Things I liked:
The plot. Oh, come on. It’s Pride and Prejudice all over again, albeit with a less independent Eliza. But Baek Seung Jo has Mr. Darcy written all over him, what with his initial disdain for our heroine – disdain that is based on little more than his pride and his belief that anyone as dumb as our Oh Ha Ni could possibly have anything to offer – turned into a reluctant respect, followed by like, which ultimately blossoms into love. It’s enough to make this fangirl’s heart go pitter-pat, let me tell you. Though if you ask me, he was into one Miss Ha Ni far before he even knew it, if all the sneering and irritation every time a certain Bong Joon Gu’s name came up is any indication. Poor confused robot. Feelings are obviously new to him and he cannot be held responsible for the way that he responds to such new things. Heh.
JSM as Oh Ha Ni. This girl was made for the role. From the moment she came on-screen, she was Oh Ha Ni, and she managed to infuse the character with enough charm to keep me from throwing things at the TV, which with any other actress probably wouldn’t have been possible. But we will get to that. The point is, JSM made me love OHN, almost against my will, so even when she was acting like a total idiot I couldn’t hate her. Thank God.
The Rival Hea Ra. Yeah, yeah, I know, we’re not supposed to like the rivals in Kdramas, but even though she was competing for Baek Seung Jo’s heart (and rather bitchily at that), I still kind of loved her. It probably helped that not for one second did I believe that he was even interested in her. Oh, he liked her. Quite a bit. But he was never as keenly interested in what she was doing as he was in Oh Ha Ni. He wasn’t busy clocking her every move and making damn sure that her interest stayed with him. It was exactly as he said. She was comfortable and easy and it relaxed him to be around her. End of story, but all-in-all not a bad position to hold with a guy who doesn’t really make close friends. Also, I really liked that she didn’t immediately become Ha Ni’s bestie after the other girl got the guy. That trope is so irritating.
BONG. JOON. GU. Oh, I loved him. The lovely ladies at Dramabeans have dubbed him “Duckie”, and so he is, though I don’t find him half as annoying as the dude they named him after. His pining for Ha Ni was by turns the most adorable and most heartbreaking thing that I have ever witnessed. I knew he was never gonna get his girl. Hell, everyone knew it, but there were times when I really, really wanted him to (*ahem*, pretty much the entirety of Episode Thirteen when you were being a prick, Baek Seung Jo). Glad he got his own lady love in Chris, irritated with the way it was crammed into the last three eps.
Her friends. They were lovely and supportive, and stuck through with Ha Ni during all of her insanity over the Seung Jo situation – far past where I would have humored her, to be perfectly honest. I loved how they even went to confront Seung Jo when they thought that he was living with Hae Ra, because they didn’t like seeing their friend so despondent. And even though I don’t think they intended it, I LOVED that they were the catalyst for Seung Jo to remove his overly large head from his bum and finally (FINALLY) step up and admit that it wasn’t just Ha Ni who turned into a hot mess without him; that he was in fact the same without her. Counted here I think is also the tennis sunbae, who made Ha Ni’s stalking hilarious rather than pathetic. Those two together were a virtual comedy tour, and I loved her coaching him how to corner Hae Ra and plant one on her, and then tackling him when he grabbed his tennis racket to confront Hea Ra with his emotions. I also was quite amused by the fact that he (and everyone else) was well aware that the only way to get Seung Jo to do anything was to get Ha Ni to talk him into it. Heh, everyone else sees through you, Baek Seung Jo, even if you are living in denial land.
The families. Both sets were wonderful especially Ha Ni’s dad and Seung Jo’s mum. Even towards the end, when I was getting rather sick of the side stories and wanting my romantic fix, I couldn’t help but stop at all their scenes. Dad was just so sweet towards his daughter, always wanting the best for her and doing his utmost to see that happen. And mum. Oh man, mum. She was so much fun. Granted, she was terrifyingly controlling and manipulative when it came to Seung Jo's love live, and it would be absolutely horrifying in the real world, but because it's TV - and because all she did was done for love of her son and Ha Ni - it ultimately read as sweet rather than scary. Granted, I do think that following them on their honeymoon was a tad excessive. Just sayin'.
The bears. I have never seen Goong, so I didn't know that this was something that had been done by the same people before, and because of this I just found the bears at the end adorable and charming rather than off-putting like some. Granted, I did once wish that they hadn't foreshadowed a certain scene witnessed by Eun Jo, but what can you do? Exactly.
