Sunday Roundup: Bubblegum and more – 11/01/2015

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More ramblings from this week’s episodes! Again, I really don’t intend to do a lot of recapping; these are more like reactionary posts about the episodes that I watched in the past week.

Bubblegum – Episodes 1-2

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The first thing that got to me about this drama was… is Lasse Lindh on the OST!? I loved his songs in I Need Romance 2012 and his voice is just so soothing that it always gives the dramas a whimsy, romantic backdrop.

And whimsy romantic comedy this drama is. I like how carefree the characters are, and how we are introduced to them through stressful situations. Kim Haeng Ah (Jung Ryeo Won) is introduced to us through her job and in the middle of a break up with famous radio DJ Kang Seok Jun (Lee Jong Hyuk). Park Ri Hwan (Lee Dong Wook) is introduced to us setting up lights for his (presumably non-blood-related) family and treating a young baseball athlete with his Eastern medicine practice. Dentist Hong Yi Seul (Park Hee Bon) is shown in the middle of a very difficult time (she just broke up with her fiancé) and we learn a lot about DJ Oh Se Young (Kim Jung Nan) when she’s forced to deal with a listener who sends in a suicide note. As stressful as that situation was, it was pretty funny to see the things that come out of her mouth when forced to think on her feet and feeling very desperate.

Overall this drama is about these semi-adults who are still trying to figure out their paths in life. While successful in their respective careers, their personal lives are a bit of a mess. But despite extenuating circumstances (exes, family, conflicting feelings, wrong timing), we know that Haeng Ah and Ri Hwan will find their way to each other’s arms.

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I love that Haeng Ah’s boss Dong Il is introduced eating ramen in his dorm-like room, and that the actor playing him (Park Won Sang) looked just as shabby when we were introduced to him in LAST. Hehe. I also love that Ri Hwan’s partner and roommate Dr. Kwon Ji Hoon (Lee Seung Joon) is introduced as sleeping in the backseat of the car and then singing to the tune of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”: “Do you want to have hangover soup with me? Okay bye…” Ji Hoon overturning his pockets to produce 2000 won was just priceless, and broke the tension during the suicide note-broadcast. And then when we see Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah revert to their childlike selves around their “aunt” and “uncle” who run the cafe, it’s a bit of a slick move to incorporate their characters’ background without interrupting the flow of the present and give us a sense of their personalities. I love how seamless it is, especially since mentally they would never be able to answer the questions with a mature answer anyways. I think it’s a slick effect from the writing, directing, acting, cinematography, and editing. All of these bits together sets up quite the charming drama.

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I think it helps A LOT that Jung Ryeo Won is just adorable in this drama. She has such a child-like smile that she’s retained over the years, and I love the actress that plays her younger version (who’s so much sassier and cuter, and I think was the youngest girl in Suspicious Housekeeper). I also love her chemistry with Lee Dong Wook because the two of them really seem like close friends – almost siblings. He’s very protective of her, and she’s very much like a child when around him and their sort-of-adoptive family. Haeng Ah only cowers in fear of his mother (Bae Jong Ok) for good reason, since she knows that Ri Hwan’s mother doesn’t like her. Lee Dong Wook is so playful here that it’s reminiscent of his role in Blade Man; while that wasn’t the greatest drama ever, I did enjoy Lee Dong Wook acting like a crazy fool. I think he’s found his acting niche.

It’s even funnier, and also very pathetic on his part, to make a fuss looking for Haeng Ah’s mother’s bracelet at her ex’s home only to leave it behind.

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One of the things I like about the drama is how they keep the flashback stories to the end of the episode. It does not interrupt the flow of the present day, it gives us a chance to be fully immersed in the memory, and it helps clarify things after so that if you ever rewatch it or remember the specific details you will think, “Oh yeah, now that makes sense.” I hope they keep up that tradition in future episodes.

She Was Pretty – Episode 9

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Episode 9 was special in that we got to see Hye Jin’s transformation. Even though she’s changed her looks, her coworkers more or less treat her the same, and she hasn’t changed her go-getter attitude. She’s not a delicate flower even if she looks like one. Only Siwon hates her transformation, and to hilarious effect. It was also an inspiring episode in that we get to see Kim Ra Ra show her appreciation for her team, even though the subtitles running behind her speech were too reliant on Google Translate.

