With the end of That Winter, The Wind Blows, Spring has officially arrived in dramaland and with it comes a spate of new primetime dramas to check out. Will it continue my ennui from Winter, or will I snap to rapt attention? This week saw the premiere of When a Man Loves and All About My Love, the former is garnering notoriety already while the latter continuing its low key appeal and interest. I checked out AAML first since a rom-com with a solid cast is always going to pique my interest over some broody love melodrama. I enjoyed the first half of this production team’s last drama Protect the Boss, which had a snappy vibe and quirky fun to be sufficiently entertaining, at least until the second half went down the extension pointless angst crapper. AAML sounded like PtB but set in a political versus corporate world, this time with two different skewing older leads Shin Ha Kyun and Lee Min Jung. Throw in Park Hee Soon and I was sold! Sadly I should have given it a pass because the result was so disappointing I’m pretty dismayed at the people involved. AAML is a totally nonsensical ridiculous farce with characters behaving nowhere near real people spewing dialogue that is stilted, with the two leads overacting like their pants was on fire. Shin Ha Kyun’s hair is so awful I half expect it to drip grease, and his pants so tight he must use super glue to keep it from splitting. And Lee Min Jung, sigh, what more can I say other than all her limitations as an actress are laid bare in this performance that is filled with all her trademark tics and line deliveries without any subtlety. I like her natural affability, but it’s like Lee Min Jung is onscreen and this time she’s decided to pretend to be a politician.
AAML is PtB without the freshness or the heart. There isn’t a single character I like outside of Park Hee Soon’s deputy secretary character. It’s like he was dropped from a sane and interesting drama into this pile of crap. The drama starts off with Shin Ha Kyun’s Kim Soo Young, a member of the conservative party, unleashing a tirade at a debate when he’s asked why a firebrand retired judge like him would join with the corrupt establishment ruling political faction. He argues that is all the same which party he joins, and it’s the citizens’ fault for continuing to elect corrupt politicians, and he resents stupid people asking him stupid questions. Are we supposed to like him? I can’t believe I would be complimenting Kim Eun Sook since her latest projects have pissed me off so much, but damn she did a fine fine job (relatively and objectively) with writing a political drama like City Hall. Take Jo Gook and compare him to Kim Soo Young, and it’s case closed. Soo Young drips with arrogance and weird tics without being relatable.
The central plot of the first episode surrounds an impasse going on in the legislature with the ruling party barricaded in the assembly room (playing cards to pass time and rehearsing how to behave when the media comes in), while the non-ruling coalitions have gathered outside in silent protest. We learn that Lee Min Jung’s rookie legislator No Min Young is one of only two members of her party and is filled with passion for clean politics and changing Korea for the better. She’s also an aunt raising a mother-less niece, and Park Hee Soon is her deputy secretary and he clearly has a crush on her. The politics of this drama is soooooooo annoyingly obvious and ridiculous, taking all the extremes and throwing it at the wall to see what sticks. Everyone is written to be uber-quirky, constantly spewing dialogue that no real person would ever say unless they spent hours writing it down first. Soo Young and Min Young get off on the wrong foot when he insults her in an off-hand comment during his debate tirade, she takes insult and insults in back in a radio program, and it all comes to a head during a factional showdown at the legislature that ends with her accidentally shoving a fire extinguisher in his face. There is actually a writer out there who thought that kind of “meet cute” was somehow worthy of anchoring a rom-com launching point. I can’t even.
Soo Young is rushed to the hospital and he plays up this injury for the public sympathy and Min Young is excoriated as a menace in politics. I know they are supposed to be the OTP, but so far neither are very interesting characters that I would care about their lives whether it’s professional or personal. Han Chae Ah plays a reporter and has a crush on Soo Young and she chews out Min Young for hurting him. She’s so wasted here as well it’s not even funny. After this drama is done Shin Ha Kyun, Park Hee Soon, and Han Chae Ah need to go wash this stinker off and ask for some restitution from SBS.
