It’s a lot more clever than it’s first impression. And a lot funnier. Just like our main character! Se-yi has an epically dry sense of humor and the show seems to share it. Which has given me reason to love them both.
Spoilers through episode 6 below…
Se-yi starts off as a fairly typical left of center, artistic, fairy-child type of character. She’s musical and daydreamy and sees what everyone else overlooks while overlooking what everyone else sees. I liked her, but she wasn’t breaking any molds. (Actually, she struck me as a fairly predictable trope for the kind of girl the idol falls for — the one girl who doesn’t know who he is.)
But then came her humor. In an early scene, well suited to her type, Se-yi puts a lot of effort into rescuing a bird that flew into the classroom. When the dreamy class-president asks her what she’s going to do with the bird she answers, “Roast it and eat it.” And suddenly she became a lot more interesting. It was a joke, but it was a dark joke.
That little touch of darkness made all the difference and continues to make a difference. When Se-yi confronts the too-cool-for-school brigade (familiar to every high school everywhere) her mocking wasn’t as detached and unaware as she put herself across as being. (Or at least, that’s how it came across to me. She knew she was being belittled and she wasn’t just going to shrug it off and walk away.)
I also like that she’s in the middle of a massive, epic fight with her mom. (When running away from home involves leaving the country — you’ve just achieved epic.) It grounds Se-yi. Yes, she’s a bit odd but she’s still a teenager and perfectly capable of the emotional dramatics teenagers go through.
I also kind of adored that class-president, Sun-woo, in giving Se-yi an assist in her bird rescue efforts, had an unexpected up-skirt view. It was funny because it was understated and he was embarrassed and no one knew but him. And he immediately looked away. Because he’s a gentleman.
Which our idol is most definitely not. Not that Seol-chan is a rogue, exactly. He pretends to be because that suits his smoothly-trained idol mask, but in reality he’s still at the level of pulling the pigtails of the girl he likes. He’s working in an adult world, but he’s still a boy.
And I’m enjoying that the boys are… well, boys. They’re sexually interested in the girls around them (okay — mainly Se-yi, because that’s how these stories roll) and that confuses the hell out of them. (Okay, mostly Seol-chan. Because he’s really a giant dork.) I loved Seol-chan being so massively discombobulated when Se-yi licked milk foam off her lips.
I loved that Seol-chan imagined Se-yi lying on top of him at one point.
I adored how it all went horribly wrong.
Se-yi is a complete innocent. I mean complete innocent. Which could be annoying (promoting this false idea that girls don’t have hormones) but they teeter it back because (a) Se-yi actually has a reason to be so naive — living so isolated for so long and (b) they spin it into comedy gold. I loved that she assumed Seol-chan and Sun-woo were in love with each other! That was totally perfect and, as seems usual with the show (so much so I’m thinking it deserves a rewatch because I’m sure I’ve missed stuff), fit in really well with the episode poking fun at the way boy-bands will play up the homoerotic subtext for their fans.
Also, there’s Kim Na-na. She was awesome from the get-go. But the big reveal (complete with power-ballad) that she’s nursing this huge crush on Sun-woo and that the crush is in no way platonic…
It means that Se-yi’s innocence isn’t being painted as the only way girls can be. It also means Kim Nana is even more awesome than I’d first thought. (And it means that Sun-woo will, hopefully, not be left standing all alone when Seol-chan and Se-yi finally get together. Which I’m thinking is what will happen. Once Seol-chan pulls his head out of his ass. Which, granted, will take some work.)
So anyway, I’m loving it. And I’m hoping our little band of misfits completely smokes the “All for One” snooty-mcsooty-kins in their battle of the bands. And I hope they learn Na-na can sing and Sun-woo has a “but… you’re beautiful!” moment and then they kiss. And I hope Kyu-dong and Do-nam work things out. And Sun-woo and Seol-chan work things out. And it all ends in music and sunshine and puppies and kisses.