The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food [Something In The Rain]

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THE SHORT VERDICT:

Show starts out pretty adorable, with an excellently delivered cloud of cute around the birth of a noona romance. Show then switches gears in the middle stretch, into melo and angst territory. In principle, it all feels warranted, with things like societal norms, family expectations, and even workplace harassment taking the spotlight. The problem, for me anyway, is, most of these things aren’t resolved in a manner that feels satisfying, by the time the final credits roll.

The writing does not feel assured, unfortunately, and is, I think, one of the main reasons this show suffered. Also, the background music becomes terribly grating, from overuse.

To be fair, Show does have its fans. So just because it didn’t work so great for me, doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you?

THE LONG VERDICT:

You know how some parents get their kids to eat their vegetables by hiding them in more appealing foods? Like, grinding up broccoli to bake into brownies?

Watching this show feels kinda like that. Except, in this case, it turns out that dressing up the broccoli doesn’t quite work in the end, because the brownie ends up tasting really weird and a lot of the kids ended up spitting out the brownie after working their way through the frosting. Also, in this analogy, it turns out that the broccoli wasn’t actually that nutritious anyway.

This show’s basically an angsty melo, dressed up to look like a rom-com on steroids. It sashayed onto our dance floor, dangling all kinds of pretty bites at viewers, and then, very quickly, completely crushed all of The Cute, without much warning. Viewer beware, I say.

THE INITIAL CUTE

I have to confess that when Show first came out, I was quickly smitten by the deluge of Cute that Show served up. And while my crystal-clear hindsight doesn’t quite see Show with the same rose-tinted glasses as before, I thought I shouldn’t ignore the initial stretch of Cute that Show did serve up. Here’s a quick spotlight on the things that I did enjoy, in Show’s early episodes.

The characters

I found our leads pretty likable in the beginning, and thought their interactions were cute.

I liked that Jin Ah (Son Ye Jin) and Joon Hee (Park Hae Jin) are very much platonic, in the beginning of our story. He teases her about being old, and is matter-of-fact about why he knows about the shortcut – because he’d been looking for a place to make out.

The care and friendship goes back a long time, and I felt like I could see lasers of fierce loyalty shooting out of Joon Hee’s eyes, when he sees Jin Ah arguing with her ex-boyfriend Gyu Min (Oh Ryong), in episode 1. The way he purposefully swoops in to rescue her, is sweet.

The OTP

The way Show ramps up the OTP loveline in the beginning is fast, efficient, and littered with seemingly endless showers of puppies, rainbows, and oodles and oodles of cotton candy.

The way Jin Ah and Joon Hee grow more and more hyper-aware of each other is demonstrated to us really well in the minutiae of Jin Ah and Joon Hee’s interactions. Their reactions are muted and quashed, but it’s noticeable, and watching them, I felt so pulled into their burgeoning feelings for each other.

[MINOR SPOILERS] The way Joon Hee feels uncomfortable and sorry, and tells Jin Ah that she’s prettier than Se Young (Jung Yoo Jin), and the way Jin Ah, not saying anything, averts her eyes and tugs at the wisps of hair that have fallen around her ears. And then there’s the way they make excuses to keep walking together, with his arm around her shoulder, under the umbrella, in the rain. And the way she turns around for a last peek at him, and bounces lightly on her heels as she does so. And then there’s the way he looks at the photo of her in his phone and smiles to himself, as he lies in bed; the way he’s so tickled by her while texting her, that his toes are literally wriggling under the covers. It’s all vicariously thrilling, and super cute, and I couldn’t wipe the goofy grin off my face. Guh. [END SPOILER]

And just coz I can, here’s a revisit of my favorite OTP scene.

[SPOILER ALERT]

The under-table hand-hold

In episode 3, with Joon Hee and Jin Ah’s unacknowledged mutual attraction coming to a boil, Joon Hee faces pressure at a work gathering, where everyone teases him about the woman that he allegedly likes – who hasn’t indicated reciprocity. Just as Joon Hee looks like he’s about to cave under pressure and possibly agree to date Se Young, who’s very interested in him, and has made it clear that she is very available, Jin Ah takes matters into her own hands (literally!) and reaches for Joon Hee’s hand under the table. I love that she takes a swig of her beer while she’s at it, without batting an eyelash. I just love how that immediately turns Joon Hee into a hiccuping blushing ball of bashful wonder. Ha.

In that moment, I felt that Jin Ah didn’t reach for Joon Hee’s hand to stake her claim, so much as she was assuring him that he wasn’t liking her in vain. He’d been put on the spot by everyone at the table, and even his feelings were put in question. He’d even admitted that he was sure of his feelings, but was just being cautious. How much it must’ve made him feel uncomfortable and hurt his pride, to have everyone present tease him about being desperately into the girl – and the woman in question was right there. So, to me, it was really a tender, caring thing to do, to put her own pride and ego aside, and take that risk, and reach for his hand, simultaneously assuring him that he wasn’t liking her in vain; that she liked him too; that he didn’t have to feel awkward or embarrassed; that she was right there, liking him right back. I did love that very much.

Show doesn’t miss a beat, and Joon Hee then promptly turns the tables and reaches for her hand as she tries to take it away, and then takes control by interlacing his fingers through hers. He’s not letting her go. Eee!! I also love the amused, pleased expression that takes over his face, as he processes everything in his head, and as she now gets a case of surprised hiccups. LOVE.

Afterwards, the two make awkward excuses to their colleagues outside the bar, just so that they can get some time together. At that moment, I loved the mix of nervous awkwardness and little-boy hopeful wonder and smooth operator that Joon Hee’s got going on, as he talks with Jin Ah, trying to get answers for why she held his hand, and whether that means they’re in a relationship.

The shy excited bashful-gleeful vibe of these two, as they make their way to their first official coffee date, is adorable and infectious. They literally look like they’re about to burst, and watching them, I felt like I was about to burst too.

Well played, Show. Well played.

[END SPOILERS]

Jin Ah’s friendship with Gyung Sun

Right away, I loved Jin Ah’s friendship with Joon Hee’s sister Gyung Sun (Jang So Yun). They are truly the cutest besties. I love how Gyung Sun mothers Jin Ah when she’s all drunk in episode 1, and and I love how Jin Ah keeps drunk-kissing Gyung Sun in response. I felt like these two would be besties for life, literally.

STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE FROM THE START

The thing with Gyu Min

I really didn’t enjoy the arc around Jin Ah’s ex-boyfriend Gyu Min. Not only is he self-centered and egotistical, he’s abusive too. Worse, Jin Ah’s parents – her mom in particular – seem to think that he’s the best thing for Jin Ah.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I found that I had great difficulty understanding Gyu Min.

1. After breaking up with Jin Ah, he suddenly gets fixated on getting her back. It’s really the strangest thing. He was the one who cheated on Jin Ah and then broke up with her. And the only ostensible reason he even tries to get her back is because the other girl dumped him. Which means that all of his theatrics is for the simple reason that his ego can’t take the fact that she seems to like someone else.

2. Gyu Min kicks up a fuss about Jin Ah dating Joon Hee, even though he’s cognizant that he’s the one who cheated on her first. That is such a crazy double standard. So he expects Jin Ah to stay faithful to him, even though he cheated on her, and even though they’ve broken up? What?

3. Gyu Min turns into a psycho who would rather die with Jin Ah than see her date someone else. Considering that he hadn’t been that into her, and that’s why he cheated on her and then broke up with her, his behavior makes no sense whatsoever. His logic, that he’s doing this to clear his name, even though he admits that he cheated on her, is plain crazy.

Just for the record, I was so put off by the whole psycho Gyu Min arc that I took a 3 week break from Show after the episode 7 cliffhanger.

I guess Show was trying to say something about societal double standards and relationship abuse, but it also felt like this statement didn’t quite go anywhere, in the end.

[END SPOILER]

REALITY BITES, AFTER THE INITIAL FLUSH OF CUTE [SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]

I’ll be brutally honest; after the early-episode shine wore off, I found myself experiencing a complete turnaround where our leads and our OTP were concerned. Warning: strong feelings ahead.

Son Ye Jin as Jin Ah

At around the episode 12 mark, I started to realize that I had distinct difficulty liking Jin Ah.

Here’s my attempt to break down why.

1. I find her wishy-washy, and weak, and that annoys me.

On the one hand, I think that if Joon Hee and Jin Ah existed in a different, more forgiving world, then this relationship, with just a 4-year age gap, between long-time family friends, would be nothing out of the ordinary, and readily accepted. On the other hand, this is not a different world, and in Korea, in this drama world, all of these complications exist. And Jin Ah knew that, going into this relationship with Joon Hee.

She was the one who made the critical move, to hold Joon Hee’s hand under that table, and therefore, it was because of her boldness in that moment, that this relationship began. Since that time, though, she’s been more wishy-washy than she’s been strong, and you need to be strong, to stand for what you believe in, in this world that she lives in. In episode 12, I found her stricken, teary expressions particularly hard to swallow, because this is the time where she needs to be strong the most, and instead, she attends that blind date, stricken, teary and tearful. Every time she runs her hands through her hair and blinks her tears away, I wanted to shake her and tell her this isn’t the time to be drowning in her emotions. She needs to be faster on her feet, and stronger in her heart, to walk this path that she’s effectively chosen for herself. But she doesn’t. And that is part of my struggle with Jin Ah. I dislike that she’s like this.

2. She’s self-righteous, and that annoys me too.

Exhibit A: Jin Ah’s meeting with Gyung Sun and Joon Hee’s dad

In episode 12, Jin Ah promises to meet Gyung Sun and Joon Hee’s dad, without their knowledge and against their wishes, pledging to tell him about his children – the very children who don’t want to see him. I know she means well, but it’s not her place. And to top it all off, she lies to Joon Hee, in order to meet his father behind his back. I hate all the lying, but I’ll talk more about that later.

When Joon Hee gets all upset and argues with Jin Ah over this, she tells Joon Hee not to behave like a child. Ooh. Low blow. That’s probably the worst thing she could say to the younger man that she’s dating. Also, it’s not her place to tell him how he should feel, about his estranged father. I found this extremely presumptuous and unwise.

Not only is Jin Ah presumptuous and insensitive in moving to meet with Joon Hee’s dad, she then has the gall to act like she’s got the righteous upper hand, when she and Joon Hee finally are face to face again, in episode 13. He’s still upset, and she’s the one stiffly insisting they talk on the roof. The entire way she leads him to the roof and then makes him talk, shows that she thinks she has a right to be angry. But she doesn’t. She should be apologizing for overstepping her boundaries, and for saying that he acted like a child. Instead, she gets upset with him, for telling her not to behave like the more mature one. Her teary expression in that moment tells me that she isn’t sorry for what she’s done; she’s sorry for herself. At this moment, I suddenly wanted Joon Hee to break up with her.

To make things even worse, in episode 13, Jin Ah tells Gyung Sun that she only met with their dad because he had bought gifts for his children and had no other way of giving the gifts to them. That is a lie. The reason Jin Ah met him is because she had promised to tell him about his children, without their knowledge. I hate that Jin Ah tells that lie, with tears in her eyes, like she is a saint who’s being wronged for her saintly actions. That is so not true, and I hate that Joon Hee now looks guilty for being angry at Jin Ah, after hearing that lie told to him secondhand, by his sister.

Exhibit B: Jin Ah’s breakup outburst

In episode 13, in the midst of the drunken chaos of Gyung Sun and Joon Hee’s dad visiting Jin Ah’s home, Jin Ah tells everyone to be quiet, and announces that she will break up with Joon Hee. Now, I don’t begrudge Jin Ah the right to break up with Joon Hee, but the way Jin Ah bursts out that she’ll break up with Joon Hee, sounds self-righteous, and almost tantrumy, like (and I paraphrase), “since you think what I’m doing is SOO wrong, then fine, I’ll break up with him, happy now?” I found this very distasteful.

