Back to watching at last! These past few weeks got a little crazy with after-holiday holidays and shows not airing (because of award shows? I think?) and I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve seen a new drama episode. I’m way behind on I Miss You and I think Can We Get Married has already finished already. (I’ve been slow-marathoning Shut Up Flower Boy Band with the husband but, as it’s around the 3rd or 4th viewing for me, it doesn’t quite count.)
But today the fasting ends! I caught up on Alice in Cheongdam-dong. A good choice for breaking the fast as it’s got enough humor to feel fluffy and light, but breaks enough clichés (and has a deeper social commentary, for that matter) to provide the meat.
Spoilers through Episode 10 below the cut
First, the funny: I adored Cha Seung-jo’s courting hijinks, complete with Greek chorus/cheering section/curious on-lookers. I love that his brand of crazy appears to be catching. Not even Driver Kim is immune. It also gave a nice undercutting to the we’ve-seen-this-all-before moment when Se-kyung accepts Seung-jo. Having an actual peanut gallery commenting on the “straight out of drama”-ness of it was hilarious. (Though, my gosh, they all looked frozen in the scenes by the river. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a winter shoot look that cold before. Also, is this the first time something good happened by the Han river?)
Second, the cliché breaking: The growing friendship between Se-kyung and Yoon-joo is so, so, so cool. Female rivals putting their dislike aside and actually finding common-ground and moments of mutual sympathy? I thought that was a myth! 😉 It is such a (delightful! refreshing!) difference to have Yoon-joo actually wanting Se-kyung and Seung-jo to work out. And to have her actively working to make it so. (At least, I think that’s why she stopped Se-kyung’s confession — because she honestly thought it’d ruin the relationship and break Seung-jo if it happened.)
Third, deep social commentary: There is, of course the constant thread of the realities of economic hardship running through the drama. But these last two episodes (9 and 10) also brought up something interesting about secret-keeping. Yoon-joo’s idea that telling Seung-jo everything would actually hurt him, that it was actually selfish on Se-kyung’s part to let him know was… not totally wrong.
Not that it’s totally right, either! For one thing, too many people know. (And by “too many” I mean “Tommy Hong” who is honor-bound to use it to screw Se-kyung over.) But it reminded me of a scene out of Tess of the d’Urbervilles (the movie, not the book I shamefully admit) where the guy admits to a past shady sexual experience and Tess is all relieved and confesses her own shady past, too and… he drops her like a hot potato. I think she’s right that there is a difference here. I’m not sure it’s a male-female difference (it might be more a rich-poor difference, which would better fit the theme), but I think Se-kyung’s confession could have gone as badly as Yoon-joo feared. Mainly because she really did manipulate him with that last letter. I think he’d have a hard time getting past that letter.
I suspect that for Seung-jo to find out the truth and for us to have a happy ending, there’s going to have to be an extra villain in the picture. Someone Seung-jo needs to protect Se-kyung from. (My money’s on Tommy Hong. Though In-hwa is another good candidate.) Because it’s going to take an extra ounce of forgiveness and character-shifting trust on Seung-jo’s part to forgive Se-kyung. Just her telling him alone probably won’t do it.
Though there’s another movie that comes to mind with a very apropos quote. “Don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn’t marry a girl just because she’s pretty, but my goodness, doesn’t it help?” (Lorelei Lee: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)