I really, really wanted to like this one, you guys.
I mean, Park Gyu Young in her first lead role? Yes, please! And, Kim Min Jae, as a romantic leading man again, after a wonderful turn as romantic leading man in Do You Like Brahms? Also yes, please!
The thing is, though, after 4 episodes, I’m just not feeling this one, to be brutally honest. 😝
MY BRIGHT SPOTS
Park Gyu Young as Dali
My single biggest bright spot in this show, is Park Gyu Young as Dali. I love her in this.
I love that Dali is so delicate and sweet, yet so capable and passionate, at the same time. I like that she knows her art stuff, and is so sincerely absorbed by her work, that she’d literally forget to eat. There’s a quirkiness about Dali, but it’s a very gentle brand of quirky, that adds to Dali’s charm. It’s not too much, nor is it too little; it’s perfect.
I also love that she’s kind, and sweet, and decent. She gives me the impression that she just automatically looks for beauty in things and situations. She also manages to be strong and gentle at the same time, and I love that about her.
Plus, shout-out to Park Gyu Young, for managing to make the multiple languages that she speaks in this show, actually sound natural and plausible. I totally believe that this is all stuff that Dali’s learned along the way, in the course of her passion for art.
I think Dali is wonderful, and I love how Park Gyu Young makes her so wonderfully faceted.
She is essentially my ENTIRE reason for not dropping this show like a hot potato, right away, at episode 1. 😅
When Kim Min Jae’s character was nice
I know that Kim Min Jae’s part of the reason I tuned in, but I hafta say, I struggle to embrace his character Moo Hak (more on that in a bit).
HOWEVER. There are some glimpses of Moo Hak being gentler and sweeter, particularly when he’s with Dali, and I really like those.
The problem for me, is, these moments are still few and far between, 4 episodes in.
STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE MUCH AT ALL
Stuff feels.. old-fashioned
To my eyes, there’s something very old-fashioned about what I’ve seen of this show, that I did not like. In particular, I thought episode 1 felt like a strong throwback to Early Hallyu rom-coms from the early 2000s, but not exactly in a positive way.
The plot points are tired and tropey, so much so that I can predict them practically from a mile away. The broad strokes are so obvious, that I could see a lot of things coming, even before they actually happened. And because I don’t personally love Show’s broad, intently OTT style, I felt like I had to actually endure the process of waiting for the plot points I’d predicted, to actually hit. 😝
[SPOILER] For example, in episode 1, we get the classic kdrama set-up, where our male lead trips and falls, to land very shirtless, on top of our female lead, in a somewhat compromising position. [END SPOILER]
Maybe if this was the first time a drama ever did that, I would be more entertained, but when literally hundreds of other dramas have done this before, there are basically zero freshness points to be had here, because Show hasn’t managed to inject anything particularly fresh into its use of these tropes. I just found it rather awkward and cringey, unfortunately.
When Kim Min Jae’s character wasn’t appealing
I suppose Show was upfront about Moo Hak being shouty, since it’s right there in the trailer.
I just.. wasn’t prepared for how shouty he would be. He’s just as shouty in the show, as he is in the trailer, and – dare I say it? – I find the shouty even harder to endure in the actual show than in the trailer, because at least in the trailer it’s in short, select spurts. 😝😅
This might be a controversial opinion, in that not everyone’s going to agree with me, but.. I just don’t think the shouty becomes Kim Min Jae. I think all this shouty is supposed to be funny, but I don’t find that it sits well enough on Kim Min Jae to actually land as funny.
[MINOR SPOILERS] Some of the shouty is acceptable to my eyes, like when Moo Hak’s assistant Mi Ri talks him into believing that he’s been conned by Dali. That “You die!!” was rather amusing.
