Another round of Variety Roulette is here!
This time we tackle We Got Married, the show where stars pretend to be newlyweds in front of the camera. It’s a show that girlfriday watches regularly but which I’ve only caught in snippets, never watching a full episode from start to finish. It takes some getting used to the premise when you’re entering it cold, but hey, that’s the name of the Variety Roulette game, right?
SONG OF THE DAY
Super Junior – “Walkin'” [ Download ]
EPISODE 118. Broadcast on January 21, 2012.
javabeans: Okay, so before we start, a few things. I have to say this right off the bat: I DO NOT GET THIS CONCEPT. I mean, I get it, but I don’t GET it. It’s a reality show about fake relationships. Huh?
girlfriday: It’s this weird setup where you and everyone participating are aware that it’s fake. And yet, it’s fascinating.
javabeans: See, I can understand the fun of watching a reality dating show, right? Like Bachelor (even though I hate that show). There are real feelings involved within the falsified setup and the hope of a real connection, even if it never works out.
girlfriday: Oh see, I hate real reality dating shows. Because I don’t care about the people.
javabeans: Like with Couple Making in Best Love — I see the appeal. Even if the couple ended up with no chemistry, it would be fun watching how they dealt with the show turns.
girlfriday: If Perfect Man Pil-joo weren’t Yoon Kye-sang, I wouldn’t give a flying fart.
javabeans: Me neither. I just mean that conceptually, I see why you make shows like that. But a show where you invent a fake couple, and then follow them doing fake couple things, yet maintaining the transparent facade that they’re a real couple, all while consciously aware the whole time that it’s fake?
girlfriday: It’s because making them pretend to be married forces them to be close and friendly even when they’re not. So the conceit is that they’re play-married, but the reality is that they’re awkwardly thrown together in this really strange setup.
javabeans: But they’re not in a drama, so it’s not a fictional story. Yet it’s not real so there’s no emotional sincerity. It’s scripted to look real, which is what I hate in bad variety shows. Trying to have both sides of the coin and then eating that cake too. Um. You know what I mean. If the coin were a cake. Or whatever.
girlfriday: Yes, the scripted nature of the dates and stuff are silly, (and totally obvious). But the awkward interactions ARE real. That’s the appeal.
javabeans: (Supposedly!) Ha. Okay okay, grumpy pants off.
girlfriday: Oh, you can wear your grumpy pants.
javabeans: No no, I’m happier pantsless. (American pants! Not British pants!)
girlfriday: Aren’t we all.
javabeans: Let’s get this show on the road. Okay so there are some Suju boys I recognize. Wait, am I watching the right show?
girlfriday: Well Leeteuk and Kang Sora are one of the couples, and sometimes the Super Junior boys are featured in their stories. So I guess they’ll be around this time? How come every time we do a Variety Roulette, the Suju boys show up?
javabeans: Do we have secret Suju radar that we don’t know about? Did somebody sneak something into our morning coffee?
girlfriday: I don’t think I have a Suju radar. I can’t even name them all. But I do suspect someone’s spiked my coffee.
javabeans: Okay, so Lee Jang-woo apparently is “married” to Eunjung. And they’re at a club. And he leaves… in the morning when people are going to work? Haha.
girlfriday: Yeah they’ve been a couple for a while. She’s shooting a music video, and he’s recently unemployed, since his drama Man of Honor ended.
javabeans: Ohh, that makes more sense. I like how he calls himself an unemployed guy, like he’s a normal everyday citizen and not an actor on hiatus between dramas. Wait, he’s talking like he’s actually married and he wants to clean the “house” for the “wife.” Is he referring to some shooting set or something?
girlfriday: They actually “live” in a house while they shoot the show. It’s basically an apartment as a set.
javabeans: So they go there once a week or something? Glug, glug, I feel like Variety Roulette has dropped me off the deep end and I’m drowning.
girlfriday: Yeah they set it up as if it’s their newlywed home, and just shoot the show there. Oh, one thing I should probably mention about the setup of the show is the studio commentary. So basically, when this show started, it had a studio setup and the couples would be present along with MCs to watch the footage and comment along. At some point they ditched that concept and went all footage, zero commentary, but that was actually super boring.
javabeans: They’re not very funny. I guess this is why superstars like Kang Ho-dong and Yoo Jae-seok are so good.
