Thanks to all of you who recommended this short little drama special to me. It really is as endearing as you said it was, and I do like it as much as you said I would.
This is one of those times that I wish this story had a little more time to explore and tell its story. Instead of the 2 one-hour episodes we got, I think 4 to maybe 6 one-hour episodes would’ve done this story and its characters more justice – as well as given me more satisfaction. Yes, I’m being greedy, heh. 😉
TO. JENNY OST – TIRAMISU CAKE
Because this is a really short review, I’ve put the OST album at the end of the post, if you’d like to listen to it. Here’s Tiramisu Cake, a song that Lehar promised I would love (I do love it, thanks Lehar!).
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Jeong Min (Park Sung Cheol) is an aspiring singer-songwriter who is talented, but suffers from crippling stage fright. One day he runs into Na Ra (Jung Chae Yun), the girl whom he’s had a crush on since high school, who’s now struggling to make a fresh start after the girl group she used to be a part of – Cocoa, where she used the stage name Jenny – disbanded. They form an unlikely friendship when Na Ra asks to take guitar lessons from Jeong Min.
STUFF I LIKED
1. The music is very good.
I am very, very impressed with the music in this show. The songs are clearly written specially for our story, and they are eclectic and heartfelt. It all feels very folksy and indie, with lashings of country soul, because some of the songs are about very mundane things like tiramisu, or pork belly, and yet manage to get under my skin. So quirky, and so good.
Both of our leads do their own singing and it appears that they both play the guitar for real as well. In particular, I think Kim Sung Cheol sounds great; his tenor voice has such a clear sort of timber that I really enjoy. I can’t tell for sure, but it also looks like he plays the piano for real too. (And he looks like he’s playing the cello for real, in Do You Like Brahms? as well, so I’m wondering at his music background. Unfortunately I couldn’t find more information about that; if you guys know more, please share in the comments!)
In my recent post about drama OSTs, Jeff mentioned that he’d love to see more dramas featuring real performances. I think this little drama special is right up your alley, Jeff! 😃
2. Our male lead is a very regular guy.
After Jesse made the remark that resulted in my post about regular guys as male leads, I’ve been more cognizant of the relative lack of male leads in Dramaland who aren’t chaebol princes or cold, perfect jerks. In this story, our male lead is a very, very regular guy. He has music dreams, but his daily life is very mundane and unexciting, he doesn’t have many friends, he has only a few followers on Instagram, and he’s very average-looking, too.
If you like seeing an average joe in a male lead role, this should work nicely for you.
3. His relationship with his sassy younger sister is endearing.
Jeong Min’s very close to his 10-year-old sister Ok Hee (Choi Yoo Ri), and confides in her regularly. Sassy lil sis dishes out advice about everything like a boss, which is quite cute, but what really gets me in the heart, is how she really does care about her older brother.
4. The main message of our story is liberating.
In the end, I like that Show’s emphasis is on our leads finding their voices, and the path that works for them, in life. I thought that was very uplifting and empowering.
STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH
1. The sound levels in episode 2 can be quite messy.
What I mean is, while I was watching episode 2, I found that sometimes the sound was very soft, like when we needed to hear our characters’ voices during certain conversations, and the sound for other things – background sounds, other conversations, or singing bits – would be disproportionately loud. I found myself adjusting my volume multiple times. I’d dial up the sound in order to be able to hear characters talking in a scene, only to find myself reducing the volume madly, when the sound level suddenly changed.
This was distracting, to say the least, and it did detract from my enjoyment. Bummer. But, I wouldn’t call it a dealbreaker, since Show is otherwise so winsome.
Note: As a caveat, I was watching episode 2 without being plugged into my earbuds, so any white noise around me (like the whirring of a fan) probably was a factor. I’ve checked the sound levels again with my earbuds in, and it does help, because the softer dialogue is much more audible with earbuds / headphones than without. I still think the sound levels could’ve been better managed, though.
2. Our story ends rather abruptly.
Again, this is not a dealbreaker, but it did feel like we ended our story rather suddenly (more details in the section on the ending).
3. It feels short, at just 2 episodes.
Like I mentioned in the beginning of this review, I think Show would’ve benefited from a little more screen time. That would’ve allowed us to explore our character arcs a bit more, and end our story, well, less suddenly.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
It’s a rude shock when the Na Ra finds out that the agency is giving her song – which Jeong Min wrote for her as a gift, no less! – to agency rival Aileen (NC.A). I thought this was rather sudden, because prior to this, Na Ra’s CEO (Jo Kwan Woo) had seemed fully on board with the idea of Na Ra recording a single with the song.
It does galvanize Na Ra into quitting the agency, which I think is healthy for her, even though this does put her in a bit of a funk, where she isolates herself and hides from Jeong Min.
I thought it was really sweet of Jeong Min not to try too hard to impose his presence in her life, while still showing that he cares, by ordering food for her on the regular, with instructions to the delivery guy to just leave the food outside her door, if she says that she didn’t order it. It’s such a clear, everyday way to show her that he still cares, even though she won’t see him. Aw.
Jeong Min steels himself and signs up for the Open Mic night that Na Ra had suggested, and Ok Hee takes charge of helping him practice singing in front of people, so that he’ll get over his stage fright.
It does seem rather simplistic that Jeong Min would get over his years-long stage fright just from trying hard, but I get that he’s extra motivated because he wants to do this for Na Ra, so I’ll roll with it.
Open Mic night goes well, and although Na Ra doesn’t attend, she does learn how much of himself Jeong Min’s poured into helping her, via his Instagram account. It’s quite perfect that, afterwards, Jeong Min shows up at the internet cafe where she works, to sing his heart out to her. It’s a gorgeous, heartfelt performance, and I feel so happy for him, that he’s even able to do this now.
We see that Jeong Min and Na Ra start broadcasting their music together on SNS, and while the growing ‘likes’ populate their screen, we cut away to behind-the-scenes footage. Like I said, the ending feels rather abrupt, but I really do like the idea of Jeong Min and Na Ra feeling free to make music on their own terms, him no longer a prisoner of his stage fright, and her no longer feeling at the mercy of an unfeeling and cold agency. Sing loud and fly high, my baby birds. 🎵🎶
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Sweet, cute & poignant. Packs a lot of feels into its short run-time.
FINAL GRADE: B++
WHERE TO WATCH:
Here are both episodes, so that you can dip your toes in, right away!
OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE