NICE GUYS ARE SOOO OVERATED
Kang Maru (Song Joong Ki) gives up his career as a doctor for a woman he loves. When Han Jae Hee (Park Si Yeon) accidentally kills a man, she asks Maru for help for fear of going to jail. He takes the blame and serves the time while Jae Hee looks forward to marrying the CEO to a powerful company. Feeling betrayed, Maru plots to get his revenge by romancing Seo Eun Ki (Moon Chae Won), Jae Hee’s step-daughter and successor to the company.
I started this drama out of curiosity but didn’t expect to get addicted to it. Perhaps one explanation is that I’m becoming more FOB-y and learning to like revenged-plot dramas but on the other hand, having low expectations for this drama helped me to see it in a different light.
I couldn’t really envision Song Joong Ki as this cold-hearted guy. His sweet, flower boy face makes me immediately go, ‘Awww, puppy’ and pet his head.
However, this drama did wonders for his acting range. Especially for people like me who typecasted him in a certain way. Ever since Sungkyunkwan Scandal, I knew he was a great actor but Nice Guy certainly broadened his range in my eyes. Not that he wasn’t capable of it but we hadn’t seen his dramatic acting on this full-blown scale. If there’s one reason to watch this drama, it’s to watch it for him and see how calculating his acting is in playing Maru and how Maru transforms throughout.
Moon Chae Won is equally cold as Seo Eun Ki at the start of this drama. Truthfully, that extends from her poor relationship with her father (Kim Young Chul). It’s kinda of interesting to see these two actors being cast together again as father and daughter. And again as a father and daughter whose relationship is dysfunctional. Maybe it’s because they had the practice in The Princess’ Man but both balance the strengths and weaknesses of their characters well. Kim Young Chul plays Eun Ki’s father as such a foreboding force that Eun Ki is practically powerless in front of him despite the fact that he’s ill and wheelchair bound. Though that doesn’t stop Eun Ki from showing her stubbornness and struggling to do what she thinks is right.
Unfortunately, Eun Ki ends up losing her father and suffers severe brain damage herself which affects her memory (*insert eye roll here*). Despite all of Maru’s scheming, the two are forced to reset here and I’ll admit that I wasn’t so thrilled about that. I thought it would have been a nice twist to see Eun Ki faking her memory loss in order to get back at Maru. The good thing about not doing that was that we got to see a gradual change in him but it lessened the tension between the main characters.
Although Eun Ki decides to play Maru at his own game when her memory returns, Maru is still two steps ahead of her. I suppose the point was that Maru chooses to sacrifice himself for love so that Eun Ki is able to move on but instead it just felt contrived.
Lee Soo Young – 착한 여자 (Nice Girl)
Having said that, I was a bit sad to see that the production staff was pressured to rewrite the drama’s title back to the proper spelling of “착한남자 (Nice Guy)” instead of the purposeful misspelling. The fallout of Eun Ki’s accident was not limited to just her memory loss but also caused her to be dyslexic. The title states that there’s no such thing as a nice guy but describing someone as “nice” is such a relative term. When Eun Ki writes that Maru must be a nice guy or “차칸남자” after her accident, it’s from the perspective where she’s completely ignorant of Maru’s true self. The perspective that each of the characters have on one another evolves throughout.
I’ve pretty much decided that I don’t really like when Park Si Yeon plays the villainous 2nd lead. I don’t think she adds a fresh new layer to Han Jae Hee, a woman who doesn’t care who she tramples on the way to having it all. I think she’s better off playing characters like Seo Eun Young in Coffee House because she can offer a more well-rounded character rather than the 2-dimensional Han Jae Hee. I get that greed and ambition can blind a person but I would much rather root for a villain who truly believed they were doing the wrong things for the right reasons rather than doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons.
I had been wanting to see Lee Kwang Soo in a drama for a while now and as Park Jae Gil, they certainly played off his strengths, the goofy but loyal sidekick. It was nice that they paired him up with Lee Yoo Bi who plays Maru’s half sister, Kang Choco. They are both sweet and lovable in their own way and in dark drama like this they help the pacing by lightening the tension.
Having already seen this side of their acting skills before, I am eager to see them in different types of roles as I think they are both capable of meatier roles. However, I do understand that audiences are still familiarizing themselves with both of them.
As for the ending, I suppose there were several directions this drama could have gone. Unfortunately, I think the drama got greedy by trying to do two different endings in one. Really, the first ending is a false one and even I was surprised by the bold move. But I was disappointed when the drama didn’t just finish there as it made it seem like the drama was indecisive about where it wanted to end up.
I’ll admit that the bleak ending was not where I wanted to see Maru end up but what followed was another complete reset for our characters. The way it was written was poorly executed and seemed like a bandaid ending. I like happy endings but the drama is pretty dark throughout and it’s a flimsy excuse to use a time jump to heal most its wounds.
At the drama’s best, it was deliciously soapy and addictive. At the drama’s worst, the writer didn’t seem to make some of the best plot development choices.