THE SHORT VERDICT:
When Show is at its best, it manages to balance fun, comic moments with heart-hitting poignance and thought-provoking themes. The episodes feel deft and efficient, the feels are served up fast and furious, and there’s a cracky quality that makes you want to watch episodes back to back. (Which is what I did, when I loved this show most.)
The problem is, to me, Show is at its best only in its first half. I think Show’s second half slumps somewhat, unfortunately. For the most part, our story remains cohesive and the characterization of the people in our story world makes sense. However, I was personally rather underwhelmed by how Show chose to handle its ending (though you might not have the same issue, since I know folks who actually like the ending).
Overall, a heartfelt ride that manages to feel worthwhile, in spite of Show’s flaws. Also, Go Joon is pretty great at playing a dorky guy in love, which is a treat to watch in itself.
THE LONG VERDICT:
They say that the higher you climb, the further you have to fall – and the more it hurts when you fall – and that is true for my experience with this show.
Let me explain.
Like I mentioned earlier, Show is pretty darn great in its first half, and during that first half, I found myself enjoying my watch so much that I was consistently ready and eager for the next episode, when I got to the end of one. I basically had high hopes that Show would continue to be fantastic, all the way to the end.
To be fair, Show is perfectly serviceable in its second half, and the ending that I’ve vaguely referred to as being quite underwhelming to me, isn’t that bad, either. There are definitely many shows out there that have done (much, much) worse.
But, in a context where I’d been riding high on a cloud of breezy-yet-poignant feels, this journey into average territory felt quite disappointing, to be honest.
Still, there is a lot to enjoy in this show, so let’s break this all down, shall we?
OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to Show’s pleasant soundtrack as you read the review. There aren’t a lot of tracks on the OST, but I felt that Show used the tracks to good effect, and I often felt like the music worked to lift my watch experience.
My favorite track is the first one, Love Is All Around. There’s just something very feel-good about the 6/8 rhythm, combined with the earnest, heartfelt rendition in a Big Ballad style. I could listen to it on repeat indefinitely.
PS: You can loop this video, if you’d like it to play throughout your read. Just right-click on it and select “Loop.” 🙂
STUFF THAT WORKED OUT TO OK: Overall handling and execution
I know this is a departure from my usual order of things, but I wanted to talk about the overall handling and execution first, and it basically worked out to ok. I loved it in the beginning and felt very impressed, and then later in Show’s run, it was much more pedestrian, I felt.
When it was good, it was very good
I thought I’d share my thoughts on episode 1, because that’s where I felt most impressed by Show’s execution. The set-up was very efficient, with a really nice balance between the funny and the poignant, so that Show feels light yet very heartfelt, and overall, everything just seemed to work so well, in harmony. Plus, Show does it all with confidence and flair, which I very much appreciate.
In just this first hour, I feel like I understand our female lead Ha Ri’s (Jang Na Ra) biggest desire, what it means to her, and just how impossible it seems right now, for her to realize her dream of getting married and having a child.
We are also introduced, at varying length, to the various potential love interests and baby-daddies. Even though we spend different amounts of time with each guy, the general idea & impression of each one, seems pretty clear.
Show’s balance of funny & poignant
The comedy that Show is serving up – so far, anyway – is more of the physical kind, and while that’s not my usual preference, I find that I’m jiving with Show’s sense of humor more than I’d expected to. I’m laughing along, even as I’m cringing with secondhand embarrassment. Which there’s a lot of. Eep. I sometimes have to literally pause the episode, just to shake off some of the secondhand embarrassment. Kudos to our actors for leaning in and rolling with it, with full dedication.
I was thoroughly bewildered, yet quite entertained, yet deeply sympathetic, as Ha Ri got mistaken for being in labor, then got manhandled and dragged all over the place until she finally lands in the hospital. How utterly mortifying, especially considering Ha Ri’s worries and struggles. Ack.
When Ha Ri looks completely lost as she slowly drowns in the despair of the doctor’s prognosis for her chances of becoming a mom, I feel her hopelessness acutely, and I feel for her.
Show does a solid job of pulling out silly-embarrassing laughs one minute, and then turning around, and pulling at my heartstrings and making me feel the pathos of a character. That’s hard to do, and so far, I’m quite impressed.
Everything works together in harmony
I also feel like this entire episode was mapped out to be one complicated build-up to a punchline, on two levels. First, in terms of how Ha Ri gets mistaken for a pregnant woman in the throes of labor (so many narrative pieces had to be put in place, so that it’d make sense), and then, in how the period cramps that keep plaguing her all episode long, turn into a diagnosis for endometriosis, which culminates in her chances of becoming a mom dwindling to almost zero. Well done, Show.
When it wasn’t good, it could get pretty meh
Like I mentioned, Show overall handling slides into much more average territory in its second half. I’m using episode 12 as an example, but basically, this kind of stretch-it-out, feels-like-filler sort of handling is not uncommon our later episodes.
Generally speaking, our later episodes feel less meaty than our earlier ones, and rather than feel like a lot of thought was put into mapping out an episode, it sometimes felt more like the writers were just tossing things together to hold our narrative in place, until such time that our plot was ready to move forward. Very unexciting stuff, when contrasted with Show’s best moments.
Yi Sang (Go Joon) and Jae Young (Park Byung Eun) taking turns to butter up Mom (Kim Hye Ok), and Mom getting all flustered over who to pick, is just frothy filler, to me. It’s clear that it’s Ha Ri’s opinion that matters more than Mom’s, and so this feels like the boys competing against each other needlessly, just for a bit of entertainment factor.
The rounds that the pension voucher makes also feels like filler, and it reminds me of that fruit cake episode in Friends(? or was it Seinfeld?), where the same fruit cake gets gifted and re-gifted, until it arrives back with its original owner. I was mildly amused by the pension voucher getting that same treatment, but it definitely felt like we were cycling in place for most of the episode, plot-wise.
STUFF I LIKED
Jang Na Ra as Ha Ri
I really enjoyed Jang Na Ra as our heroine Ha Ri.
She manages to make Ha Ri feel fragile but with a steely inner core; sad and wistful, but determined; embarrassed but occasionally brazen. She’s a bundle of contradictions, but a bundle of contradictions that feels real and relatable. Even in Ha Ri’s most mortifying moments (kudos to Jang Na Ra for leaning into even the most unflattering and embarrassing parts of Ha Ri’s journey), she doesn’t come across as pathetic.
One of my favorite things about Ha Ri, is that she chooses to wear her heart on her sleeve, even when it’s potentially embarrassing to do so. She’d rather grasp the moment and risk humiliation, than let the moment pass her by, and live in regret for not having seized it. That’s heartfelt courage, and I love it.
Jang Na Ra does a consistently great job at inhabiting Ha Ri’s skin and bringing her to life, and it’s not a stretch to say that Ha Ri is the anchor of our story.
E2. After Ha Ri’s failed attempts to land a man this episode, and after her experience of nursing Do Ah (Yi Sol) all night, she concludes that she doesn’t have time to find a husband, and so she’ll just focus on having a baby first. It’s a radical decision by Korean standards, but there’s something refreshing about how Ha Ri re-evaluates her options, readjusts her goals, and just decides to go for it. She’s choosing not to wallow in the limitations that society is placing on her. So what if nobody seems to think she’s marriage material? She’s going to get herself a baby anyway. And that’s a level of gumption that I have to admire.
E3. When Ha Ri leaves the house crying after her quarrel with Mom, her tears feel warranted. She’s been dealing with so much – trying to work within her limitations in achieving her dream of motherhood, getting caught for trying to deal with an illegal sperm donor, getting shamed by the people in her life for wanting a baby, and now, bumping into Yi Sang yet again, at her lowest point – that I completely understand that she’d start bawling right there, squatting on her haunches.
E4. Ha Ri says to Yi Sang that she wants to be a mom because she wants to become happy. I.. hope she will grow out of this mindset, and be able to be happy with herself, just as she is. It’s touching that it’s because of her own awe at her own amazing mom that she wants to be a mom too, but I think it’s important that Ha Ri learns that she’s pretty awesome, just as she is, and doesn’t need to be a mom in order to be awesome.
On a more serious note, Ha Ri comes to the sobering realization that she’d never considered what it might be like for her child to grow up without a father, and confesses that she’d only thought of her own greed, of wanting a child.
This is rather surprising to me, since we see that Ha Ri essentially grew up without her dad, so it would’ve made sense if the lack of a father’s presence would be one of the first things to come to Ha Ri’s mind. I suppose it’s credit to Mom, that Ha Ri grew up feeling so well loved, that it doesn’t occur to her that the lack of a father would be a loss to the child.
E5. It’s kind of poignant and also, kind of ironic, when we hear Ha Ri’s voiceover about there being no point in waiting to meet the right man to marry, and that nothing would happen if she didn’t take action. I mean, there’s a fair bit of pathos in the idea that she’s waited for 20 years to meet the right person, and it didn’t happen, and she does sound a bit like a lone warrior taking on the world, in trying to create her own destiny. But the irony is, we are watching her love story unfold, even as she says all this. The destiny that she thought she had to create, is rising up to meet her right where she is.
