy and quirky in her way of thinking, but she was also tenderhearted and compassionate. This all just didn’t feel like her, truly. It almost felt like some kind of alien had invaded Ji Ho’s body in the last 2 episodes of this show, and was controlling her actions and speech for the last two hours of our story; it kinda-sorta felt like Ji Ho on my screen, but it also didn’t. It all just felt very strange, to me.”

    In the end, I couldn’t give it the nine I wanted to give it. Those last two episodes weren’t consistent with the rest of the show.

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    • Looks like we feel very similarly about this show, Kellyflower – especially Show’s ending. Like you, I docked points for Show’s ending too. If the ending had been consistent with its earlier episodes, I would’ve given this one an A+.

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  3. Thank you for the thoughtful review of BTLIOF! I was so hoping this would be one on your list.

    First, I completely agree with your call on the plagiarism charge for this show. I have seen both, and I felt they had little in common, once you looked beyond the surface of the contract cohabitation trope. BTLIOF was a beautifully-written show with greater depth of character development and broader applications of philosophical ‘life lessons’…..much more weighty than We Married as a Job.

    I am in the minority on the last two episodes (and it might be because of the lens I bring) because I feel Ji Ho’s decisions to be completely understandable and to be within the context of her character. She made the difficult decision to terminate the contract because it could no longer be used to represent their relationship. It was up to SeHee to decide what he wanted to do at that point, and he was unable to take the risk of being emotionally vulnerable by owning up to his feelings (thereby creating a new contract) and he let her go. It takes two to have a relationship, two to state their feelings and two to commit to each other. We as viewers could infer Se Hee’s feelings from the drama, but he needed to take the risk and own up to them verbally, to her. Otherwise, the balance of power in the relationship would continue to be unequal. I am also surprised by the near universal condemnation of her for cruelty….she gave him the freedom to determine what he wanted….she may have hoped he’d see the light, but she had no guarantee that he would need her. In fact, I felt SeHee to be far crueler in the earlier episodes, when he redrew the line on ‘woori’.

    If there was a flaw for me, I would have to choose the overuse of metaphors toward the end, I think a lot of the misinterpretation is due to meta confusion between Mongolia, star pockets and room 19’s. Using one would have resulted in a stronger message for the show. Otherwise, it really was a special unicorn of a show!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m grateful, Mary D, to see someone else was okay with Ji ho’s actions. But I’m still going to watch the last two episodes again now and really analyze what’s going on with the characters and how I feel about them. No matter what, it was a great show and I’m glad I decided to binge watch it (at the last minute, when 8 episodes had already aired).

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    • Like beez, I’m thankful that someone like you have somehow understand JiHo’s actions in the last two episodes. I’m with you in the minority of understanding. It might be because if I put myself into her place, I would probably do the same. Though this is really nothing against others perception of her actions tho. I’m currently watching again. Maybe to have a better judgement of the situation on somehow understand others sentiments too. 🙂

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    • Thanks for looking forward to this review, Mary D! 🙂

      You’re right, this show definitely felt weightier than We Married As A Job.. more thoughtful and contemplative in general, I thought.

      Also, to clarify, I actually agree with Ji Ho’s decision to terminate the marriage contract. It made sense, because it was muddying the situation for both her and Se Hee, now that real feelings were in the mix. What I didn’t like was the way she didn’t talk to him about it, before leaving. Yes, he didn’t volunteer the words to articulate how he felt. But, she could have asked. The other thing I had issue with, is her reaction upon their rooftop reunion. Even in the face of his pain, she acted like nothing was wrong. I couldn’t understand that. Why didn’t she address the pain? Why did she act as if nothing had happened? I didn’t get that.

      In terms of Se Hee being cruel in the earlier episodes.. I feel that that’s not necessarily the case. At the time, there was little emotional investment on both sides, and things between them were supposed to be strictly professional and contractual. In drawing the line with “woori,” he was enforcing a guideline that they had both agreed to. Contextually, he wasn’t being cruel. Whereas, in the final episode, when Ji Ho acted like she couldn’t see his pain, given the context of the feelings that had grown between them, that felt more cruel to me.

      I absolutely agree that there were too many metaphors in the final stretch. I often found myself feeling confused while listening to the convoluted voiceovers.

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  4. I’m so glad your review is out! I do agree with a lot of it, especially as things started to tail off.

