The Producers: Episode 11
Today’s episode is all about ratings, and by extension, how to get someone to turn their gaze in your direction, and how to earn their love. All our characters discover the hard way that pure effort alone isn’t enough to win hearts, and they each take big steps to chase that elusive goal, whether it’s a nation of viewers or just one.
SONG OF THE DAY
Ki Hyun – “소울메이트” (Soulmate) for The Producers OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 11: “Understanding Ratings”
Seung-chan screws up all of his nerve to pull Ye-jin into a kiss… but the reaction is shock from both sides, and when he pulls away, Ye-jin asks, “What are you doing?” Seung-chan is so flustered that he lets go of her swing, nearly sending her toppling off.
Ye-jin decides that the swings won’t do and moves their conversation to the slide, keeping a safe distance from Seung-chan. He looks like such a little kid curled up at the top there. Ye-jin asks why he got all brave out of nowhere, when he’s the one who’s more freaked out after the fact.
Once she gives him a moment to calm down, he slides down to talk to her face-to-face, and Ye-jin asks him warily why he’s coming at her again. He assesses that Ye-jin still sees him as a young hoobae who listens well “and is sometimes cute,” ha. The kiss was his way of conveying his heart and creating an opportunity for her to start seeing him differently.
Ye-jin asks how she’d look at him differently, and calls the kiss akin to throwing a rock to try and shatter the sunbae-hoobae relationship, per his description. He quibbles over the rock metaphor, but agrees that yes, that’s the purpose anyway.
She wonders why he’s more surprised when he’s the one who threw said rock, and he stammers that he didn’t know he’d have the courage. She points out that sometimes it’s more important to protect the relationship you already have rather than try to change it.
Seung-chan asks, “But what if in trying to protect that relationship, you lose your chance? I’ve lost that chance before, but now that I think about it, I can’t remember what relationship I was trying to protect in the first place.” Ye-jin doesn’t have a ready answer for that, and gets lost in thought.
Ye-jin interviews that receiving a confession is like being handed a ball, and now it’s up to her to decide whether to toss it back or keep it. She laughs when the docu team insinuates that it’s been a long time since she’s received one, but can’t really recall an example to counter.
Joon-mo waits up for her and she joins him for a beer, and she asks if she’s actually someone who acts strong in order to protect herself from getting hurt. She uses Seung-chan’s complicated, roundabout way of describing her, and Joon-mo guesses right away that this came out of Seung-chan’s mouth.
He scoffs, wondering how well he could possibly know her, but Ye-jin says that Seung-chan might be right about her—she did choose to fight and be abrasive at work because she didn’t want to be overlooked or not taken seriously just because she’s a woman. She adds that she even did that with her boyfriends too, where she’d purposely come out strong or interpret things sideways to keep from getting rejected.
Joon-mo pipes up at that and agrees wholeheartedly, citing the time he asked her not to move out and she chose to interpret that as him asking her to be his maid: “If I said I don’t want you to go, then you should just accept the words as they are.” It seems to finally click in her head, and she says that he’s right—she’s a little lacking in self-esteem.
Joon-mo: “Yup. You’re a lot lacking. You’re plenty lovable and deserving of love just as you are, but you don’t think that.” He points out that he’s got high standards and doesn’t maintain 25-year relationships with just anyone, and then adds, “That’s an unchanging truth, no matter where you go or who’s by your side. So don’t forget it!” Aw, that’s sweet.
Seung-chan comes home and asks Mom when she started to see Dad as a man, and she says they met and got married soon after, and sometimes she sees him as a man and other times as her enemy. He’s surprised to learn that Dad isn’t the man she dated when she was young, and she muses that her first love is a fond memory only because it didn’t end in marriage. Seung-chan: “The road not taken…”
As he recites Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” in voiceover, Seung-chan looks at his photos with Ye-jin past and present, Joon-mo stares at Ye-jin’s childhood scrawl labeling this house as hers, and Ye-jin contemplates Joon-mo’s bottle cap and Seung-chan’s flower. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I / I took the one less traveled by / And that has made all the difference.”
