I stuck around to watch two hours for the first episode of a variety show. Two hours. Running Man is already long enough for me and that’s around the one hour thirty minutes mark. But I watched the new SBS variety show Roommate because I was curious. There’s a bit of an eclectic mix of a cast and I think it would be very interesting to watch some clashing egos. While these celebrities are probably all the consummate professionals, there’s bound to be a moment where they just break down. Ah, forced living situations. The most cliche of all K-dramas becoming a true reality…
The first episode of Roommate is relatively uneventful. It’s mainly an introduction on all the stars who are about to meet and live with in a beautiful modern mansion in Seoul. I envy the house so much, but as big as it may seem on the outside it might end up becoming very cramped with eleven huge personalities living all together. The show is narrated by Lee Dong Wook, which makes him seem like he’s the real star and guiding light for the show.
The first star to arrive early in the morning is Chan Yeol from EXO. He seems like an adorable kid, with ears that stick out like Dumbo. It’s kinda cute. He lives with his fellow group members and manager in a boarding house. The boarding house looks a little bit better than Seo Kang Joon‘s but it’s still small and cramped. He awkwardly checks out the house and is amazed by all the cameras set up in every room (except the bathroom). There’s even a cool flying camera that is attached to a hanging string in the second floor hallway, and it flies to and fro along the string as it detects movement.
Chan Yeol isn’t alone for long as he meets Jo Se Ha, a comedian who was last seen in My Love From Another Star as one of the tracksuit boys in the manga shop. He’s quite a character who’s lived alone for some time, and he brings with him a huge picture of himself to hang in the living room. Se Ha enlists Chan Yeol’s help to move all his luggage to the second floor as a way to break the awkwardness. Chan Yeol, being the good young’un, listens diligently to his sunbae. Eventually Se Ha heads out again to do his scheduled appointments. Chan Yeol takes a nap, then leaves a message in the common room message board before he heads out to prepare for EXO’s comeback.
Then we get Hong Soo Hyun moving in with all of her stuff. She’s a homely kind of girl who easily gets embarrassed and seems to be very conscious of her image. She doesn’t seem to be a complete diva, but she does make demands easily for a girl who claims to be very introverted. Soo Hyun lives with her parents still so this is the first time she’ll be living away from home. Nevertheless there’s something about her that’s inherently sweet and you can tell that she gets easily misunderstood. And hilariously enough, she is on the prowl for a boyfriend! Shortly afterwards, rocker/actor Shin Sung Woo rolls up in his motorcycle and moves in. By the way – most of the girls have a lot of luggage when moving in, but the men bring anywhere from 1-3 pieces of luggage on average. Heh.
Shin Sung Woo has lived alone for about 30 years already, so he’s really used to being by himself. It also means he’s learned to cook for himself and later proves to be quite the gourmet chef. Kinda different from his outward persona I guess, but I’m not so surprised after listening to his calm demeanor and the way he carries himself.
Sung Woo is Chan Yeol’s roommate, although both haven’t met each other formally nor realize initially that they’re roommates. But the new residents are all given a gift box that provides a clue about their roommates, and that’s when Sung Woo discovers that Chan Yeol’s his roommate. Se Ha learns that Lee Dong Wook is his (which leads to much teasing because they’re so opposite of each other in terms of ‘visual concept’) and Soo Hyun discovers that her roommate is Nana from After School.
And then the next person to arrive is Park Min Woo, from Flower Boy Ramen Shop. Tall and sweet, he immediately captures Soo Hyun’s attention, hehe. He moves into a room on the first floor with bunk beds and discovers that his roommate is Seo Kang Joon. Soo Hyun fawns over him like an older sister until Kang Joon arrives. And just like that she drops Min Woo like a hot potato and starts fawning over Kang Joon! Haha it’s so weird and funny at the same time seeing her flirting with a boy twelve years her junior. Soo Hyun claims in the private interview that she likes Kang Joon as an older sister, wanting to take care of him, and it’s nothing more! But of course the show would like to suggest otherwise…
The new four roommates bond over a trip to the grocery store, and immediately Soo Hyun latches herself on Kang Joon to get some of the ingredients together. It’s really awkward how the show is already building a love triangle between Min Woo, Kang Joon, and Soo Hyun. I’m choosing to interpret the facial expressions as being taken out of context to fit the show’s intended narrative.
Anyways, while they’re out, MMA fighter Song Ga Yeon moves in. She’s a bit of a tomboy and has lived alone for a while. She plays around with the pool table on the second floor, except suddenly two legs suddenly give out and the pool table breaks! Haha! Unsure how to resolve the issue she retreats to her room and turns on the music. Heh, I’m pretty sure the production crew fixes it eventually.
Se Ha returns home and ends up bonding with Ga Yeon. He is curious about her job as an athlete and, trying to be a bit macho, asks her to hit him so that he can find out what it’s like to be an MMA fighter. Ga Yeon gives him a solid kick on the thigh, and Se Ha practically dies from the pain. I know it’s not funny to see a man in pain, but seeing Se Ha in pain is pretty funny as he moans and groans with the most awkward sounds.
