With having finished ‘Find Me in Your Memory‘ as well as ‘Meow, the Secret Boy‘, I decided to occupy myself with new additional dramas alongside the ones I’m currently recapping (‘Oh My Baby‘, ‘Kkondae Intern‘, and ‘Dinner Mate‘). It’s nice to watch dramas that I can recap, but it’s also nice to just sit back and watch dramas that I don’t have to worry about recapping. Along with ‘Team Bulldog: Off-Duty Investigation’ which I touched upon in my last review, new shows that I’ve added to my list include ‘My Unfamiliar Family’ and ‘It’s Okay to Not Be Okay’ (You might also be curious as to how I have all the time to watch all these dramas at the same time which I’m not so sure about either. I guess that’s what being in quarantine does to you?).
*Potential spoilers below so read at your own risk!*
My Unfamiliar Family
A drama about a dysfunctional family trying not to be dysfunctional by exploring their complicated relationships and confronting their traumatic past that has lead them to where they are now? Count me in! ‘My Unfamiliar Family’ is a makjang-like drama about Kim Eun-hee (Han Ye-ri) who attempts to repair the many bridges in her family that have been damaged, including her bridge with older sister, Kim Eun-joo (Choo Ja-hyun). However, as she attempts to be the peacemaker in her family, she also has to make peace with herself and as she will come to find out, there are more secrets and unsaid truths than expected. Rounding out the cast includes Shin Jae-ha who plays Kim Ji-woo, the youngest in the family while Jung Jin-young and Won Mi-kyung portray their parents who gain a second chance at examining their marriage. Kim Ji-suk plays Park Chan-hyeok, Eun-hee’s best friend who she gets in touch with again after a fall-out a few years back.
‘My Unfamiliar Family’ has a way in ringing you in to the point where you just can’t seem to stop watching. There’s not a lot happening plot wise, but the drama does a spectacular job in keeping you intrigued, engaged, and engrossed. With every passing episode comes secrets or reveals that you or the characters were not expecting; with every passing episode are layers and layers that are peeled and you can’t help but sit on the edge of your seat and wait to see how everything will unfold. The drama does this through the various relationships that remain largely complicated and messy. Who knew that a 5-member family would have such tangled and complex and multi-dimensional relationships?
To provide more context and depth on the family relations, the show focuses in on three primary relationships: the parents, Eun-hee with Eun-joo, and Eun-joo with her husband, Tae-hyung (Kim Tae-hoon). I’ll admit, out of the three primary relationships, I’m the most interested in watching Eun-hee and Eun-joo. They’re two hot-headed sisters whose personality and attitudes clash, but they also care for each other in their own ways. Lots of misunderstandings come about as a result and it’s not easy for the both of them to get along. However, family is family to them and the two have to come together on occasions that relate to their other family members even if the two sisters have bad blood with each other.
Eun-hee and Eun-joo’s parents served as that catalyst in bringing back the family together largely in part because they wanted to get a divorce. Our parents had hardships and struggles of their own that they were going through, but only found the courage and strength to “graduate from marriage” once their children were older and would hopefully be more understanding. I like how the drama gave our parents a second chance at reexamining and re-evaluating their marriage with Dad’s incident. It was a nice refreshing take on the amnesia trope for Dad who traveled back to much happier and brighter times in his life. It also allowed for Mom to take a stroll through memory lane and recall just how sweet and loving and caring their relationship once was. Even though she might not necessarily feel that way in the present and she won’t easily change her mind, it’s a good reminder for Mom that she and Dad was in love with each other at one point.
Marriage is also another key theme in this drama. From our parents to Eun-hee’s marriage with Tae-hyung, marriage requires a lot of work in order to work. However, no matter how much work you put into the marriage, sometimes some thing are just not meant to be. Eun-hee’s marriage with Tae-hyung is so compelling in that they remain so professional with each other. Their marriage is simply just for show and it’s an image put together by the couple to persuade not only others but even themselves that they’re still together. However, as we saw in episode 8, Eun-hee and Tae-hyung are just a couple on paper and their relationship had already been falling through the cracks for a while. From Eun-hee’s infertility issues to Tae-hyung’s sexual orientation, their marriage had already been rocky from the start. Was it ever genuine? Or did they get married simply to protect themselves?
While Eun-joo remains by far the most interesting character to me with just how stern, cold, and honest she is, it’s Eun-hee’s actions that I feel the most conflicted about. I’ll admit: I was not a big fan of how she slept with her boss, Gun-joo (Shin Dong-wook), despite knowing that he was in a stagnant 9-year relationship with his girlfriend (it was still a relationship nonetheless). The fact that she went over to his place left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, but it also made me realize that Eun-hee herself is not all that innocent either. What’s even more interesting is the fact that she’s never set herself up to be innocent. She’s well aware of her actions and she feels conflicted on her relationship with Gun-joo, but she still goes along with it anyways. She knows what she’s doing and a part of her feels guilty for doing it, but she can’t stop herself. Eun-hee isn’t all that perfect either even if she’s trying to make herself be the peacemaker in the family and I think that’s what remains so fascinating about her.
