[Fix That Ending] Two weddings and a business proposal
It seems a bit odd to complain about a happy ending, especially one that is wrapped up in a nice little bow, but when you view Business Proposal as whole, that bow starts to look like a twisted knot tied by a kid wearing velcro shoes.
Definitely the breakout rom-com hit of 2022, Business Proposal was a joyful exploration — and exaggeration — of the genre. But the last two episodes, which should have been a glorious send-off for our lovable characters, fell flat.
In my opinion, it boils down to three key issues:
1. Grandpa — a fan favorite — was grumpy and disapproving for an uncharacteristically long time. It’s understandable that Grandpa would be a bit miffed at Hari and Tae-mu for lying and making a fool of him, but his desire for great-grandbabies would quickly win out.
2. The subversion of tropes in the finale was lackluster or nonexistent. We got a lot of tropes dropped on us in the last episode, but none of them were used comically. They were taken at face value and created legitimate, serious conflicts. On its own, Grandpa’s illness and the subsequent scenes revealing Tae-mu’s love for his only surviving relative were beautiful, but they were not in line with the rest of the drama. Business Proposal never pretended or aimed to be more than a light-hearted comedy, and it used tropes only to create hijinks and humorously awkward situations for our characters. The finale should have stayed the course and used its final hours to deliver additional laughs instead of melodrama.
3. The finale was missing key scenes that the audience was expecting. No, a writer doesn’t owe their audience anything, but when you create a story that’s rooted in all the rom-com cliches, your audience expects you to hit the common favorites, including a wedding finale. I mean come on! The whole set-up for the story was Grandpa pressuring Tae-mu to get married, so one would imagine the story to end the way Grandpa (and the rest of us) envisioned.
With these three points in mind, I decided to rewrite the ending, picking up at the beginning of Episode 11. Just to note, I have read the webtoon, but I tried not to be influenced by it too much. I feel like the drama characters have their own flavors and would do things differently… but I did throw in one or two easter eggs for those of you who have read it.
So without further ado… time to fix that ending.
Two weddings and a business proposal
After hearing about Tae-mu’s accident, Hari takes a taxi and follows Grandpa to the hospital. When she arrives, Grandpa is surprised and confused, so Sung-hoon steps in to explain that their relationship evolved into a legitimate one. She’s Tae-mu’s girlfriend. Like, for real.
Grandpa’s caterpillar eyebrows do a surprised little jig up to his hairline, but he’s only able to get out one of his signature grumbles before the doctor joins them. Tae-mu suffered a compound fracture to his arm, and he was rushed into the OR for emergency surgery. The orthopedic surgeon repaired the fracture, and Tae-mu has been moved to a private VIP suite while they wait for him to wake up from the anesthesia.
Grandpa and Sung-hoon follow the doctor, but Hari hangs back, uncertain if she should come, too. Grandpa pauses, looks over his shoulder, and frowns before trailing after the doctor. Sung-hoon translates: “You should join us.”
Sung-hoon has to fill out hospital paperwork, so he leaves Grandpa and Hari alone with the unconscious Tae-mu. They stare at each other awkwardly. Hari’s about to speak to try and explain the situation further, but before words escape her mouth, Grandpa’s alarm goes off — It’s time for Be Strong, Geum-hee!
He casts a quick glance at Tae-mu before scooting over to the television. With nothing better to do, Hari joins him, and they watch the drama together with the volume turned down low. On screen, the hero pushes Geum-hee out of the way of a white Truck of Doom and is injured in her place. The next scene cuts to the hospital, where he wakes up with amnesia.
Hari and Grandpa exchange meaningful glances…
They simultaneously look over at Tae-mu’s hospital bed and are surprised to see that his eyes are open. They call for the doctor, who performs a few cognitive tests, and while all his faculties appear to be intact — whew, amnesia trope averted! — Tae-mu is a bit loopy from the drugs.