    I mean, Se-hee was literally Jumin Han come to life who I adore, so it was always going to be a good start. I also liked the little nods to Mystic Messenger throughout the show. And any show with a cute cat is going to keep me interested 😀 Also I mentioned before but CEO Ma and Soo Ji were awesome. I LOVED her. What a hero of mine she now is.

    As I mentioned before, my major issue was Ji Ho. I couldn’t understand her at all and I found her exceedingly unlikable by the end. One minute she’d be doing amazing things like standing up to a would-be rapist, and then the next she’d be throwing a strop because her husband who she married without love, wasn’t showing her the attention she wanted. It was like watching a seventeen year old in her first relationship. Which I get was kind of the point, but it was all very much at odds with each other.

    The thing that frustrated me the most, however, was her complete lack of consideration for boundaries. I mean, why would you just go and do all the in-law stuff and speak to them without discussing it with him first? It was dreadful. This was particularly sensitive for me because I think they wrote him with some form of autism. For her to come into his space and his life and start barging around like a bull in a china shop would have been incredibly distressing for him. And yet, she shows no remorse for that, just gets petty and mean in retaliation rather than looking at her own behaviour.

    The whole forcing Se-hee out of room 19 was really badly handled. The first response is not to smile in triumph when someone’s in front of you? and then for him to go from such despair to snogging her senseless was really bizarre. Also the whole leaving the marriage to bake a cake and then call it day 1 was ridiculous. More and more throughout the show I felt Ji Ho was living some kind of romance novel she’d written in her head. The whole thing started so very well, but ended with such randomness.

    Finally, I mean for all that they were ‘so honest’ with each other, she never once shared her emotions. Like, have a conversation about it all rather than continually be a drama queen? I understand why she didn’t want the marriage she had, and to get Se-hee to open up but that was not the way to do it whatsoever. The guy continually demonstrated his commitment and interest, but that was never enough. It all felt one-sided.

    Ugh anyway hehehe glad to have that off my chest 😀 I did enjoy it overall and the first 10-12 episodes or so were great. But overall, yeah, not really that impressed.

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    • Can I get a definition for “snogging”?

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    • Haha, yes, it does feel like you needed to get that off your chest! 😆 I think I didn’t feel as strongly as you did, about Ji Ho. But you have a point about her being very contrary. She knew that Se Hee was extremely reserved, but couldn’t help wanting more, the more she liked him. I think I can understand this, in that, when you’re dealing with romantic feelings, it’s hard to always behave in a logical manner. It’s much easier for us as bystanders to point out that she was being contrary, but for her, in the moment, with her feelings all mixed up inside, agreeing to one thing, but then wanting another, and then not being able to differentiate the two anymore, after a while; that feels pretty human, to me. I can accept that, even though I agree that this must have felt very invasive and possibly distressing for Se Hee.

      What an interesting idea, that Se Hee might’ve been written with some form of autism. That hadn’t occurred to me, but when I look at his tendencies, and his social awkwardness, it does seem plausible. I wonder whether writer-nim did actually mean to write him as having a degree of autism.

      And, yes, absolutely, I thought Ji Ho could’ve had more of a conversation with Se Hee. And YES, Cat was lovely, and YES, Soo Ji was pretty awesome. 🙂

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  5. “…Lee Min Ki’s micro-expressions really come into play…” THIS. Exactly this. Kudos LMK!

    Se Hee reminds me so much of Sheldon (Big Bang Theory), if Sheldon would apply his logic to being considerate and compassionate (and passionate, in private).

    As to Ji Ho’s reasoning for ending things without a hint that she was not really ending things – my impression is she wanted to stir a reaction in Se Hee. Recall that she told his Friend-CEO that Sehee had yet to reveal his Room 19 and his tears to her and she didn’t consider it a real relationship until he could do that.

    This was a really good review although, I was satisfied with the last 2 episodes. Apparently it’s really hard to end Kdramas well, as so many of them disappoint but I felt as if this show said what it came to say and there wasn’t much more they could’ve done (other than let Sehee and Jiho pick up where they left off before he got so thirsty he just had to have a beer. *Thirst regrets* lol)

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  6. I commented before reading FanGurl’s Thoughts On The Ending section (I have short -term memory issues and didn’t want to forget what the first part made me want to say) – But Fangurl, indeed, addressed JiHo’s wanting to invoke a response from SeHee. And the way she describes how out of character it is, is true. I think I’ll go back and watch those last two episodes again. (I didn’t like the way Jiho left things either and thought she waited far too long to come back. Even the note she left was designed for him not to find until he had some reason to move her bed, which could’ve been years.)

