Gu Family Book: Blech

tiedtotree photo tiedtotree_zpsc7d079dd.jpgGood Lord, that was bad. And not even crazy bad — which can bring its own level of entertainment. Gu Family Book just got… boring. The writer completely lost track of theme and purpose and began throwing things at the wall to see what would stick (spoiler alert: nothing). The director took the word “clunky” to whole new levels. And the one character I cared anything about got completely shafted.

Spoilers and rant below…

So apparently — going by the ending — the thrust of the drama was supposed to be the epic love between Kang-chi and Yeo-wool. Unfortunately, that’s only going by the end in which their “epic” love sucked up all the focus. Because going by the rest of the drama, their love story was cute (at best) and not all that eventful. truelove photo ScreenShot2013-04-18at114509AM_zps832f0e42.pngShe loved him; he loved her. Nothing truly challenged or disturbed their courtship.

A courtship I found incredibly boring because it was so smooth. High school romances have more drama. Yeo-wool immediately realizes she loves Kang-chi, dedicates her life to making his life better, succeeds so well his challenges evaporate almost as soon as they appear, and — oh yeah, he totally loves her, too.

So the love story wasn’t much of a story. Maybe the hero’s journey was the thing? (Which, per the ending, it really wasn’t — but let’s just imagine.) Thing was, our hero didn’t really journey much. He’s exactly the same guy at the ending that he was at the beginning. Every challenge set up for him, someone else talks him through solving. cutie photo ScreenShot2013-04-18at112337AM3_zps44b84650.pngHe had so many father-figures (six, if you count his actual dad) that even moments of pain were quickly and efficiently soothed.

He’s never asked to make any sort of sacrifice. If anything, people sacrifice for him. His first family is completely destroyed and he simply moves onto another family. (Who might want to check out how badly he failed the first set he’d vowed to look after. I’m just saying, he made some promises. And not only didn’t keep them — he seemed to have forgotten they’d been made in the first place. Because, I’m sure, the writer forgot about it.)

Exhibit A: The (entirely unintentional, I’m sure) horror that was Chung-jo’s story. Her character — at first so important to Kang-chi he promises three different people he’s going to save her — slowly fades away. Her scenes get smaller and smaller as her life gets bleaker and bleaker. She’s not a part of Kang-chi’s long goodbye to everyone else he knows. He effectively dismisses her by returning her gift (not in person, of course), and she doesn’t get reincarnated with the rest of the gang. gisaeng2 photo gisaeng2_zpsd97fed0d.jpg(Neither does the headmistress Soo-ryun… because gisaengs are too dirty to reincarnate? I guess? Is the writer’s sloppy indication, anyway.)

It means that her rape was truly gratuitous. An excuse to show the villain being evil (because one rape wasn’t enough?) and to manipulate the viewers into feeling horror and disgust. Though apparently, we weren’t expected to feel sympathy since the drama never shows her any. As far as I could tell, Kang-chi never learns Chung-jo was raped. And the drama leaves her a gisaeng. Which, per very explicit scenes in the drama, is a bleak and powerless life indeed.

In the end, there was no story. Just a series of awkward scenes strewn together, carefully arranged to confuse or negate any of the scenes that went before it. A hot mess I should have abandoned long, long ago.

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10 thoughts on “Gu Family Book: Blech

    • That is the upside. 😀 Also, I think I’ve learned a little something about letting dramas go. A lesson all drama-watchers must learn at some point, I’m sure. 😉

  1. What!!!!! They showed Chung jo being raped!!!!!
    This drama is worse than I thought….SO MANY tragedies…..and this drama doesn’t hesitate in showing them explicitly…..

    I should have taken your advice about it being bad earlier….that would have saved another ten hours… 🙂

    • Yup. 😦 I mean, they don’t show her rape. She’s thrown down by the villain and then it’s a quick fade to black. Then we get the morning scene of Chung-jo pulling her clothes back on while the villain lounges all smugly and her brother gets brought in to see what’s happened to his sister. It’s not graphic, but it’s pretty gross.

      I wish I’d taken my own advice… ah well. Lesson learned.

  2. My reaction upon reading about the ending was a big eyeroll and a thank to heavens I bailed out after ep 4. Good riddance, I say. I’m just sorry you suffered through the whole thing.

    Next time, trust your instincts and cut your losses, embrace you incompletist. 😉 I just cut Shark from my list. Watching paint dry might be more ineresting and that’s not just because there’s Heartless City to compare it to. I gave Shark 10 epis to woo me over but it’s a no go and that’s much more I allow most dramas these days. Oh well, I’ll get me UTW next week so….. XD Going by the stills and previews, The Blade and Petal looks pretty awesome btw. Hope it does deliver!

    • I think I’ve finally learned my lesson about dropping dramas. 🙂 I’m still willing to go through a slight dip into repetitive bleakness in the eleventh hour (that seems a common trope — not a good thing, but I can get past it), but if I’m finding it bad at the get-go… just walk away. Walk away.

      I’ve heard Shark has been disappointing. Or at least, I haven’t heard much excitement. Heartless City is still getting happy posts (that I don’t read because, spoilers) but Shark, not so much. (The advantage of not live watching! Someone else does the filtering! ;))

  3. Ranty post.
    Are smooth courtships boring, though? 🙂 The romance should have been tied up in a pink fluffy bow, but no, drama wanted to be epic and leave behind its gumiho legacy. But first let’s end this romance in Tragedy, too — because once is not enough?
    I think the problem here was that the writer/drama had an identity crisis. It didn’t know what it should be and tried to be and do everything.

    Rom-com: check! Voodoo Ninja Horror: check! Hero’s myth (sort of): check! Random insertion of Lee Soon Shin, because it’s the season: check! Violence for the sake of sadistic pleasure: ooh, double check! Because this is a rom-com after all.

    Sigh. And in the end there were too many stories. Or like you say, in the end, there was no story.

    • Yes! A smooth courtship is boring. *brings down gavel of decision* 😉 Nice — but nothing worth watching for its own sake. So, if the thrust was Kang-chi’s journey, then the love story could be what it was — cute and fun — a nice respite from the darkness. But… apparently the romance was supposed to be the thing?

      Though, I think your identity crisis theory works. In trying to be all things, the story was none.

  4. I’d been on the fence on this one at the beginning, and now I’m glad I didn’t start it. Although I was mightily tempted once the gif-sets and squeeing got going, I resisted and prevailed! I should say thanks for taking one for the team, right? OK, here goes, “Thanks for watching so I didn’t have to!”

    • Hah! You’re welcome? 😉 I seriously think this is a show that’s best viewed through gifs and mv’s. That way you get the cute untainted by unfortunate story implications. Or the clunky editing. So your choice was very wise indeed.

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