Min Woo, Soo Hyun, Sung Woo, and Kang Joon all return from the grocery store and start to take care of dinner. Lee So Ra, a supermodel, joins them while they’re all busy with her ten pieces of luggage and racks of clothing. She also brings along her dog, Giselle, who’s been her only companion and “roommate” in the twenty years she’s been living on her own. Poor So Ra, she can’t find a way to fit in with everyone else as everyone’s already familiar with each other and she’s just joined them. So Ra initially comes off as high maintenance because she has all the men carry her luggage to her room and even requires help to close the lights to her room. But I think she’s actually more insecure than high maintenance, which is a bit strange coming from a woman who’s in her forties and a lot older than any of the other girls in the house.
Her insecurity is even more visible when Nana finally arrives and she’s a little sad that the young girl gets more of a welcome than she did when coming into the house. Nana is super popular with everyone but she’s probably going to be the diva. Her belongings had all arrived before she did earlier in the day and since she wasn’t present or had anyone to come and bring her stuff into the house, Sung Woo had to help the mover bring it all into the house. Some of her belongings included a standing cardboard figure of herself. Narcissistic much?
Nana is super outgoing though, and she has the personality to seem a bit arrogant. It seems that she’s been told that she’s so beautiful so many times that it’s been reinforced in her mind, although her boarding housemates from After School seem to tease her and embarrass her as a way of humbling her. She too quickly latches on to Kang Joon’s cute looks and suddenly there’s some jealousy between Soo Hyun and Nana at the dinner table!
But oh well, Soo Hyun and Nana are roommates so they’re going to have to figure a way to get along.
After dinner, everyone gets ready for bed. So Ra has a hard time falling asleep, and it’s not helped by the fact that the men stay up later and start playing basketball or hanging out in the common area on the second floor. It’s only when it’s super late that we see the final two roommates move into the house. (At this point, Chan Yeol has not returned from his work with EXO.)
First, Lee Dong Wook arrives with two luggages in tow after a long day filming for Hotel King. He’s lived with his parents all his life, and even though he doesn’t want to seem like a mama’s boy I think he’s a bit of a mama’s boy. He’s delighted to see that Se Ha is his roommate and wakes the poor comedian from his slumber to greet him. Se Ha, in a daze, just tells him to put his stuff away and go to sleep as everyone has gone to bed already, and then proceeds to pick his nose! Hahahaha!
As Dong Wook goes down to put his shoes away he bumps into Park Bom, the last to arrive after her long day’s work. She has a lot of luggages too but her manager and Dong Wook help her carry her stuff upstairs to her room. Since it’s so late she can’t even find out who her roommates are and she finds it really awkward to just go in and sleep when she can’t properly greet anyone. In any case, she slowly enters her room, which she shares with Ga Yeon and So Ra. And suddenly Giselle starts barking up a storm! And that’s the end of the episode.
It’s interesting that Roommate really encourages the stars to form bonds, to fight if they must, and to even forge a new relationship. They’re even giving a prize to the first couple to result out of the show a trip overseas, and that clouds some of the intentions behind the flirting. I think that while Hong Soo Hyun might be looking for a potential boyfriend she could also be eyeing that overseas trip. I think Soo Hyun is better suited with Dong Wook instead of Kang Joon, even though she seems more keen on the young thing. Even Kang Joon finds her attention a little weird, but hopefully they all think of it as a way to break the ice. Min Woo seems to really like Soo Hyun (and they are closer in age), but he seems to be a lot more reserved. In any case most of the men were more enthralled with Soo Hyun because she’s an actress rather than Nana.
I find Nana slightly irritating because she really does come off as arrogant and immature. On one hand I want to think that she’s putting on an act and is deeply aware of how she’s perceived, but on the other hand I find that it would generally be hard to be friends with her. She may be outgoing but she isn’t one to be totally sincere with you from the start. It’s not a bad thing to not be trusting, but there is a bit of a shallowness that I’m not sure I would be able to handle. It’s easy to see how she won’t get along with Soo Hyun, who seems to be the type who’ll be earnest and sincere from the very start.
Kang Joon and Min Woo, and Dong Wook and Se Ha will easily get along with each other. I think Chan Yeol and Sung Woo will develop a deep respect for each other, and if anything Sung Woo might just get irritated by the women in the house. I think Park Bom is a good add for the crazy because based on previews of what she’ll do in the future, she is really off-the wall. Park Bom is another person who could come off as arrogant because she is really popular as part of 2NE1, but at the same time I think she’s so kooky that it’s easy to be friends with her. She seems to be more willing to laugh at herself.
I really like Ga Yeon because she’s so down to earth. She’s the type of person I’d be more interested to know more about and she seems to be really sweet despite her tomboyish demeanor. So Ra seems more like a frightening aunt whom I would tread carefully around. She seems to be very sensitive, when I’d expect her to take on a more authoritative role like Sung Woo. She and Sung Woo are the eldest in the house and though they have no obligation to be the parental figures in the house I almost expected it from them just because of how the whole sunbae-hoobae thing works. I guess there’s more to come from these two in episodes to come.
Again, the first two hours were really uneventful, but I think this show has some promise. It could probably work like We Got Married and rotate its cast every season or so. In any case, I hope this show succeeds!