E5. Ha Ri’s memories of taking a taxi in order to get to her destination faster, only to be overtaken by the bus that she thought she’d missed, combined with her musing about whether Yi Sang represents the bus that she’s supposed to take, is quite significant. I feel like this is the moment she starts to rethink her ideas about taking charge of her destiny and making things happen; that perhaps Yi Sang is the person that she was destined to meet. I like that she gives herself the space to consider that as a possibility, and consider whether to change course, and doesn’t hold herself to her decision, just because she’d made it.
E6. Ha Ri’s struggle to be understood really is the arc that stands out to me the most, this episode. She’s been suspended from work, and then she gets splashed all over the internet, and random weirdos are coming up to her and being slimey and suggestive. I’m glad that she fights back and stands up for herself, even though it brings her to tears. I much preferred that, to having our 3 men exit the restaurant and save her from the drunk weirdo. Of course, in the end, they do exit the restaurant and confront the drunk weirdo and stand up for Ha Ri, but I’m glad she had the chance and the strength to speak up for herself first.
E6. Under threat of losing her job, and being ordered to write an apology to appease the magazine’s readers, Ha Ri’s faced with a big decision. Don’t write the apology, because she doesn’t feel the need to apologize, and get fired? Or write the apology even though she doesn’t feel that she should apologize, and maybe still get fired anyway, if readership and ad placements drop? Ha Ri chooses a third option, which I very much approve.
She chooses to tell her truth, bare and square, and put her vulnerable, honest voice into the world, and invite the readers to not only see things from her perspective, but join her on her journey, as she figures Life out, in the light of her challenges facing off with her dream of being a mother. It’s a thoughtful, deliberate choice that Ha Ri makes; not something done in the hysteria of the moment to soothe readers. She’s putting herself out there – this time, of her own volition, instead of being splashed all over the internet against her will – and she’s telling her truth, on her terms, and she’s choosing to be brave, even though she’s worried and scared. I feel so proud of her.
E7. I really do appreciate how Ha Ri generally makes it a point to own her feelings, whether it’s with Chief Editor Shim (Kim Jae Hwa), or with Yi Sang. It’s not that she isn’t embarrassed; we’ve seen that she does get embarrassed, and regularly too. But it seems that she pushes past all her own reservations, in order to own her feelings.
Sure, there’s a chance of it falling flat, like when she owned up to Yi Sang’s mom (Lee Joo Sil) that she likes him. But, she’s making it a point to wear her heart on her sleeve, so that it’s easier for the other person to reciprocate. And sometimes, it works for her, like when Chief Editor Shim hugs her back, and tells her that she’s thankful to Ha Ri too.
E7. I do love how confidently and professionally Ha Ri fixes the problem that Eu Ddeum (Jung Gun Joo) faces, while trying to sort things out at Cheonwang. She navigates the situation in such a poised and precise manner; I love it. This is one of those moments that I feel like Ha Ri does have some very good boss-lady qualities. It’s no wonder Ee Ddeum is so impressed.
E9. I like that we get to see Ha Ri winning back the readers from The Mom community, and earning her Editor-in-Chief position fair and square, despite the chauvinist bosses who would rather go with a new hire. I love that Ha Ri plays big and takes a personal risk, putting her job on the line in order to assert her value in the company. She’s putting her foot down and refusing to be taken for granted any longer, and she’s willing to put her money where her mouth is. That boldness is very appealing indeed.
Go Joon as Yi Sang
This was only my second experience watching Go Joon on my screen (the first time being in 2018’s Misty, where he plays a sexy, mysterious pro-golfer), and I must say, I did enjoy having him on my screen.
Yi Sang comes across as aloof at first glance, but it isn’t long before Show peels back those top layers to reveal the very decent man on the inside. In that sense, I found Yi Sang easy to like, and quickly gravitated towards him, among the various potential baby-daddies in our story.
My favorite thing about Go Joon’s delivery is Yi Sang’s bashful-dorky reactions to falling in love, in spite of himself. His looks of happy wonderment are gold. On a shallow note, I also found his deep voice slightly startling, in a very good way.
Admittedly, I didn’t find Go Joon’s delivery perfect, and I found his performance most lacking during the more difficult, emotional scenes. Those came across as rather stiff and labored, in my eyes.
Overall, though, the delight of the dorky-sweet-cute outweighed the awkwardness of the struggling-stiff-sad, and I count Go Joon’s casting as Yi Sang a decidedly positive thing.
E2. Yi Sang’s behavior this episode is very interesting to me. He seems just intrigued enough by Ha Ri, that he’s somehow pulled into her business, even though they’ve agreed to stay out of each other’s way as much as possible. I feel like he finds her rather amusing, judging by his little leaked smiles from time to time. Ack. Leaked smiles are like kryptonite to me; those leaked smiles are making me melt, and I already want to root for Yi Sang.
E2. Yi Sang’s an odd combination of helpful and annoying; he shows up in the nick of time to help Ha Ri multiple times, but he also shows up at the most humiliating moments too. In her shoes, I would be very conflicted indeed. He’s the last person she wants to see, but he’s showed up and helped her on several occasions – but he’s also witnessed some of the moments that she’d rather forget. But, it does seem that he went out to buy an umbrella in order to share it with her, and that’s pretty nice.
E2. Yi Sang’s words, that given time, the pain becomes nothing at all, indicate that he’s been so hurt by love that he’s become jaded; it’s not that he wasn’t interested in love to begin with.
E4. I can understand why Yi Sang says that he’s not able to withstand the excitement of being love, which comes with the potential for disappointment and hurt; that life won’t be so kind if he falls after the age of 40. He’s learned to be content on his own, and it feels like a huge risk to put his heart out there again, and risk the pain of disappointment and loss. I feel like a lot of singles in this age bracket or older, would feel this way. Falling in love is a kind of upheaval, and if you’re content in your life and your routines, an upheaval is an intimidating and troublesome prospect.
E6. Yi Sang is incredibly dorky and cute, as he obsesses over Ha Ri on his own. That shot of him grinning goofily into the air, as his toes curl up as a reflex, is the cutest thing ever. He keeps fighting with himself and his waking hallucinations of Ha Ri, and it’s super dorky and funny – until I realize at the end of the episode why he’s fighting so hard in the first place.
Suddenly, with our closing scene, of him at the urologist’s office, asking if there’s way for him to have a child, it all makes sense. Suddenly, it becomes clear why his ex-girlfriend had left him, and why he’d remarked to Ha Ri that all women choose their child over the person that they love.
His ex-girlfriend had chosen a life where she’d have a chance to have a child, and that had meant leaving him. Ack. I can see why that would’ve left such a deep scar, and why he would’ve spent all this time studiously avoiding relationships. He’d probably figured that the same thing would just happen again, with another woman, who would choose the possibility of a child, over him. And now, Ha Ri, who’s already been on his mind a whole lot, is the one person to say that she wouldn’t do that, because having someone to love is just as miraculous to her, as having a child. The fact that he is even seeking out his doctor, to ask if there’s any way for him to have a child, shows how serious he is, about Ha Ri. And this, even before they’re in a relationship. That’s so melty to me, that he’d be so serious about this, for her sake.
E9. How cute, that Soo Cheol (Jo Hee Bong) had been faking his arm injury for a while now, just to give Yi Sang a chance to be around Ha Ri. And how amusing, that instead of feeling offended, Yi Sang is now hugging Soo Cheol and thanking him and promising to stick with Ha Ri all day, every day. Aw. Grateful gleeful Yi Sang is very cute. And, it definitely helps that he’s doing whatever he can, to make Ha Ri’s dream of having a baby come true. He’s committing to treatment, and tells Soo Cheol that he’s hoping for a miracle. I’m touched by that, because he’s really putting himself out there, in an area which we’ve seen is extra sensitive for him, and it’s out of love for Ha Ri, to help her fulfill her dream.
E9. Yi Sang hitting it off with Ha Ri’s mom at the leather workshop is a cute little side arc, and Mom looks so disappointed to hear that Yi Sang already has a girlfriend, that I can’t wait for her to find out that her own daughter is that girlfriend, heh.
E11. YAY that Mom and Yi Sang finally figure out that they’ve both been talking about Ha Ri all along. Their mutual delight in that realization is quite adorable, and I love that Mom jumps right to addressing him as her son-in-law. Cute.
Ha Ri and Yi Sang together
For the record, I think that Ha Ri and Yi Sang make a very cute couple. Show knows it too, and serves up a lot of Couple Cute in its first half. Somehow, the fact that they are an older couple (than the average kdrama, which tends to feature either teens or twentysomethings falling in love) makes them more endearing to my eyes, and I loved watching this awkward, dorky pair bumble their way to love.
The journey to OTP happiness is a long one, however (with this massive Spoiler section coming up next, to prove it), and my take is that Show did a better job of this OTP’s initial courtship (so cracky and squeeworthy!), than it did with sorting through their angst and issues (I’ll get into more detail about this in the spotlights on the penultimate and finale episodes).