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    • Heh. Thanks for coming back and commenting again, beez. 😉 Yes, I got the principle of why Ji Ho left; I just had issues with how it was all handled. And yes, that letter – I couldn’t understand the thinking behind it. If she wanted to leave a letter, why would she put it under her bed? It just didn’t make sense to me. And the hiding the letter bit smelled quite melodramatic to me, like Ji Ho had watched too many tv dramas and was channeling her inner long-suffering sobfest heroine.

      I’m curious to know what you feel about the finale, after your rewatch of the last 2 episodes.

      And yes, kudos LMK indeed. He was just wonderful as Se Hee. So much so that I literally cannot imagine anyone else in the role. ❤

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  7. I felt exactly the same as you. I cannot understand why they did this. Ji Ho and Se Hee had even slept together already and seemed to be in the path to start dating for real. Then she decides to leave him, but without a word. So while he is in pain she is planning to come back at some point and start again with him, but all this without sharing her intentions with him. And the scene at the rooftop studio, where she was smiling at him being angry also got in my nerves. She came across as totally insensitive and at that moment I would have understood if Se Hee had decided to pass on her forever.
    I also was unable to understand why so much drama from Ji Ho’s side. I mean, it is clear that she was not comfortable with the fake marriage. But one thing is to marry for the wrong reasons, and a different thing is to fake a marriage with your roommate to get mutual benefits. Then you start liking your roommie, it is understandable that you might want to stop the masquerade in order to not mess things up, but I don’t see the reasons to take it so seriously and drown in drama while you actively share your ramblings with your roommie’s parents. All those final monologues from Ji Ho felt empty and boring.
    I would have preferred if they had focused on the last episodes on the professional issues that the couple were facing. So we could have seen them fighting for their dreams while their relationship progresses in a natural way. That would have been 100 times better than creating a forced romantic conflict in order to end the show with that.

    As for the other love lines, I adored Soo Ji and the CEO from day 1. They had amazing chemistry. He was always so respectful and loving, I think he was totally swoon-worthy…and she looked strong and cold but in reality was vulnerable and carrying a burden. These two finding happiness together was so satisfying to watch.
    On the other hand, I was never a fan of Ho Rang and Won Seok relationship. Too much angst due to different life goals. And when they broke up, I hoped that both would be able to move on and live the life they wanted with someone else.

    In the end, the last episodes kind of ruined it for me, or maybe it is that I just never liked it that much. Ah, there was one thing that was consistently good here: Kitty 🙂 He didn’t get the screen time he deserved in the last episode either.

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    • Looks like we are in deep agreement about the ending of this show, Mary! While reading your comment, I kept thinking, EXACTLY. I understood Ji Ho wanting to leave and figure herself out, and let Se Hee figure himself out. I understood the need to stop the contract. I just couldn’t understand all the silence and drama. Why tell OTHER PEOPLE that this isn’t the end for her and Se Hee, and then NOT TELL HIM?? That just didn’t make sense to me. And I HATED that she smiled at his pain.

      Your version of the ending sounds SO much better. I would’ve happily watched them fighting for their dreams, while navigating new and interesting territory as a newly minted couple.

      Yes to the other lovelines.. Sang Gu turned out to be such an awesome boyfriend, and it was great to see him and Soo Ji being happy together. I had similar feelings about Won Seok and Ho Rang. I didn’t think they were ready for new people in their lives, but I did feel that it wasn’t absolutely necessary to have them back together again either. I think I might’ve liked it quite well, if they’d decided to start over – but as best friends. And YES, I would’ve loved to have more Cat on my screen. 😍

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  8. I love that you go in depth with your reviews, give examples and details. That takes a ton of work and time, so thank ya!

