[Review] The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law – 별난 며느리

LIFE LESS ECCENTRIC

Idol Singer Oh In Young (Kim Da Som) decides to go on a variety show called Daughter-In-Law Challenge in order to boost her waning popularity. The show pairs her up with a traditional Korean family, the Cha’s. They have a successful kimchi business that incorporates all of their traditional family methods in making Korea’s fundamental side dish. Yang Choon Ja (Go Doo Shim), the tough and stubborn matriarch of the household, and Cha Myung Suk (Ryu Soo Young), a nerdy university math professor, do not see eye-to-eye with In Young at first. However, as they get to know each other better and overcome their differences, they learn the true meaning of family.

Da Som (Sistar) – 넌 내꺼야 (You’re Mine)

다솜 [씨스타] – 넌 내꺼야

I think I saw in a forum recently about how viewers couldn’t understand a mother-in-law such as Yang Choon Ja. Why does she have to be so mean? Why does she have be so meddling? And of course, not all mother-in-laws are like that. However, I don’t think Go Doo Shim’s portrayal of Choon Ja is unbelievable. Both of my grandmothers had a lot of those personality traits that I saw in Choon Ja. I believe in a society such as Korea where ageism plays such a big factor in the culture, you can’t help but have a clash of the generations. So I liked how the show pointed out the hypocrisy in how Choon Ja viewed her daughter versus her daughter-in-laws.

As for In Young, I liked that she came off as positive and carefree. As the protagonist of the drama, if In Young wasn’t able to receive Choon Ja’s criticism with a bit of lightness, the drama wouldn’t have been a lighthearted, family comedy. This is the first time I’ve seen Kim Da Som act so obviously, I had my reservations, but I think she did a great job even with the more heartfelt moments of the drama. While I was surprised that this drama was scheduled for primetime, considering the family genre and sitcom-like field, I wouldn’t hesitate in watching Da Som again in an morning drama. I’m not sure if she would be suited for your typical drama but trendy comedy as the style and tone of those dramas are different but having seen her act, I’m a little less hesitant.

I did mention that I was surprised that this drama was scheduled for primetime. Dramas of this nature, with its stereotypical style and tone, are typically schedule for daytime as the familiar tropes most likely strikes a chord with homemakers. Perhaps, that’s a stereotype in and of itself. It wasn’t surprising to see that the drama didn’t do well in ratings. The drama’s plot was conventional and obvious.

Normally, that should be reason enough to turn the TV off but I quite enjoyed the chemistry between Ryu Soo Young and Kim Da Som. They were the main reason I kept tuning in. On one level, they were cute but they wanted to make me believe that a brain and beauty could find love. I also liked that In Young was an orphan searching for a family to belong to. As Myung Seok and Choon Ja both understood what it meant to feel like an outcast and be lonely, it seemed like they had a lot they could offer In Young.

As for the other pairings, I wasn’t as invested in their stories. I pitied Cha Dong Suk (Kwak Hee Sung) and Kim Se Mi (Kim Yoon Seo), especially Se Mi. She may have come across as ungrateful but she had a mind for business and it was sad to see her picking up after her immature husband and constantly getting scolded by Choon Ja. While I did cheer Se Mi on when she rebels, not only to work but also remove herself from Choon Ja’s negative environment.  Unfortunately, Se Mi’s start on life away from the traditional household isn’t as easy as she thought it would be.  As expected, everything turns out well in the end, which is nice, but there were no surprising twists that kept me mentally occupied with their storyline.

Fortunately, they were far easier to digest than Cha Young Ah (Son Eun Seo), her husband, Kang Jun Soo (Ki Tae Young) and her mother-in-law, Jang Mi Hee (Kim Bo Yun). It wasn’t enough that Mi Hee meddled so much in her son’s marriage but it was unacceptable to see Mi Hee make Young Ah the scapegoat for her corrupt dealings at their government jobs. Mi Hee has done some horrific things such as bite her daughter-in-law which was shocking and not at all comical.  To add insult to injury, Jun Soo wouldn’t defend his own wife in front of his mom as she had him wrapped around her finger. I get that Mi Hee and Jun Soo had issues that festered over many years but this unit was truly unbearable to watch.

Thankfully, the drama is only 12 episodes long and there’s not much more story to make the drama longer. The plot may have been banal and half of the characters were either dull or irritating to watch but that’s all this drama could be with it obvious plot developments and predictable cast of characters. As long as you know what you sign up for, it may not be a completely awful to watch.

Rating

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