A First Impression and Quickcap of Manny

This week saw the premiere of the first ever primetime drama from the cable network TvN, the nanny-with-a-twist light and fluffy Manny, starring Seo Ji Seok, Choi Jung Yoon, and Byung Jung Soo. After watching the first two episodes, I am utterly smitten and bewitched – it’s simultaneously LOL-funny yet tender and sincere.

You know what drama this reminds me of – Wish Upon a Star with Kim Ji Hoon and Choi Jung Won, a drama that for the first half was my biggest drama addiction in early 2010. It has the same mixture of cute kids dealing with parental loss mixed with hijinks and antics galore. WUAS had the chance of being one of my favorite K-dramas of all time, until the second half went to the wolves. Hopefully, no such insanity will befall Manny.

Seo Ji Seok (breaking away from his last role – the cold and broody, not to mention sexy-as-all-hell, Kang Seok in Gloria – excuse me while I fantasize for a minute) plays Kim Yi Han, an Ivy League grad, New York-trained nanny, who happens to be a guy doing a traditionally female job. He’s written a bestselling book about his glorious success as a NYC manny, and is back in Korea for a book tour. Unluckily for Yi Han, but lucky for us viewers, a series of mishaps befall Yi Han and he ends up stuck in Korea for the time being.

He crosses path with the single mother of two, Seo Do Young (played by Choi Jung Yoon), and ends up taking her up on her offer to become the manny to her two kids, the precocious older daughter Eun Bi, and the sweet and withdrawn younger son Jung Min. Joining in the fun is Janice (yes, she’s like the Korean Cher with one name), the head of a modeling agency and Do Young’s older sister, who happens to live in the same house.

The drama looks like it will be a series of episodic events whereby the manny helps the family members deal with each of their issues and or obstacles, all the while he grows closer to them, and eventually finds himself emotionally involved with one or both of the ladies of the house. Don’t expect lots of manufactured angst, but do expect lots of down-to-earth emotional moments. Both Janice and Yi Han are like dueling divas with runaway egos, and I cannot get enough of them.

I’m not watching this drama for super romantic OTP moments or sappy heartwrenching sob stories – I’m watching because Manny is a lot of fun. It’s fast-paced, charming, and tells a very compact story quite well. It doesn’t try to be ambitious, but understands how to present this very simple construct in an effective way. The two child actors are quite winning (though not quite at the same extraordinary level as the kids in Can You Hear My Heart as well as WUAS), and everyone is comfortably in character from the get go.

Two episodes in, Manny isn’t quite the crack that WUAS was for me (where I would literally twitch uncontrollably until I could get another episode, it was that good), but I am much more satisfied with where I see this drama going (I cannot imagine that there will be a fish face, magical receding hairline, ephemeral second male lead, last episode kidnapping insanity, or a lukewarm romantic resolution to pour cold water over this hot hot drama). I don’t expect anything in Manny to be surprising, but I have a feeling that everything will be rewarding to watch.

While Seo Ji Seok has crackling chemistry with Byung Jung Soo, I’m sure his character will end up falling for Choi Jung Yoon’s mom of two. It’s okay, like I said, I’m not here for some grand romantic love that will break the Heavens open. I much rather enjoy the entire journey of watching the manny change the family, and be changed by the family, and together everyone moving from point A to point B. The drama doesn’t strain itself in an attempt to overreach beyond its limited scope. It’s about a kooky family and its new male nanny. And what’s so wrong about that? Nothing at all, for this drama feels just right.

While I’m not planning to recap Manny, I thought it’d be fun to share the charming first two episodes through a quick screencap heavy recap.

A screencap recap of Manny episodes 1-2:

What’s a manny? Does he even have a real name? Yes, it’s Kim Yi Han, but he’s known far and wide only as The Manny. Even the driver sent to pick him up at the airport just writes down “manny” on his placard, LOL.

Is he a male nanny or a rock star? Look at the way he strolls through that airport concourse.

Poor frazzled single mommy with her two adorable kids.

Let me take back the adorable part – these two kids terrorized their former nannies with trick spiders and a re-enactment of Carrie.

Meet Janice, single, fabulous, and whose job apparently involves judging half-naked young people on their physical allure. “Everybody stop”, she says, and then she eyes the naked torsos with a critical eye towards perfection.

Our manny is on a book tour (Manny in NY is his book title), and our single mom is prowling for him. Perhaps he can withstand her two terrible tykes.

Our manny’s driver made off with all his stuff, and he’s stuck in Seoul with no money or passport. His bank accounts are frozen and he can’t go back to the US due to a misunderstanding with an US immigration official and his amorous wife. What’s a manny to do? Our single mom offers him a job – be my kid’s manny.

He’s not interested, but fate is interested for him, so he runs into terrible #2 on the street, and the little boy is lost but now found. His good Samaritan deed lands him in jail when Janice, who had a previous unpleasant first meeting with our manny, accuses him of being a child abductor.

