The drama llama clearly carried My Lovely Girl (My Lovable Girl) in from the desert oasis where Hallyu romances of yore have gone to pasture and appears to have spawned one very out-of-place offspring. MLG is only bad because it feels so outdated but aside from that it’s genuinely watchable. At least I keep on enjoying it enough to whiz though watching and recapping, which doesn’t always happen given that the very act of recapping means watching an episode multiple times on one day. See, one has to really love doing this for the words to pour forth. When a drama loses my interest then the act of recapping requires me to stifle the urge to post a recap that just says “GO WATCH IT YOURSELF. THXBAI.” The silly charm of MLG is the storytelling that flows within the typical hero climbing a career dream path done in a visually pleasant way. Not enough can be said about how easy on the eyes Rain is here, if he really is just doing this drama to herd a bunch of idols to develop their talents, at least he’s sincere in the delivery and avoids making the project feel like a chore.
Unfortunately Rain can’t make Hyun Wook more interesting than the paper thin motivations that drive his return to the music industry. Wanting to help his dead ex-girlfriend’s little sister is a nice thing and all but there is still no pulsating aura of a life interrupted that he’s supposed to be returning from. Similarly Se Na is the female lead but she just doesn’t command the screen, and I’m not just talking about Krystal‘s performance. Se Na is just so bland in both her talent to her personality, which does help tone down any excessive reactions to things happening to her. She avoids all instances of being shrieky. MLG does feel like a rehash of Trot Lovers (Lovers of Music) in the set up, except this time Rain as the agency president is the male lead, L as the top idol star is bound to be heartbroken, and Krystal as the talented ingenue is writing songs instead of singing it. The tone of the two dramas is markedly different and that’s where MLG works for me. It feels like a warm summer breeze and I really like that. This drama has a weird pull indeed.
Episode 3 recap:
Hyun Wook stops Se Na from leaving town and giving up her music dreams by offering her a songwriting gig at AnA that will pay off her existing debt. Se Na logically asks if Hyun Wook likes her? Otherwise why is he getting involved in her life, what does it matter to him that she’s running away from debt collectors. Se Na wonders how he even knows that she has debt and whether he wants something from her?
Hyun Wook does want something from her, he wants her songwriting potential and is buying the demo she gave AnA. Se Na keeps wondering why he’s doing this so Hyun Wook makes the call to cancel his offer. Se Na stops him from calling so Hyun Wook tells her to come to AnA tomorrow or leave, it’s her choice. He leaves her with one assurance that he doesn’t see her as a woman. Se Na mutters back that she’s not a man so what does he mean by not see her as a woman. Methinks girl wants to be seen as a woman by doggie flower boy.
Se Na still gets on the bus to leave and Hyun Wook sighs that she sure gives him a headache. Se Na gets a call on the bus from her debt collector confirming that a rich man paid off her debt. The gangster congratulates her on finding a rich guy and tells her to live well since he’s feeling a certain kinship after hounding her for three years. The bus blows a tires which ends Se Na’s trip out of town and she returns to friend Joo Hong’s apartment.
Hyun Wook thinks the person arriving at his house the next morning is Se Na and is surprised to see Hae Yoon walk in. She wants to head to AnA with him but he can’t leave Dalbong alone and reveals the dog sitter likely quit the job. Hae Yoon suggests Huyn Wook contact Se Na to pay her off for the plagiarism claims so she doesn’t cause trouble. Hyun Wook assures Hae Yoon that Se Na won’t cause trouble and all those coincidences are just that.
Hae Yoon offers her housekeeper to come over and watch Dalbong for him before taking a bite of the food that Hyun Wook is preparing. Hyun Wook is too late to tell her not to eat it since it’s dog food for Dalbong. Hae Yoon ushers Hyun Wook upstairs to change into work clothes before she whispers to Dalbong that she’s jealous and doesn’t like him. For that she gets an angry woof from Dalbongie.
The AnA management team is in a meeting to decide the next President of the company while the current one is recovering in the hospital. Hyun Wook’s dad comes online and suggests that Hyun Wook is suitable to run the show. His wife takes the tablet from him and ends the call so that he can rest.
