A look at both ends of the Kdrama Spectrum Part 2: “The Good Wife” (and the WTF ending)

A/N: Apologies for the lateness of this post. RL is annoying and gets in the way. I hope to also get one more “Awl” recap completed before the end of the year.

I ran across an article recently that indicated most Koreans can’t imagine that anyone outside Korea watches any of their TV shows. That’s stunning to me. Korean TV produces some of the most unique and imaginative shows I have ever seen–let alone the sheer quantity of shows that the studios churn out year after year. When you consider the population of South Korea and the population of the US, the TV and film industry in SK is exceptionally robust. I believe that interest in SK films and TV shows outside of Korea seems to increase every year. More shows are getting subs. More theaters are showing SK movies. That’s a good thing.

Initially, I had zero interest in watching “The Good Wife”. Seriously, a remake of a US show? Pffft! Why would anyone do that, when Kdrama writers churn out quality drama after quality drama? Most US shows are so morally bankrupt I can’t watch them. They glorify amorality like it was something to strive for and desire. I do like the earlier seasons of “The Big Bang Theory”. It’s like live watching my oldest son and his group of high-functioning autistic/socially awkward friends if they were in an academic setting.

When I heard that Yoon Kye Sang was on board for this show, that got my attention in a big hurry. I am a huge YKS fan. I’ve loved every single project this guy has picked, from “The Greatest Love” to “Beyond the Clouds” and “Last”. Each show he’s in is unique, thought-provoking, and criminally underrated. I think his acting gets better and better with each show he does. I had never seen the US version of the “The Good Wife”, so I came into this knowing zero about the plot. I barely remembered Yoo Ji Tae in “Healer”, except for thinking that this guy looks like a seasoned actor–so why did he take this bit part? I was too distracted by the awesomeness of everything else going on in “Healer” to spend more than 3 seconds thinking about that.

Instead of recapping “The Good Wife”, I’m going to toss out some personal thoughts on each weekend’s episodes. Dramabeans has done an excellent recap of each episode, so I will refer you to those to read the details. I was quite impressed that they would recap a show like this, as they usually go for more mainstream and lighthearted prime-time shows.

**screencaps from dramacool.to**

Episode 1-2

I know I’m in the minority here. I am on #Team Let’s Execute Tae Joon now. He’s taking up useful oxygen. I suppose those pants of his just unzipped themselves, right? My initial impression of Tae Joon is that he’s the kind of guy who lies, lies some more, then he lies about lying. Is Hye Kyung really deluded enough to believe that he only cheated on her once?! I sure as heck don’t buy it. He whines that he’s doing all this to ‘protect’ his wife and family, but it sure feels to me like he is looking out for Numero Uno–himself. In this Drama Universe, where moral gray seems to be the dominant backdrop, he’s way closer to black. If I had to pick a team to be on, I’m on #Team Hye Kyung Stays Single. Fugeddabout the menfolk, and take care of yourself and those teenage kids of yours. I am deeply concerned that the sentiment of many (female) viewers is that Tae Joon is:

  • not really a bad guy–he’s just misunderstood
  • not to blame because he was just a man and he was tempted/seduced   **snort**
  • worthy of Hye Kyung because they’ve been married for 15 years and have two kids. That should count for something, right?!
  • so freakin’ hawwt that she should forgive him so she can jump back in bed with him. (Note to self–Never underestimate the power of projection!)

My reaction? WTH to all of the above! I can’t believe I’m reading so many comments from other women that excuse his behavior on a multitude of levels. Soompi forum and Dramabeans comments are rife with this nauseating viewpoint; dissenting comments are in the minority. Heh, more reasons for this blog to exist!

