Premise: An ex-theater director finds use for his dramatic skills by playing cupid in a dating agency. When a new recruit shakes up the workplace, he has to juggle his growing feelings for her, his lovelorn clients, and his past traumas.
Dating Agency: Cyrano is a zippy, enjoyable rom-com that does everything right from the start. It’s dating agency setting is a premise made in rom-com heaven, and the show fully exploits it with just the right amount of cute, heart, comedy and wit. It’s light-hearted, breezy episodic nature stops it from being bonafide drama crack however, but its many charms will completely win you over.
The show is structured around its clients and the various set-ups the agency has to engineer Mission Impossible-style for each case. Naturally, much of the fun stems from these shenanigans, allowing for a fresh injection of
eye candy cameos every couple of episodes. Taemin, Lee Yoon Ji, Gong Yoo, Lee Kwang Soo, Jung Yoo Mi, and other well-used talent appeared as either clients or targets, and the variety of scenarios kept the show’s energy going each week. These little narratives served as more than just comic fodder though. They were also opportunities to ruminate on love and relationships, captured poignantly and wittily, minus the cheese. Whether it was a shy client struggling to muster self-confidence in love or a high school idol’s first attempt at naked vulnerability, these mini-arcs were proof that breezy and fun need not mean soulless or dim. The show also deftly addresses the ethical questions–questions that the audience would have–surrounding the nature of their work head on without getting preachy or unnecessarily weighty.
It’s also got a loveable cast of main characters at its core. In many ways, it’s a workplace drama. The boss is the grumpypants, pragmatic Seo Byung Hoon (Lee Jong Hyuk). His polar opposite is the idealistic, naive new recruit Go Min Young (Soo Young) whom he naturally (but reluctantly) falls for. Drama nerd high schooler Arang (Jo Yoon Woo) and electronics sifu Moo Jin (Hong Jong Hyun) form the rest of the tight-knit team. The latter both get respectable sub plots, adding character depth. For instance, Arang’s struggle and sacrifice in his first love was surprisingly revealing and dovetailed neatly with a client’s case and also echoed Byung Hoon’s experiences. (That case was one of the most affecting of the series for me and was proof that the show is more cleverly written than first meets the eye.)
The central romantic rivals are nicely drawn and given intriguing back stories. Both Byung Hoon and Master (Lee Chun Hee) have past traumas and inter-linked pasts, bolstering their animosity beyond vying for Min Young’s affections. It’s a shame however, that the female lead, is not similarly as interesting. She’s certainly no empty-headed wallflower, but like so many female leads, she merely serves as a catalyst for Byung Hoon’s arc. The weak point for her character (and incidentally, the show) comes at the climax where she literally morphs into a damsel in distress in need of rescue. It’s fortunate that the show had already done so many things right, and is smart enough to wrap up the damsel-ling quickly, that this OTT misstep is forgivable.
The show takes a light touch to its central romance. Perhaps a little too light. I was getting a little antsy waiting for the main Cyrano conceit to happen. Curiously, the show doesn’t exploit this to the extent that you’d expect , and maybe that’s to the writer’s credit for not wanting to be too obvious, but it seeing it teased out could’ve provided some dramatic tension and a way to resolve things without resorting to the aforementioned OTT damsel-ling.
But still, these are minor gripes. There are enough surprises along the way in this series that make Cyrano satisfying and likeable. It’s a shame this wasn’t as big a hit as the rest of tVN’s Flower Boy dramas. It certainly deserves a little more love.
Dating Agency: Cyrano
Starring: Lee Jong Hyuk, Soo Young, Hong Jong Hyun, Jo Yoon Woo, Lee Chun Hee
Overall rating: 4/5
Director: Kang Kyung Hoon
Screenwriter: Shin Jae Won