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Average user rating 2.2
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Sweet Munchies: Episodes 11-12 Open Thread (Final)

Our chef and PD face their final challenges this week as the show comes to an end. In these final moments, the characters are asked to choose which is more important to them: their integrity or their careers.

 
EPISODES 11-12 Weecap

My feelings were all over this week as Episode 11 delivers what I thought were some of the lowest lows of the entire show. But then somehow Episode 12 managed to pull up before it’s too late, and glided back to the best ending I could have hoped for it.

Let’s start with the pity party that is the penultimate episode. We pick back up with Tae-wan and Jin-sung’s tense confrontation as Jin-sung finally admits that he’s not actually gay. Tae-wan diffuses the scene when the rest of the gang arrives, but I fully assumed a big blow up was inevitable.

Instead, Jin-sung visits Tae-wan at his studio later and says things like, “I did my best to find another option, but I had no choice.” What a cop out, Jin-sung. There’s also, “It won’t end with just me hurt.” Again, why is Jin-sung so focused on himself during this apology?

We then proceed to throw Jin-sung a birthday party, and Tae-wan shows up and is a perfect gentleman, and even seems to want to cheer Jin-sung up. Cheer Jin-sung up. Somehow the rest of the episode turns into a sobfest about how guilty Jin-sung feels about everything, and no time is taken for Tae-wan to get to process or work through any of this.

The problem is that this should never have been a story about Jin-sung, and the show tried to force it to be, unsuccessfully. Your main character should be the person with the most interesting opportunity for growth, and instead other characters, like Ah-jin or Tae-wan, were always more compelling candidates. That’s why all this wallowing and Jin-sung tearfully deciding to sell his restaurant really doesn’t work this late in the game.

Meanwhile, Tae-wan’s arc concludes with him finding the courage to tell his father the truth and finds peace with that. Which is fine, but man there was so much more that could have been given to Tae-wan, that he deserved. It’s all very unsatisfying.

And then… the final moments manage to turn this story around for me. Ah-jin works out the truth on her own, she confronts Jin-sung and they sort out their mixed feelings of hurt but also attraction with a second kiss, and then things get real.

Ah-jin confesses the truth to the director right away. Director Cha takes responsibility and steps down from her position in an effort to protect her staff. It’s not enough, of course, and Ah-jin loses her job. As the tension ramps up, Jin-sung finally gets courageous and tells the whole truth to the reporters eagerly awaiting a statement.

There was a realism in the first couple episodes of this show that I appreciated. The dysfunction of Ah-jin’s office felt real to me, and the way conflicts often weren’t handled also felt truthful. And so in these final moments, it feels like we get back to that. And while it’s not exactly a triumphant moment, there’s something about the quiet reality of things that really resonated with me.

PD Nam gets to keep his job even though he was the first director on the show (and wow that scene where he nearly cried because he was the innocent victim who was the only one who ever believed in the show). The smart women of the office have to take all the blame instead, and they do so with smiles on their faces the whole time.

There was never going to be a good solution to the problem at the heart of this premise, so I felt like this painful reality was the best they could really do. The lesson here, if you dig hard enough, might be that people need to be allowed to have small failures, so that they don’t end up in even bigger ones. If Ah-jin hadn’t felt so pressed to find a chef in just a day, perhaps she would never have asked for Jin-sung’s help. If there were better social safety nets for when people end up in the hospital, perhaps Jin-sung wouldn’t have been so eager to take the role in the first place.

And if Jin-sung hadn’t believed that the only way for Ah-jin to succeed and keep her job was for him to lie, they would not all be in this mess now, one that includes having misled their audience, defrauded the station, and hurt those around them. You want to root for them because they are fallible humans, but it becomes much harder when Director Cha rightfully points out how hurt their faithful viewers will be when they learn the truth, and when the higher-ups correctly name Jin-sung’s crime as fraud.

Imagine a world where Ah-jin had been given room to try and fail at her show concept honestly, a chance without the risk of losing her already tenuous employment. She might have seen this one idea not hit, but could have gone back at it with the same energy she faces every challenge. Instead she was dealt a much bigger consequence. And still, I appreciate that the show wants to show that even that can be overcome.

Time passes, and Ah-jin’s career has recovered (and actually, exploded). She still has her close friends, though her Bistro is gone, as well as the man she met there and fell in love with. But just like her second chance at a career, she and Jin-sung manage to find one another again in the spot where Bistro used to be. Having failed and survived, they have a chance to try again.