He smiles up at Hari, and loudly announces to the room, “There’s my beautiful girlfriend!” and then he turns to Grandpa, “Did I introduce you to my girlfriend? That’s her! She works for our company, but — shhhh — don’t tell anybody. It’s supposed to be a secret.”
Grandpa lets out another one of his patented grumbles and looks at Hari, as if to say, “He’s your problem now,” and leaves them alone for the night.
While his driver escorts him home, Grandpa ponders the current situation and has a backseat conversation with himself. His first instinct is to be happy. His little scamp of a grandson finally has a girlfriend, and he chuckles remembering Tae-mu’s drug-induced love confession. On the other hand, they did lie to him, and if Hari is willing to pose as Tae-mu’s girlfriend for money, can he trust that her feelings for Tae-mu are genuine?
The next day, Hari returns to work, but the only rumor spreading through the company is about Tae-mu’s car accident. The extent of his injuries are a mystery, and as Hari waits for the elevator, she overhears someone saying he heard that Tae-mu was disfigured and is undergoing extensive plastic surgery.
When Hari arrives at her department’s office, Hye-ji asks her about Tae-mu, and Kevin is curious why she would ask Hari. “Yeah,” Hari laughs nervously, “Why would you ask me?”
And we flashback to the night Hye-ji caught Hari and Tae-mu holding hands. Hye-ji was drunk, but not blackout drunk. She put together the pieces, and figured out the two are secretly dating. Realizing she’s slipped up, Hye-ji covers by saying she assumed that Hari would have overheard something while on her way up.
“Oh yeah,” Hari responds, going along with Hye-jin, “Supposedly he’s now disfigured.”
Every day, Hari visits Tae-mu in the hospital after work. Grandpa — like a surly romance-blocking gatekeeper — is always there when she arrives, but she bribes him with tea. While she’s there, she also listens intently as he rambles on about deep sea fishing and watches his dramas with him. As the days pass, it becomes more and more apparent that she’s slowly worming her way back into Grandpa’s heart, but he stubbornly refuses to give his approval because he’s pouty that she lied to him.
After she leaves on the third night, Grandpa watches Tae-mu intently as he responds to her text that she arrived home safely. Tae-mu smiles sweetly at his phone, and Grandpa sighs. “You know,” he finally says, “things won’t be easy for her when people find out about your relationship.”
“I’ll protect her,” Tae-mu insists.
Grandpa glowers and shakes his cane at Tae-mu. “Not good enough. You better marry her.”
“That’s the plan,” Tae-mu smiles, pleased to finally receive Grandpa’s blessing, and Grandpa laughs happily with him, the promise of great-grandbabies and Tae-mu’s happiness outweighing his initial concerns.
While Grandpa gives Tae-mu the green light to date Hari, Young-seo’s father contacts Sung-hoon and asks to meet privately at a fancy restaurant, where he’s reserved a private room to give his whole you’re-not-good-enough-for-my-daughter speech. But it just so happens that Yoo-jung is also dining at this particular establishment and witnesses Sung-hoon follow her uncle into the secluded dining area. She wastes no time dialing her cousin, and she tells Young-seo — using English to punctuate the urgency — to, “Get here — like — right nowwww.”
When Young-seo arrives, Yoo-jung leads her towards Sung-hoon, and Young-seo storms inside the room without knocking. The room is tense, and there’s a thick white envelope on the table. Young-seo can’t hide her disgust, and she gives him a verbal undressing better than any kimchi or pork cutlet slap.
Yoo-jung is spying from the doorway in a mixture of horror and glee, and when Young-seo finishes with the promise that she will be submitting her resignation letter tomorrow, Yoo-jung slow-claps in approval.
Young-seo takes Sung-hoon’s hand and leads him out of the restaurant. While Young-seo alternates between cursing and assuring Sung-hoon that her father’s opinion doesn’t matter to her — she’s a strong independent woman who doesn’t need her daddy’s money! — Sung-hoon takes the lead and directs her to his car. She’s so distracted and angry that he has to open the passenger door and coax her into the seat. As he walks around to the driver’s side, her muffled ranting continues. He’s smiling when he joins her in the car.
