Green Mothers’ Club: Episode 1 (First Impressions)
Secrets and suspicions are the name of the game in Green Mothers’ Club, a drama that says it’s about friendship and motherhood but hints at a darker edge underneath. Our protagonist is trying to create a new beginning for herself, but that’s kind of hard to do when your past shows up right where you least expect it.
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EPISODE 1 FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Right from the start, the tone of this show caught me completely off guard. It’s a lot moodier than I expected, and there’s something deeply unsettling simmering under the surface – something other than just your typical tiger mom’s determination to see her kids come out on top, I mean. And I’d say that’s a good thing! Right away, my interest shot way up.
We’re introduced to the almost creepy atmosphere and to our main character, LEE EUN-PYO (Lee Yo-won), through a dream sequence wherein her university lecture is interrupted by the appearance of another woman sitting among the students.
The other woman starts off friendly, but then jeers at Eun-pyo as all the other students vanish. Eun-pyo seems terrified of her, and eventually full-on attacks her, ending the dream.
Throughout the episode, we’re given enough hints to guess that the dream is rooted in reality, though exactly how closely isn’t totally clear just yet. Eun-pyo, we learn, was on track to become a professor, but when defamatory accusations against another professor were (unintentionally, she claims) published online, she was forced to quit. That led her to move to a new home, in the same neighborhood as the rest of the moms in this story.
The title of this first episode is “Not All Neighbors Are Good Neighbors,” which of course begs the question: which neighbor here isn’t a good one? The obvious choice is the intimidating BYEON CHUN-HEE (Chu Ja-hyun), the undisputed squad leader, if you will. She lives just next door, and Eun-pyo is warned about her through a sticky note left by her new apartment’s previous tenant.
Though Eun-pyo shares a number of antagonistic scenes with Chun-hee, one scene in particular really solidifies the pecking order of mothers. One of the little girls has a birthday party, and all the mothers are there to supervise and – even more so – chat with each other. Since Eun-pyo is new, her cousin, PARK YOON-JOO (Joo Min-kyung), introduces her to everyone else.
Chun-hee breezes in late, and everyone falls over each other to be the most placating and complimentary. At first, the other mothers are interested in Eun-pyo’s profession and background, but once it’s clear her pointed comments about not wanting to live vicariously through her kids or force them to do extra activities have offended Chun-hee, everyone quickly abandons Eun-pyo – including Yoon-joo.
But there’s one other mom who doesn’t quite fit the mold. Also referred to as “the goddess in the penthouse,” SEO JIN-HA (Kim Gyu-ri) only stops by the birthday party long enough to drop off her son and be fawned over by the others for a few minutes. She’s elegant and mysterious… and also the woman from Eun-pyo’s dream.
I mentioned that the overall tone of the episode was somewhat unsettling, and Jin-ha ups that unsettling factor by a lot whenever she’s on screen. She has a faraway, almost dreamy look about her, but it’s never quite clear if that’s her actual personality or if she’s putting on an act.
She and Eun-pyo are old friends, having studied together in France along with Jin-ha’s husband, LUIS BUNUEL (Roy). But while Jin-ha displays exuberance upon being reunited with Eun-pyo, Eun-pyo looks almost as terrified to see her in the flesh as she did in her dream.
Judging from the dream, it seems a lot of Eun-pyo’s feelings toward Jin-ha stem from a sense of inferiority, which can only have been exacerbated by the fact that Luis and Eun-pyo apparently dated once upon a time. There’s tons of mystery shrouding those three and the time they spent in France, but again, I’d wager there’s a lot more to it than a simple love triangle.
Then, at the end of the episode, Jin-ha takes things from unsettling to downright chilling. After meeting Eun-pyo and exchanging numbers, Jin-ha texts and calls her a few times, seemingly ecstatic to have reconnected. But when her messages go unanswered, she takes an old photo of herself and Eun-pyo and very slowly and deliberately rips it up, flushing the pieces down the toilet.
Honestly, if you presented me with this show marketed as a murder mystery, I wouldn’t bat an eye. I’m not saying that’s necessarily the direction I think it’ll go, just that it wouldn’t seem completely out of left field.
That said, I do expect Green Mothers’ Club to delve into the more mundane aspects of each mom’s life as well as their secret inner workings. We’ve already seen glimpses of what makes each of their parenting different – from Chun-hee surrounding her daughter with English-language audio programs from the moment she opens her eyes to our final main character, KIM YOUNG-MI (Jang Hye-jin), persuading her kids to at least eat some broccoli before heading out the door.
And although Eun-pyo is set up as an outsider who’ll need to earn her way into the social circle, she also has potential to shake up that circle completely. As for what the end result will look like, I imagine that’ll depend heavily on what happened in France and what she, Jin-ha, and Luis decide to do about it.