And then comes moving day for Ye-jin. Joon-mo and Ye-joon help load up the truck, and Ye-jin lingers to smile at her writing that’s been on Joon-mo’s door all these years. She finally erases it and heads out.
She’s about to go when a neighbor ajumma stops them to complain about a dresser that she left out for recycling when it’s the wrong day of the week for that, and naturally Ye-jin gets into a fight with her about it. Seung-chan’s mom happens by and the ajumma calls her over for support, but Mom shocks her by siding with Ye-jin.
Mom volunteers to take the thing home with her and dispose of it herself, and there’s another round of awkward bowing. It’s only because Mom drags the dresser home that Seung-chan finds out that Ye-jin is leaving right now, and he runs out to try and catch her.
Joon-mo tries to send her off in his usual gruff way, but Ye-jin insists on a handshake, calling the move an end to an era in her life. She says that things always feel different after a move, but he scoffs at her attempt at grandeur: “It’s just a move! Changing locations!” He shakes her hand even while complaining, and she says sincerely, “Joon-mo-ya, I really like that I have you in my life.”
The truck pulls away and she looks back at him in the rearview mirror, fighting her tears. Joon-mo’s eyes well up with tears too, and he gets choked up as he watches her go. At the last second, Seung-chan races to try and catch up, but he misses his chance to say goodbye.
Joon-mo turns around to see Seung-chan there, looking heartbroken that he didn’t get to see Ye-jin. He reminds Seung-chan that she’s not gone forever and he’ll see her at work, but he doesn’t look appeased.
Hong-soon hovers around Office Nazi trying to get her attention, and deflates when she ignores him. She posts the latest ratings and Joon-mo slumps to see that the pilot Star Wars hit double digits in his timeslot, and eyes CP Kim warily.
Seung-chan gets invited along to lunch, and Joon-mo asks for the straight answer: Are they going to get canceled? CP Kim doesn’t give a definitive answer, but makes it sound like they want 1N2D to fill in for a few weeks while the pilot prepares episodes. That blows.
Joon-mo asks how they can do this to him, and CP Kim tells him to prove himself in ratings, so that the director schedules Star Wars in someone else’s timeslot. Seung-chan just takes this in silently and gets his petty revenge by taking the last piece of meat before CP Kim can, and shaking a can of soda before delivering it to him. I love the silent look Joon-mo throws his way, and Seung-chan’s attempt to look not guilty.
Seung-chan goes to his FD guru, who explains that every show has that last hail mary go-to subject to boost ratings, whether it’s ramyun or cancer.
Seung-chan says that’s exactly what 1N2D needs right now… but admits in an interview that he has no idea what that is: “Then again, I don’t even know how to make one person look at me, let alone many people. I think maybe earning ratings is like earning people’s hearts.”
There’s a turf war brewing in the 1N2D conference room over which show gets to use the space now that Star Wars is rumored to take over their timeslot, and it escalates from a writer war to a PD war, with each new person outranking the last. The Star Wars PD shows up to muscle Seung-chan and his crew out, until finally Joon-mo shows up.
He outranks everyone so they scurry away, but he interviews that ratings are like a PD’s power level in a game—low ratings means that he loses power, and his team gets pushed around because of it. He says that if that happens enough, they get fired up and start throwing out random ideas because they’re desperate. Sure enough, the team suggests bikinis to boost ratings.
Joon-mo says in interview that you can’t fall into that trap though, because it’s like an old established neighborhood restaurant suddenly changing its entire menu just because a new place is doing well next door. You don’t want to drive away the loyal customers you’ve had for years, and yet you can’t just sit on your laurels either, and risk never growing.
They turn to Seung-chan, who says that in the past, the Viewer Special was a huge hit and got 40% ratings. The others sigh that that was in past seasons—they can’t even reach 40% if they added up all of their episode ratings in total.
Cindy complains to her stylist about her clothing choices, and the stylist tells her that CEO Byun sent all of the designer stuff to her successor Jini, and warned the brands not to be linked to Cindy because her downfall is imminent.
