Sunday, October 13, 2013

Unemployed Romance: Episode 1 Summary/Review

Friday dramas are a growing trend in the Korean drama landscape. What was once a night for news, documentaries and variety television has now started to become filled with prime time drama slots that are free from the heated ratings competition of the rest of the week. The second such drama that I've been exposed to comes in the form of Unemployed Romance, starring Lee Young-ah as down-and-out writer IM SEUNG-HEE and her ex-boyfriend KIM JONG-DAE played by Namgoong Min.

You can check out this first episode of Unemployed Romance at DramaFever, here!

Episode 1 Summary

We meet Seung-hee in a relatively trying time of her life--she's employed (but just barely) by a production company that produces only B-list TV shows like Love and Demise, and Kill Your Husband, and lives with a roommate (MOON SUN-JOO, played by Bae Seul-gi) who has vastly surpassed her in terms of career success. 

We later find out that Seung-hee was primed for the success that Sun-joo now enjoys, but her dreams were dashed when an accident (seemingly caused by ex-boyfriend Jong-dae) put her out of commission and unable to finish her first manuscript. She knows that Sun-joo only offered to share her apartment with Seung-hee so she could keep an eye on her, and the girls have a somewhat tense relationship with each other.

Seung-hee also has an amusingly rocky relationship with her older sister, who alternates between being perpetually angry at her husband and nagging Seung-hee about her poor career prospects. Regardless, Seung-hee relies on Unni for new drama ideas, and ventures out to find a new source of gossip when Unni has nothing new to share. In doing so, Seung-hee runs into a gossipy ahjumma who lives in her apartment building, and they become fast frenemies.

Soon after, on her way home one night, Seung-hee happens to meet hotty lawyer SONG WAN-HA (Seo Joon-young) who follows her to her apartment. Hilariously, she thinks him a creeper and bats him with her purse before giving him a chance to explain that he's here to meet with Sun-joo. Unfortunately (or, fortunately?) Sun-joo is caught up with something at work and asks Seung-hee to keep Wan-ha company until she can make it home.

The pair of them end up at dinner together, and Wan-ha seems oddly taken by Seung-hee by the end of the night. Still, his responsibilities lie with Sun-joo, so even though a nagging feeling has him convinced that he's met Seung-hee before, Mr. Geom-sa (prosecutor) ditches her at the end of the night to head to the coffee shop for a second time with Sun-joo.

Meanwhile, Seung-hee's boss, who'd gone to a casino to do research for a new show about gambling addictions becomes an addict himself. Seung-hee gets a call from her coworker that the crew for one of their shows is walking off the set after not being paid as Seung-hee faces loan sharks at the door of her apartment who are looking for her boss. The gangsters leave her with their business card and a promise from Seung-hee that she'll call if her boss resurfaces, and her coworker tells her their company has likely gone bankrupt.

Episode 1 Review

I like this show. That's my verdict after nearly a week of sitting on it and thinking over this first episode. It has its (numerous) flaws, but there's a quirky vibe here that appeals to my rom com radar.

Still, after this first episode, I would have liked to see a little more, yah know, romance. Well, not even romance. I'd have liked to see a little more of Namgoong Min than just a shot of him riding an escalator.

Clearly something went wrong between him and Seung-hee, though we don't know what, and it seems to be the case that he was the reason for the accident that made her unable to finish her first manuscript. I like the dynamic here, that he blames her for being the cause of his misfortune, but she blames him just as much. It'll be fun to see how everything plays out if they ever...  you know, actually meet each other again. Ughh. Pacing is not this show's strong suit.

You'd think, with the added pressure of having only 10 episodes to convey the story, the writer would want to speed things up a bit, but no. Still, I'm enjoying the interaction between Seung-hee and Wan-ha and look forward to that in the upcoming episodes. It's awful that I'm falling for the second lead already, but that is the nature of the beast when your leads don't share a single line of dialogue through the first hour.

I know. At this point I'm just being whiny. Overall, I'd give this first episode like a solid 5.5 or 6 out of 10. It was funny enough that it kept me watching, but it dragged in all the wrong places and I'm hoping that isn't something that continues to happen in the weeks to come.

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