This may be an unpopular opinion but I don’t think Mirae’s Choice sucked as much everyone believes. (By everyone, I mean at least the majority of the English-speaking K-drama blogosphere. And the general Korean public as well judging by the poor ratings.) Fine, that sounds like everyone but I’m pretty sure there’s got to be a least a handful who agree with me!
Because despite it’s many flaws and major missteps, there’s a space in my heart for a show that tries to do something a little different from what you’d expect from a rom-com. At it’s best, it was thoughtful and warm. It posed questions about having to make hard decisions and living with those consequences in sincere and heartfelt ways.
It had a likeable heroine who had a struggle I could get behind–of chasing your dreams, of believing you deserved better. Her perm-of-shame even grew on me.
The show had other women characters who similarly struggled with building themselves and their careers–that too, I can get behind. They spoke their minds, sometimes too tentatively, but in the end, they fought for things that mattered to them, in their personal lives as well as in the workplace.
The pretty Korean autumn meshed so perfectly with the show’s wistful tone, and bolstered by its lovely whimsical soundtrack. I didn’t come to the party expecting this, but it was this kind of sensibility that I really appreciated and found refreshing.
The show however, sold itself as a fluffy, zany rom-com when it clearly aimed to be a different creature altogether. It set itself up for a fall when it chose to use time-travel to tell a story that felt almost too mature, too real world for fantasy-land hijinks. It felt as if the writer feared her story wasn’t commercial or entertaining enough and so threw in some half-baked time-travelling shenanigans. Then she dressed up her story with all the rom-com trappings but didn’t want to, or could not, own up to it and deliver.
The show’s wishy-washy-ness was obvious in how it treated its central romantic entanglement. It was so preoccupied with having Mirae ping pong between See Joo and Kim Shin beyond all other concerns, only to have her NOT choose either one in the end. Yeah, everyone who signed up for the romance got served big fat no-mance instead. Isn’t it any wonder that most felt cheated? For what was Mirae’s choice if not the choice of which guy to marry?!
However, I was never fussed with that question having to be answered in the first place because I thought that Mirae’s true choice would be deciding the kind of person she wanted to be, not who she wanted to be with. I followed the show hoping for this part to take centre stage. Eventhough it ever really did, there was just enough of it for me not to write this off completely.
If only the show stuck to it’s guns and really followed through with what I suspect was it’s gut instinct to foreground a mature, contemplative story about women and life choices, it would’ve been so much better. Or it could’ve picked the fluffy rom-com route too. The point is, the show was never sure of itself.
I’m sad that the show sabotaged itself and squandered some fabulous chemistry between all four leads, particularly between Lee Dong Gun and Yoon Eun Hye. Heck, even Jung Yong Hwa pulled his own weight. And I could watch Han Chae Ah’s scrappy Yoo Kyung in a show of her own! It’s testimony to each of the actors’ strong performances that they remained ever so watchable even as the narrative collapsed on itself.
Still I don’t consider this a waste of time because I liked the show enough to return each week. Mainly, I felt that it had something valuable to say–this drama might not have had legs, but it had a soul. For this reason alone Mirae’s Choice is far more than the mediocre mess than it’s been painted as.