Manager Oppa runs in with a computer to give Cindy the bad news that the top search terms at the moment are Beggar Cindy and Gypsy Cindy, and shows her a cartoon image of her begging people to watch 1N2D.
He blames Seung-chan for making her do that teaser, and she suddenly realizes that this is the perfect excuse to go see him, and pretends to be raging mad. Seung-chan replies right away that he can meet, and she grins from ear to ear while saying repeatedly that she’s mad.
Manager Oppa is giddy to see that Cindy’s about to let Umbrella PD have it, and she orders him to guard the door so that no one can come in and witness the epic smackdown. Manager Oppa warns Seung-chan that he’s about to experience death by words.
Seung-chan waits nervously for the flogging, but Cindy just shows him the cartoon and asks what he’s going to do about it. He says it was an unexpected consequence, then makes her flustered by saying, “I think it’s cute.”
He suggests that maybe it’s not so bad for her to have a warm and friendly image, and that she should think of it as cute. At her prodding for more, he says that it makes her seem lovable and accessible, and makes you want to keep her close and see her every day.
She asks if that’s really what Beggar Cindy suggests, and he can’t really give her a straight answer. She argues that a variety character follows you wherever you go, and you’re stuck with the one you get first. If you’re saddled with the idiot character, you have to mess up your multiplication tables on purpose; if you’re the eater, you have to act like you love food even if you’re not hungry. Seung-chan can’t argue with that.
She says that she’s going to be associated with Beggar Cindy from now on, and asks how he’s going to take responsibility for her: “If I were you, I’d be really sorry…” He apologizes, and she tells him she’ll come up with a way for him to make it up to her, and tries to contain her smile.
Hong-soon follows Office Nazi around like a stalker and gets upset to see her ignoring his call, and sends her a text pleading with her to chat, which goes ignored too.
Ye-jin waits all day for her moving van to arrive with the large furniture, and the guy finally comes at night and then complains that she didn’t pay for them to also move it into her place. After going in circles, she realizes that he’s requesting more money, and she takes out her wallet since she has no other option.
But Seung-chan arrives and tells her he’ll just add this to her tab, and helps her move the stuff upstairs. He deflates to open the door and find Joon-mo there a few minutes later, and they each grouse about the other having 1N2D work to do. Ye-jin beams and tells them she’ll make them both regret coming here tonight, and they get to work moving her in.
Seung-chan finds tiny ways to get petty revenge as always, and Joon-mo joins in until they’re both going around the apartment replacing each other’s mementos—Joon-mo replaces Seung-chan’s flower with a hairbrush, and Seung-chan replaces the framed picture of Ye-jin and Joon-mo with one of him.
They finally get to eat, and Seung-chan says he couldn’t find a market on the way here. When he hears that the nearest one is quite far, he worries about Ye-jin walking alone at night and says she’ll have to call the public facilities office to get the light bulbs replaced on the main walkway. Joon-mo teases that she’s safe as long as she keeps her face visible, and they get into a cute tussle over it, making Seung-chan jealous.
The boys leave and make up excuses so that they don’t have to ride together, but at the last minute Joon-mo decides to offer Seung-chan a ride. On the way, Ye-jin calls Joon-mo to ask where the nail clippers are, and he says they only had one pair and he kept them, and offers to let her have something else instead.
Seung-chan listens to their domestic exchange with a sad look then says, “Sunbae-nim is like 40% to me. The thing you can’t compare to even if you add up all your episodes for the season, the thing you can’t attain no matter how hard you try—dream ratings.” Joon-mo looks over at him, and after a beat, Seung-chan admits: “I’m sincerely envious of you.”
In the next lane over, Cindy is busy tweeting the Gypsy Cindy cartoon with a message asking people to watch 1N2D. Aw, she’s embracing her new character, and does it with a smile.
