If you’ve been around the blog for a bit, you might know that I like to give shows a chance to win me over, and I often give shows more time than they might deserve, while trying to adjust my lens to find a winning setting that allows me to enjoy the show in question as best as is possible. However, given the current drama landscape where more shows are popping out than ever before (I can hardly keep track of ’em all!), drama quality is more patchy than ever (some wonderful gems, but also, so many duds!), and everyone’s drama tastes are just so varied, I’ve been burned more than a few times, trying to love dramas that I never ended up loving after all.
Case in point, my recent foibles with Chinese drama Well Intended Love, which lots of folks loved, but which never ended up working for me (spoiler: I actually legit hated it).
Now, I don’t hate Absolute Boyfriend, but, I do think it’s time that I learn how to quit while I’m ahead. That’s why I’m dropping Absolute Boyfriend, just 10 episodes in.
WHY I STARTED WATCHING
I watched the Japanese original series years ago, and I don’t remember much about it, except that I didn’t end up loving it, in the end. This, plus the fact that I generally don’t enjoy checking out iteration after iteration of the same franchise, meant that I didn’t have strong plans to check this show out.
But, I was in the mood for something light, and had heard some good things about this show. Also, I’d recently loved Yeo Jin Goo in The Crowned Clown, and wasn’t at all opposed to seeing more of him on my screen. So in I dived.
MY GENERAL TRAJECTORY WITH THIS SHOW
In a nutshell, I actually rather enjoyed Show’s first hour, and left episode 2 curious to see more. That’s a pretty good start, eh?
..Too bad Show didn’t continue to grab me. Over the next several episodes, I felt my interest dip with each passing half hour, until I very nearly dropped Show in the middle of episode 5. But, I wasn’t ready to give up just yet, and pressed on. I was mildly pleased that episodes 9 & 10 were rather more enjoyable than most of the other episodes I’d watched, but honestly, that wasn’t saying a whole lot.
Which is when I decided it was time to write this post.
NOT A BAD START
Like I mentioned earlier, I actually enjoyed episodes 1 & 2 quite well. I did have to give Show a bit of time to let the scattered pieces come into focus as a more comprehensible whole, but I did feel quite quickly engaged, which I counted a big plus.
Here’s a quick rundown of the things that I liked.
1. I found myself rooting for Da Da quite quickly.
I think that’s partly because Bang Min Ah’s personal brand of husky, earthy charm really works for this character, and partly because we see Da Da working to keep her chin up through a fair amount of rude and unfair treatment – while demonstrating quick-thinking, skills and a spirit of excellence about delivering good work.
[SPOILERS] On top of that, she’s a patient and loyal girlfriend who’s been waiting in the shadows for years, while still cheering on her boyfriend. Yes, it’s a touch Candy-ish, but somehow Bang Min Ah manages to make Da Da feel quite real and relatable. I think it’s partly to do with the moments of vulnerability that we see. Da Da’s disbelief, heartbreak and betrayal is clear to see, even in the brief moment that she flashes her gaze up at her boyfriend, who’s just labeled her a stalker in front of everyone. [END SPOILER]
It’s not that Da Da’s a Candy who just never runs out of positivity and cheer; she feels all of the frustration, even as she works so hard, to make things work and be honorable about everything. But even as she pushes through, she still hurts and she still has tears to cry, and she’s also feeling embarrassed and humiliated about it all. And my heart just couldn’t help but go out to her.
2. Ma Wang Joon isn’t quite the cold jerk I thought he would be.
[SPOILER] In the brief moment in the dressing room when Ma Wang Joon (Hong Jong Hyun, whom I do have a soft spot for) and Da Da are together and putting up a show for everyone else, that they’re arguing, the glee they share is really cute, and he looks at Da Da with warmth.
Also, we see moments where he does think of Da Da, like when he got home to his apartment and tried to call Da Da, who he didn’t know was trapped in his bathroom. And he does genuinely look conflicted when he lands on the explanation that she’s a stalker. It’s not a good explanation at all, but in this moment, to my eyes, at least he wasn’t total scum. [END SPOILER]
3. I looked forward to seeing Ma Wang Joon get all jealous when he sees Da Da with a brand new “boyfriend” later in the story.
PETERING OUT [MILD SPOILERS]
Unfortunately, my interest in Show started petering out as soon as episode 3. Show just wasn’t grabbing me as much.
Everything just seemed too cartoony for my taste, despite my trying on a manhwa type lens, and I found all the antics on my screen only mildly entertaining, if at all. I also found myself struggling to see the chemistry among our three leads.
When Show shifted the spotlight in episode 5, to Diana (Hong Seo Young) terrorizing her staff, I very nearly dropped Show right on the spot. Diana just comes across as very caricature-y, and very, very strange. I mean, she is a wealthy and powerful woman, but behaves like a child – except this child is a tyrant with psychotic tendencies, and a side serving of a bionic hand. She’s like every superhero movie’s supervillain squashed into a child psyche, in the body of an adult woman, and who possesses a thirst for cruelty and violence, and wields it willy-nilly on her cowering staff. Yikes. No, thank you.
There were some brighter spots, like when Ma Wang Joon started to miss Da Da, and got jealous of Zero Nine, but overall, I have to confess that I struggled to care about anything or anyone in this show.
I thought I would care more for Zero Nine’s journey, like I did for Namshin III’s journey in Are You Human Too?, but so far, it seems that all Zero Nine does is operate according to his programming, which is purely to be a sweet boyfriend. It’s just not very swoony if a robot does sweet things for the girl, just because it’s in his programming, y’know? And it totally doesn’t help that the almost-kiss moments just don’t spark for me like Show probably hoped that they would.
Zero Nine really doesn’t show much personality at all, this stretch of the show. Maybe things shift later (I hope they shift later, anyway), but so far, this felt like a big under-utilization of Yeo Jin Goo’s talents.
I found episodes 9 & 10 mildly more entertaining, but to be brutally honest, none of the narrative arcs were that compelling to me. They were.. unobjectionable, at best.
I felt tired of seeing Da Da being pushed around at work, I didn’t care about Ma Wang Joon, who was showing possibly even less personality than the robot, and so far, the robot was mostly just.. a robot.
I weighed everything in my head and realized that while I didn’t hate this show, I wasn’t actually looking forward to new episodes either. In fact, I found myself dragging my feet at the thought of watching more episodes of this. That’s never a good sign.
Given what I’ve seen so far, this feels like a potential C+ to me. And since I don’t think a C+ is worth another 11 hours of my life (so much easier, when I put it that way!), this is the end of the road for me, with this one.
I’m sorry, Yeo Jin Goo-sshi. It’s not you.. it’s the show. Really. 😛