The Gist: The Choi family has a problem. A spirit of the lady of the house has haunted their family for years and claims the lives of the first born wives. While most family members in the present day have discounted the stories as rumors, the believers are wreaking havoc when it comes time for the marriage of Choi Kang Ju (Lee Hong Ki), the oldest son. Matriarch Myeong Hee (Kim Seo Ra), a second wife herself, has arranged for her son to marry Jang Yi Kyung (Yang Jin Sung), whose family is in desperate need of financial assistance to keep their family afloat, despite nearly having a daughter-in-law already with the perfect Roo Mi (Jang Ah Young) in the wings. However, when Yi Kyung runs off, her mother and brother, Yi Hyun (Sung Hyuk), plot for a way to keep the marriage in the works. When Yi Hyun runs across Doo Rim (also Yang Jin Sung), an orphan poor girl, he can't believe the strong resemblance she holds to Yi Kyung. Desperate, Yi Hyun hires Doo Rim to impersonate Yi Kyung until they can find her. At first, Doo Rim agrees to pay her grandmother's hospital bills. However, the more time she spends with the cruel-with-a-creamy-center Kang Ju, she starts to dread giving Yi Kyung her life back. Everything is not how it seems, however, with both sides plotting with the lives of others and as the wedding day approaches, is Kang Ju doomed to repeat his father's life of losing the woman he loves?
1. Just Fun!
While the premise of this show is silly and convoluted, the vast majority of this show is just plain fun. While impersonating others always leads to misunderstandings and hijinks, I think BotC has the most fun with it. I was not even that concerned with the other foot dropping problem of the big reveal because Doo Rim and Kang Ju have such a hilarious chemistry with each other. The setup of them being engaged adds an interesting dimension as they get to really know one another (Kang Ju has been overseas until the opening of the show). One of the things I love best is Doo Rim getting Kang Ju in line. As ridiculous as she is, she does a good job of keeping him grounded. She has one of my favorite lines: "What's the use of being dressed head to toe in high end brands. You need to be a high end person!" <3 I had some skepticism about Lee Hong Ki playing such a serious and stern role, having only seen him in You're Beautiful, but he nails it, while adding some of that comedic element we expect from him. I was really sad when this show turned a bit darker, because I could have absolutely watched 16 full episodes of their engagement.
2. Excellent Side Characters
Let's start with Roo Mi. She starts as your typical rival and is a real pain in the ass for a long time, but she turns out to be really impressive as a person. She has a lot of pride and is willing to step aside for those she cares about. Minor spoilers - I'm happy that she and Doo Rim are able to be friends at the end of the show since she and Kang Ju are such good friends. She's basically my hero from this show.
Yi Hyun is an absolutely sweetheart and is not only doomed to be on the losing side of a love square (pentagon?), but his firm character was really lovely. I loved how much he's willing to go to bat for Doo Rim with Kang Ju, despite how he feels about her. I think of all the characters, he loses the most in this show. More spoilers - not only does he not get the woman he loves, but his family is totally nuts. While they get some redemption, the events of this show totally turn his life upside down.
Jin Joo (Park Jin Joo) - Ah! She's so cute! I loved her unwavering support and side love story. I also love the brother and I'm sad we didn't get more from him.
3. The Ghost!
She is technically a side character, but she is so much fun that she deserves her own point. Her introduction is hilarious and she strikes this amazing balance of being totally creepy and just pretty funny. It takes a really long time to get her backstory, but it's absolutely fascinating. I feel so bad for her - spoilers ahead - although I am a little sad she was cheating with someone's husband. I'm glad we even tied up her storyline well. I also like how that tied in the twist at the end with Doo Rim's grandmother. This is really a story of a lot of generations and how that love and tragedy bleeds forward. This show handles revealing the layers of what's really happened and what's motivating people really well. I was definitely surprised at each reveal and totally engaged.
4. Best Proposal Ever
How adorable was that? The lights, the yarn, the everything? So perfect. The romance of this show is exactly what I was looking for!
1. That Got Dark
So, I was really sad when this show started falling apart. I was hoping that the sad pieces wouldn't be too long, but pretty much everything between episode 11-15 was so sad and unrelenting that it was almost unwatchable for me. I do appreciate that Kang Ju still comes after Doo Rim, even after finding out the truth, but the scheming and sadness is just so overbearing. I really feel the loss of the fun tone of the first 2/3 of this show. Obviously, there needs to be conflict to be interesting and she's been lying to everyone, so that's got to be dealt with, but I wish that was one or two episodes instead of five.
2. Show Logic
I really go back and forth on the logic of this show. Spoilers ahead. So, Doo Rim is willing to marry Kang Ju, even if she dies, and Kang Ju breaks up with her for the same reason. On the one hand, it's ridiculous to marry someone when you're pretty darn sure you're going to die. But then again, no one knows for sure how long they really have with anyone they marry. Lots of people lose their spouses young. Additionally, with this big concern, why don't they just not get married? Yes, yes, that is scandalous and all that, but seriously people! Also, I am just not sure what I would do in Mama Choi's shoes. If you really believed that the wife of your son would die, wouldn't you pick someone other than his closest friend, someone you think of as a daughter? But at the same time, that's just so messed up to Yi Kyung. Or it would be, if she and her mother weren't willing to kill someone for money. If they were really concerned about the curse, they could have just backed out of the marriage. Yi Kyung dislikes Kang Ju anyway. Really, everyone's a little bit despicable, but I'm just not that sure what I would do differently. Ok, no, for Yi Kyung's mom, I'm pretty sure I would have just gone broke and not risked my daughter's life or the life of anyone else. Ah! See me going round and round.
1. Can't even name this point without spoilers!
OK, so they have to part at the end for dumb reasons. Whatever, that's stupid, but we're moving on. What I cannot seem to get past is that Doo Rim has Kang Ju's kid and DOESN'T TELL HIM. OMG, space is one thing, but hey maybe come visit your child on the down low is another thing. I know she thought they weren't going to see each other again (um, for reasons, or something), but he didn't agree to not raise his son. In Kang Ju's defense, he handles the news with total poise, but man I was pissed at Doo Rim that whole time. If this show didn't end so well, I would have really been ticked.
So... while this show did leap into the dramatic late, it was exactly the fun, funny, and romantic show I needed in my life (thanks to Alicia Loomes for commenting and recommending!). The leads were great and engaging and the side characters bloomed into interesting and endearing people, who I could have honestly watched more of~ I slammed this show down in huge chunks and got mad when I didn't have time to keep watching. That's really the best indicator of how good a show is in my book. So, don't let the doppleganger thing hold you up. It's pretty well handled for being the almost dumbest plot device (behind amnesia).
Final Grade: A-