Gu Family Book: sliding towards a hate-watch

streamscollage photo streamscollage_zps3a35e1f8.jpgHere’s where Gu Family Book went wrong. They’re telling two wildly different stories. One is cute and adorable and is pretty much a rom-com with a dash of safe fantasy thrown in for spice. The other is a semi-realistic look at the fate of unprotected women during the Joseon era: bleak and painful and tragic. The two stories just don’t work together. Which should be obvious, but…

might have managed to compartmentalize the two stories and therefore not see Yeo-wool and Kang-chi (our adorable rom-com couple) as sweet but cosseted children with no clue about what it takes to survive without powerful daddies keeping their worlds safe. But the drama stupidly twined the two stories together.

Spoilers through episode 14 below… (philosophical question: is it possible to spoil that which is already rotten?)

Chung-jo has a terrible day in which everyone she’s ever known gets to see that she is a Gisaeng now. gisaeng3 photo gisaeng3_zps9fe59742.jpgShe has to fake a smile and pretend their sympathy doesn’t touch her. Then she has to witness the humiliation of the most powerful Gisaeng she knows — which suggests that even if she becomes the head of the Gisaeng house, her life will still suck. Then she runs into Kang-chi and Yeo-wool enjoying their first unofficial (because, adorably, Kang-chi still hasn’t figured out his feelings) date.

There is a simple rule the Ghost Busters taught us: don’t cross the steams — bad things will happen. The drama creators ignore Dr. Spengler. The streams cross. It is bad.

Kang-chi fends off a man bothering Chung-jo (though this is seriously what her life will be now — pouring drinks for drunk men while they paw at her), escorts her home to the Gisaeng house, chides her for behaving like a Gisaeng, then asks if she’s being distant because she’s scared of him. And I curse my screen. No, you idiot, she’s being distant because you’re too dim to realize she is a Gisaeng now. It’s humiliating for her and you’re just twisting the knife by treating her like the innocent she can no longer be.

He scampers back to the still innocent Yeo-wool who tries to be brave about the fact that Chung-jo is his first love and he loves her more. I boggle. Really? You just saw that a girl you used to know is officially a Gisaeng with all that implies… and that’s your take away? Maybe Kang-chi loves that prostitute more? Urgh! I know they’re not bad people, but I seriously wanted someone to hurt them both at that moment.

Yes, in their safe and protected little world, Kang-chi’s cafeteria politics and Yeo-wool’s dating anxiety are real issues. But measured up against Chung-jo who has to be polite to her rapist and whose body is no longer her own (or even Tae-seo who realizes his utter powerlessness in protecting those he loves) — their childish woes seem… well… the whining of sheltered children who don’t realize how good they have it. 

Fortunately — for my jaded, bitter self — Gumiho-daddy is back. sexybad photo sexybad_zpsbd1611ed.jpgAnd judging by his heavy side-bangs and guyliner (and also the handful of corpses) he’s evil now. He’s promised to kill everyone and I’m in a place where I’m hoping he does it. Or at least, makes Kang-chi and Yeo-wool feel something deeper than high school level pain. Which is pure meanness on my part, but really — the drama should never have crossed the streams.

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10 thoughts on “Gu Family Book: sliding towards a hate-watch

  1. Gosh, I hate it when a show has ingredients that don’t mix or even worse, should not mix. This makes me even more glad I decided to give this drama das boot. I feel for you…

    I’ve even stopped reading re-caps for the current dramas because they all make me more or less ranty. Mostly because large parts of their plots are so eye-rollingly asanine. Yes, I’m an opinionated git. 😉

    • The thing that kills me is each story would be good on their own. The cute and adorable is really cute and adorable and it’s an interesting struggle Kang-chi is going through. And the bleakness of Chung-jo’s struggle is fascinating. But not together!

      I’m planning to not write much more about GFB to try and contain my ranty feelings. I’ve gotten my complaint off my chest, I don’t see that repeating myself will add anything and hopefully I can just bring my feelings back to sardonic eye-rolls. (Until, of course, the review. mwahahah)

  2. I wasn’t going to comment, but I have to. 😛
    I called you “patient and un-jaded” and here you are calling yourself “jaded and bitter”. hehheheheheh. ><
    Sorry if I presumed too much. But I meant it in a good way. 🙂

    I'm not following the show, but you seem more invested in Chung-jo. From what I gathered, she got raped, too? And is now a giseng? Sigh. What is it with that pervy, paedophilic villain? I mean, ugh.
    I can see why you're frustrated, though. Will the writer follow through and give Chung-jo a solid, worthy arc or is she just a plot point to be tossed to the side when she's not needed? I hear you.

    • Hee! I didn’t even think about that, but now that you point it out, the timing is kind of hilarious. 😀

      And yes, I’m very invested in Chung-jo — probably more than the drama was expecting? — and she’s going through so, so much and… yeah, her story better end well.

  3. Hello BetsyHp!!

    So I have finally finished episode 13 & 14, once again I am incredibly behind on this drama!
    I noticed above you said you wouldn’t do any more blogging on this one, but will you still be watching it?