Young-seo’s father may not have approved of Sung-hoon, but Grandpa is ecstatic when he finds out that Sung-hoon has a girlfriend, too, and orders Sung-hoon to pencil in a family dinner on Tae-mu’s calendar. Hari is, of course, invited, and Grandpa is a pleased peacock to be sitting at the head of the table with a future granddaughter on either side of him.
It’s his first time meeting Young-seo, so he asks her a lot of questions. Inevitably, the conversation turns to her family, and Grandpa comments that he will have to reach out to her father at some point to share how happy he is that Young-seo and Sung-hoon are dating. When everyone at the table goes quiet and looks away, Grandpa demands to know what’s wrong, and Young-seo reveals that her father rejected Sung-hoon because he’s an orphan and Tae-mu’s chief secretary.
Grandpa explodes and pounds his fist on the table. Doesn’t her father know Sung-hoon is his grandson, too?! Young-seo immediately chimes in with her own defense of Sung-hoon, and the two go back and forth singing Sung-hoon’s praises. He’s handsome! He’s smart! He’s thoughtful! He’s a savvy investor! He’s good in bed!
The last statement, which was shouted by Young-seo, causes the conversation to screech to a halt, and she clamps her hand over her mouth in horror. Sung-hoon’s ears turn pink, while Hari and Tae-mu do their best not to burst into laughter. Finally, Grandpa smiles wide and says, “That’s my boy! I’ll have a house full of great-grandkids soon enough!”
Grandpa retires for the night, but it’s still early enough that Young-seo and Hari convince the men to join them for tteokbokki and soju at their favorite restaurant. While they wait for their food, Young-seo asks Hari and Tae-mu how they plan on handling their relationship at work.
Hari explains that they intend to keep it secret for as long as possible to avoid rumors. Her biggest concern about their relationship going public is her fear that people will say all her accomplishments were due to nepotism.
“You know,” Young-seo says, “you’ll be fine so long as you can prove your worth in a way no one can dispute your success.” She elaborates that Hari’s cooking video with Min-woo was a hit, and no one can claim that it went viral because of her relationship with Tae-mu. What if Hari filmed more videos and made a name for herself — and the company — through her online cooking segments?
Hari ponders the idea, but she’s hesitant to work with Min-woo again. Her last encounter with him made her uncomfortable, and she’d rather put him in her past — both personally and professionally. Tae-mu is visibly pleased to hear Min-woo has been downgraded to a former acquaintance, but his smile turns to a frown when Young-seo flippantly claims Min-woo can just be replaced by some other — more attractive — chef.
But then Young-seo turns to Tae-mu and points at him. When no one follows her logic, Young-seo elaborates that it would be a great gimmick for the handsome company president to humble himself and promote his own products via an online cooking show. People would eat it up — literally!
Tae-mu ponders the idea for a solid minute, staring directly at Young-seo. Hari and Sung-hoon wear similar thoughtful expressions while they mentally weigh the pros and cons of the idea. Finally, Tae-mu breaks the silence and asks Young-seo, “Do you want a job?”
The scene cuts to Sung-hoon driving Young-seo home. Young-seo excitedly brainstorms ways she can integrate GoFood products into Hari’s cooking segments. She can’t sit still in her seat, so she goes rifling through Sung-hoon’s glove compartment, where she finds a ring box. She gasps, and Sung-hoon tries to remain outwardly calm. But his heart has started beating faster than a marching band drumline that’s been fed nothing but energy drinks and Sour Patch Kids for the last twelve hours.
He pulls the car over, gets out, walks around to her door, and opens it. He takes the ring box from her hand and admits that — when he’d bought the ring — he’d hoped to have earned her father’s approval before giving it to her. She opens her mouth to object, but before she can protest, he explains that — as someone who lost his parents at an early age — he was afraid that she would eventually blame him for being the reason she no longer had a relationship with her family.
