Drama Premiere: The Struggles of a Shy Guy in ‘Introverted Boss’

A wacky case of opposites-attract: Introverted Boss is tvN’s new office rom-com this month, from the makers of loved dramas Marriage Not Dating and Another Oh Hae Young. While the title got me curious (I feel very strongly about the topic of introversion/extroversion), I’m still on the fence about this drama after seeing its first two episodes. I must say, though, that Yeon Woo-jin gives me the biggest reason to watch on.

It goes without saying that introversion is not some form of disability or personality disorder – it’s simply a way a person interacts with the outside world, and one can fall anywhere in the broad range of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. But in a society that has evolved to favor the charismatic and the outgoing, it’s more of a struggle for introverts to fit in and be comfortable in their day-to-day lives. Such is the story of Eun Hwan-ki, an extremely shy and awkward second-generation chaebol, who ironically runs a respected PR agency. He has cut off almost all human connection apart from his own family and trusted friends (well for now, just one friend – the company’s magnetic co-CEO Kang Woo-il), to the point that people have generated various speculations about his mysterious existence.

To make things even more ironic, he’s interested in probably the most zealous and gregarious person he’s ever met – Chae Ro-woon, one of the new hires in his company. (Is it already a solid crush? Just a platonic admiration? Or merely a sense of responsibility?) And of course, with Hwan-ki’s personality, Ro-woon knows nothing about this. Zilch.

Yeon Woo-jin is hilarious with his overthinking and failed attempts to overcome his anxiety. He’s a sensitive and considerate guy who just can’t express himself properly – and in dramaland that means lots of misunderstandings and hijinks. He’s the best part of this drama as far as the pilot week goes, as I instantly found myself rooting for him (c’mon, he’s *reaaaallly* trying!).

What’s not working for me yet are the other two leads (the extroverts in this drama) – Yoon Park and Park Hye-soo – whom I loved more in their (completely opposite) previous roles in Age of Youth. These two may have been directed to highlight their contrast against the so-called introverted boss, but I find some of their scenes overacted and overly dramatic. Maybe the actors will eventually find the right balance. Maybe I’ll just get over it. Or maybe it will be the most jarring flaw of this drama in the end. I don’t know. And as much as I loved Park Hye-soo in AoY, I do feel another actress would fit the role better, as it’s a bit too early for her to have a leading role in an adult rom-com – with her cute baby face and all. I do hope she can pull her weight in making the loveline work.

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And what about the mystery? I thought Introverted Boss was going to be this tongue in cheek opposite-worlds-collide kind of plot, but the show gives a darker backstory than expected. It really depends on how the drama will use this angle to drive the plot, but I do hope overall I would get more hilarity (and cameos!) than angst from this show as we go on. The world needs more laughter.

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