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Friday, February 5, 2010

Really, Really Like You (2006)















Really, Really Like You
진짜 진짜 좋아해
(Apr – Aug 2006)


who’s in it
Eugene (Creating Destiny)
Lee MinKi (Evasive Inquiry Agency, Dal Ja’s Spring)
Ryu Jin (Powerful Opponents, General Hospital 2)

what’s it about
Eugene is a country bumpkin gifted with natural culinary skills. She finds herself interning at the Blue House kitchen (the South Korean equivalent of the White House) after the only family member she’s ever known passes away. While in Seoul, she befriends both the president’s son and a guard in the secret service.

commitment 
34 episodes

network
MBC

wildcard factor
The story meanders and was about 15 episodes longer than needed.

after the first episode
It took me a while to get used to Eugene’s unique way of speaking…and I didn’t care for RyuJin either (the doctor)…neither did I find Lee MinKi’s character especially charming. Basically, I didn’t like it at all so I made the decision not to watch this one…but accidently bumped into it again later while channel surfing. The show had progressed to episode 15 and with nothing else interesting on tv (thank gawd for hundreds of channels of crap!), I watched it. All of a sudden, I kinda liked it. My viewing sequence for this drama is a bit skewed. I started watching Like You from episode 15, finished it and then went back and skimmed through the earlier episodes.

gave up

snoozer moments
There was a sprawling cast of supporting characters, some more interesting than others…the duo that I thought headlined the snooze-festival was a Blue House nutritionist and a political photographer. Yawn. Very little to care about within the gold-digger story or her pursuit of a husband.

soju-guzzling
Yes...including the ever popular hobby of exuberant karaoke singing that accompanies overindulgence (in Korea anyway).

what didn’t work
The unwarranted long length. This is often a complaint of mine. I know I sound like a broken record, as the saying goes, but in a lot of cases, I feel like the length of kdramas run and run and run when the they’ve long outrun the story. The meat of kdramas tends to be of a diet variety, it’s true, but this becomes too noticeable if the skinny plot problem is compounded by a lack of creativity in the writing and therefore the good parts and the boring parts can be graphed like your returns in the stock market. For example, if My Love Patzzi was 24 episodes instead of 10, it would have been a disaster of boring proportions. Not that Like You was a textbook example of such a failure in writing or creativity, but there were moments here and there when it dangled ever-so-close.

what did
Ironically, unlike others that lose steam near the end, Like You took a deep, energizing breath around the 20th episode mark and was fabulous by the end. I enjoyed the last ten scenic miles more than the productive story-building highway getting there.

What also worked was the undeniable attractiveness of Eugene and Lee MinKi. Apart they were okay, together they were fantastic.

Also, Shin MinHee had a supporting role as Eugene’s troubled younger sister and she was really quite charming. Since this drama had a true love triangle with only three real players participating in the main love story (and not vaguely quadrangle or pentangle-ish with fringe contenders wanting some lovin’ too), Shin MinHee was a nice female addition that gave Lee MinKi some play besides Eugene.

what made me want to gouge my eyes out
Eugene’s annoying mother.

what kept me going

Eugene and Lee MinKi’s very slow-to-develop relationship.
______________________________

Other factors:
predictability Yes
engrish Yes
originality No
eye-candy No
hair and fashion Lots of various types of uniforms 
______________________________

is it worth trying to find?
Yes

total enjoyment factor 
8/10

total disdain factor

why this review is completely biased
Lee MinKi has a really entertaining and unique gawky charm. For a runway model, he comes across as someone very down-to-earth.

could a non-kdrama fan like this
Nope

verdict
I should have enjoyed Like You more than I actually did. The problem was I thought the president’s son, Lee MinKi’s rival for Eugene’s affections, was too flat and his story even flatter. He was a “perfect” man—a caring doctor and (apparently) a saint-like single father who gave up his “freedom” to care for his mentally ill wife. It was understood through the expository comments of other characters that this man was a paragon of human virtue because he didn’t dump his demential wife to find a ‘whole’ woman, as was his right because he was in the prime of his life (I know right, cold-hearted people say what?). I guess this is considered the normal behavior if one’s spouse becomes mentally incompacitated – you find one that isn’t. After meeting Eugene, the perfect doc started to go through an emotional crisis of sorts when he began to wonder if the time had finally come to ditch his wife after all and go for the young hot thang. Those are my words, obviously, not his words. The character doesn’t openly acknowledge such weaknesses. Anyhow, RyuJin gave this guy a way too stoic and expressionless performance and that kept me from ever understanding or connecting with his character. He was portrayed as being such a decent person that it felt like a falsehood when he wasn’t written to be that devious. It may have been more interesting if he had been more self-serving or if that conflict within himself had been allowed to truly unfurl and he had let himself cross the line. He should have really thrown himself on the young hot thang. At least it would have made sense. In the end, he never really became a true love interest for Eugene because 1) he was married and did in fact love his wife and there never seemed to be a real sense that he wanted to leave her, 2) was portrayed more as a father figure to the younger Eugene. Like I said, it felt and fell flat.

Despite what I’ve written so far, the romance wasn’t as significant a part of the story as it sounds. While Eugene’s love triangle with Lee MinKi and RyuJin was partly the central plot of the drama, there was a greater deal of time spent on Eugene’s family problems and their failures, the food preparation and presentation within the Blue House kitchen, the doctor’s troubles with his responsibilities to his sick wife, and unfortunately, the escapades of the already mentioned large cast of banchan (side) characters.

There was almost too much going on and a lot of it superfluous, which relates back to the long length and the amount of fillers required, but overall, it turned out to be a fun drama.

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