Overall, I think Go Joon and Jang Na Ra make a cute couple, and share a chemistry that feels warm and pure.
E2. The way Yi Sang looks up Ha Ri’s photo for My Baby on social media, and makes sure to like the post, with some enjoyment, is more than I expected of him, since he’d been firmly disinterested in Ha Ri before. The moment when Yi Sang shows up right in front of Ha Ri’s face, while she grumbles to Soo Cheol about Yi Sang liking her post, is so pricelessly awkward. Eep. This show does this kind of secondhand embarrassment really well.
E2. Even though Yi Sang refuses to help with the photoshoot at first, he changes his mind and steps in to help in the nick of time. He’s stoic through most of the photoshoot, leaving Ha Ri to make the child model smile, but it’s so funny to me, that he asks Ha Ri if his back looks broader now compared to before, when she’d remarked before in a huff that it wasn’t, and when Ha Ri concedes that it does look broader now, Yi Sang’s little leaked smirk is fun to see. It’s equal parts petty, childish and charming.
Also, he goes out of his way to help Ha Ri, even if he won’t admit it. He changes his mind about going to Gangnam, just to give her a ride to deliver the multiple bags that she has in her hands, and then waits for her outside, to offer her another ride to the wedding she’s going to. That’s admittedly helpful and quite generous.
Plus, Yi Sang clearly stays on in the coffee house so that he can witness more of Ha Ri’s blind date. I don’t think he’s cognizant of anything except that he finds her amusing, and, more amusement, to him, just isn’t a bad thing. I don’t think he clocks that this would be awkward for her, neither do I think that he purposefully stays there in case she needs someone.
E3. The leaked smiles continue this episode, along with Yi Sang’s uncanny timing, at consistently showing up when Ha Ri’s feeling most downcast and humiliated. I really like that Yi Sang seems to be melting towards Ha Ri in quick, successive degrees.
E3. The leaked smiles get me every time, and this episode, he levels up with a moment of wonder, as he looks upon Ha Ri successfully coaxing a crying baby, thinking of her in wonderment, like she’s a hero who swooped in out of the blue to save the day. Sure, it’s meant for a bit of comedy since it was all because he – and everyone else – had panicked at the crying baby, but the halo of wonderment in his eyes is still a Thing, and I’m hanging onto that, heh.
E3. It’s sweet how Yi Sang pats her on the back and comforts her, the exact same way that she’d told him how to coax a crying child. Aw. He’d paid attention. And, he sounds gently sincere, in wanting to comfort her. The fact that he shares a little bit about himself – that he’s 41 and still doesn’t know what it’s like to be an adult – indicates that he’s really softening towards Ha Ri. The previously prickly him wouldn’t have done that, I don’t think, even if he’d encountered Ha Ri in the same situation.
E4. Yi Sang is quite clearly growing more and more interested in knowing Ha Ri better. The handholding move that Jae Young makes at the lunch table continues to haunt him, as does the fact that Jae Young lives in the same house as Ha Ri, and also, Yi Sang can’t seem to help himself, when it comes to admiring Ha Ri from a distance, and feeling amused with her when she’s up close, and leaking smiles in both situations.
E4. I do enjoy the fact that Yi Sang and Ha Ri are growing more comfortable and more friendly with each other, despite the surface reluctance to connect. Besides the “friendly favor” of asking Yi Sang to transport items in his car for the event that they’re hosting, there are also frank and thoughtful conversations, about why they each feel a certain way. Yi Sang wants to know why Ha Ri wants to be a mom, while Ha Ri asks if Yi Sang will ever get married. It feels honest and candid, and I like it.
E4. When Ha Ri’s feeling downcast about being reprimanded for discrediting the company, Yi Sang seeks her out to drink with her, and when she’s upset about being suspended from work, Yi Sang looks for her, and plays video games with her, and helps her relieve stress. He’s not only helpful, but he’s showing up as a source of moral support, and I feel like he’s there for Ha Ri, when she needs someone.
E4. I like what Yi Sang says to Ha Ri, about not having to understand, in order to show understanding. That’s quite profound, actually.
E4. Ha Ri getting all touchy-feely and familiar with Yi Sang, as they work together for the photoshoot, is definitely a spillover of how she feels more comfortable with him now, and his slight surprise, combined with his leaked smiles, tell me that he’s not opposed to this new closer dynamic at all.
E4. I really like that moment when Ha Ri praises Yi Sang for a job well done that day, and stamps his hand with a kiddie “Good job” stamp, as a reward, saying, “It’s us grown-ups who really need compliments.” She really seems to touch a nerve, because Yi Sang, looking equally touched and bewildered, can’t stop looking at the stamp, or at Ha Ri, and then smiles to himself, “This is bad.” Eee!
E5. Yi Sang is becoming more and more hyperaware of Ha Ri, and it’s very cute. He’s so mortified that she’s seen his cute-drunk persona, but she’s actually amused and seems to find him endearing, in his cute-drunk state. And, for all of his bluster, Yi Sang does seem visibly – and audibly – disappointed, when Yeon Ho (Baek Seung Hee) shows up for the photoshoot in Ha Ri’s place. Hee.
E5. Ha Ri and Yi Sang going on that day trip together is the highlight of this episode; it feels like I’m watching the highlight reel of the cute part of a rom-com where the couple first starts to feel significant feelings, goaded on by circumstantial hyperproximity, and I found this a lot of fun.
E5. That moment when Yi Sang grabs Ha Ri’s hand in the plane, when she’s anxious about take-off, feels equal parts sympathetic and cheeky-opportunistic. Yi Sang’s glee at holding Ha Ri’s hand is clear, though I’m sure he convinced himself that he was just offering her support in a moment of need, hur.
Yi Sang’s discombobulation, evidenced in how he literally falls on his face on the way to the washroom, and also, in how he has to actually slap himself out of his own daze while in said washroom, says a lot about how unsettled he is, around Ha Ri.
E5. I liked watching Yi Sang and Ha Ri drive out to take pictures of the sunset. Yi Sang proves himself to be a level above the average professional, even taking the article itself into consideration, and I like that Ha Ri praises him for it. That’s consistent with her earlier words, that adults need as much praise as kids do.
And, I liked that reversal, where now we see Ha Ri observe Yi Sang from a distance, with a wonder in her gaze. I like the mutuality of that appreciation.
E5. I found it quite funny that Show pulls the stranded together all night trope, while firmly shining a tongue-in-cheek spotlight on just how tropey that is, via Mom’s conversation with Jae Young, ha. How awkward, though, that Ha Ri practically accuses Yi Sang of orchestrating it such that they’d be stranded together. I’m glad Yi Sang points out how ludicrous it is, that she thinks he knew about the landslide in advance.
E5. The highlight of the episode, I think, is Yi Sang and Ha Ri sharing a laidback moment of conversation, while drinking hot coffee out of bowls, while enjoying the fire that he started. It feels so casually cozy, to have Ha Ri ask him how he became a photographer, and then contentedly listen to his explanation of how his father used to take photos, and how he’d enjoyed following his dad around. I also really like how Ha Ri then remarks that that must be why Yi Sang’s photos are so warm, just like him. That’s connecting on a personal level, and I like that a lot.
E5. I thought it was cute how neither of them could sleep, and each ended up taking turns coming out to the courtyard to sit for a while, in (failed) hopes of seeing the other person. It’s cute and wistful, and I’m actually quite glad that Show doesn’t lay it on too thick, with more late-night conversations at the homestay.
E5. The next morning, I like that Yi Sang takes a few extra photos of Ha Ri, while they’re both taking pictures of the flock of birds flying away. She’s definitely piqued his interest. I do find their casual banter fun and cute, as they try to hide behind each other, to shield themselves from the strong wind. And then the air suddenly changes between them and feels charged with meaning. Ooh.
E6. That short scene when Ha Ri’s trying to psyche herself up to see her boss, and Yi Sang offers her a look at the photos to distract her, as the only thing he can do, since he can’t accompany her to see her boss, is so simple and warm. I love that when Ha Ri sighs that she’d wanted to go with him to develop the photos, he says, “Next time,” so simply and so warmly. And he keeps repeating it too, that they really will do that, next time. I love it.
E7. I do love the moment when tipsy Yi Sang tells Ha Ri she’s done well, and strokes her hair in place of a “good job” stamp. That’s so cute and so sweet. Yi Sang really is so warm and endearing when he’s tipsy. It’s not like he’s a different person; it’s more like his usual reservations are rendered invalid when he’s tipsy, and his real self gets to shine through.
E7. That was really awkward, that Ha Ri responds to Yi Sang’s eager mom, saying that she likes Yi Sang, only to have Yi Sang shut it down. I get where Yi Sang is coming from; he’s verified that there’s nothing he can do to fulfill Ha Ri’s lifelong dream, and he doesn’t feel it’s fair to keep on allowing the feelings between them to develop, which is why he’s shutting it down. But without the information on why he’s doing that, it’s perfectly understandable that Ha Ri feels hurt and rejected. Aw.
