Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food: Episodes 1-6
JTBC’s current Friday-Saturday romance Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food is so everything right now that Laica and I just couldn’t let this one go by. Unfortunately, the international release schedule has left some of you unable to join the party yet, but I get the feeling this party is going to go on for a while, so hang in there!
Arm yourself with all your squees, I solemnly swear you’ll need every one…
Laica: Our heroine is YOON JIN-AH (Sohn Ye-jin) is one of the most competent managers working at a coffee franchise headquarters (where she has pretty terrible co-workers). She runs into her best friend’s younger brother, SEO JOON-HEE (Jung Hae-in), after he returns from a sojourn abroad. They instantly grin at each other, and I am already so here for this.
Saya: Not gonna lie, we fought over who was going to take this show (and who gets to own puppy Jung Hae-in). The great thing is, there’s very little beating around the bush with their attraction, and they slip very easily from their old relationship into a rapturous new one. Since their respective company offices are in the same building, they cross paths a lot.
Laica: Meanwhile, things are complicated by Jin-ah’s recently ended relationship with her ex-boyfriend, who not only dumped her with zero explanation, but whom she soon discovers has been cheating on her with another woman. (The revenge she gets on him is momentary, but delicious.) And yet this fetid piece of human refuse is nowhere near being done causing her grief.
Saya: The ex is such a sleazy vomitous scumbag, I cheer every time he gets beaten up (which, for our collective satisfaction, is more than once). But even though Jin-ah breaks it off in no uncertain terms, he keeps crawling back like the putrid maggot he is, begging her to take him back. Horribly, it culminates in a sexual assault that was probably the hardest thing to watch in this show so far.
Laica: Yeah, that was really tough. I was impressed with how unflinchingly ugly and disturbing they made it, but it was horrifying exactly because of that realism. I also really appreciate how this drama deals with workplace harassment, which Jin-ah and her female co-workers face daily from their male superiors; it’s rare to find a drama that deals with both sexual assault and sexual harassment, and shows that they are two different kinds of violence that affect women in really insidious and difficult ways.
Saya: We’ve just left off Episode 6 with the company president calling up a meeting of female employees to hear their accounts of workplace abuses (which has the pigs appropriately worried). When we first meet Jin-ah, she’s constantly at the beck and call of her male superiors. She appears to be the one upholding the sexist system, but then, rather splendidly (as of Episode 4), she’s also the one to break it by refusing to play along any longer.
Laica: Jin-ah’s also facing pressure at home, especially from her mother, who is obsessed with the idea of a Seoul University-educated, lawyer son-in-law, and is even willing to overlook the cheating ex’s cheating if there’s hope for Jin-ah to make a “good” marriage before she gets even more ancient than her 35 years.
So when Jin-ah does get together with Joon-hee after a lot of heated glances and tense silences, where a lot goes unsaid but both are clearly dying for each other—it’s not surprising that they keep it a secret from everyone they know.
Saya: It’s tough when you know exactly how Jin-ah’s mom is going to receive it—and that’s not a woman you want to pick a battle with unless you’re going to win. But though she tells the parentless Seo siblings that she sees them as her own kids, she’s always looking down on them behind their backs. But I do love that Jin-ah’s dad quietly has her corner, and I wonder if he’s cottoned on to their relationship already.
Laica: I confess, I have high hopes for her dad being the only sane and supportive one once the news breaks. Her younger brother thinks only about his own comfort most of the time, and everyone is clearly going to have a fit when they find out two people they all considered as close as siblings are actually dating and (gasp) going on overnight trips together.
And I’m cringing in anticipation of how hurt and angry Jin-ah’s best friend and Joon-hee’s sister KYUNG-SUN (Jang So-yeon) is going to be when she finds out that the two people she loves most in the world have been lying to her in such a significant way.
Saya: I feel like in her heart, she’d love their relationship itself, but the real-world considerations are so intrusive that it’s never allowed to be as simple as that. But it’s pretty great how the couple has been able to come out to Joon-hee’s friends already during their camping trip in episode 6.
Laica: That camping trip warmed my heart! I loved how at first Joon-hee’s friends’ girlfriends were super deferential and very awkward, and after a night of hanging out and talking about life, they were hugging her and calling her a girl-crush. Jin-ah is awesome.
Saya: Yesss. I was afraid they’d be mean to her, but I howled with laughter when she was asked her age and replied dryly that she was on the verge of 40 years old—well played, Jin-ah, well played!
Laica: But the spectre of the abusive ex-boyfriend hasn’t completely receded; he sends an extravagant bouquet to Jin-ah’s work, which a furious Joon-hee intercepts and shows to Jin-ah’s brother, SEUNG-HO (who is also his best friend).
Saya: It’s so creepy that her ex encloses an intimate selfie of the two of them in the card he sent with it. Ugh. SO UGH.
Laica: I KNOW. They go to the
ex-boyfriend stalker’s apartment and find his computer full of similar photos. Joon-hee smashes all of the worm’s electronics, and Seung-ho beats him to within an inch of his life when he finds out about the sexual assault. Seung-ho wants to report it to the police, but Joon-hee insists that he’ll take care of it. Okay, dude, not smart and not a good strategy to keep your relationship on the down-low.
Saya: When Jin-ah finds out about the photos, she pretty much has the same reaction as the boys and ends up at the police station, where Seung-ho and Joon-hee come for her. Joon-hee immediately launches himself at Stalker-ex and is thrown out. Jin-ah tries to block him when he pushes his way back in… but he wraps his arms around her instead.
Laica: Eeeeeeee! I am so ready for everyone to find out, even though I understand why Jin-ah is reluctant to weather the coming storm (and let’s be real, it’s always the woman who gets the worst of it in these situations, so it’s much easier for him to say he wants to shout it from the rooftops). But how delicious was Jin-ah’s colleague Geum Bo-ri’s reaction to finding out about these two? I can’t wait until the angst blows over and Kyung-sun is watching them just as fondly, as they metaphorically rot the teeth of everyone in a thousand-meter radius with their sweetness.
Saya: I was so surprised when I looked up the characters to find that Joon-hee is 31. Thirty-one!!! I mean, yes, Jung Hae-in is fifteen (he is!!), but… 31!! It’s a four-year difference between people in their thirties! In other words: meaningless.
Laica: Okay I looked it up, and no, he’s actually 30 in real life. You scared me, woman.
Saya: Get away! What unicorn blood is he drinking and where can I get it?
Laica: Tell me about it. But to your point, yes, all that ado over four years is ridiculous, and I hope somebody brings that up once everyone starts wailing and gnashing their teeth about The Scandal of it all. In the meantime, where can this noona get a Joon-hee of her very own?
Saya: If I find one, I’m not telling you.
Laica: Likewise. It’s every woman for herself out here.
Saya: May the best noona win.
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