Young-seo hugs him and assures him that her father is the reason they’re now estranged from each other. He’d been controlling and unloving her whole life, and his rejection of Sung-hoon was the final straw that made her want to cut ties. She’d much rather focus on building a loving family with him.
He gets down on one knee and officially proposes. Young-seo tearfully accepts. They kiss sweetly, but when their lips separate Young-seo smiles naughtily and whispers in his ear: “How about we go try to make that family.”
While Young-seo is having naughty baby-making thoughts, Tae-mu escorts Hari home. Neither of them want to say goodbye, especially Tae-mu who didn’t get his fill of physical affection during dinner because Hari was too shy around Grandpa. He goes in for one final kiss, but then a screech — the cry of a momma velociraptor — sounds from behind them.
They quickly separate as Mom comes storming at them from across the street. She has a convenience store bag full of beer and snacks in her hand, and she’s swinging it around above her head like a Medieval weapon. Hari shields Tae-mu and tries to calm Mom down, but the sound of their scuffle is loud enough to lure Dad and Ha-min outside to investigate.
Ha-min figures out what’s going on and tries to intervene, but Mom’s yelling drowns out his attempt to explain the situation. Finally, Ha-min yells, “He’s rich!” and shoves his phone in her face. Mom blinks at Tae-mu’s online profile and net worth, which Ha-min pulled up on his phone. She’s instantly subdued, and Dad takes the moment of calm to grab her by the shoulders and direct her inside.
Hari shrugs and gestures for Tae-mu to follow. He’d been eager to meet her parents, but these weren’t exactly the circumstances he’d hoped to make an official introduction. He’d imagined bringing them a nice gift and maybe having Sung-hoon around, too, as a hype man.
Instead, Mom and Dad invite him upstairs, where he and Hari awkwardly sit across from them and answer all their questions. Yes, they’re dating. No, he’s not Kevin. No, he isn’t in his forties. Yes, he’s the president of Hari’s company. No, Ha-min, he will not buy you a car.
After the initial questions are out of the way, Tae-mu explains — leaving out the non-parental approved details, such as their first meeting and subsequent contract relationship — how he grew to love Hari through her quirky personality and their shared love of food. Her parents quietly absorb his love declaration, and Mom breaks the silence by inviting Tae-mu to stay a little longer and join them for a drink.
Dad says he will go downstairs to finish closing up the restaurant, and he’ll be back up in a few minutes to join them. Tae-mu offers to help him, and once they’re alone downstairs, Dad privately admits to Tae-mu that he’s worried about how Hari will be viewed now that she’s dating her rich boss. He knows there will be people who will look down on her because of her poor upbringing. Tae-mu cannot promise that they won’t face scrutiny, but he swears to protect her to the best of his — and his family’s — ability.
The next morning, Tae-mu has a meeting with Min-woo in his office to discuss the termination of Min-woo’s contract. Tae-mu lets the chef know that they’ve decided to go in a different direction and won’t be including him in future cooking segments like they’d previously discussed.
Min-woo is annoyed and assumes Tae-mu is acting out of jealousy and spite, but Tae-mu explains that Hari intended to quit the project if Min-woo didn’t. When it came down to who was a more valuable asset to the company, the decision was obvious: Min-woo was replaceable. Only a fool would not recognize Hari’s worth. (Feel that Min-woo? ‘Cause ya burnt!)
Time begins skipping forward in small increments, starting with a jump to the filming of Hari and Tae-mu’s first cooking video. Everyone is surprised by Tae-mu’s cooking skills and the ease with which Hari is able to converse with him in front of the camera. Their video also goes viral, and the comments about Tae-mu’s good looks come flooding in. Min-woo is a forgotten footnote. The fans are all about Tae-mu and the adorable way he starts to ramble when talking about food.
Tae-mu uses the success of their video as an excuse to pop down to Team One and discuss ideas for their next online segment. He finds Hari alone, and he can’t help but give her a back hug and nuzzle her neck a little bit.
