Sunday, November 29, 2015

You Are Beautiful (live action TV series), via Netflix

You Are Beautiful is a Korean romantic comedy series. It's 16 episodes long.

I was actually planning on watching something via DramaFever, but the app on my TV was acting incredibly unstable, kicking me out if I so much as tried to look at the description of a show other than the one I was already in the process of watching (Tamra, the Island, which I've decided to abandon). Here's hoping it's behaving, because I'd like to try another DramaFever show now that I'm done with this one.

Review:

Go Mi Nyu is an orphan who lives in a convent and plans on becoming a nun. Her plans are derailed when her twin brother's manager finds her and begs her to pretend to be her brother. Her brother is about to become the fourth member of the popular band A.N.JELL, but he's busy recovering from plastic surgery gone wrong. Mi Nyu's brother, Mi Nam, planned to become famous in order to find their mother, so Mi Nyu decides to help him and briefly become Mi Nam.

What follows is a bit of a mess. One of the band members, Shin Woo, figures out Mi Nam is really a girl almost immediately, but hides the fact that he knows because he finds it entertaining to watch her try to keep her secret. Tae Kyung, the lead singer, also finds out but promises Mi Nam (Mi Nyu) that he won't tell anyone, for reasons I can't recall at the moment. Then there's Jeremy, who's the only one in the band who has no clue. Jeremy spends a few episodes in a homophobic panic, worried that Mi Nam has somehow seduced both Shin Woo and Tae Kyung. He then starts to fall for Mi Nam himself.

Okay, so this show had some major problems. The issue of Mi Nyu wanting to become a nun disappeared for most of the series. It cropped up again briefly before evaporating as though it was never a real issue to begin with, despite this having been something that Mi Nyu was incredibly serious about in the first episode. Also, Mi Nyu and Mi Nam's mother was revealed to be long-dead maybe a couple episodes in, which should have meant there was no reason for the series to exist. If Mi Nam's only reason for becoming a star was to find their mother, then it was no longer necessary for Mi Nyu to pretend to be Mi Nam. Mi Nyu didn't even try calling her brother to ask whether he wanted her to continue the charade - she just kept being Mi Nam.

In fact, I don't think Mi Nyu and Mi Nam were ever shown speaking to each other, even over the phone. It was also ludicrous that they could be mistaken for each other: at the end of the series, Mi Nam shows up and, although his face is that of the same actress who played Mi Nyu, his body (shown from behind) clearly belongs to a completely different actor. You'd think someone would have noticed that Mi Nam's shoulders were much broader than Mi Nyu's. At the very least, their personalities seemed to be much different.

There were other problems, like the ring that was supposedly Mi Nyu's most important possession, which, as far as I could tell, she wasn't wearing at the end of the series (and maybe longer than that – I forgot to check). Then there was Yoo He Yi, the popular actress who latched onto Tae Kyung and wouldn't let go. Tae Kyung was nice to her a grand total of once – he helped her when she got a bloody nose and was suddenly surrounded by people wanting to take embarrassing photos of her while she was in tears and humiliated. Most of the time, though, he was a jerk to her. I didn't blame him for it, because He Yi was a spoiled pathological liar. However, his behavior meant I couldn't understand why He Yi wanted to be his real girlfriend so badly. Was she just the sort of person who wanted whatever she couldn't have?

Shin Woo and Jeremy's attraction to Mi Nyu bothered me as well. At first, Shin Woo seemed like the kind of character I'd find myself wishing Mi Nyu could end up with instead. He was kind and gentle and certainly seemed more mature than Tae Kyung, who tended to pout a lot. However, it bugged me that he kept putting off telling Mi Nyu that he knew she was really a girl, especially since he seemed to view her behavior around him as some kind of sign that she liked him (in reality, she viewed him as a kind older brother figure). When Mi Nyu rushed to Tae Kyung's side when he was in trouble or upset, Shin Woo suddenly stopped being quite so nice and kind, at least until he once again saw signs that she might like him better. I wanted to shout at him that he wasn't entitled to Mi Nyu's love just because he liked her.

Like I said, Jeremy was clueless about Mi Nyu/Mi Nam for much longer than Tae Kyung or Shin Woo. I actually kind of liked his panic about his feelings for Mi Nam. While I'm sure viewers were supposed to interpret his growing feelings for her as him subconsciously realizing Mi Nam was really a girl (and Jeremy's reaction after learning Mi Nam was a girl supported this), I liked the alternate interpretation of Jeremy as an extremely closeted (even from himself) bisexual guy better. Anyway, a while after learning that Mi Nam was really a girl named Mi Nyu, Jeremy decided to publicly confess his feelings for her. When he learned that she was in love with Tae Kyung, he completely fell apart. As with Shin Woo, I wanted to tell him “Just because you like her doesn't mean she has to like you the same way back.” Jeremy thankfully got over it pretty quickly, probably because he was the series' designated goofball, but I hated that Mi Nyu kept having to manage the feelings of guys she hadn't realized saw her as their potential girlfriend.

You might think that I hated this series, but I actually thought it was pretty addictive. The primary reason for that was Tae Kyung. Tae Kyung was one of my favorite character types, the grouchy secret softie. He was prickly towards Mi Nyu, while simultaneously trying to arrange things so that she'd be happy. He was jealous when he thought Mi Nyu loved Shin Woo, but he still tried to stand back and let her be with the guy he thought she really loved. And for all that he tried to look cool and confident, he was actually pretty unsure of himself and kind of dorky. I think he only had me shouting at my TV once, near the end. While I was happy the series required him to swallow his pride and ask for Mi Nyu to come back to him, I hated that everything almost fell apart because he trusted his mother over Mi Nyu and then wouldn't let Mi Nyu fully explain what happened.

Speaking of Tae Kyung's mother, this is probably the closet thing to an irredeemable terrible mother I've ever seen in a K-drama. She flat-out told Tae Kyung that she wished he'd never been born, because he took her from the man she loved. She was selfish, delusional, and just plain awful. And there was still something like a reconciliation at the end. K-dramas must be deeply upsetting for those with truly toxic parents.

All in all, this series was kind of a mess. The heroine was overly childish and naive, and I could have done without some of the relationship drama, but I loved Tae Kyung enough that I'm glad I watched it.

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