Review: Mad For Each Other

THE SHORT VERDICT:

The great thing about Mad For Each Other, is how robust it feels. Despite its short episodes and overall shorter running time, Show manages to feel like a full story, with fully fleshed-out characters, and a nicely teased-out main loveline. Plus, it manages to also say a few thoughtful, thought-provoking things about mental health, the lingering effects of trauma, and healing as well.

Jung Woo and Oh Yeon Seo are really excellent in this, both separately and together. Individually, they manage to make their flawed characters sympathetic and endearing, and together, they spark very effectively, whether our characters are fighting with each other, or learning to get along.

Altogether fresh, heartfelt and quite satisfying.

THE LONG VERDICT:

Sometimes, you need a little help from your friends – or, as in my case, a series of little nudges from my friends, heh.

I’d heard about this show when it’d premiered, but because the synopsis talks about half of this show’s OTP as having anger management issues, I decided that this one probably wasn’t for me, since I simply don’t enjoy having a lot of shouting and fighting on my screen. And, I’d assumed that that would be the case, if our male lead had anger management issues.

Happily for me, a number of you kept saying positive things about this one, and kept recommending it to me as a show that you found quite delightful. Now that I’ve taken your advice and checked this one out, I do have to agree with you guys; this is a lovely little show indeed.

Thanks for having my back, y’all. ❤️

OST: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE

I couldn’t find an OST album, but here’s a track that I really enjoy. It’s Track 2, The Moment I Met You. I find it so breezy and earwormy, and the lyrics feel very fitting, for our two oddball leads who are getting to know each other.

If you’d like to listen to this on repeat while you read the review, just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS

Here are a couple of things that I think might be useful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:

1. Don’t be deterred by the anger management premise. It really isn’t bad at all. Hwi Oh (Jung Woo) isn’t half as angry as I’d expected him to be, and Show does a good job of peeling back his layers and making him sympathetic.

2. Yes, there’s bickering and misunderstandings, but it’s not one note. In fact, Show does a really nice job of playing with perspectives, and adding layers and nuances. Plus, while the misunderstandings in episode 1 might feel a touch excessive, it evens out quite nicely, afterwards.

3. Episode 1 is a bit more OTT in terms of the gag (and some toilet) humor. The other episodes are a lot milder and more balanced in comparison. I personally thought episode 1 was hilarious, but if you don’t, it’s still worth pressing ‘play’ on episode 2.

STUFF I LIKED

General writing and handling

Overall, I find the writing and handling in this show thoughtful and empathetic. The way Show explores delicate topics like anxiety, PTSD, and what it’s like to live while suffering the effects of these, is very well done. And, the fact that Show can present all this with heart and poignance, even while its chosen first approach is humor, is really quite impressive, I feel.

On top of this, our episodes generally feel tight and cohesive, so much so that I would often feel like I got a whole hour’s worth of story, despite only having spent 35 minutes of drama time on an episode. That’s pretty impressive too, and definitely contributes towards a satisfying watch experience.

Here, I’d just to give a quick spotlight to how Show balances humor with its more serious, thoughtful side, in episode 1.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. Hwi Oh’s day just gets worse and worse this episode, and I felt really sorry for him, particularly when a lot of the frustrating encounters he has, are due to misunderstandings.

..Which brings me to this episode’s key idea, that context really is everything. It’s something I say a lot, so maybe that’s why I like Show’s presentation of it so well.

Poor Hwi Oh is the victim of a wrongly constructed context, where Min Kyung (Oh Yeon Seo) basically pieces circumstantial fragments of information together, leaps to the wrong conclusions because of her anxiety (which we see is related to PTSD), and not only reacts in panic whenever Hwi Oh is in the vicinity, but (wrongly) warns people about him, causing him to suffer unnecessary prejudice.

The humor around this somehow lands as quite harmless and ridiculous, and it worked for me in a way that I found very pleasantly surprising.

The other thing that makes this work, I think, is how Min Kyung is clearly suffering too, because of all these events.

She’s not out to make Hwi Oh miserable, she’s just hyper anxious because of her mental health struggles, and can’t help feeling fearful and scared by the conclusions that her agitated brain is coming to.

From her point of view, she’s just trying to be brave enough to get on with as normal a life as possible, and this menacing guy keeps showing up around her, and behaving suspiciously enough, that she thinks he’s out to get her. Hahahaha.

I feel bad for laughing, because they are both suffering so much, but Show’s lighthearted touch makes me not take it too seriously, and it lands as very amusing to me, while still giving me little thought-provoking nuggets to chew on.

[END SPOILER]

Show’s brand of Funny

I thought I’d put this upfront, since it’s such a rare thing for me to jive with a kdrama’s sense of humor. I actually found this show ridiculously entertaining right away, in episode 1, and continued to be quite amused at Show’s idea of Funny, through the rest of its run.

In theory, this show’s humor isn’t my cup of tea, at all. I don’t usually jive with humor that, 1, is at an innocent someone’s expense, and 2, leans on the toilet side of things. The humor in this show is BOTH of those things, particularly in episode 1, and yet, I found myself giggling haplessly at my screen, groaning, “Oh nooo~,” even as I eagerly kept watching.

I don’t know exactly how Show does it – maybe it’s in how harmless everything and everyone ultimately comes across – but it somehow works for me. It’s the darndest thing.

Jung Woo as Hwi Oh

I have to say, I really enjoyed Jung Woo as Hwi Oh. Part of it, is my lingering affection for Jung Woo, after having loved him in Reply 1994, but a large part of it, is how well Hwi Oh is written and delivered, as a character.

On paper, Hwi Oh’s character could easily be delivered as overly angry and violent, but in Jung Woo’s hands, he makes Hwi Oh land as more perplexed and exasperated than belligerently furious. That went a long way for me, in episode 1, in being more openminded about Hwi Oh as a character.

And, as Show goes on, we get to see multiple instances where Hwi Oh shows kindness, patience and empathy to the people around him, often those who tend to be marginalized, and this made me love Hwi Oh even more.

Who would’ve guessed, that the character I’d started out being most wary of, would actually become my favorite character in this entire show? 🤩

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. I think one key thing that makes the anger management angle work for me, is that Hwi Oh really appears to be a harmless regular guy, until he’s provoked. Not only that, it takes quite a bit of provoking, before he actually loses his cool, this episode, which makes me feel like his anger issues might not be so bad after all. I think most people would lose their cool in his shoes, this episode, actually; it’s just that maybe they might not express that anger the same way he does, knocking his knuckles bloody against the wall in frustration.

Jung Woo makes Hwi Oh baffled, frustrated and wretched, without making him actually frightening or intimidating when his anger spills out. He’s just.. really perplexed at why his life is going the way it is.

E2. I kind of love how shocked Min Kyung and Su Hyun (Lee Su Hyun), the convenience store girl, are, individually, when they each realize that the pervert that they’ve been so wary of, is actually a respected detective. I can practically hear the gears turning in their heads, as they try to process this new information, ha.

E2. I think one of the reasons Hwi Oh doesn’t rub me the wrong way, despite being the one with anger management issues, is that he doesn’t come across as spiteful, even when he’s angry. At the police station, where we open this episode, he’s earnestly stating his case and pointing out how Min Kyung’s broken the law, and the vibe I get, is more that he wants to clear his name and clarify the situation, rather than punish Min Kyung for treating him badly.

