(Nov 2013 – Mar 2014)
who’s in it
Lee SooKyung (My Country Calls, Soulmate)
Yoon DooJoon (All My Love, Iris 2)
Yoon SoHee (The Blade and the Petal)
Shim HyungTak (My Daughter SeoYoung, You’re Great, Really!)
Jang WonYoung (Miss Korea, King of Dramas)
Jung SooYoung (City Hall, Fantasy Couple)
what’s it about
Another trendy cable drama taking stab at capturing the lonely city doings of Seoul professionals. This show, however, actually does it well! Oopsie, already opining. Sorry, moving forward with the summary: the collected urbanites in TVN’s latest quirky-lonely-people drama are a bowl of mismatched ingredients, a bimbim of differently seasoned people, if you will, ranging from the quasi-happily married couple to an independent divorcee to the freewheeling singles. What do they all have in common? They work, play, and live in the same backyard, which really, is a pretty accurate depiction of anybody’s daily routine and foot travel.
Lee SooKyung is our titular character, she’s in her early thirties, divorced, and working at a law firm for a real jerk of a boss, a man who is an uptight, insecure, and emotionally abusive lawyer played by a handsome Shim HyungTak. You see, Lee SooKyung’s not discontent with her life, but she’s not exactly happy either. The indigestible lessons of living alone in a dog-eat-dog society has knocked and hammered her personality into an impenetrable fortress of solitude. Nowadays, she prefers to keep to herself because she doesn’t get hurt that way (well, she does still get bruised, but she always has on hand a few candy bars to mend the small daily hurts). She has learned that she can only depend on herself, her clever Pomeranian roomie Mr. Bara (named after Marxist revolutionary and counterculture icon Che Guevara), and of course, her favorite food blog ShikSha. This is the entirety of her world. And despite living in a building full of people, she wants nothing to do with her neighbors, doesn’t even know their names (ain’t that a truth!). She only wants to exist quietly and be left alone, and of course, eat alone—that is, until bubbly and naïve Yoon SoHee moves in next door and forces the reluctant Lee SooKyung to come out of her protective turtle shell.
Through the brazen disruption from her neighbors into the routine of her mundane life, 805 opens her heart and her dining schedule to the residents of 804 and 806, possibly saying good-bye to lonely dining forever, and maybe even opening herself up to a new love.
It appears this show’s priority, first and foremost, is about HD zoom and slow-mo glorification of Korean food, and the self-absorbed gluttonous notion that it is not shameful to devote one’s whole life energy to deciding the next glorious meal—that good food leads to all else, love, friends, happiness, to absolutely everything. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, food does! A happy stomach is a happy heart! How very Korean. And what a great message! Ha. I already love this show! In the most simple sum up, this one is basically about an attractive cast who create their own urban family. There’s blogging, eating, bickering, and just in case you think the show isn’t trying hard enough to keep your attention, there’s a bit of a murder mystery as well.
I mean, hell, talk about a show that speaks my language.
The crappy is that this show airs only once a week on Thursdays.
In summary, the show does sound kind of boring. People dealing with everyday life problems and eating their feelings? No time traveling? No superpowers? No emphasis on pretty flower boys? What’s going on here? But, despite it sounding pretty dry considering the fireworks most other modern dramas have up their sleeves, I decided to check it out anyway because 1) I try to check out most kdramas as I’ve learned you just never know which one will be a diamond in the rough, 2) I tend to love dramas about food, and 3) idol-actor Yoon DooJoon has proven to be a naturally charming personality onscreen, well, in a comedic context, mostly from what I’ve seen of him in All My Love.
To my delight, right off, this foodie show really gave me a refreshing buzz. It feels quirky but not so much so that it spills into overly gimmicky and contrived territory. The producing in the show does occasionally feel like it is trying to be almost too-too-clever, but thankfully the characters themselves are so fun and interesting, it is more a slight nuisance than a bother. There is a synergy between the characters that makes for a nice balance of charm. While the plot does seem slim, the conflicts in the show still manage to feel rich as they are mostly gathered through the combustion of clashing personalities and are not dependent on any real external force or plot antics. The show really keeps the pace nicely moving even without any real motive besides following people around while they grow closer through eating.
