Review: Can We Get Married? (jTBC, 2012)

Can_We_Get_Married--p2Premise: The trials and tribulations of a young couple, Jung Hoon and Hye Yoon, on the rocky road to marriage. Orbiting them are their families and friends who have their own ups and downs to navigate. Who was it who said the course of true love never did run smooth?

For those who appreciate dramas peopled with multi-dimensional women  Can We Get Married? offers an entire series structured around not just one or two, but five–yes, FIVE–women at various stages in their (love) lives. Ostensibly about love and marriage, the drama ultimately however, is about the strength of family and the bonds between mothers, daughters and sisters. When the men in their lives disappoint, exasperate and downright turn nasty, they have each other.

Here are women in all their flawed glory. There’s Hye Yoon (Jung Soo Min), the twenty-something bride-to-be who is pushy, insecure and self-absorbed. She’s lucky to have her adoring and forgiving fiance Jung Hoon (Sung Joon) who comes from a wealthier family. Therein lies one of the major problems they have to overcome on the road to marriage, that of the difference in social class and having to satisfy all the expectations that come with it. 

Exacerbating the problems are of course, their meddling mothers. Hye Yoon’s mother Deul Ja (played by the wonderful Lee Mi Sook) is gauche, brash and a product of her hard scrabble life as a single mother who wants to ensure her daughters never have to struggle financially like she did. She’s overbearing but not without self-awareness, and I grew quickly to love her and her fierce love for her daughters.

Jung Hoon’s wealthy mother Eun Gyung (Seon Woo Eun Suk) is equally devoted to her family, except that she isn’t capable of letting go of her petty, selfish need to cling to her class consciousness for the good of her son’s happiness. She’s childish and spoiled by the doting men in her life. But in a world where the only form of social power stems from the success and wellbeing of her son, Eun Gyung becomes something more than a creature to be despised. 

Obviously, these two don’t get along, and as we all know, hell hath no fury like a dramaland mother-in-law. Much of the drama’s highlights are the moments when these two interact, all surface politeness but with undercurrents of I’ll-show-you, like a tennis match, lobbying underhanded insults and one-upmanship. Sparks fly, but not the romantic kind.

Then there’s Hye Yoon and Jung Hoon’s best friend Dong Bi (Han Groo) who has a complicated relationship with her on-and-off boyfriend Ki Joong (Kim Young Kwang), who happens to be Jung Hoon’s cousin. Class plays a huge stumbling block in their relationship too, but it’s really their differing attitudes towards marriage and commitment–she wants it, he doesn’t. Their positions change over the course of the drama through Dong Bi’s journey, who is the show’s most fascinating figure. A little enigmatic and unpredictable, she’s unapologetic about her choices but forthright about her mistakes. Shorn of family ties by choice, she’s not beholden not anyone except the people she allows into her life. For dramaland, this aspect alone is rarity.

As a foil to the troubles our young couple, we have Deul Ja’s younger sister Deul Rae (Choi Hwa Jung) who at the age of 50 has discovered a love for Harleys and for a younger, twice-divorced man. They are people who because of their age and where they are in their lives, don’t have to conform to the suffocating norms of marriage. Liberated from such strictures, they are free to dictate the terms of their relationship and it’s progress (no matter how much noona Deul Ja thinks otherwise). Because of this, they are joyful and exuberant, and I adored them. Without this couple, the drama would’ve been far less funny and enjoyable.

At the other end of the spectrum is Hye Yoon’s older sister Hye Jin (Jung Ae Youn) whose marriage to a wealthy, cheating arse Do Hyun (Kim Sung Min) is breaking down. The drama delves very deeply into their nasty divorce, dramatising the toll it takes on both spouses and their son. Their conflict gets ugly but the drama handles it without sentiment and thankfully, doesn’t take the easy way out to resolving their dispute. The drama also makes no judgements, and what could’ve been the show’s tragic figure ends being a portrait in steely, if vulnerable, determination.