girlfriday: Well yeah. But at least this way (now with a studio of just MCs watching and commenting) there’s some running commentary along with the footage, which if you’ve ever tried to watch this show without, makes a world of difference. It’s weird.
javabeans: I guess you need somebody stringing along a narrative. So Jang-woo nags Eunjung about the messy house, and she reminds them of some tea they made three months ago for their 100 day anniversary. She wants him to bring it to her, and I guess it’s kind of funny how he’s the harried house-husband, and she’s the glam star in her makeup bossing him around.
girlfriday: It’s adorable how he keeps asking her not to hang up ‘cause he’s so lonely at home. Ha.
javabeans: I kinda wish they didn’t call each other yeobo so much because it feels super fake. Like they’re in a stage play or something. Although I do like how he asks her how to wash the blankets and she stutters for an answer before telling him to go online.
girlfriday: I love that she doesn’t know either, but when he complains about how bored he is, she yells at him that housewives do this every day, and to just turn on the tv while he cleans.
javabeans: Do the producers just give them a list of what to do every episode? Because obviously they wouldn’t really need to wash the comforter.
girlfriday: They do something couply in each episode, whether it’s meeting in-laws (their real moms) or going on a trip, or doing everyday household chores.
javabeans: I think it’s this construct — the obvious staged nature of everything — that messes with my enjoyment of the coupledom.
girlfriday: It’s sort of because it’s so obvious that I think people just see the construct and go with it. It’s weirder I think in shows that try to mask the conceit in some way. Here it’s an understood and accepted thing.
javabeans: Is Jang-woo trying to give his blanket a bubble bath? He just keeps pouring detergent into the bath, over and over…
girlfriday: Wait, he didn’t strip the cover off of the stuffing?
javabeans: Nope. He’s sleeping on the couch tonight.
girlfriday: Okay, this is hilarious. You can see that this guy has never washed a single thing in his life.
javabeans: I’m wondering if he’s going by stuff he’s seen in dramas. He wonders, all tired, “How do women all do this?” In unison, the commentators declare, “Women DON’T do that!”
javabeans: And then he takes the sopping wet blanket, which is still dripping onto the floor, and drapes it on the drying rack. In the middle of his living room. This is like watching a monkey trying to figure out how to get the banana in the laboratory cage test.
girlfriday: Oh my god, it’s dripping wet! I love that they show the perfectly suited balcony, all empty and unused.
javabeans: And then he puts a bucket under the dripping corner, like it’s a leaky roof?
girlfriday: And then he calls Mom, ‘cause he doesn’t know how to fix it.
javabeans: Oh man, Jang-woo’s Mom trying to help him figure out what to do is like me trying to tell my mom how to Facebook.
girlfriday: Pfft, she has to explain how to operate the washer-dryer like he’s a child. He really IS new.
javabeans: My question: If he breaks the drying machine, will his management pay for a new one?
girlfriday: Beats me. It looks like we’re about to find out. Is he really shoving that sopping wet blanket into the tiny dryer?
javabeans: He can’t close the dryer door on the overstuffed machine, so he wonders, “Can I run it with the door open?” What?!
javabeans: Good lord, he finally heads to the phone to call for help. TO A CLEANING SERVICE. Is he just going to outsource the problem?
girlfriday: He’s actually panicking by now. This is crazy.
javabeans: Especially since they won’t take it, since it’s already wet and technically washed.
girlfriday: He finally trudges back to the machine, wrings out a little more water, and then sits there, foot on dryer door, to keep it shut. Pwaha. He feels safe with that running for a while, and heads to the kitchen to work on the fruit tea. He’s gotta get it out of the jar somehow, and reaches for a giant soup ladle that’s way too big to fit in the opening, and I don’t know why, but that one thing puts me over the edge. He really IS like a monkey in a lab. I’m dying.
javabeans: It must have to do with his personality type or his way of solving problems, because he’s definitely the Try First, Read Instructions Later type.
girlfriday: It’s hilarious.
javabeans: A commentator says it’s like watching somebody stranded on a desert island. He takes out the blanket from the machine (tugs it out violently, more like) and puts it on the drying rack. Except… it’s still wet and drippy. Jang-woo takes out his phone, but instead of calling for help he takes a sel-ca photo with the blanket, like he’s given up on trying to fix this one.