In the next episode, Jin Ah admits that she did it in a fit of pique, and didn’t mean it. Which proves my point; she was throwing a tantrum more than actually choosing to break up with Joon Hee.

3. She consistently acts helpless, and that annoys me too.

Whenever Joon Hee’s mad at her, she always looks at him helplessly and says, “Then what can I do to make you feel better?” and then she’ll proceed to list useless examples, like, should I get down on my knees? Should I let you hit me? Would that make you feel better?

Jin Ah is that frustrating person. Every time she does that, I wanted to throttle her. Why can’t she give him the time that he needs, to process his emotions? Why does she portray herself as the victim, who is suffering because there is nothing that she can do, to make him feel better, when she is the one who gave him reason to be angry in the first place?

I honestly always felt so amazed that Joon Hee kept being so patient with her.

Jung Hae In as Joon Hee

Generally speaking, I found that I didn’t dislike Joon Hee as much as I disliked Jin Ah, but my initial hearts-in-eyes response to Joon Hee definitely faded, and I noticed several things about him, which I felt contributed to the OTP’s ensuing problems. Here, in a nutshell, is what I eventually felt about Joon Hee.

1. He’s too intense

As early as episode 2, we see glimpses of how intense Joon Hee is. I’ll admit that when I first watched episode 2, and saw how Joon Hee seethed when he saw Gyu Min at Jin Ah’s parents’ apartment, and then ordered Gyu Min to let go of her hand, before dragging Gyu Min out of the apartment by the tie, I found it all quite swoony. My bad.

That was not swoony. Now when I revisit that scene, I find that instead, to be the first troubling signs of Joon Hee’s intense and impulsive nature.

In episode 5, Joon Hee gets so enraged at Gyu Min for sending flowers to Jin Ah, along with photographic evidence of their past intimacy, that he hunts Gyu Min down at his apartment, beats him up, and trashes his computer. I get that Joon Hee is protective of Jin Ah, and very upset at Gyu Min’s actions, but in this scene, Joon Hee’s behavior felt a touch borderline psychotic, to me. In that moment, I kept wondering if Show was going to turn around and become a psychological thriller instead.

Joon Hee’s intense level of brash impulsiveness felt problematic, to me.

2. He’s too immature

For all of his efforts to be brave and strong, there are a number of times when Joon Hee’s behavior seems immature to me.

A simple, early example is in episode 5, when Joon Hee gets all jealous and upset at the very idea of his sister setting Jin Ah up with someone. At the time, I thought it was pretty cute that he was jealous, but on further thought, and further observation of Joon Hee, I feel that this was an example of his immaturity. He can’t handle the very idea of the blind date, and Jin Ah has to coach him through it, so that he will settle down.

We see that immaturity later in the show as well, when Joon Hee resolutely refuses to go on work assignment to China, even if it’s just for three months. He even threatens to quit, if the company insists on giving him the assignment. The fact that he can tell his boss that he won’t go to China because he can’t bear to be apart from his girlfriend, is highly unprofessional, and also, immature.

Despite his efforts, I do think that Joon Hee’s relative immaturity also contributed to this couple’s problems.

3. He’s young and powerless

It was at around the episode 6 mark that I started to feel that for all of his intensity and bravado, that Joon Hee comes across as very young, and rather powerless to do what he dearly wants to do, which is to protect the woman that he loves. All of his promises to Jin Ah, to make it such that she will never have to hide again, sound like wishful big talk to my ears.

The more I watched Show, the more I was convinced that Joon Hee had absolutely no idea of the magnitude of the battle he would have to fight, by choosing to act on his attraction to Jin Ah. After Jin Ah’s mom goes ballistic and ignores him at the realization that he and Jin Ah are dating, he’s shaken enough that it looks like he just wants to get away.

Through most of the show, I felt that Joon Hee was trying hard to be strong, but found himself drowning in a situation that was way more daunting and difficult than he’d bargained for.

The OTP

I have.. a lot of thoughts about the OTP relationship, and I’m honestly not sure of the best way to organize those thoughts in a coherent way to share with you guys. So here’s a handful of sections, each one focusing on one aspect of the OTP, that I’d like to talk about.

The issue of context

When all their context – in this case, specifically family expectations and societal norms – is stripped away and Jin Ah and Joon Hee are alone together, in a world of their own creation, they have a lot of fun, their love is sparkly and adorable, and they clearly enjoy each other. But once context is layered on, the discomfort, awkwardness and tense feelings rise to the surface all too quickly.

By the episode 4 mark, the context starts to set in for Jin Ah and Joon Hee. The fact that they feel they have to hide; the way Jin Ah’s mom (Gil Hae Yun) tells Gyung Sun and Joon Hee that they are as good as her own children. It’s uncomfortable and uneasy.

The moment Jin Ah and Joon Hee attempt to mesh their context with their relationship, is when the hearts-in-eyes giddiness of their relationship comes face-to-face with the cold hard reality of an unaccepting community. And as cute as this couple is while they are alone together, there doesn’t seem to be much of a foundation to their relationship besides giggles, kisses, and chemistry. Throughout my watch, I wondered if there was enough substance to this couple’s relationship, to weather it all.

Intra-relationship signs of trouble

The more I watched Joon Hee and Jin Ah as a couple, the more I realized that they did not have a healthy relationship. I will talk more about the specifics of what I felt were damaging habits in their relationship in a later section. In this section, I’d like to talk about the initial signs of trouble that I noticed, before all the fall-out from the people around them coming to know about their relationship.

One arc I’d like to single out here, is the period of time immediately after Jin Ah is safely discharged from the hospital, in episode 8. Remembering that the context of this, is that Jin Ah has just survived a car crash while being held against her will by her possibly psychotic ex-boyfriend who was bent on a double suicide, it bugged me that Jin Ah’s all beat up from the accident, and yet, Joon Hee’s angry with her.

AND THEN, the moment she says that she’s told her parents she won’t be home that night, he switches gears and starts to hurry home. In that moment, I hoped that he didn’t mean to hurry home for sexytimes, coz someone’s who’s just been in a near-death situation probably needs some time to recover. Another part of my brain rationalized that it can also be argued that sex is life-affirming, so.. I basically felt conflicted about this. Regardless, though, him switching gears from being angry, to suddenly being hand-holdy and apparently, in happy anticipation, while presumably driving them somewhere they can get cozy, while she’s recovering from an accident, AND while the stupid refrain “stand by your man” plays in the background, just all comes together to leave ALL the wrong impressions on me. Is Show saying that she’s supposed to stand by her man by giving him sex even though she’s just been through a horrific abduction and accident? I sure hope not. But that’s what it looked like.

In the end, Show treats the post-accident thing pretty lightly, and we’re supposed to believe that Jin Ah bounces right back, with just a small cut on her forehead, and enough spunk left in her to horse around with Joon Hee. Okayy.

Aside from the different way Show and I viewed suitable.. post-accident activities, we do see some hints of strain in their relationship this episode, in the conversation in Joon Hee’s apartment. It becomes more apparent that they have different ways of looking at things, and of communicating, and it’s not matching up.

At this stage, I felt like I was watching teenagers in love, and not exactly in the best way. Joon Hee refusing to take on a work assignment because of his relationship with Jin Ah, makes him look way more boy than man. And Jin Ah sneaking around and lying to her parents when she’s a full-grown adult woman of 35 years old feels strange, and gives me the feeling that Jin Ah basically never quite grew up.

Altogether, these earlier clues did not give me a great deal of confidence about the strength of this OTP relationship.

A tangential comparison to SLA

I usually make a conscious effort to consider a show purely on its own merit, and therefore I wouldn’t usually make a comparison to another show, in a review. But today, I’d like to make a quick detour, to talk about how this OTP relationship compares to the one in Secret Love Affair. It’s a reasonably natural association, since Secret Love Affair is a fairly recent drama also directed by Ahn Pan Seok PD, and also features a noona romance as its main loveline.

If you’ve been around this site for a while, you probably know that I absolutely loved Secret Love Affair and consider it a masterpiece in its own right.

One of the reasons I felt so absorbed by SLA, is because of how the intensity of the OTP relationship felt deep-rooted and profound, right from the beginning. In SLA, it was clear that Sun Jae and Hye Won were soulmates; there was something much deeper that drew them together than just mere attraction. They felt whole with each other, and deeply understood each other’s relationship with music and their literal need for it. When things came to a head, Sun Jae’s love for Hye Won felt deep and strong, even though he himself was in many ways powerless to protect the woman he loved. I never for a moment doubted that he was in it for the long haul, and would not run away.

I alluded to it earlier in this review as well; I felt like Joon Hee’s love for Jin Ah doesn’t have as strong a foundation, and eventually, with enough familial pressure exerted on him, Joon Hee does cave. Not because he wants to, but because he can’t withstand it, in spite of his best efforts. Which is how he eventually decides to run away to the US, with or without Jin Ah.

At the same time, I also can’t help but compare Jin Ah to Hye Won. Hye Won was a much stronger woman than Jin Ah is, and I think that makes a difference too. To my eyes, Jin Ah often behaves like an overgrown teenager who’s rebelling against her parents, instead of a mature adult woman of 35 – which she’s supposed to be.

When I stacked the 2 OTPs side by side in my head, I felt like I could see why Sun Jae and Hye Won’s relationship managed to weather the storm, and why Joon Hee and Jin Ah’s relationship ends up being uprooted before long. And I could also see why Sun Jae and Hye Won’s relationship stole my heart so deeply, while Joon Hee and Jin Ah’s relationship.. doesn’t.

What I really think of this relationship, after the initial flush of cute

By around the episode 12 mark, I started to feel like this romance actually felt quite random (he just was suddenly attracted to her when he saw her walking in the distance, after all), and essentially, feels like the equivalent of plucking two very average people out of a crowd, and throwing them into difficult challenges, to see if they’d survive – or get eaten by sharks. Which sounds like every disaster movie ever, except maybe Show didn’t happen to pick the most resilient random people to be its stars.

The biggest problem in Joon Hee and Jin Ah’s relationship, is that they don’t communicate enough, AND they keep lying to each other.

In episode 14, Joon Hee should have discussed it with Jin Ah first, before asking for a posting to the US. After all, he’s expecting her to quit her job in order to leave with him. And with the renting of an apartment being a big decision, Jin Ah could’ve at least called Joon Hee, before agreeing to rent the place. In the end, it’s this lack of communication – the lack of respect for each other, really – that really broke them up.

Additionally, through their entire relationship before and after that break-up, Jin Ah and Joon Hee keep lying to each other. They keep things from each other, in the interest of protecting the other person, but it creates distance between them. From early on, I wondered, if they can’t be honest with each other, then what chance do they have, of surviving this relationship apocalypse together?

And that lying habit is exactly what eventually drove them apart. In episode 15, once Jin Ah had agreed to sign the lease, and Joon Hee happened to call, she should’ve told him, instead of lying. 

Because these two people didn’t talk honestly when it mattered the most, I confess that I felt like they deserved all the problems they had in their relationship, because their behavior was causing most of their problems. Even if we take away the parental pressure from the equation, we aren’t left with a healthy relationship; we’re left with a pair of people whose relationship seems to be built mostly on giggles and kisses, but who lie to each other habitually, and don’t ever talk honestly when they most need to. Even if Mom hadn’t ended up being the thing to tear them apart, I believe it would’ve been only a matter of time, before other pressures would have forced these issues to the surface as serious problems.

