I feel like “Your mileage may vary” is quite the understatement, with this show.
There are two main camps of viewers when it comes to this show, it seems like. One camp that loves it a great deal, and another that finds many things to be problematic, in this drama world.
Most of the time, when I lead with a statement like that about a show, I tend to fall squarely into the middle ground of finding it pretty ok, overall.
This time, however, I happen to have enjoyed this one much more than I’d originally expected to. Lens adjustments apply, of course, which I’ll talk about in a bit.
OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the review.
Overall, I found the music breezy and enjoyable; in line with the light tone that Show’s gunning for.
MY TRAJECTORY WITH THIS ONE [SOME MINOR EARLY SPOILERS]
I have to confess that when I first pressed “play” on this show, I.. wasn’t prepared for the general vibe of the show, which leaned, well, “aggressive” to my eyes, and after less than an episode, was kinda ready to back away from this one.
What I mean is, Show’s apparently cavalier attitude towards relationships and sex was exactly the kind of thing that I’d been happy to get away from, in Western entertainment, when I came to kdramas.
I found it quite in-yo-face, to have Show establish, within its opening minutes, that our female lead Mi Ran (Kim Ok Bin) enjoys sex and doesn’t seem to see anything wrong with cheating on her boyfriend, by sleeping with someone else. 😅
Now, it’s one thing to have a female lead who’s free spirited and enjoys sex, but I do think it’s a whole other thing, to portray her as someone who thinks nothing of cheating on her boyfriend.
And then there’s also how our male lead Kang Ho (Yoo Teo) is blunt to the point of being mean, with his female co-stars.
In Show’s first 30 minutes, I concluded that I didn’t like our female or our male lead very much.
However, all the positive buzz around this drama made me rethink my decision, and after a break, I came back to give Show another try.
This time, I had my viewing lens adjusted, and my patience at the ready, because if folks were loving this one, I hoped to figure out why, and hopefully tap into that too.
And whaddya know, I actually ended up enjoying this one wayyy more than I’d originally thought possible.
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Generally, I think the lens that works for this show, is the “don’t think too hard lens,” because that will give you the highest chance of enjoying your watch of this show.
That said, I do think that the degree to which you’d be able to enjoy this one, really depends on how much you’re able to switch off your brain.
Beyond Show’s glossy, modern packaging that indicates a free-spirited approach to relationships and sex, Show actually does remind me of older kdramas.
Specifically, I’m thinking of older rom-coms that we all slurped up in the day because it had felt like such delicious crack, but which, under a more analytical lens, would be all kinds of problematic.
Even more specifically, I’m thinking of Secret Garden, which aired from late 2010 to early 2011, and which I’d inhaled with relish along with almost everyone else in the dramaverse, back when it’d first aired.
At the time, I just had a lot of fun watching it, and it was only much later, when I tried to revisit the show for a rewatch, that I found myself struggling with, well, a lot of stuff, including the terrible things that our male lead was written to say, to come across as a cold, prickly male lead, but which I now could only see as Very Awful Jerk behavior.
In the years since, I’ve come to realize that sometimes dramas do this thing, where they start out showing us what a jerk a male lead (or female lead, for that matter) is, in the beginning, and then, instead of actually showing us proper character growth, the dramas start showing us that this character is nice, all of a sudden, and somehow, we forget how horrible they once were, because of the recency effect.
You could even say that these dramas are gaslighting us, even.
All that to say, I do think that this show does a bit of that, because our leads’ more problematic behaviors do get softened up, by the time we hit Show’s second half.
By this time, we’re having so much fun with the frothy hijinks that it’s hard to remember that we ever found these characters unlikable, or their behavior, problematic, in the first place.
Ultimately, I do think that if you’re able to just roll with what Show’s serving up, and just focus on the rom-com fun, then you’d be quite likely to have an enjoyable time with this one.
If you’re not able to switch off your brain to this extent, however, then maybe this one’s not for you.