Hyun Wook walks into the meeting just as Director Kang is railing that he doesn’t approve of Hyun Wook running the show even temporarily. He quiets down when he sees Hyun Wook who just calmly introduces himself and tells the team to work doubly hard while he’s here for the next two months and he will work hard to support them.
Hae Yoon walks Hyun Wook to the President’s office and decides to call him President Hyun to differentiate him from his dad being President Lee. Hyun Wook enters his office to find Se Na sitting there waiting for him. She’s surprised he works at AnA and Hyun Wook brings her inside to talk while sending Hae Yoon off. Se Na notes that he seems like a different person wearing a suit. Hyun Wook knows he looks handsome but Se Na counters that she didn’t say he was handsome, just that he looked different. LOL.
Hyun Wook sits down and records the contract with Se Na which is a an offer for her to write songs for AnA for the next two months. She accepts the offer and Hyun Wook takes her off to meet the other producers.
Hyun Wook walks Se Na to join Jae Young’s team but he adamantly refuses. Hyun Wook thinks Se Na can be an inspiration for Jae Young who argues that listening to so many songs a day he unconsciously incorporated her track into his new single. Hyun Wook knows that’s not true since must be something about that song which attracted his attention. Jae Young wants Se Na to audition just like all the trainees before he’ll work wit her but Hyun Wook counters that she’s auditioned through her demo already. Hae Yoon offers a compromise which is for Se Na to participate in the trainee trails at the end of the month and if she passes then she can join Jae Young’s team.
Later Hae Yoon asks Hyun Wook for a reason for why he’s particularly interested in helping Se Na. Hyun Wook claims he just wants to make her into a songwriter because she has potential.
Jae Young is completely ignoring Se Na who stands around wondering what she is supposed to do? Jae Young rudely tells her to clean up the trash on the table. An assistant comes in to ask if the month end trials should be scheduled for next Wednesday. Jae Young agrees and orders Se Na to stay away from his sight until the trials next Wednesday.
Hyun Wook gets a call from his dad to come to the hospital later today otherwise he won’t get his salary. A teenager runs up to Hyun Wook calling him oppa and wondering if he’s back to write songs again. The teenager is Mina, Hyun Wook’s half-sister, and turns out she’s a trainee at AnA with Hyun Wook’s stepmother pushing her to succeed.
Hyun Wook sits with Mina and her mom and the two ladies are certain Mina has what it takes to succeed. Stepmom asks Hyun Wook to just watch Mina’s performance at the month end trials and go easy on her since she’s his little sister.
Hae Yoon finds Se Na in a practice room and assures Se Na that she can use the practices room and just has to sign up for it. Hae Yoon thinks Se Na is so lucky to be discovered by Lee Hyun Wook himself. Se Na is still processing that the unemployed dog flower boy is now the President of AnA. Hae Yoon can’t believe Se Na, as an aspiring songwriter, doesn’t know how famous Lee Hyun Wook is.
Hyun Wook’s dad is flirting with all the nurses at the nurses station when Hyun Wool arrives. Father-son move the talk inside and Hyun Woon immediately demands to know why his dad allowed Mina to become a trainee, pointing out that Mina clearly has no talent. Dad suggests shoving her in a girl group and letting her live out her dream and also making the stepmom happy. Hyun Wook can’t believe his dad is running the company like this and if so then why does his dad interfere in his life.
Dad spent 30 years building up AnA so he interferes with Hyun Wook because he wants Hyun Wook to work hard. Now he won’t interfere with Hyun Wook’s romances anymore as long as Hyun Wook is even interested in women then that makes his dad happy. Hyun Wook doesn’t have any intention to romance anyone and his coming back to AnA doesn’t mean he has forgiven his dad. It’s just mutually using each other. After Hyun Wook leaves, his dad mutters about how he is so one-track minded when it comes to love.
Leaving the hospital, Hyun Wook remembers happy times with So Eun when they were making music together. He turns his car around and heads back to AnA.