The thing with Mom

This might be a bit controversial, but I don’t think of Jin Ah’s mom as Evil Mom. Even though her behavior was far from exemplary, her words, caustic, and her tantrums, high on the screech scale, I did not see her as a bad person. All the way through to the end, I do feel like Mom sincerely believes that Jin Ah dating Joon Hee is a bad idea. She sincerely believes that marrying well is the way for Jin Ah and Jin Ah’s future children to have better lives. She also sincerely believes that she knows better than her daughter, and that it is her duty to prevent her daughter from making a mistake that would ruin her life.

This is a very Asian Parent way of thinking, and my own mother has shown in many different ways, that she shares this sentiment of parental duty (though thankfully not these methods). In this sense, I did not feel that Jin Ah’s mom unreasonably overstepped her boundaries as a parent in Korea, in principle. Yes, her methods were extreme, but I rationalize that the woman was desperate. And a desperate mother would quite literally do almost anything, if she believes that she’s doing it for the sake of her child.

For all of the bad behavior that we saw from Jin Ah’s mother, here are 3 examples of when I felt we could see that her intentions were not bad ones, and that she genuinely cared.

1. In episode 11, when Mom discovers that Jin Ah is not in her room, she rushes out of the house in the middle of the night, gets in a taxi, and instructs the driver to take her to Joon Hee’s address. In the beginning of her trip, she asks the taxi driver to go fast, and then later, she changes her mind and asks him to go slow. When she arrives at her destination, she also hesitates for a bit, in the elevator. All of these tell me that she’s not keen to barge in on her daughter, that’s one thing, but more like, I felt that she was afraid that her worst fears would come true.

2. In the same episode, Mom kneels in front of Joon Hee and asks him to understand why she’s being like this. Given how proud Mom is as a person, the very fact that she would kneel – in front of Joon Hee, no less – shows how much this means to her.

3. Eventually, in episode 15, Mom effectively kicks Jin Ah out of the house, and Jin Ah finally moves out. The way Mom mopes in bed even when nobody’s looking, says a lot about how she really feels. She doesn’t just feel disappointed in Jin Ah, she likely feels like she’s failed her duty as a parent.

The thing with Gyung Sun

Overall, I hafta say that Gyung Sun turned out to be one of my favorite characters in this drama world. I love that she has so much love to give, and pours it out so generously on her brother and her best friend. This, despite having had a tough childhood, and also, having had to mother Joon Hee for most of her own life.

I really appreciated Show’s spotlight on Gyung Sun in episode 9, which focused on her reaction to stumbling on the knowledge that there was definitely something going on between her baby brother and her best friend. She doesn’t confront them immediately; instead, she takes time to process; to think; to reflect on what her mother would have said, if her mother had been alive. And then, even though her protective noona hackles come up for a bit, when her baby brother begs her to understand, she cries, and then does just that.

That must have taken so much sacrificial love, on her part. She had to put aside her own feelings, to do what she needed to do, to respect her brother’s feelings. Yes, there was a beating and half that she had to get out of her system, but my goodness, she dug so deep and turned around in such a short time, I just can’t begrudge her the right to beat her brother a little bit.

Afterwards, I felt acutely for Gyung Sun, every time she was faced with Jin Ah’s mom’s disapproving comments of Joon Hee. In episode 10, I felt so sorry for Gyung Sun. The stricken look in her eyes, as Jin Ah’s mom talked to her about how they should split up Joon Hee and Jin Ah; the way she cooked a feast for Joon Hee, because she felt so hurt on his behalf, that he was looked down upon; the disappointment and soul-crushing grief that she felt, when she tried to reach out to a father who wasn’t interested in connecting.

Poor dear. She’s got so much love to give, and yet, finds herself stuck between a rock and a hard place, for a decision that she had no part in making. Suddenly, her entire life is turned upside down because her baby brother and best friend decided to date. Not only is she faced with the indignity of Joon Hee being pronounced not good enough, she also faces the very real risk of losing the two people most precious to her, if this relationship doesn’t work out.

In episode 11, I felt like I could sort of understand why Gyung Sun would get so upset and tell Jin Ah to end it with Joon Hee. She’s barely keeping it together, and is under a lot of stress, not just about Joon Hee and Jin Ah’s relationship, but about her estranged dad (Kim Chang Wan) coming to Korea. So, just one thing that makes it look like Jin Ah is being unfair to Joon Hee, is enough to make her lash out.

In the end, Gyung Sun demonstrates just how uncalculated and forgiving her love is, when she basically shoves Jin Ah and Joon Hee the opportunity to talk it out, in the finale, never mind everything that has happened. How can one not like Gyung Sun, right?

The workplace sexual harassment thing

At first, I thought Show had something potentially interesting to say about workplace harassment, given how much screen time is dedicated to Jin Ah’s workplace situation where it’s a nightmare for the women, who are expected to put up with regular harassment from their male supervisors.

For a while, it seemed like this arc would actually go somewhere, but to quote a dear friend of the blog, seankfletcher, who recently said this memorable line on my My Husband Oh Jak Doo review, this just felt like the wave you wait for at the beach that never arrives. (What a great line, eh?)

Honestly, by episode 14, I felt so bored by the harassment case stuff, that I literally almost fell asleep. Still, I had hopes that something meaningful would result from this arc. But no. Writer-nim had other ideas, which I’ll talk about in a little bit.

The background music

This is how I felt, every time those background songs came on.

When I started the show, I found the background music serviceable and inoffensive. By episode 6, though, the songs had started to wear thin on me. Not only were the songs applied with a heavy hand and therefore quickly at the point of wearing out their welcome, there were many occasions when the songs felt strangely irrelevant to the scene at hand.

I soon could not bear the sound of “Sometimes it hard.. to be a woh-mahn..” and every time the opening strains came on, I found myself literally bracing for impact.

At around the episode 13 mark, it occurred to me that all this use of Western music in the background, was maybe a metaphor for how Joon Hee and Jin Ah are trying to be Western in sensibility – age isn’t a barrier, love conquers all etc – but, it just doesn’t quite fit right. Like, try as they might, they can’t escape the fact that their context matters, and for as long as they choose to live in this context, they can’t quite fully embrace that Western outlook like they want to. And perhaps, just as those songs were grating on my nerves more and more, the longer Show went on, perhaps Joon Hee and Jin Ah’s attempt to live that Western outlook is grating on them too, the longer they go on.

Heh. That indulgent benefit of the doubt didn’t last long, though. I don’t know what the music PD was thinking, but those English songs were overdone, overused, and just plain annoying. They basically drove my eyeballs to involuntary rolling fits, and made me wish that my player had an option to mute any and all background music.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING 

To be honest, I found this finale distinctly underwhelming. And the reason that I found this finale so underwhelming, is because if you think about it, nothing really changes, and nothing actually gets solved.

First, here’s a summary of what happened:

Joon Hee comes back to Korea, and finds that Jin Ah is unhappily dating a parent-approved man. Joon Hee and Jin Ah have two conversations. One is stilted and awkward. The other is honest, but he sounds like a defensive brat while she sounds like a self-righteous, self-sacrificing saint. They part ways. Jin Ah loses her patience being her busy beau’s last priority and walks out on him. Joon Hee thinks about settling down in the US. Jin Ah quits her job. Apparently, she won the case against Director Nam, but nothing’s changed, and she’s done enduring her exile-disguised-as-a-promotion. She informs her parents that she’s moving to Jeju Island. Mom suddenly feels bad coz her daughter is moving away. She apologizes, and they make peace. Jin Ah settles into life on Jeju Island, helping out at Bo Ra’s (Joo Min Kyung) cool cafe. Joon Hee chances on Jin Ah’s old love confession recording, and, his feelings stirred, seeks her out at the cafe – where he demands his umbrella back from Jin Ah. Jin Ah says he’s crazy, and so he forces skinship on her, picking her up and plonking her on his shoulder. Afterwards all her defenses crumble, and they kiss happily ever after.

Despite feeling disengaged from this show as early as episode 10, I eventually came back, and stayed till the end, because I wanted to give Show the benefit of the doubt. Like, sure, I may not be feeling the way you’re telling your story, but you seem to want to make a point. So let me stay, so that I can hear you out; let’s see what that point is, that you’re working to make.

Now that I’ve seen this show in its entirety, though, I can’t say I’m getting anything in terms of a solid point.

In terms of the workplace harassment, we see that nothing’s changed. Jin Ah won the case, sure, but is effectively living in exile, while the perpetrators continue to keep their jobs at head office. So.. it feels like Show is trying to say, the problem is systemic, and standing up for what you believe in is unlikely to get you anywhere.

In terms of parental expectations, to my eyes, nothing has changed. Mom maintains that she’s got Jin Ah’s best interests at heart, and her apology feels like an emotional response to Jin Ah’s departure, rather than a promise to change her behavior. My reading of the situation is that Dad and Mom are ok with Jin Ah moving to Jeju Island to find her way in life – but that doesn’t automatically include approval of a potential reunion with Joon Hee. On this one, it feels like Show is saying, distance makes the heart grow fonder.

In terms of Jin Ah and Joon Hee’s reunion, I feel like nothing has changed as well. They had one honest outburst with each other, yes, but does that really change anything? When Joon Hee shows up at the cafe, Jin Ah still uses the same defensive, helpless tone with him, “What is it? What do you want? Do you still have something left to say?” while Joon Hee hides behind a defensive-sounding excuse of wanting his umbrella back. Sure, there are hugs and kisses, but to me, those were fueled by a recording of a happier time, that Joon Hee happened to listen to again, and while that’s fine and good, there’s nothing to indicate that these two are going to make changes to their relationship that will help them relate in a more honest and healthy way.

That final happy shot, to me, is a snapshot of one happy moment, and only that. And the reason that happy moment could happen at all, is because they removed themselves from their context. I feel like the moment these two try again, to have a relationship within the context of family and society, that a lot of old problems will surface again. Mom will object, again. There will be tears and gnashing of teeth, again. And Jin Ah and Joon Hee’s relationship will be put to the test, again.

If I had to articulate a takeaway from all of this, it would be this: Context really is everything, after all; you can’t exist out of context. A happy bubble devoid of context, will eventually burst. But, if you can’t be happy in the context that you’re in, you still have the option of changing your context.

Bo Ra’s the coolest one of them all, quitting the job she didn’t like, and finding a way to make a living where she could live on beautiful Jeju Island, and sip wine at the end of a work day, while she listens to the crashing waves. When her context stopped working for her, and she saw that there wasn’t any point in trying to make changes at the office, she changed her context, and stuck to her guns about it.

To Joon Hee and Jin Ah, I say, be like Bo Ra. And fix your bad relationship habits too, while you’re at it.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Starts promising, but is ultimately underwhelming and quite pointless.

FINAL GRADE: C

TEASERS:

MVs:

It’s true that the music in this show eventually almost drove me up the wall, but here are two tracks which I liked better than the others.

Author: kfangurl

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

99 thoughts on “Review: Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food [Something In The Rain]

  1. I have just finished watching up to episode 5 and I am not sure if I should continue watching it. After reading your review made it even more into the doubtful list but the thing is this show is available on Netflix and so I so want it to be good. I totally agree about the music thing. It was good in the beginning but really getting to me now by episode 5.

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    • Well, it’s true that this show has its fans, so it’s really a question of whether Show is working for you. What I will say, though, is, if you’re already feeling doubtful about Show at E5, then it’s unlikely that you’ll feel any better in later eps, given the trajectory of the narrative. Also.. if the music is getting to you at E5, just imagine how it’s going to affect you for 11 more eps..! 🙉🙈

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I dropped this show at episode 4 as well. I watched this because of the attention the OTP is getting however i also cant get past episode 4. I was wondering if there was something wrong with me for not liking this..hahaha..