Side story–When my oldest son was about 11, the Kobe Bryant rape scandal was all over the news. Literally, it was the talk of the town here in LA. Even at the highly conservative defacto Mennonite school my kids attended, the speculation amongst the kids (and adults) about what had or had not happened was rampant. We weren’t big basketball fans, so I tried to ignore it until my oldest son came to me one night after everyone else was asleep and wanted to talk about it. He had heard the other kids at school talking about Kobe Bryant, and he had some questions–including “What is rape?” Sigh. Parenthood is never easy. I tried to explain as gently as I could what had allegedly happened in the hotel room to a sensitive and innocent young boy. After my explanation my son said, “Mom, I don’t get it. If Kobe had just kept his pants on and shut the door to his room, none of this would be happening, right?” I realized at that moment my son had more common sense than Kobe Bryant. So when I hear stuff like: “Men can’t help themselves…they are sexual creatures who can and will stray, and women should simply accept that.” I go completely bonkers. Men can have sexual self control–if they choose to. The problem is that society in Korea, and in the US (and plenty of other locales too) gives men a pass, and dumps the blame on women.

Episodes 3-4

I can barely fathom the depths of corruption and deceit in “The Good Wife”. Similar to “Secret Love Affair”, I have to watch each episode of “The Good Wife” twice, plus read the recaps to even have hope of wrapping my head around the lies and wickedness. The whole corruption thing is so byzantine that I can only shake my head and trust the recaps. I finally decide I’m not really here for the corruption issues, or to find out if Tae Joon is a crusader who roots out corruption or if he’s just another baddie out for himself. I do not possess enough brain cells to figure everything out. What I am here for is to see the interaction and relationship between Tae Joon, Hye Kyung, Joong Won and Hye Kyung’s kids.

I fear that Hye Kyung’s teenage son has already internalized his dad’s arrogant ways. The daughter is certainly not learning useful things here either. As she watches her mom let her dad off the hook, it sends the message that men are allowed to cheat on their girlfriends/wives, and it’s acceptable. Her boyfriend/husband will cheat on her too. She should expect it. Even the MiL didn’t think that the cheating of her son was a big deal.  Her husband had affairs….men will be men, right?!?  **facepalm**  BTW, if this kind of attitude bothers you, don’t go over to the Soompi Forum. Just a warning….there’s all kinds of excuses continually generated for Tae Joon’s behavior especially when it comes to his below-the-belt activities. The Dramabeans comments aren’t much better.

I’ve said before it never ceases to amaze me how my RL experiences entwine themselves with a show I am currently watching. This week, a former colleague called me up out of the blue and asked me if I had some time to talk. She knew I was divorced, and she asked me for some advice. A couple of years ago, her husband had an affair for which she originally forgave him. However he then went back to that woman, and they recently had a baby together! He is now living with the new family, and her teenage children have found out about their half-sibling, distressing them greatly. She locked the cheating bastard out of her house–excellent move IMHO–but now she was ready to file for divorce and child support, which he has vowed to fight tooth and nail. Her family was completely supportive….not of her, but of the cheating husband! OMG. They wanted her to stay with him, or at least not get divorced.

Yes, they are from an Asian culture and yes they are both 2nd generation immigrants. (I’m omitting/changing a few details for privacy here.) She asked me for a referral for a good divorce lawyer, and I gave her my lawyer’s name. The cheater husband has a prosperous local business and she needs someone in her corner who can make sure the guy doesn’t hide his funds. Kids deserve both parents financial support no matter what. My lawyer is also a whiz at math, and knows how these kind of guys hide their income. I am encouraged that unlike Hye Kyung, my colleague understands the deleterious effect of seeing their dad get away with infidelity on her teens. It’s a terrible example. She has enough self esteem to believe that she deserves a man who doesn’t cheat on her, regardless of what her family and her culture tells her. I gave her my email address and told her to call me anytime she wants to chat. This poor woman is having anxiety attacks. No one is on her side–except for me.

Episodes 5-6

Show seals its fate for me as a fave at the end of of episode 6, when Joong Won says this to Hye Kyung:

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My 3 loyal readers know that one of my favorite drama themes is a guy becoming a better person because of his love for a woman–or like in Secret Love Affair, a guy who makes a woman a better person because of his love. It gets me every time. Love should inspire you, and make you want to be a better person. Selfish love like the kind Tae Joon demonstrates in this show is suffocating and manipulative. It destroys the very person that he purports to love–and it will eventually destroy himself as well.