girlfriday: I guess that’s his limit. He just figures, to hell with it, and drags the thing into the bedroom. Everyone guesses that he’s finally figured out he should leave it on the balcony… and he just leaves it dripping in the bedroom.
javabeans: If I can’t see it….
girlfriday: Right? And then he heads out, not caring that by the time he gets back, his bedroom will have a pond in it.
javabeans: And HE was the one complaining about HER mess.
girlfriday: I think it’s safe to say he left the apartment in worse shape than it was in before. He heads back to the club and brings Eunjung the tea he made, and she catches him staring slackjawed at one of her groupmates dancing.
javabeans: At least he’s equally slackjawed to watch her doing her close-ups… until he’s tapped on the shoulder by her groupmates and taken aside. The commentators wonder if this is going to tick off Eunjung when she finds he’s gone, but the girls (Jiyeon I recognize, the other I don’t) are here to give him advice on how to do better with Eunjung, since they figure he needs a few pointers on what makes her upset and what’ll make her happy.
girlfriday: They know she’s particularly upset about his kiss scene with Park Min-young and coach him on how to talk his way out of being in the doghouse.
javabeans: Is this one of those fake-upsets, manufactured for the purposes of this storyline? I can see how little jealousies can crop up in a cute way, but that seems like a stretch.
girlfriday: It’s a common thing for them to have little tiffs about, but it’s never serious. ‘Cause they’re all actors.
javabeans: Heh, so Eunjung finishes her take and wonders where Jang-woo went, and finds him talking to the girls. She catches the drift of the conversation nods approvingly, with the girls pointing out things he needs to do better. That’s cute. Then Jiyeon leads him in role-playing an argument about the kiss scene, so he can practice smoothing things over. Their suggestions are actually really good, like how the response to “I saw you kissing on TV” should be, “Oh, that? Her lips were so dry, that’s all I could think about.” The commentators point out that girls know that this kind of flattery is white lies but it’s nice to hear anyway.
girlfriday: He promises to try harder on their winter trip, and Eunjung comes out, sending him hiding in mortification.
javabeans: Haha, he’s so embarrassed I love it. It makes it that much harder for him to actually try those lines out on her later.
girlfriday: I can’t imagine he’d actually say any of those things anyway. He’s such a dude.
javabeans: I guess that’s all for this couple today. Next we open on a cafe, where four Super Junior dudes sit on one side of a table. (From left to right: Kyuhyun, Donghae, Eunhyuk, Sungmin.) Are they on a group blind date?
girlfriday: Oh it must be time for their sogaeting. So backstory: Sora asked these four Suju members for some favors during their last concert, to do things for Leeteuk that she wanted to do but couldn’t, like wiping his forehead or giving him massages and things, and in return, they made her promise to set them up on blind dates with her pretty actress friends.
javabeans: How cute. This I like, because you can see they’re actually nervous and excited about the blind date (even though they point out how weird it is do be on a date in the morning, haha). Apparently Donghae was so excited he couldn’t sleep, and both he and Kyuhyun say they’re going to treat today as real, without thinking of the cameras.
girlfriday: He’s like, “I’m here to meet my Fate!” So cute.
javabeans: They point out that it’s the ladies who get to pick their favorites in these group dates — so if they’re interested in one girl in particular, it’s up to them to make their interest known before picking time.
girlfriday: I love how serious they are, all, “Are we gonna fight over one girl?”
javabeans: Sungmin seems prepared to, although they’re like, “Well, not on camera. We’ll go outside.” Haha.
girlfriday: Leeteuk and Sora arrive first, holding hands and ignoring them, which they seem severely offended by. Or maybe just annoyed, since they’re yet to be coupled. Heh.
javabeans: Whoa, Leeteuk is 30? (I guess Korean age-wise.)
girlfriday: Dude, he’s gotta go to army soon, yeah?
javabeans: Sora explains that she asked about each member’s “ideal woman” type, and the boys say in fake-surprise, “Oh, is the date today? I hadn’t even prepared!”
girlfriday: Leeteuk’s like, “Oh, should we cancel it then?” Ha.