    Fortunately i am not alone..

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  3. I admire your threshold!

    I actually started watching this series about two weeks ago for two reasons: “Something in the Rain” sounds a lot like “Singing in the Rain” which is one of my top 10 movies of all time, and it was on Netflix which provided ultimate accessibility. Like you, I was quickly drawn in by the initial “deluge of Cute”–the supple, moist brownie that seemed to be up for the taking. I ate said brownie for almost two episodes before I bit into a big, horrid broccoli sprout plagued by E. coli, at which point I recoiled and reflexively skipped to the last episode to see if the end result would justify several hours of indigestion. Utterly underwhelmed by the show’s final fifteen minutes, I washed my hands of the whole affair and never looked back. …Until now.

    It may be a cardinal sin, but if a show commits a party foul strong enough to derail my interest, I often jump to the final fifteen minutes of the series to either conjure the will to continue, or, failing that, to at least get a last bite of chocolatey relational goodness; I think this is the first show with a finale that gave me neither.

    When it comes to entertainment, I don’t care about spoilers. I’m not in it for the twists, or to find out what happens–I’m in it for the process and nuances of interaction. I mean, c’mon, there are established formulas for every medium out there, so it’s not like the ending (or even most of the major plot points leading to it) is gonna rock your world. Exceptions exist, but usually it’s more a question of “How?” as opposed to “What?”. So when “How?” is replaced by “Why?”–as in “Why bother?”–I look to catharsis for sustenance. I want to see if the predicted resolution gives me enough emotional fortitude to suffer through whatever catalyst prompted me to abandon ship. Up to this point, seeing the end of a series in crisis gave me fuzzies and/or roused enough curiosity for me to start anew.

    While the ending scene presented a grand, literal allusion to the show’s title, I thought it would be more aptly called, “Tepid in the Rain”, or, taking a different angle altogether, “A Big Wet Blanket…in the Rain”. It felt like the nifty, but-not-quite fulfilling point in a series when the lead couple gets together for the first time; the initial wave of obstacles has passed, and touching confessions have ushered in a few episodes of fresh cuteness before the inevitable crisis tears our happy couple asunder to await the final reconciliation. I think the scene would have been perfect for that, because it hints at a deep, possibly long-lasting connection, but both the connection and its expression are subtly incomplete. I’m sure I missed some key interactions over the course of the show that made Jin Ah’s reaction to him more profound, but all I saw was a lack of surrender. That’s usually how you know everything is going to be alright: both parties surrender to love, to each other, and to fate, leaving you with the the notion that those elements will carry their story to the ultimate happy ending–a lifetime together. Did not get that vibe at all.

    Maybe my premature abandonment has disqualified me from commenting. After all, you legitimately gave it a chance, waded through the mire, and so have a fuller appreciation of the big picture. I bailed out, forsaking what could have been an awesome adventure with an ending that was so poignant my mind would have been blown. I was relieved that such was not the case, else I would have had to start watching yet again, reminding myself that KFG found it worthwhile.

    I was curious as to what prompted me to stop watching, so I went in search of the show’s black box: a history that would reconstruct my final viewing moments leading to the crash. Turns out, it was a multi-system failure.

    First, I loathe parental obstacles. I was raised by parents who supported me no matter what, and who ultimately believed that their purpose as parents was to equip me to surpass them–to go further than they were able to go in this life. Unfortunately I know too many people who were actually stifled or hamstrung by their parents to believe that my upbringing was the norm. I also understand that different cultures view families and their functions in different ways. Knowing all that, I still can’t help but be particularly furious when I watch a show with meddling, cruel, or rigid parental figures. Usually they are introduced as an obstacle in the first few episodes and then they gradually ramp up to prohibitively obnoxious levels later on. It gives me enough time to get into the series, form an affection for the characters, care about their fight, and even appreciate whatever support the parents may be offering in exchange for their interference. But not SitR.

    The scene where my narrative plane crashed was towards the end of the second episode when Jin Ah’s parents have invited Gyu Min over for dinner. The fact that he’s an ex and the parents are still trying to force him on Jin Ah really hit a nerve. But other shows have done something similar (albeit later on) and I was able to roll with the punch. What put me out of it was who Gyu Min was an how adamantly Jin Ah’s parents advocated him.

    You list GM as the first thing you didn’t like about the show right from the start, and I heartily agree. He was a jerk face. I’m not a big fan of jerk faces, unless part of the story involves them changing into at least decent human beings. Unfortunately this jerk face was given a second chance he didn’t deserve right off the jump, and he still botched it–an indication to me that his arc did not include redemption. …And he did it with such arrogance that–YYAAARRGGHH!!! Man. I guess I straight-up outright hated Gyu Min. Even now I’m getting kinda peeved just thinking about his smug, bumbling jerk face.

    The combination of Gyu Min’s wretched personality, the knowledge that he wasn’t going to change, the awareness that he was probably going to linger for a good portion of the show, the condescending meddling of the leading lady’s parents, and their blind, aggressive endorsement of the jerkiest jerk face ever just did me in. Too much to hate in less than 120 minutes.

    Narrative Klaxon: Engine one is down!
    My Perseverance: It’s okay, we’ve got engine two…
    Narrative Klaxon: Engine two has burst into flames!
    My Perseverance: Maybe we can manage a glide to safety…
    Narrative Klaxon: The wings just sheared off!
    My Perseverance: There’s still a chance to land this bird…
    Narrative Klaxon: The landing gear is jammed!
    My Perseverance: I’ll just finesse the controls…
    Narrative Klaxon: The landing gear inexplicably popped off!
    MY Perseverance: Okay, I’m out.

    And, reading your review, apparently it actually got worse!!

    As a Kdrama veteran, your viewing stamina and threshold allowed you to go seven episodes before having to take a break. I applaud your stoicism. Then you finished the series. I…applaud your masochism. 😉

    I wish I could offer more affirmation to your points or foster a discussion of some kind, but it’s kinda hard to do when I have about two episodes of material to pull from. And I apologize for the mixed metaphors scattered throughout this debacle of a rant. I just got excited because this was my chance to be relevant and comment on a review that wasn’t written like a bazillion years ago. Mea culpa.

    (On the upswing, I’m currently seven episodes into “Witch’s Romance” and I’ve begun “Nirvana in Fire”–both of which are making me very happy.)

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    • Lol. Your comment made me giggle, Jesse! 😆 I think it’s a good thing you checked out after 2 episodes. Based on what you said about what you look for in a drama, I don’t think this one would have been satisfying for you at all.

      Also, I should clarify that I’m not always this patient with a show – and therefore, not as masochistic as I appear, heh. One of the main reasons I decided to give this one a chance, is because of the director. I was so impressed with Secret Love Affair (which I hope you’ve still got on your list!), that I felt that I ought to give this one a chance. Ahn PD has a reputation for having something meaningful to say with each of his works, and I wanted to see if this show had something worthwhile to say as well. Now, having seen all of it, I’m still not sure if Show had nothing much to say, since nothing changed in the end, or if Show was saying something very depressing. 😛

      The thing about meddling parents, is that this is a fairly common story thread across many kdramas. I guess I better warn you now? Not all kdrama parents are strongly meddlesome, of course, but if you watch enough kdrama, you will come to realize that the inclusion of a meddling parent is not unusual. It’s part trope, and part zooming in on the idea of parental duty, and inflating it for the sake of drama.

      Yay that you’re enjoying both Witch’s Romance and NIF! 😀 With most dramas, I’d say it’s necessary to suspend disbelief or forgive inconsistencies to some degree, but not NIF. If you find something not matching up in NIF, it’s most likely not a fault of the show, because the writing is amazingly detailed. Most people report that multiple watches of NIF have reaped better understanding of the plot, because they hadn’t picked up on certain details in earlier watches. This is one of the reasons I think you’ll have a very good time with NIF. 🙂

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  4. This sums up everything that didn’t work in the show perfectly. I spent more time trying to like it, trying to find the characters anything less than self-centred and self indulgent. Time spent waiting on Netflix to sub episodes felt like time wasted. This writer needs to realise that pretty can’t sell a story, and the music PD needs to take another course on how to use music effectively in film and TV.

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    • Hi5 that we felt similarly about this show, ocelot! I found myself having to work to try to like these characters, and the deeper I got into the show, the more I had to work, and the less success I found myself having. It felt quite bemusing to me because I’m used to being able to root for my protagonists, and this was one instance where I mostly wanted to throttle my protagonists! 😝 I don’t know what the writer was trying to achieve with this narrative.. I seriously wonder if it was a case of getting lost while trying to coast on the Pretty, or if the writer was saying something really depressing about life as a woman. Either way, I completely agree that the music PD needs to figure out a better way of using music!

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      • Great minds think alike. I enjoy your reviews. I often wait for your reviews before wasting hours of my life on disjointed shows. I would have taken another 8 episodes of ‘Live’ to flesh out stories over the time I wasted on prettiness. Thanks for the hard work!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Aw! Thanks dear ocelot – you make me feel all special and useful! 😉 I haven’t checked out Live yet myself, but I’ve heard good things, so it’s on my list! 🙂

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  5. Wow, wow and wow. Such a wonderful review. What more can I say other than a few loose thoughts.

    In the first instance, I was totally mesmerised by Something in the Rain. So much so, I stopped at episode 9 (many weeks ago now), because I was starting to dread where the whole story, the relationships and whatever else was going on would end up. Now, after reading your review I feel more than comfortable to call it a day and not watch the remaining episodes. I believe I would end up so disappointed.

    What drew me in initially were the many different, yet relatable things. To start with, the movie and song Singing in the Rain and the various references to it throughout Something. Then there were those moments that take you back in time such as the hand touching/holding scene at the end of episode 3/start of episode 4 and the childish but good fun antics in the office. As for the scene where Jin Ah comes home and puts the road traffic cone on her head and it falls off in front of her parents – that’s just one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in a show.

    I liked the Mum not for how she was, but for how well she was portrayed- some good acting I thought. As for the Dad, well he seemed decent to me. Gyung Sun is a real trooper.

    It’s disappointing to see where the workplace harassment issue ended up. I liked how it was tackled in a far stronger way than what we have seen in other shows. I did have my doubts though in terms of the methodology used to address it, hence the outcome I guess – maybe that was the point.

    The music interestingly enough, worked for me. I found the use of a signature tune for each character/situation highly effective (but I can appreciate what others have said re overuse and so on). The version of Save the Last Dance for Me is fabulous. Many years ago we got to see the original performers of this song (The Drifters) play it in concert. We were even lucky enough to go to their after concert party at a good friend’s house (as I did have some minor involvement in helping make the concert happen). What a great night – by the time we left for home, the old gentlemen rockers were still kicking back!

    So what is the song (and movie) Singing in the Rain really all about? It’s a reference to finding that inner kid inside yourself again to conquer past pain etc. Maybe Something in the Rain ended up grabbing the wrong end of the umbrella?

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    • Something in the Rain Explained In 20 Words

      His umbrella is green.
      Her umbrella is red.
      Their umbrella is yellow.
      Red plus green equals yellow.
      They’ll be ok.

      Ultimately, this is about how these two people deal with conflict – which is to say they deal with life in a way that’s in polar opposition to each other. Jin-ah’s brother told us something along the lines of “Jun-hee’s goodwill once lost is lost forever”, which is to say that unlike Jin-ah he’s able to cut people completely out of his life. Remember he has a father who cuts and runs at the first sign of conflict and Jun-hee showed himself repeatedly to be stressed out by conflict.

      Jin-ah avoids conflict but stays in the room and endures it, while Jun-hee equally avoids conflict by going away to a place where that conflict doesn’t exist.

