Sunday Roundup: 11/8/2015

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A light week with only Cheer Up and She Was Pretty. I might decide to catch up on Bubblegum, but I can’t say that episode 2 left me desperately needing to know more, unlike Cheer Up and She Was Pretty. 

Cheer Up – Episodes 9-10

Wow… I feel like a huge rock that has been sitting on my chest expanded into a boulder, and then shrank into a tiny stone. It was difficult to watch, but after a few tweets to vent, I think I’m okay now. First I had to say:

Then:

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So in these episodes the entire cheerleading club goes for a camping trip for 2 days and 1 night, all expenses paid by Soo Ah’s mother because she’s clearly bribing every student after Soo Ah ranks first place in school. Except Soo Ah really goes overboard in her paranoia during the trip. At this point she’s realized that someone has the footage of her stealing the USB from Teacher Im’s briefcase, and that it’s someone in the club. She immediately suspects Yeon Doo and proceeds to leave her behind at the store in the mountains (prompting a massive search for Yeon Doo). It turns out to be Yeol, because this kid is just as smart as Sherlock, who has the video and is threatening her with it.

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Soo Ah clearly goes overboard here as she continues to show no remorse. She even says, “I’ll never suffer because of the likes of you” but she clearly already is. Yeol and Yeon Doo aren’t intentionally making her life a living hell; in fact, every time Yeon Doo says she’ll ruin Soo Ah’s life she saves her at the last minute and makes Soo Ah not seem as bad as she really is. But the guilt of her actions is killing Soo Ah slowly. She pretends to say sorry to Yeol and promise to admit everything in three days’ time, but instead uses that time to find Yeol’s evidence of the video and destroy it before he can leak it. Sadly, she gets caught by Teacher Yang and then Hyo Shik finds the USB himself and spreads it with Da Mi’s help to the entire school.

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What’s frustrating for me is that Soo Ah never tries to correct her wrongs. She just remains in a state of panic, unsure of what to do. It almost feels like she wants someone to reveal her wrongdoings for her so that she can appear to be the victim and also never have to say “I’m sorry” herself. To her, those two words are the hardest words to say. And it’s pathetic, because it shows how she’s always been “saved” at the last minute throughout her life. She seems to rely on Yeon Doo saving her at the last minute before the truth is spilled, but then proceeds to yell at Yeon Doo for acting so “righteous.” Her mother always saves her at the last minute, clearing her record so it looks like her daughter is absolutely perfect, and it just instills this sense of entitlement in her where she can see things happening to her, not that she’s doing anything herself. She’s not proactively righting her mistakes, but someone else is doing it for her.

It’s probably why she feels that she has no power, that she doesn’t know how to do things herself because her mother’s always done it for her. And that’s probably why she feels that her only out is suicide. I am pissed at the mother for such a terrible upbringing, but I do not absolve Soo Ah of anything; Soo Ah is also old enough to be fully conscious of what she’s doing and has shown moments of remorse, which prove that she could have made a 180 if she were strong enough. I rolled my eyes when I realized she was planning her suicide; as mean as that sounds, I was really frustrated with her character at this point.

(Mind you – Soo Ah is a well-written and well-acted character. Hence my vitriolic tirade against her.)

I hated that Soo Ah was weak and saw suicide as her only out, because in a way it was the lazy way out. It required the most minimal effort in righting her wrongs, because for her it was harder to say sorry. As much as I wanted Soo Ah to just leave for another country and start over, I know that my heart would have been uneasy until I saw Soo Ah apologize and make up with her classmates somehow. It would have also sent the wrong message to struggling teens: that running away is okay.

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I’m glad she finally said sorry to Dong Jae and apologized for hurting him, but I also wish she connected with him earlier. They had so many encounters that it would have made sense if she finally turned a new leaf because of him. Similarly, I knew that Dong Jae would overcome his phobia of touching people thanks to Soo Ah. (He saves her from getting hit by a car at the end.) If they had just connected earlier, we could have spent more effort on regionals and dancing! And I would have been cheered up more!