Sometimes, there is no amount of star power and good intentions that can save a bad premise. This show had that working against it from the beginning, and it never found a way to forge past those challenges. But it does manage to end where it started, with a moody atmospheric sensibility and two people trying their best to be kind to one another.

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I agree with you whole-heartedly, especially that this drama should have been from Tae-won's point of view. Imo, he was the most interesting character who could have had the most interesting story. Now I want a drama with his character as the lead.
Instead it was about a guy who committed fraud, albeit for "good" reasons, who in any case gets the girl in the end. And of course to make it all okay, everything resolves nicely and they all live happily ever after. Gag me.
As it turned out, it was an ordinary boring love story with all the tropes in the last two episodes. I hated that they got back together. Not because I didn't like them, but it was just so...like popping a balloon and it deflates "that's all there is??" I was hoping for a more logical conclusion with consequences.
One thing I did like was the camera work and obvious (at least now it's obvious to me) color scheme of the LG...flag colors. Quite blatant once you noticed it. So I was also expecting more of the drama going in that direction instead of a regular guy who pretends. What a waste. May the cast and crew and everyone who worked hard for this drama have a happier ending next time with a better told story and better ratings as a result.

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I started typing out my response, only to realize it was all exactly as you said. All the way down to "that's all???" Definitely a waste of a good opportunity to tell a story from a fresh perspective. I think, by now, we all now that lying is never good and neither is fraud. There are 1000s of other dramas that incessantly deal with this topic. We lost the opportunity to see life from Tae Wan's perspective - his quest for love and acceptance while not falling prey to the usual gay man tropes. His character was portrayed with so much depth and feeling. he gained the least by the end of the drama. He was able to come out to his father, but that was it. His father walked away. He was isolated once again. After all, who wants to be the third wheel to the OTP? (I was so mad when they showed up together to hide out in his studio. The nerve!!!!!) He deserved more than being the vehicle for OTP to get together.

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"His character was portrayed with so much depth and feeling. he gained the least by the end of the drama." Exactly how I felt, glad you added that comment.
And - "He deserved more than being the vehicle for OTP to get together." I think that's what really made me mad.

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@Linda Palapala and @ whatsthescenario I think we saw this from different perspectives as I felt that Tae Wan gained much from the experience. For the first time in his life he was actually able to come out, even to his family. But almost as importantly, Jin Sung came to love him as a friend even with the knowledge that Tae Wan was gay. For once in his life he was a gay person who had a true friend who knew him and loved him as a friend unconditionally. This is major. And he was building friendships with others who had full knowledge that he is gay and that knowledge not making any difference in their friendships. Tae Wan made major progress. One step at a time. I felt his happiness in the last episodes showed through. Having those friendships was important to him and a victory for him. Sure, he can build healthy romantic relationships later, but right now, his first steps should be in him accepting himself as a gay man and making friendships with people who accept him as a gay man. So, I personally felt that Tae Wan gained the most of all the people in this drama.

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Aw, I like your thoughts very much!

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Yes! I just gave me a totally different perspective on this drama, thanks!

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that certainly is a beautiful take on the character of Tae Wan and of course, very true. I just wish it would have been a bit more and give the character a relationship or the hint of one. acceptance is, of course, vital and so is friendships but I also know that having another return your feelings is also quite grand and can help make the road to acceptance that much easier. I just wish the drama would have explored this more than just a typical rom-com as the material could have been groundbreaking for K-dramas and long overdue, IMO.

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Agree that the show would've been more interesting from Tae-wan's perspective (and, I would add, the person acting as Tae-wan was way better than JIW). The only thing I think I disagree with is the idea that lying is never good. People lie all the time and most of these lies are harmless and unimportant. Fraud is usually bad, although I think some of it depends on how elastic the term is used (in the criminal sense, fraud is undoubtedly a bad thing). To be entirely honest, I don't know if I think Jin-sung did a bad thing; I'm on the fence, given the situation he was in.

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I commented somewhere that I didn't think he was an evil person, but was in a desperate situation and made a wrong choice because he didn't, and couldn't, consider the consequences of his decision and actions. He'd no idea how that simple lie would grow and impact everyone eventually. He naively assumed he could be a "gay" chef for the day and a regular hetero after filming. Not a very bright guy.

