Hello everyone. As promised I have resumed drama watching in order to catch up and bring this blog back to life. I’m actually pretty proud of myself, as I’ve managed to watch both Ssam My Way and Ruler: Master of the Mask within one week. Yes, I can marathon (when I’m motivated enough). Now, I know what you’re thinking. Noel watched …a… r-rom…c-com?11!1?? Hard to believe, I know. It’s pretty much unheard of since I hate romcoms with every brittle bone in my body. However, sometimes I’m willing to temporarily fight this hatred in order to support an actor/actress I like; in this case, Park Seo Joon. I think a great way to sum up this drama is to say that it delivered in all the areas where I felt the drama, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, fell flat. However, it is not without its own set of flaws. Continue on for my final thoughts.
[Be Forewarned: Spoilers Below].
Park Seo Joon: I felt this role really suited an actor like Park Seo Joon. Seo Joon is very good looking, and I love him a lot, but I think he still has a lot of room to grow in terms of acting. Right now, I’d say he’s okay, but not amazing. I think Hwarang helped me to solidify that thought. However, this lighthearted kind of role was a great fit, and I think Seo Joon was really able to bring Dong Man to life in all the right ways. Dong Man was a pretty basic character when you think about it, but Seo Joon was able to make him appear more interesting than he really was. He was very enjoyable to watch on screen, and delivered when there were a few more emotional scenes that required more than just shedding a tear. Overall, he did very well.
Simple and Comedic: I appreciated the fact that this drama didn’t try to be anything deeper or more complex than it needed to be. With this drama, what you see is what you get. It’s simple, straightforward, and pretty funny for the most part. I liked that I didn’t need many brain cells to digest the situations and various episodes, which makes it a great drama to watch if you’re exhausted from watching complex crime or historical pieces like me. There’s not a lot going on, and it’s nothing we haven’t seen before in other dramas, but it still manages to be good enough to keep your attention.
Likable Characters: The four leads in this drama were pretty endearing, and all had their different flavors and personalities to bring to the table. I liked Dong Man’s clunky but honest, good hearted nature. Ae Ra‘s (Kim Ji Won) straightforwardness, spunk, and perseverance made her a charming match for Dong Man. Interestingly, I was more interested in the characters Seol Hee (Song Ha Yoon) and Joo Man (Ahn Jae Hong), whose relationship teetered back and forth throughout the drama. Seol Hee was innocent, selfless, and content with the little things, while Joo Man, though good intentioned, was determined to better their life rather than appreciate it for what it was, and this was aggravated by a series of miscommunications. Lastly, I really loved coach Jang Ho (Kim Sung Oh). I think most of the comedy stemmed from his character’s interactions with Dong Man and others.
Kim Ji Won: I’ll start off by saying I like Ji Won, and I’m not an anti. Prior to this drama, I’ve seen her in DOTS (until I dropped it) and Gapdong. Ji Won wasn’t horrible in this show, but she definitely lacked in certain areas, which made it difficult for me to watch at times. The most problematic areas for me were her crying scenes. Unfortunately, they looked very unnatural and forced. Whenever the scenes were lighthearted I thought she did fine, but these heavier emotional scenes were a struggle for her this time around. There was something about the look in her eye when she would start crying in the drama that looked extremely off. First her eyes would kind of glaze over, then she looked as if she were trying to push the tears out with force. I would notice it right away, and it was an issue every time she had to do a crying scene. I wouldn’t normally consider this a huge issue, but she had quite a few crying scenes in this drama, so I was faced with the awkwardness a lot more than I wanted to be, which is why I had to ultimately cite this as an issue.