Single mommy goes the next morning to apologize for the dust-up, and to convince the manny to come and be her family’s savior.

How can he not, when the little boy so clearly needs a father figure in his life.

But fabulous and bitchy Janice isn’t so keen on having a equally fabulous diva manny around her house.

Look at those devious eyes in that pretty little face. She’s already plotting on how to get rid of her manny. I can’t wait to see the manny vs. princess showdown (and the manny vs. Janice showdown).

Manny’s getting rid of the useless frivolous kids books and bringing in the study materials. Go whip these kids into Ivy League shape, manny!

Single mom can’t make a parent meeting, so it’s super manny to the rescue in her stead. He wows the other moms by switching out the fatty chocolate pudding dessert for a strawberry banana yogurt shake for the kids, but bitchy head mom/gossip queen is shocked to hear that manny lives with our single mom and her kids. Oh, the horror, the outrage, the indecency of it all!

Manny has a sore back and needs single mom to put on a salon pas for him. Oh, single mom balks, because of her weird lady sensibilities. I would be pawing manny right about now.

Janice, with all that exercise equipment in her room, causes our little boy to take a tumble. Manny is not happy with his charge getting hurt. He demands Janice make her room kid friendly and toss the equipment.

Janice is back to what she does best, judging half-naked male models, which also serves as her outlet for all the manny-induced outage she’s got bubbling up inside of her.

Manny takes his littlest charge for some boxing. He gets the little boy to punch at him and express his frustration with his broken family.

Bitchy gossipy mom spreads false lies that our single mom got a divorce because she cheated on her husband with her hot manny, and is setting up a love shack with him. Single mom gets pissed, and forbids her daughter to hang out with or talk to bitchy mom’s son, but the two kids are adorable totally in kid wuv with each other. It’s baby Romeo and baby Juliet.

Our hot manny takes the little girl to the modeling studio to visit her fabulous Aunt Janice, and is spotted by a client of the agency, who hand picks the manny to be the model for his campaign, much to the chagrin of Janice to have her mortal enemy be selected. Now she has to convince him to model for her. Oh, how it must rankle her.

Our baby Romeo & Juliet cannot be together. Oh woe is the world so unfair. No worries, manny to the rescue.

Our manny agrees to be a male model for the day, his ego all bolstered even more because Janice resorted to pretty much begging him.

But Janice isn’t about to let him get the upper hand on her, and she’s got her own little joke to play on him. She convinces our manny to shower, and then makes off with his clothes. Yowza, manny with no clothes!

Our manny manages to find some clothes and heads off to a kid’s party, where he performs a magic trick that does double duty as a way to resolve the mommy infighting which hurts their kids.

Our fighting moms make up once they realize how their childish behavior is hurting their own kids, and the baby Romeo & Juliet can be together once again.

Our manny heads to the gym and is preening under the many eyes watching him. Contrary to his mistaken assumption, he’s the center of attention because he’s current the star of the latest online viral video.

The title is: ballet manny!

You better look out, Janice, cuz this manny is not going to take this sitting down. Let the battle begin!


A First Impression and Quickcap of Manny — 25 Comments

  1. I remember Eun Bim she is Kim Jae Won and Eugene’s daughter in Wonderful Life when she is younger. Oh how she grow but I will definitely remember the eyes so big just not so like Korean.

  2. I saw this raw yesterday and the plot itself looks silly though funny…BUT Suh Ji Suk is HOT damn!….I’ve seen him in 2 dramas before this but never cared for him, I dont care what other say but I’m finding that hair particulary wonderful…it’s like that revelation JB had with Kim Hyun Joong in PK..lol…and that little boy is adorable…most of the time I was wishing I were him so 1. I could be as cute as him and 2. I could snuggle up to the Manny the way he does

  3. Manny made me laugh and smile throughout so I hope they don’t ruin it cause so far it’s fun. I bet though that the dad will come back into their lives and Manny may be instrumental in mending some fences. I love Janice, the actress who was in Pasta and lusted No Min Woo’s character.

    • I did want to know why this actor looks so much like Kim Hyung Joon. He is so good looking and can act unlike KHJ (poor guy). Are they related?

    • I’ve never heard of Suh Ji Seok being related to Kim Hyun Joong. But I don’t think they look alike at all, other than being exceedingly handsome. I think the weird perm makes them look alike.

      SJS in Gloria (where he was ^*&^*^%^&*^ fine, fine, fine)

      SJS in OB/GYN

      Anyways, SJS is not the best actor, but I have a super soft spot for him because he’s always quite charming in his performances.

      • I also like how hard he works. He’s literally had to claw his way to leading man status over the years. I also find he’s really good at picking “roles”. His dramas don’t always get high ratings or are necessary very good, but he always shines. Hee, you can totally tell I adore him. ^__^

      • If you have the gumption for loooong daily dramas, you can also watch him in Hearts of 19. He and Gu Hye Sun were super A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E there (he was uneven, but smexy as hell). Oh my.. Now I have to go watch those MVs again.. Hehe

  4. Manny is such a cute drama with awesome eye candy.

    I first noticed Suh Ji Seok in Gloria, which was the only reason I kept watching, although not to the end.

