Be Melodramatic: Episodes 2-8 (Series review)
I always love a good show that is self-aware and that can make fun of itself. Be Melodramatic is certainly that, making the various characters experts in K-dramas (and not so much in real life). Take Chun Woo-hee’s character Jin-joo for example. She submits a screenplay, knowing all too well that a slow, thoughtful drama about women in their thirties isn’t going to get high ratings. And yeah, Be Melodramatic has been struggling ratings-wise, never straying from 1 percent.
Despite what the grumpy old executives tell Jin-joo, she refuses to change her story or what I would call her delightfully strange personality. So while the drama isn’t as sweet and cute and pretty as the average rom-com, it is refreshingly honest. Sure, that honesty can lead to some frustration (which I’ll get to later), but it also leads to a lot of laughs and tears and satisfaction. With all of that said, it’s time to grab a beer, park it on the couch, and catch up with our melo-loving friends.
The last time we saw our characters, in episode 1, their thirties weren’t going as well as they’d planned. Jin-joo was tired and miserable as a freelance writer, Han-joo was tired and miserable juggling her career and her child, and Eun-jung… Ah, poor Eun-jung was suffering after having lost the love of her life Hong Dae. Since then, a few more characters were thrown into the mix. First, we had CHOO JAE-HOON (Gong Myung), Han-joo’s new hoobae and partner in
crime marketing. The scenes with these two are some of my favorites; they do anything and everything to convince their actors to show off the necessary PPL.
Next, we had the (supposedly) snobby actress LEE SO-MIN (Lee Joo-bin) and her loyal manager/high school friend LEE MIN-JOON (Kim Myung-joon). So-min had been friends with Eun-jung back in college, but they drifted apart once So-min started getting popular. They meet again to work on a gossip show together, their petty arguing annoying everyone on set. So-min also reunites with Eun-jung’s younger brother Hyo-bong and blatantly flirts with him, only to have Min-joon inform her that Hyo-bong is actually gay and dating a music producer.
After working together, Eun-jung realizes that she is curious about So-min and her lifestyle. And with all of Eun-jung’s savings given to charity and all the free time in the world, she might as well film a documentary on her ex-friend. Everyone believes that this will be good for Eun-jung, especially since she’s still seen talking to herself. To Eun-jung, of course, she isn’t talking to herself — she’s talking to Hong Dae, who follows her everywhere and continues to give her his support.
It’s so, so sad seeing Eun-jung “talk” to Hong Dae because that just goes to show how much he means to her and how much his absence still hurts her. At the same time, we didn’t get a lot of Hong Dae and their relationship in the first episode, so I am glad that we get more of that now.
Luckily, with every sad scene, there’s a funny one to compensate. Some of those funny scenes belong to our marketing duo, but most of them belong to Jin-joo and the arrogant director Beom-soo. After Jin-joo loses her job with Writer Jung (a result of being her blunt self and talking back), she gets a call from Beom-soo regarding the screenplay she submitted called “It Gets Better When You Turn Thirty.” Thus starts a beautiful friendship. And let me tell you right now — I love this couple. Love them.
As Jin-joo and Beom-soo talk about bringing her drama to life, they get a liiiiiiiittle drunk and end up sleeping together. Just sleeping, that is. They’re able to face each other the next morning without being awkward, even sharing breakfast, but once Jin-joo leaves, she goes off screaming and Beom-soo nearly jumps off his balcony. Later, after getting insults like “Crazy bastard” and “Crazy bitch” out of the way, they agree to continue their friendship, as well as their work on the drama. Jin-joo has to have some fun, though, with the new info she picked up from drunk Beom-soo, like playing the song that his ex-girlfriend wrote whenever he gets on her nerves.
The only downside to working with Beom-soo is that his assistant director is Jin-joo’s ex-boyfriend Hwan-dong. They’re relatively over each other (or, at least, Jin-joo is), but it’s hard not to think of the seven years they spent together. I think that this is one of Be Melodramatic’s strongest points. We don’t get a lot of flashbacks, but when we do, it’s at just the right time, using just the right amount of emotion. At first, we were led to believe Hwan-dong cheated on Jin-joo, and it turns out that that wasn’t true. But they’d gotten so used to fighting and making up over and over again that they didn’t know how to end things, until Jin-joo finally did.
Jin-joo’s past relationship is echoed nicely with the sweet and sensitive Jae-hoon and his longtime girlfriend Ha-yoon. These two were also college sweethearts, as shown in their adorable flashbacks, who fell into more arguments the longer they were together. Ha-yoon’s failing career had caused her to turn to alcohol and partying, while Jae-hoon would sit alone in their apartment believing it was his fault for letting her turn out that way. Han-joo actually catches Ha-yoon dancing with another guy at a club and eventually going into a hotel with said guy, which drives her crazy with worry.
When Han-joo tries to tell Jae-hoon this, he merely smiles and reassures her that the guy was Ha-yoon’s cousin. However, this is all a lie to keep Han-joo from worrying. Ha-yoon did, in fact, cheat and even begged Jae-hoon to forgive her. Though his anger and exhaustion was obvious, he chose to stay with her.
Meanwhile, Eun-jung and her director of photography follow So-min and Min-joon around, documenting the actress’s every move. And to Eun-jung’s confusion, So-min is constantly keeping herself busy, going sledding and holding mini Mask Singer sessions in the car. Then there will be moments where So-min frowns and feels guilty for having fun instead of working. This, along with Min-joon’s true admiration for So-min, makes Eun-jung start to think that maybe her ex-friend is just as normal as everyone else.