Even though he points out the things that Min Kyung’s done wrong, and states the legal punishment she could be subjected to, and is clearly rather upset as he does so, it just doesn’t come across as malicious, to my eyes.

And, given all that he’s suffered because of Min Kyung’s anxiety, I imagine that someone else in Hwi Oh’s shoes would likely feel much more vindictive, towards Min Kyung. Because of this, I feel like Hwi Oh’s a decent guy at heart, who’s just suffered a lot of unfortunate circumstances, that have come together to become his rather wretched situation in the present.

E2. When we see the flashback, to how things started to go so wrong in Hwi Oh’s life in the first place, I can’t help but feel rather sorry for him.

Yes, he had gone against orders and entered the bar even though the search warrant hadn’t been approved, but it is quite understandable from his point of view, because he and his team had worked so hard to stake out the place, and now, with the very real possibility that they’d be able to nab the drug traffickers redhanded, I can imagine how a hotblooded detective would throw caution to the wind, because they just can’t stand the thought of the criminals getting away from right under their noses.

After that, things just get even worse for Hwi Oh, because not only is his teammate seriously hurt from the incident, it even feels like he’s being baited, in the interrogation room.

Altogether, so far, I feel quite a bit of sympathy for Hwi Oh. Things just don’t seem to go his way, no matter what he does. That scene of him tearfully eating the dinner that Mom’s (Kang Ae Shim) left for him, is so poignant. For all of his blustering, Hwi Oh really is hurting, on the inside. 💔

E3. Most of the time, I find Hwi Oh quite reasonable, even though he’s given to raising his voice and speaking roughly. And he’s decent, at heart. Even though he doesn’t want to go on patrol with the ahjummas, he does show up in the end, and he does guide them like they ask. That’s pretty decent of him, isn’t it?

Plus, I like how he vindicates Crossdressing Neighbor (Ahn Woo Yeon), who gets mistaken by the ahjumma patrol, for the flasher that they’re hunting down. Even though the ahjummas express discomfort and want to report him to the police, I like how Hwi Oh is so matter-of-fact as he reminds them that Crossdressing Neighbor has done nothing illegal, nor has he hurt anybody, by using makeup and wearing a dress.

E4. I feel bad for Hwi Oh, when he gets a shock seeing how badly hurt his ex-partner is, and then learns that this really is him, doing better than before. I can only imagine how guilty Hwi Oh must feel, and therefore, I can understand why he’d feel such a sense of urgency, to arrest the drug traffickers, even though he’s been suspended.

E4. I enjoyed the way Hwi Oh reached out to the crossdressing neighbor for help with his disguise. Again, Hwi Oh comes across without judgment, which I like a lot. I also liked that, instead of feeling like he had to hide his passion, said neighbor got to tap on his crossdressing expertise, to actually help someone. That’s got to be a very validating sort of experience, and I love that Hwi Oh gave that to him.

E5. I like the little detail, that Hwi Oh’s empathy for the neighbor in Unit 705 has grown deeper, having now experienced what he had experience the other night. And because of this, he brushes off the ahjummas’ apologies, and tells them to go apologize to the neighbor instead. That’s so decent of him.

E6. I really love how easily Hwi Oh gets along with crossdressing neighbor Samantha. He’s the one who calls out to Samantha, and there’s no trace of weirdness or judgment on Hwi Oh’s part, as they walk side by side. Hwi Oh doesn’t even blink, when Samantha reaches for his arm, and walks with him like that. He’s so comfortable with Samantha, that I kinda love it.

I mean, Samantha’s been shunned and ridiculed so much by other people, that this must feel like such a refreshing change, to be warmly greeted when recognized on the street, and to be easily accepted, like the crossdressing thing is truly no big deal. Gosh, this scene really made me love Hwi Oh even more. ❤️

And it’s a small thing, but I really thought it says it a lot about Hwi Oh, that when Min Kyung gets all huffy about seeing him with Samantha, Hwi Oh patiently sets the record straight, without once mentioning that Samantha is really a man. He simply tells Min Kyung, several different times, that he’s not dating Samantha. That implies that he doesn’t discount Samantha as someone worthy of romantic interest, and this endears Hwi Oh to me further still.

E8. Min Kyung’s mom (Gil Hae Yeon) charging into her apartment, and the subsequent screaming argument, was rather hard to watch. There are so many wounds that exist between these two. It’s clear from the way that they toss out angry, mean words at each other, that they are both still in a lot of emotional pain, and they can’t help but lash out at each other, because of it. It’s so sad, honestly, that they seem to have the complete wrong idea about each other. Mom appears to think that Min Kyung’s living a terrible, irresponsible life, while Min Kyung seems to think that Mom blames her for everything that had happened with Terrible Ex (Kim Nam Hee).

I’m glad that Hwi Oh eventually invites Mom into his apartment, and disarms her in his signature unassuming way. It’s also quite heartening to see how Mom is fiercely protective of Min Kyung, even though she and Min Kyung can’t seem to have a civil conversation with each other.

What I’m most glad about, though, is how Hwi Oh gets through to Mom, and then encourages her to trust Min Kyung, and have a little bit more patience, believing that Min Kyung’s going to come out of this ok. I love that he tells Mom about the various things that Min Kyung’s been doing, that indicate that she’s making progress in her road to recovery.

Hwi Oh is such a good egg, seriously. Love him.

[END SPOILER]

Oh Yeon Seo as Min Kyung

I have to confess that I was slower to warm up to Min Kyung than I was to Hwi Oh. Part of this is because Show chooses to reveal Hwi Oh’s backstory first, before it reveals Min Kyung’s, and part of it is circumstantial, in that Min Kyung is written to jump to conclusions a lot, and usually at Hwi Oh’s expense.

However, Show does a very effective job of painting Min Kyung in a more sympathetic light, as we get deeper into our episodes. Also, Oh Yeon Seo does an impressive job of imbuing Min Kyung with a softness and fragility that is discernible, even when she’s at her most accusing. Oh Yeon Seo makes Min Kyung come across as frightened and anxious rather than malicious, and that’s a key piece of the puzzle, in terms of what makes Min Kyung sympathetic as a character.

Min Kyung’s issues are painful and deep-seated, so there’s no easy nor quick fix for her character. However, it was gratifying to witness her making some progress, over the course of our story.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. Oh Yeon Seo makes Min Kyung timid and jumpy, without making her annoying. In fact, it feels like there’s something quite delicate about Min Kyung, where she’s trying her best to embrace life, while living with her anxiety.

It’s probably meant to be a gag, that she puts a flower in her hair as a matter of habit, because in Korea, a flower in someone’s hair, is shorthand for crazy, and Min Kyung does come across as a little bit crazy, especially to Hwi Oh. However, the way she selects the flower from the bowl of flowers that she keeps, and carefully puts it in her hair, feels, to me, like a very soft and personal thing, where she’s being dainty and elegant, in her own way.

E3. It’s quite startling to realize that Min Kyung had once been a perfectly normal, happy person, working in an office, and in what had appeared to be a steady relationship. It must have been devastating, for everything to come crumbling down in one fell swoop.

In terms of what had caused the breakdown of Min Kyung’s mental health, I don’t think it’s just the shock of learning that her boyfriend is actually a married man who’s nothing without his rich wife; it’s how, in their eyes – the wife, the boyfriend, and arguably onlookers too –  everything is manipulated to seem like she’d somehow known, deep down, that he was married, and had dated him anyway.