A week later, new ratings get posted and Joon-mo is on pins and needles until he sees that they’re still at 6.2%. Ye-jin comes by to pat him on the back while he writhes in defeat, and he notices the other PDs giving him a cursory greeting and then running up to the Star Wars PD to kiss ass.
He then finds CP Kim and the director inviting his support staff out to lunch with the Star Wars PD without him. Awkward. He interviews that this sort of thing happens all the time, since new shows need lots of hands, and they’re planning to take his staff out from under him. But when they head out to lunch without Joon-mo, Seung-chan decides to stay behind too. That is so adorable. Please tell me you’re gonna be bros now.
They eat burgers and wonder why nobody’s watching their show, and Joon-mo sighs that he really has no idea and wishes that someone would just tell him why. Seung-chan worries that it was his terrible teaser that ruined the show, and Joon-mo says he’s overblowing a maknae PD’s influence on a show.
It hilariously devolves into an argument over who gets to shoulder the blame, and Joon-mo cries that Seung-chan can’t steal the glory or the defeat from the main PD—they’re both his to bear. And then he feeds Seung-chan french fries and goes back to wondering why no one will watch his show, heh.
Seung-chan comes by the Music Bank desks to leave a present for Ye-jin, and the bratty writer Da-jung assumes the gift is for her until Seung-chan asks repeatedly for her to make sure Ye-jin knows it’s from him.
It’s a pen with a flashlight, and a note asking if she’ll repay the rest of the car debt all at once tonight. Da-jung takes one look at Ye-jin and guesses that she’s in a love triangle, and Ye-jin braves an entire conversation with her to pick her brain about dating.
After hearing about her situation, Da-jung gets right to the point and tells her that she has two options: date them both and be a two-timer, or throw away the one she feels sorrier towards. It’s one of her rare moments of depth, but Da-jung says that you can’t date someone who makes you feel sorry, and Ye-jin lets that sink in.
Cindy gets blindsided by a sudden interview when CEO Byun brings a reporter to her house without warning. She’s forced to be on camera, and talk of her taking some time off turns to questions about whether she’ll be visiting her parents in America. The reporter says that he looked into her parents, but couldn’t find them.
Cindy realizes what’s going on, but CEO Byun is ten steps ahead of her—she says that there must be some mistake, since Cindy’s been giving the same backstory since she was fourteen (under her orders, of course), not that she’s ever met the parents herself. The reporter refuses to shut the camera off no matter how many times Cindy asks, and the dam finally bursts as tears start to fall.
She seethes at CEO Byun while telling the truth—her parents died, and she didn’t grow up in a mansion with rich parents. They weren’t wealthy, but they were warm and loving. In flashback, we see them come up to her with an umbrella in the rain, which is why she must’ve put so much meaning behind Seung-chan’s gesture.
But as soon as she starts to say that her agency was the reason she told the lie in the first place, CEO Byun cuts her off and shuts the interview down. AUGH. You are the devil. She asks the reporter to go easy on Cindy, because the public won’t be so accepting of a star who lied about her upbringing.
Joon-mo sits up late watching old seasons of 1N2D, trying to figure out what he’s missing. Cindy’s Manager Kim calls Joon-mo to say that he wasn’t the only one who’s had a hard time since Yuna, and then starts to tell him about what’s going on with Cindy.
Meanwhile Cindy wanders the street in a daze, not noticing or caring that people are taking pictures of her. She finally stops to try calling Seung-chan (wow, he’s programmed as speed dial 1), but he doesn’t answer because he’s watching a movie with Ye-jin.
Seung-chan and Ye-jin go shopping and then to dinner, and she grouses that she seems to be overpaying in this system, and Seung-chan calls the lobster dinner interest on the loan. She complains until she notices that he isn’t even eating because he’s so busy putting all the food on her plate.
They walk for a while, and Ye-jin says that her debt has been paid in full now. Seung-chan admits that he’s happy because he’s been wanting to go on a date like this with her for a long time, but sad because now he’s out of excuses to have more dates.
Ye-jin turns to him and pets him on the head, calling him a really good man. She says he’s so sweet and warm and awesome that when he looks at her with those eyes, she feels sorry.