To Yi Sang’s credit, I do appreciate how he tries to tell Ha Ri that it’s a problem with him and not her, and I actually think that his mournful gazes in her direction and his effort to show a bit of care, like with the extra cup of water, are pretty sweet, but without specifics in terms of why it’s his problem, I don’t blame Ha Ri for thinking that he’s just paying her lip service.
E8. All the hyper-awareness on Yi Sang’s part, as they cross paths despite their desperate efforts to avoid each other, is very amusing. Yi Sang getting all sensitive about Ha Ri slurp-sucking on a sweet, thinking that she’s trying to seduce him, is hysterically paranoid. He practically jumps out of his skin when she offers him a piece of candy, as if she’s about to jump him instead. Ha. I love it.
What I love even more, though, is that we do get thoughtful, heartfelt conversations between them, mixed into all these awkward non-interactions. That scene in the studio, when Yi Sang saves Ha Ri from the falling set wall, is when Ha Ri confesses that she remembers drunk-kissing him, and I really like the quiet, honest vibe of the conversation, as Yi Sang tells her that he’d been extra sensitive at the time, but that her kiss had comforted him. The tentative way in which he asks her if she’d really seen him as a man, tugs at my heartstrings. There’s so much uncertainty built into that, made even more poignant by the knowledge that he has fertility struggles, which likely have eroded his ability to see himself as a proper man.
And then there’s the scene where Ha Ri realizes that Yi Sang must’ve seen the contents of her diary, and goes to seek him out. She apologizes earnestly, and asks why he didn’t even get upset; he says quietly that even if she had apologized, there was nothing he could do to help her. I love that even so, Ha Ri stands her ground and continues to be honest and vulnerable, as she tells him that she does see him as a man – actually, she says that now she only sees him as a man, eee! – and then she tells him to give her an answer, when he’s able to focus solely on his heart, or he’ll end up losing her.
There’s so much courage and honesty and vulnerability in this moment, I love it. And I love that there’s also so much unwavering eye contact between them, as they have this conversation, even though they are both uncomfortable with the situation. I also like that Ha Ri is wise enough to give Yi Sang time and space to figure himself out, instead of receiving the answer that he was about to give.
E8. Convinced that there’s no future in a relationship between him and Ha Ri, Yi Sang decides to ignore it – except that he finds that he can’t. All he can think about is Ha Ri, and how she makes his heart ache, and makes him forget that he doesn’t want to fall in love again. He determines not to let his heart flutter again – but it does, at the sight of her beside the river, where he’s gone to take photos of the fireworks, to keep his mind off her.
Overcome with emotion, he asks her, “How can.. you be this beautiful?” Ha Ri keeps her gaze steady, and asks him, “And what if I’m beautiful? What comes next?” Yi Sang looks at her intently, and she receives his gaze, faltering only slightly. A long beat later, Yi Sang finally follows his heart, leans in, and gently kisses her. D’aw! And, squee!
I am admittedly rather concerned about how things will go, when Ha Ri realizes that Yi Sang has fertility issues, and while Yi Sang has hinted at it to Ha Ri, he’s been vague about it. I hope that Yi Sang will tell her about it honestly, the way she’s been open and honest with him, and I hope Ha Ri doesn’t find out some other way. For now, though, I’m eager to see the cuteness of these two as a newly minted couple.
A couple, finally
E9. There’s something very charming about our newly minted couple. One the one hand, they are silly and cringey-cheesy in their sheepish-blithe exuberance, and that feels very youthful and innocent. They feel less like an office couple, and more like a teenaged campus couple, in that sense.
At the same time, there are definite moments when their maturity shines through in their new relationship, like when Yi Sang is fully supportive of Ha Ri, as she navigates her work-related issues. He doesn’t get involved, but he expresses confidence in her, and his gift of the handmade leather tassel, engraved with the words, “You’re right,” expresses a strong belief in her, which I really like. This combination, of youthful wonder and not-easily-shaken steadiness, is very appealing to me, despite the heavy cheese factor currently active in their relationship.
E9. I do love that even in the midst of feeling bashful and awkward after their first kiss, Yi Sang makes it a point to tell Ha Ri that it wasn’t a mistake, that he really does like her. Aw. That’s very thoughtful, because if he hadn’t said that, it’s true that Ha Ri might’ve analyzed herself into a twist, wondering if the kiss was a mistake, the way her drunk-kissing him had been a mistake. I also love what he says, suggesting that they not worry about the future, but be curious about it instead. That’s a very nice way of putting it.
E9. I freaking love that these two just can’t stop smiling around each other. Sometimes it feels like their faces will get stuck from smiling so hard and so much, but that’s just very sweet, that they’re that happy together.
E9. How sweet, that Ha Ri tells Yi Sang that she’s so happy that she missed him even more, and wanted to see him even more. How just like Ha Ri, to be the first to say “I love you,” and not be bothered about it. She says it because she’s just feeling that happy, and just wants to express how she feels, to Yi Sang. I’m glad that he feels ready to say it back to her too. The way he says it isn’t rushed either; it’s measured and quiet, and there’s a lot of contentment in the moment, as she lays her head on his shoulder, and he pats her hand. Sweet.
E10. It’s kind of cute-sad that they have to steal pockets of time to sneak in a hug or a kiss, because Ha Ri’s so busy being Editor-in-Chief. Yi Sang stepping out of the elevator, post-quickie-makeout, all grinning dazedly while all disheveled, and with his shirt half hanging out, is gold. It’s so perfect, and I’m rather amused that Ha Ri must be so handsy, to have gotten up all in his shirt, in that quick elevator ride, rawr.
E10. Although part of my brain wishes that Yi Sang would hurry up and tell Ha Ri about his fertility issues, I can understand his hesitation. He sincerely wants to do everything he can, to make this work; he’s even going for treatment for his infertility. He’s just afraid to lose her, now that he’s finally plucked up the courage to give love another chance. It’s scary for him. I think the fact that he tries to pluck up the courage to tell her, counts for something. He’s not trying to hide it from her; he’s just trying to find the courage to take the risk of losing her.
If Ha Ri weren’t so desperate to have a child, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but because having a child is pretty much her life’s dream right now – more than her desire to have a partner – the fact that Yi Sang is possibly unable to father a child, is an actual possible deal-breaker for her. However, what I’d like is for Ha Ri and Yi Sang to actually sit down and seriously talk through their options. Like, if they try to have a child and that doesn’t work out, would they be ok with adopting? That’s definitely one way of becoming a mother. I’m rather disappointed that this hasn’t been acknowledged as an option yet, in our story.
Trouble in paradise
E11. Even though Yi Sang could have told Ha Ri earlier, and he definitely could have chosen a better, ie, non-work setting in which to tell her, I do very much appreciate his steadfastness. He doesn’t even seem to entertain the path of noble idiocy; he’s very clear that he doesn’t want to lose Ha Ri, and he’s committed to doing everything he can, to make her dreams come true. He remains so steady and unwavering, despite the upheaval to their relationship because of Ha Ri’s emotional turmoil, and I find that quite moving. And I very much like that he understands that Ha Ri needs time and space to figure things out, and waits for her without pressuring her.
Even when Jae Young idiotically insists that Yi Sang break things off with Ha Ri, Yi Sang remains constant and resolute, and simply says that he and Ha Ri will not break up. He’s as steady as a rock, and I do love that. And he earns extra brownie points from me, for deciding that Jae Young’s just part of the territory that comes with loving Ha Ri, and letting Jae Young’s nonsense slide off him like water off a duck’s back.
I also love when Yi Sang speaks up for Ha Ri with the celebrity that she’s trying to invite on the magazine. He doesn’t imply a personal relationship with Ha Ri at all; he keeps it professional, but speaks to the heart of what makes Ha Ri special and amazing at her job. I would be so moved, in Ha Ri’s place.
I wish we’d gotten to see more of Ha Ri’s internal goings-on this episode, as she processed the new information that she’d learned, that Yi Sang has infertility issues. We see her reeling from it, and we see her moping about it, but we don’t really get any insight into her thoughts and feelings. But maybe that’s Show’s point; that Ha Ri’s too shocked to really process it with any kind of sobriety, and it’s only when she’s faced with the idea of actually losing Yi Sang, that she suddenly sees with any kind of clarity.
And I’m glad that the moment Ha Ri sees clearly that she doesn’t want to give up Yi Sang, that she acts on it, and tells him how she feels, complete with tearful backhug. YES. I know that we needed to go through a stage of angst while Ha Ri came to terms with Yi Sang’s fertility struggles, but I’m glad and relieved that it didn’t take more than an episode.
A commitment to make things work
E12. I love that short but serious conversation they have, soon after making up, where Ha Ri articulates that as they work towards hopefully reaching their miracle, that they are likely to encounter setbacks and feel discouraged, and that there will be many difficult conversations that they’ll need to have, that they might not be comfortable having. That’s wisdom and foresight, to call it out early and talk about it, instead of waiting for it to creep up on them and fester.