Se Na reads Hyun Wook’s musical bio online and listens to some of his famous tracks. Hyun Wook sits down before a piano but can’t bring himself to play. He suddenly hears piano music drift in from another practice room and walks over to find Se Na playing there. As Se Na is playing she imagines her sister So Eun playing beside her.
Hyun Wook sees So Eun playing instead of Se Na and has to blink a few times for the illusion to disappear. Se Na is surprised to see him here this late. Se Na reveals she learned that Hyun Wook is so famous and she listened to all his past songs. She wonders if the person in all his songs is the same woman? Hyun Wook curtly reminds her to practice for the trials and to call him President and not ahjusshi from now on.
Three of the Infinite Power members are sitting with Hyun Wook to discuss their contract when Shi Woo comes in last. He gives the excuse of traffic but Hyun Wook knows they all live in the same dorm so why is Hyun Wook the only one late. Is he being ostracized? Rae Heon denies that and quickly scoots over to make room on the sofa for Shi Woo.
Hyun Wook congratulates Shi Woo on finally making it and clearly they have history because Shi Woo remembers Hyun Wook vowed to stick hot sauce on his hand if Shi Woo ever made it. Hyun Wook laughs at Shi Woo’s keeping a grudge but it’s important to Shi Woo since Hyun Wook’s words back then were like a dagger. Hyun Wook asks if Shi Woo wants him to apologize but Shi Woo refuses to accept it.
As the group walks out of the meeting, Rae Heon can’t believe Shi Woo talked back to current company President, no wonder Shi Woo doesn’t respect Rae Heon as the group leader. Shi Woo counters that Rae Heon didn’t tell him about the meeting and made him late so clearly he wants Shi Woo not to respect him. Rae Heon doesn’t care since he’s the group leader and can do what he wants. He tells Shi Woo to prepare for his upcoming fanmeeting birthday party and get ready to receive tons of presents but Shi Woo isn’t interested.
Shi Woo heads to the practice room and sees Se Na inside with her eyes closed feeling the music. He is surprised that AnA standards have fallen so that anyone can join. Se Na retorts that she’s a trainee and orders Shi Woo to leave since she signed out this practice room for the hour. Shi Woo informs her that she’s not acting according to company protocol, if she sees a sunbae she’s supposed to bow 90 degrees, do whatever sunbae wants, immediately give up a practice room to a top star like him, and address him in the most courteous of language.
The reason being is that top stars like him earn all the money for the agency so that trainees can be trained. Her instrument, her water, and the chair she is sitting in, all of it is because of him. He orders her to get him an iced coffee with light ice and sits down to wait. Se Na mutters that she knows now why Ra Eum dumped Shi Woo and suggests he go outside to nag his fans instead of her. Se Na is called out to join the other trainees in the agency cleaning day so she quickly books it while Shi Woo smiles.
Hae Yoon shares her concern about the new trainee with Sung Jin, explaining that she has this aura about her that worries Hae Yoon. They walk by Se Na cleaning and Hae Yoon points out that the girl in question is her. Suddenly Sung Jin hears someone call out “Yoon Se Na” and he perks up to hear that name.
Sung Jin pays Hyun Wook a visit and asks if he found So Eun’s little sister? If so is she currently at AnA? Hyun Wook doesn’t want to talk about it so Sung Jin asks if the singer he trained Ra Eum is pretty? Hyun Wook is surprised that Ra Eum has just signed with AnA.
Ra Eum meets with Hae Yoon while trying to act cool but Hae Yoon figures that she signed with AnA because of Rae Heon. Ra Eun is surprised that Hae Yoon knows and Hae Yoon assures her that they will keep the romance under wraps. She wants Ra Eum to change her hair color but Ra Eum refuses since she’s already a fashion icon. Hae Yoon says that’s just what Ra Eum thinks. Oooh, cat fight please. Hae Yoon offers to take Ra Eum on a tour of the facility but she declines.
Shi Woo is practicing when Ra Eum walks in and is happy to see him more in the future now that she’s joined AnA. She asks what he wants for his birthday and he asks back what she thinks he wants from her? He pushes her back but it’s just to turn off the music. Ra Eum suggests they can be friends but Shi Woo isn’t interested in either friends or family. Rae Heon arrives and Ra Eum quickly walks off with him.
