Dating Agency Cyrano: Reaction Post

bhandmy photo bhandmy_zps1de30fa7.jpgOkay, why was this show not adored?!? It’s completely adorable! Sweet and fluffy, yes — but intelligently so. An easy watch but without the need to turn off your brain. Instead it actually rewards attentive viewing with all the lovely, lovely meta. (I’m going to blame timing. I suspect DAC got lost amongst its competitors.)

I spoil everything, and go on for quite a bit, below…

I loved how the different cases all played with actual k-dramas or movies. For example, when one case involved a talented, driven chef who refuses to let men into her kitchen (huzzah for the gender-swap!) I totally got Min-young’s thrill in saying, “yes, chef!” while working there undercover. (I obviously got my Pasta watch done just in the nick of time.)

And I loved how each case examined various aspects of love and romance. Like the confusion and bittersweetness of first loves with the Idol case. Or how having the courage to just step forward and be seen by your crush can be its own reward with the Ghost case.

But what I most loved was how the cases always wound back to our main cast. That’s something Dating Agency Cyrano did right. They used the cases as launching pads for the main  characters’ stories —  not just for comedy and little romantic vignettes. (Though, they made for awesome rom-com vignettes.) arangkiss photo arangkiss_zpsc4b5e902.jpgIt meant that our main characters unfolded as the drama went along and it was their stories that kept pulling me back for just one more episode.

Also, it was our characters that had the most poignant love stories. (Which makes sense — we knew them best and, therefore, cared about them most.) Arang’s first love, during the Idol case, really deepened his character past the surface-y cutie-boy role. It developed his relationship with Min-young. It showed his already tender relationship with Moo-jin. And, double bonus, it showed us that Byung-hoon really did have a heart.

The slower love story between Moo-jin and waitress, Hye-ri allowed Moo-jin’s character to grow into something more than robot-genius — but without compromising the strictures  he’d been introduced with. Moo-jin seemed to react to human interaction the same way I react to math. Really, really, really slowly — still figuring out the first question while the rest of the class has sped ten questions ahead. So that the show was able to take the time to allow Moo-jin the mjandhr photo mjandhr_zps2c625e6e.jpgslow beats of recognition that maybe, possibly, he likes this girl (with the hilarious aid of a heart monitor) was awesome. And showed real planning from the writers.

(I also loved the question it began to raise in my mind about Hye-ri. Because she had to be very persistent about wooing him. Expressing a confidence and a patience I found both admirable (oh, to be that confident!) but also a teeny bit suspicious (seriously — she’s not frustrated yet?). Another cleverly laid plan on the writers’ part.)

And then there was the main love-story — complete with love-triangle — between Byung-hoon, Min-young and our resident Jekyll and Hyde, Seung-pyo. (This is where I apologize to Indigo for doubting Lee Chun-hee’s second-lead-syndrom-ness. After you get past the creepy… he’s cause for major heart-confusion. At one point I wished there was some way to just clone Min-young so everyone would be happy.)

myandbh photo myandbh_zpsf9f68951.jpgAgain, I loved that we were able to get a slow build of attraction between Min-young and Byung-hoon. Loved that we (the audience) saw it first. Loved that, once she’d figured it out, Min-young was clear and straightforward and didn’t let Byung-hoon scare her away. And I really loved that Byung-hoon was less a noble-idiot and pretty much just a plain idiot. He was in denial for a really long time (which fit for his character). And by the time he decided to tack on the “noble” part of the equation (“okay — yes, I like her; but she deserves someone better”) he had everyone scheming against him to get him to drop it already. (Seriously, the noble-idiot bit lasted for less than an episode. That’s barely enough time to count.)

Whereas, with Sueng-pyo, I loved that he fell into love with her by mistake. And that it was her certainty that he was good person that really did it. That’s what got me past the creepy — because it meant he really did want to be a good person. It also meant that he began showing some vulnerability where before he’d seemed a puppet-master, pulling all the strings behind the scenes. Which, actually, makes a good segue…

There were a few things that seemed to bother viewers (per the Dramabeans recaps anyway) and one was Min-young getting kidnapped. I had, unfortunately, been slightly spoiled for it. I knew that, at some point towards the end, a kidnapping was going to happen. Didn’t know the who’s or why’s — but I knew it was coming and I knew it was a serious, as opposed to comedic, turn. Which colored my viewing, of course.

But I will say, there was always an underlying menace shadowing the pop-colors of Dating Agency Cyrano‘s world. I was serious when I first doubted Seung-pyo as viable second-lead material because the man seemed dangerous. seungpyo photo seungpyo_zps37c456ce.jpgI mean honest-to-God, let me show you my knife skills mwahaha, dangerous. And since he was obviously keeping a hostile eye on Byung-hoon, and keeping his interest a secret, I expected dark things to come. (Of a certain definition of “dark” of course. I wasn’t expecting the drama to suddenly break into a Gaksital redux or anything.)

