[What Mary Thinks] Our Beloved Summer

I wanted to like this one. I really did. I still could, but ultimately, I think I’m going to need more time.

Choi Woo-shik returns from his huge ‘Parasite’ success with ‘Our Beloved Summer’ and is reunited with co-star, Kim Da-mi, who many know from the hit drama ‘Itaewon Class’ (where she acted alongside Choi Woo-shik’s bestie, Park Seo-joon). The two star in ‘Our Beloved Summer’ as former enemies-turned-lovers-turned-strangers when a past documentary they shot together in high school compels them to reunite five years later.

You know, I wasn’t really sure how to feel about the drama after finishing the second episode. As blunt and direct as this may be, I wasn’t a big fan of episode one. The directing and filming wasn’t my cup of tea and the story was a little too plain for me. It didn’t have enough flavor to it and I wasn’t as engaged as I wanted to be. I also felt like the drama was trying to be a bit too much for a slice-of-life drama with the editing and camerawork when all I needed was something simple and cute. I wasn’t a big fan of the heavy editing and half-second shots and frames that the drama was constantly doing with each scene in episode one. I felt iffy after finishing the first episode and didn’t enjoy it all that much, but I decided to give the second episode a try. First episodes can be tricky sometimes and I at least try to give the drama a second chance with the second episode. I think giving ‘Our Beloved Summer’ that second chance with the second episode was a good idea and thankfully it worked out because it turned out to be a much better watch than the first episode for me.

That’s not saying much since the first episode wasn’t all that great to begin with for me. However, I found that the second episode slowed down a bit and wasn’t trying to be or do more than it really was. I also liked the small timeline and flashback we got of Choi Woo-shik and Kim Da-mi’s relationship as lovers compared to the clips in the first episode where we saw them filming as enemies for their popular high school documentary. I assume we’re going to get glimpses into their relationship and how they developed feelings for each other and what their relationship was like as partners to what eventually lead to a break-up. As great as it is watching the two meet unexpectedly five years later on a project where they’re obviously at two very different phases in their lives, I’m more curious about their shared past together and the history behind that. What were they like as a couple? Why did they break up and how did that go?

There was something charming watching the two somehow try to act coy and nonchalant with their reunion and try not to be obvious about their feelings for each other. It’s clear that there’s still some misunderstandings about their break-up and that there’s still some level of silent yearning that the two have for each other. They don’t want to say it outright, but maybe the two haven’t exactly moved from five years ago and are pretending as if they have when really they haven’t. They’re still hurt from what happened when they last interacted and haven’t exactly gotten the kind of closure to their relationship that they needed or wanted. I love me some angst so you know I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more angsty angst between the two in the future.

Something else that I also liked about the drama is watching the two grow from when we saw them in high school to where they are in the present. Even though Choi Woo-shik’s character is a successful artist, it seems as if he also wants to do more and is yearning for more in his life. Kim Da-mi’s character struggles to be confident in herself and her career trajectory, especially considering that she was at the top of her class back in high school. Her journey has not been easy and I like that although it seems as if the two are on opposite sides of the spectrum in terms of success, they both also share a similar attitude in that they want more and aren’t necessarily all that satisfied with where they are currently in their respective lives. Maybe that’s where the reunion between the two comes in handy. The two can support each other along the way by bringing out the best in the other.

I think my biggest issue with the drama lied with how cliche the drama seemed. Things that we have seen many many times in K-dramaland before made its way into this drama so as great as Choi Woo-shik and Kim Da-mi are, it wasn’t as fun to watch the drama because I already knew what was going to happen. I wasn’t surprised that Kim Da-mi reunited with Choi Woo-shik’s character at the end of episode one despite him using an alias. The drama was trying to play it as some type of mystery, but it was obvious that they were going to eventually meet each other again for the project collaboration in which Kim Da-mi did end up showing up at Choi Woo-shik’s door. The drama was also a bit too trope-y for me, such as was the case with the ‘I-was-intoxicated-and-do-not-remember-what-I-said-or-did-that-night-and-now-I’m-panicking-and-cringing’ moment that we saw with Kim Da-mi’s character in episode two. Then eventually, the second episode wrapped up with an elevator scene where Choi Woo-shik and Kim Da-mi happened to be the only two trapped inside of the elevator in that moment for a few seconds. I get that K-dramas will be trope-y and sometimes do cliche stuff. It’s the inevitable. But for a drama that didn’t have that much to offer to begin with, I would have liked it if the drama did something different instead of presenting us with stuff we’ve seen many times before in other dramas.

Choi Woo-shik is so so good and even with the limited action that we’ve seen from him so far in this drama, he continues to prove why he’s such a darn good actor. I love his comedic acting and his comedic timing is so on point. Whether it’s the comedic relief he provides or the more serious moments in which he questions his thoughts, feelings, and confusion about his past with Kim Da-mi’s character, he does it all so well and I’m impressed at how easy he makes it look. He can do one and the other so effortlessly and I’m effortlessly in love with him. I’m so glad and happy to see him back on the small screen again.

‘Our Beloved Summer’ was not quite what I expected or wanted it to be, especially considering that it was a drama that seasoned actors like Choi Woo-shik and up and coming actors like Kim Da-mi took on. Maybe it’s a drama that I’m going to eventually warm up to. I think the potential is definitely there, the chemistry between the two actors are there, and the opportunities for the drama to truly come alive are there. I’m just going to need a bit more from the drama and also hope that they scale back on the tropes and cliche scenes. The director and writer to this drama are a little newer and they don’t have as many well-known projects under their belt, but that’s not to say that ‘Our Beloved Summer’ won’t be good. I think ‘Our Beloved Summer’ can be a beloved drama. Let’s just hope it picks things up in the next week or else I won’t end up finding out what kind of drama it was.

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