I love that Yi Sang gently responds by saying that despite the difficulties, that they shouldn’t give up. I also very much appreciate that he acknowledges that in such a situation, the woman is positioned to have a harder time than the man. That’s empathetic, and I like that a lot. With this short conversation, which is so healthy both in timing and content, I feel like our OTP is well-positioned to get through this challenging season, stronger together than ever.
I also really like how Yi Sang is now embracing Ha Ri’s dream of having a child, as his own dream. I love that. He’s not pursuing the dream just for Ha Ri’s sake. He’s embracing the dream as his own, so that he can pursue it as much for himself, as for Ha Ri. That’s beautiful, and that’s also something that I’ve been waiting for him to articulate as well.
E13. I feel like because Ha Ri’s on a baby-making deadline, her entire life is being compressed into a shorter span of time. There’s very little time between milestones – for example, she and Yi Sang go from starting a relationship, to sleeping together, to thinking about marriage, in quick succession, almost like they have no time to really process what they’re experiencing, before moving on to the next step – and I’m not sure how I feel about that.
On the positive side, I could think of it as them being mature enough, having lived enough of life, to really know what they want, and just go for it. On the not-so-positive side, I feel like they might be rushing so much, that they don’t have enough time to really savor the stages of relationship they’re experiencing. That feels like a pity, to me.
E13. They are so bashful-cute the morning after they spend the night at the pension though, with Yi Sang looking all cheeky, while Ha Ri blushes underneath the sheets. It does feel quite perfect that this is when he gives her the necklace that he’d bought for her. It’s also just really pleasant, to see them enjoying breakfast together, while talking and laughing. It feels so sweet and cozy.
I do think it’s sweet that Yi Sang’s thoughts move quickly to marriage, after spending the night with Ha Ri. While I do think it’s rushed in the overall scheme of things, I like that his heart is in wanting to spend his life with Ha Ri. It doesn’t feel like he’s looking at wedding stuff because of the timeline that Ha Ri’s on; it feels like he’s thinking about marriage because he’s looking forward to what life will be like, together with Ha Ri. And I really like how earnest he is, about wanting to make Ha Ri happy.
E13. Yi Sang telling Ha Ri to only think of herself, if their efforts come to nothing, and her time is running out. That is considerate and selfless of him, and I like how gently and sincerely he tells her that. But, is this foreshadowing of things to come? Coz if so, that would be a boo from me.
E13. I do think that the proposal that Yi Sang chooses in the end, suits them well. It’s about taking picture – which is so him – and creating memories, while spending their lives together. I like it. I.. really hope Ha Ri likes it too.
E14. I like that Ha Ri accepts Yi Sang’s proposal, and that they agree to do their best to live well and happily together. These two are perfectly awkward, dorky and earnest together, and I think they make a very well-suited, cute couple.
E14. Yi Sang’s intense disappointment at his test results, combined with Ha Ri’s accelerated surgery, throws that into disarray. I appreciate that Yi Sang urges Ha Ri to put herself first, and not be held back by him, but I do think that’s a mistaken assumption, in that Ha Ri had been putting off the surgery to maximize her own chances of conceiving. Whether Yi Sang is in the picture or not, Ha Ri has her own fertility issues to deal with, and it’s not like putting Yi Sang aside would make any difference, I think.
E14. Yi Sang and Ha Ri do have good, honest, important conversations when the need calls for it, like this episode, when they tell each other about their relationships with their fathers, and how they feel about it all. I like that Ha Ri takes Yi Sang’s advice to see her father face to face, even though she doesn’t feel ready to forgive him. I actually find it realistic that instead of a fresh start powered by forgiveness and a clean slate, Ha Ri and her dad arrive at a truce instead. Sometimes, that’s all people are ready for, and that’s an important step away from negative, into neutral, and I feel that needs to be acknowledged.
Jung Gun Joo as Eu Ddeum
After growing a soft spot for Jung Gun Joo’s character Do Hwa in Extraordinary You, I was pleasantly surprised and amused to see him show up in this show, as Ha Ri’s youngest potential baby daddy, all earnest, pure and hilariously – and often embarrassingly – without any kind of social filter.
I found Jung Gun Joo pitch perfect as pure-hearted but often misguided Eu Ddeum, who basically keeps putting his foot in his mouth, with his obtuse and clueless ways.
Aside from bringing the laughs – like with his discovery that he possesses 10x the amount of sperm than the average man, and blurts it out to Ha Ri, eep – Eu Ddeum also brings some poignance to our story, with his sincere affection for Ha Ri, and his subsequent heartbreak.
I really felt for Eu Ddeum in episode 10. He’s poured his whole, earnest, innocent little heart into making his confession with those expensive rings that he’s saved up for, only to realize that Ha Ri’s already seeing someone else. Poor misguided puppy really looks like he’s been kicked in the gut, and his hesitant little foot shuffles, as he tries to decide what to do, are so plaintive. Aw.
Despite most of Eu Ddeum’s arc being played for laughs, the heartache felt real to me, and I felt sorry for this poor, misguided, clueless boy.
The thing with Hyo Joo [SPOILERS]
Show layers on one more mix-up for Eu Ddeum, and we have Hyo Joo (Park Soo Young) completely misreading Eu Ddeum as having feelings for her instead of Ha Ri, thanks to her constantly self-absorbed state of mind.
It’s all silly and mildly amusing for a while (though it did get old for me after some time), but we do get lashings of sincerity, when Hyo Joo grows to appreciate Eu Ddeum for real.
I really liked that moment in episode 11, when Eu Ddeum good-naturedly does his best to take care of a passed out drunk Hyo Joo, in the midst of his own heartbreak. The fact that he’d amiably sit with her at the police station overnight while she’s passed out drunk, because he doesn’t know her address to take her home, is so kind and obliging. He’s a decent, earnest, good egg, and I can see why Hyo Joo would fall for him.
I’m quite pleased with how Show handles this arc, in that it would’ve felt too rushed, for Eu Ddeum to reciprocate Hyo Joo’s feelings, so soon after being rejected by Ha Ri. That would have made his affection for Ha Ri feel insincere. Instead, where we leave these two, it feels like they are finally becoming friends, and that’s really rather nice.
Kim Hye Ok as Ha Ri’s Mom
I’ll admit that I started out feeling fairly neutral towards Mom, because she seemed to be interfering in Ha Ri’s life, in her efforts to establish Jae Young as a potential son-in-law, never mind what Ha Ri thought about it.
But, Mom really won me over with her fierce love for Ha Ri, and her unwavering support of her daughter, when her daughter needed her most.
[SPOILER] My favorite Mom moment is in episode 6, when Mom gets into a catfight with someone else, over Ha Ri. Mom may not be happy with Ha Ri exploring motherhood options via sperm donation, but she doesn’t hesitate to defend her fiercely to someone else. And when she comes home, all disheveled, she gruffly huffs at Ha Ri not to feel small, and not to feel like she did something wrong, just because other people are badmouthing her.
Mom tells her firmly that she knows Ha Ri did nothing wrong. Aw. I do love that Mom’s so fiercely on Ha Ri’s side, even though Mom had been skeptical of Ha Ri’s plan to begin with. That does give me the feels. [END SPOILER]
Ha Ri’s friendship with Eun Young
I liked Ha Ri’s friendship with Eun Young (Lee Mi Do) because they provide empathy, support and a listening ear to each other, despite being in very different stations in life.
Eun Young may not fully understand Ha Ri’s challenges being a mature single woman who feels challenged to find an anchor, and Ha Ri may not fully understand Eun Young’s challenges being a stay-at-home mom who yearns to return to the workplace, but that doesn’t stop them from listening to each other, rooting for each other and pouring their hearts out to each other, and I found that very heartwarming.
Ha Ri’s colleagues
The team at “the baby” took a while to grow on me, but I did find them quite endearing as I progressed deeper into my watch. I didn’t have very strong feelings for them, but they were a bit of a fun spark to have on my screen. And I did appreciate their loyalty to Ha Ri, and their genuine concern for her.
The kinship between Ha Ri and Chief Editor Shim
Given that Chief Editor Shim appears for less than half of our show, I was pleasantly surprised by how much her bond with Ha Ri landed for me with a nice amount of emotional heft.
[SPOILER] In episode 7, I found the empathy, solidarity and mutual appreciation between Chief Editor Shim and Ha Ri is very touching.
With Chief Editor Shim’s decision to leave, the conversations between them become more forthright, honest and personal, and it’s heartening to see the two women do what they can, to encourage each other and lift each other up. Chief Editor Shim does what she can to ensure that Ha Ri is given her position, though she fails, and Ha Ri bulldozes past Chief Editor Shim’s prickly fences, to hug her and thank her, and basically bring on the feels that Chief Editor Shim seems to be avoiding. They aren’t exactly friends, but there’s a solidarity and kinship here that feels genuine, and I like that a lot. [END SPOILER]
STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH
Park Byung Eun as Jae Young
To be honest, I’d seriously considered putting this section on Jae Young in the “Stuff that worked out to ok” section, because even though Show makes Jae Young annoying and frustrating, he becomes a lot more mature and therefore likable in the later episodes.
