Oh no no nooooooo! I did not want to pick up another live-watch! I did not want to fall in love with another show, and I definitely did not want to be waiting anxiously for new episodes for yet another drama.
I DID NOT WANT THIS, GUYS.
But alas, here I am. And I’m in the sweet spot. You know, that place in a good rom-com where sexy and stirring, cute and sweet come together and it’s magical, and you can’t quite believe it because, let’s face it, rom-coms of late have not been kind to you?
Yeah that spot. I barely remember it because it’s been so rare.
And it might be because I didn’t expect to like this show at all (the name alone–ugh), and the fact that I do makes it that much sweeter. So while my brain says no (I have no time), my body says yes, oh yes (squeee!).
And if none of this makes sense, it’s because I’m drowning in feels so words fail me. So I’m going to throw some screencaps at you.
First, in case you didn’t know, this is a noona romance (whoopeee!). So let’s meet our noona, ace reporter Ban Ji Yeon. She’s driven and ambitious. She’s also stern, stingy with compliments, and doesn’t take anyone’s shit. Which is why her rivals at the office call her a ‘witch’. But they’re mainly just sore that she’s better at her job than they are–her cover story just caused a national sensation, and she’s revelling in it.
She’s also about to hit 40, which of course means her mother is obsessed with getting her married. But Ji Yeon isn’t interested. She’s still smarting from her ex leaving her at the altar 6 years ago. It hurts her, but it doesn’t define her. Sure she’s prickly, but if this makes her unlikeable, so be it. Her theme song is “I’m a Witch”. She pumps up the volume each night:
Getting drunk lands her into big trouble, of the sexy kind like this…
And who is that fine specimen on top of her? Why it’s our ‘puppy’ aka Dong Ha. He totally has the hots for her and couldn’t care less about the age difference.
More importantly, he’s kind and compassionate and respects Ji Yeon for who she is, warts and all. He’s certainly no pushover, but he never asserts himself at her expense. He isn’t the patronising, domineering boob that overpopulates Kdrama rom-coms. He doesn’t need to lord his masculinity over her in order to be taken seriously as a love interest. He’s secure in who he is–a good, decent man who may be lacking but has the hots for noona.
Who can blame him? Noona is pretty awesome. The only problem I have with her is that she kicked the puppy out of bed. Why??
Nevertheless, guess who will be chasing after whom?
What I love about them is that they make a great team. They’re both comrades…
…and great buddies. They always seem to have an awesome time together:
They bicker and fight too, but they’re direct and mature enough to recognise their mistakes and make up pretty quickly. It’s probably because they respect each other. Imagine that.
And they don’t sweat the small stuff. They fight because they both have baggage, and I get it. There’s substance to their disputes, not empty conflict.
These two are simply the best thing in this drama. Unlike so many rom-com pairs who are pre-destined and pre-packaged, this pair makes sense. I get what they see in each other–they are openly admiring of each other’s qualities (sexual and otherwise). And in the face of their drift-compatibility, a not insignificant age gap of 15 years simply evaporates. What holds them back is their past, and it’s something they both treat with care and sensitivity.
Unlike so many Kdrama heroines who deserve far better than what the script saddles them with, this noona landed a bonafide partner. So many noona romances of late have levelled the playing field between the pair by cutting the heroine down to size, instead of making the hero worthier. So you get a ‘hero’ like Goguma in I Need Romance 3 who was bossy and over-stepped, while the heroine became a total shrinking violet in his presence. Thank the drama gods there’s none of that crap here. Ji Yeon is never diminished by her
Uhm Jung Hwa and Park Seo Joon really bring these characters to life, which sounds like a total cliché but it’s true. It’s partly the lovely, grounded writing but it’s also thanks to these two actors who give this dynamic both the sparks and the soul needed to make this relationship take flight. Uhm Jung Hwa is pro, and I’m sure no one is the least bit surprised that she’s awesome. Park Seo Joon however–WHO IS THIS BOY AND WHERE HAS HE BEEN ALL MY LIFE? If this weren’t a cable show, he’d be this year’s Lee Jong Seok. Well, he’s already mine at least.
And I love how they’re acting their real ages. The age gap is actually visible for once, and it gives this relationship an added realistic boost.
The drama gets other things right too, like their best friends Na Rae and Soo Cheol. They don’t have any issues with the age gap. They’re just thrilled to bits for them.
Na Rae is the bestie from heaven, someone who’s willing to put the
smack slapdown on anyone who messes with Ji Yeon:
I adore Na Rae. She’s an excellent wing-woman and gets a kick out of playing cupid. But best of all, she’s firmly in Ji Yeon’s corner and vice versa.
And then there’s Dong Ha’s bestie, Soo Cheol, who starts out a complete arse, but is promptly put in his place by noona. He’s totally rooting for them too, despite being a little afraid of Ji Yeon. Who doesn’t like a little bromance in their dramas?
Yoon Hyeon Min and Ra Mi Ran are hysterical, and it’s largely thanks to them that I’ve laughed so hard.
And it’s full of delicious noona rom-com tropes too. Let me break it down for you:
- forced cohabitation
- pretend boyfriend
- me boss, you minion, so you have to do what I say
- ‘let me help you land a date while I watch from afar and seethe in jealousy’
- there’s loads more but it escapes me at the moment
I haven’t seen the original T-drama My Queen for which I’m thankful because I can take this one as it is. Others who have probably have different views, but I have nothing to compare this to so from where I’m sitting, it’s all pretty good to me.
My main fear is that we’ve come so far in 6 episodes that I’m worried that the dreaded middle stretch is going to run around in circles. Already our heroine’s past is coming back to haunt her, and a love triangle is looming. Drats.
So while it’s not perfect, this drama has gotten the important things right and I kinda want to stay in this sweet spot forever!