I did not think I would really like it this much, but I find I really do look forward to my Thursdays an extra lot now, I maybe even sorta love this show. It reminds a little of 2013’s Flower Boy Neighbor in the general sense, the comparison obvious as it is about a closed off single gal who opens up to her neighbors, but Let’s Eat has a very different feel in overall ambiance. These aren’t broken people recovering from a trauma or even people who are really that odd. Considering they are kdrama characters, they feel pretty normal. They are odd in the way that everyone can be odd, neurotic in the details here and there. They are normals, but normals who feel like they have to face the world alone.
I love the story, love the heroine, love the supporting cast, and more than anything, love the gratuitous slow motion food chowing scenes. The only downside? It really sucks that it only airs one episode a week. Really, really sucks.
The Main Diners:
Lee SooKyungUnexpectedly, this independent loner divorcee starts having her right door neighbor Yoon SoHee unnie-ing her all over the place and her left door neighbor Yoon DooJoon noona-ing her whenever he bumps her path, when in fact, she would rather not know either them. Her married best friend cares more about her own self and her kids and doesn’t have time for her, and her moody boss has been singling her out for even more abuse at work. Our heroine’s simple and cautiously mapped everyday is suddenly being attacked from all sides—work and home both becoming places of anxiety—and she’s not quite sure how to handle all the focused attention. Cynical and suspicious, but also vulnerable and soft-hearted, she’s a great center for all the lovable eccentrics buzzing around her.
as Lee Soo Kyung
as Lee Soo Kyung
Yoon DooJoonThere’s something not quite right about this guy, or that’s what Lee SooKyung thinks. He’s too blasé about everything, and his mannerisms seem to her as slippery as a leech. And she suspects he might be a compulsive liar, too. Is he some kind of modern day psychopath? He’s young, good-looking, and completely douchebaggie. Lee SooKyung wants nothing to do with the slimy smiley boy next door, because frankly, she does not believe anyone could be that blandly good-natured. Of course, the other side of the story is that only the pessimistic noona in 805 dislikes him, everyone else simply finds him darling. They see a carefree and helpful young man who cruises through life and they want a piece of that effortless charm. Who’s right? Is he a mysterious creep hiding a dark secret behind a false smile or is he exactly as he appears, a generous and blithe free spirit? One thing he does have in common with Lee SooKyung is that he loves to eat as much as she does. Will they ever find common ground enough to eat a meal together? (My note: I think they poof and part up DooJoonie’s hair to make him seem older. Boo, me no likey. I wish they would style his hair more naturally...)
as Goo DaeYoung
as Goo DaeYoung
Yoon SoHeeRaised a pampered princess, this bubbly 24-year old suddenly finds herself parentless in Seoul. Her dad’s in prison on trial for a white collar crime and mom’s off in the US to recover from the shock. She’s lived life a spoiled socialite, but surprisingly, she’s not a brat. In fact, she’s an eternal optimist, and a rather likable sort, if a bit lacking in the common sense department. When she moves into the same officetel building as Lee SooKyung, she immediately latches onto her next door unnie who knows the single living know-hows like properly separating recyclables from the trash. She loves how independent and world-savvy Lee SooKyung is and wants to be besties with her. She also quickly befriends the helpful 806 oppa and just as quickly develops a crush on him. Will she be able to cajole a friendship out of her cranky neighbor Lee SooKyung and win the heart of the friendly-to-everybody-equally oppa down the hall?
as Yoon JinYi
as Yoon JinYi
Shim HyungTakThis guy was a nerd in his formative years, and incidentally, had a major crush on our leading lady back in college when she was the hottest girl on campus and he was invisible to her. Now that she’s in his employ, he’s exacting vengeance on her for having dismissed him in the past. Petty? Juvenile? Vindictive? Check, check, check. Lee SooKyung has no clue as to her “connection” with him in the past and simply thinks him a major narcissistic bastard. Which he is—as well as secretly still in love with her. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, most especially not him! This lovesick jerk hasn’t figured out the secret yet either! The situation is all the more hilarious because he’s still completely enamored with her even as he cruelly bullies her day in and day out at work. Will this handsome successful attorney ever get past his insecurities and manage to show Lee SooKyung his true heart?
as Kim HakMoon
as Kim HakMoon
Lucky for everyone who has yet to check this show out, as I post this ‘First Impressions,’ the show has finally, in an excruciatingly slow fashion, managed to hit its 11th episode. I don’t often post my first impressions separately from the full review, but in this case, I’m so agitated with waiting for the next episode, I had to do something to occupy myself while my mind lingered longingly for the show.