Be Melodramatic: Episode 1
Meet the latest group of gal pals to join dramaland. They’re thirty, flirty, and thriving — ready to face life’s challenges head on. JTBC’s Be Melodramatic had to postpone the premiere due to re-casting, but, boy, am I glad that it’s finally here. Something tells me that hanging with these girls is going to be a good ol’ time.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
We open to a couple (cameos by Jin Seon-kyu and Honey Lee) walking down a road, pondering all the hardships they’ve been through.
As they promise to love each other despite the dark clouds of their past, we zoom out to see that this is a drama four friends are watching in their living room.
Filling their bellies with beer and snacks, we have the cynical IM JIN-JOO (Chun Woo-hee), the stoic LEE EUN-JUNG (Jeon Yeo-bin), the sweet HWANG HAN-JOO (Han Ji-eun), and the lone guy friend LEE HYO-BONG (Yoon Ji-on).
The girls analyze the meaning of the couple’s “dark clouds,” taking it literally and saying that they could get depressed without the sun for too long, haha. Jin-joo doesn’t like the fact that the drama ended with a declaration of love, and Han-joo argues that this type of ending is simple and satisfying.
“Why don’t we try saying it then?” Jin-joo suggests. So one by one, everyone says I love you in their own personal way. We then cut to multiple characters (who we’ll be meeting soon) smiling into the camera and saying the phrase, too.
Jin-joo then admits that she does like lovey-dovey dramas since she’ll never love anyone in real life. Hyo-bong points out that those who complain about love are the ones who want it the most. Still, Eun-jung says, Jin-joo’s writing really thrived after breaking up with her boyfriend.
With that, the gang reminisces about Jin-joo’s romance. She’d dated ex-boyfriend KIM HWAN-DONG (Lee Yoo-jin) for seven years, their relationship rocky the entire time. It was an endless cycle of arguing, Jin-joo crying, and Hwan-dong apologizing.
Eventually, Jin-joo’s friend had caught Hwan-dong going into a motel with another woman, thus ending their relationship for good. The girls remember Jin-joo crying over him for days.
“I did?” Jin-joo cuts in. “It wasn’t because of a drama? Answer Me was on back then.” LOL. Either way, Jin-joo continues, she was able to meet a good friend after everything she’d been through.
One day, while passing a shop, Jin-joo had stopped at the sight of a designer handbag. She’d never been interested in material things before, but this particular handbag had spoken to her — literally.
“Love?” the bag said, its voice hilariously sophisticated. “Is that something you can see? Is that something that lasts forever?” The bag urged Jin-joo to purchase it (er, her?), to trust only what she could see.
Determined, Jin-joo had stolen her younger sister’s piggy bank of life savings to buy the ever-so-wise handbag. With the bag in her possession, she was able to move on from her ex-boyfriend and focus on her writing.
She later applied to work for a drama writer JUNG HYE-JUNG (Baek Ji-won), who completely understood her handbag story. Writer Jung had opened up a secret compartment to show off her own collection of designer bags.
Seeing Jin-joo’s potential, as well as her feisty personality, Writer Jung was happy to hire her as an underling. And Jin-joo was so ecstatic that she’d danced all the way back to her parents’ house.
Jin-joo and her family celebrated her new job with fried chicken. Her smile never leaving her face, she’d told the fam that she was on her way to success; from then on, she would only walk a flowery path.
Cut to: Jin-joo and her fellow assistant writers looking drained of all life at work. “Right,” Jin-joo narrates. “A flowery path is actually an unpaved road.”
There was a knock at the door and everyone turned to see a man sauntering in. Jin-joo recognized him as director SON BEOM-SOO (Ahn Jae-hong), who’s famous for multiple hit dramas. As we see in a TV interview, he’s also famous for being extremely egotistical.
Jin-joo stood to leave, having been working for two days straight (poor soul). As she passed Beom-soo, she tripped and reflexively grabbed for him. But he quickly moved out of the way, making her fall flat on her face. When she got up, he noted that that could’ve caused an injury.
Jin-joo pointed at herself, and Beom-soo smiled and said that he was referring to himself. Incredulous, she scowled at him.
Back in the present, Han-joo sighs that she’d rather be seen as an annoying boss than a troublesome employee. A young boy then stomps in, chiding them for making so much noise when he’s trying to sleep. As the boy returns to his room, Jin-joo narrates that Han-joo once had it all — the brains, the popularity, everything.