Min Young goes to the hospital to visit him and finds him hale and hearty as he tries to run away from her to avoid being detected. All this painfully amateurish slapstick is such a slap in the face of a great thespian like Shin Ha Kyun. It’s like watching Robert DeNiro or Al Pacino act in an Adam Sandler comedy. She confronts him in the stairwell and demands he go to the media with her to clear things up. In the tug-of-war, she pulls open his shirt (all the buttons go flying off for good measure) but then almost falls backwards off the stairs. He grabs her and saves her life, but in pulling her forward her face connects with his bare chest. End of episode. Can I get an hour of my life back, drama? I’m sure this drama might appeal to some folks, but I would rather stare at paint dry then watch the amazing Shin Ha Kyun make crazy faces or watch Lee Min Jung make the same faces. AAML is utterly pedestrian tripe where the majority of the cast deserves better and the audience out to be treated with more respect by the production. In case anyone cares, the directing is also really bad and the music choices are forgettable. This drama took a tumble from TWTWB’s lead in the Wed-Thurs ratings and now ranks behind the pack with IRIS 2 back on top and WAML in the middle (the ratings jumped from episode 1 to 2 when TWTWB finished). I don’t see this changing anytime soon, especially with Mandate of Heaven lurking to deliver a really gritty traditional sageuk.
Such a pity All About My Life looked pretty good! Gonna pass it now. Really l
You shouldn’t. I’m at episode 15 right now and I can tell you, this drama is amazing! You have to watch it. Unlike those silly, unrealistic dramas where the male lead/female lead gets drunk and confesses or the guy giving a piggy-back to the girl, this drama doesn’t rely on those at all and you should definitely watch this drama. Shin Ha Kyun is absolutely adorable in this show. It’s a shame this drama is so underrated.
Wow, just from the stills can see all the really over the top acting. LOL
In a hilarious turn of events, I actually ended up liking Song Seung Heon’s drama much more than Shin Ha Kyun’s.
(Me, too, don’t tell anyone.)
But to be fair, my expectations for SSH are much lower, and, to be fair, THT is a gorgeous man to behold in modern clothing.
If they keep him away from too much emotional heavy lifting*, he can be charming and he’s got so much heart under those chest muscles, you want to love him.
*and keep him heavy lifting. You saw the show, you know what I mean.
It was okay for the first episode. I will give it few more episodes than decide to watch it or not watch it. As for A man in loves it was okay first episode. I will watch the second episode later on tonight.
In another note, Koala unni will you do the first impressions of all the spring kdramas?
OT, but I’m really enjoying the commenters on Soompi who hope that Park Shin Hye will be up to the immense challenge of going toe to toe with Lee Min Ho’s stunning acting prowess… rme.
The delusion. The sheer delusion. I’m loving it 😀
i was going to watch this on weekend but not now after reading your thoughts.
I’m out of AAML circus, but waiting for Mandate of Heaven.
I have to agree about AAML, I love the cast but couldn’t love any of the characters, fast forward through half and couldn’t stand the other half…sad. Major waste of talents.
Whhhhy???? I’m so disappointed. I’m getting second hand embarrassment just looking at the screenshots. But it would be amazing if Mandate of Heaven did well considering KBS wanted to dump the leads not too long ago.
They didn’t want to dump the leads as it was just a marketing technique masterminded by the new guy over there.
Really? Well, that was dumb idea….
My love for Shin Ha Kyun must be endless since I loved him here! Sure there were some ridiculous parts but overall I was happy to have him on my screen and Im patiently waiting for subs for the 2nd episode. I agree with the rest of your review tho…. Lee Min Jung was uninspiring and Han Chae Ah criminally wasted. Still…. Ill stay with it for at least 2 more episodes
Me too… Loves him from “Brain” though don’t really have much interest in LMJ. I’m all for rom-com & a good laugh.
Maybe when it’s too much negative review on an actor that I loves, creates more curiosity? If it is really horrible – no pbm. Just stop watching eh! 🙂
I’m out of topic again…!
Found RMPW Special – still no subs but …. Hey ho! Hyuga+Makoto is back tho for a wee while!