javabeans: Sora outlines their preferences: Sungmin likes a girl who fits right into his arms, and he smiles so bashfully that I figure it’s true. Eunhyuk and Donghae both like girls with pale complexions and large eyes. Kyuhyun likes a girl with a pretty forehead.
girlfriday: They’re so excited and embarrassed. It’s adorable. They decide on a signal, for if they like a girl at first sight. The sign is to smooth their sideburns.
javabeans: Sungmin: “What if we all do that at the same time?” HAHAHA. The visual cracks me up.
girlfriday: The door opens and the first girl comes up the stairs. Everyone freezes. Aw, their anticipation is so real.
javabeans: Ha, I love how they’re sitting up in anticipation, and the moment they recognize her, Donghae immediately claims dibs by smoothing his hair. Eunhyuk follows, but he’s a split-second slower.
girlfriday: Bachelorette Number 1 is Sohn Eun-seo, from Flames of Ambition. The boys are giddy and speechless. Eunhyuk pipes up that they’ve met before — apparently they did a show together a year back or something. But right now he can barely look at her, he’s so beside himself.
javabeans: The second bachelorette arrives, and this time Eunhyuk is first to reach for the sideburns. She’s Lee Se-na from Tree With Deep Roots, who played a court lady there and is here to fulfill the huge eye quota. The third arrives, and is Eunhyuk just gonna be greedy and claim everybody right away? Wow, his face is visibly red.
girlfriday: He’s totally trying to claim all the girls!
javabeans: She’s Shin So-yool, who I just saw in Penny Pinching Romance. She was also in Tree, as another of the court ladies.
girlfriday: She’s got a Shin Mina-esque thing about her. Maybe her eyes?
javabeans: I was thinking Bae Doo-na. The last one is someone I don’t recognize, Jung Yeon-joo, and she’s one of Sora’s co-stars in Dream High 2. Oh, Kyuhyun likes her. And Eunhyuk goes for the sideburns yet again, haha.
girlfriday: So the girls start introducing themselves, and maybe this is a good time for us to explain what a sogaeting is, since it might seem like a weird thing for people who don’t know.
javabeans: Oh. Haha. I guess I just take that for granted. It’s basically a group blind date, but with a certain structure in place which I think probably helps moves things along, to help you over your shyness or first-date jitters. Usually it’ll be set up by friends like Sora and Leeteuk, or sometimes one of the leaders on each side will be the coordinators.
girlfriday: It’s most common among college students, and you just match the numbers on each side — yunno, five guys, five girls — and then you play a series of icebreaker type games.
javabeans: Toward the end the ladies “choose” the guy she’s interested in, either by literally just picking the partner or sometimes by game or random draw.
girlfriday: Yeah sometimes it’s lottery, and you get paired off by chance. Other times only couples where each chooses the other is considered a “successful” match.
javabeans: Then the couples are free to continue the date in that pairing, maybe go off into another round, or — if you don’t like your match — diligently try to make the date speed by so you can be free. It’s interesting that the date is both very straightforward — such as the girl literally saying which guy she wants — but also a minefield of social cues, reading people’s behaviors, and inferring. Hence the sideburn code.
girlfriday: Right. And it’s more complicated if there’s an age hierarchy on top of it, ‘cause if the hyung wants dibs or whatever, that screws with the program.
javabeans: Or if somehow the expected script doesn’t play out. Say there’s a jjang amongst the crowd who expects all the attention, and doesn’t get it. That’s the scenario you see in Queen of Housewives, when Kim Nam-joo gets pissy that ONE guy out of the whole group prefers the ugly duckling, so she goes out of her way to claim him when she didn’t even want him in the first place. Of course, that’s a drama, but still, those social cues apply.
girlfriday: It’s less complicated here because only the guys’ side are friends, so it’s going to be less of an issue.
javabeans: Sohn Eun-seo is first to introduce herself, and there’s nothing particularly unusual about her liking movies and music and chatting with friends… until she gets to the part about enjoying kickboxing, and somehow that startles the boys. Gender stereotypes and all, since she looks so sweet and demure. Pffft. The boys are given the chance to ask her questions, but they can only stutter and stare, which is endearing. Eunhyuk starts to ask the question, “Which of us…” but then the boys all crack up in mortification, unable to see the rest of that question through. Sora buries her face in her arms, all, “I can’t watch this.”
