Weekly Drama Check-in Post (Eep! Thanksgiving!)

I’m late checking in, but I have a really good excuse. This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving in the States and I was busy procrastinating my holiday planning.  We’re holding the feast at my place this year. It’s a small group of us but it includes my grandmother. She was an amazing cook, especially for meals like this. kingsfamily photo kingsfamily_zps351c08bf.jpgI’ve never actually cooked for her before and I’m all over nervous.

So I’ve been dealing with my impending family drama in the only logical way: catching up on Wang’s Family*. Because there’s nothing like a TV family’s drama to make your own family drama pale by comparison, am I right? (My grandmother may end up disappointed in my apple pie, but she’s not going to call me names or disown me or anything.)

And as far as messed up families go, the Wang family is gunning for at least an honorable mention. This is the first time I’ve seen a Korean family drama feature a family that is so dysfunctional. I’m used to seeing families going through huge and dramatic challenges  but having a strong core. With the Wang family though, the core seems weak.

MotherDaughterIt’s especially interesting because the weakness seems to be the mother, played by Kim Hae-sook. She usually plays awesome moms! And incredibly likable characters. Her charm is still there — there are times I laugh out loud at her antics (especially when she and her mother-in-law get into their “whose family was the richest” arguments) — but this mom is toxic. I mean, I think she’s seriously harming her kids and any good traits they have is in spite of her rather than because of her.

Now I’ve fallen into cultural gaps with k-dramas before, especially with family dramas. There’ve been cases where I interpret an action as bad, but it’s me misunderstanding the social norms — not how the show actually means the action to come across. But I don’t think that’s the case here. I really do think Kim Hae-sook’s character is supposed to be seen as a bad, or at the very least a not-good, mom.

Where the cultural gap comes in this time is with my ignorance of current social issues in Korean society. I strongly suspect Wang’s Family is tackling some common, or at least much discussed, family issues and struggles. WangFamlyPic photo WangFamilyPic_zps3c3a1026.jpgI can pick up on some of them because they’re starred and underlined. (Like “kangaroos” — adult children who can’t find work and still depend on their parents to support them.) But I think there are others that, if I read Korean newspapers or followed their morning shows, I’d pick up on as well. (Something like favoring status symbols over honest worth, maybe?)

But, even while missing the specific context, it’s an addictive watch. I’m now a little under halfway through (episode 22) and I’m taking an enforced break until the next 10 or so episodes are done. Plus… Thanksgiving is coming. I’ve got to get down to some serious cooking. And then comes the serious eating. And then comes the napping. And after that… drama.

*Formerly, King’s Family — I don’t know why they changed it. Maybe viewers didn’t realize “wang” means “king” and got confused?

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10 thoughts on “Weekly Drama Check-in Post (Eep! Thanksgiving!)

  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you too BetsyHp! 🙂

    Thanks for all your well-written review this year and last year too. Thanks to your reviews, I watched and enjoyed “Return of Iljimae”,”Gaksital”,”Equator Man”, and “Nine”. By the way, great job on your and kfangurl’s joint-review of “Nine”.

    Thanks also for sharing a glimpse of the “Wang’s Family” . I actually planned to watch it because I’m a fan of Lee YoonJi who plays the second daughter. But work, 2 Korean dramas and 3+ Japanese dramas got in the way. 😉 I’m currently following and hooked on “The Woman Who Married Three Times”. Maybe after this k-drama or during the long Christmas break, I can check out the “Wang’s Family”…Thanks again! 🙂

    • Thanks, Bashful! 🙂 Big thank you, actually. I’m thrilled that my reviews are helpful. 😀

      It was so much fun doing a joint-review with kfangurl. There should be more where that came from so stay tuned. 😉

      Lee Yoon-ji has been awesome in “Wang’s Family” so you can look forward to it when you’ve got the time. (With the usual caveats that I haven’t seen the whole thing yet and who knows what might happen.) It’s still got a ways to go before its done — I think they’re planning on 50 episodes, so there’s definitely not a rush. I’m in forgetting-WF-exists mode so enough episodes can build up and I can have another mini-marathon. 😉

  2. Happy Thanksgiving! Good luck with the cooking and I must say, you are very brave for taking this on. Cooking for elders is no small feat and turkey is not easy to get right. That is I’m assuming you’re doing turkey? Hwaiting Betsy!

    I’m not up to date with WF, but I find it oddly comforting to watch. Despite Kim Hae Sook not being the best mum in the world. I figured it must be a weekend/family drama thing, since it’s my first drama of the sort. And I like that it addresses things like class, and “kangaroos” and such (that was new discovery for me. I love it when that happens in a drama). And Oh Man Seok, how can he be such a ham and be so charming at the same time??

    • Turkey and all the trimmings! I’m baking cornbread for the cornbread dressing as we speak! Hwaiting! 😀 (Honestly — k-dramas teach the best cheers. There’s that and “aja aja!” which I’ve used a time or two.)