    It looks to be a great bubbly drama full of hijinks galore. Bring it on.

    • I’m sorry, super-cold on the outside because his illegitmacy makes him seeth in frustration, but really a hotblooded fighter at a secret fight club on the inside? Kang Seok in Gloria? WHERE CAN I FIND ONE SO I CAN REDEEM LIKE JIN JIN DID.

      I want my own Kang Seok. Wantwantwant! *pouts*

      Gloria was so uneven, but I loved both OTPs to pieces.

  5. I finished watching episode 1-2 just now. While I wasn’t completely sold after ep. 1, I liked it enough to keep on watching. Honestly, when Yi Han was strutting through that airport and the ladies were oogling him, I didn’t understand the fuss because if I were there, the only reason I’d be staring at him would be because he has a poodle on his head.

    However, after seeing ep. 2, manny grew on me and he’s hawt in my eyes now… that photoshoot was mmm mmm… The kiddie, especially Jung Min (aka mini Manny) is super adorable. Totally did not remember that Eun Bi is the same actress who played Eugene’s baby in Wonderful Life… my, how time flies.. she’s all grown up.

    The thing that I love most are the emotional moments and interaction between Yi Han and Jung Min, which are the reasons why I am fully onboard this ride. Like you, I also hope that it doesn’t derail off track into wtf town.

    • WTF-town makes me gnash my teeth in anger.

      Both Bad Guy and WUAS took a detour there in such an unforgiveable way. Though I’m keen on forgiving WUAS and accepting its second half WTF-kery, because damn it, Parang and Lawyer-ahjusshi was the best couple in the drama anyway.

  6. yes, i’m liking this drama too! quite heartwarming. kinda teared up when the little kiddo cried. can’t help it when such adorable kid cried his heart out.

  7. I am totally engrossed w/ Manny & may I just say…….SJS’s dimples are killing me!!! He is akin to Park Shi Hoo, in as much as he “owns” the character he plays!!

    You are 100% right Ockoala…. Manny makes me reminisce the WUAS drama, when it was at its best!!! His scenes w/the little boy, reminds me so much of Parang & KJH’s character’s closeness….

    Thanks for the recaps…you’re the best!!!

  8. Oh I’m loving Manny. I didn’t know Suh Ji Seok from before, but I’ll sure put Gloria in my to watch list. I’ve been hearing so many wonderful things about his character. The unnies @ Viki idolize him.

    Manny is been fun so far, as you said, nothing outrageous, but a lot of fun. The manny tips at the end of the episode are so cute!

  9. I liked WUAS through to the end, but I am a lot more into OTT angst melo than you are 🙂

    Re: Manny. I know it’s silly, but the title drives me nuts and prejudices me against it, SJS or not (but what is with his horrific hair?). Plus, maybe because I have a toddler un RL, dramas which heavily feature little kids don’t really ping for me – it’s like “I jus finished minding a munchkin, now I have to watch another one for entertainment?”

    This said, this does look awfully cute and if you continue to like it, I can see mysel getting on the bandwagon.

    Ivy League grad nanny also doesn’t seem too impossible? I remember an ad in our (Ivy League) university paper where some very very rich Virginia lawyer was advertising for a butler 🙂

      • Oh no not so much….a decent job in exchange for your dream job….I guess….hmmm the lawyer got tired of dealing with Satan and preferred to deal with His apprentice hahaha

  10. Oh, i thought Eunbi is Janice’s daughter?

    I watched ep 1, and not as great as I expected…but then I didn’t have subtitle…but I’m not giving up ( yet ) and will continue to watch Manny.
    thanks for the quick recap!

  11. I get it Manny is torso handsome….I’m sorry I’m a Hyun Bin, Bi Siwon, Kyuhyun, Kim Bum, Ji Hoon and the Scheduler fan… 😉

  12. I’m SO hooked on this drama! It’s exactly what I was hoping it to be: light and fun and heart-warming.

    Jung-min and Yi-han are so adorable together. I’m not sure if they can top Parang and Lawyer ajusshi, but homg, they’re so adorable anyway.

    While Suh Ji Seok has crackling chemistry with Byung Jung Soo, I’m sure his character will end up falling for Choi Jung Yoon’s mom of two.

    I’m not watching Manny for the love story, but I agree on this. The chemistry between SJS and BJS is incredible and it doesn’t hurt that their characters keep butting heads or try to outwit each other (Janice cracks me!). BUT I, like you, think Yi-san will end up with CJY’s character. I’m also fairly sure I’ll end up shipping them despite the obvious chemistry between SJS and BJS. I swear when Do Young was applying that skin patch, I literally squealed because she was so adorable.

    Haha, I need a thesaurus. How many times can I use ‘cute’ and ‘adorable’?

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