Things I didn't like:
Sometimes the pacing was so slow that I wanted to cry. Seriously, I get that it was a "slice of life" drama, and I respect that. But the last few episodes had so many rushed storylines I kind of wanted to cry. I wanted more build up on the Duckie/Chris situation, because that plot was totally rushed to make way for more Ha Ni/Baek Seung Jo shenanigans, which is fine, but why put it in at all? I love Duckie and was happy he got his own lady-love; I know that it was in the original manga that a girl named Christine wound up filling the hole in his heart left by Ha Ni. What I didn’t like or appreciate was the slapdash way that said Christine was brought in to the story, as an afterthought because “oh yeah, we have this character who is heartbroken, should fix that”. Grrrr. My Duckie deserves better.
Ha Ni at certain points, and especially in episode 12, full stop. Look, I know that there is more than one way to be a successful person. If one wants to stay at home and raise a family, be they man or woman, I say good for them. If they want to go out into the world and have a career before doing so, or never do so, great. I can get behind it and cheer for them. What I refuse to get behind, however, is becoming little more than a satellite that revolves around another person. That was part of the reason I hated Bella Swan so very, very much, and it made me sick to see Ha Ni doing the same with Baek Seung Jo. Look, honey, I get that you’re in love. I can even understand (recoil from, admittedly, but understand) your need to pursue him to the ends of the earth. But having your Big Dream – and ultimate goal in life – to be following him around slavishly for your entire life I will not even try to justify. Sorry, but that does more than make me flinch in second hand embarrassment. It makes me flinch in horror. And it isn’t that Ha Ni is a girl revolving around a guy – although that does add a little extra oomph to my feelings – but the fact that anyone would choose to live in such a way. Look here, kiddos. In life, you have to learn to handle your own shit. Take care of yourself, and don’t rely on anyone else to make you happy or feel “complete”, and learn to be content with just yourself. It will benefit you in the long run. *sigh* The worst part about this is that Seung Jo said nothing, like it was a perfectly viable dream to follow him forever. If it hadn’t been for the way that he stepped up in Epi 14, I might’ve hated him a bit for that.
Oh, speaking of absolute whatthefuckery…What. The. Fuck. Was up with the honeymoon bit? Seriously, Robot Boy, I know that you’re new to human emotions and all but my God. When a woman is hanging all over you as though you are her husband for days and your wife finally snaps, the proper reaction is NOT to yell at your wife, especially considering you’re barely a premed student and not nearly qualified enough to be poking and prodding a sick woman – not that you’d have to be to poke and prod where she wanted you to, I guess. Oh, and also? Once you find out that your wife was right all along, you APOLOGISE, you asshat. You don’t let her do all the apologising and carry on as though she wasn’t correct in her belief that the other girl was doing her level best to seduce you. Also, you don’t let a married woman hang all over you when you are also married. C’mon, man! You’re supposed to be a genius, here!
Things I am ambivalent about:
Basically, just one. Kim Hyung Joon’s acting kinda threw me at times. I mean, for the first half – no, let’s not exaggerate, probably only the first five or six episodes – I knew he was feeling something, I just wasn’t sure what. By the sixth or seventh episode, though, he’d gotten better, so that by the time the Big Kiss happened, my reaction was “YESSSSS! FINALLY!” and not “Oh. So that’s what that vaguely constipated look meant. Got it.” Speaking of which, I have seen both versions of this kiss, the TW version as well as the K one, and I have to say I infinitely prefer the latter. The first was too much, he was eating her face, and for whatever reason all the fraught yelling just made me laugh and laugh. Really drew me out of the moment. *shrugs* to each his own, though.
Okay, there’s a second thing that I keep going back and forth on in my head. And that is The Perm. On the one hand, the first time I saw it I laughed so hard I had to hit pause. In subsequent viewings, however, I find that I like the perm in certain contexts, like when he is in the restaurant uniform, for whatever reason. Something about it makes me want to touch, where KHJ’s pretty never quite got that reaction from me through the rest of the show. I dunno. I still want to laugh, but I want to make it messier while laughing. It’s weird.
All in all, I really did enjoy Playful Kiss. It was king of the perfect introduction to Kdramas, and good enough to get me hooked. Damn it. :)