Friday, April 17, 2015

Fated to Love You (live action TV series), via Netflix

[This is a spoiler, but I feel it needs to be mentioned: this series features a miscarriage about halfway through. It and the aftermath turned me into a sobbing mess, and I don't even have any personal connection with miscarriages. I can only imagine what it would be like for someone who did to watch this show and be blindsided by it.]

Fated to Love You is a contemporary romance. I watched the Korean version, which is a remake of a Taiwanese drama I've never seen. The K-drama version is 20 episodes long.

The series is about Kim Mi Young, a shy office worker whose nickname is “Post-it Girl” because everyone tells her to do stuff for them via post-its. She can never bring herself to say “no,” and nearly everyone around her abuses this aspect of her personality. When she wins a trip for two to Macau and a handsome guy in her office offers to go with her, it seems like a dream come true at first. However, everything goes wrong, and she wakes up in bed with Lee Gun, the wealthy heir to a successful hair product company, with no memory of how she got there.

Gun is just as surprised as Mi Young is. He had traveled to Macau with the intention of proposing to Se Ra, his girlfriend. However, she canceled her travel plans in order to accept an offer that would help her ballet career. It isn't until later that Gun and Mi Young learn they were drugged (Gun on purpose, Mi Young by accident) and that Mi Young is now pregnant.

This was a difficult show to watch, at times. I felt so bad for most of the characters. Se Ra had no idea that backing out of the Macau trip meant that any chance she had to ever marry Gun would disappear. Mi Young was sweet and naive and kept getting her feelings stomped on. Gun just wanted to marry Se Ra, the woman he had been in love with for years, but he was also working under a deadline. He was expected to marry no later than age 30, because all the men in his family died in their 30s or 40s from a hereditary disease, and he was expected to produce his own heirs ASAP.

Some moments in this show were absolutely perfect. I fell a little in love with Gun when he told Mi Young that she wasn't “Post-it Girl,” she was superglue, and she needed to think of herself that way. He defended her when everyone around her seemed determined to crush her, using his larger-than-life personality as a shield.

However, Gun had a distressing tendency to run hot and cold. On the one hand, I understood it – he liked Mi Young, but (at least at the beginning) he loved Se Ra, and the events at Macau and his family situation left him with very few choices. On the other hand, he was an absolute jerk sometimes, and it wasn't like Mi Young had any more choice about it all than he did. She had actually tried to deal with the situation (her pregnancy) without involving him. There was no call for him to shout at her and act cold towards her. It was no wonder that she was afraid to be truly happy whenever he was nice to her again.

There were things about this show that irked me. I didn't particularly care that the guys who drugged Gun were Mi Young's family and friends, I still thought they should have been reported to the police. The whole bit at the hospital, when Mi Young was about to get an abortion, made me see red. I don't know what abortion laws are like in South Korea, but the doctor who was examining Mi Young was awful, telling her during her ultrasound that “the fetus can understand everything the parents say.” When Gun convinced her not to go through with the procedure, the doctor happily said “9 out of 10 can't go through with it after hearing the heartbeat.”

Mi Young was painfully timid during the first half of the series, and I kept wishing she'd stop letting people stomp all over her. Thankfully, she was a much stronger person in the second half, even going so far as to say “Are you stupid?” to Gun once she found out his reason for pushing her away. Although I liked her transformation in the second half, it was a little hard to believe. She went from being a timid woman with no marketable skills to being a skilled artist and businesswoman in only three years. The only way I could wrap my head around the change was to assume that Daniel Pitt, a friend of hers, had mercilessly used his money and connections to help her out, which made some of the series' other developments a bit discomfiting.

The last episode of the series was, unfortunately, one of the worst. Parts of it were so weird I kept expecting someone to wake up and shout “It was all a dream!” Just in general, it bothered me that it took most of the series' heaviest problems and just magicked them away. Did all the baby things Gun had saved for years just disappear after they became a happy family a second time? And did Gun really imply that Mi Young's love had cured him? WTF? And then there was Mi Young's friend's secret, that magically made her prospective mother-in-law decide to finally approve of her.

All in all, this was a decent series, but it had some issues. The development of Mi Young and Gun's relationship was frustrating and could have followed a much shorter and less painful path if Gun had just let Mi Young make her own decisions about her life and what she could handle.

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