So I binge-watched 8 episodes of Marriage, Not Dating last night. It was thoroughly addicting although I have a few gripes about it. I am in a love-hate relationship with this drama, that makes me care strongly enough to come out of hibernation and post about it.
Gong Ki-tae (Yeon Woo-jin) is a super rich plastic surgeon who just wants to live a single and solitary life despite his family’s immense pressure to marry him off. Joo Jang-mi (Han Groo) is a slightly overbearing but passionate girl who works at a luxury brand store. Ki-tae asks Jang-mi to pretend to be his fiance. He believes and hopes his conservative would rather have him remain single for life than marry a girl like her.
Ramblings -beware of spoilers!*
Yeon Woo-jin is a cutie, especially with his hair not gelled-up. He pretty convincing in this role, and he’s totally my flavor of the month! Dramawise, Ki-tae has a dysfuntional relationship with of his family, particularly with his master manipulator/super robot mom who sole obsession to maintain outward appearances. He’s confident in his job but obsessive about maintaining his single lifestyle in his immaculate and carefully decorated safe haven of an apartment. I can see how tired of being manipulated and controlled by his mother and his crazy barbie ex-fiance. Ki-tae as a character is quite prickly and unapproachable, but I love how Jang-mi is always the one to cross the line with him and push through that hard exterior.
However, I do resent the fact that Ki-tae always is one step behind. You can see his feelings for Jang-mi developing, but he absolutely can’t express them. As a viewer, I’m stomping my feet in frustration at every missed opportunity for even the slightest show of affection towards Jang-mi by Ki-tae. For God’s sake, Ki-tae, you found Jang-mi first in the dark and you choose to berate her instead of comforting her. And annoying 3rd/2nd? male lead Han Yeo-reum has to swoop in there for you? Ki-tae is an absolute failure for these reasons. He better step up his game soon or else, I’m getting off this ship and pulling out all my hair!
Han Groo really makes this drama. In the first episode, I truly wanted to strangle her. Jang-mi was shrill, clingy, and needy, basically everything I hate about weak female leads. As I continued to watch, I started learning more about her motivations for wanting to get married though, and I connected with the character a lot more. Inside, she’s just a little girl scarred by her parents not-so-great relationship and a dark home-alone incident as a young girl. She’s 100% genuine and just wants to find true love. Jang-mi lives to please and help others, making her a pushover as a result (refer to 1st episodes break-up with blond idiot 3rd? male lead). Ki-tae sees this and pushes her to think more for herself, to draw the line at when to stop being so nice. Jang-mi’s kindness is also her strength which allows me to root for her. She has a bit of an alcohol problem and can’t hold her tongue at the most inopportune times. I just wish there was more growth in her character. She needs to start living for herself or this drama ain’t going nowhere.
Now for the characters I hate, which is basically everyone else. Han Yeo-reum (Jeong Jin-woon) is sunshine boy server who is supposed to be mysterious. He’s like the 2nd lead, but his easiness/willingness to accept money from women for his good looks makes me very uncomfortable. I also can’t pinpoint his motivations for sure with Jang-mi and that also makes me annoyed at him. Yeo-reum, you’re smile is gorgeous but your character just doesn’t do it for me! Absolutely no second lead syndrome for this drama.
Kang Se-ah (Han Sun-hwa) is Ki-tae’s ex-fiance. She is a plastic surgeon….who’s literally plastic. As in she got Ki-tae to give her a boob job. Tell me that relationship isn’t messed up. She also extremely controlling and manipulative which is the main reason Ki-tae broke up with her. Now her agenda is to get Ki-tae’s sperm so she can bear a child to raise on her own. Crazy. Just CRAZY.
Lee Hoon-dong (Heo Jung-min) is the useless owner of an upscale restaurant his parents gave him. He is childish and annoying. He is Jang-mi’s boyfriend in the 1st episode but breaks up with her in the most cowardly way. Yah, there’s not much I want to say about him except that he is SUPER annoying.
Nam Hyun-hee (Yoo So-hee) is Jang-mi’s coworker and friend. I think she wants to marry rich. She’s also annoying and has a love-line with annoying Hoon-dong.
Overall, I love the premise and family themes. Oh, the OST is also lovely, super summery and happy. I think the main leads are strong actors with awesome characters. However, the writers seem to be struggling with character development. No one seems to be changing, and the main love-line is progressing at a snails-pace. I am so torn over Marriage, Not Dating. Love-hate relationship, seriously.