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Sweet Munchies: Episodes 1-2 Open Thread

Soft lines, warm lights, and lots of delicious food set the mood for Sweet Munchies. But while the set is dreamy, both our hero and heroine are facing some life challenges that may prove to be more than they bargained for. The premiere week jumps right into the premise and launches our reluctant chef into a starring role in our PD’s new variety show about a gay chef.

 
EPISODES 1-2 WEECAP

At the end of a long day, the hazy sunlight trails behind TV variety show employee KIM AH-JIN (Kang Ji-young) as she makes her way to her favorite after-work bar. In its first moments, Sweet Munchies establishes its aesthetic before anything else, allowing the natural wood furniture and soft lines of chef PARK JIN-SUNG’s (Jung Il-woo) Bistro speak for the tone it hopes to present. In the first of several food preparation montages, Jin-sung welcomes Ah-jin back with the perfect side dish to accompany her work frustrations and the hard liquor she orders.

It’s this calming environment and perfectly supportive response to her woes that gives Ah-jin the idea for her variety show proposal: a cooking show where a chef offers advice to women. She adds in the extra angle that the chef is gay to offer a new perspective. She’s hoping to finally earn respect from her coworkers (and secure a permanent position), but instead Ah-jin’s stern boss Department Director CHA JOO-HEE (Kim Soo-jin) gives her the impossible task of finding a suitable chef in just 24 hours or lose her position entirely.

But when Jin-sung’s dad gets into a car accident and his restaurant partner pulls out his financial support suddenly, Jin-sung is in dire need of money that only a starring role in a variety show can offer. He just has to pretend that he’s gay.

At first glance, the premise of the show hints at potential distasteful disaster. So much could have gone horribly wrong if it had played this as zany fun at the expense of gay men. I was worried for a moment that we were headed there when Jin-sung turns up for his audition in an outfit that could only be described as a caricature of what he assumed a gay person might dress like. But instead, the show makes good effort to offer differing perspectives and to push back against Ah-jin’s often naive desire to put together this show for her own personal gain.

Jin-sung’s outfit is a bad costume, but he’s not so much impersonating a stereotype so much as he’s trying to copy his gay younger brother, JIN-WOO (Choi Jae-hyun). His brother doesn’t know about Jin-sung’s new job, but he undoubtedly will soon, and it will be interesting to see his reaction. Jin-sung clearly both respects his brother’s sexual identity and cares deeply for him. But it’s unclear whether he’s fully considered what his role on this show may do to their relationship. Right now, he’s just focused on keeping hold of the one thing that makes him happy: cooking at his restaurant. Jin-sung’s reasons are selfish, but it’s hard to be mad at him for it. His reasons are also earnest and simple. He wants to do what he loves and take care of his family.

The show also offers perspective from the other side of the looming love triangle. Fashion designer and TV host KANG TAE-WAN (Lee Hak-joo) calls out Jin-sung’s outfit right away. And when Ah-jin runs into resistance from the studio’s wardrobe department, Tae-wan initially refuses to showcase his clothing on her show when she seems to want to lean into stereotypes. It does not help when Ah-jin suggests that every woman secretly wants a gay best friend. Oof. Tae-wan quickly squashes that by saying that friends aren’t bought like handbags.

But Tae-wan is won over in the end by Jin-sung’s plea to make sure that he doesn’t look ridiculous. And thus, some sidelong glances and the hint of a smile while he takes some measurements, and Tae-wan is clearly smitten. Knowing that Jin-sung isn’t actually gay, we can assume this crush is doomed even before it gets started. But at least we have more than one gay character on this show in just the first week. It keeps me hopeful that Tae-wan doesn’t have to walk away as the loser and he may find several other options for a happy ending.

Ah-jin’s desire to create this show is an equal mix of misguided earnest effort and selfishness. At first glance she is ambitious and wants to climb the ladder at her job. But she also wants to bring real comfort to women who are having a tough time, just like she’s found. She’s a little naive, but also not a pushover. She accepts her boss’s challenge, and stands up for herself against the wardrobe department (though it was more a tantrum than anything else). She realizes when she’s said something out of line, but it’s unclear whether she’s understood yet how truly out of her depth she is with this show.