      There are two things that are telling about the ending. The first is that Jin-ah has essentially jettisoned all the things that were causing conflict in her life – her family and her job. By moving to Jeju Island and quitting, those conflicts are gone. While Jun-hee has decided for the first time to try to reconcile with someone he had cut loose from his life.

      The second is that all this was done in a yellow umbrella moment, a final merging of their primary colours. So, will they work out? Who knows? But they have a better shot the second time round.

      The biggest question is whether anybody cared by that point. I’m not sure I did.

      Liked by 2 people

      • But red and green don’t equal yellow! Yellow is a primary color, as are red and blue. So blue plus yellow equals green, but nothing can make yellow. Maybe this best explains how meaningless the whole thing ended up being!

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      • Dame Holly thank you for this insight. I hadn’t appreciated the difference between Jun Hee and Jin Ah.

        I’m reminded of the Goodies many years ago who did a very funny, but short rendition of Singing in the Rain while running away from the police. They were under white umbrellas and the police were under black umbrellas and both ended up in a joint dance routine accordingly (Episode: Saturday Night Grease – No Mixed Dancing Allowed). They were so good at layered storytelling.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ooh, REALLY nice observation about Jin Ah and Joon Hee. She did used to stay in the room and endure, while he is used to cutting off, and cutting off completely. I am not convinced that Jin Ah actually cut off her parents, but, I do appreciate the turnaround on both sides, on this point. That does make the ending feel a tiny bit less pointless, in my head. As you said, though, I’m not so sure I care all that much, by now! 😆

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        • I still remember the whole conversation she had with Jun-hee in episode 15 where he was saying “Let’s start afresh in the States” and she was saying “No, I want to fight”, I was grinding my teeth in frustration. Because it was what I wanted to hear and because I had the tantalising hope she’d learned her lesson. But I suspected that he was actually saying “Let’s run away from everything” and she was saying “No, I want to endure” and both those positions are not just in utter opposition to each other – they’re also both the wrong response.

          Fast forward 4 years, I was hoping to see some sort of change in her but she’d actually doubled down on people pleasing, making herself utterly miserable in the process and wearing herself out so much that she wanted to thrown in the towel on every part of her life.

          Ergh, I’m just depressing myself all over again. I will say that I personally thought the writing and characterisation was excellent. I just feel like character development is something that happens in TV shows not in real life and that this was one of the most realistic shows I’d ever watched. Maybe that was its flaw – we want to see Through the Looking Glass when we watch TV, not have reality reflected back to us like a stark Mirror.

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          • That’s very true. Joon Hee did sound like he was saying “let’s run away” and Jin Ah did sound like she was saying, “I want to endure.” And if memory serves, I think she does use the word endure sometime in that scene as well.

            Also, I think you might’ve hit the nail on the head. We watch dramas because we want to see that there is hope, even in the midst of darkness. We don’t need to be told that the world is full of darkness. We already know that coz we see it all around us. We need to hear that in spite of that darkness, there is hope, so press on, and live on. That’s where the disconnect is..

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    • Thanks for enjoying the review, Sean! 😀 It’s interesting that you stopped your watch at E9 and then left it for many weeks. I feel like a number of us did that. I myself stopped once after E7 for several weeks, then went back, then after E10, stopped for many more weeks, before mustering up the interest to continue. I think it’s at around that E9/E10 point, that things start to show signs of getting depressing/disappointing.

      With regards to the music, I do wonder if you’d have continued to enjoy the music, if you’d continued on to finish your watch? Coz I liked the music well enough in the earlier episodes, but by the end of the show, I was ready to never, ever hear those songs again. Ever. 😝 The music was misused, overused, and abused. I often felt perplexed about why a certain song was deemed suitable for a particular scene. Like the post-hospital scene I talked about in my review. It felt so wrong, to my ears. 😛

      Show did have its moments, but maybe you’ve hit on something there, about Show grabbing the wrong end of the umbrella! 😆

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  6. There were exactly two shows I was looking forward to this year: this one and Mr. Sunshine. I loved the first six or seven episodes here. I loved that two adults could actually act in love, on screen, and it felt like how my own relationship played out. What totally ruined it for me was the toxic and abusive mother. I couldn’t stand watching her and the slimy, perverse male supervisor was the nail on the coffin. I skipped the last third entirely and watched the last episode, which was anticlimactic—could they have at least gave us more of the beginning at the end? I may have forgiven everything else if they did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I personally don’t think you missed anything by skipping the last third – it really got harder to watch, the deeper I got into the show. The characters stopped being likable to my eyes, and the ending was – just you said – anticlimactic. This was NOT the story we were hoping for, that much I can say!

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  7. I have to say that I enjoyed the first few episodes a lot…but even then, the cracks were starting to show in the characterization of Jin Ah and Joon Hee’s relationship. It drove me absolutely crazy that from the start, the MUSIC PLAYS OVER THEIR CONVERSATIONS. Yeah, we get to see that they’re chatting and laughing–but what are they talking about? Music? Books? Work? And what exactly is so funny??? It seems like they share the same sense of humor, given all that laughing, but I have no idea what their brand of humor is, which might have given me insight into their personalities and their connection. Instead, we actually know very little about these people and what they have in common. It got to the point that, by the end of the show, I could barely describe the characters except in broad strokes, like being impulsive or being hardworking. They could have done anything, I would have felt that it was at least somewhat believable for their characters because they were so poorly developed to begin with. And that was the worst flaw to me. (Well, that and mentioning the outcome of the sexual harassment case with a throwaway line that I almost missed. REALLY, after all that?) Overall, I didn’t hate the drama, but the writing was seriously flawed and squandered a reasonably good setup. It doesn’t matter how cute Jung Hae In’s smile is or how effortlessly graceful Son Ye Jin is; without any depth of characterization, we have no reason to care about them.

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    • That’s a great point, Kathryn – the music DID play over their conversations a whole lot. That’s probably why I came away with the impression that there wasn’t much holding their relationship together besides giggles and kisses. Coz that’s pretty much all that we were given access to. 🤔

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  8. Gosh, you said it all so much better than I ever could! With such detail too. Yes, those were the bits that made this drama so hard to chew. Besides being such a snoozefest. The tedium eventually made me check mentally out, so I didn’t even notice half of the things you so eloquantly pointed out. 🙂 That and skip watching the episodes from ep 12 onwards, ha.

    You were much more understanding of mommy dearest. I just thought her very selfish and domineering. But that’s probably because I’m not Asian and have a very different background. I also think that mom is the biggest reason Jin Ah never really grew up, she wasn’t allowed to as mommy knows best. Jin Ah was probably always reather weak, a stronger personality would have found ways to put some sort of boundries in reagds to mom.

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    • I felt the mother had no endearing qualities but I was very harshly reprimanded in a discussion forum about this for “not understanding Asian culture”. To me, the mother was like a character in a Dickens novel – social climbing, obsessed with status, eager to appear publicly charitable by taking care of the “poor orphans” but reacting violently if they proved uppity and wanted to move past their station.

      I nearly cried when the mother went to Gyung Sun and gave her the “you understand you aren’t good enough for us, right?” speech and then in desperation Gyung Sun rang her own indifferent father and he brushed her off. The sudden realisation that she really didn’t have any parents broke her and it broke me watching it.

      She was the f’ing worst.

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      • “social climbing, obsessed with status, eager to appear publicly charitable” – Isn’t that like every other mother in kdramland? At least when it comes to the middle to upper social strata. 🙂

        But you do have a point there, that’s how she does come off. So, guess I don’t understand Asian culture either. Not that I even claim to. We got rid of many of these cultural hangups ages ago and as far as I can tell, it didn’t plunge the country off the deep end to societal chaos. I’ve never understood why outdated or downright harmful traditions are seen as something to adhere to. Maybe people feel that getting rid of them takes away their cultural identity… or something.

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        • I wanted to like this comment but for some reason WP doesn’t want me to. LIKE.

          Yes it’s depressing, isn’t it? I think the worst was the sexual harassment issue where she did her time in purgatory and won the court case but was so burnt out and so exhausted by it that she couldn’t stay around to come back to head office. They complained they could no longer order the women to make them coffee but other than that nothing changed. Her only resort in the end was to check out to Jeju and make coffee. I’m getting depressed just being reminded of it.

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    • I might’ve checked out mentally too, if I weren’t trying so hard to make sense of what this writer was trying to say. And after everything, I am still not sure what that was. The writing FELT meandering and pointless in many ways, but I wonder, is writer-nim actually trying to say that life IS meandering and pointless, and that the problems in society are systemic, and therefore no amount of effort on an individual level is going to effect meaningful change. I dunno. This show is one that leaves me scratching my head.

      I do agree that it’s hard to understand the Asian Parent idea of parental duty, if you’re not Asian and living in that culture. At the same time, I also agree that Mom was the biggest reason Jin Ah never grew up, and Jin Ah was never the rebelling type, which is how she ended up being a (very frustrating) 35 year old teenager. Sigh. Unfortunately, I do think that there are women out there like Jin Ah, and she’s not just a figment of writer-nim’s warped imagination.

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      • Putting aside the cultural aspects of her behaviour, Mum was an abusive parent. So much of Jin-ah’s behaviour was the result of a lifetime of emotional abuse. It’s telling that her brother hinted that he’d contemplated suicide and that he was worried his sister might consider it too. It’s telling that Jin-ah would act without communicating her intentions and then lie about it. And it’s telling that she would crawl into a protective ball in the face of conflict and then wait for it to go away. That’s what you do when you’re raised by an abusive parent.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Again, another sad truth – kids who grow up under the terror of a tiger parent do contemplate suicide. :/ Just for the record, I don’t think Mum behaved well, despite her good intentions.

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  9. Man I’ve written so many words about this show. So many! You know what I’m like, once I get a bone I keep gnawing away. So I could write a book here about it. But all I’ll say in the end in this: after reading every word of your review I actually think you did nail the point of the drama. It’s just that it’s so unusual as a kdrama story that you didn’t realise it. As a viewer live-watching it with the rest of the world, I was struck by how difficult people found its subversion of standard Korean storytelling strictures. They couldn’t find a hand hold in it because it was so iconoclastic.

    Jin-ah is the most every woman I’ve seen on TV. Ever. Told her job is to compromise, to keep the peace, to slide through without conflict. Basically raised to be this way and then simultaneously judged for being this way. In that respect, this was initially one of the most feminist pieces of television I’ve ever seen. Jin-ah would only be happy and the people around her would only be happy if Jin-ah stopped trying to make everyone happy. It played out through the drama in her personal and professional life in precisely the same way and it’s the lived experience of a good chunk of the world’s female population.

    But in the end, the point of this show is that it is a man’s world and as a woman Jin-ah couldn’t win. All she could do was carve out a piece of happiness for herself within it, even if that meant jettisoning everything she was “supposed” to have – her family, her career and a “good” marriage. Depressing, huh? I thought so. You compared it to Secret Love Affair and I couldn’t help doing that as well.

    About halfway through its run, I had a conversation with somebody in another forum where they said everything would end up back where it was at the beginning with no change. I argued that to do so would be saying that for women there’s no way out of this sexist and misogynistic culture.

    “The show was very much about how women are forced to compromise and put up with abuse because of hierarchy, age and social status and that they are then judged harshly for exactly that. That is, that women are forced to be complicit in their own mistreatment. One of the main messages of the drama is that continuing to compromise is not the solution. if Jin-ah doesn’t come through this ascendant then the drama will be saying that woman have no way out of this sexist and misogynistic culture. I find it hard to believe this PD would head a show with that message. Like with Secret Love Affair, his female characters only win by fighting back – even if that means they have to lose first.”

    Well I had to eat my words because that’s exactly where we ended up.