She hugs him and says, “Seung-chan-ah, thank you for gathering up all of your courage for the first time in your life, for me. Thank you for expressing your heart. Because a good kid like you did that, it made me feel like I was a really worthy person. Thank you.” That’s the nicest rejection ever.
But when she says goodnight, he reaches out to clasp her hand and asks with tears in his eyes, “You could change, couldn’t you? You could be sorry, and then become thankful, and then later it could be a given—my heart, the looks I’m giving you—they could all become a given, and me being by your side could be a given too.”
She doesn’t say anything, and he asks, “Don’t you have to give me time too?” Oh, puppy. He walks home alone, drenched in tears.
Cindy leaves Seung-chan a text message, saying that by tomorrow morning, she’ll be living a very different life from the one she has now. She remembers what he told her about pain and sacrifice being required in order to grow: “I’m going to think of it as breaking out of my shell in order to gain a new world.”
By early morning, stories have already broken about Cindy’s background, and everyone is having a field day slamming her for lying. CEO Byun is satisfied with her win knowing that her career is over, while Joon-mo reads the stories fraught with worry, and Seung-chan opens the texts she sent as a goodbye because she won’t be seeing him for along while.
Manager Oppa finally can’t hold it in any longer and yells at Cindy for not bending to CEO Byun’s will at the start. He cries that he does that countless times a day, and doesn’t understand why she couldn’t do it once.
Seung-chan races up to Joon-mo outside the station and asks what they’re going to do about Cindy, arguing that this is all CEO Byun’s doing. Joon-mo thinks the same but says they can’t do anything, and might have to plan for Cindy’s replacement on the show.
Seung-chan doesn’t see why he’s going to do nothing when Cindy’s not at fault: “Why? We’re the PDs!” It eerily echoes the same rant Joon-mo said to CP Kim when it was Yuna before Cindy, and this time Joon-mo is the one to repeat the sunbae’s words that they have no power over what the viewers want. No, Joon-mo, not you too!
Seung-chan remembers that Joon-mo said once that good intentions don’t make good results, but he argues that showing people that you had the right heart and the right intentions ought to count for something, and ought to offer some comfort, even if they didn’t get the desired result. Joon-mo brushes him aside and says he doesn’t know anything.
Joon-mo remains quiet during his staff meeting as the rest of the team wonders what they’re supposed to do when they’re getting so much flak because of Cindy, and then CP Kim calls him to a meeting with the director. As expected, they suggest dropping Cindy from the cast right away and replacing her with Jini, per CEO Byun’s oh-so-convenient offer.
Joon-mo finally speaks up and asks if they remember Yuna, and he says that he finally discovered her whereabouts last night. We see him going to see Yuna late that night after Manager Kim’s call. He spots her happily leaving a shop with a boyfriend and remains at a distance.
Joon-mo says that she looked happier than ever, and CP Kim doesn’t see the point, figuring that it’s all the more reason for him to let go of his guilt and move on. But Joon-mo announces with determination, “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that this time.” Woohoo! He says that it’s his show and his cast, and he’s going to take responsibility.
They argue that he shouldn’t get caught up in the fight between CEO Byun and Cindy, but Joon-mo says it’s okay—he’ll let them toss him around in their fight, and it’s okay just as long as he returns to his place. The bosses sigh at his stubbornness, but figure that it’s only a matter of weeks before 1N2D will get canceled anyway.
Cindy curls up in bed all alone and reaches for sleeping pills, Manager Oppa sits in the car feeling adrift, and Hong-soon obsesses over being ignored by Office Nazi. Chapter 11 is about understanding ratings: “You can’t earn them with effort, but you still have to try.”
Seung-chan sits on the swings by himself and looks wistfully at Ye-jin’s empty swing, while Ye-jin takes out the flashlight that he gave her when she has to walk down her dark street. But suddenly the street lamps go on one by one, lighting her path. She smiles to remember Seung-chan’s thoughtfulness, when he mentioned that she should call to have them replace the bulbs.