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  9. Hi! Just read your review about this show and thank you for a very detailed and precise review of the show. As a viewer, I was really hooked with the show. I love everything from casting to heart warming voice overs. And yeah, as the show goes i felt like im riding a see saw, one episode your hppy then the next would be sad and disappointing. And reading your post I came to realize that yeah , Ji Ho’s character is so honest and innocent that she wouldnt care to ask those difficult questions that need to be discussed. The ending could have been “more of the character” if they continued what they were and how they were. But then, i would still suggest this show to anyone looking for something light and heartwarming at the same time unexpectedly laughable (because of see he’s character hehe)
    Again Thank you so much for your review. 😀

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  10. My sentiments as well, when I heard about the plagiarism issues I was like people, have you watched both shows? They are sooo different. If anything, then loose inspiration…

    I wasn’t fan of the last two episodes as well. Yes, I did read about some logical explanations for Jiho’s behaviour….. but even then the pace and emotial impact just were not the same as the rest of the episodes. Plus Rang and Soek shouldn’t have gone back together. At least not in the manner the show played it.

    I also didn’t get the room 19 references, from the snippets I read about the original book and as a mom of 4, I more understood it as a place of peace, where one is alone, undisturbed, finally having time for oneself… and not as some dark Pandora’s box… And the purpose of that room is NOT to allow anybody in…

    I still loved this show though, definitely the first 14 episodes. And Soo Ji and CEO Ma was the best couple with the best written story.

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    • @Dorotka The subtitles that I watched actually had Ji ho give a darker explanation of Room #19 to her friend – she said the mom in the book was suspected of having an affair, and rather than reveal her Room #19, she’d rather allow peoole to think that she was having an affair. That’s how precious, but personally secretive the room was. Ji ho wanted in to Se hee’s room.

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    • Yay that we feel similarly about this show and its ending, Dorotka! 🙂 You’re exactly right. In an effort to understand Ji Ho’s actions, I also talked with a friend, who supplied me with some explanations of Ji Ho’s behavior. But try as I might, it just didn’t work for me. I always feel like if I have to rationalize a character’s behavior too hard, then Show isn’t doing a good enough job of taking me on the journey. After a lot of rationalization, the ending still didn’t feel organic to me, and even with the rationalization, I still had issues with how Ji Ho was written to behave. It just wasn’t the same, as you said.

      And yes, the fact that Room 19 is supposed to be a place of solace gets turned on its head, because Ji Ho wants to know more of Se Hee, and wants to gain entry into his Room 19. While I can understand her motivation in wanting to enter his Room 19, it also feels invasive, in that she doesn’t seem to consider that everyone could use some Room 19 privacy.

      Also, yes to a better handling of Won Seok and Ho Rang’s arc. And yes indeed, Soo Ji and Sang Gu were pretty great together after all. 🙂

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  11. Just read your first paragraph or two because I still have 4 episodes left. Went away for Thanksgiving and got behind and read some comments here and there upon my return and now afraid to kill my pure love for this drama. Soon though I will rip the bandaid off.

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    • I know you feel, Kat! I dragged my feet on the last 2 eps as well. I didn’t know how E15 and 16 were going to go, and I really loved the first 14 eps, and didn’t know if I was ready to face the final 2 eps. I eventually did, and it was a rather disappointing experience, as you would’ve gathered from my initial paragraphs. When you do get around to it, I’m curious to see how you feel about the ending! 🙂

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  12. I’m really happy that I read this review, because you perfectly summed up how I felt about this drama. I liked the last two episodes, and I thought JiHo’s ACTIONS were true to her…trying to give him time to say what she wanted to hear, leaving when he didn’t, finding her way back to him, etc. But they made her cruel in the process, which was just exactly the opposite of her character for the entire rest of the show. It’s like she was body snatched by aliens for a half hour or so.

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    • Thanks for enjoying the review, Sally! And, hi5, looks like we feel very similarly about the ending of this show! 🙂 Yes, you hit the nail on the head. Ji Ho’s actions felt true to her, in a macro sense, but in the micro-level actual behavior, the cruelty and selfishness didn’t feel like her at all. That bothered me quite a lot.

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  13. Hello kfangurl! Thank you for your review. It is always a pleasure to read your reviews as I think we have similar sentiments towards dramas and men (GONG YOO hehe). I was very excited to see your thoughts and insights for this drama because this drama swept me off my feet and stirred emotions/feelings in me that I have not felt for awhile in dramaland. Overall, this show was so fresh and different.

    The chemistry between our OTP Se Hee and Ji Ho was SO good. My heart fluttered when they were together. When they hugged or kiss, I could feel the emotions of the characters. I totally agree with you “As a bonus, the more I find out about Ji Ho, the more I feel like she just might be weird enough to match Se He”. They seemed so different on the surface, yet the show was able to convince us that they actually do fit well once you learn more about them, and their awkwardness and quirkiness as a couple was what made them so charming and fun to watch.