But at other times, Moo Hak’s shouty seems too excessive. Like, why shout at his tenant so aggressively? And all the shouting when he and his mob gang invade the art gallery, is ridiculous and in SUCH poor taste. [END SPOILER]
As an aside, I also find that Show makes Moo Hak rather too dumb than I would prefer. I mean, if Moo Hak was street-smart, and just not book-smart, that would work quite nicely for me. But the way Show is playing it, Moo Hak seems literally dumb in every area except when it has to do with pigs, pig-farming and gamgjatang.
[MINOR SPOILER] Like, in episode 2, why wouldn’t it occur to Moo Hak to get the address of the art gallery from Dali, and why wouldn’t he think that a pair of heels in his tenant’s house might mean that his tenant simply has a guest? [END SPOILER]
[BIGGER SPOILER] In the same episode, the fact that Moo Hak takes a mob gang to the art gallery to do a lie-in protest, without even first attempting to make civil contact with the art gallery owner (who happens to be Dali), is very distasteful. It makes me think that this is just how he does business, as a general rule, and that does not endear him to me. [END SPOILER]
I know that Moo Hak’s supposed to grow on me, but after 4 episodes of the shouty, I honestly don’t think I have it in me to wait this out. 😅
When EVERYONE ELSE was shouty
A big part of the reason I don’t think I have it in me to wait it out, is because, besides Moo Hak, almost everyone else in our drama world (aside from Dali) also seems to be of the shouty persuasion.
Not only is Moo Hak shouty, other characters are shouty too – even that random client in episode 3, who complains about Moo Hak’s acquaintance, from the other gallery.
Maybe Shouty as entertainment works for some viewers, but it just doesn’t work for me. And unfortunately, the shouty appears to be a Big Thing, in this drama world. 😝
Show’s Intended Funny
Humor is a very subjective thing, and I find that there are many occasions when k-humor and I just aren’t on the same wavelength.
Unfortunately, that is also the case with this show. There are multiple occasions in just the first 4 episodes, where I can tell that Show’s working hard to entertain me and make me laugh, and I just.. don’t find it funny.
In terms of the humor, I find that the most useful lens so far, is the cartoon lens. It makes all the OTT touches more acceptable, relatively speaking, even though I still don’t love them.
E1. Shout-out to one of the cringiest scenes involving non-Korean actors in a drama, that I’ve ever seen.
My goodness, in what world do people behave that way, towards (someone whom they believe to be) a highly esteemed patron?
The exaggerated air kisses; the repeated comments that he’s sooo handsome; the bizarre enthusiastic patting of his person; the suggestive invitation by some random female guest.
It feels like a nightmarish combination of norms typically associated with Westerners (like air kisses), with a bunch of things that are more ok in Korean, than when translated into English (like the repeated aggressive compliments about his looks). It’s all very, very bizarre.
And that’s even before we get to the unfortunate choking incident where Moo Hak manages to ruin a painting by way of upchuck cherry projectile. 🙈
E2. I am bemused by Moo Hak’s assistant Mi Ri. Why is she dressed like a man, and why does she act like a man so much of the time? Is it supposed to be funny, that she’s dressed like a man, and tries to act like a man..?
Hwang Bo Ra is a lot funnier when she’s allowed to be weird and OTT. But in this role, where Mi Ri is supposed to be rather serious, but played with odd touches of comedy, like exaggerated blinks and comical sound effects, it’s not really working for me.
During my watch of these 4 episodes, I kept waiting for Show to settle down, in the areas that I struggled with, but.. it just doesn’t seem to be happening.
Honestly, to my eyes, it kinda feels like there’s one writer working on Dali, while a bunch of other writers is writing everyone and everything else, and the two camps aren’t aware that their chosen narrative tones don’t match.
I don’t think Show is objectively bad, in the sense that I think that there are viewers who would actually find this drama fun and entertaining. However, I do think it’s time to admit that I’m just.. not one of those people. 😅
I’m sorry Park Gyu Young-sshi and Kim Min Jae-sshi, that I couldn’t love this show, even though I do love you both, as actors. I hope that everyone else who does love this show, will love it extra, on my behalf.