The AnA management team is meeting to discuss Shi Woo’s party, who will produce Ra Eum’s next album, and the upcoming trainee month trials. Hyun Wook is more interested in texting the housekeeper to get updates on Dalbong’s situation. Talk turns to a meeting with a major investor and no one wants to go since he’s notoriously difficult. Jae Young suggests Hyun Wook go since he’s the current President and he agrees.
Se Na still can’t find time to practice as she’s assigned the cataloging of fan presents for Shi Woo. Hyun Wook and Hae Yoon leave the office and he walks by Se Na without acknowledging her. The assistant then wants to ask Se Na for another task but Se Na refuses to do it unless she gets to use the practice room tonight.
Hyun Wook and Hae Yoon sits down with the old rich investor who immediately demands that the new AnA artist Ra Eum be summoned to this meeting. He didn’t come all the way to Korea just to drink in this little room. Hyun Wook orders Hae Yoon to call Ra Eum there.
Shi Woo’s birthday fanmeeting is underway and all the members of Infinite Power are playing the parts as good buddies. Rae Heon then gets on stage and plays a home video of Shi Wo’s BTS moments like falling asleep in the van, practicing hard and falling down, and then there is the video of Se Na slapping Shi Woo at the party.
The party guests gasp and Rae Heon immediately turns off the video and apologizes for the wrong footage being included. Shi Woo smiles and gets on stage to thank Rae Heon for doing this and defuses the tension in the room.
Shi Woo pulls Rae Heon out to confront him on pulling such low stunts. Shi Woo demands to know what Rae Heon wants from him? To leave Infinite Power? Rae Heon knows Shi Woo works hard, but so did Jung Deok who was kicked out of Infinite Power. Shi Woo points out that he didn’t orchestrate Jung Deok getting kicked out and the place going to him. Rae Heon wouldn’t be upset if the person who took Jung Deok’s place had talent but is instead is just someone who just has looks.
Shi Woo punches Rae Heon and Rae Heon returns the punch. Se Na arrives to deliver more presents from the agency and witnesses this confrontation and steps in to stop the fighting when there are fans inside waiting for them. Rae Heon gets off Shi Woo and warns him that they will continue this back at the dorm before stomping off.
Se Na hands the presents to Shi Woo and asks him to wipe the blood off his mouth before going inside. Shi Woo blames Se Na since every time she appears bad things happen to him. Se Na apologizes for the slap that time as she overreacted. Shi Woo doesn’t want her apology because if she does then he’ll feel bad about tormenting her in the future.
Ra Eum arrives at the investor meeting and the man immediately starts salivating over her. Ra Eum feels lucky that she brought her contract with her so she can tear it apart right here. Hyun Wook warns her that she’ll regret ripping it up. The investor keeps calling Ra Eum to come sit down next to him. Ra Eum takes out her contract which is when Sung Jin walks in with the investor’s wife. He stares at Hyun Wook who smiles and apologizes for inviting his wife but he said that he makes all investment decisions with her consent. The investor immediately acts all docile and loving towards his wife.
Hae Yoon gets her appetite back after resolving this situation and goes to eat a corn dog at the street stall. Hyun Wook smiles and pays for her snack before heading off.
The management team is worried about the video of Se Na slapping Shi Woo may go public. Director Kang is angry at Se Na for causing problems but Hyun Wook says it was the group member who released the video so the manager has to contain the fallout. Jae Young counters that Hyun Wook was the one who brought Se Na into the company which is news to the rest of the management team. Hyun Wook yells at the managers to first properly handle the discord between Infinite Power. As the meeting ends, Jae Young throws in a dig that Hyun Wook bringing in the new investment has been washed away with the problem Se Na created.
Se Na goes to the roof to apologize to Hyun Wook but he just smiles at her and asks what she is apologizing for? For slapping Shi Woo or being there when Rae Heon and Shi Woo got in a fight? Se Na tries to explain that she didn’t go to the birthday party to see Shi Woo, she went to deliver presents because of the practice room situation. Se Na claims she is trying her best but Hyun Wook doesn’t see it. She should be a manager instead of songwriter with how much effort she’s putting in for the month end trials. Hyun Wook expresses his disappointment in Se Na and that he’s given her too many opportunities before leaving.
