This one is similar to Prime Minister and I in set and setting. There is a younger, spunky woman, slightly older male politician who is principled, upright, not hard to look at, intense, with a gift of gab, and a twist to render the romance socially unacceptable. Both are comedies. Both have a dark understory involving a car accident. The car accident is the MacGuffin driving the plot. It seems important, and then ultimately it’s not.
This show was satisfying to watch, in spite of being a paint-by-numbers jumbling together of a randomly assembled fistful of makjang clichés. Or maybe because it is. There is a certain confident professionalism about the show. I really enjoyed watching Male Lead’s Shakespearian intensity and witty lines. There was a decent level of chemistry between Male and Female Lead, though the kisses by and large were of the rigid, mouths-clamped-shut variety typical of the more conservative Korean television. (I won’t look for an explanation of that here.) Male and Female Second Lead eventually get together, and even Male and Female Third Leads eventually get together, in Episode 16 mini-conclusions which seemed tacked on and unmotivated but otherwise satisfying. In general, the series was so satisfied with itself that the end credits included a series of Jackie Chan Hong Kong Movie-style bloopers where the cast found themselves to be just too funny to keep a straight face.
In fact, every interesting moment of each episode was telegraphed in the end-credits of the prior one, so there was less of sense of dramatic tension than simply sing-along with the general mood, as I was binge watching the whole thing on a series of late school nights which cancelled my office productivity each next day.
So with so many approving comments, let conclude with a few criticisms:
- 1 year flash forward, then 2 year flash forward. So lazy. And same as in Prime Minister and I and a few others I’ve seen. Who waits that long where they actually like each other?
- Female lead high-tails it to Abroad for 2 or 3 years in Act 3, then comes back for the finale with a fancy, independent grown-up job, ready for the denouement. Why always a long solitary trip abroad when the young lady in question is an intense, caregiving homebody up to that point? Is this meant to signify her transition from quasi-adolescence to ripe and childbearing-ready adulthood? And out of Abroad she pops up with a job as a law professor? It seems more like we are transplanting the emotional developments of college and young adulthood into young adulthood and early middle age, and I don’t buy it so much.
- The rings. Three of them, so nice. She wears them once and then never seen again?
- The wedding. Why do these weddings in K-dramas of well-to-do successful partners seem so perfunctory and devoid of attendants? The wedding in this show looked like it happened in a tiny wedding hall off a shopping mall and took an hour to perform. Does everybody in Korea have quick, low-key, friendless and unattended Vegas-style weddings in shopping mall wedding halls? I think I saw one of these in Manhattan in Chinatown. Is that a thing? After all the virginal courtship spanning 3 or 4 years of dramatic clock time in the show, they tie the knot with a friendless quickie deal in a shopping mall? I really don’t get it.
- Male Lead and the other Male Supporting Lead: In their early 40’s, with apparently no mutual, extended romantic relationships with women prior to the arrival of Female Lead or Female Supporting Lead. 40-year-old virgins. But with fabulous apartments, meticulous grooming and beyond-fashionable clothing style. And then willing to sit around patiently brooding for another 2 or 3 years, doing basically nothing, while waiting for things to magically work out. But not huge Judy Garland fans.
Does that make sense? Just asking. Because apparently it makes sense all the time in the world of conservative television K-dramas. Not that the world of Korean film and TV doesn’t produce a lot of raunchy stuff. But to a large extent that Seoul-lywood productions are divided into raunchy and generally low-budget stuff, and conservative K-dramas which have rigid tropes but fairly high production values, and not much in between.
- Major disconnect in tone between scary stuff and comedy. The musical sound track for the show signals lightness, as do the credits and 90% of the material. They throw in hints of various menacing gangster-type acts. They pretty much never follow through on the darker elements in this show, to the extent these references feel alien and quite out of place and uncharacteristic of the rest of the dialogue, set and settings. The same thing happened in City Hall. I’ve seen other Korean movies where they go whole-hog gangster to the point that it is unwatchably nasty. But consistent in tone. Here the tone is not consistent at all, and it takes you out of the drama somewhat when they go that way, because it is not natural to the rest of the tone.
- Scandals, Skinship, Netizens. One gets the impression from this and similar shows that Koreans are really really gossipy, and that they pay very very close attention to the day to day peccadillos and social transgressions of minor politicians. Not like us, thank God, as it seems rather exhausting.