Monday, September 22, 2014

Drama Review: It’s Okay It’s Love (2014)

Ratings: 7.5/10
Main Cast:
Jo In Sung as Jang Jae Yul
Gong Hyo Jin as Ji Hae Soo
Sung Dong Il as Jo Dong Min
Lee Kwang Soo as Park Soo Kwang
Jin Kyung as Lee Young Jin
Do Kyung Soo as Han Kang Woo

The Plot:
A succesful novel writer, Jang Jae Yul, gets entangled with psychiatrist with anxiety issue, Ji Hae Soo. Jae Yul is experienced heavy trauma from the past and developing signs of mental illness. Together the two people learn to love each other. They also will develop bond with their closest friends and family and overcoming mental and psychological issues.

“Different kind of drama for different people.”

It’s Okay It’s Love is the most bipolar kdrama of the year, at least from my perspective. As a fan once said, it’s a drama that either you love or hate. There’s no middle ground. Of course one can argue that hate is also another form of love, or mostly care. In this case, I care about the drama. I try to like it within the first few episodes because I really like Jo In Sung, but get confused instead with the convoluted plot and all sorts of first world problems. Our hero, Jang Jae Yul, is great and real because Jo In Sung makes it real and raw without pretending. He adds vulnerability and his own charm to make the character works, in which he did superbly. Without Jo In Sung’s amazing acting I don’t think I could watch and finish the drama. Jang Jae Yul is a character we all want to protect and cuddle and with his sexual appeal and charisma, who doesn’t want to marry him?

On the other hand, Ji Hae Soo (played by Gong Hyo Jin) is one of a kind heroine. I’m glad she’s no Candy, she’s smart doctor and she has feelings and desire like most humans do. But that’s the only positive things I could say about her. To be honest, I never really like Gong Hyo Jin’s character in any of her dramas, even in her last year’s hit drama “Master’s Sun.” But Ji Hae Soo is aggravating and confusing, sometimes bipolar with no reason and sometimes act like biggest jerk in the drama. It’s really difficult for me to connect to Hae Soo. It’s not becase GHJ’s acting, but I think the character written with constant changes. People will say it quirky, I would say it weird. She’s really weird in which she’s a functioning adult but never behave like one. She’s moody and tends to act irrationally, not to mention how many times she wants to do this, but actually does otherwise.

The revelation in this drama is actually Han Kang Woo (played by Do Kyung Soo aka EXO’s D.O). If I’m not mistaken it’s his first acting gig, and he surprises me with his natural acting that convincing enough for an idol and a newcomer in acting industry. His encounter with Jae Yul is always a delight to watch. It’s kinda like alternate OTP and I think I love this pairing more than the actual pairing. They are the center of my attention and key to difficult circumstances surrounding them.

Granted, the drama is different enough than any other show in dramaland. First and foremost, the drama’s main emphasis is on mental illness. From the start to the end, viewers get presented of so many different kinds of mental illnesses with frank portrayal. Even our leads is no exception. 
Whether or not they successfully or realistically present those illnesses remains to be debatable but I appreciate someone who’s courageous enough to show us, especially on major network like SBS. Using Jo Dong Min’s words, people tend to take pity someone who suffers from physical disease like cancer, but tend to avoid someone with mental illness. It’s encouraging and will help to erase the stigma on mental illness patients. I just hope the drama won’t turn into Good Doctor 2, in which everyone gives them awards just because it’s new and different. Just because the drama is different and shedding some lights on mental illness doesn’t mean the drama deserves all the accolades. The drama still should be objectively judged on its quality, like its acting, directing, writing, etc.
Second, the drama tries to avoid common tropes. No chaebol prince and Cinderella, no evil mother-in-law, no evil corporate schemer, no first love trope whatsoever that seem to be regular fixture in other Korean dramas. Third, there’s no love triangle/love square between the leads. It’s only in the beginning we see Hae Soo with her cheating boyfriend and her first love story with her sunbae. Later on the drama only focus on Jae Yul-Hae Soo’s and everyone’s relationships and by the end of the show everyone gets their own happy ending. 

The drama is not without flaws of course and its really test my patience that I thought I would drop it and never pick it up again. First, the OTP, Jae Yul and Hae Soo. Sorry IOIL fans, but I never can ship them, I don’t see any romantic chemistry between Jo In Sung and Gong Hyo Jin. All I can see is friendly vibe between them. Although I admit it gets better in the second half of the show, their interaction is more natural. The amount of skinships in this drama definitely help to build the chemistry.

Second, the simplistic portrayal of the mental illnesses. I get that it’s really hard to write a drama about mental illness if you don’t know firsthand but the drama makes all the illnesses are simply will be healed in swift manner. It’s all for big drama message: HOPE. I would be really grateful to know people will heal that easily, but in fact, NO. Schizophrenia is not one illness that will develop and then gradually reduced that easily. Same with other illnesses. It’s good to know that the drama spreading hope and positive message to all patients and their family, but the simplistic portrayal is laughable. Same with anxiety problem that Hae Soo suffered from teenage years and supposedly just goes away once she finds her true love. The medical plot holes and inaccuracies will give headaches to any psychiatrist who watches this show instead of helping them explain the cases to majority viewers.

Third, Jae Yul’s family tragedy. Watching a lot of Korean dramas makes me understand the messed-up law system in Korea and the corrupt officials. But even if they’re corrupt, the show didn’t try to highlight what is wrong and try to bring justice, but instead just make the corrupt system as an excuse. Yes, it’s tragedy and Jae Yul, Jae Bum and their mother suffer from the it. But however messed-up the tragedy, I still think they should bring the main perpetrator in front of justice, no matter how long it passed. As I know South Korea has 15 years before statute of limitations passed as in other Korean dramas will bring the criminal forth to justice no matter what. But because everyone suffers from that tragedy, the drama logic is “It’s not that person’s fault and maybe that person is not even aware.” Well, that’s really sad, considering the innocent person has to carry the consequences of something he didn’t do. 

Anyway I will still give credits to everyone in this show. Everyone who works really hard to create a different show than standard kdrama. The acting is top notch, the directing is better than in “That Winter The Wind Blows” although they can’t beat the cinematography and lovely color palette in that drama. The writing, although infuriating sometimes, is very brave and courageous one. I don’t find any character’s inconsistency or absurd plot out of nowhere. I also love the OSTs and think it’s the best part of the drama. All in all, if you like the drama then it’s okay it’s love and if you don’t then it’s okay it’s not love. It's not a kdrama for everyone.

-Lovely OSTs... I personally love “Hero” by Family of The Year, “The Ship and Globe” by Kae Sun and “Best Luck” by EXO’s Chen
-Jo In Sung!! He’s really amazing as Jang Jae Yul. I can’t picture other actor plays that role and will do justice to the complex role
-Brave enough to portray something different in dramaland
-Alternate pairing of Jang Jae Yul and Han Kang Woo is interesting to watch

-Hae Soo’s character
-Simplistic portrayal of mental illnesses and medical inacuracies
-How the drama handles Jae Yul’s family tragedy
-Tendency to gloss over the illness and its patients.

Life lessons:
1. A person is never alone in this world. You can meet with different people and develop love and relationship.
2. Bad tragedy is bad. You should seek advice or help from other people so you’ll overcome the trauma eventually.
3. Love will cure all, even your mental illness.

Pictures credit: soompi,

No comments:

Post a Comment