Friday, November 13, 2015

KDrama Review: It's Okay, That's Love

The Gist: The last thing psychiatrist Ji Hae Soo (Kong Hyo Jin) needs is famous writer/DJ/playboy Jang Jae Yeol (Zo In Sung) moving into her house. At least, that’s what she thinks. Hae Soo suffers from a trauma after witnessing her mother’s infidelity to her handicapped father. For this reason, she sees all intimacy as a bad thing. That is until Jae Yeol takes her own, determine to show her that it’s ok to be close to someone (get the title? yay!). Rounding out the house is Jo Dong Min (Sung Dong Il), a fellow psychiatrist and divorcee, and Park Soo Kwang (Lee Kwang Soo), who suffers from tourette’s syndrome. The four of them learn to deal with their traumas, especially Jae Yeol, whose past refuses to leave him alone.

So, that summary barely encompasses what happens in this sprawling show. I watched one episode of Padam Padam, thought it was a little dark for my mood at the moment and went in search of something lighter. I thought It's Okay, That's Love would be that show. In a small way, I was right. But in a more complete way, I was totally wrong... let's dive in!


1. Intimacy!

Yay! A show with lots of kissing and loving and touching and it’s all totally adorable. I was definitely most immersed in this show when Hae Soo and Jae Yeol were really figuring each other out and really taking care of one another. I thought it was going to take longer to really help Hae Soo, but she takes some really significant strides with Jae Yeol very quickly. I’d say about 50% of this show is just adorable loveliness, which is exactly what I wanted (we can talk about the other 50% of the show later). I was a little bit skeptical about Soo Kwang and So Nyeo (Lee Sung Kyung), but the moment on the front lawn, with the headphones, was actually one of my most favorite moments of the show. If you’re worried that this is a show that’s going to tease and then just build up to one kiss, don’t. It’s not that kind of show!

2. Redemption

For how much sadness there really is in this show, there is a good amount of redemption for almost everybody. Some spoilers to follow. Jae Yeol gets the family that he’s always wanted, which is also a good point for his mom and his brother too. Additionally, Hae Soo gets her happily ever after and even gets to a point of understanding with her mom. While this show is ultimately 50% tragedy, which I was not expecting, I was determined not to drop another show halfway through and found the ending to be pretty happy.


1. Annoyed with Everybody?

So, I was really hoping this show would have some of the magic of friendship. I was super excited when I found out everyone was roommates. I love it when people are forced to live together and fall in love and everyone’s really like family. On the one hand, they do watch out for each other and support each other, but really, they’re all just mean. I’m all for imperfect characters. But everyone seemed bipolar. One moment, sweet and nice and the next, full blown screaming at each other. Jae Yeol and Hae Soo start getting along sweetly, then Hae Soo has to assert her dominance or Jae Yeol is being aloof and it's just a roller coaster.

Point 1, when they're on their trip, Hae Soo is a total brat about how she can do whatever she wants, but Jae Yeol should feel bad about touching her. He handles it well, but I just wanted to hit her.
Point 2, when Jae Yeol is moving out, Hae Soo is right. They should have talked about it or had him talk to her like a human being. It's not like he isn't capable - we've seen it. But he just decides to be mean instead.

It's hard to get fully on board. If I had to live in that house, I think I would have jumped off the roof. I really wanted a voice of reason character or even someone with a non in-your-face personality, but it really is a house full of short-tempered screamers. Sigh. Maybe that’s just me because I don’t like conflict, but I felt like this really stopped me from connecting with any of the characters (even Hae Soo and Jae Yeol).


1. Jae Yeol's Stuff 

*Spoilers* Duh. So, I’m not sure if I’m just sharp (go me!) or if it was super obvious that Kang Woo was a hallucination like immediately. IOTL has a pervasive sense of surrealism that really comes from the neuroses the characters are dealing with. I hated that Kang Woo was a hallucination. The whole time I just wanted him to go away! As a plot device, it’s at least kind of original, but once the reveal happened, everything was just so sad! Also, let’s talk about the brother. He bugged me so much. It’s enough that their dad beat up Jae Yeol, but you have to as well? Also, quit trying to kill your brother every 20 seconds? That’s not the best way to not be in jail. I also really dislike that the mom ended up being the murderer. Anyway, how is any of this not self-defense? There’s so much evidence that there’s abuse and hello, battered woman syndrome anyone? Ugh, I don’t do well with heavy and I really don’t do well with heavy that’s interspersed with light and fluffy. I feel so disjointed. I think separately the plots are fine, but as one cohesive story, it just didn’t click for me.


So... I want this review to be longer, but I am just dwelling on how disconnected I am from these characters. If you're looking for romance, this certainly has it, but it comes with a swift kick in the heart that will leave you feeling off and sad for awhile. I think I'm harsher on this show than someone who likes melodrama's, but I usually just don't. If this was like Pinocchio, where the characters make up for how sad that show is and is committed to one tone, I think it would have worked better. But, instead, there's mostly a lot of yelling.

Final Grade: C-

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