    This has got to be the most depressing thing I’ve seen since Misty told us a woman can only have success if she destroys men and she won’t be happy anyway when she does it. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a drama before where I can say the writing, directing, cinematography and acting were all top-notch but somehow I don’t want to recommend that anyone else watch it.

    PS: I could add a comment about why the PD chose a song about female submission drawn from a culture that celebrates female submission but I honestly hate Stand By Your Man so much and have had it stuck in my head for so long that I can’t be bothered.

    The OST sucked. That’s all I got.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Ahn Pan Seok dramas are known to highlight these black spots on Korean society, which is probably why they are not huge hits, despite of being so well put together. No matter how much shit the protagonists have to wade through, there’s always been a glimmer of hope and an ending with a postive note (at least in those of his dramas I’ve seen). But what if Ahn PD has finally thrown the towel in, resignedly saying that nope, nothing changes, no matter what? What a throughly depressing thought.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Actually it was this comment I wanted to like and reply to. Sorry!
        See above!

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      • That IS a thoroughly depressing thought! 😩 I sure hope that’s not true, because think of the kind of dramas we’d expect going forward, from Ahn PD! 😳

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        • Maybe I should re-watch ‘Heard Through the Grapevine’ to clense my palate and feel less depressed over a Ahn PD drama. Lee Joon’s In Sang also had awful parents who, I swear, though they lived in Joseon. The father especially was a pompious, overbearing ass but the show did make fun of him every now and then. Go Ah Sung’s Seo Bom on the other hand had lovely, supportive and loving parents. Guess which of the protagonists was the stronger one? 🙂 I also loved how they wrapped it up. I don’t remember if you’ve seen Grapevine but I do recommend it if you haven’t. Looking back, I had quite a bit to say/squee about it, ummm… worth 9 posts, no less. 😀

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          • 9 posts!! That says A LOT about how much you liked Heard It Through The Grapevine! 😀 I’ve had that on my list for a long time, but just never got around to it, because there’s always something newer and shinier to distract me 😛 I must bump it up my list! 😀

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    • Gosh, put that way, that really is a very depressing message indeed – although you put it across so eloquently! Is that what the writer and PD were consciously and actively going for, I wonder? Because, it ends up being such a discouraging message, in the end. Usually, even if the show paints a picture of a bitter, dark, and depressing world, there is a thread of hope within it, and the characters are shown finding a way to have hope, even in the midst of their dark surroundings.

      In this show, there doesn’t seem to be that thread of hope. The only thing that even hints at hope for having a different life than what society dictates, is if one were to ditch society and choose the more hermit-like life, like what Bo Ra did. Yet, somehow, I did not come away from my watch convinced that Jin Ah was about to do the same.. 🤔

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  10. I couldn’t agree with you more. If only I had stopped watching after the hand grab! It did serve to ping my radar about Jung Hae In, though. He’s the reason I’m currently watching “While You Were Sleeping.” Well, him and Lee Jong Suk, who is a hero with flaws in this one. I’m on Episode 4 and it’s very enjoyable. I also now understand the fuss about Bae Suzy. I think you might like WYWS. 🙂

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    • The hand grab WOULD have been a great place to stop watching! Except, who would stop watching right after such a cute scene, right? 😆 I thought Jung Hae In did very nicely in Prison Playbook – which I highly recommend, if you haven’t yet seen it! I did try WYWS, but somehow, wasn’t feeling it, and dropped it at E1 😛

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  11. Another home run review.

    I had to keep my remote close by to have access to the mute button. I used it often. The music made me cringe – especially Stand by Your Man. I personally dislike this song and exactly for the reason that Dame Holly points out in her post. I always love how you throw the OST music links throughout your reviews but this time I am so very glad you did not – thank you Fangurl!

    Even Jung Hae In’s adorable face and Gyung Sun’s inner beauty were not enough to keep me in this game. I dropped this right at the WTH blind date episode.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you’d told me a week before this started airing that I’d be muting the soundtrack on a PD Ahn drama I wouldn’t have believed you. After Secret Love Affair I was actually *looking forward to this for the music*. One week in I was muting it. The only other drama I’ve done that for is Healer where they made awful use of the mediocre Eternal Love – and even then I was only driven to mute on rewatch.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the enjoying the review, phl! ❤ I feel you about the music in this one – that's actually precisely the reason I opted not to include music in this review! Hi5! 😆You were smart to drop out. I was probably too curious for my own good, and wanted to see exactly how this one would pan out.

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  12. This was by far the biggest disappointment of a drama in a long time. I thought I was going to watch an adorable couple, full of hot blooded chemistry, persevere and make it work through ups and downs and most importantly the age gap. I was cheering for them. I was excited for them. But like you, the dread started to set in. Then the annoyance. And by the end, I just didn’t care if they made it or not. To me, that was the biggest tragedy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for comin’ on out to comment, KLnoona! ❤ I know what you mean; I was expecting to see how this couple would make it work, but instead, ended up watching a blow-by-blow account of just how society norms in the form of parental pressure broke them up. Granted, it was also a layer-by-layer unveiling of just how flawed these people were, and how unhealthy their relationship was. If Show was saying anything meaningful at all, it was something very depressing. That's the conclusion I'm coming to, the more I think about it. This definitely was not the drama I hoped it would be. 😛

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  13. One.Giant.Headdesk.
    I am usually pretty sanguine about messy kdramas. I can usually just shrug off the crazy and watch a cracky OTP. (Confession: I watched all of Lie to Me, which was as pointlessly messy as you can get).
    Did not happen here. Like you, I squeed aallll the way to the confession and hand-under-table scene. They totally nailed that scene and Jung Hae In was the best puppy that ever puppied right there. Their expressions were perfect, with so many shades and nuances. Looking back, I would have been happy if show had ended there.
    And then … and then… I stopped rooting for the OTP. They went from a sweet relationship to a toxic, unhealthy one, full of lies, avoidance, passive aggressive behavior and nothing more to sell it than physical attraction. Maybe we need to coin a word for negative crack, which is what this was.
    Such a waste.
    Saddest part is the awful storyline has tainted both Jung Hae In and Sohn Ye Jin for me. Maybe one day I can look at them again without feeling the ick factor. I hope so!

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    • You are so right, Webby. I didn’t articulate it until now, but this show HAS tainted Jung Hae In for me. I was never big on Son Ye Jin anyway, so that was not an issue for me, but I did love Jung Hae In in Show’s early episodes. But, the rest of the show has effectively tainted Jung Hae In for me, and I now don’t have a particularly strong desire to see him in anything. Even rewatching the earlier puppy bits (which I did do, for this review) doesn’t quite have the same effect on me. Case in point: that tie-grab scene where he seethed at Gyu Min, in E2. I found that quite swoony and badass the first time I saw it. But revisiting it after finishing the show, to try to get a screenshot, I found myself recoiling from the scene, and from Joon Hee in that scene. All the signs of his troubling impulsive nature were there, but I was blinded by fangirl squee. And now that the scales have fallen from my eyes, I just don’t find myself looking at him the same way anymore. I guess I should be thankful that I watched Prison Playbook before I watched this one! 😅

      And yes, that OTP relationship was just so unhealthy, it vexed me to watch it. I just couldn’t bring myself to root for these two people to be together, or come back together, given how unhealthy their relationship was. By Show’s end, I wanted them broken up, for good. Which, I don’t know if that was what writer-nim was aiming for, ha. 😛

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  14. I have nothing to add. You all said it.
    I loved first 4-6 episodes… and then it was pain to finish episode 11 (I think, don’t remember anymore)… and I stopped watching and just read the recaps on DB.
    Sometimes it’s hard to be a viewer… 😉

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    • Lol. Sometimes it’s hard to be a viewer indeed! You were smart to stop watching.. I personally didn’t find the extra investment of time and brain cells very fruitful after all. 😛

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  15. So I’m a lucky gal because illegal sites have oodles of viruses so I refuse to go on them and because in the US the only legal way to watch this was to wait until it completed its run in Korea when Netflix then released the whole drama at once. So by the time this happened, the wrath of viewers had reached my ears. I like the noona romance genre though it is getting a bit old at this point. Someone commented that they think the director was trying to get to the difficulty of a woman’s life in Korea with work situations and family expectations but it just didn’t gel.

    I agree with you about Secret Love Affair though it did lose a bit of steam for me there for a bit. This is a drama people generally love or hate. I think I missed out on a lot because it was when I was newer to Korean dramas, and I didn’t get a lot of the cultural stuff.

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    • Heh. Yes, I do think you didn’t miss much with this one, Kat! 😆 I mean, the earlier episodes were full of cute, but I found the second half of the show so hard to get through that now, on hindsight, I’d willingly miss all the cute, if I could unsee this show, ha! I personally like the noona romance genre too, but I have to agree that it’s also getting a bit old for me as well.

      Yes, SLA is a show that people either love or hate. I personally loved it a whole lot, and I regularly recommend it to others. If you do decide to give it another chance, perhaps watch it while reading recaps? I think there were quite a few thorough recaps available for it, which might help lift your watch. 🙂

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  16. Ditto feeling about the grating song – I laughed out aloud reading your comments about it 🤣

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    • Lol. Hi5? 😆 Yes, that music really turned into the most grating, annoying thing. I could physically feel my ears tense up by the later episodes, every time it came on!

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  17. I haven’t watched Secret Love Affairs (only clips of it) and consider it too heavy as I’m more into rom-com. But reading your review here made me wanted to re-watch What’s Up Fox. At least there we have strong and funny leads.

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    • I really like What’s Up Fox? I think it is too bad many won’t watch it because they consider it an “old” drama.

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    • Ah, if you’re more into rom-com, I can totally see why you wouldn’t be drawn to SLA. That’s absolutely NOT a rom-com! 😅 I did watch What’s Up Fox years ago, but I remember not getting super into it, somehow. I know lots of folks loved that one, so I did feel like the odd one out 😉

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  18. I am agreeing with @mywebfoot and need to copy this last paragraph the way it is!…..exactly how I felt after finishing the drama! “Saddest part is the awful storyline has tainted both Jung Hae In and Sohn Ye Jin for me. Maybe one day I can look at them again without feeling the ick factor. I hope so!”…..I feel awkwardly embarrassed reading all the comments here. A month ago, I am squeeing over this otp and even promoted the drama to you.

    After watching about 4 episodes, I instantly fell in love with Jin Ah and Joon Hee and I thought then it’s been awhile since the last couple from DotS had my heart fluttered. But after watching half of the drama and seeing how the story-line got twisted to the point of having a nonsensical turnaround I got so disappointed.

    Nonetheless, I finished the 16 episode drama, it tormented me more on some characters that were in it.

    *On how the writernim made the mother so inconsiderate and pointless in treating her old enough daughter Jin Ah. I cringe every time the mother shows good intimacy with Joon Hee and Kyun Sun and then have hard feelings at the same time?

    *why must the boyfriend is a lawyer and from a good family and yet he’s not acting like one?…

    I just love the 1st half of this drama and the other half made me so and so…and soo………….****sigh****

    Thankfully there is an admirable character that helped me finish this drama. Jin Ah’s colleague Geum Bora is so positive and stand out Her friendship with Jin Ah developed into a beautiful one. Seeing her being upright most of the times and showing her good virtue in this drama has somehow comforted me to finish this drama.

