[HanCinema’s Drama Review] “My Sassy Girl – Drama” Episodes 1-2

[HanCinema’s Drama Review] “My Sassy Girl – Drama” Episodes 1-2

The first half of the first episode of “My Sassy Girl – Drama” consists entirely of an elaborate royal conspiracy. It involves nighttime, massive swordfights, escapes, a perilous childbirth scene, and is generally completely indistinguishable from a serious historical drama prologue. Then we flash forward ten years later and scholar Gyeon-woo (played by Joo Won) is trying to maintain balance on a boat while narrating about how cool and beloved he was back in China.

“My Sassy Girl – Drama” is low brow in a way seldom seen in Korean dramas anymore. The entire style of humor is plucked straight from the early two thousands, with characters briefly being given dignity for the sole purpose of creating a joke wherein they inevitably lose it. I don’t especially like Gyeon-woo. He’s really smug. So it was oddly gratifying when he runs into Princess Hyeomhyeong (played by Oh Yeon-seo), who reacts to his coolness by behaving like a drunk psycho.

Princess Hyeomhyeong is an odd character. She is frankly, not that pretty (most due to overly heavy makeup), and her personality is even worse. Yet Princess Hyeomhyeong is a curiously bewitching main character on account of how she overreacts to every minor slight. The more I saw of her, the more I understood that weird dramatic prologue. Princess Hyeomhyeong is the worst possible enemy to such a conspiracy, because she is completely unwilling to act in a predictable pliant manner no matter how dangerous the potential consequences.

I can actually see how these two wildly divergent tones could work together. It definitely helps that, crude as the jokes may be, they are often understated as necessary. Take the scene at the inn. Not the one in the room, but at the desk, where the design is so blatantly anachronistic that even Gyeon-woo comments on it. A lot of the charm in “My Sassy Girl – Drama” is just from these goofy background details.

The entire Chinese sequence is another good example- the whole thing is an obvious reference to Chinese fandoms of Korean idols. I can’t tell whether an actual Chinese fan would find this cute or offensive, although with the anti-THAAD boycott, it doesn’t really matter. The production team is just throwing whatever weird idea they can come up with at the wall to try and see what sticks. That sentiment, at least, is pretty accurate to the original “My Sassy Girl” concept, although it remains to be seen whether that energy can be sustained for a full drama.

Review by William Schwartz

“My Sassy Girl – Drama” is directed by Oh Jin-seok, written by Yoon Hyo-je and features Joo Won, Oh Yeon-seo, Lee Jung-shin, Kim Yoon-hye, Son Chang-min, and Yoon Se-ah.

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