Me Too, Flower premiered on MBC today and got off to a slow start, both ratings-wise and plot-wise. (It recorded a 6.8% viewership rating, against Tree With Deep Roots‘ 19.1% and Man of Honor’s 12.9%). It took a while for the story to get going, and the first half of the episode was lightly amusing, but also rather boring. I think the show took too long to introduce its characters and get to the “twist,” so I wouldn’t be shocked if a lot of people tuned out early, thinking there would be no improvement.
The second half made up for it, though, picking up the pace and delivering some actual plot. By the time the episode was over I felt like there’s some potential for a quirky comedy here.
SONG OF THE DAY
Have a Tea – “가끔 이런 날” (Days like this) [ Download ]
EPISODE 1 RECAP
Outside the police station, a lone policewoman stands wearing a sandwich board and takes the bullhorn… to protest the police station. Ha! Specifically, she’s protesting the grossly unfair and unreasonable performance evaluations, arguing her own low marks when she’s a perfectly competent police officer.
This is CHA BONG-SUN (Lee Jia), and she is quickly ushered away by colleagues and brought before the chief, along with her direct superior.
The chief looks at Bong-sun’s performance file and enlightens her on her review: She doesn’t follow orders and she has a bad attitude. A few quick flashbacks show us that yes, indeed, she is Officer Crankypants with no patience for dumb questions or sympathy for citizens’ complaints that fall outside of her job description. I kind of love how grumpy she is, actually.
Bong-sun’s temper flares, she snaps back at the chief, and her boss intervenes. He raises his hand to slap her, but he’s delightfully wussy about it and actually only taps her on the cheek — but Bong-sun screams in fury anyway.
She’s given the choice: Either receive disciplinary action, or get some therapy with the station’s new counseling program. So off Bong-sun goes to meet Dr. PARK TAE-HWA (Jo Min-ki), convinced this is a waste of time.
The doctor is good-natured and a little bit quirky, with his purposely messy hair (the look is trendy among the young folk these days, he hears), but he’s good at his job and coaxes responses out of her about her childhood and parents. Her answers are unhelpfully vague; she says that everything about her experiences have been “just like everyone, I guess.”
She leaves the session grumbling about such quackery and has a near-miss with a motorcyclist. He apologizes, and she points near his feet and tells him he dropped something. He looks around, confused, and she clarifies, “Your eyes. Watch where you’re going.” Heh. Okay, so she’s surly AND snarky? I am amused.
The guy is SEO JAE-HEE (Yoon Shi-yoon), and instead of being offended, he bends down and picks something up, calling her back. She’s tempted to go back to retrieve it, but she’s also suspicious that he’s pulling a prank to get her back, and walks on. He says he’ll keep it for himself, then, so with a grumble she runs after him and asks for it.
He holds out his hand to hers, and drops…a big handful of nothing. “You dropped your curiosity.” Then he flicks her forehead and zooms off, smirking.
Jae-hee meets with the manager of a valet service, looking for a job. The boss looks over his lackluster resumé, with only a high school equivalency and a number of odd jobs. Jae-hee answers the questions with a smart-alecky confidence that the boss finds irritating, since he can hardly get a straight answer out of him. Where did he go to school? The University of Confrontation, with summa cum laude honors. What kind of jobs have you held? This and that. What have you done most recently? Travel. No, I mean how have you been feeding yourself? With rice.
Nothing Jae-hee says is outright rude, but his attitude is definitely out of the norm for a guy wanting employment — he’s not trying to impress or supplicate — so the boss eventually just sighs and gives him the job.
The parking lot serves a building with upscale businesses, like a designer boutique hosting a VVIP collection sale. That’s the destination for KIM DAL (Seo Hyo-rim), a well-dressed fashionista who eyes premium goods with a connoisseur’s eye. She seems sweet, if frivolous.
Bong-sun is assigned a rookie officer to partner with: JO MARU (Lee Ki-kwang), who’s immediately smitten with his noona. She’s utterly unmoved by his fawning, shutting down all his questions with smartass replies, not unlike Jae-hee. For instance: “Can I ask your age?” “No.” “Where do you live?” “At home.” “Can I call you noona?” “There are two words I hate: noona and oppa.”
He asks if she has a boyfriend. She says if he’s offering himself for the position, no thanks — he’s too short. Aw, poor confused and crushed Maru.
