I believe that anyone who has watched K-dramas longer than 6 months begins to accumulate a list known as: “Dramas I’d like to watch, but can’t seem to get around to because there’s so much good stuff on right now.” I’m just as guilty…but now I am going to try and tackle two problems at the same time. No, not watch two dramas at the same time! Nope, I have a better idea. The plan is to opt out of the notoriously insipid lunchtime table conversations at my office, and fill the time with some fun K-dramas.
I don’t want to watch anything deep–I can only watch in about 30 minute increments, and I will lose track of some important plot point. I can’t watch anything sad–trying to explain to your patients and co-workers why you are sad and your eyes are red after lunch is a no-go. Humorous shows work especially well. I love to irritate my boss/coworkers by giggling all by myself in my office down the hall while they eat lunch. They can’t stand it! Bwahaaahaaa! The bonus is that the show’s humor puts me in a good mood for the rest of the day, which certainly beats the alternative. I get to miss getting railed for my typically non-popular opinions on serious lunch table topics such as the Caitlyn/Bruce Jenner fiasco, and who the Kardashians are/are not sleeping with, or the latest Housewives of Wherever episode, and my personal favorite topic to hate on–the Long Island Medium/Fortune Teller lady, whom my coworkers think is the best. They even went and saw her in person, and came back “believers”! *facepalm* OMG. My three blog readers know what I think about fortune tellers! I can also forgo the commentaries on the latest ridiculous statements made by Donald Trump or any other US politician. If I don’t agree with my bosses/coworkers, they do passive-aggressive stuff to try and upset me and make me run behind schedule, like “forget” to tell me someone is waiting, or “forget” to give me a chart. It’s never ending. So I need to fight back in an equally passive aggressive way. Giggling over K-dramas seem like the most harmless way to go.
After running through the fun, fluff, and hilarity of “EXO Next Door” I thought I might try out some other web dramas with some up-and-coming young singers/idols. I was sorely disappointed by the first episodes of “Prince’s Prince” and “Midnight’s Girl“. (Nam Tae Hyun’s haircut in that show reminds me of a super popular guy in my 7th grade class (circa 1977) who had a haircut exactly like the one he sports. What comes around….). I was hoping I would see handsome and/or pretty young people acting cute and funny, but instead I saw less than stellar acting and lame humor. “Midnight’s Girl” was marginally better, but not by much. (Note–I have not seen “Dream Knight” or “Love Cells”, but they are on my list!) I have to admit–the young guys of EXO are way ahead in the “Who will be the new TV drama star?” race. I especially liked the fact that they seem to be able to laugh at themselves, and not take it all so seriously. And they’re talented–especially D.O.
While doing some reading about the sad topic of suicide in Korea, I stumbled across a drama from 2008 called, “The Last Scandal of my Life“. It was so popular while it was being aired, TPTB actually considered producing a second season. Those plans came to a screaming halt when the leading lady Choi Jin Shul committed suicide after taking massive heat in the press for a loan made to a friend who also committed suicide, and the fallout from a violent marriage with DV involvement followed by an equally vicious divorce. There was a posthumous custody battle for her two children as well. Then her brother committed suicide 18 months later. The whole story is so tragic, it reads like a K-drama script itself. If you are not familiar with the story, Dramabeans did a great job of covering it, so I will let you read the details there. (1) (2) (3) (4)
Admittedly, I was concerned because DramaFever categorized this show as a Melodrama. I should not have worried. I can assure you that the first episode is pure rom-com, and totally funny. I do know the Melo part comes later, but compared to MLED, it is like comparing a puddle of water (LS) to a lake (MLED). If you haven’t seen this show, and are looking for something to watch between dramas, or to binge-watch while lounging at the pool/beach/lake this summer, this seems like a great choice. For those of us who liked MLED (except the last two episodes which shall forever be held in contempt) you will find some great similarities here.
*All screencaps from SoompiTV*
Chang (or Jang) Dong Chul (Stage name: Song Jae Bin) is a Top Star Actor. Spoiled, immature and fussy (remind you of anyone?) he does all kinds of modeling, commercials, and dramas….his face is on everything.
Wildly popular with a rabid fan following:
yet still single, he secretly pines for his First Love and former schoolmate Hong Seon Hee. The subbers translate her name as “Sunny Hong” which makes me cringe. Song Jae Bin is “Jebin Song”. Oh…wow. I can’t even….No, seriously. I can’t put the names in the wrong order anymore. It just doesn’t seem right. My unofficial rule is: “American” first name–go with first and last name (Brian Kim) Traditional name–go with last name first (Song Jae Bin).
JB whines about how hard it is to stay in shape, and grumbles over always eating salads so he doesn’t get fat. He even has his own version of a Top Star couch-flop after an interview where he is shown working out on the treadmill! He’s totally exhausted!
Note healthy meal–bottom right corner! We also find out that JB is fibbing about his age:
JB even has a loyal manager sidekick Won Tak (probably an older cousin of DG in MLED)
who ends up tracking down SH’s phone number and address so his boss can meet his First Love. Yep, they’re related alrighty! #WhattaWingman!
SH is a frazzled ahjumma,
with a rebellious teenage daughter Ji Min, and a worthless husband Yu Shik who is in jail on fraud charges. Her MiL and SiL treat her like dirt.