But, I decided that I had to be true to the fact that Jae Young annoyed – nay, aggravated – me GREATLY during the course of my watch. I literally spent more time being annoyed with him, than actually liking him as a character. And I’ve decided that just because Show redeems him at the end, it doesn’t negate the extreme annoyance that he was, for such a long period of my watch. Because of that, I think it makes more sense to have him in this section.
I will concede that Park Byung Eun does a great job. Despite the deep frustration I felt towards Jae Young for so many episodes, Park Byung Eun managed to make Jae Young’s turnaround feel heartfelt and sincere, and that, I have to admit, is quite a feat.
E1. Ex-best friend Jae Young is a single dad who seems to be a jobless, drunken slob who happens to have a young child to take care of. He would appear to be a potentially plausible match for Ha Ri, with an instant child to offer, as a bonus. Except she seems to hate his guts, and he doesn’t even seem to care. I don’t have a good first impression of him, so if Show wants to endear him to me, the turnaround is going to have to be quite dramatic and effective.
E2. This episode, my general meh reaction to Jae Young continues. He’s definitely in limbo after his divorce, and I can sympathize that he’s in pain. However, I don’t like his sloppiness, and he doesn’t seem like a very attentive father at all. To his credit, he does seem to care about Ha Ri, in his own way. He offers to set her up on a blind date when he realizes that she’s keen to find a man, and when he thinks that Ha Ri’s being harassed by a strange man, he wastes no time in throwing himself into the fray, to save her. He doesn’t seem to have much decorum or sensitivity though; the way he talks to Ha Ri is quite embarrassing for her, when they’re in front of Yi Sang, a relative stranger whom Jae Young has barely met. That’s not very considerate at all.
Also, Jae Young’s horrified expression at Mom’s mere suggestion that he and Ha Ri might get together if they hit it off, tells us everything we need to know about how he feels about Ha Ri. He’s grossed out at the idea of them being a couple, so he definitely doesn’t have romantic intentions towards her, at this point.
E3. Jae Young stuffing his dirty clothes into Ha Ri’s laundry without telling her, and without a specific invitation to do so, is so presumptuous and annoying. Ugh.
E3. Jae Young coming along and making it a point to tell Yi Sang that he and Ha Ri live together – what’s his point? Is he possibly jealous? Or is he just trying to ruin Ha Ri’s chances of meeting someone? But, to his credit, he tells Ha Ri that he understands her desire to have someone, and that that someone might be a baby. This is the most empathetic I’ve seen him, so far, and I like him more when he’s being empathetic.
E4. I don’t understand Jae Young’s deal, honestly. Is he trying to rile up Yi Sang, so that Yi Sang will make a move, or is he trying to establish that he’s superior, because he’s just on such familiar terms with Ha Ri? Later in the episode, Jae Young has a talk with Mom, who presses him on why he can’t see Ha Ri’s appeal as a woman, and Jae Young responds that he absolutely does – and that’s why he can’t be the man for her, because he’s not worthy of her. I don’t know what to believe, when it comes to Jae Young.
E5. I don’t know what Jae Young’s deal is, but he suddenly seems way more interested in Ha Ri than he was before. His antsy sitting-on-hot-coals sort of behavior, the moment he learns that Ha Ri’s gone on a day trip with Yi Sang, says a lot. He’s probably feeling territorial, jealous, or both. He’s definitely unwilling that Ha Ri might become close to another guy, and yet, whenever Mom confronts him with the idea of him marrying Ha Ri, he backpedals. Is this a case of “I don’t want her, but nobody else can have her”? Or, is this a case of Jae Young just now discovering latent feelings that he hadn’t realized that he had?
E6. Jae Young’s waking up to Ha Ri’s appeal, it seems, since he even goes so far as to ask her to marry him. Of course, this only seems half serious right now, from Ha Ri’s point of view, and she tells him to pay for a babysitter if that’s what he’s looking for. Jae Young’s starting to look thoughtful around Ha Ri, though, so I do think he’s seriously considering it. The way he positions it, though, as Ha Ri having an easy way out coz she’ll get to raise Do Ah as her own, is so underwhelming. I think Ha Ri does the right thing, in turning him down right away.
E7. Jae Young telling his ex-wife Jeong Won (Wang Ji Hye) that she’s the one coming between him and Ha Ri is.. interesting. It kind of implies that he wants to marry Ha Ri, but at the same time, he’s been flip-flopping a bit on that. Sometimes he’s proposing marriage, and at other times, he’s grumbling about how gross the idea is. I’m guessing that he regrets how he’d cut ties with Ha Ri when he got married, and now wants to revive those ties properly.
E8. Jae Young seems to be in a world of his own, considering marriage to Ha Ri and even talking with his friend about it, when Ha Ri has consistently shown disinterest in the idea. I guess his confidence comes from the thought that Ha Ri doesn’t have a whole lotta options, and she’ll have to settle on him, in the end? Ugh, though.
E9. Jae Young’s angst over Ha Ri dating Yi Sang is understandable, but Eun Young is right; Ha Ri isn’t going to look at Jae Young as a potential mate, even without Yi Sang in the picture. Not all love is reciprocated, and Jae Young’s going to have to accept that hard truth.
E9. I’m disappointed in Jae Young’s stubbornness about not having his ex-wife around Do Ah. He’s so self-focused and pigheaded. If not for Ha Ri’s intervention, Do Ah wouldn’t even have her own mother in her one-year-old birthday photo. Again, Eun Young is right; even if a couple is divorced, they won’t ever be completely out of each other’s lives, especially if there are children involved. Even though Jae Young’s divorced, he should realize that from Do Ah’s point of view, she would want her mother in her life.
E9. Jae Young’s trying to worm his way into Ha Ri’s life, this time, via her mom. That’s not cool. He already knows that she’s seeing Yi Sang, and he already knows that she’s not interested in marrying him and being Do Ah’s stepmother, and yet, here he is, trying to get a foot in by way of Ha Ri’s mom. That’s inappropriate, and that’s not fair play. Ugh. Jae Young just has a way of being annoying, even when it seems like he’s out of options to be more annoying. I hope Ha Ri sets him in his place fast and proper.
E10. Jae Young is plain annoying this episode. He’s actually going out of his way to block Ha Ri from spending private time with Yi Sang, even though Ha Ri is a grown woman who has expressed that she’s, 1, perfectly capable of making her own decisions, and 2, not at all interested in Jae Young as a romantic partner. The fact that he’s still outright stepping between Ha Ri and Yi Sang, is just rude.
And, he lies to Mom about it too. When she asks if he knows something, he denies that there’s anything going on, and that’s not because he’s trying to protect Ha Ri; it’s because he wants to keep Mom’s focus on himself, as a potential son-in-law who’ll stay by Ha Ri’s side and ensure that she doesn’t die alone. That’s low.
Plus, there’s that flashback to when Jae Young had first gotten together with his ex-wife Jeong Won. He’d been dismissive of Ha Ri then, because Jeong Won hadn’t liked Ha Ri. And now, here he is, regretting that he ever met Jeong Won, because he thinks that he’s missed out on what his life could have been, because of her – meaning, that he could’ve gotten together with Ha Ri, if not for Jeong Won. Which is utter rubbish. That refusal to take responsibility for his own decisions is so distasteful to me, and his assumption that Ha Ri will always be there for him, is also annoying.
E11. I think Show wants me to see Jae Young more sympathetically, but I hafta admit, I do not feel much sympathy for him at all. He’s really annoying, and the way he acts like he has a right to barge in on Ha Ri’s affairs, is offensive, to me.
He’d dropped her out of his life like a hot potato when it suited him, even though, in his words, they’d been friends since they were in the womb, and now, he thinks it’s his right to butt into her relationship matters and speak on her behalf, ordering Yi Sang to break up with her? What a jerk.
Even when he is feeling ashamed of himself for how he’s treated Ha Ri, that’s only in the context of her having heard him promise Jeong Won that he wouldn’t see Ha Ri again for the rest of his life. So.. as long as Ha Ri doesn’t know, it’s ok for him to treat her the way he has, dumping his dirty laundry and the rest of his obnoxious rubbish on her? That’s a load of bull. But that’s his truth – all this time he knew what he’d done, and had assumed Ha Ri didn’t know, and that’s why he thought his obnoxious behavior was ok. He only came crawling with his tail between his legs, mumbling that she shouldn’t even have agreed to see him again, if she’d known what he’d done, when he realized that she knew. What kind of rubbish is that?
AND, that didn’t stop him from butting in and ordering Yi Sang to break up with Ha Ri. If he really was feeling sorry for being an idiot, then he should let Ha Ri take care of her own affairs as she sees fit. But he goes and tells Yi Sang to leave Ha Ri. Thank goodness Yi Sang is too grounded to be shaken by Jae Young’s overbearing behavior, but what if Ha Ri had been dating someone a little more insecure? Jae Young could’ve potentially ruined Ha Ri’s life, just because he feels entitled to have a say. AND HE DOES NOT GET TO HAVE A SAY. I am so annoyed with him.