They’re called to handle a disturbance in an office, which is housed in the same building served by Jae-hee’s parking lot. A woman is throwing a tantrum, literally kicking and screaming like a child, and it is hilarious. Probably doesn’t hurt that this is comic scene-stealer Jung Soo-young, who is such a pro at being wacky and eccentric.
The woman is drunk and wailing, here to confront her ex-boyfriend for dumping her. Bong-sun steps in and takes charge, demonstrating that she’s actually quite good at her job when silly complaints aren’t making her cranky.
The drunk woman sits up and looks at the lady cop, slurrily wondering, “Who the hell are you? You’re pretty. Who the hell are you to be prettier than meeeeee?” Ha. Bong-sun tries to take in the situation, while the woman just continues babbling, “You had plastic surgery, didn’t you? O, miserable world! How could you get plastic surgery with citizens’ taxes?”
The woman can’t understand why she was dumped when her boyfriend had formerly found her so cute, and wails about him cheating with another woman but denying that that’s why he broke it off. Bong-sun calmly but firmly tells the woman to get a grip, but she cries, “Then why did he get tired of me?”
That question stops Bong-sun momentarily, because it resonates with her. She wonders that herself — there’s a guy in her life who must’ve said the same thing to her, and she can’t understand what went wrong.
She doesn’t have a good answer for the woman since that question stumps her too, but this is where Jae-hee steps in. He tells the drunk lady to not put herself through this misery trying to figure out what happened: “His feelings just changed.”
He tells her to go home and sleep it off, so she can be one day closer to meeting the next guy who presumably will appreciate her better. Good advice for Bong-sun, too.
With this incident successfully managed, Bong-sun gets back in her squad car with Maru and starts backing out of the lot, and the conversation distracts her from noticing a car being backed out of a spot. Clunk. They collide. It’s probably more her fault than his, but she tells Maru to grab his neck to feign injury as they inspect the damage.
As luck would have it, Jae-hee’s the valet behind the wheel of a customer’s car, and the collision — minor though it is — totally spooks him. But the reaction isn’t from this accident; the crash triggers a flashback to a different incident. All we see are tires screeching, and people shouting in alarm. A woman’s screams ring in his ears, and we glimpse the sight of a bloodied man.
Coming back to the present, he accuses the cops of not watching where they’re going, and then he grabs HIS neck. Maru grabs his own like they’re in a competition, and both boys hunch over, moaning in fake pain. Ha.
Jae-hee picks up Bong-sun’s dropped pen and returns it to her, and then out of the blue guesses her bra size. “You’re wearing an A cup, aren’t you? You should be wearing a B.” He goes off on a spiel about women not bothering to measure themselves when buying underwear, and the random tangent confuses, embarrasses, and offends her. What’s with this guy?
Indignantly, she motions toward his own lower bits and tells him to worry about himself, although she’s not as good at flustering him as he is with her. He replies that he’s plenty endowed, thank you very much.
The valet boss sees the damage and freaks out. He’s incredulous at Jae-hee’s blasé attitude, and when Jae-hee waves aside his concern saying that he’s the owner of this entire building, the boss assumes he’s spouting nonsense.
The scene is interrupted by the arrival of the glamorous PARK HWA-YOUNG (Han Go-eun), the building’s V-est VIP and the owner of her own fashion company. Everybody drops what they’re doing to gape in awe — even Bong-sun marvels, “Wow, she’s so cool” — and Jae-hee dutifully bows to her.
The collision is deemed to be the fault of both parties and the police’s insurance should cover the damage. But Jae-hee’s boss fires him anyway, as we’d expect, so it’s odd when Jae-hee objects as though he can’t understand why he should take the blame for this. He tells his boss that the parking lot is configured all wrong, and that there’ve been lots of accidents there. He should file a complaint with the owner.
The boss is sarcastic and dismissive, and when Jae-hee heads off to seek out the owner himself, his boss holds him back and punches him. Suddenly, that triggers something in Jae-hee’s brain and he flashes back to another incident from his youth — a teenager gets jumped by a gang of hoodlums — and present-day Jae-hee loses his temper.
He just barely restrains himself before punching his boss in the face, then dances around challenging all his co-workers to take him on. This boy is one crazy chicken. He gets punched again and goes down immediately. Heh.
Jae-hee comes to the police station to tell Bong-sun he was fired and has no cash for his wolsae, a type of monthly rental used for cheap places. He declares that she owes him — since the accident was both their faults but he’s the only one who lost his job, she should find him a new job, or half his rent money. Ha, this boy is so deluded it’s funny. I hope he’s not serious, because if that’s the way he lives his life, he’s in for a rude awakening.
