Thursday, December 15, 2011

thoughts: Me Too, Flower (Korean) -- mid series

This article contains spoilers, but mostly opinions; proceed at your own risk.

Unlike the other "short and sweet" this one really WILL be short and sweet, but only because all of my thoughts have escaped me after an eight-hour work evening followed by a small after work drink fest with the co-workers. Without having written anything down from those randomly flying opinions in my brain, some of them have managed to slip away.

Mainly, at mid-series here for Me Too, Flower! we've come to a peaceful lull for our main couple, which is nice. Obviously (if the formula persists the way it's going) there is going to be some tumult in the near future. So some cute and sweet moments are welcome.

And yes, I know I hadn't intended to write about this series until the very end (not that THAT ever stops me), but here it is with Episode Eight, which is beginning to reach into the typical rom-com grab-bag of tricks. Before Episode Eight, we already experienced a short duration of Jae Hee's Noble Idiocy (which thankfully didn't last long and made the Noble Idiocy sort of reasonable). Jae Hee is caught between his newfound care and love towards Bong Sun, but at the same time he knows that he's got too much baggage from his past to truly be able to love freely. He's guilt-ridden over the death of Hwa Young's husband and feels that he doesn't deserve much of a life because of that. But along comes Bong Sun who seems to start making him feel otherwise.

We are starting to pick up on the standard "evil female love rival" trope (who is actually bordering on crazy possessive with a possible emotional instability to boot). While Hwa Young keeps insisting that she doesn't want Jae Hee to live in the past and continue to feel guilty for what happened, her actions really counteract her own words. Indirectly forcing him to remain by her side through the use of guilt (even if she doesn't admit it) is enough to continue causing Jae Hee torture over that terrible accident from so long ago. Subconsciously, I think that this is her punishment to him for causing her husband's death; her need to control him is blatantly obvious and her constant clinging to him using her son and their past is a little frustrating. She's under the impression that she owns Jae Hee and so any chance that he'll meet someone and fall in love is a threat to her.

As orangy911 mentions in the Episode Eight recap at Dramabeans, "she relies on Jae Hee's guilt to keep him from leaving her. She tells him that he needs to accept that her husband's death was an accident but her actions contradict her words. [...] If she really wants to absolve him of guilt, she needs to let him go." I totally agree with this and it is summed up much better than my own half-baked thoughts. Hwa Young is already a strong woman, but her emotional instability is keeping her from being able to see this about herself, thinking that without Jae Hee, she won't be able to survive.

So either she's fully convinced herself that she's not strong enough to live on her own, or she really HAS fallen for Jae Hee and is using some really twisted methods to keep him by her side, knowing full well that his feelings towards her are simply obligation and nothing more. This is only a shame, because there are moments when you can really tell that Hwa Young isn't all about being a meddling love rival. She's not a bad person; she just wants to keep Jae Hee at her side forever and Bong Sun's presence comes as a conflict to her desire. And so because of the budding romance, Hwa Young very readily equips her fangs and claws and changes her attitude. Without this complication, Hwa Young had been a good-natured person.

Example point: At the ending of Episode Seven and beginning of Episode Eight saw her conflicting need to pacify a disgruntled client, but at the same time she knew that neither her own employee nor Bong Sun was at fault. As the representative, she was trying to come up with a good resolution without forcing Bong Sun to apologize on her knees nor losing out on a wealthy customer. But then Jae Hee shows up to defend Bong Sun and immediately, Hwa Young arms her claws against the girl she HAD been trying to defend.

Moving further into the rom-com bag of tricks, I'm sensing a slight possibility of what K-drama netizens have coined as "The Full House Effect." Having never seen Full House, it took a while for me to realize what this term actually means: our main male lead pretty much chooses remain with a woman he does not love due to guilt and obligation. Either he owes this woman a massive debt that can never be paid off (as in Jae Hee's guilt towards Hwa Young's husband's death), or the woman has suffered a terrible duration or will be suffering in the soon future and needs someone by her side (as in Hee Jin's martyr-dom in My Lovely Sam Soon). I'm cringing at the possibility that Jae Hee would fall victim to this trope.

Basically, we're seeing that while this series started off on a quirky and unique type of basis, the rest of the love line has begun to pick up a lot of those usual tropes. I'm hoping that I'll be proven wrong; that the continuation of the latter half of Me Too, Flower! won't result in more Noble Idiocy and one crazy love rival pulling all sorts of god-given (or writer-given) strings to make life miserable for our two main leads. After all, with the both of them having their own past history struggles, it's already enough to make the conflict a rising angsty one. When the entirety of everyone's happiness rests in the hands of one single scorned female love rival, things start to get really frustrating, because we wonder why the rest of the characters can't just ignore her and move on (like they did in Personal Taste wherein our female love rival did multitudes of interference, but to no avail).

I mean, how much push and pull did Jae Hee go through of his own accord until he could finally admit that he had fallen for Bong Sun and wanted to be with her? It got aggravating with all of his fake-outs and the entire obvious "I'm interested in you, but I'm going to treat you like crap so that you don't know that I'm interested in you, while at the same time I'm going to draw your attention regularly because I still want you to look at me." It took me a lot of discipline not to scream out in frustration at how many times I wanted Bong Sun to just turn around and walk away so that she could keep her dignity -- if the guy is being an ass about it, you might as well just leave it alone and wait for him to grow up and accept his own half-assery of the relationship. Because HE'S the one who keeps showing up and HE'S the one who keeps making her waver and HE'S the one who keeps pushing for more, and then HE'S the one pulling away mercilessly and laughing it off as if it were just a joke. For a woman like Bong Sun who's already emotionally fragile, playing with her feelings is probably NOT the best way to get her attention. And I know that Jae Hee has his reasons for being warm and cool, back and forth, but no girl deserves to be dangled like a string puppet like that for the sake of one man who can't seem to make up his mind on a relationship.

