Now We Are Breaking Up: Episodes 1-2 Open Thread
Well, they have good chemistry — that’s a place to start. Now, We Are Breaking Up hit some good numbers for its premiere, but I can’t say it’s because the story was riveting. Beautiful leads, the high-stakes world of fashion, and sexual attraction a charming drama do not make.
Note: This is an opening week weecap only.
EPISODES 1-2 WEECAP
At first I told myself that I would write a nice neutral weecap for this drama, since it performed pretty well, and I know a lot of people will be enjoying it. But then I changed my mind. I didn’t like anything about the first episode — from the script, to the setup, to the over-played character dynamics. However, the second episode saw a minor improvement, since we got a little more of the characters and their stories.
But more characters means more tropes, and though I’m a devoted fan of the K-drama pattern, sometimes I do wish for something a little different. Or something a little less predictable? Having an overtly sexy drama doesn’t actually change the fact that the drama isn’t doing anything interesting.
As the drama opens we meet our fashion designer HA YOUNG-EUN (Song Hye-gyo). She’s drop-dead gorgeous, competent, and talented. We can tell she’s devoted to her work, well-connected in the fashion world, and isn’t too clingy or emotional. She’s also uninterested in love. Hence, her steamy one night stand with a random guy whose name she doesn’t even care to learn.
We’re only five minutes into the drama at this point, and I already agree with the Search WWW comparison — must be the career-focused woman who gets enchanted by a certain someone’s sexy gaze. At the risk of sounding like a granny, I’ll admit I really dislike stories that start with one-night stands. It’s just an uninteresting starting point for a romantic relationship for me, particularly in dramaland. I’d much rather watch a meet-cute and the genesis of a relationship that culminates in sex rather than one that starts with it. But that might just be me. Anyway, back to the plot.
For the duration of the first episode, we don’t really learn much about Young-eun, outside of seeing her in action. But as her character begins to fill in later, we learn more about what motivates her: she’s supporting her parents and all but lying to them about how much money she’s bringing in. But at the same time she’s devoted every ounce of herself to the job, and seems like a true artist.
She might be brilliant at what she does, but every day is an uphill battle, and half the time she’s left pulling the weight of her boss/friend DIRECTOR HWANG CHI-SOOK (Choi Hee-seo) leaves in her spoiled wake. Chi-sook is the daughter of the fashion company owner, and chases guys while Young-eun does all the work — and all the damage control.
In the middle of Fashion Week, Young-eun has a million responsibilities to deal with and she works herself to the bone. Later in a voiceover, she even says that she’s changed from her younger days, now that her fatigue has more power than her pheromones. But does it?
As drama fate would have it, Young-eun is thrown together with her one-night-stand man at least five times subsequently, and all by happenstance. He’s YOON JAE-KOOK (Jang Ki-yong), a brillllllliant photographer who we later learn is quite the star in the fashion photography world. He’s also wealthy and well-connected, which comes in handy later.
And thus, Young-eun and Jae-kook’s fate is unleashed. First they’re reunited when Young-eun acts as a stand-in for Chi-wook’s blind date… which is of course with Jae-kook. Their paths entangle several other times, as Jae-kook’s friend runs the PR agency with which Young-eun’s brand is working. So after their blind date (during which Young-eun works and ignores his existence), he helps her out with an emergency photo shoot, runs into her at an event, runs into her at the PR agency (more than once), and so on. You get the idea.
The more Jae-kook sees her, the more smitten he gets, and his character is so well-sandwiched into particular moments and scenes that he always happens to be lurking around the corner, hearing Young-eun say winning things. He sees how hard she works, he sees her integrity, he sees her desperate moments and is able to (secretly) help her out — and he’s not shy about his attraction to her either. He’s hitting on her the whole time, and she’s either ogling him from a distance, or coldly refusing to get involved with him.
When I don’t like a drama I always find myself with the same critique: it feels like it was written by a teenage girl. I say this from experience. Our drama presents a pie-in-the-sky and fan-servicey take on romance that I guess could be done well, but here (at least so far), just doesn’t resonate. Everyone feels like they’re acting. I don’t really like any of the characters, except Young-eun a little (her lunging for the bread basket was my favorite part of both episodes).
All of fate and present-day connection is not enough, though. The drama needs to be quite clear with us that these two are fated, or have a deep connection, and we get that in two additional ways.
The first is that Young-eun’s phone wallpaper is a photo of a photo she bought from a street vendor in Paris. She explains what she loves about it to Jae-kook, who says it’s trash. Of course, his eyes tell us that it’s actually his photo (and this is shortly confirmed via flashback).
Second, the two also have a tragic connection. We learn that Jae-kook had an older brother who’s been dead for ten years now; we don’t know much about him except that, in Jae-kook’s words, if his mother had let him marry the woman he loved, he would never have died. Well, that mystery lasts a good eight minutes before we learn that that woman was indeed Young-eun.
So, as our premiere week ends, we have everything in a nice tidy package: the love that cannot be between Jae-kook and Young-eun, his deep attraction to her, and her deeply hidden scars from that tragedy that keep her away from love. Yawn. Maybe next week will get better?
- Premiere Watch: Idol: The Coup, Secret Royal Inspector and Joy, Melancholia, The Red Sleeve Cuff, Now We Are Breaking Up
- Navigating love and work with Jang Ki-yong, Song Hye-gyo in Now, We Are Breaking Up
- Cast of SBS’s Now, We Are Breaking Up gathers for first script reading
- Song Hye-gyo and Jang Ki-yong to pair up for new SBS drama