Cheerio everyone! Have a nice day 🙂
Oh No! This was on my watch list but now… I would’ve checked it out but tw points you mentioned also annoy me to no end. The ridiculous plot and overacting with random crazy faces (which only works with a few actors).. Ugh
I Love Shin Ha Kyun I didn’t mind the first episode I ‘ll keep watching because of him.
I thought the first episode was hilarious even with the overacting. I’ll keep watching.
Me too. I liked the farcical OTTness. SHK seems to be having a lot of fun. But have to agree LMJ is out of her depth here.
this is my first time to watch all the 4 main characters in a drama. i watched ep 1 because i was curious what the fuss was all about shk. read many good reviews about his acting in brain, but didn’t watch that drama coz i don’t like medical dramas.
so i thought a rom com would be a good genre to be introduced to his acting. i have to agree with all of mrs. k’s comments about shk in this drama. shk over the top acting made me cringe, it was painful to watch. and what’s up with his hair? everytime he is onscreen i want to get ahold of a pair of scissors and give him a haircut. and those pants! someone please give him better pants!
lmj’s acting nothing spectacular, but at least not over the top. i kept being distracted by the bumps on her face.
the 2 support characters – they appear at the most random moments.
think i will stop watching for now, may take the drama up again if i have nothing better to do or to watch.
thanks for the first impression review.
I prefer When A Man Loves. Hot chemistry between the protagonists! 😉
Thank you for saving me. This looks and sounds terrible.
SHK picks the wrong project this time. SHK is definitely not good at politicking in real life. He miscomprehends the comedic underlying tone of a politician and a judge.
May be he needs to learn a bit of comedic acting skills from Stephen Chow in Justice, My Foot.
SHK is at his best only in Brain. As for comedy, perhaps Harvest Villa is his best shot.
I don’t see the rating penetrating 10. The chance of it going to 5 is more likely with the rather weak plot, and lousy acting across the board, which includes SHK.
Furthermore, I detect no chemistry between SHK and LBH’s girlfriend. The lead actress seriously needs to beef up her acting.
Awww, give Shin Ha Kyun a chance!
I found All About My Romance to be refreshingly different. The first five episodes were amusing and romantic–exactly what a romantic comedy should make you feel. If its supposed to be a romantic/political satire then I guess its normal to have the sense of the ridiculous; maybe some of the “overacting” is done to send the message across in a non-serious, non-heavy way despite the serious, heavy subject of political issues and all. I think it is actually harder for actors to make people laugh rather than make them cry, so this is a real challenge for Shin Ha Kyun, Lee Min Jung and the rest of the cast. The chemistry between the two leads actually grows on the audience as episodes reveal new situations and developments (there is this park scene with the two leads on Episode 5 that is so sweet and touching). I believe the writers are doing well so far; the leads and other cast actually made me laugh at their antics and swoon at the romantic moments; the OST so far is great and suits the scenes well. I would have to say that I am looking forward to watching more episodes and will wait it out till the end.
Hahaha, whoever bought to this shitty review is absolutely stupid. Just because you have your personal opinion, that whole drama sucks. To be honest this drama didn’t catch my attention much since the actors isn’t my taste but i won’t judge it too quickly. I watched this drama until eps 7 I am completely in love in this drama! I don’t understand why you said that SHK isn’t meant for this drama… He excels it so well! And also LMJ acts well her part too… The script was very well written, its different, compared to other rom-com i saw before. It serves very well to the mature audience, and i love mature romantic stories like this drama…
Don”t judge too quickly from the first eps… If you do, i can see you’ll do the same towards people around you. I know you won’t like it if people judge you from its cover, right?
I’m feel so sad just by reading the review and the comments. I’m currently at ep 15 (waiting for ep 16 subs) and I find this show absolutely superb. Best drama I’ve seen in a long, long time. Honestly, Shin Ha Kyun is so adorable in this drama and he changes his hairstyle half-way through it. You grow to love him for who he is soon enough so much so that his hair is the last thing on your mind. This drama is really great and does not rely on the silly, cliche scenes like getting drunk and confessing or the guy giving the girl a piggy-back ride. Honestly, this drama is absolutely fantastic. You have to watch it. The ratings break my heart.