Q3 Pitstop: The Kdramas of 2016

Beautiful Gong Shim
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The gist:

Gong Shim has always believed she’s treated unfairly because she inherited all the bad traits in her family: being the awkward, plain, thickheaded, and unemployed one as opposed to her perfect older sister Gong Mi. In order to save money to pursue her dream, she rents out her rooftop apartment to Ahn Dan-tae, a lawyer of his own small firm by day and a designated driver by night.

The good:

– The lighthearted moments. This show is fun, fluffy, and absolutely hilarious for the most part. I adore its quirkiness and the lead actors’ chemistry in creating funny moments. It’s not hard to root for the main couple as they developed their romance through a series of hijinks. Gong Shim’s parents were absolutely entertaining to watch too, as another source of much-appreciated comic relief.

– The main trio. Props to resident drama villain Namgoong Min for taking a 180-degree turn from his sinister pycho persona. He was totally adorable as the weirdo Dan-tae with heart eyes for the girl with bobbed hair. Opposite him, Minah showed that she’s an idol actress to watch out for, with her charming portrayal of Gong Shim. Together with Ohn Joo-wan as Seok Joon-soo (aka the kindest chaebol in the whole dramaverse), the trio shared a strong, genuine friendship that is rare to see in love triangles. Then there’s also the cute bromance-at-first-sight between Dan-tae and Joon-soo, which was really fun to see.

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The bad:

– It became less and less about Gong Shim. For a drama named after her, Gong Shim was in and out of the storyline in the latter episodes. It was a bit of a letdown that the drama did not flesh out her journey to self-love (which at one point the show was leading to), as the focus was directed to another storyline. She was left clueless in the sidelines until towards the end, and I felt at one point that she appears only for short breaks of romance and/or comic relief. I also would have wanted closure on Gong Shim’s relationship with Gong Mi, as the latter was the main source of Shim’s insecurities and misery. But I was denied of that.

– The clichés and inconsistencies. Another writing pitfall was the 2D characters that lacked enough motivation or backstory to justify their actions, and were placed whenever it is convenient for the story. Some characters also had jarring inconsistencies – i.e., Gong Mi going totally psycho one day then becoming a nice sister in the next episode, as if nothing happened the day before. The main storyline was also laced with cliché events, making the conclusion predictable without any guesswork from the audience. Everything was all-too convenient, despite attempts to make the plot seem more complex than it actually was.

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The verdict:

I almost passed on this show, but I’m glad I decided to try it out and enjoy Gong Shim and Dan-tae’s story. It was a fun watch with its light moments and offbeat humor, showing great chemistry from the so-called Namgoong MinAh couple. But while the show was good overall, I believe that it could have been so much greater if it chose to. The drama’s wonderful themes were unexplored and overshadowed by the clichéd main plotline, which was spoon-fed to its audience. Nonetheless, I was invested enough on the characters that it almost didn’t matter where the story took me. If you take everything as it is without expecting more than what it shows, you’ll find this drama to be entertaining and a good stress-reliever.

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