E12. The way Jae Young is amping up his efforts to court Ha Ri, now that she’s dating Yi Sang, is so lame. This feels like watching a runner who’s been languishing at the start line, who suddenly starts running furiously – after his competitor has reached the finish line. I don’t actually feel sorry for Jae Young, because it’s clear that Ha Ri’s never seen him in a romantic light, so it’s not like he actually missed a window of opportunity. There never was a window of opportunity, in terms of him, Ha Ri and romance.
E13. This episode, Jae Young is the most reflective, serious and thoughtful I’ve ever seen him, and I do prefer this version of him. I don’t really appreciate the desperation and jealousy that marked his last-ditch efforts to court Ha Ri, but this episode, I do like the honesty and lashings of maturity that show up. The way he tells Ha Ri that he really likes her a lot, not because he expects that she will reciprocate, but because he realizes that it’s a necessary step to end things properly, so that he can mature and grow from this, is startlingly insightful, especially coming from Jae Young.
I also think it’s a good thing that he realizes that it’s time for him to move out, because things would be uncomfortably awkward otherwise. And, bonus points to him, for understanding that when Ha Ri was all upset from seeing her parents at the hospital, that it’s Yi Sang she needs, not him. Jae Young calling Yi Sang to alert him of the fact that Ha Ri’s upset and needs support and comfort, is arguably the most loving thing he’s done for Ha Ri all series long.
E14. Jae Young is the most mature – and by extension, the most likable – I’ve ever seen him, and I feel like this whole failed courtship of Ha Ri has caused him to grow up a lot. The way he keeps his promise to move out to his own place; the way he speaks gently and respectfully to all our other characters this episode; the way he cares for Ha Ri, but is careful not to overstep his boundaries (much) and interfere; the way he talks with Ha Ri’s dad, and helps him know a bit more about Ha Ri, and tells him about how Ha Ri had waited for him at her elementary school graduation. He’s a legit positive presence this episode, and while it’s taken him a good long while, I feel like he’s finally someone who’s truly dependable and trustworthy.
Some of Show’s humor didn’t work so well for me
Show’s humor turned out to be a mixed bag, for me.
There were times when I was genuinely tickled, and laughed out loud at my screen, which is a Very Rare Occurrence, for me. Those moments were great.
On the neutral-tending-downside, the secondhand embarrassment is very strong in this show, and I find secondhand embarrassing things hard to watch. I tend to spend more time averting my eyes and squirming, than actually laughing. It’s quite uncomfortable, to be honest.
And then on the downside, there were times when I was outright underwhelmed by Show’s attempts at serving up The Funny.
Here are examples of all 3.
When it worked for me
E2. How unfortunate, that Jae Young mistakes Yi Sang for a pervert, and they get into a ridiculous, slo-mo flaily fight scored by a plaintive rendition of Holiday by the Bee Gees, culminating in an absurd ring-around-the-rosie merry-go-round with Ha Ri thrown into the mix. It’s completely farcical, and really quite funny.
E8. I don’t often laugh out loud while watching my dramas, but this episode had me giggling at my screen more than a few times; I was that tickled.
All the mournful efforts by Yi Sang and Ha Ri to keep a distance from each other, is expressed so comically. I almost feel bad for laughing, but Yi Sang’s perplexed, unhappy obsession with triangles around him, because he didn’t even get rated a triangle in Ha Ri’s diary, is the most ridiculous, hilarious thing. And Go Joon plays Yi Sang’s anguish with such deadpan sorrow, it’s fantastic. Yi Sang creeping around, shooting devil glares at Eu Ddeum for being the recipient of 2 stars in Ha Ri’s diary, is OTT, but still made me laugh. Silly jealous Yi Sang.
The secondhand embarrassment
E3. The whole thing about Ha Ri trying to meet a “sperm donor” on the black market is so comically secondhand embarrassing, and yet, so sad and poignant to watch. I cringed when Ha Ri got threatened with handcuffs by the police, and cringed even harder, when the footage of her getting taken in, gets splashed all over the news, with her face pixelated out, but her identity still quite easily recognized by people who know her. Eep. Super awkward and utterly mortifying.
E4. Ha Ri’s stilted and quite obvious efforts to scope out how healthy and therefore how suitable each of the 3 targets are, over lunch, are quite cringey to watch, eep. Thankfully, Show doesn’t dwell on this scene for long, and as a bonus, we get some jealous cross-firing laser eyes between Jae Young and Yi Sang, with Jae Young trying to establish just how close and cozy he and Ha Ri are.
E5. I do find it quite awkward and cringey to watch as Ha Ri takes steps to ensure that Eu Ddeum is healthy, once she’s identified him as the best potential baby daddy candidate. All those conversations, where she’s testing the water, talking with him about the concept of sperm donation, is increasingly awkward to watch, for me. I don’t have a very strong stomach for secondhand embarrassment, as it turns out. Also, this thing about Eu Ddeum having 10x the number of sperm as the average man, is hilarious, but also, so very awkward. Eep.
E10. The multiple failed veiled attempts by Yi Sang and Ha Ri to get some sexytimes together, is cringey-funny, especially when Ha Ri rushes over to Yi Sang’s house without even checking what appliance she’s bringing over to install, only for it to turn out to be an automatic toilet cleaner. Ha. How unromantic. I cringed, but in this case, I did laugh too.
When it didn’t work for me
E3. I didn’t like the scene where Ha Ri tries to tell Jae Young and Eun Young about her plan to have a baby without getting married. The squabbles are supposed to be funny, but I just found it quite sad that Ha Ri invited two of her supposedly closest friends to share her announcement with, and neither of them seems interested to listen.
E13. All the comedy served up around Ha Ri jumping to proposal-related conclusions feels a little contrived and repetitive.
As an upside, I do like that Show uses this to explore Ha Ri’s cold feet at the idea of marriage. From fear of Yi Sang abandoning her like her dad had abandoned her mom, to Yi Sang coming up with a weird proposal, Ha Ri has to wade through quite a few fears and concerns that she didn’t even realize that she had. I do think that, with more life experience under her belt than someone 10 years younger, it makes sense that she would have more reservations about marriage, and wonder whether it’s really what she wants.
Show’s non-acknowledgment of adoption [VAGUE HIGH LEVEL SPOILERS]
This is quite possibly a personal thing for me, so it may not apply to you. I was generally disappointed at Show’s treatment of adoption.
All series long, I was waiting for the spotlight to turn to adoption as a possible way to have a child. With Ha Ri and Yi Sang both having fertility issues, this seemed like a reasonable expectation to have.
And in episode 12, Ha Ri finally acknowledges that she’s thought of adoption. However, I was bemused by what she says, that a child should be a gift, and not an alternative.
I was hoping that she wasn’t saying that adoption makes the child less of a gift, but unfortunately, having now seen the drama in its entirety, it does seem that that’s Ha Ri’s stance, because the topic of adoption isn’t revisited again.
I know of adoptive parents who would refute that notion, that adoption makes a child an alternative and not a gift, vigorously. A child joining the family through adoption is as much a gift, as a child birthed into a family. I wish Show would be clear about articulating that.
I feel like in rejecting adoption as a valid means of achieving Ha Ri’s dream, Show is sending an unfortunate message to all the families out there, who have been formed in partnership with adoption.
THEMES / IDEAS
Here are a handful of themes & ideas that stood out to me, during my watch.
The plight of the
older single woman women at the workplace in general
E3. It’s played for poignant funny, in that it’s comical and cringeworthy, but it also points out a double standard, where unmarried women’s desires to have children are ignored by the system. Ha Ri finds that she’s judged for not being married at her age, and judged even harder, for wanting to have a child on her own, without a husband. She’s faced with Hobson’s choice: face the shaming of a society that only recognizes her desire to have a child as valid within the confines of a marriage, or give up her dream of being a mom. It’s sad because Ha Ri’s ridiculed for even trying to find a husband at her age, and ridiculed even more, for wanting a child. She’s literally treated like expired goods; no longer relevant, and better off out of sight.
E5. Even though we’ve seen that Ha Ri’s been taken to task at work for her singlehood and inability to relate to the moms that they’re writing for, we see that Chief Editor Shim isn’t spared either. That spiel in the boss’s office, where she talks about not having taken the time off that she’d been entitled to, to take care of her newborn baby, and yet, still gets reprimanded for not having enough of a sense of responsibility, is maddening to watch. Especially since the boss guy appears particularly chauvinistic, condescending and ignorant. It’s really sobering to remember that this is the reality of many women in the world today.
E6. We also see how Chief Editor Shim is having a really tough time juggling her career with motherhood. She’s so busy at the hospital, trying to care for her sick baby, while fielding calls from her elder kid’s teacher, and trying to sort out work, at the same time. And yet, at the office, the fact that she’s taken the day off, with met with a disapproving frown. Sigh. I’m not a mom myself, but it gets me every time, to see how hard it is, for moms at work.
Everyone’s been hurt by love
E2. From the tipsy conversation that Ha Ri and the boys share, it appears that all of them have been hurt by love before. In flashback, we see Ha Ri’s ex-boyfriend desperately trying to break up with her; we see Jae Young’s ex-wife telling him that she’ll see him in court, and we see Yi Sang’s ex-fiancé leaving behind her ring, telling him that she’s going to live well.