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    • Hello my dear Evez! It’s so lovely to see you on the blog! ❤

      No need to feel bad for recommending this drama to me, my dear! It really was as cute as you said, in the earlier episodes. And, when it stopped being fun to watch, I always had the option to drop the show. I just didn’t choose to drop it, and that decision is mine to bear. Basically, it’s my own fault for deciding to watch this whole thing! 😉

      Yes, there were definitely many frustrating elements to this drama, and I feel like the writer was trying to make a point about societal norms and pressures in Korea, especially for women, but it wasn’t a very uplifting nor encouraging message, in the end. But yes, Bo Ra did turn out to be awesome, and I liked her a whole lot, by the final episode. I think more of our characters should’ve taken a lesson from Bo Ra and learned to live their best life the way she ultimately chose to. 😉

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  19. I knew it! I knew I missed something in this drama, and Dame Holly Has A Hat just spread it all out on the table! I always trusted, and enjoyed, your reviews here on every single drama that you watched, and I still do even when you gave a C for SitR as your verdict. However, I strongly believe that there is something more to this drama than meet the eye, and Dame Holly Has A Hat just pointed out the most crucial one: we want to see Through the Looking Glass when we watch TV, but SitR just gave the grim reality of life reflected back to us like a stark Mirror. Awesome point. And Dame Holly made all your REALITY BITES to be exactly her point of departure for that argument. This show is too real, it hurts in places we never knew existed. Everybody agreed that the initial cuteness reminded them of their own love stories. I did, too. Watching Rachel Yamagata’s MV that was embedded in full in episode 3 gave us the tingling sensation of our very first almost-skinship with the love of our lives in the stage of courting. Unfortunately, everything else were also real, like the sexual harassment thing and what Jin Ah had to go through because of it (and how it ended just like that in REAL and in REEL life here) , not to mention the parental thingy and to have a boyfriend that has so many flaws but you cannot stop loving any way you tried. And as if life has lost its sense of humor, they were also to have a toxic relationship that chew at their flesh every time they tried to give it a go. I could go on, but as I said, you had already written about it eloquently. And you also had given a very proper heading for it: REALITY BITES. It is exactly that. Bites are painful, they left a mark, and they required time to heal. If they are to heal at all.

    Again, I would quote Holly Dame words that ring a very loud bell for me: “I don’t think I’ve ever watched a drama before where I can say the writing, directing, cinematography and acting were all top-notch but somehow I don’t want to recommend that anyone else watch it”. That is also exactly how I feel about Show. It was an amazing drama. The sort of drama you could expect from someone of Ahn Pan Seok PD’s caliber. But it is so very painful to watch because it was also a harsh reminder that life shall never be fair. And for women, it can’t get any truer than that.

    Oh well, I will just put Ahn PD on a higher pedestal than any other PD I know. Kudos for such an awesome artwork! i think I have to see his other works as well. Somebody mentioned Heard it through the grapevine, I believe? And did he directed Behind the White Tower, didn’t he? I shall seek for them ASAP!

    PS: aside from the strong feeling that kfangurl showed throughout her REALITY BITES, I cannot help but notice that, in a peculiar way, you did LOVE Show! Just look at the devotion you made in pointing out everything that bothered you in Show! I also notice a hint of frustration that only love can deliver, the kind of disappointment that only manifested out of care. Again, kfangurl rocks! Hahaha…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there Widya, great to see you. 🙂

      Yes, it is possible that that was the dark and depressing message that Show was trying to bring across. I thought about it, and the thing is, I don’t begrudge the writer that dark message. It’s just, couldn’t we have a stronger, more appealing heroine to walk with and root for? By the later episodes, I found Jin Ah infuriatingly weak and self-destructive, not to mention petty and annoying. I get that she is supposed to be a product of her upbringing, but you know, not every person who’s brought up a certain way by their parents turns out exactly as a result of that upbringing. I know of people with sheltered upbringings who actively chose to be stronger, more independent and better than what their upbringing would have dictated.

      I wanted a heroine like that. I wanted to walk with a heroine like that, in the face of everything the world threw at her: societal norms, parental expectations, workplace harassment, the works. I wanted to root for someone that was better than Jin Ah turned out to be, and the fact that we spent so many hours with such a weak character frustrates and annoys me. I can’t say that I loved Show, although I was taken with its initial cute. I guess I expected Show – specifically this writer – to make some different choices at least with regards to the kind of person our female lead was, at the very minimum.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I’m very conflicted. Since Netflix jumped into the K-drama train, my friends started binge watching just about every K-drama. Tbqh I’m really amazed about how far we’ve come in just about 10 years in our k-drama viewers experience… I feel like looking for subs, waiting a week or two for an episode, reading recaps and commenting gave us a viewing experience totally different from what people now experience. It’s like they’re stepping into K-Dramaland with no filter and no key to understand it all and they don’t get the time to figure out how this land works.
    Anyway, my friends absolutely loved that one… but something never clicked with me in all their comments on why they liked it. I’m pretty sure I’ll end up with the same opinion as yours xD but I’ll still watch it anyway. Sometimes, you just gotta see it for yourself to defend your POV.

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    • You’re so right, my dear Sunny.. the drama-watching landscape has evolved a lot in the last 10 years! I do remember having to wait for subs – and that sometimes took weeks or even months! 😛 I’m not complaining that we get subs fast, of course, but I do feel like there’s an overwhelming amount of content out there, and sometimes it feels like we’re just stuffing our faces with dramas, and hardly stopping to appreciate the good ones properly.

      I’m really curious.. what did your friends say that they liked about this one? Coz I really tried to like this one, but it ended up rubbing me the wrong way, in so many ways. 😝 And yes, sometimes you do have to see for yourself to defend your POV.. that’s part of the reason I watched all of this one even though it was not an enjoyable second half. I wanted to know how I would respond to it personally, regardless of everyone else’s experience with it. So I’m really curious what your response will be, when you do finish this one! 🙂

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      • So my friends describe it as something so good, so cute, so “it makes you fuzzy inside I can’t handle all these feels”… I can only assume the fluffy of the first episodes might have influenced heavily their vision on the later episodes…. I’ll come back to let you know how my viewing experience went. Ha !

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh wow, that’s really interesting!! 😱 Those are very different words than what I’ve used to describe the show! 😆 But I definitely thought the earlier episodes brought the feels, and I can rationalize that someone who’s new to kdramas is likely to be a lot more forgiving and accepting of a show’s flaws.. Yes please, do let me know how your watch of this show goes (and whether you manage to get to the end!), I’m curious to see what you think! 😀

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          • So to motivate myself to actually watch it because more and more friends keep saying it’s such a good drama, I started live tweeting it to keep watching. XD we’ll see how it goes but while I see how Jun Hee is an attractive character and Jin Ah is a strong yet relatable female lead, I’m not sold on why they should be together. Like I feel I’m at a point in my viewer life in which I need solid reasons to root for a couple, other than “they’re lead so they’ll be together b/c that’s the way it’s supposed to be”. And the male lead needs to bring IT. I’m past the puppy love phase.

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            • Oh dear. Um.. I think you’re probably NOT going to be happy with where Show goes later, then. 😛 [SPOILER! Don’t read if you don’t want to!] Because.. Joon Hee’s puppy love is the cutest he ever gets, and he doesn’t quite manage to bring it, as it were. He tries, but I feel like he just was never prepared for how overwhelming everything would become, and so he fails partway through. As for Jin Ah being a strong yet relatable female lead.. uh, that lasts for about 2 seconds, basically, because she’s frustratingly weak by the later stretch of the show.. [END SPOILER]

              I actually went on Twitter to look for your live tweets but then realized that you were probably talking about a different account. 😅 I will wait for your further verdict as you get deeper into the show!

              PS: I totally agree about needing a reason as to why they were supposed to be together. We got that in Ahn PD’s SLA, but I just never felt it in this one. :/

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              • lol I don’t mind the spoilers. I read your review anyway. I forget when I’m watching.

                Yeah, I tweet on another account and it’s in French anyway. ^^”

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                • Ahh! Well I don’t know French, sadly, so I’ll just wait for your later updates! Also, I’m so happy to be chatting dramas with you again! ❤

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                  • Me too ♥♥. Did you watch Nirvana 2? And what about the reboot or Meteor Garden? And I’ve had Netflix for about a year now. It turns out that my little sister finally got around to use the account about six months ago and what does she watch? K-dramas of course. She binge watches everything she can. I had to make sure Misaeng be on her watch list. She absolutely loved it. My job here is done. (Oh and Healer is on Netflix France now. I’m SO SO gonna watch and LT it this fall). I miss me some Ji Chang Wook and Yoo Ji Tae * blush *

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • I’m watching NIF2 now! I’m entering the final stretch, and now I’m kinda sad that I’ll be finishing it soon. Twas a slow burn for me, but now I’m enjoying it properly. Not as amazing as NIF, but very solid. 🙂

                      Yay that you’ve got Netflix and double yay that your sis is watching kdramas too! How fun! Misaeng is absolutely worth the watch – and Healer is absolutely worth the re-watch, imo. I watched Healer twice, and loved it just as much the 2nd time around! Maybe loved it more, even. ❤ Btw, do add My Mister (My Ahjusshi) on your list. It's wonderful, and a little bit like Misaeng, in that it feels very real. Lee Sun Gyun is fantastic in it. 😍😍

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                  • Oh and I recommanded your blog to 2 friends of mine who just got into k-dramas. They had their fair share of idol and teen love romance hyped in every French forum/reviews, so now they want more mature in-depth reviews, so of course I had to direct them to your blog 🙂

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    • I really like your observations here.

      I have a love/hate relationship with Netflix. It is very interesting in how Netflix has quickly changed the viewing experience. So much so, that it has moved from a viewing platform to one that spends $6B annually on producing and purchasing new viewing content. The first Kdrama I ever watched was on Netflix: Falling for Innocence (Beating Again). And, yes it ended up being a binge watch. It is, apart from My Mister (Ahjussi), still my all time favourite Kdrama. Despite Netflix using its clever algorithm to stick other Kdramas under my nose, I relatively discerning in what I watch. As new content is released, and if I have watched it, I will rate it accordingly. That way, the clever little algorithm will continue to put under my nose the type of show I like. Over here, Netflix is releasing past Kdrama content enbloc. However, new shows such as Pretty Noona and Mr Sunshine were/are released weekly.

      Does this mean Netflix will continue to throw money at Kdramas and other Asian dramas and promote “Netflixing”? Yes, it will. In terms of new content that it is producing, we are now getting a whole range of shows and movies that one would consider from the very good to the very woeful (yes, and I like some of them, but some are even too bad for me). But, they are doing this due to the massive feedback Netflix is receiving from its viewers. A case in point is where we watched a mainstream movie the other night that Universal had shelved earlier this year, but Netflix picked it up due to the viewing demographic it has. The end result, well it was a very, very good movie in my opinion (which doesn’t mean much as my choices are often criticised by family members, but I managed to pull one back in the family viewing stakes for a change, so a good outcome). Also on the upside, Netflix has also saved many shows from extinction. In some instances, this has allowed such shows to have proper closure with the viewer.

      Before I watch anything, I still do as much reviewing as I can. There are of course a couple of really good sites out there, and we know we have an excellent blog and resource here in Fangul. One show I have stumbled across now is Showbiz Korea as it provides such a good background on Kdramas and everything associated with them. It only deals with two or three issues per show, so it promotes an in-depth analysis on things (and thus leaves the American review shows for dead which flit from one thing to another). Also, the major South Korean tv channels have become very good at uploading snippets on YouTube.

      Will I watch every show to the end if I end up not liking it along the way? Not necessarily. In fact, very few. Some of the exceptions to date are: Are You Human (I was prepared to drop this by episode 14 (7), but suddenly it hit its straps, so I have kept watching and it has generated so much comment out there and it’s ratings are starting to climb back up), The Undateables (a happy mess) and I’m a Mother Too (you wouldn’t watch this without a very stiff drink because it is woeful in many respects, but I’m still watching it! and interestingly enough it is achieving goodish ratings).

