Disclaimer: *includes minor spoilers*
Rating: 7/10 (if you can make it past the first 6 episodes)
A decently entertaining k-drama that delivers the romantic feels and cute feelings expected of a romantic comedy, but only if you can make it past the first 6 episodes…
SUMMARY + BASIC PLOT PROGRESSION
As quickly as the young medical student acted by Choi Jin Hyuk (CJH) as Oh Chang Min and nutritionist Oh Jin-hee played by Song Ji Hyo (SJH) fall in love and get married, they also start to argue and reduce to emotional messes. Gone is the initial sweetness that lasted for about 5 minutes in their marriage scene. Instead, the highlight becomes a huge harrowing fight between them where they exchange shouts, screams and childish threats, the result of their deteriorating relationship. While this may have been an attempt at being comedic, the result is actually negativity between the couple that overwhelms any previously present positive vibes between them.
With their childish 5-year old behavior, SJH’s pathetic state of affairs and CJH’s self-centeredness amidst their desperation, it is no wonder they got divorced. With little explanation on context of their desperation, it was hard to find reasons to support their eventual expected reconciliation at all. It would have been perfectly fine for the plot to stop here. However, of course, years after, they meet each other awkwardly with the same off-putting immaturity between them.
With the lack of more appealing drama options at the time, I struggled on.
For a romantic comedy, Emergency Couple does not deliver on its namesake for a surprisingly long period of time. Instead, it is filled with drama, bitchiness and world building.
For most of episodes 2-6, the focus is placed on Oh Jin-hee as she faces challenges adapting to her new work environment, facing discrimination for being an older but not exceptional student along with her own personal and family affairs. Amongst her challenges are not screwing up in her work and getting fired, specific hospital emergencies, dealing with her family problems, and facing Chang-min and her dreaded ex-mother-in-law.
In this period of time, Chang-min as a character is generally sidelined, hence removing the possibility of romantic interaction between the two anymore. In fact, Chang-min’s character becomes somewhat antagonistic due to his childish pettiness, in a bid to protect his own interests. There is little room for redemption of his character at this point since he is solely focused on acting like an arrogant, rich and pampered high school student.
Add to this equation his crazed protective mother. As one of the most immature and unreasonable mother characters in K-dramas I have watched to date, Chang-min’s mother seemed to be able to throw tantrums at any given moment, with her childishness on par only with her supposed level in high society. Thus, it was somewhat inevitable for Jin-hee to gain audience’s sympathy despite her unsophisticated quirkiness. This turned out to be my main if not weak reason for continuing the show – to watch Jin-hee become the underdog.
The characters of the other fellow doctors are also established in during this arc, such as the Head Doctor (for lack of a better term) and the other interns.
If you have made it this far in the show, congratulations, you would have finally seen some light near the end of the tunnel.
Thanks to the development of relationship of the Head Doctor (2nd male lead) with SJH/Jin-hee, CJH/Chang Min’s character has finally changed for the better as he slowly notices his lingering feelings for SJH. For this reason, his character’s bastard-like personality slowly changes to be nicer, or at least more like a funny but angry lover who doesn’t admit jealousy.
At the same time, other relationships between the characters form, including potential alternative pairings for both CJH and SJH with the supporting characters. In addition, SJH’s character has finally made some breakthrough in gaining confidence as a doctor even though she may not have escaped trouble completely.
From Episode 10 onwards, Emergency Couple finally functions truly and reliably as a typically good K-drama. This short arc in particular is where the cute and romantic interactions and feels come in and in full swing.
CJH evolves into a caring and very sweet (unofficial) boyfriend even as his relationship with SJH and her feelings remain unclear. He unexpectedly acknowledges his feelings upfront for SJH quickly and declares “war” with the 2nd male lead as well. Their interactions also allow them to reflect on their earlier marriage, with flashbacks that shed light onto their previous relationship.
Episode 14 -21
Here on out, the drama arguably descends from its climax and enters an arc of falling action of sorts. With the main characters’ relationships status still unclear, SJH’s potential feelings for the 2nd male lead and CJH’s familial crisis, the hope and happiness of episodes 10-13 die down.
CJH begins to question his suitability for SJH should they reconcile (despite having asked a few times already) as he struggles with familial expectations and problems that will eventually change his mother’s attitudes for the better. It is ironic that CJH does not acknowledge SJH’s feelings even when she decides to finally agree to reconcile with him. It is also interesting that the 2nd male lead’s chances are not destroyed or subtly removed completely until near the last few episodes.
Fortunately, the crisis and tragedy-arc is not as longwinded as the first arc. After CJH and SJH agree to get back together, they enter another phase of sweet romantic interactions, even with SJH’s nephew (Baby Gook). From the family crisis, CJH’s mother eventually shows more likeability as a character as she mellows down from the incident and has made it clear that she will not be interfering with their relationships anymore and even formed a subtle understanding with SJH’s mother.
Meanwhile, all the other couples and supporting characters either do get pairings or seem to get paired up with someone else by the end of the show. While the ending is predictable in a decent way, thankfully there was no rush for CJH and SJH’s characters to both get married as a way to end the show.
That’s all for today.
~ Jerna (@jernahorizon)
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