Irritated, she wonders if he likes her. He declares that she’s not his style, but then thinks again, leaning in close. He decides, “Now that I look, you’re kinda cute. You’re blushing. Do you like me?”
He leaves her flustered and stammering, denying that she likes him long after he’s left the station.
Leaving the station, Jae-hee rides his motorcycle into a parking lot, gets into the elevator, and arrives at a VIP suite. Psh, wolsae rental my ass. You’re a chaebol prince, aren’t you?
He takes a shower — and to think, that was to be Kim Jae-won’s post-army abs scene! Not that I’m complaining about Yoon Shi-yoon nekkidness, mind you — just mourning the loss of Kim Jae-won’s.
When he gets out of the shower, who should be there to greet him but Park Hwa-young herself, Madam CEO. It’s his place, but she has a habit of dropping by, aided by his habit of not locking the front door.
They must be in the middle of a long-standing conflict, because she tells him that he’s rebelling against her. (…Mom?) But no, he just replies that rebellion is nothing new with him. He’s been called a perpetual adolescent, which is a comment that I think would make more sense if the actor didn’t look like he was still an adolescent. As in, the first time ’round.
They play a game of tennis in his personal court — nothing better for telling us, Here there be rich people! — and the voiceover clues us in to their recurring argument:
Hwa-young: “Why don’t you listen to what I say?”
Jae-hee: “I’m going to live the way I want. Don’t mess with me.”
He wins the game, which I’m sure is symbolic, and they go out to a fancy dinner where she resumes a long-standing argument between them. Hwa-young wants to go public about his role in the company, because she’s getting tired of being the visible half of their business partnership, which they set up together ten years ago.
People keep asking who the other founder is, who’s responsible for the designing, and she’s tired of lying or deflecting. She tells him she feels like his debt collector with their arrangement, referring to how she’s always hounding him and trying to get him to give in, and it makes her feel dirty.
Jae-hee sticks to his usual answer, telling her that he just wants to live quietly, that’s all.
Hwa-young wonders what his valet gig is all about, and he answers that he saw this program on TV called Undercover Boss, and it was entertaining. Apparently Jae-hee’s a sucker for things that entertain him, and he got it in his head to try living like his employees to see what it’s like to work for himself.
A waitress spills wine on him accidentally, and the restaurant supplies a jacket to replace the wine-soiled suit jacket. So he looks like a normal guy when Dal finds him in the parking lot, and since she saw him working there earlier (during the crazy dumped lady encounter), she assumes he’s on valet duty.
Dal slips Jae-hee a bribe and asks him for the name and number of another customer, since the guy has captured her interest. Jae-hee tells her that the money won’t get him to talk — but how about using him as a replacement? She assumes he’s pulling her leg and rejects him, and he calls after her, “I’m not so bad myself. All I’ve got is money.” Dal scoffs, “What, are you a chaebol then?” He isn’t, and she walks of disappointed, while Jae-hee muses that she’s kinda cute.
Bong-sun sits down for a huge dinner, and that makes her think back to Dr. Park’s questions. She’d answered “I’m just like everyone else” to most of his questions, but now we see that maybe she isn’t as “normal” as she claimed. For instance, she eats enough for three and sleeps too much.
Settling into bed, she thinks back to Jae-hee’s advice to the drunk lady about going to sleep so she can think of meeting her new guy, and Bong-sun sighs, “Whoever he is, I hope he shows up soon.”
Then, and as she sleeps, the idol boy in the poster above her bed disappears from the wall…only to reappear in bed next to her. Ha, he looks like an awful lot like her new partner Maru, though this version’s wearing eyeliner and a disgruntled expression. It amuses me that even in Bong-sun’s fantasy-dream, her idol boy is reluctant to be with her and tries to escape, but gets stuck in her embrace.
The next day, Bong-sun shows up at the parking lot to ask the boss for his phone number, only to find that he’s here at work. He’d asked Hwa-young to use her influence to get his job back, so his boss has reluctantly taken him on again, all the while grumbling about his secret supporter.
While on duty the other night, Bong-sun had seen a sign for a valet position, and now she says that she was going to tell him about it, although he doesn’t need it anymore.
They bicker some more when she takes exception to his use of banmal, and he encourages her to use it with him if she feels so unfair about it. She storms off, and Jae-hee muses, “She’s cute.”