So, as the show unfolded, I clocked Hawaiian-shirt guy constantly hanging around and beginning to lean towards creepy. And I wondered at Hye-ri’s wooing of Moo-jin. And, eventually, I wondered what the connection was between the two of them. (I ranged everywhere from Hawaiian-shirt guy stalking Hye-ri, to the two of them scheming to kidnap Moo-jin for his grandmother’s money.)

Which means what actually happened still managed to surprise me. But not in a “this is totally out of place!” way. I was never worried Min-young was going to be truly hurt — or that anyone would truly die. It was a Disney-movie level of danger. Enough to be exciting, enough to push shelled characters out of their carefully constructed hiding places, but no more than that. peepers photo peepers_zps44f6f087.jpgAnd it did have a nice amount of meta to it — the dating agency did veer close to stalking at times. It felt like this was the show acknowledging that, as well as the creepiness of having someone meddle in your life.

But again — because of spoilers I was expecting this as the end game. So it’s kind of hard for me to judge how badly it jarred the un-spoiled viewer. It didn’t feel out of place or out of left field to me. So that means it wasn’t an awkward pasted-on addition, at least. But was it a misstep? I feel like it wasn’t, but others felt it was, so…

can however, definitively dispute one argument I saw raised several different times. And thats the idea that Min-young was a weak character with no discernible talents, reduced to just being “the girl,” and of no real use to the story. If Min-young was just another team member, I could maybe see it. But she wasn’t. She was much more important than that. She was the “Everyman.”

That’s the person the audience relates to and sees the story through. So they can’t be overly gifted (like Moo-jin) or intimidatingly intelligent (like Byung-hoon) or too pretty (which I think was Arang’s role — he certainly had the schoolgirls chasing him, anyway). In the movie version, Choi Daniel’s character was the “Everyman.” (Which is typical. It’s generally a guy, especially in films and I could essay on about the whys of it — but this piece is getting too long already.) adorablemy photo adorablemy_zpsc32e090b.jpgBut here, it’s Min-young. Which means she’s not useless, she’s essential.

And Choi Soo-young did an excellent job fulfilling that role. She was lovable and loving — seeing the best in (and therefore bringing it out of) the people around her. In a way, she was the Wendy to the dating agency’s Lost Boys. (Which would make Byung-hoon, Peter Pan. Oh! And Sueng-pyo, Captain Hook! Ooh! And Arang as Tinker Be… ll? ….? Too far?) It’s not, generally, the most dynamic of roles — but it’s not nothing, either. It’s what connects the audience to the story. We believe because Min-young does. Nothing weak about that.

Wow! This is a really long reaction post! Especially for what was really, when you boil it down, a fun, well-paced, cleverly told, breezy little drama. I very much enjoyed it and think it a good addition to the Oh!Boy lineup tVn’s put together.

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14 thoughts on “Dating Agency Cyrano: Reaction Post

  1. I think it’s a shame this installment didn’t get much love. I marathoned it after it finished airing and really enjoyed. The cast really seemed to click and most of the episodes flew by. I thought it was a great blend of comedy and romance.

    • Agreed! Hopefully it’ll pickup recognition as the marathoners start to view it. There’ve been dramas lost in the live-viewing before that became well loved later on. (I think “You’re Beautiful” was one?)

  2. I know….someone complained a lot about Minyoung’s character over@DB…..and I was like..she is the heart of the show..how can one not love her…

    Yay that u liked the drama….I loved the fun and fast pace…the chemistry between the OTP (some people were bothered by the age difference..maybe they like noona romance and not the other way round..lol)….loved the characters and last but not least..the soundtrack!!

    • The soundtrack was awesome! I’m not generally a huge soundtrack person (I’m not a huge fan of ballads and it’s usually ballads that get used) but in this case — I really enjoyed the music just for the music. 🙂

      And this was definitely written for those viewers who have a thing for the hot-ajusshi. Which I haven’t seen much of (could well the limit of what I’ve seen and not an actual trend) so yay DAC for fulfilling that need! 😉

      I loved Min-young, but yeah, she wasn’t on a hero’s journey and definitely not coming of age — so if that was the trajectory being looked for, disappointment was inevitable. But she was an awesome “Everyman” — or heart of the show.

  3. Yeah, this show really deserves alot more love! Great insight on Soo Young’s character being the Ariadne (of Inception) of Cyrano. I didn’t think of her being weak a personality, quite far from it. But I thought she didn’t bring any skills or abilities to the table unlike the rest of the guys, so it seemed to me that her role was well, primarily to be the love interest. Which is, sigh, a typical female character trope right? Which they really bring that home when the show decides to damsel her with that kidnapping scenario. That was my main problem with the kidnapping thingy and that it seemed so unnecessary. But minor gripes, coz everything else was executed to pitch perfection in this show!