The biggest thing that separates Joong Won and Tae Joon is a consciousness of their bad behavior. Joong Won knows he did a bad thing in defending the toy company. He justifies it by saying he did it for the money to pay off the firm’s debts (incurred by his father) but he knows it’s still wrong. It seems clear that it still bothers him, and he regrets it deeply, no matter how much the money helped the law firm. In contrast, Tae Joon has what I call a seared conscience. He has no clue of where the line between right and wrong is anymore; if he ever knew where it was is fodder for debate. All he can think of is how to protect his posterior (first and foremost) and his wife and kids second, because he needs them to look like a respectable family man in public. He’s completely manipulative and will stop at nothing to consolidate his power and control over others. It’s slowly dawning on me what an unrepentant sociopath he really is.

Episodes 7-8

The teenage son of HK is pretty much a lost cause–and it saddens me because the world does not need one more jerky self centered boy/man in it. This kid buys everything his dad sells, especially in Episode 7 where he casually mentions to his mom that Dad went to church. Immediately, the daughter questions it: “When did Dad start going to church?” The daughter might be salvageable. At least she’s still asking questions. Of course, TJ is at church; not to pray but to blackmail and intimidate. Shouldn’t a lightning bolt come down and hit him about now?

I hate men like Tae Joon. They feel entitled to have a lovely wife and family, and to have a fling on the side whenever it suits them. Oh, but if the wife even looks at another man, she’s an adulteress. Puhleeze. Tae Joon is loyal only to himself. His biggest regret is that he got caught, and it blew up into a media scandal. Sure he wants to protect Hye Kyung and his family. He’s gotta have a good looking public persona, and she and the kids are part of that. He wants what is best for him, and his image.

Update on the RL situation: My former colleague has all the paperwork together to start the child support process in court…but keeps having an anxiety attack when she thinks about what her soon-to-be ex will do when he gets served with the court papers. We talk about being in a place where she and the kids feel safe after the paperwork is served, and how to calmly inform both her family and his about her decision and to not back down or let them intimidate her. Her kids want nothing to do with their father, and she’s worried that he will accuse her of bad mouthing him. I assure her that as intelligent teens, they are capable of making up their own minds if provided with the facts in a calm and objective way. Badmouthing a spouse never works–but covering up the truth is also a recipe for disaster. (Tune into “Five Children” for an excellent tutorial of why covering for a jerky spouse is not a good plan.)

Episodes 9 and 10

As I watched Episode 10, and the reveal of Kim Dan sleeping with Tae Joon, I felt vindicated in my original immediate distrust of him. Excoriated earlier in the drama for my comment on the (now toxic) Soompi board that TJ probably lied about the one time adultery with Amber, and worry about sexually transmitted diseases from his multiple encounters causing a problem for Hye Kyung, it felt good to be right.

Yet at the same time, I felt sad and disgusted watching it play out on screen. I had to pause the video midway through Episode 10 and walk away for a while as I digested the breadth of his lies. I wondered if Kim Dan was helping Hye Kyung with the cases as a way to assuage her guilt. Let’s face it: working with the wife of the guy you’ve had an adulterous encounter with can’t be too comfortable. Then a few days later my mind was blown yet again, as the Soompi forum produced a comment from Jinghann that the subbers had not translated things quite as precisely as they should have….and that Tae Joon and Kim Dan had slept together numerous times. In fact, it was like they were in a relationship as an “office couple”. That’s beyond the pale, IMHO.

I have to brace myself for the fact that Hye Kyung might still want to stay with this lying, cheating bastard so that I don’t have an emotional meltdown at the end of the show. Please DramaGods, have some mercy on Shamrockmom….any ending for “The Good Wife” other than HK staying with TJ. The thought of her staying with him is more than I can deal with. I consider dropping the show right here for my mental health, but I’m way too emotionally invested.