She jerks out of his grasp when she hears her coworkers coming and drags him into the supply closet with her. While Hari presses her ear to the door, Tae-mu grumbles that he’s her boss and there’s nothing suspicious about him checking up on her work. Oh… right…
Hari tells him to wait in the storage room, and she will lure her team away for lunch so he can sneak out. When she leaves, Tae-mu mutters under his breath that he’s tired of hiding in closets. He waits until he thinks the coast is clear and exits, but he comes face to face with Eui-ju, who came back to get her purse. She raises an eyebrow, but she says nothing.
A couple months later, the success of the videos has grown exponentially. Kevin has been given his own team and taken over the Team One’s previous product development projects so that Eui-ju, Hari, and Hye-ji can focus on creating recipes for the Hari and Tae-mu video segments, which have grown to become a key marketing strategy for the company.
Hari even started a series of “Food Hack” videos, which feature Hari and Ta-mu taking one of GoFood’s frozen products and embellishing it with fresh ingredients and side dishes. Kevin storms into Team One’s office, annoyed that they would take one of his team’s products and hack it, suggesting it needs improvement. Eui-ju, his now wife, just rolls her eyes.
He storms out of the office with his team trailing behind him, but while they board the arriving elevator, Kevin circles back to apologize to Eui-ju and explain that his tough-guy behavior was just an act to keep up appearances in front of his subordinates.
On his way back to the elevators, however, he spots Hari and Tae-mu coming out of the stairwell and — he rubs his eyes — are they holding hands? He takes off his glasses to clean them on his shirt, but when he looks back up, Hari and Tae-mu are standing five feet apart. Hari loudly — and entirely for Kevin’s benefit — explains that she will get “right to that request.”
Meanwhile, Young-seo is becoming impatient about a little thing called marriage, but Sung-hoon isn’t the problem. See, when Hari started dating Tae-mu, Young-seo began daydreaming about having a double wedding with her bestie. Since her man and Hari’s man are like brothers, it seemed like the perfect plan, but — much to Young-seo’s disappointment — Hari doesn’t seem to be in a rush to skip down the aisle. Despite all Hari’s recent accomplishments, she’s still concerned that they aren’t enough to fend off the gossip and speculation that her success was handed to her by her rich boss boyfriend.
Without Hari realizing it, though, Young-seo has been helping to carefully craft Hari’s image by directing the film crew to edit the videos to feature the romance between Hari and Tae-mu. Oh! Did Tae-mu just pick a random carrot out of Hari’s hair? Yes, camera man, let’s zoom in on that frame.
Between all the onscreen flirting and not-so-subtle hand holding at work, Hari and Tae-mu’s relationship has become the worst kept company secret ever. Funnily enough, Hari is so busy that she isn’t aware that the employees have already started to gossip. The couple’s chemistry has netizens going wild with speculation, and most viewers ship them as the world’s cutest foodie couple.
Well, Young-seo doesn’t have to wait much longer because Hari and Tae-mu’s successful video series came with an unexpected complication that neither of them anticipated: they’re now online celebrities.
And — gasp! — a fan took a picture of them while they were out on a date! And… let’s just say… there’s no believable way for them to pull the ol’ “we’re just friends” card.
Hari is terrified about how the scandal will affect her at work, so imagine her surprise when she walks into work following the scandal and finds out that her relationship is “old news.” She spends the whole day wondering when the other shoe will drop, so when she’s summoned to the chairman’s office, she just knows something bad has happened. The board of directors is probably mad at Tae-mu.
She is on edge, so when she opens the door and Young-seo pops open a celebratory bottle of champagne, Hari immediately falls back in surprise, extremely confused why everyone is gathered and… happy?
Turns out their leaked romance was the good kind of scandal, like when news broke that Sohn Ye-jin and Hyun Bin were dating in real life. The public is painting Hari as a modern day Cinderella, and they’re rooting for her and Tae-mu! The company has even seen a spike in sales since the fan photo was leaked on the internet! Hari is so overwhelmed by the news that she cries a few happy tears.
