Joo Jun Yeong, a producer working her way in the male dominated world of drama creators. Co-star Hyun Bin plays her mentor, who makes Joo's character's life miserable at first, but later discovers his affection toward the hard-working and passionate newcomer.
Cast & Credits
Story-The story is about how the drama world functions, it tries to highlight the differences and similarities between dramas and real life. In the romantic part it's completely different from any kdrama that I've ever seen. So to give you an idea, the leads are exes, so it isn't about how they fall in love, but rather how real couples relate. I loved it because it was a completely realistic story and the kind of romance that shows is completely mature, as opposed to you typical romcom. Also I love that the story isn't only about their relationship. It really shows how the drama business function, and I loved the stories of the supporting characters, specially Uhm Ki Joon and Seo Hyo Rim's. I love that throughout the drama you can see all kinds of love, and that the main idea it that sometimes reality is way better.
Cast-Hyun Bin and Song Hye Kyo are like the bomb together, they have so much chemistry that at some scenes I thought the whole thing was gonna explode. I wasn't surprised at all when I found out they announced they were a couple in real life two months after the drama, I mean, you could totally see it through the screen. I loved Son Hye Kyo's evolution from Full House to Worlds Within, it shows she really grew as an actress and left behind her innocent self. The supporting actors where all really great, and each really had a chance to shine at least in an episode.
Music-The olnly thing that wasn't perfect in here. It wasn't bad but it wasn't anything special. Actually, it resembles a lot to My Girl's OST.
Rewatch Value-Definitely will rewatch it soon, I loved it, specially the cute scenes that make your heart melt.
Overall-This is a great drama, I recommend it for anyone, it has everything from romance (a lot), to comedy, family, friendship, drama and simply life.
I really loved this drama and I hope that through this review I can encourage at least a person to watch it. If you ever read this and because of this start watchingt this drama, please send me a message or leave a comment on my profile, it would mean a lot to me.
THE STORY - There are two sides to the plot. First, there’s the behind the scenes look at drama production in Korea & secondly the complicated love lives of the people who work in this industry. I was very pleased with the former, but not so much the latter.
I loved getting a glimpse into how productions go down in Korea. Even though I work in film production rather than TV production, I recognized well every challenge the young directors face because I face them in my own career too. The huge pressure of wanting to stay true to your artistic values while trying to satisfy overbearing executives who control your career, difficult actors, bad working conditions, productions going over budget & over schedule. Yup, been there, done that. There were also significant differences that really shocked me. I won’t get into details, but let’s just say Korean production crews deserve every respect for their dedication to their jobs. They work under some very extreme conditions that would have unions shutting us down here in the West.
THE MATURE TONE & MOOD OF THE DRAMA - I loved that in this drama sex isn’t the usual pink elephant in the room that’s never acknowledged. The drama is written by adults for adults, and that mature tone and mood permeates the show. The chemistry is just popping. If only more Korean dramas are like this. Unlike so many other Asian dramas - I actually BELIEVED the couple are indeed a couple.
THE ACTING - Overall the acting isn’t bad. Most of the supporting cast are great & like other reviewers said I too really enjoyed the storyline of Hæ Jin and Gyo Ho. I never thought their relationship would play out the way it did. I had a bad first impression of Gyo Ho, but he completely redeems himself by the end.
As for the leads, since coming to dramaland some 7-8 mths ago I’ve heard an earful about Hyun Bin. This was my first opportunity to see him in action & I must say I get the hype. He is gorgeous! There were times when I really envied Song Hye Kyo, that she should be so lucky to play house with such an amazingly handsome guy.
But anyway … now that that’s out of the way, I think, acting wise, what Hyun Bin has going for him is that he’s got some of the most expressive eyes I’ve ever seen on a male Korean actor. The eyes are one of an actor’s most powerful tools. Look at the most successful, well-regarded actors and they all have these amazingly expressive eyes that can convey any variety of emotions: love, anger, sadness, indifference … I believe this is true for Hyun Bin. All he has to do is just look at his co-star and you can feel his emotions through his eyes without him having to open his mouth.
Hyun Bin certainly has the skills, the charisma and the charm to be a really powerful actor. However, he was still a relatively young man in this drama, 25-26 yrs at the time of filming. So he didn’t have much life experience that would've added an extra layer of nuance to his performance. For this reason sometimes his acting did come across a bit immature. Had nothing to do with the character he played (an immature guy in his own right, sure), but just the fact that life experience adds another dimension to how you process the world around you & thus how you interpret a role.