The accusations are pretty insidious, because they make her question herself, and I think that’s essentially how she began to lose trust in herself.

Layered on top of that, is the shock of how nasty her heretofore perfect boyfriend turned out to be. It’s quite ghastly, the way he turns on her once she makes it clear that she’s done with him. The way he verbally abuses her; and threatens her with intimate videos that he’d secretly taken of her; the way he physically threatens her, by pulling her hair and driving dangerously; he’s literally coming across like a completely different person.

I think that this, too, would have contributed to Min Kyung to losing trust in her own judgment. After all, she’d thought all along, that he was wonderful, sweet and loving, and she’d been proven completely wrong.

Gah. It’s actually really quite disturbing to think about. This reminds me of cases that we see in the news, of spurned lovers turning violent and killing their former lovers. Shudder.

It’s sad, honestly, that Min Kyung can’t seem to shake her past. I’d originally taken the scene at the restaurant at face value and assumed that Min Kyung had been right about her ex-colleague gossiping about Min Kyung the moment Min Kyung leaves the restaurant, but a number of you lovelies pointed out during our discussion on Patreon, that the scene was played from Min Kyung’s flawed perspective, and this was only what she thought was going on, and not what was actually going on.

It really does show how vulnerable and fragile Min Kyung is.

E4. Watching Min Kyung this episode, the old saying “attack is the best form of defense” seems to be her modus operandi. We’ve seen that Min Kyung’s been very hurt in the past, and is still suffering a lot of mental and emotional wounds as a result. It’s very possible that all her attacks on Hwi Oh – and on the world at large – is just her way of trying to protect herself from further hurt. Of course, that doesn’t make it ok, but it does give me a way to process it in a way that helps me sympathize with her.

E6. Min Kyung’s suggestions at the brainstorming session for new and more prestigious names for their apartment complex really give us a glimpse of how creative and talented she is. It makes me feel sorrier for her, because if not for her anxiety issues, she could well be flying high at a corporate job.

E6. I feel bad for Min Kyung, that just as she’s beginning to make some progress in finding a way to work through her anxiety and enjoy life a little, her past comes knocking on her door. The fear of her Terrible Ex coming to seek her out, now that he knows her address, is very real to her. And I’m sure that thought just brings back all the bad memories associated with Terrible Ex.

The guy at the door doesn’t turn out to be Terrible Ex, but it does tell us a lot about Min Kyung, that she can be thrown into a state of panic so easily.

E9. Kudos to Oh Yeon Seo, who knocks it out of the park this episode, portraying Min Kyung’s vulnerability so well.

There’s a distinct sense of fragility about her, whether she’s quietly trying to process what other people are saying to her, or whether she’s attempting to speak up for herself. I felt for her, so much, through this entire episode. Really well done, I say.

E9. How great, that by the time we end the episode, Min Kyung has multiple people in her corner, when all she’d yearned for, earlier this episode, was just one person in her corner. I love that she received more than she’d even dared to ask for.

E10. I like the resolution of this whole nasty SNS post arc because it is affirming for Min Kyung on several levels.

Not only is she vindicated of the false accusations, at least in her neighborhood, she has the comfort of knowing that she has people in her corner who would stand up on her behalf and protect her as one of their own. Plus, there’s the sense of community that she gains, where she’s no longer all alone, all the time. It’s no longer her feeling like it’s just her against the world; now there’re people with her, who would stand with her, against the world. That’s awesome.

[END SPOILER]

Hwi Oh and Min Kyung’s growing connection

The growing connection between Hwi Oh and Min Kyung is THE main event in our story, with the premise being that of two people, who are wounded and weird in their own ways, who eventually bond, and help each other to heal.

I like that idea very much, and Show’s treatment of this premise, is just lighthearted enough to keep things breezy, and yet, poignant enough to make all the delicate layers feel real.

Yes, it’s a bit of a slow burn, since it takes several episodes before we get our first glimpse of understanding or appreciation between Hwi Oh and Min Kyung, but I think that Show does a very effective job, of growing their connection in slow degrees.

I also very much appreciate that Show doesn’t try to convince us that there’s a magic switch that flips once people fall in love, that erases all their past hurts and related baggage. Instead, Show teases out this relationship, while keeping their wounds and scars front and center, and that, in itself, is quite special.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E4. The road to mutual acceptance and respect is a long and rocky one, it seems, because even though we get glimmers of progress this episode, in the end, it still feels like Hwi Oh and Min Kyung aren’t that much closer to understanding each other, after all.

I’m relieved that the car and dog issue isn’t dragged out, and Min Kyung really does benefit from Hwi Oh’s help, so much so that she starts to look at him with new eyes, a little bit. I mean, he doesn’t have to pacify those two boys, because it had been Min Kyung who had lashed out at them and made them cry, but he does anyway, and seems really earnest about it too. I’m glad Min Kyung turns back and then approaches the situation with a more calm, relatively more positive sort of attitude.

That moment when Hwi Oh concedes that she’s prettier than average, lands in a surprisingly poignant manner with Min Kyung, which makes me think about whether Min Kyung’s bluster is but a cover for her insecurities. After all, she’s been hurt very deep and private ways, and I’d believe that that can do serious damage to your self-esteem.

Perhaps, in the same way that she’s adopting the “attack is the best form of defense” strategy, she’s using the self-praise and bluster as a form of protection too? And therefore, Hwi Oh’s concession that she’s some level of pretty, even though it’s meant to take her down a few pegs from her high horse, touches her. This might be the first positive affirmation that she’s had in a long time, after all.

E4. It’s too bad that not only is Hwi Oh’s personal sting operation a bust, he also gets mistaken for a pervert, by Min Kyung. I think with Min Kyung, it’s quite possible that she just freezes up, when she panics. Therefore, I don’t think it’s that she heard Hwi Oh’s protestations and treated him like a pervert anyway; I think she couldn’t hear him or see or think straight, once the thought – that she’s facing a pervert – took hold.

It makes for noisy bickering hijinks, sure, but underneath it all, there’s a sense of sadness pulsing through, that makes me feel sorry for these two people. I’m hoping that, likewise, they’ll make more progress soon, in terms of understanding and empathizing with each other.

E5. Even though it takes a pretty huge misunderstanding and an unfortunate trip to the police station, it feels good to see Min Kyung start to see Hwi Oh with new eyes, and realize that he’s telling the truth, and she’d really gotten the wrong idea about him. With her deep-seated trauma, it takes a lot for her to see beyond her anxieties, and this feels like an important breakthrough. Finally, she knows for a fact that Hwi Oh isn’t a pervert, and isn’t out to get her.

I have to give it to Hwi Oh. No matter how frustrated he gets with Min Kyung – and I do think that there is much to feel frustrated for, in his shoes – he never reacts maliciously towards her. He might get upset, and he might talk really loudly, but he’s mostly just very exasperated, and you can just tell that all he wants is to be left alone.

There’s no hint of him ever wanting her to get her comeuppance for attacking him. It’s probably partly due to the fact that as a detective, he’s trained to take the high road, but I also think that it’s just who he is.