TOUCHING ON THE TOPIC OF MISOGYNY [SOME BROAD SPOILERS]
There is misogyny in our drama world, no doubt about it, and I do think that this is a potentially very divisive topic.
I’m not planning to delve into this too deeply, but my friend LT did write a thought-provoking post on it, which you might like to check out here.
Personally, I made the choice not to think too deeply about this issue, because I was having a good time watching the show, and didn’t want to get into a critical sort of mindset that could have potentially ruined the watch for me. 🙈😅
I will say, though, that the world in which our characters exist, is definitely a misogynistic one, and the law firm where Mi Ran ends up working, is especially so, with the firm’s strict stance of not hiring female lawyers.
In her post, LT makes a case that our male lead Kang Ho is misogynistic and never actually changes, and, well, I find myself feeling differently about that.
Perhaps it’s because of my chosen viewing lens, which was a lot more casual, where I willingly ignored behavior that could be problematic, under the umbrella of “this is meant to be silly and funny.”
I found myself willing to accept the idea that Kang Ho had met many unpleasant women in his life, and been hurt enough, by some of them, that he’d come to the conclusion that he didn’t like women, in general.
I also found myself willing to accept that when Kang Ho got to know Mi Ran and realized that she wasn’t like the other women he’s been so used to, his attitude towards women in general actually changed.
This is the key area where I feel that I have a different opinion than LT.
Where LT feels that Kang Ho essentially doesn’t change, and is still misogynistic despite his feelings for Mi Ran, I kind of received it differently.
To my eyes, Kang Ho does change his attitude towards other women, after getting to know Mi Ran.
For example, he doesn’t get that physical reaction anymore, from being in close physical contact with women.
I think that’s supposed to indicate a significant change in Kang Ho, where his physical nausea basically functions as narrative shorthand for his general attitude towards women.
Additionally, we do get a couple of scenes of him being nice to the women whom we’d seen him saying mean things to in our early episodes, and even apologizing for his past words.
That’s not a lot, sure, but it’s something, I think, particularly in a short show like this that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
All that to say, I can see that Show isn’t perfect, and could have definitely portrayed or positioned certain things better, but I didn’t mind it so much, because I was convinced that Show didn’t mean any harm.
STUFF I LIKED
Broadly speaking, here are the various things that I found myself enjoying, during my watch:
1. The OTP chemistry
Once I got past the initial hyper-bickery stage, of which I wasn’t such a huge fan, I found the OTP chemistry very appealing.
I found myself nicely sucked into the process of our OTP falling for each other, and both of them trying to figure out what to do about it.
Also, there is more skinship in this than the average kdrama, thanks to Show being a Netflix offering. And, importantly, that skinship feels natural and believable – and isn’t too risque (ie, there isn’t any actual nudity, which is a decision I’m grateful for 😅).
Despite the rather unusual narrative circumstances and the sometimes rather OTT characterization of our leads, Yoo Teo and Kim Ok Bin make it feel like Kang Ho and Mi Ran are sincerely into each other, and that singlehandedly added a nice amount of crack to my watch. 🤩
2. Show’s fast pace
Show’s only 10 short episodes of an hour each (or under), and that meant that our story moved at a nicely brisk pace.
It felt refreshing to actually get story development in such a brisk fashion, where I didn’t have to contend with much filler at all.
I liked that, and that also contributed to Show’s slurp factor, in my books.
3. The secondary loveline
This isn’t a big like, for me, but I did ultimately rather enjoy the loveline between our second leads.
Elaine mentioned to me, that she felt Na Eun (Go Won Hee) was unnecessarily passive-aggressive towards Won Joon (Kim Ji Hoon), but I personally found that I wasn’t actually bothered by this, because I took it as something Show meant for amusement.
Like, oh, Na Eun’s so awkward around Won Joon, and the only way she knows to put up a front to conceal that, is to act all superior, in front of him.
And so, I didn’t mind this loveline, and enjoyed it in a low-key sort of way.
