Well this is a shocker! I’m sitting here absolutely giddy in love with Fated to Love You.
I was wary bout this one for obvious reasons, but see what happens when a show exceeds your expectations? You get me writing a very fangirly first impressions post, which I almost never do. The first impressions part I mean. I fangirl all the time!
First, let’s talk about this creature here.
I was looking forward to a certain level of ham and slapstick from what I’d seen from the teasers, but I certainly did not expect the show to zealously devote itself to making Lee Geon look as ridiculous as possible.
I mean, look at him! He’s freakin’ absurd.
AND I LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT. That maniacal cackle? That’s a kind of defensive, self-aggrandizing tic? GIMME.
He’s a send-up of every jerky chaebol asshat ever, and I’m so thrilled that Jang Hyuk is completely game. He’s a marvellously physical actor and he just throws his entire body into Lee Geon–part flailing buffoon, part dandy stud.
(More on his body later, ahem.)
But then the jerky asshat isn’t quite the jerk at all. For one, he’s completely, and rather sweetly, in love!
Sure he’s a ruthless businessman, but he also loves honestly and whole-heartedly. Which means he isn’t the centre of his universe and can step outside of himself, and is able to express feelings besides petty tantrums. You know, like a real person.
Yes, a real person.
And then there’s my precious, precious Mi Young, who I want to scoop up and squish and give all the things.
I want to shower Jang Nara with rose petals for giving her a sense of…authenticity. (Which interestingly, is a quality that Lee Geon sees and appreciates in Mi Young).
I wasn’t that impressed with Jang Nara when I last saw her in School 2013, but she’s a total delight here. Her delicate face trembles with fragility, and so do her hands in that inevitable “oettoke” moment. She’s mousy but not unassertive, and she’s not a generic brand of doormat. You know the type–all quirks, no substance.
The script has thankfully given Jang Nara something to work with. It’s given Mi Young hurts but also anger. When she tells the real jerk of these episodes (surprise, it’s not the chaebol!) to get out of the hotel room which she paid for, she’s really reclaiming her heart and her self-hood. She might let herself be taken advantage of professionally, but not so when it comes to love. She’s not spineless at all, this one.
And then that wonderful exchange between Lee Geon and Mi Young after that silly poker game, which turns the whole preceding make-over sequence on it’s head.
Usually make-overs are treated like Candy has struck the lottery, but not here. It’s totally false and rings hollow because it had nothing to with her, and everything to do with Geon projecting his own sadness at being abandoned. Which she exposes and makes him feel sorry for:
Watching him kneel in front of money,
Not him, but I was pitiful. He’s a bad person, it’s true.
But my feelings for him were real. Truth shouldn’t become useless.
And look, she’s not her glammed up self when she says this, which feels right considering she’s talking about truths.
And the fact that her grace made him cop to his pain and weakness? That willingness to acknowledge the ugly truth about both their feelings? Gah!
And then there’s the recognition of their shared hurts, sealed by their exchange of curios and their real names. D’awwwwww!
And that slight look of wistfulness on both their faces as they part, as if to say, oh that was an odd and unexpected and totally lovely encounter, wasn’t it?
See, this is a surprising amount of sensitivity sandwiched between the screwball. For another example, look no further than episode 2’s wonderful sex sequence.
Yes, there’s an AWESOME montage of them making rice-cakes that’s none-too-subtle code for banging…
I die just thinking about it!
But there’s also the rather wondrous little bed scene that comes just before.
Let’s get the icky context out of the way first: they’ve both been drugged, and they both think they’re with someone else. And while that can present a boatload of problematic consent issues, the sex here is a loving encounter that both enjoy.
It’s all in the details, see.
He reaches for her and enfolds her in his arms. He caresses her shoulder fondly, soothingly.
With her face burrowed into his chest, her hands travel up his bare back and rest on his face.
He breathes her in, nuzzling her hair.
His leg moves under the sheets, then his hand finally clasps hers.
It’s shockingly tender. And their touching feels tangible and real, made vivid in it’s simplicity. It’s refreshingly free from any glossy fakery and the usual K-drama prudery.
And I MELTED BIG TIME.
This is far from the drunken tryst that I’d thought it would be. It speaks volumes too of Gun’s genuine love for Sera. And she wakes up pleased as pie.
And so kudos to Lee Dong Yoon-PD! I luff you already!
And then there’s the nudge-nudge wink-wink at Lee Geon’s body, like here, where his schlong has been obscured by a large erect lamp:
People openly admire his various parts:
…and are horrified by them too.
So yes, I love the show’s frank playfulness about sex and bodies. (I wonder if it’s because it’s an adaptation from the Taiwanese drama?).
And if I haven’t been clear, I love the comedy. And also if I haven’t said it plainly, I freaking adore the two Jangs who make all this work.
And I’m eager to see how Mr DJ aka Gumihot Choi Jin Hyuk fits into the picture, and for Sera’s and Geon’s relationship to be explored. I’m hopeful that the show keeps up this awesome balance of madcap OTT tomfoolery and genuine, meaningful connections, at least before the inevitable angst comes along.
So yep, I’m sold on this one. I’m all in!