Each time Hwi Oh swears off ever talking to Min Kyung again, or having anything to do with her, he ends up going to her rescue. First, with the flasher pervert guy, and then at the end of the episode, with the dubious-looking dude in the elevator. And, he springs to her rescue without hesitation, too. Again, it’s probably partly because he’s a detective, but also, it’s just who he is.

This endears him to me a great deal.

The growing understanding and empathy flows the other way as well. When Min Kyung talks at length about her anxiety attacks and what her symptoms are like, Hwi Oh does look rather sorry for her. Plus, there’s how he teaches her how to do deep breathing exercises to calm herself down, which she really does take to heart.

That moment of mutual hyperawareness between them, as they practice the deep breathing technique together, is quite nice. I mean, at the very least, it’s a refreshing change to have them be aware of each other’s presence in a positive way, yes? Plus, they both even think of each other a little fondly, at their respective sessions with their psychiatrist. Aw. That’s nice too. I’m looking forward to more of this, heh.

E5. I like that Min Kyung’s trying to give Hwi Oh food by way of an apology, but when she started asking for lessons in self-defense, I saw Hwi Oh’s unfortunate incident coming from a mile away. Ack. Poor Hwi Oh. And after trying to defend himself from the potential injury, too. Man, I wouldn’t trust Min Kyung either, in his shoes. 😝

Therefore, I don’t blame him at all, when he gets up to leave the convenience store when Min Kyung walks in (yay that he got an apology from Su Hyun, and some gifts of food as thanks too). And yet, like I said earlier, he still goes to Min Kyung’s aid, when she calls for him.

E6. I’ve come to the conclusion that the more Hwi Oh and Min Kyung kinda-sorta get along, the more I enjoy this show. And this episode, they are getting along pretty well, all things considered.

There is a a fragility about Min Kyung, even though we mostly see her  in her prickly, defensive mode. That fragility really comes through, in how frightened she is, during that elevator ride. Her knuckles are practically white, with how hard she’s holding onto Hwi Oh’s sleeve.

I love how compassionate Hwi Oh is, to then offer to teach her self-defense, even though he’d just recently sworn off having anything to do with her.

I find the self-defense lesson quite entertaining, especially because Hwi Oh gets mistaken for harassing Min Kyung, and has to explain himself all over again, pfft. I do appreciate, though, that 1, Hwi Oh’s teaching Min Kyung very practical things rather than overcomplicating it, and 2, the way Min Kyung runs off grinning, is now distinctly flavored with playful mischief, rather than that mean streak that we’d noticed earlier. She’s loosening up enough to have a good time with Hwi Oh, and that’s really nice to see.

I also like how these two are slowly getting into a sort of routine with each other, where they train together and eat together. It feels warm and familial, and I like that.

E6. Min Kyung’s starting to feel little jealousies around Hwi Oh now, and I have to say, I’m nicely amused by this. It’s not very obvious with Su Hyun, but I do think Min Kyung’s a little jealous, in a low-key sort of way, that Hwi Oh invites Su Hyun to hang out with them, when that time had originally been a two-person-only sort of deal.

And then there’s how Min Kyung gets jealous when she thinks that Hwi Oh had canceled their dinner plans because of another woman, heh.

E6. I do like the little hints that Hwi Oh’s starting to look forward to seeing Min Kyung as well. That little beat, where he smiles a little to himself when he hears the knock on the door, then catches himself so that he’ll answer using the lower registers of his voice, is so dorky cute.

E7. I have to admit, I was a little thrown by how Hwi Oh and Min Kyung seem to be suddenly quite distant from each other, after the comparative closeness of the last episode.

I rationalize that Min Kyung’s withdrawing into herself, from the anxiety that she’s experiencing, and also, perhaps she’s cutting off possible connections with other people, now that she’s decided to move. And I estimate that Hwi Oh’s grumpy because he doesn’t want her to move, and is likewise distancing himself from Min Kyung’s comings and goings, almost in retaliation.

E7. I do think that Min Kyung’s fragility comes across more distinctly this episode, than in previous ones.

It’s a lot to do with the look in her eyes; her gaze communicates a sense of uncertainty and tentativeness, like in the way she looks at Hwi Oh, when he goes to her apartment to demand that she return his shoes. The fact that she doesn’t even try to argue with Hwi Oh like she usually does, is surprising, not only to me, but to Hwi Oh as well. I feel like Hwi Oh went blustering over there, not because he was actually angry, but because he was expecting to rile her up and get a reaction – and a bickery interaction – out of her.

As always, though, when Hwi Oh concludes that Min Kyung needs his help, he does come through. I kinda love that not only does he offer her his apartment to hang out in, while waiting for the locksmith, he even calls out the passcode to his apartment so casually to her, like it’s the easiest and most natural thing in the world to share such personal information with her.

E7. I think Hwi Oh rushed Min Kyung out of his apartment because he felt awkward having her and Mom in the same space, and given that he knows how anxious Mom is that he settle down, I kind of understand where he’s coming from.

Importantly, I like that when Hwi Oh realizes the kind of fear and danger Min Kyung faces as a woman living alone, he goes over pretty quickly, and offers his things as a solution to Min Kyung.

And I really do love their conversation as they share a bit of soju and barbecue together. It’s true that Hwi Oh’s slightly tipsy when he tells Min Kyung that she doesn’t have to move, if she’s moving because of him, but that’s just what makes him so wonderfully unguarded, as he tells her that he’s gotten used to her, and that it’s interesting to see what new thing will happen with them, each day.

It’s clear from Min Kyung’s gaze, that she’s really quite touched by this; it feels like no one’s actually appreciated her presence in a long time. I think that she counters it with rough words, as a defense mechanism, so that she won’t betray any vulnerability, in the moment.

I’m glad, though, that the portion of conversation that follows, is one where Min Kyung allows herself to be truly vulnerable with Hwi Oh. It feels sad – and honest – when Min Kyung tells Hwi Oh that she can’t trust anyone, not even herself. And, given that she’d been so deeply betrayed by the person whom she’d trusted the most, I can imagine why she’d feel so wary of everyone, even herself. Plus, Terrible Ex had accused her of knowing that he was married, and just pretending not to know.

When your self-confidence is so low, you start to believe terrible accusations like that, and it’s really awful. Poor Min Kyung. I hate the thought that her bad experience with her ex-boyfriend has not only destroyed her trust in others, it’s also destroyed her self-confidence. That’s a really hard thing to recover from, and what she says is true; you do second-guess yourself a lot. You do get paralyzed just making the smallest decisions. Gah. This just makes my heart ache.

I love that last part of the episode, where Hwi Oh comes back to Min Kyung’s door, and asks her whether the gas valve had been turned off, and whether the windows had been closed – and then, when she answers in the affirmative, I love how he then tells her that, see, she can trust herself, and she should trust herself. Oh my gosh. I love Hwi Oh, so much. ❤️

I love that he’d been listening to everything that she’d said, and had been thinking it over, and had even found a way to prove to her that she is more trustworthy than she’d assumed, and that she didn’t do anything wrong. It’s no wonder she’s galvanized into taking that next step – inviting him over for ramyeon.

E8. For one thing, I’m happy to see that Min Kyung and Hwi Oh are getting over their hump of awkwardness, and being more at ease with each other again. The invitation to ramyeon turns out to be quite literal, even though Min Kyung clearly did mean for it to mess with Hwi Oh a little bit, and I’m glad that the two of them manage to laugh it off, and thus break any remaining awkward barriers between them.