      The thing that WF gets right (and where You’re the Best Lee Soon-shin messed up) is they sprinkle enough sweetness and laughter throughout. So even when things get dark, there’s something to smile about. Like if the mom is being awful, the younger sister is awesome, or the uncle says something funny, or the kids are loving. Which is true to life, really. And it really feels like they’re showing issues and challenges that a lot of families are facing in Korea right now. Which I like.

      Ah, Oh Man Seok… I don’t want to spoil things so… He’s a good actor and he does have an abundance of charm and I’ll leave it at that. 😉

      • Yummy! Your house must smell delicious. I’ve never had cornbread, but I’ve always wondered why it’s called cornbread when it’s clearly not bread-like. It’s more cake-like isn’t it? What exactly is bread-y about it?

        Why, does Oh Man Seok go on to do even more stupid things, and be hammy about it? I know he buys a flashy car. I just don’t know why his wife stays married to him. Or does so many of the things she does! Like pick up after big sis! Ah well, there would be no drama if she didn’t I guess. And I like that there are only 2 characters (at the moment) that annoy me, which is very low for a family drama one supposes.

        • The house smells pretty fab, yes. I’ve since done the pumpkin pie so there’s all kind of good odors going on. 😉

          As to the cornbread being “bread” and not “cake”… hmm… It’s savory, not sweet? That’s my best totally-guessing guess. It was originally made with just cornmeal and water (egg and milk came later) so maybe it was more bread-like then? Also, the texture does shift depending on the region of the States you’re in. The West-coast makes it really moist and sweet (in other words, they’ve totally butchered it, per my people :P). Northeast is pretty dry — better to soak up the stews and soups it’s served with. Southeast it’s a bit more moist, but still not sweet. Aaaand… now you’ve heard more about cornbread than you ever wanted to know. (It’s dangerous to ask me things, I swear! My husband says I don’t know what a rhetorical question is. ;))

          Oh Lord, Oh Man Seok… yeah — he becomes a bigger douche. I’m really, really interested to see what happens with that couple. Because along with his current bad behavior we get some flashbacks to earlier days when he was dorky but sweet. So I can see why his wife loves him but… maybe it’s time to move on? (She is so love-starved, it’s sad. I’m just glad her little sister and uncle and dad do their best to support her when they can.)

          The annoyance level is low, isn’t it? I think a big part is they’ve chosen really good, likable actors to play the more apt to annoy characters. Plus, no one is all bad all the time. Or even all stupid all the time. So the grating aspects don’t build up in the same way.

          • Cornbread can be sweet? That’s interesting! Yes it does seem like the most likely explanation. Except I notice in the US you have banana bread which really is a cake right? But at the same time, there’re polenta cakes. And…meatloaf. Pffft. Sorry, my brain, it’s just the way it works sometimes.

            Yeah, I figured Se Dal is basically an idiot dork, and I watch him to find out how he’ll screw up next. But he won me over when he stood up to mum-in-law for his wife’s sake which means he’s not totally useless!…Er, right? Unlike elder sis who hasn’t done anything but flail and be horrid to her long-suffering hubby. Definitely, the likeable cast so goes a long way! Is Ojakyo Bros similar vibes?

          • Urgh! Banana bread!! That blows my whole “savory” idea out of the water! So, I’ve done the only logical thing — I googled it. Unfortunately, the internet has failed me. There are theories (leavening agents used, etc.) but there’s always exceptions. It appears you’ve stumbled across one of mankind’s great mysteries, DDee. If you do solve it, history will remember. 😉

            I loved the stand-up-to-mum-in-law scene! But… he’s picked an… interesting path and the memory of that scene has begun to grow a little cold. However! There are hours and hours and hours to go, so he may pull out a win, yet. (It’ll have to be a doozy, but if anyone could pull it off…)

            “Ojakyo Brothers” definitely has a likable cast and does a good job mixing humor into their serious stuff. (It does get a tiny bit melo at times, especially towards the end. I think that was an extension issue, though.)
            It’s also a bit more “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”. The family is more tightly knit — they’ve got issues but they tend to band together, and the mom is awesome. She does get up to some very bad things, but it’s not her usual way and you can tell she’s going to pay for and learn from her mistakes. They do tackle some current social issues but I recall it being more romance-centered.

          • Hee! If I had a dollar for every useless mystery I’ve thought about, I’d be rich. Thanks for indulging me Betsy. I had no idea you’d be so willing to engage in pondering useless mysteries! HAHA 🙂

          • Hee! My husband says I don’t know what a rhetorical question is — fortunately, he gets a kick out of it. 😉 And hey, you never know when a useless mystery will suddenly become useful. (Though I’ll admit — I’m having a hard time picturing the circumstance where solving “bread vs. cake” becomes a vital necessity… but it could happen! :P)

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