girlfriday: He finally asks if one of the guys here matches her ideal type of guy, and she says yes. That slays the room. I think the guys spend half the time with their faces buried. Se-na says she likes guys who smile, and Eunhyuk smiles on cue. He’s so transparent, it’s funny.
javabeans: I love that the guys get in digs at each other whenever they can. It’s their teeny attempt at rivalry. Example: Eunhyuk asks if Se-na’s name is spelled Sae-na or Se-na, and the others retort, “Of course it’s Se-na. Isn’t that a given? He doesn’t even know the basics [of spelling]” trying to embarrass him.
girlfriday: They meekly ask her age, and she says she’s thirty, and everyone’s jaws drop. She really doesn’t look it. Leeteuk happily greets her as a friend, but she says she’s an 82er, and he immediately switches to a bow, calling her noona.
javabeans: I think I like Bachelorette #3 best, So-yool, because she’s all assertive and sassy. I know I’m not here for the date, but given that the Korean expectation still falls toward the quietly laughing, demure girl with long straight hair, she’s a breath of fresh air. Even the way she clunked up the stairs in the beginning.
girlfriday: Me too! She seems like the coolest to hang out with. Maybe Eun-seo would be too, if she let her kickboxing side show through a little more.
javabeans: I’m picturing her with someone younger, to boss around. HAHA. Like Kyuhyun, maybe? Then it’s time for the boys to intro themselves.
girlfriday: How is Sungmin 28?? He looks twelve.
javabeans: How are they so awkward at this, when they are by far the more experienced half of this table? You can strut your stuff onstage in leather and colored afros, but you can’t say hello to a pretty girl?
girlfriday: But Leeteuk was hilariously awkward when he started on this show too. It was so strange. I’ve only ever seen him as an MC, so I never knew he had this shy awkward side, but he literally spent weeks and weeks of episodes just staring slackjawed at Sora and unable to say words. It was really cute.
javabeans: Donghae introduces himself, and it’s almost painful to watch. Also entertaining. But also a little painful. He stutters about how he’s not good at dating, then asks for questions without even saying anything about himself.
girlfriday: The commentators point out that he seems like he’s here to find a wife. Like for reals.
javabeans: Sohn Eun-seo asks Kyuhyun what he’d do if he got together with a girlfriend, and he answers, “Publicly, or s-s-secretly?” Hahaha. I know what he means — as in, he’s a celeb so there’s a different between a public date and a quiet one — but it’s just so hilarious, said like that.
girlfriday: And also so revealing about how seriously they’re taking this. It’s cracking me up. Leeteuk tries to explain for him, but it just earns him an evil eye from Sora. Ha.
javabeans: Now that intros are done, it’s time for the men to show off a little, as in personal skills and the like. The boys are startled at the speed of the proceedings, and they fumble a bit to decide who goes first, but Sungmin steps up and says he’ll go first. He picks up a guitar from the corner, and in so doing a pair of nunchaku fall to the ground. HAHA.
girlfriday: Well that’s just a weird combo of skills.
javabeans: I like that he rolls with it, and decides to show that off first then, saying, “Since I should be able to protect my woman.”
girlfriday: And then he sings and plays guitar, which goes considerably better than the display of nunchuck-whipping.
javabeans: I thought the nunchaku were pretty cool. HAHA. Maybe he’s less your style than mine. (He’s totally not my style, btw.)
girlfriday: The acoustic guitar playing is totally my style, but not much else.
javabeans: But they’re singers by profession, so it’s a leetle less impressive to me. (Plus I’m hearing the original song in my head, which is better. LOL.)
girlfriday: Well, they’re idol stars, so I’m still pretty impressed when any of them can actually play instruments and sing.
javabeans: Eunhyuk just got back to Korea so he says he didn’t have time to prepare a demonstration, but he does have a present. Only for one, though, which means he’s ready to single out a lady based on first impressions. Donghae shoots him a look and mutters, while the caption reads, “Breaking the rules already.”
girlfriday: Haha, he’s messing with the program already! This is totally what we meant by the sogaeting rules and social cues.
javabeans: Right? You may get a step closer to the girl, but you cause a rift with your bros.
girlfriday: He chooses Eun-seo, who opens the cake box, to find… a cell phone? Huh? At first you think he’s going to throw her some line to get her number or something, but then he plugs it into speakers to play a song to dance to. What? Then what’s with the fakeout present?