Plus, I’m also glad that she’s able to talk honestly about why she plans to leave for Mongolia, and he’s able to be honest that he think it sucks that she’d invited him in for ramyeon, if she’s planning to leave anyway. This feels startlingly healthy, for two people who are supposed to be having mental health issues.

I love that Hwi Oh and Min Kyung start hanging out again, and I really enjoyed watching them take Howhi for a walk together, and I especially liked how Hwi Oh gets Min Kyung that pair of pink sunglasses, so that she’ll see the world through those rosy lenses. It might seem like a small thing, but I think it will likely make a huge difference to Min Kyung, on a very practical level.

Also, how cute, that Min Kyung tells Hwi Oh that he reminds her of the Hulk, then goes on to remark that the Hulk is her favorite superhero. Aw. She’s saying that Hwi Oh’s her favorite superhero, isn’t she?

It’s also pretty great to see them resume training, and I love that Hwi Oh rewards Min Kyung’s progress, with a little prize of a pink whistle. It’s cute AND practical for her situation. What a sweet thought.

E8. I’m proud of Min Kyung for standing her ground with Terrible Ex’s mom, but I can see why it’s an emotionally devastating experience, and why she’d feel the need to blow on that whistle until Hwi Oh found her. I’m also proud of Min Kyung for making the decision not to run away, but to face everything head-on, and overcome it, right here in Korea.

It feels like what she leaves unsaid, are the words, “with you,” as she looks at Hwi Oh with tears in her eyes. But, it feels like Hwi Oh understands those unspoken words just fine, and I’m so happy that he wastes no time in pulling her in for a hug. Huzzah! These two quirky dorks now officially have each other, and I am very, very pleased about that.

E9. I’m really glad that Min Kyung has Hwi Oh in her corner now, and I’m so pleased that it’s such an instinctive thing that it’s in force, even before they talk about it later in the episode. He’s just automatically on her side now, and I love the idea of that.

I love that even though Min Kyung’s slow to acknowledge that she has any kind of attachment to Hwi Oh – and therefore, he’s part of the reason she decided not to move – Hwi Oh’s not even that fussed about it, and just keeps sort of smiling little smiles to himself, because (I think) he instinctively knows how she feels, and knows that she’s just too proud &/or awkward to talk about it, and he’s rather amused by that.

I just like that fact that Hwi Oh seems generally rather amused by Min Kyung as a general rule now, when he’d started out being aggravated by her, at the beginning of our story. It makes me smile to realize how far these two have come, together.

Plus, I really like how deeply invested Hwi Oh is, in Min Kyung’s problems. The way he gets so upset, when he hears that Terrible Ex’s mom had come to see Min Kyung, is so.. comforting, really. He’s all bug-eyed bluster, but because that bug-eyed bluster is in defense of Min Kyung, and he’s getting all up in a twist on her behalf, it’s really quite sweet.

Also, I’m proud of Min Kyung, for being able to say, even after all she’s gone through, that she’s done nothing wrong and therefore has nothing to be afraid of. That’s the hardest thing to do, when you’ve been bullied and worn down the way Min Kyung has. Considering that she’d only recently been unable to trust herself on little things like whether she’d turned off the gas valve or closed the windows, this is huge, and I’m glad that Hwi Oh’s right there to affirm her, as she articulates it.

I’m also really glad that Hwi Oh manages to find Min Kyung pretty quickly, and sits down to talk with her about it. Most importantly, I’m glad that he’s quick to pledge himself as her ally, because that’s exactly what Min Kyung needs. She needs to feel like she has someone in her corner, unconditionally. It’s so perfect, that Hwi Oh tells Min Kyung to take photos of their handshake as evidence; he really does understand her so well. It’s weird, but it’s also clear that this act of taking photos as evidence, gives her a sense of assurance and comfort.

The little detail, that Hwi Oh doesn’t let go of Min Kyung’s hand immediately, and even rubs her knuckles gently, with his thumb, feels so cozy and intimate. Augh. I need these two to figure out their relationship with each other, sooner than later, mostly so that I can see them being a cute couple on my screen.

I also love the detail, that when Hwi Oh goes to see his psychiatrist, he still thinks about Min Kyung when talking about his anger issues, but this time, instead of being angry because of stuff she’s said or done to him, he’s now angry on her behalf, for all that she’s gone through. Ahhh! That change in perspective gives me so much gratification, seriously!

Although we don’t get a confirmation of whether Hwi Oh and Min Kyung actually start dating, I do love the little detail that we get in that highlight reel, where we see Hwi Oh and Min Kyung dressed similarly, as they take Howhi out for a walk together. That’s such a cool grunge-chic sort of couple look, and I love how Hwi Oh’s wearing sunglasses, just like how Min Kyung’s always wearing sunglasses. I got so much delight from that little flash of a scene, honestly.

E10. Ahhh. We have confirmation and significant OTP progression, huzzah!!

I love the beat, where Hwi Oh comes tearing down the road towards Min Kyung, because he’d heard the sounds of her blowing on the whistle, and then, at the sight of Min Kyung surrounded by the ahjummas, gets all blustery and protective over her, worried that the ajummas have put her through some hazing ritual, and then, at Min Kyung tipsily declaring that she loves their apartment complex and plans to live there forever, smiles a little smile of amusement and satisfaction to himself. Aw. He just really likes the idea that she’s gonna stay, doesn’t he?

I basically love that Hwi Oh’s general reaction to Min Kyung now, even when she’s being all drunk and incessantly blowing on her whistle, is one of smiley amusement.

Even after he’s brought her home and then finally gets to lie down in his own bed, there isn’t a trace of irritation or even exasperation in his face, as he hears her through the wall, blowing on the whistle like there’s no tomorrow. He just chuckles to himself and then calls her to remind her that the whistle is for emergencies only. Ahhh. How sweet is he? I love that he’s this amused by her. It feels so appreciative and indulgent.

I realize that Hwi Oh is making every effort to let Min Kyung take the lead and dictate the extent and pace of their connection. He doesn’t actually pursue her, like most romantic leads might. Instead, he spends time with her without actually testing the boundaries that she’s set. She’s the one who tells him that she misses him urgently, and that’s why he goes over there, to her apartment.

I love that even though Min Kyung’s request is weird – that he just sit there with her, and talk to her, until she falls asleep – he just rolls with it.

I feel like most people would’ve been all, “I don’t know what to say,” but not Hwi Oh. He just thinks for a moment, and just dives right into it, talking about random things like how watching sad movies is supposed to help people with anger management issues and the like. It’s just so.. comfortable, the way he just rambles on in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way, as if he’s done this a thousand times before. I like that.

And, when she falls asleep, I love how he gets all amused while imagining the kinds of things she might be saying in her dream that causing her to frown in her sleep. It shows just how well he knows her, that he can quote the phrases that she’s most likely to reach for, heh.

It’s true that he’s drawn to her and looks like he might kiss her, but when she wakes up, he hangs back, and denies that he was on the verge of doing anything. She basically has to kiss him first, and then several times more, before he feels confident of her feelings and what she’s giving him permission to do, and kisses her back. And those kisses.. so full of raw hunger and tender need, mixed with dorky awkwardness and fun giggles. Omona. Rawr.

