A heart-warming family drama that is witty, with endearing characters grounded in realism. This show was never afraid to poke fun at itself, and petty family squabbles were never this funny and cheeky.
Genre: Family, romance, comedy
Synopsis: Cha Yoon Hee (Kim Nam Joo) is a sassy television producer married to Terry/Bang Gwi Nam (Yoo Joon Sang), a doctor who was orphaned and raised in the States. With a loving husband who is successful in his career and without annoying in-laws, Yoo Hee thought she had the perfect marriage any career woman could wish for. But Yoon Hee’s bubble gets burst when her annoying next-door neighbours actually turn out to be the biological family of her husband. Overnight, Yoon Hee finds herself having to deal with a naggy mother-in-law (Yoon Yeo Jung) that she had always dreaded, and three sisters-in-law whom she cannot see eye to eye with…
I mentioned before that I don’t really fancy family dramas, especially those that descend into Makjang territory, so thankfully this show stayed clear of that. This is perhaps my most favourite family drama to date, because it does not treat its viewers as fools. Not that the plot is complex, but the show dishes out many sarcastic jokes about family and society which may not be outrightly funny if told verbally, but are best told in context of the show and Asian/Korean culture. This is one of those shows where the story lacks a central plot where the viewer knows the ending point that the show is headed towards, but rather, it is the daily interactions and activities of the family members that dictate the story’s direction. This can get rather frustrating because there’s no telling whether the show will go on forever. After all, a conflict among the in-laws is a daily affair that you can’t put a stop to in real life.
What worked in this drama were the relatable conflicts and issues that were played out in the show, such as family squabbles, academic woes, culture differences, and strained family relations that are part and parcel of life, be it reel or real life. I always found myself smiling unknowingly throughout each episode as I watched their petty arguments and many references to popular culture such as the jokes in Gag Concert. The show also likes to literally laugh at itself when it pokes fun at the internal workings of drama production and the many clichéd storylines and characters abound in TV shows. The drama also featured a long list of hilarious cameos by famous stars acting out of character, such as Ji Jin Hee as an eccentric pastor, Cha Tae Hyun as Yoon Hee’s ex-boyfriend, Kim Seung Woo (Kim Nam Joo’s real life husband) as a student trying to pass his exams for the umpteen time, Sung Shi Kyung as an arrogant singer who can’t sing, etc. Definitely a treat for fans of the variety show 1 Night 2 Days.
As much as the show scores on the comedic aspects, the show falters when it dwells too much on the sob stories of the family. After all the light-hearted moments, any shift in the story towards the more weepy parts become very long and drawn-out for me as a viewer, such that I start to zone out and wish for the show to bring back the laughs and the cuteness. I liked most of the characters, even some of the “villains” (they weren’t bad people, just people with wrong values or made mistakes in life), but the youngest daughter (Oh Yeon Seo) was the one that really annoyed me to no end with her childishness. Up till the last episode, I still felt that she hadn’t redeemed herself, even though she supposedly changed slightly for the better.
Unlike some dramas where the mother-in-law is portrayed as an unreasonable evil woman, the Mother-in-law in this show may nag and scold Yoon Hee but she is still likeable because the show makes known her good intentions and other factors such as the generation gap that lead to conflicts. Much of the credit has to go to veteran actress Yoon Yeo Jung for portraying her character’s emotions so well. She is also an understanding mother-in-law who tries to put herself in the shoes of Yoon Hee and accommodate her more modern daughter-in-law. In fact, many of the elderly characters in this drama are surprisingly not the usual stick-in-the-mud conservative old folks, but rather, they demonstrated an unusual degree of open-mindedness in keeping up with the times. The romance between the oldest daughter of the family and her childhood idol singer is also a dream come true for every fan girl (like me). The husband-and-wife relationship between Yoon Hee and Terry was a joy to watch; it’s no wonder why Yoo Joon Sang is now known as the “nation’s husband” in South Korea. I wish I can have such a doting husband too…(swoons)
A heart-warming, light-hearted drama that touches on many issues close to one’s heart. Those who possess some knowledge of Korean dramas, Gag Concert and the Korean language will be able to better appreciate the jokes that will otherwise be lost in translation.