    Following Jo-Ho’s character and journey, I would also agree that it felt a bit out of character for her to just leave and leave a note in her room for Sehee to find later. From prior episodes, Ji-ho always wore her heart on her sleeve and confronted her feelings quickly and head on. For example, how she deliberately didn’t share the crab breakfast right after Sehee drew the lines, or when she asked him to make kimchi with her family after she got upset with him for paying her. So I feel like the Ji-ho I got to know, would have dished it out with a hard conversation with Se-hee upon terminating the contract. I think time apart and terminating the contract was a good idea, but I wish we could see them starting fresh as a real couple and going on a few more awkward dates!

    How great was Se-hee/LMK right? Did you fall for him like I did? LMK nailed it as Se-hee. I love Se-hee and love Se-hee with Ji-ho. I watched the BTS and LMK was always smiling and giggling during their romantic scenes. It was very cute. And the lingering hug between LMK and JSM after the final scene was very endearing. Anyhow, thank you for your review. I feel like I can finally say goodbye to this drama now and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

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    • MellaYella! Great to see ya! 😘 And, yes, it does look like we have very similar taste in dramas in men! 😂 This drama definitely felt fresh and new, in a drama landscape where some dramas feel literally like cookie-cutter versions of each other. I loved the chemistry between LMK & JSM as well, I thought it felt super natural and organic, and the kiss scene particularly felt almost voyeuristic, coz it felt so real. 😍 I absolutely agree that the Ji Ho I felt I knew, would not have shied away from having a talk with Se Hee. And yes, seeing them starting over, and getting to see what that looked and felt like, would have been so much better than the sudden flash forward that we got, of their married life.

      I don’t know if I fell for LMK, but I definitely found LMK very appealing as Se Hee. So quirky, yet still so strong and assertive and manly, in his own way. LMK totally nailed it, as Se Hee. I didn’t watch any BTS of this show (I rarely seek it out), but what you described sounds adorable! ❤ Maybe I should look up some of those BTS vids after all 😉

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      • I have to butt in here to say – while I usually like to see the guy be the one so passionately into the kiss, Ji ho becoming so passionately lost that Se Hee had to tell her, against her puckered and busy lips, to answer her phone. lol

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        • Hahaha!! Yes, that was a great touch. Hilarious! Made it feel extra real, too, which is always great. ❤

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          • Haha. I was very satisfied with the kissing in this drama, slightly open mouth and all.

            Off topic, while lots of people in the forum is wanting a second second, I think rather than a second season, I’d love to see a spin off of Lee-Chung-Ah’s ex girlfriend character…cool accomplished woman in her 30s finding love again after letting her first love go.

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            • That would be a good show. But now that MellaYella reminds me, did they ever show what exactly happened with Se hee’s ex and him? I mean yes, we were told Se hee’s dad put up a big disapproving stink (which what did he think would happen to his grandchild if they didn’t get married?) but since Se hee would have stood by her (as proven by his ongoing non- relationship with his dad because of her), then why did the two break up? Did I miss something? (I tend to fall asleep unexpectedly and sometimes miss things.)

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  14. Another spot-on review! Thank you!

    One thing I liked about this show was that I found all three stories interesting. So often, the secondary story is something you want to fast-forward through so you can get back to the main couple. Sometimes it’s even the main couple you want to fast-forward through to get back to the secondary couple. (Fantastic, anyone?)

    But here I liked all three stories, although I suspect that I am the only one here who was more enthralled with Soo Ji and Sang Gu than with our main couple. I just felt like I understood the motives and actions of them better than the other two couples. And I was rooting for Soo Ji all the way–not just for a successful romance, but a successful new career, and a future free of worry/guilt about her mother. It was an empowering story, but also a beautiful story on the redemptive power of love…all kinds of love.

    As for the ending…WTH was that? Why is it so hard to end these things in a way that is both logical and satisfying? It’s getting to the point that you feel like you should stop watching around episode 14 because you know something is coming that’s going to leave you frustrated, angry, and sad.

    Early on, there is a scene where the senior writer and director, etc. take our heroine’s lovely and different story and immediately try to turn it into something akin to every other cliche-ridden, recycled kdrama. I wonder if this isn’t what happened to the writer of THIS story?

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