He insists that he's just joking, but then he also keeps showing up and doing things that would prove otherwise.

And so what a relief Episode Eight was for me when Jae Hee's Noble Idiocy dies almost as soon as he'd chosen to pull that trick. Openly admitting that he DOES indeed like Bong Sun and also realizing that his baggage might be better carried with one more person who is willing was a big, huge and reassuring step for him to make; it tells Bong Sun that not only will he take responsibility for her, but he's also asking her to help him through his tough time as well. He's asking for an equal weight relationship, which is quite refreshing for a K-drama main male lead, because, let's face it, men tend to think that they can take on the world as well as "their woman's" world all alone. And they think that all the girl has to do is sit back and watch as he solves all the problems.

Yea... if that were a possibility, we wouldn't have Noble Idiocy or wars.

Jae Hee's had a bad past and the fact is, he's in a fragile state, much like Bong Sun. And being able to see him let Bong Sun take care of him as he sobs into her shoulder was, well, it was just plain refreshing. Because we are shown a different side of the typical rom-com male lead; one who is willing to admit to his pain and willing to let the girl be there for him.

Asking Bong Sun to shoulder his problems with him if he'll promise to cross her bridge with her... I liked that.

And so Episode Eight was very refreshing with the "cute" phase for our couple and I'm glad that they were given at least that much. It was very light-hearted and I don't know if I've ever been this giddy about the sweet couple, lovey-dovey moments since I started watching K-drama. I get a lot of squeals and bright smiles for some love lines, but nothing like this giddy, giggly mess that I was in throughout Episode Eight. I seriously, could feel my skin crawling with embarrassed goosebumps at all the sweetness that was oozing from Episode Eight's few "dating montages".

And so as as far as the love line goes (which is usually what I'm all about) I just hope that the rest of the series can either pick up the tropes tastefully, or prove me wrong and things will NOT fall into the usual predictable twists and turns. Because while Jae Hee's Noble Idiocy was typical of a rom-com hero, it was expected and I'm glad it didn't last long. And right now with the evil schemings of Park Hwa Young, we're walking into more predictable territory, which could either turn out angsty and exciting, or just typical and frustrating. We'll see how it turns out.

I'm also glad to see that the supporting characters are getting some depth as well, but as far as story line goes, I'm not seeing how they tie in, which is a shame since I really like Seo Hyo Rim. Dal is turning out to be a really likeable (despite spoiled and arrogant) character and I look forward to the moment where she and Bong Sun can actually sit together and be sisters. I'm also glad that Bong Sun is beginning a short self-journey to facing her family problems concerning Mom (Dad is a completely separate issue all on its own and I'm not sure how she'll be able to manage that one).

On Jae Hee's side, I hope he starts being honest with Bong Sun soon. Too many lies and and too many secrets does not a lasting relationship make. I feel like he just needs to come clean with his true identity as well as his relation with Hwa Young -- otherwise, we're about to cross into the standard rom-com BIG MISUNDERSTANDING plot point. And that can get a little messy.

On a final note, the kiss scene:

Yowza! Are K-dramas getting more and more brazen lately or what? I'm totally NOT complaining, but I've come to associate Asian dramas (with TW drama as an acception) with chaste love lines and uber-conservative kisses akin to putting two pieces of paper together and holding them there for five minutes.

HOWEVER, both kiss scenes that occurred so far, in my opinion, were fairly forced into the story line. The events leading up to the kissing wasn't exactly meaningful nor did they make any sense to suddenly jump into a kiss like that. While I thoroughly enjoyed the "SQUEE!" factor at the little make-out scene in Episode Six, it was kind of forced in there as if for the sake of having a hotter than hot, open-mouthed, "Whoo Baby!" make out session.

What was the point of that kiss anyway? We're talking about stealing bags and being arrested and the like, but then suddenly Jae Hee grabs Bong Sun and kisses her? Heat of the moment? There hadn't been much heat going on, really. Or was he just trying to fluster up Bong Sun, fluster up himself, fluster up the viewers, and self-indulge at the same time? I guess it worked. But in the end, I really don't know what's going on through ANY of these character's minds. They don't think very normally except for our standard evil love rival (now I KNOW what SHE'S thinking, because it's very standard and predictable).

So maybe some of these actions don't need to make sense. It certain falls into character for them.

Anyway, once I get going, it's like I can't stop, and so this supposed "short and sweet" has once again become a not so short rambling.

In conclusion, I'm looking forward to the rest of this series, but I'm hoping that things don't fall short of it's initial quirkiness. I'm enjoying all of the unique characters and the fact that Jae Hee doesn't seem like the standard male lead makes me a bit optimistic that things won't become a chaotic mess of typical K-drama tropes just to finish off the series.


Related articles:
first impression: Me Too, Flower!
thoughts: Me Too, Flower! -- to whom it may concern


1 comment:

  1. Where do they film this? besides Korea?