    I definitely agree with a lot of what you said above, but unlike you I am actually finding myself becoming a little more invested in this drama now that the whole intense rape episode is starting to (thankfully) fade a little in my memory, hence my outrage is fading a little too.

    I think your ‘two streams’ idea above is totally hilarious and ridiculously true, and I strongly agree that this drama would have worked much much better with either just Yeo Wool or just Chung Jo as the lead actress, as either character would be compelling as the main love interest (though maybe Chung Jo just a little bit more…).

    In saying that though I am starting to get a bit more behind the story now, especially in light of how totally awesome and bad-arse Chung Jo was in Episode 14. The stuff she said was so brave and hardcore and it gave me hope that she will survive this experience intact (maybe) and come out the other end.

    Anyway I hope she will, and I also freaking hope she actually does manage to kill that horrible rapist….or at least that someone does!

    • I’m definitely still watching. I adore Chung-jo too much to abandon her. 😉 Like you say, she’s pretty badass. And I do like the other characters, too. Just… not as much.

      However, because I’m still a bit of a bitter-bear with my viewing I’m going to hold off blogging on the show. I don’t want to drown my blog in repetitive complaints. If something changes, and therefore my view changes (either for the better or for the worse) then I’ll share my thoughts.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so relieved to find someone who not only does not love this show like a mother adores her newborn’s smiles (really, the way some posters gush about this show…) but who can put into words why I am suffering all of these bitter feelings of injustice.
    I feel so much for Chung Jo – she was willing to play the game, to make all of the sacrifices the world expected of a well-bred daughter, and instead she is abandoned by her family, raped, forced to make her own way in a capricious and uncaring world.Compared to her struggles, as you say, Kang Chi and Yeo Wool are still in high school. Chung Jo is bleeding from a chest wound, they have an owie on the finger.
    Kang Chi seems to be able to turn his feelings on a dime, and the show does nothing to dissuade me from thinking that “dime” was the rape, Chung Jo’s fall from grace. And Yeo Wool, who is supposed to be so brave and unique and epic… when her father asks her, like a good daughter she more or less submits to wearing a dress and learning the housewifely arts, basically imprisoned in her room. How is this different from the decisions that Chung Jo made, back when she was under the protection of a powerful father? Yeo Wool is not walking the walk yet, except in what she does behind her father’s back.
    I know i am supposed to be charmed by this light and happy dance, but I can’t be charmed when the light and happy dance is done on someone else’s back. I know that Kang Chi and Yeo Wool are not responsible for Chung Jo’s fate – our Villian: Ultimate Pervert Edition and to some extent her brother are really to blame. But a little compassion would be nice. And if the show goes in the direction of making Chung Jo a jealous hater, and therefore a “bad woman” who deserves her fate, I will really hate on this show.

    • I’ll admit I’ve been surprised by the gushing. Because even if you separate the stories out and take the cute rom-com on its own, it’s not that moving. It’s cute and mildly entertaining, imo — but not earth shatteringly good. But of course, it’s not standing on its own. There’s Chung-jo standing right over there and, unlike her fellow characters, I cannot ignore her. So every issue Kang-chi and Yeo-wool face I’m muttering a bitter, “yeah, but you haven’t been raped.” Which doesn’t take me to a happy place, obviously.

      I do put a massive amount of blame onto Yeo-wool’s dad. He’s the one who failed to shelter her when Kang-chi brought her to his school. If he’d found a place for her — like he did for her brother and for Kang-chi who were also being chased by the main villain — she wouldn’t have been raped. (For some reason, I’m more forgiving of her brother. I suspect a big reason is he’s actually aware of and horrified by what happened to her. And he talks about rescuing her. Even if it’s lip-service (though the actor’s not playing it that way, thus far) it at least means she’s on his mind. All the other “good guys” seem to have totally forgotten her.)

      The reason I continue to watch is I want to see what happens with her. Her fate will determine how I rank the show. If it’s bad, there will be ranting.

      • I don’t think the gushing has anything to do with the overall story. It’s LSG fans swooning over their oppa combined with the fact that a vast majority of drama watchers only care for the main OTP and nothing much exsits outside of their story. Give ’em a ‘swoony romance’ and they keel over.

        A story definitely needs much more than an OTP to be good.

        • I fear you’re right. More power to them, I guess? I mean — they know what they like. And apparently the show knows their audience. And it’s not me. That much is clear.

          A story definitely needs much more than an OTP to be good.

          Yes. Even if the OTP is the point. And I’m a fan of stories where the OTP is the point — so that’s saying something! Look at “Queen Inhyun’s Man” which I adored. It was fully centered around the romance of the main characters and the tension of will they get together in the end. But the issues in the past (which were huge) were not overlooked or ignored — so they added pathos to the main story. Even Choi Hee-jin’s acting career was treated seriously — and that could have been brushed aside as fluff. But again — it added to the depth of the story.

          Ah well… to each their own, I suppose.

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