Hae Yoon has resolved the issue by getting all the broadcast stations not to show the video, but in return they want Rae Heon on as a guest. Jae Young is relieved to hear this but changes to the subject to the reason he doesn’t like Hyun Wook. It’s because Hae Yoon likes Hyun Wook and because of it she might pass Jae Young by. Not just as a man but also as a music producer.
Hyun Wook sees Se Na sitting sadly in the practice room and stops himself from going in to help her as he remembers her asking if he likes her. Hae Yoon sees Hyun Wook staring at Se Na and asks if Se Na is really that talented? Hyun Wook knows she has to prove it herself. He is about to walk away when he hears Se Na start playing. Her playing makes him walk back and stare.
The monthly trials begin and Se Na is told she’s number 7 to perform. Jae Young then sends her to pick up an MP3 and tells her there is no need for her to participate in the trials.
The trials are a disappointment. The first girl group is a messy jumble. A solo singer does okay but Jae Young is all criticism that being the best here means nothing when she’s still lacking in tone and rhythm. Jae Young purposely has the next boy group dance to a song that Hyun Wook wrote and during the performance Hyun Wook has one of his episodes and has to step outside. Hae Yoon notices and follows him to ask if he’s alright. He claims to be fine and goes back inside once the performance is done.
Hyun Wook’s little sister Mina starts her performance and promptly forgets her lyrics midway through the performance. All the judges go easy on her which makes Hyun Wook smirk.
Se Na arrives to pick up the MP3 and the artists claims he is almost done. Hyun Wook wonders where Se Na is and Jae Young reveals he told Se Na not to participate. Hyun Wook insists Se Na perform but is told that she’s not present right now.
Se Na arrives back at the agency after the trials are over. She walks right up to Jae Young to hand him the MP3 that he sent her to bring back, he must need it urgently if he sent her to get it during the trials. She asks to perform since the trials are not over. Hyun Wook orders her to sit down and perform.
Se Na sits down in front of a keyboard and prepares to play a song she wrote called “Wanting to Cry.” She makes a mistake in her first start and Hyun Wook tells her to begin again.
Everyone listens intently to Se Na’s performance which I suppose must mean it’s just awesome. Whatever, I’ll go along with it. After the performance Director Kang claims it’s an amateur performance while Jae Young says Se Na clearly hasn’t had any professional training. Hyun Wook also agrees that this song is poorly constructed and needs to do better. But he’s looking forward to what she’ll do next because her song is very enchanting. Another director pipes up the same sentiment.
Jae Young is upset that Hyun Wook said nothing during the trials about any of the other trainees and is only offering input to Se Na. Hyun Wook explains he was trying not to interfere in Jae Young’s trainees but if Jae Young wants then Hyun Wook has plenty to say. Hyun Wook then basically rips all the trainees but offers then constructive criticism to actually improve.
Jae Young points out that Hyun Wook only thinks Se Na is the best. Hyun Wook is surprised that Jae Young can’t tell that Se Na has real talent. Jae Young asks for a challenge, him versis Se Na for the lead off song on Infinite Power’s next album. If Jae Young loses then he leaves the agency.
After the trials, all the trainees wonder why Hyun Wook only has compliments for Se Na and think that she has a very heavy backing.
Mina’s mom angrily confront Hyun Wook on what he said to Mina earlier because she’s crying in the car. Hyun Wook refuses to lie and wants his stepmom to tell Mina honestly that she doesn’t have what it takes to be a singer. Stepmom refuses to give up and suggests dinner next week to ease Mina’s hurt feelings.
Se Na is walking home and sees a red balloon by a flower bed. Hyun Wook chances upon her and asks why she is out and about when she has to prepare to go up against famed producer Seo Jae Young.