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I’m glad that Seol only becomes nicer to Hye Jin because she regrets possibly causing her firing, and that Sung Joon does not seem to recognize her as his best friend. He still sees her as Hye Jin of the Present and values her as an employee, but he still goes to Ha Ri thinking that she’s the Hye Jin of the Past. And speaking of Ha Ri, they’re really prolonging the lie because she can never seem to tell him the truth in time. Something always has to happen that prevents them from meeting up for this, and while I understand why it’s happening, I want enough time for Ha Ri to redeem herself and be forgiven in the eyes of her friend. It was a touching scene where she realized how much she valued her friendship with Hye Jin over some guy… if only she can finally prove it to us viewers that she won’t let a boy get between her and Hye Jin.

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Again, my favorite scenes include Siwon. One was where they were planning for their anniversary party and Poong Ho suggests they get an “up-and-coming” idol group named Super Junior. I think it was definitely an ad-libbed line because it cuts to Siwon’s reaction shot and you can see his ears perk up and him struggling to keep it together. Yess… The best line of the episode also goes to him:

Reporter Cha: “Shin Hyuk, when are you going to grow up?”

Shin Hyuk: “Tomorrow!”

YESSSS!

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There is one thing that I felt wasn’t really successful and came off more weird than cute in this drama: it’s when they put the Kid Sung Joon’s head on his adult body as he explains why he loves Renoir. It’s meant to show that Hye Jin sees her best friend of the past, and that she still views him that way even if he doesn’t see her as the same girl from the past, but it comes off really weird. I think it’s because the show used to use flashbacks rather than this sort of CGI or this particular effect, which makes it jarring compared to something like Bubblegum that used this effect from the very start. In any case, I get the point, but I still think that it was not executed very well.

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Hi Joon Ki.

Cheer Up – Episodes 7-8

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Soo Ah in episodes seven and eight is the most frustrating character of all. Kudos to the actress and the writing, but she really really pisses me off as a character. She has been given way too many chances compared to everyone else to come clean and to live a straight life. Teacher Yang, Dong Jae, and I think to an extent Yeol and Ha Joon have given her opportunities to fess up. Even her “best friends” Jae Young and Na Yeon decided to go back on their word and admit that they lied about the sexual harassment incident; they have more courage than she does.

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I understand that she’s a product of her upbringing, that her mother’s insistence on her going to an Ivy League school and then possibly marrying rich is the only life she’s known. I’ve never seen her happier than when she finally received her mother’s approval, but it came at a high price. So imagine if her mother had been more loving and approved of her more, Soo Ah would have been a kinder and more caring person. So I despise everyone around her, who work to support Soo Ah and all of her schemes: her mother, the principal, her coach, and even Teacher Im to an extent indirectly.

And that’s why I’m glad that Teacher Im got proven wrong and embarrassed in front of everyone when he falsely accused Yeol of stealing the midterm exam. I want him to lose the shine in his eyes regarding Soo Ah and I want the principal to realize that all her recent scandals are rooted to Soo Ah and her mother’s problems. I think the principal knows that Soo Ah and her mother are manipulative and is turning a blind eye towards it, but I want that principal to reach her limit soon. And I think it might help if she sees her right-hand man not want to help Soo Ah in the future at all.

I don’t know what I want Soo Ah’s fate to be. I don’t want her to be forgiven, even though she’s already been effectively outcast by everyone. I don’t want her to commit suicide though I feel like she may think that’s her only out. I don’t want her to say sorry because she’s also wronged people too deeply too many times. I’m really conflicted and in a way I’d rather she just leave the school and her family without another word, and have a fresh start elsewhere. She doesn’t deserve these many chances that her classmates are giving her; if this were another drama, she wouldn’t have this many chances to ruin people’s lives and get away with it. But I am curious as to who is the person who told her to confess at the bonfire, because we know now it’s not Yeon Doo who’s been leaving her messages.

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Not really liking the weird triangle being set up between Yeol, Yeon Doo, and Ha Joon. Dong Jae’s lack of a presence in these two episodes have effectively killed the chance for him to be part of the love square (thankfully). I also knew that Yeol and Yeon Doo’s parents were the ones romantically linked ages ago, but I didn’t really enjoy the confirmation of Yeol’s parentage in this week’s episodes. It just made me groan and roll my eyes. Of course the parents won’t marry now for the sake of their kids!

Ugh – so where’s episode 9?

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