Soo Ah is seriously the luckiest girl in this drama. Not Yeon Doo (who has both Yeol and Ha Joon pining for her!). She is lucky to have such good friends like Yeon Doo and the team who are tired of giving her second chances and yet are still supportive of her and worry about her. Even though Yeon Doo echoes all of my sentiments regarding Soo Ah, she still stands by her friend. I really admire the cheerleading club for their courage to reach out to her with those personalized video messages because if I were in their position I would not have acted like that. I would have remained bitter and hateful. Seeing the team reach out and forgive her first was integral for Soo Ah to learn to forgive herself, and that was the conclusion to all this drama that we really needed to see. Kudos to the writer for reminding everyone that friendship and reaching out is most important in relationships, and that running away from the problem does not solve the problem.

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I’m glad that the principal is done with protecting Soo Ah and her mother and recognizes that both have crossed a line no amount of bribery could have resolved. But I hope she does not get out of all this unscathed; she is still a corrupt principal and I think deserves some sort of punishment. I am also glad that Teacher Im had an eye-opening moment during the camping trip that his life really sucks and admitted it so to the coach and Teacher Yang. I think Teacher Im himself was a suppressed, studious student in his past and never knew how to play. I think he also realized how pathetic he was but never knew how to get away from that pathetic life. He’s stuck following the principal around even though she’s all bark and no bite, and a terrible boss. I think I sympathized him for a moment in episode nine… but he’s still a bit of a dolt.

She Was Pretty – Episodes 10-11

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Well, the truth is out in these episodes. Ha Ri finally decides that she needs to fess up to Sung Joon, except he discovers the truth about her identity before she has a chance to say anything. Hye Jin rejects Shin Hyuk quite frankly, which is so painful because now Siwon won’t smile so happily. Shin Hyuk and Ha Ri both also feel that it’s their time to leave Hye Jin’s orbit so that she can peacefully date Sung Joon, since he’s clearly interested in her and she just feels guilty that her best friend likes him too.

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I really appreciated that Hye Jin was honest with Shin Hyuk in saying that she likes Sung Joon and would go to him no matter what. She’s not leading him on intentionally, and when he begs her to stay with him, she’s not wrong in going to Sung Joon instead. That being said, I’m heartbroken that she broke Shin Hyuk’s heart. I feel like episode 10 was just an emotional rollercoaster for him and I just want him to end up being happy.

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Ha Ri’s mom’s appearance was frustratingly out of nowhere though. I felt like she appeared without warning because she was the plot device the writer needed to give Ha Ri an out. I wanted Ha Ri and Hye Jin to really hash out their feelings, even though they did apologize to each other in a mature way. I was not satisfied that Hye Jin wasn’t angry about Ha Ri falling for Sung Joon and not setting boundaries correctly, even though I can understand the guilt she has in pushing Ha Ri into the situation in the first place. I was not happy with the fact that Hye Jin also tried to distance herself from Sung Joon because of Ha Ri when Sung Joon’s feelings are not her fault. So to see Ha Ri just leave so suddenly by the end of the episode felt like an escape so that we wouldn’t have to see things get ugly between the two best friends.

And from my review of Cheer Up above, it’s quite obvious that I hate the “easy way out” for characters.

I wish Ha Ri’s mother was presented earlier, or that she didn’t leave so soon, so that we could spend more time with her and understand her relationship with Ha Ri. Because for someone who was estranged from for so long, it’s unbelievable that one would pack up her bags and go to that estranged person so quickly.

I was also pretty annoyed with Hye Jin crying in the airport. I wanted to say to her, “Come on – you’re a grown woman. I get that Ha Ri is your best friend but she’s left you once before when you were young. You’re a strong woman who doesn’t need a man in your life, so you certainly shouldn’t feel so dependent on this woman in your life.” It’s like this show is desperately trying to preserve this friendship and always make it seem like they’re okay. I’d rather see the friendship be broken down and then rebuilt and fortified.

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On another note, Han Seol is quite funny. She’s become less annoying as she’s now focused her sights on Joon Woo, and it’s funny how she doesn’t realize he likes her back. It’s even funnier when she realizes that he’s not Kim Ra Ra’s nephew, but thankfully she hasn’t given him the cold shoulder for it.

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