Se Na reveals she thought Hyun Wook was a nice guy but she’s not sure anymore. She likes AnA, even cleaning the bathroom and running errands, at least she can make friends and listen to music all day. But because of Hyun Wook she may lose all of that. Why did he have to put her up to the challenge against Jae Young? Hyun Wook suggests that there might be a miracle and she could win. He sees her talent as special because it’s been a long time since someone else’s song touched his heart.
Thoughts of Mine:
I’ve lost count of how many times this episode made me laugh, and almost always it was at the shock that this story line is as linear as it appears. There is no element of surprise and already the ending is clear from where anyone stands. The pleasure from watching this is really on the ancillary stuff. Hyun Wook is a nice stalwart character, so much so that his doggie bromance with Dalbong takes on a whole new meaning. He’s a walking human Golden Retriever so it makes sense that in losing So Eun he would cling onto her memory and mope for 3 years like a Golden might at the loss of an owner. His weird mental anguish at hearing his old songs feels so random even within the random, it’s like throwing in a mental condition just for the heck of it. Or maybe to emphasize that he isn’t just refusing to song write anymore, he actually can’t do it anymore even if he wanted to. While the story posits that Hyun Wook is racked by guilty and misery since losing So Eun, the show just intersperses random sad memories while most of the time Hyun Wook looks fine and dandy with a dapper constitution. The only thing that I really feel is Hyun Wook’s interest in Se Na is genuinely platonic, even all those images of her layered over dead sister So Eun doesn’t make me think he’s falling for her. That might be a problem later when he’s supposed to fall for her, but for now the lack of an artificially pushed romance is nice.
I also like L‘s character the most, or rather he’s the most interesting because I see background pain to be explored along with plenty of room for maturity and growth. His bad acting is almost comical to the point where I’m just sitting back and soaking it in and wondering if he’ll ever even mildly improve. I find Shi Woo more and more the center of my attention even when he’s constructed like a mish-mash of every angry/entitled/secretly in pain drama idol boy. Even L’s terrible acting doesn’t detract how Shi Woo has major issues that I want to see explored. It helps that his every interaction with Se Na is antagonistic with a side of subconscious flirty. However bad an actor L is, he has genuine chemistry with Krystal, something that isn’t quite as evident when Rain has scenes with Krystal so far. I have no clue why or how Shi Woo had a crush on Ra Eum, she’s a terrible person and the actress playing her is even worse at acting than L is.
Poor Hoya has one expression and disposition in this drama as the jerky rival, rendering a talented young actor reduced to basically pantomiming being an unmitigated dick. At least we know the reason behind the antagonism which stems from Shi Woo taking the spot of another trainee to join Infinite Power and Rae Heon is sticking up for his unceremoniously booted bro. Too bad Rae Heon has bad taste in women in liking Ra Eum and allows a petty personal grudge to jeopardize the public image of the group. Jae Young remains ridiculously easy to hate and his broadly drawn persona of pompous insecure jerk helps keep him handy as the chief antagonist. I was dying of laughter when the song battle was launched since who the hell would engage in any competition with a newbie trainee much less as a fuck you gesture to Hyun Wook. I hope MLG does not devolve into song battles the way Dr. Stranger ended up being a series of increasingly absurd surgery battles. With SBS at the helm, who knows though?
The whole scene with the rich sleazy investor was SOOOOOO BAAAAAD I have no words. I could barely recap it I was cringing and snorting with laughter as I typed. Even in a dated feeling story it came across as a parody of what idols need to endure in order to make it in the industry. Even if I want to feed Ra Eum to the crocs metaphorically, I still wouldn’t wish her delivered to the paws of a lecherous millionaire in exchange for agency investment. Hyun Wook’s easy solution then, and seemingly perfect responses to every challenge thrown his way in the drama so far, continue to paint him as just the ideal guy who can do anything and happens to be wallowing in sadness is all. Thankfully Se Na’s performance wasn’t heralded as the arrival of a musical genius to save AnA and she got plenty of deserved cutting feedback to show how inexperience she is. I’m glad her song touched Hyun Wook since he needs to stop dithering around and get back in the songwriting saddle, and if it takes magical Se Na songs to push him forward then so be it. At least those two are making mutual forward progress in their lives, however artificial it’s been constructed solely in the world of this drama.
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