Lead actress Song Hye Kyo is not able to emote on the same level as Hyun Bin. The one emotion she's good at in this drama was ire. That is not to say she’s a bad actress because she isn’t, per se. One of the characters, an actress playing an actress, made an interesting observation: she said many young actors don’t know how to apply acting techniques. They try to portray emotion in a very literal, mechanical fashion, for eg if they’re supposed to be angry they scream, if they’re supposed to be sad, they weep etc … it’s an interesting observation because I think this describes both Hyun Bin & Song Hye Kyo’s performances well, but more so hers than his. This is true of Hyun Bin only when he expresses anger (his rantings & ravings were hilarious and cute, though lol), but with Song I felt like this mechanical interpretation of her character’s emotions is her default approach. I didn’t like it, but okay.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK SO WELL:
JI-OH & JOON YOUNG'S RELATIONSHIP - Their relationship is annoying & immature, probably because both characters are really just big babies that throw temper tantrums when they don't get their way or say dumb sh-- because they don’t know how to express their emotions in an adult fashion. Ji-oh and Joon Young fight over the dumbest things. The childishness grated on my nerves, and as the drama ended I didn’t feel confident that they’ll last any amount of time with this type of dynamic between them. They were together before, broke up then got back together, but neither one of them seem to have grown from this experience. This feeling took away from my enjoyment of the show because for me what makes a great romance drama is the feeling I’m left with at the end, that even though no relationship is perfect they’ll be able to overcome the trials life throws at them & live together happily.
THE SHOW'S ATTEMPT TO BE PHILOSOPHICAL - the show’s attempt to philosophize about how life imitates art fell flat for me. All the introspective commentary just felt like they were trying too hard to be 'different', for the lack of a better term. Contrived.
THE FEMALE LEADS - But by far what provoked me the most about this show ... some of the female characters, in particular two of the 3 female leads. The main female character Joo Joon Young, played by Song Hye Kyo is, when all is said and done, not a very likable person.
Joon Young is a driven, ambitious, career-minded young woman. She works in a male dominated environment where she deals with a lot of sexism & has to hold her own. I loved all this about her because when it comes to work, I related to her character so well. She lives my life & with great panache (as I would like to think I approach my work as well).
On a personal level though Joon Young is rude, selfish, spiteful and cruel, sometimes for no good reason whatsoever. I think the deficiency in the characters is both as a result of how she’s written and how she’s played by Song Hye Kyo. There’s not one perfect character in this drama, but it’s one thing to have a character who is human and isn’t always cookie cutter perfect & another to have complete jerks & bitches with NO redeeming qualities.
Take for example Ji - Oh, played by Hyun Bin. He verbally and physically abuses his staff on set, and loses his temper left, right and centre. But once the production is wrapped & the stress of the situation tones down he’ll humbly apologize and take everyone out for soju. In his love relationship he has a mean streak that rears its ugly head when he feels cornered by emotions he can’t process, but again once he comes to his senses he’ll humbly apologize and ask for forgiveness. So just when you’re convinced he’s a jerk, he turns around and convinces you otherwise. This made him very human & very sympathetic because even though he makes mistakes that sometimes hurt people, he accepts responsibility & expresses remorse.
Joon Young, on the other hand, never takes responsibility for anything even when she’s blatantly in the wrong. Here’s one example (out of many) of what I mean:
There’s a particular scene in which she agrees to meet another character at a restaurant. She sent a text saying that she is going to be late. She doesn’t say how late, but naturally the other person is not expecting her to turn up 2.5 hrs late. But that's exactly what she does. And when the character expresses annoyance, instead of apologizing, she gets all huffy and argues that she did send a text and blah blah. As if she’s so great that anyone should wait around 2.5 hrs for her. That type of arrogance. That type of rudeness. Ugh. This is just 1 of MANY such scenarios. She’s missing a real sensitivity chip and that made it difficult to like her.
I initially rated this drama a 7, but decided to raise it to an 8 because in the end it became somewhat of a masterclass for me. It made me think about how I develop my own work, esp female characters that I may write in the future. TWTTLI also has other good things going for it, so I’d still highly recommend it to anyone who likes a nice, adult drama. Moreover this was the best introduction ever to the lovely mr. Hyun Bin. Not sure if I’m a fan yet, but yeah he’s got me all hot n bothered alright! Haha! :-)