Jae-hee’s boss fawns over Hwa-young’s car, determined to give their VVVVIP the very best service ever. She tells him to save the service for their customers, though, and dismisses his help. Too bad the valets have missed seeing a tow truck arrive to hitch one of their customer’s cars — the lot is maxed out on space today — which gets towed away for illegal parking. Jae-hee runs after the truck, but can’t catch up.
A short while later, he shows up at the police station like a man on a mission, and declares that he wants to file an official complaint. Bong-sun obliges, and starts taking down his information, noting his name, ID number, and address.
And the name of the person he’s filing against? “Cha. Bong. Sun.”
As I said, the show got off to a slow start. Around the halfway point, I asked myself what I was watching, and couldn’t figure out what the story was; we were seeing, essentially, a string of amusing scenarios. Entertaining, but sort of apropos of nothing.
What the show has going for it is a dash of whimsy that I really respond to, and witty, snarky dialogue. I LOVE that the two leads are smartasses with a ready quip for any encounter, and she’s got a bristly personality that is entertaining to watch. I noticed a lot of good songs on the indie-pop soundtrack. I do think the show could be funnier with better directing, because there were a few moments that I thought fell slightly short of their full comic potential, merely because the editing wasn’t as sharp as the joke called for. But that’s a quibble.
There were a few things I bumped on, though, and one of them is, unfortunately, unfixable. Yoon Shi-yoon just looks too damn young. Here’s a case where casting is the culprit, rather than the actor himself, because I actually really like his performance; he’s adorable, insouciant, irreverent. He’s playing the role perfectly, but he’s also supposed to be pushing 30. Instead, he looks 20, and that makes some of the dialogue ring false in my ear.
This isn’t a case where the hero just seems too young for the noona-heroine, because if they were playing nine years apart, I’d have no problem with it. The issue is that here’s Lee Jia calling him “ajusshi,” which would totally be appropriate if he were 30. But with Yoon’s baby face, it just makes it seem like Bong-sun is blind, or making a joke I don’t understand.
Then there are the scenes with Han Go-eun, which made me vaguely uncomfortable because I felt like we were watching mother and son; they reminded me an awful lot of Jang Geun-seok & Mom from Mary Stayed Out All Night. You’re supposed to get the sense that they’re business partners who may have had romantic flirtation in the past, but instead I’m squicked out at the thought that his mother (or aunt, or ajumma friend) is hitting on a child. The perception of age in an actor is just as valuable as one’s actual age, and in this case real life just works against the fiction.
This is just too bad, because it’s not like they can fix it easily, and I understand that the production was in a scramble to find a new leading man in a very short period of time. I couldn’t shake the feeling that it would have worked perfectly with Kim Jae-won, though, who would have been just right to play a mischievous 30-year-old (or 28, if you want to get technical) who’s a full grown man physically, but mentally got the playfulness of an adolescent prankster. Someone who’s as appropriately called ajusshi as he is oppa.
Before watching this drama, I was split between wanting it to be awesome (because who doesn’t want a fun rom-com, and especially from the Sam-soon writer?) and wanting it to suck (because I’m all booked full on dramas right now). So now I’m conflicted, because I like Me Too, Flower and want to keep watching, but I just don’t know where the time will come from. And even though I enjoyed what I saw in Episode 1, it’s not enough of an outright winner to commit to fitting it into the overextended schedule. I’ll probably keep watching, but am iffy on continuing recaps.
This is where a clone would come in real handy, so I could put it on backup recap duties. Alas, scientific impossibility aside, I’d have to overcome my fear of clone uprisings, fueled probably in large part by the old Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin whips up a clone to do his homework and chores so he can go play, but it turns out his clone is just as evil as he is — identical DNA, don’tcha know — and it goes around causing trouble and blaming it on the original Calvin. Yes, I worry about needless things.
- Me Too, Flower gets a last-minute postponement
- Me Too, Flower releases its posters
- MBC buys some time with one-act dramas
- Me Too, Flower! releases first couple photo
- Yoon Shi-yoon replaces injured Kim Jae-won in Me Too, Flower!
- Kim Jae-won heads for surgery, hopes to continue drama
- Me Too, Flower! loses leading man three weeks from premiere
- Can’t Lose bargains its way to extension
- Kim Jae-won + Lee Jia + Seo Hyo-rim + Nickhun + Lee Ki-kwang: All in the same drama?