Joong Won doesn’t make it any easier for me to be on his side. His poorly concealed boredom during the student’s mock court case and flippant answers to her questions end up biting him on the backside by the end of the episode. Like I said before, everyone is a shade of gray. He better stay far away from the dark end of that spectrum!

Episodes 11-12

Episode 11 starts out so good I am stunned. Is this the same show I was watching last week?! HK has figured it out–her husband had a long-term affair with Kim Dan/Kim Ji Young. She leaves the office party, goes home, dumps his stuff in moving boxes, calls the realtor/broker and gets an apartment for TJ. She’s efficient and ice cold. He meets her at his new doghouse apartment, no doubt expecting a night of passion–and instead gets told he’s out the door, permanently. It’s pure ‘justice porn’ for me to watch TJ squirm, minimize events, beg for forgiveness, try to manipulate her using the kids….and it all falls on deaf ears. Thank you DramaGods! It’s 14+ years late, but I will take it. Bonus points for HK removing her wedding ring and leaving it at the apartment. You can stick a fork in their marriage–it’s done. HK is equally icy to Kim Dan–who acts like she’s surprised. Really?!

Unfortunately HK wimps out on telling her kids the real reason their father is out of the house and then later, she finds TJ waiting outside the door and lets him into the house! Oh no! He pulls out all the manipulative chicanery he has left in his XXL size bag of deception. HK shuts him down cold, especially when she tells him that it’s always been about him, and what he wanted. Yesssss! **fistpump**

In Episode 12, we see another master manipulator at work–TJ’s mom. At least we know the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! She pulls out all the stops in trying to turn the kids against their mom, and she even tells HK that the kids belong to her and TJ and they will raise them! Ehh…I think not. The way HK puts her MiL in her place should be required viewing in a lot of psychologists office. HK doesn’t yell, call her MiL names, or threaten her. She is cool and detached as she states that the MiL may not come over to her house or see the grandchildren without prior permission. HK does not engage in meaningless conversation–she states her point firmly and leaves. (I might have my colleague who is getting divorced watch this clip for inspiration.) I’ll admit it–I cheered out loud at the end of that scene. You won’t find too many scenes like this in a Kdrama.

The end of the episode is a viewer-polarizing event:  JW and HK are at a hotel bar drinking, and they decide that this is it and they are going to sleep together. JW goes to the front desk only to be told that the only room available is a suite for $4K. However, this time ultra-hesitant JW does not hesitate at all, and hands over his credit card. The way the next scenes are filmed with the elevator stopping at each floor and we get a glimpse of JW’s burning gaze and the hand holding…then kissing…then full-on make out as the elevator stops at their floor is exceptionally unique and makes me forget the jarring Western BG music. I nearly croak from second-hand embarrassment when the moment is almost lost because JW can’t get the room key card to work. That would totally be me if I was in a situation like that. I forget about that scene quickly as HK takes the key card, calmly opens the door and steps in the room, and JW follows her. Good move JW, just keep following her lead.

In the past, Yoon Kye Sang has had some dubious chemistry with his leading ladies, but this time around he’s showing nearly perfect (in private) and subtly restrained (in public) chemistry with Jeon Do Yeon. Maybe he never had the right leading lady bring out that part of his acting, or he’s comfortable with JDY–I’m not sure. But whatever it is, I like it. And the kissing in this episode and in Episode 6–woah. YKS has really upped his game!

The first thing I have to do is sort out my own feelings on this scene. While I wish that HK would’ve waited until the divorce from TJ is finalized until she slept with JW (or had any kind of personal relationship with him outside the law office) the fact is that HK has taken off her ring, kicked TJ out of the house, and their relationship is in the “Turn out the lights, the party’s over” category. I can’t throw stones at her. After all the lies that TJ has told without remorse, I’m glad she is taking care of herself first. I worry though–TJ is gonna figure things out, and JW will be in mortal danger. I don’t think that it would matter if they were divorced or not however–TJ would still be prone to drum up charges against JW and throw him in jail–or even hunt him down and kill him. Of course it will look like an accident or suicide. TJ is the kind of guy who is that possessive.

