[Friday Flashback] Full House
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Synopsis: Han Ji-eun is an aspiring script writer living in the house that was designed and built by her deceased father. After she’s scammed out of her family home and left with nowhere to go, she strikes a deal with the new owner, Lee Young-jae, a snobby actor who’s failed marriage proposal to his long-time crush Kang Hye-won has made him a front page tabloid scandal. He offers Ji-eun a proposition: get fake married. If she can be his fake wife long enough for the rumors to die down and — hopefully — make Hye-won jealous, he will give her the house as alimony in their divorce. But what happens when playing house becomes reality and this mismatched couple starts to develop feelings for one another?
Why You Should (Or Shouldn’t) Watch Full House:
Long before Song Hye-gyo rocked the romance genre with her performance in Descendants of the Sun and Rain was introduced to (non K-drama loving) Western audiences as Stephen Colbert’s archnemesis, the two — now veteran — actors starred in a little show called Full House. (No affiliation with the American Full House starring Bob Saget and John Stamos.)
And what exactly is the house full of? Tropes — I mean, love — but also lots and lots of tropes. The kind of tropes that drew many Beanies to Korean dramas in the first place. Sageuk arranged nuptials aside, we don’t see many contract marriages in dramaland these days because it’s outdated, and audiences no longer need the pretext of a fake marriage to soften the scandalous idea of an adult man and woman cohabitating. Although it’s a trope I’m happy to see fade with the times — because they be a changin’ — I can still appreciate how it sets the stage for interesting character dynamics, and Full House is also full — Ha! — of zany characters.
Let’s start with our OTP. Han Ji-eun is spunky, eternally optimistic, and diligent, but instead of working a series of odd jobs, like any other Candy, she’s actively pursuing her dream to be a script writer. There’s a fun little layer to her characterization because her ability to write also makes her a creative liar, and while we never get to read and appreciate anything she’s written, we’re given a taste of her writing style via the tales of fiction she weaves to get herself out of sticky situations.
Our leading man, on the other hand, is a successful actor at the peak of his career — albeit with a few scandals. His wardrobe may be over the top and colorful, leaving him looking like he’s stumbled out of a three-year-old’s coloring book, but he’s all bravado. At heart, he’s just a little boy still secretly in love with his childhood friend. He’s pouty and petty, but as the series progresses he becomes noticeably matured.
When our characters meet, it’s not love at first, second, or even third sight for these two. Both characters are headstrong, but that’s about the only thing that they have in common, which makes it extra amusing when they are forced to cohabitate for the duration of their fake marriage. Their compulsory proximity, however, also fosters an environment that allows their relationship to evolve slowly and naturally, as annoyance turns into tolerance, tolerance into fondness, and fondness into genuine love. It’s hate-to-love romance at it’s finest, but we can’t appreciate their romance without acknowledging the characters that got them into their unorthodox situation in the first place.
Whether you love to hate them or just plain hate them — because there’s no loving them — this show is full of characters that leave you wanting to flip tables and throw things at the television. Admittedly, having a host of unlikeable characters is not everyone’s cup of tea, but there is something appealing about a K-drama where the primary conflicts skew closer to real life and involve interpersonal relationships.
While most of us have never been scammed out of our homes by our best friends, more of us have encountered “friends” who have used us for their own personal gain or been strung along by a love interest who only wanted us once we were unattainable. That being said, I wouldn’t look to Full House as a guide for how to navigate toxic people. The show skews heavily towards forgiveness — I support burning bridges with people who sell your house from underneath you — so if you want to see annoyingly awful people get their just desserts, you’re going to be extremely disappointed.
With that said, it begs the question: has Full House aged well? Truthfully, mileage will vary with this classic drama. It really is a lot of tropes packaged in outdated cinematography, and that alone can be off-putting, especially if you’ve discovered Korean dramas recently and are accustomed to quality graphics and more nuanced romances. On the other hand, there’s something still endearing about the simplicity of this modern day(ish) fairy tale, so if you like to sit back and embrace the absurdity along with the romantic, then this Friday Flashback might be the drama for you.
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