I also like that while I assume the main love match will be Jin-sung and Ah-jin, so far things are very platonic between the two of them. They both seem to have very serious sides as well as a side that devolves into giggles when things are going their way. I’m up for a nice, slow build, especially since Ah-jin will likely assume he’s unavailable for quite a while. It helps that they’re already neighbors in the same building and Jin-sung is always willing to lend a helping hand to a drunk Ah-jin.

It all adds up to a complex relationship ecosystem, and adds nuance to some really tricky situations. Instead of zany, the humor is entirely observational and rooted in real world situations. The laughs come from things that are strange and out of place in our everyday experiences.

Once the obstacles are faced, both internally and externally, Jin-sung faces the cameras and has to see if he has what it takes to perform for an audience. And this is perhaps when maybe things are a little too real? I struggled through that second-hand embarrassment alongside him as Jin-sung tries to adjust to being on camera and working with a (super cheesy) script. Thankfully, Ah-jin adapts quickly and tells him to just do what he does at Bistro every night for his real customers.

Jin-sung’s advice is not gentle. He’s not a poet here to offer sweet words of comfort. He tackles things honestly and straight-forwardly, maybe even a little brusquely. To a woman who gags at the thought of eating even her favorite food after she discovers her fiance has been cheating on her for months, it’s exactly that dish that he cooks up for her. But it’s offered with sincerity, and by the end the young woman who has volunteered to be their first guest is brought to tears. “Try to remember the things you truly love.”

I think if done right, this show will reveal to every character how their personal motives may have consequences they never anticipated. No one has bad intentions, but of course intentions don’t matter when the impact still hurts. We’ve got some ups and downs ahead, but at least there will be beautiful food to drool over.

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I must say though, this drama theme is a bit alarming. However progressive we think we may be, being gay is not an easy thing in Korea. And that too is an understatement.

This drama feels like it wants to tackle the issue head-on but I honestly feel disturbed that they wrote this script of someone straight pretending to be gay on a TV program without raising any questions...I can not imagine how they will tackle the fall out of something like this...

Having said that, I also felt the chemistry between the male leads :-D. Fully knowing one is pretending and the other is having his crush...

I think they are showing the struggles of a rookie variety PD along with the gay theme. The rookie PD thing does feel a bit extreme. I do not find it 'real' in a way. But I am also wondering the fall out for a rookie PD, with a riske show that will surely end in disaster. I mean, he is pretending to be gay!!! How long before everyone finds out?!!!

Right now, intent of the show feels bigger than the script.

I am very curious how they will handle it so, I am going to stay tuned.

Hopefully it will not get too distasteful.

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Hey! You never know! JTBC might take a risk and Jin Sung might end up being bi.

It's cable after all. (Kidding I don't think they'd dare do it but that would be nice).

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and if you watched "Be Melodramatic" (also jtbc drama), one of the girls' brother - who was living with them - is also a gay... The show explored a little bit; but not really deeply... I wished they have explored it more...

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There was a drama recently, I'm wracking my brain trying the recall the name, where one of the male characters ran a gay bar in Seoul. A subplot involved him helping a teenager come out to his father. Part of the story arc involved the bar owner struggling with suicidal thoughts. This this took a (real world) dark turn when, after filming was done, the actor who played the role committed suicide. One of a long line of recent korean entertainment industry suicides.

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Love With Flaws! That was my favorite storyline from that drama and it was sad that the actor passed away 💔

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As Lurker said.... could be bi or questioning. He did ask his brother how his brother knew in regards to his own sexuality. In any case, I see the show as progressive and I am in for the ride.

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The opening song in the alley scene got me spending my precious 2 hours to think what song was being played.... I felt so frustrated, which made me checking one by one my songs on iTunes.. Then I found it, it's the OST of "Signal", "Looking Back." But it was played with a jazzy tone piano... LoL.

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Oh, Thank you very much. You saved my sanity. I was so sure that I heard this song before in another drama but I could not remember. And that happends I want ot remember. I was looking for the recent dramas but with not luck. Now I can be happy again. LOL

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I'm so happy that I wasn't the only one who got bothered with the opening song, LoL. I replayed that scene for five times, and got me so mad because I couldn't find it (yet). Maybe because the changed the tone with a jazz one... That's why I couldn't recognise it sooner... I hummed the word "all of sudden" (gabjagi) so many times to find the song, LoL.