Tae-mu decides to celebrate with Hari by taking her back to his place so he can cook for her, but when they get to his apartment, their excitement turns into passion. They move from the kitchen to the bedroom, and sexy music begins playing in the background — as if we needed an auditory clue to signal that Tae-mu was about to unleash his inner archaeopteryx and escort Hari — and Rachel and Samantha — to Pleasureville…
…off screen and out of sight. (What did you think I was going to write!? This isn’t Netflix!)
The next morning we’re treated to a gratuitous chocolate ab shower scene because a drama so entrenched in tropes would be remiss to exclude one. Following his shower, Tae-mu gently nudges Hari awake and escorts her home. After dropping her off, he begins planning Operation Marriage Proposal.
The anniversary of their fake one-year anniversary arrives, and Tae-mu takes Hari on a recreation of their first (non-blind) date. This time, while Hari shops for a dress, she makes Tae-mu try on suits. They both settle on a new outfit to wear to dinner, but before Tae-mu swipes his unlimited card, he advises Hari to do a few stretches to test the strength of the dress. She playfully hits his chest but humors him by doing a few jumping jacks to prove she won’t be having another wardrobe malfunction.
Next stop is the restaurant. Once again — because Grandpa owns it — Tae-mu and Hari have the whole dining area to themselves. The staff clears the table in preparation for dessert, and as Hari thanks the waitress, she knocks her purse to the floor. Tae-mu sighs and rolls his eyes. “You’re always doing that and getting into trouble,” he says and stoops down to get it for her.
But instead of picking up the purse, he kneels and opens a ring box. Hari gasps, and Tae-mu gives a squee-inducing speech about how he fell in love with her on their fake anniversary. Before he met her, he was a workaholic who’d forgotten how to live, but ever since she crashed into his life and called him an archaeopteryx, he’s never been the same. Hari accepts his proposal, and the staff brings out a celebratory cake.
Tae-mu drives Hari home, and he escorts her inside her family’s restaurant so they can announce the happy news together. They both stop in their tracks, though, when they see Grandpa seated at one of the tables watching Be Strong Geum-hee — it’s one of those 200+ episode dramas — with Hari’s dad. Grandpa cheers when Geum-hee uses one of GoFood’s products — a box of frozen white kimchi dumplings — to smack the woman trying to seduce her man.
Grandpa notices Tae-mu and Hari gaping at him, and he explains that he couldn’t wait to meet his future in-laws. As Grandpa bites into his chicken and grumbles in pleasure, Dad smiles at them, and it’s clear any concerns he had about Hari being accepted by Tae-mu’s family are dissipated.
The day of the wedding finally arrives! Hari and Young-seo greet guests together in the bridal room and pose for pictures with their friends. Yoo-ra and Min-woo are noticeably absent (because they weren’t invited), but the Gossip Gals mention in passing that Yoo-ra and Min-woo are engaged… after first breaking up and getting back together again. (Let’s be real, the fart kazoo and underwear stain deserve each other.)
Eui-ju, Kevin, and Hye-ji are their next visitors, and Eui-ju warns that she’s not going to give Hari any preferential treatment just because she’s married to the boss. Guests continue to drop in on the brides until it’s time for the ceremony to start, and Hari and Young-seo walk down the aisle on either side of Hari’s father. He hands them off to their respective grooms, and the couples exchange vows.
After the ceremony, Grandpa takes the brides’ hands and looks at them with pleading eyes and says, “I’m not getting any younger, so I’m counting on you to give me great-grandbabies soon.”
“Well…” Young-seo says quietly, looking in Sung-hoon’s direction. Sung-hoon shrugs, giving her silent permission to reveal that she’s already pregnant! Grandpa is so happy he starts crying happy tears.
The drama ends with the brides, grooms, Grandpa, and Kevin doing a choreographed dance routine to Gugudan’s “Not My Type” (because meta).
And they live happily ever after.