Once a beautiful model for a chocolate bar company, she currently looks like a wreck with a frizzy perm and dorky glasses–very similar to the ones ED wore at the end of MLED! Amazingly, SH still has a spark or two of life left in her even after finding out she is in premature menopause due to stress. On the edge of Broke City (where Shamrockmom currently lives), she valiantly tries to bring in cash by working as an extra in commercials and dramas:
with her trusty sidekick ahjumma buddy Min Ju.
SH ends up causing a street riot after balking about the PD using a pretty young actress with JB to sell cosmetics in a commercial:
and then catches her daughter Ji Min (who is cutting school) taking pics with JB after JM took incriminating photos of JB and the young actress chatting in his van. It’s pretty funny that her daughter is totally starstruck by JB–she’s got posters of him all over her room. JB seems a little old for a young gal like that to have a crush on. (Has she seen the EXO dudes? Oh, wait. Probably not. Never mind–they were in elementary school when this drama aired!) I guess that’s why they call it an “ahjussi crush”. And I love how ‘Oppa’ can do no wrong! #WhattaFangirl:
The headlines the next day make JB enraged,
and his older brother who is the president of the Entertainment company puts the pro spin on the story.
Note–I would have not known it was his brother except I hear JB address this guy as “Hyung”— which of course is not translated!
Now of course, SJB is the Hero! *facepalm* So funny!
Look at that smug expression on his face–he totally believes his own press!
Oh yeah….does this look familiar?!?
Yep, it’s the Black Chevy Van conversion “Top Star Van” from MLED, in all of its Mojo and Glory, minus only the flames on the front grill! I’m betting that must have been JJM’s idea to add the chrome flame grill insert for MLED. He just had to one-up SJB! 12 minutes into the first episode, and I am on the floor dying of laughter. Now I know: this is the show I am supposed to be watching. I always get a sign, and this is it! My coworkers come in my room to ask what the heck is so funny, and all I can do is point and sputter, “It’s the Van….it’s the Top Star Van..” over and over again as they shake their heads. The Top Star Van also makes an appearance in “EXO Next Door” too! That van sure gets around!
I have no idea why the use and/or re-use of props in a K-drama slays me. This is nothing new: I had a bonkers moment about a year ago when I started watching “Glorious Day” because that show swooped the couch from “Angel Eyes” that Dong Joo and Soo Won used in a hawt kissing session! I even wrote a tiny 1-paragraph FF story about it! I can totally imagine a large warehouse in Seoul where all the drama props are stored. Sort of like “Prop Mart” or ” Props-R-Us” where the drama PD’s and their assistants from all the networks go to get furniture and knick-knacks for their shows. Oh, the stories those props and furniture could tell! The stories the Top Star Van could tell would be a bestseller–but probably rated M for mature audiences at the least!
“Last Scandal” is not totally perfect, and that’s fine by me–no K-drama is perfect. There’s way too much yelling. Yelling is not acting. (See “Glorious Day” for examples of one character constantly yelling, when no one else does. It nearly ruined a decent makjang-free family drama.) SH smacks her daughter around way too much, and it makes me uncomfortable. But there’s all kinds of goodies here that I love. Let’s start with the down but not out leading lady who is still feisty, and possesses common sense, at least most of the time….the slightly immature leading man who turns into a complete dork when he thinks about his True Love…and of course, the hilarious sidekick friends. Just as it starts to bother me that JB needs to treat SH better and his behavior skates dangerously close to a-hole level, something backfires on him every time. That keeps me happy and watching. The humor runs toward the slapstick, there’s more than a few wrist-grabs, and the plot appears predictable. Honestly, at this point, I could care less. After the debacle of MLED, I am ready for some simple and good-natured fun. It’s kinda cute to see flip phones and Play Station Portables and other now outdated tech goodies. The fashion is also dated, but completely forgivable. A good story overrides outdated tech and fashion for me any day of the week.
Before watching this, I had never seen Choi Jin Shil or Jung Joon Ho in any other shows. They are both wonderful. CJS has great comedic timing and JJH has all the little facial expressions of a man who is head over heels in love but can’t bring himself to show it. I can see why he won a ton of awards for this show. (JJM better win an equal amount of hardware for MLED!) Bonus points: JJH also has that nice deep voice that Shamrockmom finds so attractive!
I also find it interesting that there was not a big freakin’ deal made about the adultery in this show compared to MLED. Unlike MLED, SH and her husband Yoo Shik were legitimately married even if YS was a total jerk. This time it gets the ‘gloss over’ treatment. I wonder why? Is it because of the Section 241 repeal last February? YS is not even a tenth of the jerk that JH was in MLED, but he gets a pass here, as does SH.
The few reviews I can find on this show make it seem like it’s worth a watch. It’s on Dramacool, SoompiTV and DramaFever–no HD (only 480p) so if the screencaps are fuzzy, please forgive me. The picture seems to be clearer on SoompiTV, but maybe that’s just my computer. Subs are the same on all the sites, and instead of railing at how awful they are, I want to personally thank each and every subber currently working today to make Viki (especially), SoompiTV and DF the fantastic places to watch dramas (in HD!) that they are today. The subs are so, so, so much better in 2015 than in 2008. It’s like the difference between a 2008 Motorola flip phone and a 2015 Samsung Galaxy 5 smart phone!