[Review] Jealousy Incarnate – 질투의 화신


Pyo Na Ri (Gong Hyo Jin) is a weather forecaster who dreams of becoming a news anchor.  She’s also harbored a crush on her colleague, Reporter Lee Hwa Shin (Jo Jung Seok), for 3 years.  The prickly Hwa Shin does harbor any romantic inclinations towards Na Ri until she meets his best friend and the chaebol heir to a luxury fashion brand, Go Jung Won (Go Kyung Pyo).  Unlike Hwa Shin, Jung Won is the perfect gentleman towards Na Ri and begins to develop feelings for her.

Meanwhile, Anchor Kye Sung Sook (Lee Mi Sook) and Announcer Bang Ja Young (Park Ji Young) have always been rivals when it comes to their love life and career.  Upon hearing that Sung Sook’s biological daughter and Ja Young’s step-daughter, Lee Bbal Kang (Moon Ga Young) has lost her father, they move in together.  Sung Sook and Ja Young’s lives get entangled with Kim Rak (Lee Sung Jae), the building’s landlord and restaurant owner.

When I first started this drama, I was hoping to see some of my favorite actors in a romantic comedy with an absurd premise.  I don’t think I was asking for too much but right off the bat, the tone of the drama struck a wrong note with me.  The first thing we see is Pyo Na Ri giving the weather forecast and over the coms she’s given instructions from the control room director Choi Dong Ki (Jung Sang Hoon) about how to appear more sexy as she’s giving the report.  It didn’t surprise me that many people found the sequence a bit offensive or at the least off-putting.  If the point of the scene was to be over-the-top and excessive then it hit the mark but if the point of the scene was to make people laugh then it was a cheap blow.

However, that was only the first few minutes and I looked past that scene pretty quickly.  Shortly thereafter, Na Ri is given an assignment to go to Thailand to help with a promo shoot featuring Hwa Shin.  The drama tries to convince viewers that the news network is saving money by sending a freelance weather reporter, who will work for nothing, instead of paying for an actual wardrobe and makeup coordinator.  Okay, I’ll look past that nonsense as well.  Then, as she’s doing her job as a wardrobe coordinator, she notices that Hwa Shin has a suspicious lump on his chest.  She proceeds to feel him up.  Again, I’m willing to play along with this even though this is clearly sexual harassment.  Perhaps the shock of the situation may have attributed to why she needed to cop a feel.

Then, the two meet again in Seoul where it’s clear that he hasn’t taken her warning seriously.  And so, she proceeds to feel him again.  I get it.  It’s not commonly occurrence to see a man testing himself for breast cancer.  And the drama is clearly playing up these scenes for comedic effect.  Except it’s not funny.

And in a nutshell, that’s how I feel about the drama overall.  At times, I’m not sure if the drama is playing it up for slapstick comic reaction or if its aim was to play up the black comedy because there are moments when the show gets dark.  I just wished the drama made up its mind about that.  As for the pacing, the erratic beats often caught me off-guard.  As Bbal Kang’s dad is ready to pass on to the next plane, he envisions his friends, neighbors and family members from his hospital room.  It turns into a random music montage with everyone singing and dancing.  Why?  I’m still not sure what the takeaway was supposed to be from that scene.

Then, when we get to the overall theme of the drama, I had hoped that the drama would find its stride.  Jealousy is an unusual, petty but relatable emotion.  You would think this emotion and motivation would be enough fodder to help the story along.  Instead, I ended up not liking any of the main characters.  The petty rivalries and fighting was so repetitive that I got bored with the drama very quickly.

Ra.D – Lovesome

라디(Ra.D) – Lovesome

Even Gong Hyo Jin’s character, Pyo Na Ri, as sweet as the character is, I grew exasperated with Na Ri’s inability to evolve when it came to facing Hwa Shin.  I’m used to seeing Gong Hyo Jin play the sweet girl-next-door type who often gets pushed around by everyone else.  I can see her play this type of character again but Na Ri never reaches that point with Hwa Shin.  Even when she decides to date both Hwa Shin and Jung Won, she follows their lead when it comes to setting the rules.

As much as I did want to see Hwa Shin losing Na Ri to his best friend and then falling for her hard, the drama doesn’t make a case for why he deserves to be with her.  Jo Jung Seok is really good at making him appalling that I didn’t think the drama or Jo Jung Seok convinced us for why he’s a better choice than Jung Won.  For someone who was Team Jung Won early on in the drama, it’s hard not to see why he was the better choice for Na Ri, especially when he’s played by the affable Go Kyung Pyo.  However, the moment he agrees to let Na Ri date both him and his best friend, I lost all respect for Jung Won.  Sure, he tries hard to win her heart by not letting his mother scare Na Ri off.  Unfortunately, Jung Won just comes across as pathetic because even while he’s doing all these things for Na Ri, it’s clear that she’s not in love with him.

As for the other characters in the drama, there was a nice romantic triangle between Sung Sook, Ja Young and Rak.  We also saw an inkling of teenage romantic rivalry between Bbal Kang, Pyo Chi Yeol (Kim Jung Hyun) and Oh Dae Goo (Ahn Woo Yeon).  It would have been nice to see how the drama made comparisons between romantic rivalries of middle-aged people versus teenagers and how they compared with the main OTP.  The romantic developments do progress between Sung Sook, Ja Young and Rak but I was sad that the teenage romantic triangle completely falls flat.  It’s like when a car revs its engine just as the traffic light is about to turn green but ends up stalling instead.

In some ways, I understand that the drama was trying to illustrate how jealousy makes people act in petty, unpredictable ways.  I think the drama in succeeded in getting that point across.  However, it was dizzying to watch the bi-polar pacing of this drama.  Just when you think that the plot will take the characters in a new direction, you realize that they’re back at square one and nothing has progressed in their story.  The biggest surprise for me was thinking that I’d only be committed to 16 episodes and finding out that it was a 24 episode drama.  Despite the fact that the last episode was randomly entertaining, for no reason other than to showcase the singing/dancing talents of Jo Jung Seok, Jung Sang Hoon, Park Jin Joo and Bae Hae Sun, I can pretty much admit that I was annoyed for most of this drama.



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