How sweet of Hwi Oh, to make Min Kyung that smiley-egg breakfast the next morning. What’s his mom talking about, saying that he’s not considerate??

E11. It was nice to see Hwi Oh and Min Kyung out on that movie date, but that shot of them being watched was creepy, and upon second inspection, after finishing the episode, I realize that it was Terrible Ex stalking them at the movie theater, ack. It does say something, though, that Min Kyung’s relaxed enough while with Hwi Oh, that she doesn’t actually pick up the vibe that someone’s watching her.

I personally cringed somewhat, at the scene in the cafe, where Hwi Oh’s colleagues invade his date without realizing, and for a time, Min Kyung sits at the next table and just listens to their conversation. While I understand that it’s a weird and uncomfortable situation, I wanted Hwi Oh to clarify the situation, so that Min Kyung would be acknowledged, and not be relegated to sitting at the next table like a stranger. However, some of you pointed out on Patreon, that this was Hwi Oh’s way of allowing Min Kyung to take the lead and set the tone for their relationship. I like that interpretation much better.

E11. I like the detail, that as Hwi Oh and Min Kyung settle into their new relationship, they’re both able to process it properly, with the help of their therapist. That feels needful and healthy, particularly since they’re both emotionally vulnerable, in different ways.

I love that Min Kyung chooses to trust Hwi Oh, even though there’s a part of her that’s still afraid, and I like that Hwi Oh articulates that he wants to be a good cop and a good person, even though he’s a little scared that he’ll mess up again. This feels like good and important progress.

The thing is, though, as Hwi Oh gets that doctor’s letter and starts the process of going back to work, I see a disconnect between what Min Kyung needs right now, and what Hwi Oh would be able to provide. One of the key things that has made their connection so helpful to Min Kyung, has been Hwi Oh’s availability. He’s been there, within easy reach, whenever she’s needed him. But in his line of work, when he’s at work, he is the opposite of within easy reach. And so, even before this episode’s Big Event happened, I had a sinking feeling about Hwi Oh going back to work. How would his sudden unavailability affect Min Kyung, especially since she’s still so vulnerable?

I imagine that the kind of woman who would be most compatible with a detective, would be someone who’s independent, because a detective would be at work at all hours of the day and night, and wouldn’t be available for a lot of things. There’s no option for that detective to be at his significant other’s beck and call; he can’t suddenly drop an investigation because his girlfriend needs him.

And yet, that’s exactly what Min Kyung needs right now. And that’s not even counting the fact that Terrible Ex is back, and is stalking Min Kyung with a vengeance. 😬

[END SPOILER]

Special shout-outs:

Kang Ae Shim as Hwi Oh’s mom

I wanted to Hwi Oh’s mom a shout-out, because I found her so warm and kind, every time we saw her.

Here are my two favorite Mom scenes, in the show.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. How motherly of Mom, to handwash Hwi Oh’s things, after he ends up pooping his pants. And how sweet of her, to not only not mind it, but even reminisce what it had been like, to wash Hwi Oh’s poopy pants when he’d been little. I feel Mom’s care and concern for her son, so clearly.

E7. I love that Hwi Oh’s mom is such a warm person, that she’d be able to make Min Kyung feel at home, and even have a proper conversation with her, even though Min Kyung’s usually really anxious around strangers. I mean, sure, Mom’s keen on the idea that Min Kyung might be romantically involved with Hwi Oh, but Min Kyung does make it clear that she’s just Hwi Oh’s neighbor, and Mom still treats her warmly and makes sure she eats her dinner.

It’s such a motherly sort of thing to do, and it feels like Min Kyung hasn’t had a home-cooked meal, nor received any kind of motherly attention, for a long time.

[END SPOILER]

Lee Su Hyun as Su Hyun

I really enjoyed Su Hyun as a character. I’d originally thought she was a small one-time appearance sort of bit character, and I was quite delighted to realize that Show was giving her a little arc of her own.

Also, because I’m such a noob when it comes to the k-music scene, I only realized partway through my watch, that Su Hyun’s half of singing duo AKMU. I thought it was pretty neat, that we got to hear Su Hyun flex her singing chops in episode 9. She sounds great. 🤩

Ahn Woo Yeon as Samantha

I loved Ahn Woo Yeon as crossdressing neighbor Samantha. I found myself growing fond of him, the more I got to see him on my screen.

I love how Samantha doesn’t bear grudges even after being misunderstood, and I especially love Samantha’s empathetic streak.

Su Hyun and Samantha together

The friendship that develops between Su Hyun and Samantha is legit one of my favorite things in the entire show. Even though this is a supporting arc that doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time, I perked up any time these two appeared on my screen together. I find it delightful, how this apparently odd couple actually fits together so well. ❤️

[SPOILER ALERT]

E8. I’m glad to see that Samantha and Su Hyun are starting to hit it off, a little bit.

At the very least, Su Hyun shows herself to be pretty awesome, in how she treats Samantha so matter-of-factly, and without any trace of judgment. While most people wouldn’t mention the incident with the ahjummas because it’s a delicate topic, I rather like that Su Hyun reminds Samantha about it, with a matter-of-fact smile.

I feel like this is actually better, because now Samantha has the assurance that there isn’t anything that Su Hyun’s being judgmental about – including the embarrassing incident with the ahjummas.

E9. It sucks that Su Hyun’s ex-boyfriend acts all condescending at the convenience store, with his new girlfriend in tow, but it’s cool that Samantha shows up, and partners so well with Su Hyun, in their spontaneous fake relationship act. I got a kick outta that.

How kind of Samantha, to wait for Su Hyun outside the store, until she’d finished work, because he figured that she could use a Neighborhood Unni right then. Aw.

E12. I love how Samantha is the one who thinks of putting Su Hyun’s voice on social media, and how he’s the one who persuades her to give it a try, with his help. I love Samantha, and I love the idea of these two becoming proper friends. ❤️

[END SPOILER]

STUFF THAT WAS OK

The apartment ahjummas

Overall, I feel quite ambivalent about the trio of ahjummas from the apartment complex, which is why I have them in this section.

Sometimes, they are nothing but trouble, but then, sometimes they turn out to be really warm and helpful. That said, I do think Show does a pretty effective job of redeeming some of their less positive behaviors, by the time we hit Show’s final stretch.

[SPOILER] I do love how they get over their bias against Samantha, and even call out to him in a warm and familiar manner in episode 9. This endeared them to me a great deal, and helped me to want to cancel out the various times I’d found them too nosy or gossipy. Well, that, and how they make it a point to apologize to Min Kyung, and do so with sincerity, once they realize that they had been wrong about her. I do love that they went out of their way to defend her, once they knew the truth. [END SPOILER]

The policing stuff

I have to confess that I wasn’t much into the various policing arcs that we get over the course of our story.

I know that it’s structurally important to our story, given that it forms a large chunk of Hwi Oh’s backstory, and also, because it’s Hwi Oh’s job at stake, but I wasn’t overly interested in Hwi Oh’s mission to catch the drug traffickers. Which is why I have this in this section.

STUFF I LIKED LESS

Everything to do with Lee Seon Ho [SPOILERS]

It was honestly rather disconcerting for me, to see Kim Nam Hee play the not-so-perfect boyfriend, after having loved him as the Hero Swordsman in Sweet Home. He’s definitely quite versatile, since I fully believe him in both roles, and also, felt conflicted about seeing him be nasty in this show, heh.