Of course, me being me and me really liking Kim Ji-suk, I’m heavily enjoying Chan-hyuk’s friendship with Eun-hee in the show so far. I’m going to be even happier if the drama decides to embark on the ‘friends-to-lovers’ trope for the two close friends. Although he denies it, it’s obvious that Chan-hyuk cares for Eun-hee and is there for her when she needs him. Meanwhile, Eun-hee feels a sense of comfort around Chan-hyuk to the point where she can be vulnerable in front of him and tell him all her conflicting thoughts without feeling like she’s being judged. She goes to him during times of difficulties or struggles and I love the dynamic between the two. They might just be great friends for now with a complicated history of their own, but Chan-hyuk is just as involved with Eun-hee’s family struggles. He too is being dragged into their family issues so it’ll be interesting to not only watch him learn more about the family but also hopefully be able to provide support for Eun-hee as things progress.
I really have to give it up to the cast for their stellar performances and great acting! Han Ye-ri is always so good (I really liked her in ‘Age of Youth’) so it doesn’t come as a surprise that she’s exceptional in here as well. The same goes to Choo Ja-hyun who plays the cold, aloof, and distant sister whose personality can be off-putting for some (including Eun-hee). Kim Ji-suk is always great and I love him in here just as much as I liked him in ‘When the Camelia Blooms.’ His chemistry with Han Ye-ri is electric and I’m REALLY loving their relationship with each other. I was surprised to find cutie Shin Dong-wook in this drama after I last watched him in ‘Dae Jang-geum Is Watching.’ I actually had no idea that he was in the show so seeing him was a pleasant surprise. I’m not the biggest fan of his character per se, but damn, does he portray the sweet, pleasing, smooth, and push-n-pull type of character well in this drama.
With Eun-joo’s marriage with Tae-hyung now up in flames, how are the rest of the family going to react and process the news? How will Eun-joo accept her new reality? How will Eun-hee support her older sister who she doesn’t necessarily get along with the most, but who she feels for and wants to comfort? Being family does not mean that everything will be pitch perfect, simple, or pretty. Often times, there’s are tears, shouting, fights, and arguments that blur up those lines. ‘My Unfamiliar Family’ hits close to home for me in some ways and maybe that’s why I enjoy it. Not everyone is perfect and not everything is perfect. ‘My Unfamiliar Family’ does a great job in showcasing that message, perfectly.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
(He’s SOOOOOO pretty *_____*)
KIM SOO-HYUN. KIM SOO-HYUNNNN. That’s it! That’s the tweet. That’s all you need to give the drama a try. I mean, he certainly was the reason as to why I decided to give the show a watch and he’ll probably remain the primary reason as to why I stay (other than brilliant and talented Oh Jung-se).
Okay, just to backtrack, to be honest, I had no intentions or plans to actually watch ‘It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.’ I really didn’t. But then after seeing just how excited everyone else was about the drama and with the first two episodes out, I decided to give it a try. I went in without having seen any teasers or video clips or even reading the premise. I had no clue or expectations as to what the drama was gonna be about. All I knew was that this was Kim Soo-hyun’s first lead role upon returning from military service and that the writer also penned ‘Jugglers’ which I enjoyed. Combine this with the director whose former works include ‘Encounter’ and ‘Jealousy Incarnate’ and I thought, why not give it a try?
I’ll be honest, the first two episodes were not amazing or phenomenal, but they were enough for me to give next week’s episodes a watch. Some dramas do a wonderful job in building the foundation of the show and keeping you engaged and fascinated. It keeps you wanting more. ‘It’s Okay to Not Be Okay’ didn’t necessarily do that for me and it didn’t have that big of an impact on me personally, but there were enough aspects to the show that made me want to keep watching. I think the directing is what really elevates the show to be even bigger and better and prettier. The directing goes above and beyond and I definitely think the show would not have captured as many details about the characters or made things as interesting to watch if it was directed by someone else. Given that Seo Ye-ji’s character, Ko Moon-young, is a children’s book author, I liked how the director added in some subtle touches that showcases that, such as with the animations and drawings and colors that came to life as Oh Jung-se’s character, Moon Sang-tae, was walking to Moon-young’s booksigning event. These little touches makes the drama funner to watch and everything just seems to align. It all makes so much more sense. The directing was what sold me to stay.
As we saw with the first two episodes, both Moon-young as well as Kim Soo-hyun‘s character, Moon Kang-tae, have traumatic childhood experiences that they still are both affected by in the present. It also seems as if both were childhood friends or acquaintances of some sort and actually knew each other when they were younger. However, they separated once Kang-tae became scared and aware of Moon-young’s dark and mysterious colors and the little crush he had on his friend faded as well. Fast forward to the present and they’re reunited under very different circumstances. Moon-young is now a children book’s writer/author while Kang-tae works at a psychiatric ward and it’s as if destiny or fate lead the two back to each other.