Unnecessary Material: I thought the drama was pretty coherent overall. Most of the loose ends were tied up pretty decently, but I have to complain about a few things that I felt the drama could do without. I thought the whole situation with Ae Ra’s stalker ex-boyfriend was a throwaway. He did not need to be there. He randomly appeared one episode and they decided to use him a few more times, but there really was no need for him here. It was a waste of screen time. Secondly, the whole story surrounding Ae Ra’s mother, Hwang Bok Hee (Jin Hee Kyung), was very bizarre to me. Especially since she supposedly ends up going back to Japan in the end too. If she was just going to leave in the end, why did she even enter the picture again in the first place? It was pretty messy. On a similar note, Kwak Si Yang’s cameo as her stand in son, Nam Il, was also odd. However, Kwak Si Yang is a good actor, so he managed to make it feel somewhat tolerable. I would have preferred if Bok Hee were the cool rich landlady, who started from the bottom and built her career up, and therefore liked to be a silent helper to the less well-off tenants in her building. That’s actually what I assumed she was going to be until I realized where the story was heading. Finally, they gave way too much screen time to Moo Bin (Choi Woo Shik) which led to a huge lack of fantastic four interaction. I think they easily could have cut out a lot of his scenes in favor of the four friends interacting in a setting that didn’t include drinking on the rooftop. Even though I enjoyed the actor who portrayed him, Moo Bin felt like a character simply there to serve as a temporary problem until they could pull everything together for the last stretch of the drama. In other words, he felt like a waste of my time.
The 2 Side Ladies: Speaking of giving side characters way too much screen time, I think Hye Ran (Lee Elijah) and Ye Jin (Pyo Ye Jin) got wayyyyy more attention than needed. Most of the times Hye Ran showed up were super random, and incredibly illogical. They truly had her showing up just to show up half the time. Whenever they were scraping for some extra angst, they called her in. There were maybe three scenes at most where her appearance stemmed from reasonable and believable conflict. They kept repeating the same scenario with her over and over to the point where it became incredulously boring. The exact same issue arose with Ye Jin who had maybe ten or eleven scenes where she tried to force herself onto Joo Man or refused his rejection. The viewers did not need to be bombarded with her shrill, irritating personality that many times. The conflict between him and Seol Hee that they were trying to create, which by the way, was also a bit of a reach, was well understood by the third or fourth episode. Joo Man never actually cheated on Seol Hee, but the drama insisted on using a faux infidelity plot to push it forward, when they should have just focused on the lack of communication between the couple as the main issue, since that is truly what caused the rift in their relationship.
Rushed Ending: The last episode was disappointing and satisfying in different ways. In one sense, we pretty much got everything we were hoping for. Dong Man and Ae Ra marry, Seol Hee and Joo Man get back together, and the two antagonist ladies back off and no longer pose a threat. Furthermore, Ae Ra and her mother now seem to be on good terms, she has her dream announcing job, Dong Man wins his fight against Tak Soo, the coach’s business is bustling, and Dong Man’s sister is now talking to him and cheering him on. It all seems pretty great at first glance, but if you think about how quickly and abruptly this was all achieved, it feels shallow. While I’m glad that Seol Hee and Joo Man got back together, I wish I could have seen more of the resolution process. I didn’t like that Dong Man was planning on hiding the fact that he was continuing MMA from Ae Ra until after the wedding. As I said before, I found it strange that Ae Ra’s mom was going to go back to Japan, and finally, I found Hye Ran’s sudden turn around pretty unrealistic. Basically, the writers said, “here hurry!!! we need to shove all this in a one hour time span, so make it work!!!” and that’s exactly how it came across when watching it.
Overall, this was a semi-decent drama. It’s definitely not the best romcom out there, but it’s one that I think romcom lovers would really enjoy. There is nothing deep, or revelational about this drama, but it’s a good show to marathon or watch with friends on a Friday or Saturday night when you’re looking for something to do, or when you just want to take a break from some meatier, more complex dramas. I’m not a fan of romcoms to begin with, which is why they have to be excellent if they want to get a high rating from me. In this case, Ssam My Way was not that drama. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is not into romcoms, and I’d never watch it again, but I don’t regret the time I spent watching it.
Did you watch Ssam My Way? What did you think of the drama? If you haven’t already, you can check out the four minute extended preview with eng sub here.