Also, Kim Ji Hoon’s mane of glory is, well, quite glorious, and I found that gazing at it was a nice bonus to my watch, heh. 😁
4. Kim Sung Ryung as Soo Jin
I wanted to give a shout-out to Kim Sung Ryung, whom I found very likable in her role as an older star who’s struggling a little bit, with her personal problems, as well as her fading popularity.
I actually really liked the friendship that grows between Soo Jin and Mi Ran, and count that as one of the highlights of my watch.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
All’s well that ends well in this drama world, and I wouldn’t expect anything less, from a fluffy show like this one.
Because of Show’s overall cheery tone, I was confident that we’d get our OTP happy ending, even when I saw the title of the finale episode, which is “A Passionate Goodbye.”
And yes, Kang Ho and Mi Ran do break up for a while, in our finale, but through it all, I was confident that Show would find a way to bring them back together again, so I wasn’t too fussed by the break-up.
I thought the final conflict, of Mi Ran’s past becoming a point of contention among Kang Ho’s fans and the entertainment industry at large, was believable and organic to our story.
After all, the industry is famously harsh on its artists, as are fans and the public, in general.
And, Show had established Mi Ran’s approach to sex and dating, from the get-go, so it’s not like this was new information introduced at the last minute, just to create dramatic tension.
It makes sense that with Kang Ho and Mi Ran dating openly like that, that Mi Ran’s past would get splashed everywhere, at some point, and that it would become a problem for Kang Ho’s career.
I do appreciate that Kang Ho is steadfast in his commitment to Mi Ran through it all, and has no intention of breaking up with Mi Ran, even though the pressure is tremendous, and coming from all corners.
I also like that when Mi Ran first broaches the subject of a break-up, Kang Ho’s response is to suggest that they only fake break-up, while saying that this is something that the public doesn’t need to know anyway.
That’s very true; we don’t need to know, and we don’t actually have the right to know, and I’m glad that Show points that out, even briefly.
I was rather bummed that when things blow up and Kang Ho publicly declares his love for Mi Ran and proposes to her, her response is to break up with him for real. Boo.
Thankfully, like I said, Show moves fast, and it isn’t long before public opinion starts to turn around, with regards to Mi Ran and her dating history, and it soon becomes viable for our OTP to reunite, without either of them having to condemned and ruined.
Yes, it’s totally a bait-and-switch deal with regards to Mi Ran and her dating history, coz suddenly she’s some kind of dating vigilante who only dates jerks in order to get revenge on them, for their ex-girlfriends. That was weird, I thought.
But since it’s in service of getting us a happy ending for our OTP, I’m willing to shrug and move along.
In the end, I’m glad that this time, it’s Mi Ran who reaches out to Kang Ho first, since Kang Ho’s consistently been the one to express his desire for them to be together.
And while it’s admittedly a little mean for Kang Ho to rib her like that by pretending not to want to be with her anymore, I can understand that he might like a bit of petty revenge, for the way she broke up with him.
In the end, Show serves up an ending that I consider very much in line with its overall sensibility, in that Mi Ran is still not convinced that she’d like to get married, possibly ever, while Kang Ho very much wants to get married, but they are happy together, nonetheless.
They are still noisy, bickery and a little out there, which is how we’ve come to know them, and it feels pitch perfect, that this is how we leave them, as well.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Fun for a whirl – provided you don’t think too hard.
FINAL GRADE: B+
WHERE TO WATCH:
You can check out this show on Netflix.
If you’re geo-restricted, a VPN service would help you get around that. Not only does it provide online safety, it also gives you access to lots of great geo-restricted content.
I personally use NordVPN. You can find my review of NordVPN here.
You can use my affiliate link (here!) to enjoy up to 63% * off, plus 3 months free, with prices starting as low as US$3.29 per month.
* This used to say 73%, but because NordVPN’s changed the way it calculates the discount, it now says 60%. BUT, it’s the same great price, starting from US$3.29 a month!
An article on why it’s not illegal to use a VPN to access legal streaming content can be found here.