Back in college, we see that Han-joo was rarely seen without a flock of boys on her tail. She cared more about her girlfriends than dating, though. That is, until one fateful day at the library. A boy named NOH SEUNG-HYO (Lee Hak-joo) had randomly walked up to her and asked what her type was.
When Han-joo hesitantly answered with, “A funny guy,” Seung-hyo wordlessly left. He returned the next day, inviting her to a comedy show he joined.
She asked why he was bothering her instead of studying, and he nonchalantly stated that he wasn’t even a student at her school — he just happened to see her on the street one day and followed her inside. Uhh…
Upon hearing the story, Eun-jung had warned Han-joo that the guy was probably some perverted stalker. However, it was too late, for Han-joo’s interest was piqued. She ended up going to the comedy show, smiling shyly at Seung-hyo onstage.
After the show, Seung-hyo had walked Han-joo home, admitting that his dream wasn’t to become a comedian. But the girl he was interested in had said she liked funny guys, so that’s what he wanted to do. “Then try to make me laugh,” she said. And without hesitation, he did.
It was that night, so full of laughter, Jin-joo narrates, that led to Han-joo’s pregnancy. They later had their son In-gook (the young boy who’d interrupted earlier) and married. Not too soon after that, Seung-hyo had asked for a divorce so he could find his happiness. When the crushed Han-joo had asked about her own needs, he’d responded, “Why are you asking me about your happiness?”
Eun-jung (representing all us viewers right now) had grabbed a scythe and chased after Seung-hyo. However, he managed to outrun her, wearing the same passive look he always had.
Seung-hyo went on to become a professional comedian, and even appear in TV ads, while Han-joo had to learn how to be a working single mom. She was able to get a marketing gig at a drama production company, where she was constantly belittled.
One night, after a long day of being yelled at at work and tending to her sick baby, Han-joo had watched an interview with Seung-hyo. And hearing him retell the story of how he got into comedy, her face crumpled.
Han-joo cried her heart out, with Seung-hyo laughing onscreen and baby In-gook shrieking in the background.
Back on the couch with our gang, Eun-jung grumbles that she should’ve killed the bastard. “Then you wouldn’t have been able to meet me,” a voice says. She turns to see a man smiling warmly and smiles back. “You’re right,” she notes. “Sorry.” The others look around in confusion — they don’t see anyone there.
Jin-joo then narrates that Eun-jung had always loved documentaries, bringing us into the third and final backstory. Our tough girl Eun-jung started out as a miserable intern in a documentary company. Her boss and co-workers treated her like garbage, but she kept telling herself to endure it.
But there was only so much Eun-jung could take. After a company dinner, her boss made her act as his designated driver. And once he had her alone in the car, he said, “Why don’t you call me Oppa?”
That was the last straw — Eun-jung cursed, crashed his car into a pile of boxes, and then chased him out with a pipe. Right on, sista.
Eun-jung quit her job and got herself an office to start her own documentary company. Her girlfriends were supportive but wary, seeing that the “office” was actually a rundown rooftop apartment.
Eun-jung’s first major project was a documentary interviewing pro-Japanese people. She got zero support until she met a cafe owner named HONG DAE (Lee Joon-woo, the man she’d smiled at in the present-day scene).
Hong Dae could relate to her struggles since he was a businessman himself, so he was more than willing to invest in her movie. Eun-jung was taken aback but grateful.
The two became partners, with Hong Dae helping Eun-jung obtain interviewees. It was tough approaching pro-Japanese folk without offending them, but Hong Dae eventually gathered a group that was willing to talk.
The couple shared drinks the night before filming, with Eun-jung so happy with Hong Dae that she offered him a bigger share. Though he appreciated the offer, he explained that there was something he found more exciting than money. When she’d asked what, he just smiled at her.
Fast-forward to the movie release, which was so big that it made Eun-jung an overnight millionaire. She couldn’t even watch the movie with her girlfriends because it was completely sold out. Her girlfriends joked that she was too good for a dusty theater anyway and dramatically escorted her out. Hee.
Jin-joo’s narration continues that Eun-jung wasn’t crazy about the money because she discovered something even more valuable: love.
We then cut to Eun-jung and Hong Dae making out as they made their way into his apartment. They froze, however, when they realized that someone was sitting on the couch. It was Eun-jung’s younger brother and the girls’ future guy friend–Hyo-bong (aha).
He told the couple to keep things PG-13 while he was around, and they wordlessly left for the bedroom.