This situation is almost the same when you hum one of the OST, you can't remember what OST is that... It happens all the times because we watch too many dramas, LoL.

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Oh by the way, the opening scene is somewhat looking like the opening scene in "Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories", where the scene shows the alley scene.. then the Master' restaurant... then Master himself... Jung Ilwoo is the Master - on the younger version, LoL.

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Shazam is your friend. I seems able to ID about 99% of what it hears.

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Hi, any chance that you remember the title of that opening song?? I am also looking for the full jazz version by this singer 😁

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The title is "Looking Back." Originally sung by Jang Beom Jun. It's one of the OSTs from drama "Signal." But the original song used different music and tone... That's why it was hard to remember the first time I heard it on that opening scene...

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Thank you!!!

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Does anyone know the song playing when Chef Park gave Ah Jin a glass of Beer?Help mee Please!!

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I was actually pretty uncomfortable with the way stereotypes were being portrayed in first two episodes. I humbly disagree that the show was trying to steer away from these stereotypes - I thought the show was actually doing the opposite and perpetuating those stereotypes, and it was uncomfortable to watch. Like how Tae-wan, a fashion / clothes designer, is gay, and how gay men wear flamboyant outfits etc. Whilst not so in-your-face, the under-currents of the drama did dampen the enjoyment of the drama quite a bit.

And it seemed as though the female lead came up with the idea of centering her variety show on a gay chef because it would "invite discussion" and raise ratings. This was quite disturbing for me too.

But otherwise, I did like the tone and colours of the drama... reserving judgment on this until next week's episodes I guess.

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But Tae Wan doesn't wear flamboyant outfits. Women talking to him about their dating issues also seems impossible to imagine. Beside his profession, I would say nothing about him screams gay stereotype. At some point, the show even made a point that if someone doesn't come out as gay there is no chance to know he is.

About Ah Jin's reasoning, I agree with your comment on that. The show could have done a better job on that.

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While her reasoning is bad, I am hoping that she will grow as a character. She definitely has her own stereotypical views of who gay people are (especially her comment regarding the gay friend every straight girl wants). I have some reservations about this show, but I will see how things go in the coming weeks.

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I am just glad to see Jung Il-Woo back on-screen after watching him share details about his medical condition on Happy Together and most recently on the cooking show Stars' recipe at fun-staurant.
Whether Sweet Munchies will be as much talked-about as his best buddy's own drama is yet to see.

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I came to watch because I missed him in Funstaurant. I love seeing his cooking skill and his chemistry with other casts, especially with Lee Yuri who called him "dongsaeng", LOL

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Jung Il Woo is back!! loving his new drama. This is perfect for him as he is a good cook. Can't wait for next episode. One of the best ongoing drama that is showing right now.

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Thank you for the weecap! I will watch this show out of curiosity on how far things have progressed since the memorable Personal Taste. The premise of both shows is roughly the same. In Personal Taste, the pretense, even without the nation-wide televised "coming-out", left many people hurt and bewildered. In truth, I pain to see the current show as a comedy: Jung Il-woo seems about to burst in tears any moment.
The gay younger brother is a major red flag for me: if the writers treat him as a "safe landing" for Kang Tae-Wan, it will be very distasteful.

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am i the only one who's bothered with the bgm/sound effects (whatever you call it) on this drama. The vibe of the music doesnt fit in the scene and ruins the moment.

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This is a very interesting concept yet quite delicate. I hope it goes well for Jung Il Woo.

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I hope the "gay in Korea" theme is not played too heavily- it is obvious that it is not there just to set up the "what happens when they find out" situation, because if it were then there would be no point to the gay younger brother. So the show is actually trying to do more BUT if they overdo it then the comedy will be spoiled.

I like the fact that the FL rookie PD is shown as extreme- because it shows us how desperate she is.