The overall tone of the drama sort of reminds me of ‘Hotel del Luna’ in the way that Moon-young is dark, mysterious, and strong-headed. She prefers witches over princesses and she dresses up in these extravagant, colorful, and bold outfits and she says whatever it is on her mind. She’s also not afraid to be brutal and honest regardless of who it is she’s talking to and she moves forward with things when she has something on her mind. Seo Ye-ji is doing a great job in playing that brusque, blunt, and elegant lady whose heart and mind has warmed up to Moon Kang-tae. Do I enjoy the mild stalking that she’s committed towards Kang-tae and the fact that she found him back at his hometown all the way in the countryside? Not so much. But I do think it fits within her character and it makes sense that she would do such a thing given what we’ve seen of her so far. I don’t think Moon-young is the type to listen to others or to do what others say so it’ll be interesting to watch Kang-tae try to build boundaries with Moon-young.
Like others have mentioned, I like how the drama is providing insight on what it’s like to be a caregiver for someone with special needs. Oh Jung-se plays Moon Sang-tae, Kang-tae’s older brother, who suffers from Autism Spectrum Disorder. Seeing how the two brothers only have each other to rely on (as well as Kang-tae’s friend, Jae-soo), it’s not easy for Kang-tae but he does the best that he can given the challenging living situation they are in. He often finds himself being blamed for his brother’s mistakes or having to take the fall for his brother or defending his brother many times. However, it doesn’t worry Kang-tae because he genuinely loves his brother and Sang-tae is the only family he’s got. He knows his brother more than anyone else and he needs his brother as much as his brother needs him. Even though Kang-tae does his best to make Sang-tae happy (such as accompanying him to Moon-young’s booksigning event which he originally didn’t want to go to in the first place), there are also moments where he’s not so successful in making his brother happy. There are times where Kang-tae struggles to take care of his brother and every experience and interaction is a learning lesson for him. He’s been doing this for so many years, but it is still just as challenging as it is rewarding. That’s what makes Sang-tae and Kang-tae’s familial relationship so heartwarming to watch. Kang-tae cares for Sang-tae, not just as a caregiver but simply as a brother.
I’m curious as to why Kang-tae’s jobs at the different psychiatric hospitals and wards always ended in less than a year. The drama hinted that it had something to do with ‘butterflies’ so it seems as if some kind of incident related to butterflies happens at a certain time of the year. However, I don’t think there was a set explanation for Kang-tae’s transition to the different psychiatric wards so it’ll be interesting to watch what the show means with this. It’ll also be interesting to watch Kang-tae work in his hometown that proved to be traumatic and stressful for him because of the terrifying incidents and memories he associates with it. Growing up in his hometown wasn’t the easiest and nicest moment in his life so I’m curious as to what type of impact it’ll have on Kang-tae and whether the experiences he had in his hometown will come back to haunt him or not. Even Moon-young had flashes of terror and trauma related to her dad who she claims doesn’t exist for her anymore. Although he is physically alive, Moon-young considers him as good as dead so I hope the drama shines more light on both Moon-young and Kang-tae’s backstory and backgrounds. Moon-young remains confident, carefree, intimidating, and mysterious, but there must surely be some reasoning for that. Or maybe as Kang-tae stated, she was just born this way and there’s nothing she can do to change. However, that’s also the charming thing about Moon-young: she’s so different from everyone else and I like that she stands out. It keeps everyone on their toes, Kang-tae included.
Kim Soo-hyun and Seo Ye-ji’s chemistry in here is also electric and charismatic. They both hold well individually, but seeing them together makes for an even more intense and magnetic watch. It’s so interesting how Kang-tae is your boy-next-door type of character while Moon-young is the complete opposite, but yet when they’re together, they each stand their ground. Moon-young isn’t afraid of anyone or anything and her walls are built fairly and strongly high up, but Kang-tae doesn’t remain phased either. Unlike Moon-young’s staff who are intimidated by her, Kang-tae stays grounded and confident against Moon-young. But maybe it’s this ‘opposites attract’ type of dynamic that makes their chemistry so electric and strong and why watching them together on screen is such a delight. It’s such a pleasant surprise.
After finishing the first 2 episodes, I’m still debating as to whether I want to recap ‘It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.’ I’m afraid to start recaps for it and then soon find myself not enjoying it as much as I thought I would or wanted to with later episodes. While I did generally enjoy the first two episodes, I’m also still remaining fairly cautious (I learned my lesson with ‘The King’). I don’t want to get too ahead of myself and get too excited because we are only two episodes in (and even then, they weren’t the most compelling episodes for me). I think I’ll wait until episodes 3 and 4 to make my decision as to whether I’ll recap it or not. Even if ‘It’s Okay to Not Be Okay’ doesn’t necessarily have that pull on me, I think I’ll continue to watch it for funsies. Pulling screenshots from first two episodes reminded me of why I want to keep watching the drama in the first place: the directing is magical and so is the cast. I hope the remaining episodes keep it up.
Extra screenshots from both dramas because they’re too pretty to not capture~