Can We Get Married? wasn’t an easy, digestible watch. It’s heavily dialogue driven and doesn’t take dramatic, plotty turns. There’s a fair bit of screechy squabbling in the beginning that I needed to take extended breaks from. But I couldn’t turn away and kept coming back to see how these women would fare. And they fared really, really well.

Can We Get Married?

Starring:  Sung Joon, Jung Soo Min, Kim Sung Min, Lee Mi Sook, Kim Young Kwang, Seon Woo Eun Suk, Jung Ae Youn, Kang Seok-Woo, Han Groo, Kim Jin-Soo, Choi Hwa-Jung

Overall rating: 4/5 

Recommended: Yes.

Director: Kim Yun Cheol

Screenwriter: Ha Myung Hee

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9 thoughts on “Review: Can We Get Married? (jTBC, 2012)

  1. I liked this drama, and the only thing that kept me from dropping it in the middle bit (when everything got really intense) was the older couple. They were the only fun bit of the show, and I also loved watching every single scene with Lee Mi Sook and her horrible make-up lol.

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    • Yes they were tonnes of fun weren’t they? I adored them, and it’s so interesting that it was the older couple having all the fun instead of the youngsters who were suffering. One of the many ways in which this drama is out of the box. Oh and mama blue eye shadow rocks doesn’t she?!! Lee Mi Sook really knocked this roll out of the park. I wasn’t expecting her character to be so likeable but she makes it all so easy.

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  2. Pingback: The OCDrama Digest 2nd – 9th February | obsessive compulsive (k)drama-watching disorder
  3. I ADORE this drama, it portrays the realistic view on modern couples. Out of all the thing, this drama taught me that love don’t conquer everything, it requires both side to persevere, communicate, sacrifice and communicate to make a relationship work. It was my crack drama during its broadcast.

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    • Yes it definitely depicted the hard work that comes with committing to love, and it was realistic in many ways. Especially in depicting all the expectations that come with getting married. I loved that the main couple took plenty of hits and weathered the storm. It wasn’t crack for me though, but I did enjoy it immensely!

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  4. Oh, I’m so glad you were able to get through the screeching! This is the drama that made me fall so deeply in love with Lee Mi-sook. The fierce love she had for her daughters, even when she expressed it badly… I adored her.

    I agree with you that it’s interesting that it’s the older, non-conventional couple that brought the light and happy to the story. I think a big part of it was that they’d had the time to figure out so many other aspects of their lives they were able to by-pass a lot of the drama. (Love is wasted on the youth! 😉 )

    The thing that had me on pins and needles was the older daughter’s storyline. I was so afraid it would end badly. But I did love her lawyer!

    Great review, DDee! Glad I finally got a chance to read it. 🙂

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    • Goodness Lee Mi Sook was awesome here and she’s so fabulous in Miss Korea too, which I definitely hv to marathon next. I LUFF HER.

      I was more taken by the older couple’s stories in many ways more so than the younger ones (except for Dong Bi whom I found very interesting), and I wrote a lengthy new edit to my review with WP promptly LOST (okay, it might’ve been my fault but still…) so I’m very…argh. Noona and biker man can also get away with so much also because no one is invested in them conforming, no family overloads so to speak.

      Oh the lawyer rocked didn’t he! I wasn’t prepared to like him, but he was so smarmy and hilarious, and well-acted too!! I realised he was security spy man in Master’s Sun, although this role clearly was so much meatier even though it was pretty minor 🙂

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      • Urgh, indeed! Nothing more frustrating than loosing text. 😦

        I’m watching “Miss Korea” now and Lee Mi-sook is definitely fabulous in it. I’m hoping the drama keeps up with what it’s doing because right now I’m adoring it.

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      • Yes, am waiting to free up more hard disk space before I start to catch up on this one. I shelved it at Ep 8 because my mind began to wander eventhough I could see the potential and thought this would work better as a marathon. So yes, am eager to pick this one up again!

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