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Either that or the unrealistic expectations were bred of idealistic thinking. I kind of get it. I've done things in the past that were wrong (although not like this LOL) and had unrealistic expectations about what would happen after I did the thing I did, perhaps because the unreality of my expectations made it easier for me to justify why I was going to the thing I eventually did. It's a normal human reaction to be honest, and, in his case, no the product of malice, deceit, or anything of that sort.

However, I get why people are frustrated with this character and with this show. In the first instance, the show was not well-written or well-acted. However, as noted by just about everybody, the premise is overdone and so uninteresting, especially when there were far more interesting characters in this show. Overall, this was an opportunity to write a show write a show genuinely about LGBT themes that was complete flubbed. It's a shame, too. Taking a chance on what is perceived as a "riskier" concept could potentially open the door to more mainstream dramas about LGBT people, with the resultant normalization and concomitant reduction in the overall perception of risk and other-ness.

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They really, REALLY should stop making shows about "straight dude posing as gay for SOME *sob sob* OH-SO-NOBLE REASON". There simply almost NEVER is a reason noble enough for this and even if there is A REASON, the ends result should not be a happy ending but a total crash and burn.

I could watch a drama where a person poses as gay and gets his rightful comeuppance for doing something so despicable; sure, I'm fine with him not losing everything but there should be some real, proper repercussions and not this "oh, he lost his restaurant but then he got his life back on track and got the very girl he lied to for so long!" That's bollocks.

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Yes, the total crash and burn would have been a more logical ending. I simply don't understand why the showrunners thought they needed a happily ever after. I mean, we don't really know they actually get married, buy a house with a white picket fence and have two perfect kids, a boy and a girl but it would have made just as much sense.
I am just dumbfounded at the neglect the real gay guy designer received at the end, which was ? was it two or three scenes in total?

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A thousand times yes.

I honestly was hoping the show would either have him realize he's bi, or pair him in what could have been the most ultimate ship ever when he realized maybe he's been burying his identity all along because of his brother, and being the eldest the "guilt" of making the family have not just one gay son but two wasn't something he could mentally handle.

Still, a character getting burned for faking it to make it would have been amazing if only because IT MAKES SENSE.

I'm just glad they didn't go even lower and pair Tae Won with the brother in that always icky "consolation prize" pairing. That would have been even worse than what they did. (Please tell me they didn't. I didn't see it mentioned in the weecaps, so I really hope not!)

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I'm not endorsing lying about being gay in the way Jin-sung did. But I think I'm a lot more sympathetic overall. I think it would've been more realistic for things to explode in his face, but I'm not sure it would've been a good thing if that happened.

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Usually I'm the most sympathetic person around, but in this case I didn't care. I think it was either the acting or the directing that caused that lack of sympathy by both the ML and the FL. The actor playing the designer was able to emote his feelings really well and gained more sympathy, imo.

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Thank you, @abirdword, for the recap! What else can I say? To start with, the OTP didn't click for me; the story premise was simple (agreed) but the problem didn't even change from beginning to end! And the solution is to cancel the show? I should have thought that Jin-sung could have done the show without the 'gay' version of it. Giving advice is not the exclusive of gay people.

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I was really po'd at the idea they thought we watchers would want an ending like that. They must think we're really dumb.
Surely the OTP didn't click with anyone.
What was the point of the drama in the end? There was no point.

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I am so glad I dropped this show. It made me sad because I had high hopes for it, but I saw the trainwreck coming and had to nope out.

I remember in the trailer announcement post being worried about some third act melo tone wrecking a good rom com...HA! They didn't wait that long because it was never a rom com to begin with! That trailer really ticks me off even more now--total misleading rubbish.

I do very much appreciate the wee caps because I've followed them looking for a sign the show might turn around and then I would start back over, ready to grit my teeth knowing there would be payoff.

It is unfortunate that it didn't.

Still, I thank you for helping me avert some angsty moment where I would have inadvertently wrecked something while flailing about bemoaning what could have been.

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I dropped this drama too, and came back to this final recap just to see if I made the right decision. I did, apparently. Let’s see how long we need to wait until a kdramaland show that can do justice to a gay character. Hope it is not going to be a long wait.

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Where Your Eyes Linger was just on Viki as an 8 episode, 10-15 minutes but I hear it's going to be a movie? It was really sweet and I want to see season 2 with these 2 guys.

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Where our Eyes Linger is so adorable! I would love to see a second season, ideally a full length one!