The next morning, Eun-jung woke up to the same smiling face she’d come to love. They held each other in bed, in total bliss. But that image fades into the couple holding each other in a hospital bed, with Hong Dae the one in the hospital gown.
Looking at the beanie over his head, she’d asked if he wanted some of her hair. He joked that her hair wasn’t that pretty, but that her face made up for it. “You’re pretty too,” she said, serious. “That’s why it’s okay.”
After Hong Dae passed away, Eun-jung continued to live with Hyo-bong in their apartment. Though she was still struggling, she was able to smile and laugh with her friends again. “We thought she got better,” Jin-joo narrates. “But…”
One day, Hyo-bong opened the bathroom door to check on Eun-jung. And while we don’t see what happened inside, Hyo-bong’s screams say enough.
The girls visited Eun-jung in the hospital, and the sight of her sleeping, her wrist all bandaged up, made them burst into tears.
Once Eun-jung recovered and returned home, her friends started coming over to check on her. Eventually, Jin-joo, Han-joo, and little In-gook all moved into the apartment permanently.
Over dinner, Eun-jung narrowed her eyes at everyone and asked if they only moved in to save on rent. The friends merely continued eating, as did she. “Whatever the reason was,” Jin-joo narrates, “we all liked living together.”
Eun-jung gradually got better, but there was one change that the others had noticed. She started talking to Hong Dae as if he was still there. The others chose to let her be, and Jin-joo figures it was because they were scared. They’d almost lost her, so one little change didn’t seem like a big deal.
In present day, the girls chat about life and how harsh it can be at times. Even so, Han-joo says, they’re able to make good memories too. As for Jin-joo, she’d prefer it if they didn’t look to the past or the future. Instead, she’d like it if they focused on the problems right in front of them, like her sudden craving for ramen. With that, the three make a huge pot of ramen and continue hoping for good things in life.
Age of Youth, is that you? This obviously isn’t a sequel or spinoff to that drama, but it certainly feels that way. And I mean that as the highest praise, because I still consider Age of Youth as one of JTBC’s greatest achievements. There was real life humor and real life pain, and we’re getting all of that here with Be Melodramatic. It’s almost like we just moved a couple neighborhoods over from the Belle Epoque house to the Melo apartment.
I love that this group of friends are all in the entertainment industry, and at different stages. And while they’re all in their thirties, they’re also at different stages in life. We have Jin-joo as the exhausted writer (#relate), Han-joo as the hard-working single mom, and Eun-jung as the heartbroken director. Once we got into Jin-joo’s backstory, it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with her. She’s weird, she’s funny, and she’s got the heart of a true drama fan — what more could I ask for in a female protagonist? Since she’d made such an impression, I was worried to leave her story and enter Han-joo’s.
However, my worries were out the door as soon as we got to know Han-joo, as well as Eun-jung. All three girls were equally as interesting in completely different ways. And whenever we needed a break from all the girls’ pain, we were brought back to their cozy drama watching party. I thought it was genius to frame the episode with those present-day scenes. It was great to see the group’s dynamic now, while also jumping around in time to figure out how that dynamic was built. (The reveal of Hyo-bong being Eun-jung’s little bro was especially hilarious.) Needless to say, Chun Woo-hee and the other actors have fantastic chemistry.
Watching the girls’ separate stories caused three separate wounds on my heart, so I appreciated them all coming together in the end by living under one roof. Jin-joo may not understand what Han-joo is going through, and Han-joo may not understand what Eun-jung is going through (and so forth), but they’ll always have each other’s support. And it makes me giddy to know that little In-gook has two loving aunts and an uncle. We’ve yet to meet every character in the show, like Gong Myung’s, so I look forward to seeing how they’ll work their way into the girls’ lives.
While I won’t be recapping every episode of Be Melodramatic, I’ll definitely be checking back to see how our group is doing. It may seem like they’ve already gone through the worst of the worst, but I’m sure life has a few more surprises for them. Here’s to hoping some of those surprises are good.
- Premiere Watch: Let Me Hear Your Song, Welcome 2 Life, Be Melodramatic
- Working moms and casting switches in Melo Suits Me
- New stills of Gong Myung, Chun Woo-hee for JTBC’s Melo Suits Me
- Broken hearts and fiery tempers in JTBC’s Melo Suits Me
- Night-to-day transformation in Melo Suits Me
- The drama-watching girlfriends of JTBC’s Melo Suits Me
- Chun Woo-hee, Jeon Yeo-bin, Han Ji-eun to be BFF’s for JTBC’s Melo Suits Me