The Kdramas of 2016: Q4 Roundup

Jealousy Incarnate

The gist:
Long-time weather girl Pyo Na-ri dreams of becoming an anchorwoman someday, bending over backwards just to survive in the competitive environment of the broadcast station. Things get complicated in her work and personal life when she crosses paths again with her long-time crush Lee Hwa-shin, a popular reporter returning from his assignment in Thailand, at the same time that she meets ideal guy Go Jung-woon – who happens to be Hwa-shin’s best friend.

The good:

It tackles unpopular but relevant subjects. I found the drama to be brave in taking up touchy topics especially in a patriarchal society like South Korea, which I can only sum up as “things that challenge the concept of machismo”. One would never get from its title that the drama intended to go this direction, but I’m glad it did. It made the story more significant than its initial premise.

I also liked the unconventional relationships that this show boldly introduced, which weren’t all in the context of love. These complex relationships may have taken me out of my comfort zone, but it also showed how flawed and honest these quirky characters were. The show did well in using these different character dynamics in highlighting the theme of jealousy.

The solid acting. The main and secondary cast did an amazing job in this production, especially in carrying the show’s dark humor. I’m becoming more and more of a fan of Jo Jung-suk’s brand of comedy and acting style. He’s one charismatic dork indeed. Gong Hyo-jin carries her role with ease as usual (but I do have to agree, she’s playing the same type of character once again), and the lines just roll off her tongue as she became Pyo Na-ri. Go Kyung-pyo was an obvious rookie beside the other two leads, but he worked on what he had (like his deep voice) to step up his game and charm the audience. The two ahjummas – Lee Mi-sook and Park Ji-young – also stood out for me in this drama. They’re both strong, sassy, and charming in their own ways, and they had great chemistry which worked with their storyline.

The bad:
The humor is not for everyone. This show was able to handle mature content and a liberal viewpoint with the help of a heavy dose of dark humor, which may be too much for those who just want the typical clean Kdrama production. It had random scenes popping out of nowhere, and surprising lines and actions that were both funny and distressing.

The indistinct genre. It seemed to me that the drama wanted to create its own style with the way it was executed, but it turned out to be more confusing at times. In the beginning it had a tone of a family drama with the large cast and subplots that branched out, only to be trimmed down and loosely concluded towards the end as it became more of a workplace drama. I thought it was 24 episodes long to give time to explore the secondary and tertiary characters on the show, but instead all airtime went to the main couple alone – which I think could have been wrapped up earlier if not for the pivot in the story. Too bad, I would’ve wanted to see more of the maknae loveline (mainly because of Chi-yeol).

The verdict:
This was one wacky show that took me on an interesting journey. It wasn’t all pretty and pleasant, and I understand how some could be put off with certain situations in the story. Not everything made sense (or maybe everything did not make sense) but I guess that was Jealousy Incarnate’s charm for me – its eccentricity was still built on human nature and valid insights. It was a refreshing workplace romcom that capitalized heavily on the cast’s strong comedic sense and acting chops. They may not be the best role models in the world but these characters were endearing enough to root for week-on-week.


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