This is another one of the drama’s strongest points — every character has a story. Not just a sob story, but a real story that makes sense with their personality and current situation. We even learn a lot about Min-joon, a character I didn’t think was that important when introduced. The guy had been a tough bully back in high school, but after meeting So-min and hearing her wishes for him to always protect her, things changed. His dreams changed.
Though the two won’t admit it, there’s obviously a romantic spark between So-min and Min-joon. But if nothing were to happen, I wouldn’t care, because I adore their current dynamic so much. The same goes for Han-joo and Jae-hoon. They work so well as colleagues and as friends, and they could easily work as lovers. Girlfriend Ha-yoon sees it that way too, even sneaking peeks at Jae-hoon’s phone to look at his messages and pictures with Han-joo. (Which, really? You’re going to confront him about cheating after what you did?) At this point, I want Jae-hoon to end this relationship for his sake and Ha-yoon’s; dragging this on isn’t doing either of them good. And if that eventually leads to Jae-hoon and Han-joo as an item, I definitely wouldn’t complain.
Things aren’t so smooth-sailing for Jin-joo and Beom-soo, for they have a lot of people against them. Writer Jung, jealous that Beom-soo wants to work with a rookie writer rather than her, refuses to work for the network if Jin-joo’s drama is greenlit. On top of that, the executives have zero interest in a drama without the beloved cliches and cliffhangers.
Since Beom-soo is (surprisingly, but adorably) flustered during their presentation, Jin-joo steps up by saying that viewers are drawn to the characters and not the situations. As long as people have emotional attachment to those characters, a cliffhanger isn’t needed to make them tune in the following week. Jin-joo also notes that she has enough material for multiple seasons, which, um, yes, please. If Age of Youth could make a second season after low ratings, then so can you!
Brought down by the execs’ disapproval, Jin-joo decides to dedicate an entire day to doing… absolutely nothing. Beom-soo reluctantly joins her, asking why she’s acting this way. So she makes him grab her most cherished possession — her designer handbag — and says that while she loves bags and works so hard to afford them, her efforts only got her that one bag. “The world is too strange,” she concludes. “So this time, I’ll just do nothing.”
The day of nothing naturally drives Beom-soo insane, so much so that he drops Jin-joo’s purse on her head just to get her to talk to him. He rejoices when the roommates finally come home and get Jin-joo off of the couch. And with everyone together, they realize that all of their problems are pretty much solved — Jin-joo needs a production company, Han-joo’s company needs a writer, and Eun-jung needs a new project for So-min. Now that’s what I call things comin’ together!
So far, things have slooowly been progressing with Jin-joo and Beom-soo’s relationship. They start sharing smiles, meals, insight, and at a certain point, what seems to be loving glances. Whatever the case may be, they’re not simply director and writer anymore. When you drive a girl in a remote-controlled car because she said she wanted to “move without actually moving,” then that girl ain’t just a girl to you.
Still, nothing is really said between them. Jin-joo goes through the same problem in her screenplay, in trying to create the perfect confession scene. As she types scenarios out, she imagines Beom-soo saying cheesy one-liners and buying her expensive gifts to confess that he likes her. But nothing feels right, so she sits back and thinks, “Reality or fantasy, a confession is a difficult thing.” Beom-soo helps Jin-joo defeat her writer’s block by taking her out on a fake date.
All throughout their date, Jin-joo and Beom-soo break out into confessions, even holding hands, only to laugh and say that it’s great writing material. Beom-soo goes as far as stepping forward to kiss her, but again cops out, which arghhhhh. I would’ve been really upset with this particular episode if it hadn’t been so funny. And if Beom-soo hadn’t asked Jin-joo if a spoken confession was really necessary. Jin-joo’s smile after he said that was all I needed.
Episode 8 was a good halfway point, in that all of our storylines started shifting. Jin-joo gets an offer from a bigger company, testing her friendship with Han-joo a bit. Hwan-dong gets an offer to direct Writer Jung’s newest drama, with plenty of encouragement from Beom-soo. Rounding out our secondary characters, Min-joon gets an offer to work for a different company — without So-min.
What really stood out was Eun-jung’s storyline. While filming, So-min had turned the camera on Eun-jung and asked about her love of documentaries. Eun-jung watches this clip back, surprised to see herself turning around to ask Hong Dae a question. But in video, Hong Dae isn’t there. Eun-jung backs away from her computer, overwhelmed, and breaks down in tears, thus ending the first half of our drama.
I’m genuinely scared for Eun-jung because she’d been doing so well all this time. Her friends and we viewers knew that her coping mechanism wouldn’t last forever, but to see that it’s already crumbling? It’s heartbreaking to watch. She has the chance to heal from her pain, but by doing so, she might have to say goodbye to Hong Dae a second time. I’m not ready to say goodbye to him a second time, so I don’t know how any of this is going to play out. All I can do is hope for the best.
Even though a lot happened in the drama’s first half, it doesn’t exactly feel that way. The pacing is slower than I’m used to, and it creates this disorienting feeling of Where are we and what’s happening right now? Admittedly, like Jin-joo’s execs said, it’s kind of hard to come back each week when I’m not worrying over a cliffhanger. But like Jin-joo herself said, there are dramas that have you worrying about the characters and their wellbeing. Dramas that make you feel like these characters are real and that they could be your friends. Or you. Those dramas, you always come back to.
- 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