Viewers have different reactions though. Many think that HK is a hypocrite–after taking TJ to task over his infidelity, she goes right out and does it too. I think that is comparing apples to oranges though. TJ has been sleeping with Kim Dan for a long while, and Amber too–and lied to HK about it, while going home every night like nothing’s amiss. HK has made it clear the marriage relationship they had is over before she is with JW. There is no lying involved (yet). BTW, the Soompi forum and the DB comments seem to have calmed down, even if there is some highly spirited debate over this issue.

In my own situation, my ex-husband started a sexual relationship with another woman after we were legally separated and when it was clear our marriage was in the dumpster to stay. However, it was before we were officially divorced. Truthfully at that point, I could not have cared less. Some other woman wants him? Alrighty then, she can have him. I salute! After the physical and sexual brutality I experienced at the end of our relationship, I felt zero jealousy–only sadness that someday she would probably find herself in a similarly violent situation with him.

What did upset me was that my young son was the one who figured it out, and told me that his dad was committing adultery. Even though adultery was initially defined by my then 7 year old son as “being married, but dating someone you are not married to”, it was fully enhanced by the revelation: “Dad has a big box of those next to his bed” when an advertisement for Trojan Condoms was on television a few days later! **headdesk**  Talk about the stuff you wish you never knew. I had friends say to me, “Well, now you can go out and find someone to hook up with too, ” as if his behavior allowed me the freedom to now do that as well. Hmmm…no thanks. That’s some dubious logic IMHO. It was important to me to model the sexual restraint I knew I would ask of my children when they became teenagers in a few years. I never expected total abstinence from them until they were past the teen years–although I thought it would be for the best–but I did expect that they would not sleep around indiscriminately. I was perfectly content to take the high road–but I didn’t have a hottie that I already knew and trusted like JW pursuing me either. That’s why I won’t judge HK harshly.

Episodes 13 and 14

In Episode 13, it appears that the light bulb has finally clicked on inside HK’s teenage son’s head–his dad was having an affair, and it was not some kind of frame-up deal. He seems legitimately shocked and dismayed that his daddy might not be the super-hero he seemed to be. I also thought it was pretty dismissive of TJ to blow off his kid like that. Breaking news bulletin TJ: your son is 16–not 6.

We also get to meet HK’s  younger brother. The scarf around his neck is a dead giveaway–he’s gay. *cue steam pouring out of my ears* Seriously, writer and PD-nim? Maybe it’s my Western bias showing through again. This is Korean television we are talking about here…should I expect anything different? After working for many years in two communities with a large population of homosexuals, I can assure any viewer that the vast majority look and act just like anyone else. And the guys don’t all wear scarves either! Sheesh! The stereotyping is nauseating to me. However, the kids seem to love him unconditionally, as does HK. The fact that he always hated TJ wins him major bonus points with me. I like this character. He’s thoughtful, introspective on why his own relationship didn’t work out, and loves his niece and nephew. He genuinely is concerned over his sister’s issues, and I cheer when he threatens to kill TJ if he hurts his sister again. That’s a sentiment I can get behind!

It looks like I might have called it when I thought Tae Joon would try to get trumped up charges on Joong Won and toss him in jail, as he looks for any kind of evidence that JW bribed judges in cases he won. I loved the scene  where Tae Joon and Joong Won faceoff ostensibly over a court case, but they are really talking about who is gonna be with Hye Kyung. My sons would refer to a scene like this as two guys with “long swinging d**ks” going at it! I have to admit I love how relaxed and happy HK is when she and JW are together–and that makes me fully sign on for JW to be with HK at the end of the show. Their busted lunch tryst at the hotel was great stuff. Food and sex….always the perfect pair! Hint to Hye Kyung: you might wanna change your ringtones. Just sayin’.