I also can recommend Lily Fever though it is rather silly :)

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I looked up Lily Fever and oh, FINALLY

Everyone goes on about BL or whatever and I'm just sitting here like, "I don't care, give me the lesbians!!!"

Thank you for calling this to my attention

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I have the biggest crush on Jung Yeon-Joo from Lily Fever... I wish she'd do another queer role 😢
I've already rewatched Lily Fever so many times now 😅
🏳️‍🌈

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I didn't really like the master-servant's relationship, it made too manga-esque and some dialogues were cheesy. But the actors were good. It's hard to imagine that one is 30 years old :p

Night Flight was a interesting korean movie with Kwak Si Yang and Lee Jae Joon.

The mini Japanese drama Life Senjou no Bokura is nice.

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Watch Just Friends?: It's a short film unfortunately but it stars Lee Je Hoon and Yeon Woo-jin before they became stars. It's a really cute drama, and they really don't shy away from the skin-ship and kisses. Highly recommend and no sad ending too!

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Oh I liked that one! The ending was cute & funny :)
And, man, was there skinship! 🤭

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I know right? Talk about STEAMY!! Mad props to both actors. But damn Lee Je Hoon has gotten more bigger in size compared to then, so it's a bit jarring watching it now but still the same cutie underneath.

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Like, it got seriously steamy! Those two had great chemistry...

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@soulsearch12,
JUST FRIENDS? / CHINGU SAI? (2009) seems to be a sequel to BOY MEETS BOY (2008) as the OTPs have the same names in both short films.

The first flick (which has no spoken dialogue) seems to be some kind of PSA on situational awareness when cruising. Maybe. I nearly keeled over when I recognized Ye Ji-won's voice when I rewatched it just now on YouTube. I had recognized Kim Hye-seong (KINGDOM OF THE WINDS; MAD DOG), but was unfamiliar with Lee Hyun-jin's work. Darned if he and Ye Ji-won aren't having a BOY MEETS BOY reunion in DINNER MATE. The mind boggles. ;-)
http://asianwiki.com/Boy_Meets_Boy
http://asianwiki.com/Just_Friends%3F

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I'm not sure what the writer and the PD tried to tell with this drama...

The idea of having a discussion with a gay chef was weird but in a country that had the Nth Room's scandal, letting women having a chat with somone who won't be seen as predator could be an idea.

But the ML was the worst part of the drama. The FL worked hard to try to make her show, managing egos, trying to find good stories, convincing people, etc. So the drama would have been so good if they would have given us warm stories with a good meal with a real gay and not a fake one who had a pity face during all the show. The actor playing Tae Wan would have been a good gay chief trying to handle his own struggles.

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Ah what could have been. Disappointing at how the issue with Lee Hak-joo's character/storyline was handled. Wasn't expecting too much with the gay storyline b/c this is set in Korea. Maybe something that'll grow more better in the future.

Sucks for Jung II Woo though. I like him as a person, he seems sweet in rl. I feel so bad for him b/c of his accident that has impacted him. I hope he gets through and returns back to his golden days (2008-2011).

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Ah yes. The drama I did not watch but whose progression I have been following on Dramabeans. I think, to sum it up, that it was a hot mess. And I will definitely not be recommending it to anyone.

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Socially, the story should've been about Taewan but emotionally and culturally, i felt the story was about Jin Sung. There's a repression there and an extreme shyness that only leads to trouble. I've never seen that done as believably as Il Woo portrayed it. There was something about Jin Sung's inability to be himself and his desire to make everyone happy that made me want to see how he found himself in the long run. The premise got in the way by being so high concept and letting a secondary character take the arc of the story and the arc wasn't even done well for anyone. Taewon should have his own story and Jin Sung could have his own story. But i think the story did try to deal with male strength, male woundedness, male responsibility in a patriarchal society so i accept its courage..such at it is.

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Being a non-Korean (I’m a Filipino), it was an eye-opener for me on how homophobic the Koreans are, which in my opinion, is why this drama had very low ratings. The drama has its merits. It just reminds me of the American movie, Tootsie, where the lead actor had to pretend to be a woman because he needed a job. In Sweet Munchies, a straight guy pretends to be gay for two reasons: 1) a financial need, and 2) out of sympathy for the aspiring director. There could have been a deeper view of the other characters as well. Like what were the other team members going through in their personal lives that gave them motivation?

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