javabeans: Was it to win points with his girl? Because otherwise it’s just a dance?
girlfriday: Even a cupcake would’ve been better.
javabeans: But I think it mitigates the rule-breaking aspect that it was a fake-gift (while earning brownie points with Eun-seo for singling her out), because then he hasn’t really outdone his bros. I think a cupcake would’ve been too serious.
girlfriday: True. Ha. So he dances and bravely goes over to Eun-seo to dance with her, but just as she gets up to join him, the music cuts out. Aw, too bad.
javabeans: It’s cute enough that she was all ready to do the shuffle with him, even if she only got one step in. Then it’s Kyuhyun’s turn to serenade with one of those popular romantic ballads, “Because I Love You.”
girlfriday: Sungmin plays guitar for him, which is nice, but then he messes up, and the boys accuse him of doing it on purpose. HA.
javabeans: Haha, that’s priceless. Because it’s right when Kyuhyun sings the word “stupid.” Aw, it’s sweet of Se-na to speak up for him, telling Sungmin he’s messing Kyuhyun up.
girlfriday: Omg, he starts up again, but this time Eunhyuk slyly slurps his drink in the middle of the song! Their pettiness is hilarious.
javabeans: That may be my favorite thing. The boys are too shy to say much to the ladies, but they take all their chances at embarrassing their friends.
girlfriday: Kyuhyun follows it up with a magic trick — he makes So-yool’s ring disappear, and when she asks for it back, he says he’ll give it to her when they’re done. Hee. I love all their little tricks to get more attention or facetime.
javabeans: I like how the commentator points out that Donghae seems a little miffed that Kyuhyun’s taking up the limelight, and while he doesn’t seem actually upset, I think there’s a teeny bit of truth there. Hee. Well, Donghae could just talk more then.
girlfriday: It’s finally Donghae’s turn, but he’s so awkward that I can barely watch. I’m cringing for him.
javabeans: Eunhyuk says that Donghae prepared at least 100 things, and this reminds me of the Strong Heart episode where Siwon outed him for preparing stories all freaking year long.
girlfriday: He must really be that guy.
javabeans: He just Cares Too Much. It’s both endearing and, as you say, so awkward you can’t bear to watch.
girlfriday: He’s prepared this elaborate song with signs and roses… and somehow it just gets away from him. Like he prepared it to be super romantic, and now it’s falling apart before our eyes.
javabeans: Oh man, Donghae. It’s a good thing you’re so pretty.
girlfriday: He looks like he’s about to cry.
javabeans: He’s the guy who says “I love you” on the first date. He’s Ted Mosby!
girlfriday: Omg! He’s TED!
javabeans: Alternately poignant and mortifying? Where’s that blue trumpet when you need it? Eunhyuk first steals the spotlight by doing the act better, and then points out that Donghae messed up with the flowers. Aw. On the upside, the girls seem to feel sorry for Donghae. He didn’t show them what he wanted to (cool and impressive), but they like the side they see anyway (bumbling and sweet).
girlfriday: Yeah I think the cool ship has sailed. But girls prefer the uncool real side anyway. And I think Eunhyuk in turn lost some points for being mean while Donghae was down.
javabeans: Yes, totally. Eunhyuk totally scored variety points for the funny, but lost on impressing the girls. I like that the mood has loosened up enough now, though, that they’re starting to have a little fun instead of being awkward balls of nervous energy.
girlfriday: It’s time for the girls to choose their favorite from the talent portion, and both So-yool and Se-na pick Sungmin. Uh-oh, things are already starting to skew one way.
javabeans: Eun-seo picks Donghae, which I think just made Donghae’s year. (I had a feeling he liked her most.)
girlfriday: Yeah I think he nearly had a heart attack when she came up the stairs. Eunhyuk’s particularly sad about her choice, since he singled her out first.
javabeans: Maknae actress Yeon-joo also likes Donghae, which leaves Eunhyuk and Kyuhyun sad. But this is only the first round! In this case they’re not necessarily picking the guy they wanna date, so they’ll have another episode to get to know each other. There’s bowling and dancing and… tears?
girlfriday: I guess this sogaeting gets real for everyone, and not just the boys?