    • Min-young was the love-interest eventually, yes. But I’d argue that it wasn’t her primary role. And she doesn’t become the actual love-interest until the last half of the drama. Before that, the mysterious — and therefore a lot more thinly drawn — Yoon Yi-sul was the love-interest. The force that created Byung-hoon’s issues and that (apparently) created Seung-pyo’s anger.

      I think it’s in Min-young becoming the love-interest that both men show character growth. They’re attracted to an actual, live (or realistic) woman and not a pedestal-placed idea of what a woman should be (where they’d both placed, in different ways, Yi-sul). And it’s interesting that, at least with Byung-hoon, Min-young is an active love-interest. Jumping up and down and saying, “I love you! Look at me! Love me! I can tell you pretty much do already!” Which isn’t a common part of the trope. 😉

      The kidnapping… Min-young is definitely removed from her usual agency, I agree. It seemed to me that it was done so that the men could act on their own, without her coaching. That it was their time to actively show the new importance love had in their lives. (Because, tonally I knew Min-young wasn’t in real danger — the tension for me was in watching Byung-hoon and Seung-pyo face down their respective demons.)

      So I can see, story-wise, why it was done. But… it did take Min-young out of the action and make her the object or reward the guys were fighting for. Definitely ye olde female-trope there.

      • Yeah I agree about her being forthright and straight-up with BH about her interest in him and not letting him get away with it. I liked that. But I think though that Yi Sul is a red herring in that department, she’s part of the whole package of issues with the past that BH needed to get over. And yes MY’s role as love interest serves that purpose i.e character growth in the guys, as you point out. But that in and of itself, isn’t much of an active role i.e. she inspires him through who she is rather than through her actions. Which is fine, but it would’ve been nice to see her bringing something to the table other than driving BY around haha! So I get where that DB criticism comes from. I think i would’ve easily overlooked this if she wasn’t damsel-ed. Darn the damselling, it’s my pet peeve!

        • I think what Min-young brought to the table was being a fully formed human being. So while the Cyrano gang each had a strong area of speciality (or a specific talent), that’s all they had at drama beginning. They were their speciality, if that makes sense. And Min-young helped each of them come out of their specialized shell and fill out the parts of themselves that had become dormant as they operated out of their little hidden world.

          Which is why I do dispute that she was just the girl (specialized in being female) or love interest. (She affected all four characters and Moo-jin and Arang definitely weren’t in love with her.)

          However, yeah, at the end there Min-young was definitely damsel-ed — I cannot dispute that. 🙂 I can see why the story went that way (take away the teacher in order to test the students) but it definitely meant it fell under the “girl becomes object” rubric.

          • Hmm despite your considerable powers of persuasion (I’m sure you’ve been told this before, right?) I’m not entirely convinced though. Again, her helping them come out of their shell, that’s intrinsic to MY and not so an acquired skill/ability. This doesn’t mean she’s weak or devoid of personality, but it does make her character the catalyst in a typically female-prescribed way i.e. she inspires the boys to be/do better. In any case, am thankful she got to rescue her man waaay before she was rescued by him! So now that I think about it, I should give this drama a teeny bit more credit for MY’s character 😉

          • Hah! I’ve been called a bulldog before — for just not letting it go, already! 😉 (I do try and dial myself back — I don’t want to be pushy or “my view or get out” at all.)

            I actually do agree that Min-young’s thing was intrinsic to her rather than a learned skill. And that her role of catalyst (which was, I think, her main role) was of a definite female type. (Very Wendy to the Lost Boys, mothering sort of thing.) I don’t think it was done in a sloppy or flat way (as you say, she’s not devoid of personality) but she definitely filled an old-school (old-fashioned?) female character trope.

            And! That actually helps me understand what was frustrating the commentators I was reacting to. 🙂 Because if you were expecting/hoping for a different type of character — or just plain old prefer a different type of character — Min-young would leave you wanting.

            So, I learned something today. 😀 And I really enjoyed our discussion. 🙂

          • I really enjoyed our lil discussion too! Dramas (the ones I like) are like my babies (if I had any)–I just want the best for them ;P.

  4. I love how you always see something insightfull and worth a mention in dramas that barely register for me. 🙂

    Maybe I should just forget about light romances altogether as they hardly ever ‘speak’ to me anymore. Sigh. Cyrano had enough substance to keep me from totally checking out so I finished it but I can’t say it left any lasting impression. A light snack inbetween my usual gritty gloom and doom, LOL!

    • Hah! Thank you! 😀

      I think “light snack” is a good way of describing DAC. But it was a really, really good snack — made of real sugar and butter and none of those nasty, chemically derived substitutes. So if that’s the kind of show you’re in the mood for — this will definitely hit the spot. But it’s not a stick-to-your-ribs, deep-thoughts inspiring drama. (Except of course for me. Because I’m willing to over think anything. ;))

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