I hated Terrible Ex, and also, anything and everyone to do with Terrible Ex. Ugh.

Not only is he cruel and manipulative when it comes to Min Kyung, his mom (Lee Young Ran) is an awful piece of work too. Both mother and son have the same tendency of being nice to start with, and once Min Kyung doesn’t behave the way they want, they drop the nice act and all the Nasty comes out in its full glory. And, they both have a habit of trying to gaslight Min Kyung as well. Like mother, like son, it seems.

I disliked both these characters with a passion. Terrible Ex’s wife was pretty horrible too.

THEMES / IDEAS

There are lots of themes and ideas woven into this drama. Here are just a few, off the top of my head.

1. Context is everything.

2. You can’t truly understand someone else’s experience until you’ve walked in their shoes.

3. Don’t judge people by their appearances. We see this consistently across characters, from Hwi Oh, Min Kyung, and Samantha, to Terrible Ex and his awful mother

4. There is power in acceptance and community.

5. You are of value for yourself, and not your circumstances.

SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILERS]

Oof. Show serves up the angst this episode, and it’s of the raw, hit-me-hard variety. This was a tough episode.

First of all, I dislike Hwi Oh’s ex, so much, you guys. She really is a miserable person. The way she keeps acting all condescending to Hwi Oh, and makes herself out to be the bigger person, when she’d been the one to abandon him in his time of need. I’m really amazed at how patient and gracious Hwi Oh is towards her, given how she’s acting now, and how she’s acted in the past.

And, to make Condescending Ex even worse than she already is, she puts on a show in front of Min Kyung, knowing that this is the woman that Hwi Oh’s seeing now. That just blows my mind, honestly.

I mean, it’s not even like she’s trying to hold onto Hwi Oh for herself; after all, she’s getting ready to marry someone else. I feel like she did that to, 1, exert her superiority over Min Kyung, and 2, make sure Hwi Oh’s in more unhappy circumstances than she is. UGH. She’s awful, and I’m glad that she’s not in Hwi Oh’s life anymore, though I do want to throttle her, for purposely stirring up trouble, where Min Kyung and Hwi Oh have enough on their plates to sort through.

I really wanted Hwi Oh and Min Kyung to sort out their misunderstanding, and more than once, it almost kinda-sorta feels like we’re on the cusp of a breakthrough – but not quite.

Clearly, both of them still have a great deal of issues and baggage, and the hard truth is, it is getting in the way of them fully trusting each other.

Min Kyung’s wounds are so deep, that the single interaction with Hwi Oh’s ex is enough to send her into a tailspin, her mind whirling at every thing that Hwi Oh’s ever said to her, and how each thing might not be the truth after all. And with Min Kyung being this anxious and fragile, it’s legitimately difficult for Hwi Oh to keep his promise to her, to believe everything that she says, no matter what.

And then there are Hwi Oh’s anger issues. He may not be directing that anger towards Min Kyung, but I can attest to the fact that when you are mentally and emotionally fragile, having someone show explosive anger in front of you, is in itself a terrifying thing. It presents the (very real) possibility, that this violent anger could well be directed at you, in the not-so-distant future. It’s very triggering, to put it mildly, and I can understand why Min Kyung would want to keep some distance between them. Sigh. It’s a tough situation, for sure.

I really feel for both Hwi Oh and Min Kyung, through it all. I feel for Min Kyung because she’s been so hurt, and she’s still hurting; her wounds are still fresh, because they are that deep. My heart goes out to her. It’s really hard, to heal from something like that.

And I feel for Hwi Oh, because he’s doing his best, but it’s just not working out. Even though he’s taken steps to verify Min Kyung’s assertions, every step he’s taken, seems to create an even greater divide between him and Min Kyung, and that’s the last thing that he wants. That scene, where he tries so hard to express himself to Min Kyung, that the tears start leaking out of his eyes, is just so, so well done. I legit choked up, watching Hwi Oh struggle to connect with Min Kyung.

“I’m the one who’s crazy. I’m the real crazy one. I’m so angry. I’m so angry that it drives me crazy. Seeing you hurt… Seeing you in so much pain… That makes me so angry, okay? I don’t care what happens to me now.” … “This hothead who’s always beating people up just wants to be with the crazy woman who had an affair with a married man!”

I feel his helplessness so acutely, as she walks away, despite his best efforts. 😭💔 The heartbreak and resignation is real, y’all. Their issues are complicated and very much present in their lives, and there is no guaranteed fix either. Sometimes, people are damaged for life, because they simply fail to heal. I’m believing that Show is going to steer us towards a happy (ish?) ending, but for now, the angst is very real and raw.

The only silver lining, I’d say, is the sight of Su Hyun and Samantha becoming legit friends, as he works with her to put her amazing singing voice out on social media. I love that. I love that the adjummas pronounce that they are a “set” now. And I’m looking forward to seeing Hwi Oh and Min Kyung come back together as a “set” in our finale. Coz that’s definitely going to happen, right?

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

Y’know, given where we’d ended our penultimate episode, I have to confess that I’d felt a little concerned, coming into this finale, in terms of whether Show would be able to wrap up this story in a way that felt satisfying. After all, 35 minutes feels like so little time, to get us from our Final Conflict, to our Happy Ending, right?

Full disclosure: I had come across some dissatisfaction on this show’s ending, along the lines of Show introducing a legitimate conflict so late in the game, that it doesn’t give itself enough time to resolve that conflict in a manner that feels satisfying.

Now that I’ve seen the ending for myself, I’m gonna hafta say that, all in all, I’m reasonably satisfied with where Show takes us, and how Show gets us there, in this last episode. Not gonna lie; it does feel a tiny bit rushed to my eyes, but in the grand scheme of things, taking into account how Show handles it all, and what Show manages to accomplish in just 35 minutes, I can’t complain too much.

We get the thing with Drug Dealer Yang (Lee Gyu Hyun) out of the way really quickly, at the top of the episode, but since the pieces had already been put in place, to position Yang right under Hwi Oh’s nose, it feels reasonably organic, to have this arc all wrapped up, so that we can focus on other, more central, narrative arcs.

Y’know, even though I never thought that Min Kyung should ever go back to Terrible Ex, I have to confess that he had me going there, for a bit, with his sorry-and-sincere act. His spin on things almost makes sense, with him saying that he hadn’t told Min Kyung about his wife because he’d planned to divorce her anyway, and he’d gone crazy when he thought he was going to lose Min Kyung. I think it’s definitely partly the leftover goodwill I have for Kim Nam Hee, who played such an upright, decent guy in Sweet Home.

But, UGH, Terrible Ex turns out to be terrible indeed. When I realized that he’d drugged Min Kyung and absolutely had no good intentions towards her, I wanted to kick myself for having believed his sob story, even for a split second. That’s just how good abusers can be, at putting on an act, and spinning a story, right?

I’m glad Hwi Oh’s quick-thinking enough, to track them down, but I was really worried for a while there, during the car chase, that something bad was going to happen to Hwi Oh or Min Kyung – especially at the part where Hwi Oh’s clinging to the hood of Terrible Ex’s car. Ack. That felt really dangerous. 🙈

I was so relieved when everything was over, Hwi Oh and Min Kyung were safely in the hospital, and Terrible Ex had hitched a ride right to the police station. That was pretty gratifying, ha.