JW also tries awkwardly to be friendly with HK’s teenage son, who is pretty stiff on a good day. I like that at least he tries, but he has no experience being around kids, so he will have to learn. The look on TJ’s face at the end where Hye Kyung serves him the divorce papers scares me almost as much as the faceless dad in “W”!  Joong Won had better watch his back, his front and everything in between because TJ is going to go after him with maximum force.

Episodes 15 and 16

I have to mentally prepare myself for at least 90 minutes of upcoming angst. Tae Joon will hold nothing back when it comes to Joong Won. Does Joong Won have the XXL cojones to take on TJ and win? Will he go to jail too? Unnngh! Please DramaGods, don’t have Hye Kyung pull some noble idiocy to protect Joong Won and stay with Tae Joon–think of the kids, and the horrible example he is to them!

HK’s son continues to be a problematic character. Even after everything he’s figured out about his dad’s affair(s), he still hangs with him at his office, believes that Dad catches ‘bad guys’ and even takes a pic to show his Mom how cool Dad looks at work. I shouldn’t be surprised that the son can’t quite take his Dad down from the pedestal–it’s that apple and tree thing again.

No surprises either when Tae Joon is advised by Prosecutor Park and Junior Minion Ji Hoon that it’s probably not advisable to prosecute Joong Won for bribery. The evidence is circumstantial and weak. They are gonna get burned in the court of public opinion for pursuing the case. TJ isn’t buying it. He’s so focused on destroying Joong Won it’s affected his better judgement. I know in his mind he thinks this will make Hye Kyung run back to him…but it won’t of course. What it will do is bring Hye Kyung and Joong Won closer together and create even more animosity between HK and TJ. I’d call this the sophisticated version of what Jae Ho did to Eun Dong in “My Love Eun Dong”–the ‘If I can’t have her then no one else will either’ thought process that overly possessive dudes like Jae Ho and Tae Joon think is business as usual.

Side note: YKS swinging a baseball bat in tight compression shirt and pinstripe baseball pants with his hair down is the stuff of my baseball fangirl’s fantasy dreams! I might need a new screen background for my phone:

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*dreamy sigh*

The final episode starts out strong. Hye Kyung is gonna defend Joong Won against the bribery charges Tae Joon has trumped up. As Joong Won discusses the dealings amongst the baseball team guys, I believe him. I don’t get the feeling he’s lying to her–even if it looks slightly suspicious. The Prosecutor’s office sends their version of paid thugs to ransack the MJ law firm’s office, breaking stuff and dumping papers everywhere. Again, TJ bullies, threatens, blackmails and tries to get HK and JW to give in, but they don’t. TJ is not above having Kim Dan thrown in jail too, but amazingly HK swallows her pride, bails her out and even thanks her for finding her daughter. This is why I love this show–adults acting maturely. No screaming temper tantrums here! (Are you listening Laurel Tree Tailor Family?!)

I really like that HK is defending JW. She knows exactly how her prosecutor husband operates and it gives her an advantage. TJ is so smug. Hey TJ! Underestimate your soon to be ex-wife at your own risk! When TJ sees the pics of JW handing the judge an envelope of cash, he thinks it’s a slam dunk–only to have HK provide a more-than-plausible cover story and more importantly, a paper receipt for the charitable donation. Ah, yes! Nothing like good old fashioned paperwork to impress a judge. I might have to borrow the phrase again: “You were trapped by your own trick”! TJ tries one more time to manipulate HK, but she’s so done with him.

Right now I’m thinking: Oh Good. This is a great ending….now what do they have in store for the last 5 minutes? There’s a 3 month time jump. Hmmm. What could be significant in the next three months? No, I don’t think that I’m gonna see HK in a wedding dress marrying JW–I’m not that crazy! Maybe….they will be in bed together (fully dressed and under the covers of course) plotting out some strategy on a case they are working on together. Or…how about a picnic with  Subway as the PPL entree; JW can teach HK’s son how to play baseball and they start to get along like a new family. Oh, heck yeah!

But no…..