      Never shy away from your approach to things. Having a POV is very important and how you inform that even more so. “Fighting” as they say…

      Liked by 2 people

      • Just butting in to say, I’m enjoying Are You Human too! 😀 Also, have you watched King of Dramas, Sean? I found it very good, and also, very illuminating, in terms of pointing out issues in the kdrama industry. You can find my review of that here, in case that helps! 🙂

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        • Until tonight, I had only read a synopsis along the way re King of Dramas and thought perhaps one day I might get to it. Given that I am 276kms (yes, the irony re the distance) away from home this week and not feeling like watching what is on my current drama list, your comment and link to your review is very timely. I watched the first episode during dinner and loved it. I will never look at orange juice the same way again. What a cast! So I can see myself working my way through this show during the week – thank you🍊🍊🍊

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          • Oh, YAY that you loved the first episode! 😀 What an irony indeed, that you are 276km away from home! 😆 That show really does change the way you perceive things that pop up in dramas, doesn’t it? That’s why I gave fair warning at the end of the review, that it’s a show that might change your view of dramas, forever. 😝 But it’s still enough of a modern kdrama classic, and quite the fun ride, that I recommend it anyway. 🙂 I hope this turns out to be a fun drama companion for you this week while you’re on the road! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

      • I wish Netflix algorithm would catch on on what I’m interested in b/c I swear it keeps recommanding me the same shows I have no plan to watch over and over again. I need to go back and check my preferences and see if it can change something.

        Thanks for your encouragements. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

  21. I stopped watching this Drama after it was clear in which direction it was going to to go and after I read your Review I was absolutely right – I wouldn’t have liked the rest of the Show so I’m happy I stopped when I still liked the OTP. I knew as soon as the Ex and Mom started to be incredibly stupid what would happen and instead watched Lawless Lawyer (im really happy with that decision 😂)

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  22. I think it’s necessary to realise that this Drama is trying to portray the reality happening in the society today. From having Asian parents who constantly think that everything they do is right, to having sexual harassment in a workplace and they way it is being resolved may just be the PD-nim’s intention to highlight all that’s happening. Or even the way both the protagonists face their problems (being immature or making themselves the victim) and the mental issue suffered by the ex-boyfriend. Whatever it is, I respect all your reviews and comments as we all have different opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there cherryblossom! 🙂 Yes, I do understand that this drama is portraying the realities in society. My struggle was that I found that I didn’t end up even liking our lead characters very much. That’s something that I find very important; I need to feel like I want to root for the lead characters, even if they are flawed. I struggled because I found myself actively disliking both leads – in particular Jin Ah – by the time I got to the final stretch of the show. That made for a very bemusing and frustrating watch experience. In fact, I would’ve been very interested to see how a character with more courage and more hope would have handled the exact same circumstances. Or how a weak character like Jin Ah might have developed more spine and more strength and independence over the course of the show. In this sense, I didn’t feel like I made good use of my time, watching a weak character become weaker and more frustrating, with no satisfactory ending either.

      Of course, that is merely my personal experience with the show, and I know that this show has its fans. Absolutely no offense to fans of the show, and just like you said, we all do have different opinions. 🙂

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      • Hiii! Actually I do agree with you that Jin Ah didn’t show much courage and hope in handling the circumstances (especially in her romantic relationship with Joon Hee, where instead of solving their problems, she tries to be cute/angry/make herself the victim just to dissolve the problem). However, in terms of her courage to fight for the women in her company (even if it means to lose her job) and her passion for her job (even if it means to lose the love of her life), it is quite positive.

        P.S. : I’m not a super fan of this Drama but I felt that this is probably one of the most realistic K-Drama as it encompasses the issues that happen around us almost all the time (romantic relationships, family relationships, sexual harassment, societal norms, etc.)

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s true. She did demonstrate a good amount of courage with the work harassment issue. Frustratingly, we see that that really goes nowhere, though. Which makes me wonder what message the writer is trying to send? That being brave will get you nowhere in this dark, horrible world, but if you stay weak and wait long enough, sometimes you’ll reunite with the boyfriend you thought you lost? 🤔 Gah. This show frustrates me, clearly. 😛 For a drama that feels realistic, I much prefer My Mister. Now THAT is sensitive, serious drama done right. ❤

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  23. kfangurl, thanks for this great review! I’m so glad that I stumbled across it online because you had pretty much exactly the same complaints that I have with the series.

    I’m a pretty typical American guy, no real knowledge of Korean culture, but I work in the TV biz in LA, and I did a lot of critical media studies in college so I’m always fascinated to peak into a culture by examining its media. But not having any first-hand knowledge of Korean culture I was wondering if those flaws I was seeing were really flaws, or if there were cultural differences that I just didn’t get. Reading your review I now feel like all of my complaints with the series were legit.

    Despite all the flaws in the show there were a few things I really liked:

    First, I felt that the actors were terrific, absolutely terrific. In fact I was feeling a bit envious and wishing I could see them employed in American television.

    Second, I very much appreciated that the characters were just ordinary people with ordinary jobs. I loved that about the show. As the show is very much trying to root itself in everyday reality I really didn’t mind that the two characters had flaws and problems in their relationship, ordinary people do make mistakes and stumble through their early relationships. And the show really put me in mind of some of the giddy romances that I had when I was in my 20s, as well as the mistakes I made in those same relationships. So it didn’t necessarily bother me….

    But you’re absolutely right, for this to be a meaningful story the two characters need to grow and evolve, start being honest with each other, and face their problems head on. Without that growth the story ends up being unsatisfying.

    This seems to be the difference between Korean television writing and American television writing — writers in American television are obsessed with the character arcs and often push those arcs to ridiculous extremes. Still, arcs do matter and this show could have used more attention paid to strengthening and shaping them.

    I also grew to hate those damn songs. My god! Every time they started playing that damn country tune I wanted to smack the showrunner. It was such a waste as well because their actors are so strong I felt that they could have played a lot of those scenes with very minimal music and instead let the talent of the actors do the heavy lifting.

    Anyway, thanks for your review. Let me know if you think there are other good kdramas with English subs that I should check out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there Dennis! I’m glad you found me! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the review – and hi5 that we seem to feel similarly, about this show. This one definitely treated the character arcs quite differently than I’m used to. With most kdramas, we do tend to see a good amount of character development, at least with the leads, and that was my big beef with this show. Both lead characters didn’t seem to chart much growth at all, after all was said and done. Some have suggested that the writer did this deliberately, but, I find that hard to swallow, because, why would someone want to tell such a depressing story, where nothing changes, no matter how hard you try? And why would anyone dedicate so much time and effort crafting a story for such uninspiring leads? I didn’t get that.

      Since you seem to like stories featuring ordinary folks, I would like to recommend Misaeng and My Mister. (The all-around alliteration is purely coincidence, I swear! 😆) Both should be available with English subs, and both tell stories of ordinary folks living ordinary lives – and yet, somehow both shows bring out the beauty of that ordinariness. You can find my reviews of both shows here and here.

      For some intense romance in an art-film sort of flavor, you might want to check out Secret Love Affair, which is by the same director as this show. I loved that one, it is truly excellent. You can find my review of that here. I hope that helps! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the recommendation on SLA — the way you talked about it in your review of Something in the Rain intrigued me, and it was on Netflix, so I thought I would check out the first episode. I’ve now watched the entire series.

        I was stunned by how good it was.

        It was everything you said it was in your analysis, and more. Again, the acting is fantastic. Kim Hee-ae. Damn. What a performance.

        That scene from Episode 11 that you mentioned in your essay, with Hye Won and Ji Soo in the car, was just astonishing. It’s a 6 minute dialogue scene shot in a one-er. The director just lets it play, no singles or OTS shots, and his actors are so strong that it’s the perfect choice. He just puts the camera on them and lets them go. When Hye Won starts to lose it, her lower lip starts to tremble, like the first cracks in the dam, and then there are the first halting tears, until finally it all just breaks loose and she’s wracked with sobbing. It’s like a master class on acting because not only does the actor have to make themselves cry, to do it with emotional honesty they have to make it look like they’re trying their best NOT to cry. It’s really impressive work. [God, but I would love to get a look at the raw dailies from that scene!]

        So my next question is, how in the hell is this the same director that made the ham-fisted Something in the Rain?

        Ok, as much as I like the show I have to ask something and I hope you won’t take offense… what’s the deal with the guy, Yoo Ah-in? Apparently Korean women find this guy attractive but to me he looks like such a baby-faced child. He didn’t seem manly at all, like the best he can expect is to have his hair tousled and his cheek pinched. Not like Lee Byung-hun from Mr. Sunshine — I totally get why women swoon over that guy — but what’s the deal with Yoo Ah-in?

        I’ll probably never understand. 🙂

        So thanks again for the recommendation. I’m going to check out those other shows you mentioned.

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        • Oh, I’m so glad you enjoyed SLA, Dennis! I feel like with your background in film, you’d be able to appreciate so much more. I never went to film school, just took a couple of film modules in college, so I appreciate your sharing! I love your observation of how that scene in the car was done in a single take. I’d been so absorbed in the scene that I never noticed that! Thanks for clueing me in – it helps me appreciate even more, what a masterpiece SLA is, from the directing, to the acting, to the music, everything. ❤

          Yes, it's hard to imagine that it's by the same director as Something in the Rain! I think his reputation and credibility played a part in why I stuck it out all the way through, with Something in the Rain. I wanted to see if there was a point that the show as going to make. But.. if it did, it was lost on me. 😛

          As for Yoo Ah In.. I think there are several factors in play. One of the big ones is, the standards of attractiveness in Korea are very different than in the US. In the US, generally speaking, to be considered attractive, the man in question needs to exhibit very strong manly attributes, like be very tall and strong, have a deep voice, that kind of (very generalized) thing. In Korea, I feel like generally speaking, men don't necessarily need to display those same traits in order to be perceived as attractive. So a traditionally less manly look, say something more boyish, or even more androgynous, can be perceived as very attractive. Case in point, GDragon, whom many in the west would consider more androgynous or even effeminate, but who has a huge following in Korea, with many women finding him extremely attractive.

          Another factor at play, I believe, is Yoo Ah In’s talent as an actor. He’s been knocking it out of the park for a wide variety of roles, and many women find his talent very attractive. Also, he’s played manly scruffy types before, and that definitely helped to take away some of the “boy” image. For example, this is him in Sungkyunkwan Scandal, a very fun period piece that I enjoyed very much:



          Another factor to consider, is that Yoo Ah In has demonstrated a rather blunt, speak-his-mind sort of personality in interviews, and this is considered highly unusual in Korean entertainment, where celebs tend to be very politically correct in their comments, for fear of backlash. But he just goes rogue and speaks his mind like nobody’s watching, and in spite of it, he continues to snag excellent roles on the big screen and small screen. I do think that this contributes to his appeal.

          I don’t know if I’ve done this explanation justice since I’m not what one would consider a rabid fan, but I hope this helps to some degree! Also, I do hope you’ll enjoy the other shows I suggested. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts! 🙂

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  24. Just finished watching it second time(jumped over to favorite parts) and then your review kind of ruined it for me :).
    Agree the characters are flawed but felt real and relatable.
    About ending it reminds me of Joel and clementine in “ethernal sunshine of spotless mind”, with all the flaws they can take second chance and it will be worth the happy memories created in those initial episodes 🙂

    Thanks for your detailed review. Your understanding of characters and story is amazing.

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    • Thanks for enjoying the review, sm.. and I’m sorry I ruined it for you. 😛 It wasn’t my intention to ruin it for people who like the show.. I only wanted to share why this show didn’t work for me. So, big thank you, for enjoying this review, despite our very different experiences of this show! ❤

      Like

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