Here’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…
I 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. She 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. And 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.