First Impression: A Strange Family/Romantic Setup in ‘The Man Living in Our House’

This year’s fall drama lineup is getting filled with rom-coms, as a couple more make their premiere this week. Replacing the hit youth sageuk Moonlight Drawn by Clouds and having the heavy task of sustaining the high ratings of its predecessor (before passing the baton to yet another youth sageuk Hwarang: The Beginning) is The Man Living in Our House, a peculiar noona romance between a flight attendant and her – er – stepdad. Now that premise doesn’t sound very appealing, but the pilot week was interesting enough.

First of all, the story was set up quite nicely that the whole scenario isn’t as uncomfortable as I thought. There’s still much to clear up before I buy the whole romance of the main couple; and as for the “comedy” aspect, the in-your-face execution isn’t exactly up my alley (maybe I’d grow into it?). Nonetheless, I am intrigued by the whole mystery surrounding the leads’ unusual relationship, and it actually has the potential to be heartwarming if the drama wants to.

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The Man Living in Our House (also known as Sweet Stranger and Me) starts off like any typical K-drama: our heroine Hong Na-ri (Soo Ae) is seen living a pretty steady life as a stewardess until a couple of misfortunes disrupt her balance. Already distraught, she finds another twist in her fate when she meets a young man named Go Nan-gil who claims to be married to her late mother and acts like her actual dad. Now without anyone else who can attest to their relationship and how this marriage came about, there’s room to doubt the real intentions of this tall, dark, and mysterious mandoo man. Is he a goldigger? Were they really in love? How will thay transition into the main couple’s romance?

More than the romance and the hijinks, I am more looking forward to Na-ri’s and Nan-gil’s journey to emotional healing – as romantic partners, or even as family. They’re both headstrong and composed on the outside (maybe Nan-gil more than Na-ri) but beneath the surface is a void that perhaps they can fill for each other. It’s nice to see Soo Ae and Kim Young-kwang back in dramaland; although since I only saw them in melodramas, I’d have to wait and see how their chemistry with each other (and with the rest of the cast) works in a rom-com. My impression of them doesn’t really help, quite frankly, as I’ve seen Soo Ae in an episode of Running Man and she seemed stiff (but yeah, really beautiful). And Kim Young-kwang’s image in K-entertainment hasn’t completely worn off, so he might have to work double time to win the hearts of the audience as a caring “dad”.

Lee Soo-hyuk gets to be the second lead again and I hope this time he’d actually flex more of his acting muscles (be funny, be a puppy, be anything!) versus his previous role as Gary Choi in Lucky Romance. Jo Bo-ah is soooo good at annoying me like crazy and I wish Kim Ji-hoon would have more screen time later on as his character (and his performance) brings laughs.

So yup, I’m watching on. Hopefully the weirdness would pay off and give us fun and romance all the way. What do I want to see more of? Some father-daughter confusion hijinks, witty banter, Lee Soo-hyuk stepping up and becoming more like a real person, a clear progression of the main love line (which includes a proper explanation on the backstory) and lots of dough kneading. Heehee

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