It’s true that all of us have lived through heartache at some point; none of us is spared, and we should all have more compassion for one another.
The mortality of one’s parents
E4. Ha Ri is faced with the sobering issue of Mom’s mortality, as she realizes that Mom suffers from stomach cancer, and that the time has come for their roles to be reversed. Mom’s always been her guardian and caregiver, and now, she has become Mom’s guardian instead.
It’s a universally affecting topic that weighs on Ha Ri’s mind, and I feel the weight of it too.
Everyone needs to feel like they belong somewhere
E12. This episode, there’s the idea that people need a place to go back to; a home where someone’s waiting for them. Eun Young has her husband and kids; Yeon Ho has her husband, and Ha Ri.. is searching for that place to belong.
I think that’s quite a universal sentiment; we all want a place where we belong.
SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILERS]
To be honest, I feel like Show could’ve done way better, with this penultimate episode.
I mean, I get that Show’s gunning for some kind of angst to make our OTP really question their love and commitment to each other, before a finale that allows them to come together again, but this direction of Yi Sang leaving Ha Ri out of a misguided desire to “truly express his love for her” is just meh, in my opinion.
Even though Show tries to dress it up as Yi Sang putting Ha Ri’s happiness before his own, with his run-in with his ex-girlfriend, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Yi Sang chooses to, 1, not actually believe Ha Ri, when she says that she wants to just focus on living happily with him, and 2, end things with Ha Ri by disappearing on her, without actually telling her that he plans to end things. That’s just leaving her hanging (and that carries on for 3 months), so how is this supposed to work to set her free to live her best life without him and have babies with someone else, if she’s waiting for him to return? I mean, he left it very vague, and basically couched his departure as a time for them to think about things. HOW IS THIS NOT WASTING HA RI’S TIME, IF THAT WAS HIS INTENTION?? Facepalm.
I would’ve much rather had Show approach this from a different angle. Have Ha Ri and Yi Sang hash things out in a raw and honest manner, for one. Honest, healthy couple conversations are such a rarity in Dramaland, that this would’ve already helped Show to set itself apart from its peers. And for another, have them wrestle with the idea of adoption, rather than the idea of breaking up. This whole idea of leaving someone out of love is not relevant in our OTP’s case, and it feels like Show is shoving a square peg into a round hole, trying to use this idea to separate our OTP in the final stretch. (Eyeroll)
I would much rather have them grapple – and come to terms – with how adoption isn’t a second-best, Plan B kind of option; that adoption is an equally valid way of becoming a parent. I would’ve loved to have watched them on the journey to coming to terms with that, and pledging to becoming parents together by putting in an application. I think that would’ve landed more meaningfully, while still achieving the penultimate angst Show was looking for.
And sure, in the finale, they could then get pregnant naturally, coz why not? Lots of couples do get pregnant naturally after they stop trying so hard and being so stressed about it. And then we could see their little family expanded more than they’d imagined it would. How happy would that have been?
Instead, we get what feels like a tired trope by now, with Yi Sang disappearing on Ha Ri, and then time-skip later, we see Ha Ri carrying on with life, smiling on the outside, but still yearning for Yi Sang on the inside. And then he appears in front of her, right when she doesn’t expect him to. Okay. Sure. I’ll just heave a sigh and write off this episode as an unfortunate loss, and hope that Show makes up for it all, in the finale.
In other news, I think Show is doing a nice job with where we leave Jae Young and Jeong Won. It’s unrealistic for them to get back together, so I appreciate that they choose instead, to co-parent, so that Do Ah gets to spend time with both her parents. This seems like an amiable yet believable compromise.
Also, Jae Young’s much more likable now that he knows to keep an appropriate distance from Ha Ri, while still being honest and supportive when their paths do cross. Pity this version of Jae Young appears so late in our story.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
To be brutally honest, I wasn’t feeling this finale much, much as I wanted to.
I mean, I think I understand what Show was working to achieve, but it just wasn’t landing for me, and I can’t help feeling rather underwhelmed by this final hour.
First, let me broadly cover what happens in this final episode.
Ha Ri and Yi Sang make up, after he overcomes his fear of making Ha Ri give up her dreams because of him. Ha Ri states that she’s happy on her own now, and doesn’t need a man or a baby to make her happy. Yi Sang promises that he will never run away again, and Ha Ri moves into his apartment, but oddly, they sleep in separate rooms while promising to respect each other’s private lives. What? I thought they were lovers, not roommates? And I thought they were keen to have sexytimes, with a baby as a Strong Bonus? It’s very strange, and Yi Sang has to beg to be let into Ha Ri’s room for sexytimes, when his hormone levels improve. I.. don’t understand this, to be honest. But ok, I get that they’re happy.
On the work front, we spend a lot of time watching Ha Ri and her team trying to save the magazine – but it gets canceled anyway. However, their efforts do save the online side of things. The team meets ex-Chief Editor Shim, who’s now freelancing, and together, they have a good drink to deal with it all, while ex-Chief Editor Shim’s baby gurgles nearby. Ha Ri writes a final editorial for the magazine’s final issue, and muses about how it might often seem like we haven’t achieved anything, but in reality, we are making small steps forward all the time. The message is strong, that we are all on our own journeys in search of our own answers, and that we should be kind to ourselves.
Ha Ri and Eun Young start a new magazine, called Oh My Baby, and for a hot second, I start to think that Show’s been trolling us all series along, and this show was never about a literal baby, but a magazine. What. That can’t be right. ..Right..? I did not like this possible alternative reality.
Soon after, Show starts hinting heavily that Ha Ri’s pregnant, because everyone is having conception dreams, and Ha Ri’s appetite has grown, and.. epilogue later, in a callback to episode 1, we see that Yi Sang’s carrying a very pregnant Ha Ri into the hospital, all flustered because her water broke. The end.
Ok. So, it seems to me that Show wanted to go all metaphorical and meaning-of-life with the ending, having Ha Ri come to the conclusion that she doesn’t need a man or a baby – or even her editing job – in order to be happy; that she can forge her own path, and learn to be happy in the moment, even before her dreams are fulfilled. In principle, I like that message. But somehow, the execution doesn’t work so well, for me. It feels rushed, for one. I feel like this message suddenly ramped into full gear this episode, and I feel like Show’s smacking me in the face with it, kimchi slap style, and I.. well, I guess I just wasn’t ready to be suddenly force-fed a big fat message in one big bite.
It also feels trite and preachy, in said message’s delivery. I think a large part of that, for me, is that a lot of the emotion doesn’t land in a manner that feels organic or real to me, this episode. Yi Sang’s turnaround didn’t move me; it felt like nothing had changed, except that we’d cycled in place long enough, for him to change his mind, so that the story could carry on.
The entire arc around the last ditch effort to save the magazine also felt tired and repetitive, because we’ve kind of danced around this topic for a while, and nothing they put together for the final presentation was anything especially new or groundbreaking. They could’ve easily gotten those reader videos for earlier efforts to persuade the management, and I was basically unmoved through their entire effort to save the magazine.
So, what would I have preferred, you ask?
Well. For one thing, I would have preferred more honest, meaningful conversations between Ha Ri and Yi Sang, so that it would’ve felt like they were really working through their issues. None of this easy “switch off, switch on” stuff. I would’ve liked to have seen more of them building a life together, instead of the pitched-to-be-funny sleeping in separate rooms thing. And I know I’ve said this before, but I feel like this entire baby arc would’ve been much more meaningful, if Show had explored adoption as a way to parenthood, instead of dismissing it altogether. People can and do get pregnant even after adopting kids, y’know?
I also don’t think the closure of the magazine was necessary. If we’d needed Ha Ri to step out of her comfort zone and start a new magazine with Eun Young, then I think I would’ve preferred it if she could’ve made that choice on her own, without the closure forcing her hand. But ok, I get it, sometimes Life gives us lemons and the process of making lemonade is all part of our growth. In that case, I would’ve preferred if the closure was handled faster, so that we could spend more time on Ha Ri stepping out and beginning afresh, starting a new company and a new magazine, rather than on Ha Ri trying and failing to save the old magazine. I think having a greater emphasis on the new start rather than on the closure, would have been more uplifting – and meaningful – overall.
If I sound disgruntled talking about the ending, well, it’s because I am. I’m sad and disappointed that I didn’t love Show’s handling of the ending, because I’d really liked Show’s earlier episodes and had hopes that Show’s ending would be similarly solid. Maybe the ending works better for you than it did for me (perfectly possible, by the way). Sigh. The could’ve beens.
Overall, though, at the end of it all, I have to admit that I’m still glad that I joined Ha Ri on this journey, because when Show was at its best, it was pretty darn good. And I would’ve been quite sad to miss that.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Stronger and funner in its first half than its second, but earnest and heartfelt, for the most part.
FINAL GRADE: B
The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of Oh My Baby, is Into The Ring. Yes, I’m sold on all of your positive comments! I’ve also taken an initial peek, and it seems very promising!
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