What many people may have missed is that the 'mean' Department Director might be almost as desperate as our rookie PD. She nneds resuls from her people and she is not getting them. The petty games and affronts that the other people in her Department inflicted on our FL indicates a smug self-satisfaction on their part that tells me that they feel so secure as to not really have to give their best in their work anymore. Remember- the director shredded everyone's proposal, not just the one from the rookie. She sets the near impossible deadline to remind everyone of her authority but also to light a fire under our rookie PD: She won't cry if rookie fails, because that might at last inspire fear in the others, but she is secretly hoping that our FL can actually succeed, because that will give her the credibility to actually back up the rookie- no one can argue with her actually doing the show because she is simply keeping her side of the bet. Either way our dragon lady wins. That sort of smarts is why she is the head of the Department.

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Though she comes across as a dragon lady, I think she is much more. It will be interesting to see how she plays out.

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Lee Hak-Joo intrigues me lol since I saw him in World of the Married. JTBC must love casting him! Also are we seeing a semi-comeback of the side swept hair again?? #PrettyPls

Yay for more dramas being 12 episodes!! That being said, with the recent Covid-19 stuff and Homophobia in Korea rn this gay pandering thing isn't sitting well with me.

Also do bisexuality not exist in the spectrum displayed in K-dramas? Has there ever been a bisexual character in K-dramas? He could be figuring out his sexuality and realize that he likes both men and women?

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I was going with the chef doesn't realize he's gay yet, but you make a good point. However, this drama seems to be focusing more on exposing the fact there are gay people out there who are just people, so maybe they're not quite ready for bi yet. We'll see in the end.
I'll be disappointed if he ends up with the girl, gotta say.

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Why would the chef be a good counselor just because he's gay? The concept of this show would feed prejudice instead of going against them. The FL has some weird ideas. That fashion designer has bad taste but a good personality, he deserves a decent show and JIL too.

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Maybe I've been watching too much BL lately, but I really got vibes that the OTP will be the chef and the clothes designer. Did you notice the (I don't know the proper title) shot of the three leads had the chef in the middle with the PD female lead and the designer on either side? Usually with a triangle it would have the girl in the middle. Maybe I'm just imagining things...
The other thing was the color palette. At first I was a little confused because it started with the warm tones but then changed to what seemed to be saturated blues, yellows, reds, oranges...oh, wait, aren't those rainbow colors?
I think Jung Il-woo might not realize just yet that he's gay. Of course this is only two episodes in, and as I said, I've been watching way too much BL lately and might be jumping to conclusions. But I really did feel the chemistry between the two men. And the camera shots when he was taking measurements - that was really obvious.
Which way will this Korean drama go??

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I've been wondering why this series disturbs me, and I think I've hit on an answer. Its a rom-com premise but its got real world stakes and real world characters. What should be 'charming' seems sad and desperate. I recall the series 'Boyfriend/Encounter' received similar criticism. The leads were doing 'rom-com' office romance stuff in a real world setting. In that world they seemed reckless and indiscreet.

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I think the actor playing the designer is killing it though....even if he is supposed to be a "stoic" character - with a little eye and jaw movement, you can actually see the emotions. I especially like the scene when the ML was asking him to be the designer of the show, you could clearly identify with what he was thinking without him uttering a single word. Oddly enough, I now have SLS, shipping him with the ML instead of the FL.

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"Oddly enough..." I don't think it's odd at all.

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You're right =). Definitely not odd at all. Sorry, wrong word choice.

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I meant it as a sort of compliment, because I agree with you, I'd ship the two guys too, and now I'm afraid to watch because it looks like that isn't what's going to happen. But maybe we'll be surprised.
I find the girl annoying.

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Oh ok. I hope we get surprised. I want this ship to sail. I feel the same about the girl, from day one .

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Looks like he's going to get outed as not being gay. My prediction is he'll eventually figure out he really is gay, fall for the designer and they'll live as happily ever after as is allowed in society.

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I like a lot about this show, except it is a little offensive about the gay theme. The main lead Ah-jin is pretty dense and offensive about wanting a gay chef and why. And she is pretty offensive about who the chef is and what he wants. I like that she is ambitious and pushy, but I don't like the way it has to do with the gay theme. Taking someone and putting them in a fishbowl is not my thing, and extra bad if it is self-serving for one's ambitions. And she could have had a perfectly good show about cooking and advice without needing to have the chef be gay.

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I predict there will be cohabitation hijinks between Ah Jin and Jin Sung.

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