I love the scene in the hospital where Hwi Oh and Min Kyung make up. I love that Hwi Oh’s all affable and inviting, even though he’s been pretty roughed up. Augh. He really does only care about Min Kyung, and now that he knows that she’s alright, it’s true, nothing else seems to matter to him.

I’m so pleased that he finally gives her the whistle necklace (SUCH a sweet gift, and SO perfect for Min Kyung), and I’m happy to see our quirky OTP snuggling again. It’s true that there’s a bunch of stuff they haven’t talked about, but it feels like fundamentally, the things that matter most – that Hwi Oh truly cares for her and would put his life on the line to protect her, and she cares for him and doesn’t actually want to be apart from him – are firmly in place.

Therefore, I’m admittedly rather perplexed at Min Kyung’s decision to move out, and without Hwi Oh’s knowledge. I know she says that it’s to protect him, but this does feel like a shot of noble idiocy that could have been avoided, honestly. Or, if she really felt like she had to leave, I would have preferred if she would’ve told him beforehand.

Hwi Oh chasing down that moving truck was pretty darn impressive – dude is determined, is what. The whole sequence, of Min Kyung cutting Hwi Oh off, to Hwi Oh yelling that he’s going to live like a drunk, to Hwi Oh apparently picking a fight with a passerby, to Min Kyung running back to Hwi Oh, and Hwi Oh showing her that the guy’s from a Wanted photo that she’d taken, to them kissing ardently on the street, all while still holding Wanted Guy down, is quite out there, honestly.

But, I’ll rationalize that the stress of the moment, and Min Kyung’s not-quite-real determination to cut Hwi Oh off, is what gets her to go back to Hwi Oh and intervene, spilling her real feelings out in the process.

I was a little disappointed that Min Kyung ends up leaving anyway, for an unspecified period of time, but on hindsight, I do think that perhaps that was the healthier thing to do. Perhaps what Min Kyung needed, was some time away, to gather herself together, and come back stronger and healthier. I do appreciate that we get some updates on the rest of the community, in Hwi Oh’s voiceover, which sounds like a letter to Min Kyung, and in particular, I like the little spotlight on Su Hyun and Samantha, still working so well together, on her music.

When Min Kyung comes back, and summons Hwi Oh with her whistle necklace (I’m so amazed that the necklace is actually functional! 🤩 So brilliant!), and they stand there smiling at each other, I take it as a positive indication of things to come.

This isn’t a happy-ever-after ending; this is a I-know-we’re-both-still-damaged-but-let’s-work-things-out-together-because-you’re-worth-it sort of ending. And because we’ve already seen them make some important progress, and because we’ve seen how important they are to each other, and because we know that they both have a professional therapist guiding them through it all, I do have a good feeling about their future. Plus, these two just really make a good set, don’t they? ❤️

THE FINAL VERDICT:

A fresh, fun, heartfelt little drama that punches above its weight class.

FINAL GRADE: B++

TEASER:

MV:

PATREON UPDATE!

The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of Mad For Each Other, is Breakup Probation, A Week. Announcement post is here! 😄

If you’d like to join me on the journey, you can find my Patreon page here. You can also read more about all the whats, whys, and hows of helping this blog here. Thanks for all of your support, it really means a lot to me. ❤️

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Paulina
12 days ago

@Simeon, I agree, there are definitely Silver Lining Playbook vibes there (I think others have mentioned that too). I liked The Silver Linings Playbook but I think I liked Show even more. It’s mostly because of its more intimate atmosphere, even the colours were slightly subdued, creating a hushed, tender mood. Thank you, @kfangurl, for your excellent notes, as always. To be honest, personally, I’d give Show an ‘A’. At first, I was thinking of an ‘A-‘ but when I started to consider what the ‘minus’ would be for, I honestly couldn’t find anything of significance that I’d like Show to have done differently or better, and anything I could think of would amount to nitpicking. So, an “A” from me. I loved Show a lot and as said, it was a highlight of this summer. 😊💖

Last edited 12 days ago by Paulina
Gill
Gill
19 hours ago
Reply to  Paulina

You know i agree B++ is too low a rating, IMHO. I liked the review though. I like when a show is a bit different. I also admire the writers for tackling such difficult subjects.Its rare you see such violence direct to the lead lady. I don’t remember seeing the ex boyfriend in anything else but he was brilliant here. Equally charming and menacing depending on his mood. The neighbours added a bit of fun while highlighting other issues. I got so much from this show. I have watched a few of Oh Yeon Seos dramas and I generally like them, quirky and funny.I wasn’t sure that I’d like this from the blurb and even the trailer (cute dog notwithstanding). But it was different than I expected. I think that’s perhaps the key to this little drama…appearances are deceptive. You need to put aside your bias and appreciate people (and things) for what they are. You might end up being pleasantly surprised with the result.

Simeon
Simeon
16 days ago

This show gives me Silver Lining Playbook vibes and I’d say it’s not a bad thing. I also really liked this show and the many many ideas and themes it touches on. Especially when it highlights how as women, we do have a lot of things we are fearful of even if we don’t have anxiety. I really liked how after Hwi Oh’s mom talked about how living alone as a woman is actually terrifying, that he begins to empathise with Min Kyung, even bringing her weapons for protection and teaching her self-defense. Such a practical and refreshing alternative to the usual “I’ll protect you” trope. I wish there were more kdramas like this honestly!!

Kay
Kay
17 days ago

Lovely review! This show is definitely on my must watch list, though I’m mostly going for very happy things these days, so the themes might be a bit heavy for what I’m looking for right now. I’m sure I will enjoy it eventually though 🙂

Cosmia
Cosmia
18 days ago

I wish more korean dramas were shorter, HBO style. The strict 1hour, 16-episode structure forces extreme padding and plot points that can destroy an otherwise great start. Something in the Rain comes to mind as a great example of a drama that could have been so great if it was maybe a 10 episode thing. In fact, at least for me, most kdramas start to tire me out around the 12-14 episode mark.

In any case, I really enjoyed this one! Great review as always!

Leslie
Leslie
20 days ago

Such a great show, with so much to say in, relatively, little time. It succeeded beautifully. Like you, I was completely satisfied after each 35-minute episode. Thanks for a great review.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
20 days ago

Great review Fangurl. I am so glad that you liked this drama. I did as well and, like you, I just loved Hwi Oh. Such a great guy.

I also appreciated the way that the drama handled the Samantha mini-arc. It was handled with real class. Thank you KDrama land for that positive presentation. I loved the convenience store clerk Su Hyun and she has such an amazing voice. Their friendship was delightful.

Yes Fangurl, I also needed to be nudged to watch this. If Sean had not nudged me in this direction I would never have watched this, so thank you Sean.

Thank you for this great review!

Jeremy
Jeremy
20 days ago

I can’t believe Howie only gets a mention in passing!?!? When incident happened and I was watching week-to-week, I spent a lot of time wondering if I could continue watching if incident ended badly.

But I have to say, all in all, I loved this show and got so much joy from it. I too was worried how they could wrap everything up in one episode, and they did. They even had time to add that extra drama at the end in. Impressive writing and pacing throughout.

Great write up as always. A pleasure to read and brought back fond memories of Show.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
21 days ago

For me, just a sweet, beautiful show and the whistle said it all, kfangurl 😊