Cindy opens her eyes to a dreamlike haze, and she tries to focus her eyes in what seems like a mist. Seung-chan’s face slowly comes into focus, and ha—he’s spraying her with a water bottle.
She still doesn’t understand what’s going on and just blinks as his beaming smile comes into focus, and then sits up to find her bed surrounded by the entire 1N2D crew, plus Manager Oppa, who’s near tears.
She looks around at them, confused, and Joon-mo says, “Cindy, what’re you doing? We have to go shoot!” She looks around the room slowly and lands on Seung-chan, who holds out an Americano (likely full of eel sauce, knowing them), and he tells her she has to drink it. That suddenly does the trick and she realizes what’s happening—that they haven’t abandoned her and she’s still on their show—and she bursts into sobs.
Awww, it turns out that Joon-mo is the one who called the public facilities office to get Ye-jin’s street lamps fixed, and we see him call them repeatedly all week long. He calls so often that they know his voice, and he pesters and pesters them with threats to hold a one-man protest, until they finally cave and fix them.
Okay, that’s sweet. I’m such a sucker for the quiet acts of kindness done behind the scenes for no credit. I know Joon-mo can be infuriatingly opaque at times about his feelings (and maybe I’ve been cutting him way more slack because he’s played by Cha Tae-hyun), but there’s no arguing that he’s not always thinking of Ye-jin and looking out for her. I’ve just always liked the way that Joon-mo takes care of her when no one’s looking, and I find all the little stuff—like getting the light bulbs changed or staying up all night to kill mosquitoes for her—super cute and romantic in a domestic way.
But I do think the drama is dragging out the love triangle way too long at this point, because I don’t know how many times I can watch Seung-chan being rejected and finding some way to hold onto hope, when we should really be wrapping things up. We had 90 freaking minutes! Why are we still leaving the episode in the same place where we started? It’s getting painful on Seung-chan’s end, because I still only read rejection in Ye-jin’s responses to him. That’s not to say that his sincerity won’t come through at all, because we do see her moved every time he makes his feelings known. And at this point I don’t even know where things stand with Joon-mo and Ye-jin, because he at least cut out the sarcasm and made his intentions clear—that he wanted her to stay—but she left and things are, what, back to status quo? I don’t even know with them anymore, because they seem closer than ever and yet just as distant as ever, and now I just want her to pick once and for all and get on with it already.
I was really upset when Joon-mo seemed to be retracing CP Kim’s steps, and had become the jaded sunbae to Seung-chan’s bright-eyed optimistic rookie, especially after having experienced such personal guilt over Yuna. Maybe what he needed to realize was that he couldn’t take responsibility for someone else’s life, but he did still have to live with the consequences of his own choice—at the end of the day, Yuna ended up finding her happiness, but Joon-mo lived in guilt and regret for years because of his decision to let his principles slide. And this is of course where the drama is fantasy over reality—in that moment we root for him to screw ratings, screw the station, and put his career on the line to stand by Cindy. And of course it’ll be the one thing he didn’t calculate or plan that’ll save the show: sincerity and earnestness, which is that imperceptible thing that you can’t fake in variety shows. You either have it or you don’t, and there’s no way to force it or write it in.
It was so heartwarming to have the episode culminate in that morning wakeup call by the 1N2D crew, after really letting Cindy hit rock bottom all on her own. I really like the way her arc has gone, and in the end it’ll probably be the most poignant storyline of the series and the most emotionally resonant character, despite starting out utterly unlikable and cold. It killed me when she had nowhere to go after CEO Byun threw her under the bus, and the thought that she’d be adrift again after growing so much (she embraced Beggar Cindy, for crying out loud!) was almost too much to bear. I was mad at all the other characters for not calling her or going over there, but Joon-mo made up for it in the end. He stepped up and was a big ol’ hero when it counted, and her reaction made it all worthwhile. I can only hope that this new decisive Action Joon-mo means that wishy-washy Pansy Joon-mo has left the building. We have lovelines in dire need of closure, man!