Instead, there’s this scene where TJ is giving some rousing speech about digging out corruption and even though his enemies had him jailed for investigating them, he’s all for justice, blah-blah…and he credits his wife for standing beside him. Whaaat!? Didn’t I see this in the first episode? HK comes out on stage and they look like the perfect couple.

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At least they provide employment for the florists of Seoul, lol!

Myung Won is staring open mouthed at the TV (you aren’t the only one, sister!) and then HK walks off, and it’s all business–she did that to trade for some kind of info on a case!

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OMG…So she’s just as corrupt and power-hungry as he is. I can’t believe it. Did HK have a personality transplant? Did the writer want to make her look less than perfect–after all one of the corollaries in DramaLand is that ambitious and successful women should be punished! (See “Secret Love Affair” for a 16 hour treatise on that subject.)

Right now, I wanna know how Joong Won feels about this turn of events. He had some awesome character growth in this show…is this something he’s on board with? Can you imagine HK coming to him and saying: Joong Won-ah….jagiya (sweetie) ….I’ve decided I’m gonna stay married to TJ for the kids sake and so he can win the election. That way I’ll get insider info so you and I can win cases and build up the firm. The divorce settlement I’ll get in a few years when the kids are done with college and married off will be a lot bigger too. You just be my ‘side guy’ for now and I will make it worth your while!

Arrgh! I swore to myself I would not melt down over the ending to this show. I thought I was prepared this time around, especially since I had to start Western meds for my anxiety and panic attack issues. Even my acupuncture doc said it was time. (It’s amazing what a quarter dose of medicine to slow my heart rate does. Does everyone feel this calm all the time, and I’ve been missing out?!?) I do admit that the ending to the US version was far worse, but that is not enough consolation.

The only cure for the ending to this show–shut the TV/Computer/Tablet down as soon as you see the time jump. That’s it. The rest of this drama was so well acted, and such a joy to watch that the last 5 minutes of the final  has to be surgically cut out of the experience. The other way for me to forget the bitter taste from the ending here is that there’s all kinds of interesting shows on right now, and I can quickly distract myself. So far, “W” is a unique and thought provoking allegory on how to not be a sloppy fiction writer, and should prove to be the balm to soothe me after the roundhouse slap in the face that was the end of “The Good Wife”.

Both the leading ladies in ‘The Good Wife and “Start Again” initially suffer from a disease I will call ‘terminal naivete’. It’s a failure to imagine that people are as evil as they really are. Because you are not an evil person, you can’t fully grasp the concept. The only difference here is that Hye Kyung is older, a lawyer, and has seen more evil behavior in her lifetime than Young Ja, although I think that considering the genre that each show occupies, the level of innocence of each character is closely proportional to their situation. I don’t think Hye Kyung had a clue (or she was in severe denial) about the level of corruption her husband could sink to before she saw everything blow up on TV in the first episode.  In “Start Again”, Young Ja has been gently hothoused by her protective parents, who don’t have a shred of evil capacity in themselves. She’s learning (slowly, ’cause this is 120 episodes the writer has to work with) that Tae Sung and his daughter Ye Ra are pretty much bad to the bone. I wondered if the writer was gonna potentially redeem Ye Ra in a similar way that her brother Seon Ho started out as a first-class jerk and then did a ‘180’, but thankfully that was a no-go at the end, and Ye Ra and her Jerk Dad remained true to their nature. There certainly was not any redemption for Tae Joon in “The Good Wife”. I am 100% against character personality transplants to end a show.

The experiences of watching “Start Again” and “The Good Wife” are as different as night and day. Before these two shows, I think I should have been labeled a ‘drama snob’. But I now understand that a good story is a good story, regardless of the sets, the background music, the cinematography, the fashion of the characters or the overall budget of the show. I have learned to be much more open to finding a show that I like.

Bottom line: “The Good Wife” should be on your must watch list–except for the last 5 minutes. Superb acting from all the characters, perfect BG music, and plenty of thought provoking moments to spur both internal and external debate make “The Good Wife” a fantastic watch and ups the bar for future drams, whether they are remakes of US shows or original Korean productions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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