[Drama Review] ‘My Sassy Girl’ – Episodes 1 & 2

[Drama Review] ‘My Sassy Girl’ – Episodes 1 & 2

Joo Won: “Here we go with another babbly drama review…” (Just kidding!)

Hello everyone! Starting this week, allkpop will be reviewing SBS’s new Mon-Tues fusion historical drama, ‘My Sassy Girl’ starring Joo Won and Oh Yeon Seo!

The historical drama remake takes after the renowned 2001 romantic comedy movie starring Jun Ji Hyun and Cha Tae Hyun. A second movie, called ‘My New Sassy Girl’, was also made as a Chinese-Korean production in 2016, bringing back Cha Tae Hyun alongside f(x)’s Victoria. Prior to the drama’s premiere, Oh Jin Seok PD of the drama staff stated in a press conference that while the drama is in the most traditional sense an official remake of the famous movie in drama form, it will also stand as a production of its own. 

Before this review, I decided to re-watch both the previous movies, so that I could provide fresh, clear comparisons between the movies and the drama. I will mostly be discussing the similarities and differences between the original 2001 ‘My Sassy Girl’ movie and the 2017 drama, so I will go ahead and mention: Logistically speaking, ‘My New Sassy Girl’ was a production which failed to capture the essence of the first movie in a new and continued form. Not only did the story and characters veer off from the original piece, but due to the negative reactions of a second movie being made in the first place, many people, have not seen ‘My New Sassy Girl’ at all, and elements from the second film will most likely not appear in the historical drama. I apologize to any fans of ‘My New Sassy Girl’, but to give my best critique of ‘My Sassy Girl’ the drama in comparison to ‘My Sassy Girl’ the original movie, I won’t be able to address the second movie for the duration of my review while the drama is airing. 

(From here forward, I will now address ‘My Sassy Girl’ the original 2001 movie as ‘OM’. Whenever you see ‘OM’ written in the following review and more reviews to come, it refers to ‘original movie’!)

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Because this is the first review for episodes 1 & 2 of the drama, I will take a moment to mention some overarching themes/devices from the ‘OM’ which I will be looking for in the drama series. They include: 

1. How a girl who speaks her mind, has an attitude, and does not act ‘ladylike’ by social standards can still be lovable.

2. Putting in the effort to create/nurture one’s own fate.

3. A male protagonist who seemingly has bad luck; life doesn’t go his way. A device used to drive the comic aspect of the story.

4. Narrations/breaking the 4th wall

As we move on further, of course, more elements from the ‘OM’ will be used to critique the drama. I hope the pointers mentioned above will be a good starting point. Having come across several interviews by the drama’s production team as they kept claiming that the drama will be different from the ‘OM’, well, as I watched the first two episodes, I couldn’t help but notice how many STRIKING SIMILARITIES there were! (Note: Unlike most drama series which broadcast about hour-long episodes per day, this drama has chosen to broadcast two short, 30-min episodes per day.)

Take a look below at some of the comparative screen captures. I mean, different, but same, right?

Carrying the intoxicated girl:

Getting scammed at a cheap motel:

Watching the intoxicated girl sleep:

Thrown in prison with scary-looking thugs:

From what we’ve seen so far in episodes 1 & 2, the drama brings over the structural story of the ‘OM’ right into a historical setting. The drama may take place in the Joseon era, but it’s still about Gyeonwoo (played by Joo Won) and Geunyeo (played by Oh Yeon Seo), and their love story. Surprisingly enough, this historical drama remake of ‘My Sassy Girl’ really is a true and classic “remake” of the ‘OM’. Gyeonwoo’s character still has a knack for running into trouble, as well as the embarssing and funny situations. The glaring difference between Gyeonwoo from the ‘OM’ and Joseon’s Gyeonwoo is that Joseon’s Gyeonwoo isn’t a picked-up-off-the-streets, super ordinary guy. Joseon’s Gyeonwoo is a teeny bit more special than that; he’s a genius who receives favor from the king and who has been educated in the highest degree by the era’s standards. He’s also gifted with very good looks, and naturally, the ability attract female admirers left and right. Geunyeo, or Princess Hyemyung, also has similarities and differences from the ‘OM’s Geunyeo. Princess Hyemyung is still a hothead who does what she wants, can’t stand injustice, speaks her mind where ever she is, and tends to be violent. But Princess Hyemyung’s character faces more limitations than Geunyeo from the ‘OM’ did. She is a political figure, the daughter of a queen who was deposed, and a woman of marriageable age in a time period when marriage was completely out of women’s control. 

Joseon-era-style idol posters

The next topic to discuss as we dabble in critiquing the similarities and difference in the ‘OM’ versus the historical drama remake, are the external elements which have come into play in the drama. The most prominent being? Well in the ‘OM’, there was no such thing as an antagonist, was there? But already in the first two episodes in the drama, we become introduced to a very problematic antagonist. A member of the king’s political advisory board named Jung Ki Joon. In league with him is the current queen, a former concubine. Additional characters who will be contributing to the drama as external characters include the captain of the royal guard,  Kang Jun Young (played by CNBLUE’s Jungshin), the mysterious man Gyeonwoo meets in the prison cell Choon Poong (played by Shim Hyung Tak), the little crown prince, Princess Hyemyung’s servants, and so on. The plot of the drama will also have more side stories, unlike the ‘OM’. A historical drama wouldn’t be a historical drama, well, if it didn’t have to do with the political and social struggles of the time, now, would it? 

Strongly getting the feeling that Master Doggy will be everyone’s favorite character for the entire drama…

So diving into the next couple of episodes to come, we still have to be attentive of additional characters and further character exploration to find out exactly where they stand and what struggles they’re dealing with. One question that I had was why Gyeonwoo decided to look for the girl, who supposedly scammed him and put him in jail. It makes more sense to avoid the person and forget about the misfortune altogether? (as the ‘OM’s Gyeonwoo tried to do?) Also, I personally felt that seeing all of the parallel scenes from the ‘OM’ surprised me more than entertained me in the first two episodes so far. Maybe because I hadn’t been expecting such mirror-like scenes? If the drama continues with the concept, than I’m sure that we’ll all get used to it, and once we get used to it is when we’ll be able to critique the techniques used without letting surprise be too dominant in our judgement. While adjusting to the mirror-like elements from the ‘OM’, of course, we’ll be doing our best to also view the drama and the story as a separate production as well, trying to judge the satisfactory level of the plot, performance, pacing, etc. 

I hope this review was and will continue to be insightful for those watching the drama who may be fans of the original ‘My Sassy Girl’ movie, for those who want to watch it for it alone, and any others! Til the next episodes!

I’m hiding a little secret in my Doraemon pouch and you can’t know what it is.

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