Every so often, a family drama comes along that feels worthy of the 50+ episode investment.
To be honest, for a solid 20+ hours, I sincerely thought that Mother Of Mine was one of those. For a while, I found myself slurping up an episode or three, or four, each day, to the point where I was legit afraid to run out of new episodes. That’s quite something, isn’t it?
Unfortunately for me, at around the episode 53 mark (this show does half-hour episodes instead of hour-long ones), Show started feeling less fun and less charming to watch. Also unfortunately for me, this really doesn’t seem to be a self-correcting trend.
68 episodes in, I’m finally deciding to call it quits with this one.
THE FUNNER EARLIER STRETCH
1. The hidden chaebol arc
No lie; the hidden chaebol arc was my favorite, in Show’s early stretch.
I thought Hong Jong Hyun was charming as the cheerful hidden chaebol prince earnestly wanting to do well at work while staying incognito. I also found Kim So Yeon well cast as his supervisor-cum-love interest, with her hard and prickly outer shell belying the vulnerable fragility she harbored on the inside. And I really liked the idea of the warm charming prince disarming and melting his ice princess supervisor, in spite of herself.
Granted, the chemistry between Hong Jong Hyun and Kim So Yeon isn’t really the best, but this OTP does have its moments, and I lapped those up eagerly. I knew in my head that this was working better in concept than in execution, but I enjoyed this storyline enough, to be willing to embrace its shortcomings.
2. Mom and her daughters
Kim Hae Sook is one of my favorite moms in Dramaland, having played so many mom roles in so many of my formative kdramas, that my mom and I refer to her as Everyone’s Mom, heh.
It’d been a long minute since I’d last had Kim Hae Sook on my screen, and I welcomed the chance to see her in a warm family story, with her loving on her screen daughters.
This really was one of Show’s highlights for me; even though Mom bickered with her daughters endlessly, there was always so much warmth and love behind it all, that even if there were sometimes tears and shouty angry words, the warmth and love always shone through and won out, in the end. <3
3. The thing with CEO Mom [MINOR SPOILERS]
Very quickly into our story, we find out that second daughter Mi Ri (Kim So Yeon), besides meeting a hidden chaebol prince at work, also gets plonked in a situation where the birth mother who’d abandoned her when she was 6 years old, is now her new CEO. Gasp! Not only that, we find out that CEO Mom (Choi Myung Gil) now has a mother-son-esque relationship with hidden chaebol prince Tae Joo (Hong Jong Hyun). Double gasp!!
I could immediately see a great deal of potential drama excitement in this, and, at least in Show’s first half, I found that I actually rather enjoyed the melodramatic flair that this narrative arc gave the show. I also loved that in any eventual confrontation with CEO Mom, that even in the midst of heartbreak and tears, Mi Ri was staggeringly sharp and eloquent in telling it as it is. Yess.
4. Harmless annoyances that I found mildly entertaining
As with every other family drama out there, Show has a fair number of characters who are designed to be annoying but who are generally harmless, for the most part.
In this show, we have the entitled mom-in-law, the annoying husband who refuses to grow up, and a somewhat tantrum-prone maknae daughter filling Show’s quota for harmlessly annoying characters. I found it exasperating yet entertaining to watch these characters and their antics, and as I’d expected, where I’m leaving off Show at episode 68, these characters have all begun their reformative arcs, to varying degrees.
THE MUCH LESS FUN LATER STRETCH
Unfortunately, at around the episode 53 mark, Show starts to get more and more melodramatic in its general tone and vibe, with less and less of its signature family warmth to balance it all out.
Additionally, while I wouldn’t say Show’s earlier stretch was exactly perfectly written, the writing in Show’s later stretch felt noticeably less organic to my eyes as well. There were logic stretches lurking in just about every corner, and I found them harder and harder to overlook.
[MINOR SPOILER] One thing that niggled at me for episodes on end, is how Tae Joo, who’s supposed to be so caring and so in love with Mi Ri, is so weirdly oblivious to her general unhappiness, even as she does a weak and far from successful job of putting up a happy front when she’s with him. This did not feel at all organic to Tae Joo’s character, I felt.
And this isn’t even getting into stuff like Chairman Dad (Myung Kye Nam) making a sudden about-face, from strongly opposing Tae Joo’s relationship with Mi Ri, to vehemently insisting that he wanted her as his daughter-in-law; this, all because his business associate casually suggested that he was being shortsighted. Really, Show? [END SPOILER]
Show’s melodramatic touch getting heavier and heavier by the episode, combined with all of the logic stretches, just made it a lot less fun to watch than at first.
The thing, though, is, I found that even though I so was not having a good time with each passing episode, I found myself stupidly checking back in, for the next episode, and then the next.
Sadly, the relationship between Mi Ri and Tae Joo, which had been a personal highlight in earlier episodes, had become really boring, and Mi Ri continuously keeping her real feelings and her real concerns from Tae Joo, and just smiling and being sweet to him, was making me feel less and less for their relationship. At the same time, all of the melodrama around them was being amped up to the level of More Makjang Than I Signed Up For. That.. didn’t help.
I found that I’d also lost interest in most of the other characters, and the arc I found myself perking up for the most, was weirdly, the loveline between maknae daughter Mi Hye and Chief Editor Kim Woo Jin (Kim Ha Kyung and Ki Tae Young). Which, really, isn’t saying a lot, coz I felt mild interest in their loveline, at best. I liked the concept, but again, the execution just didn’t land that well, for me. I found it too exaggerated and cutesy as a general rule, though I did very much enjoy the following highlight, in episode 64.
[SPOILER] I was cringing through Mi Hye’s blunder with the rice cake skewer, with her wiping the sauce off his face with her finger and then sucking on said finger, before she even realized it, but Chief Editor’s response was gold. His expression of shock after she’d scuttled away, was mixed with what looked like an almost ravenous desire to go grab her and kiss her senseless, and then his single utterance, “I’m doomed,” was so great. That made all the cringing worth it, ha. [END SPOILER]
I realized that the deeper I got into Show’s episodes, the more my head said it was time to drop this one, even though my heart was willing to keep tuning back in, out of an illogical affection for the characters. The thing is, I don’t think Future Me would’ve approved much at all, so I’m going with my head on this one, in hopes of getting on Future Me’s good side, heh.
I’ll still think of Show’s first half fondly, though.
WHERE TO WATCH:
The series is available on YouTube on KBS World TV’s channel, subbed and in HD.
If you’d like to watch the funner first half, or if you’d like to just see Mi Ri and Tae Joo’s meet-cute where she literally takes the shirt off his back, here’s episode 1 for your easy viewing pleasure.
PS: If you just want to check out the meet-cute, you can start watching from the 18:15 mark. You’re welcome. 😉