Okay, since I’m writing this Lettuce Love series, I began watching WGM again, especially Ssangchu’s parts. I gotta say that I miss the early WGM, when things were still new and fresh. The couples were just getting to know each other, doing things together, getting mad at each other, etc. It was still such a novelty. I have most of the early episodes of WGM and I just don’t get tired watching them over and over again. I never really did warm up to Dondon/Saori, but still, since they are there, they are fun to watch. Not so about the later part of WGM.
One time, I wrote a post about why I think WGM’s becoming a terrible show and suggestions on how they should improve. I remember that among them, I wrote about getting interesting celebrities with interesting personalities to be casted. It’s not going to do just having this popular celebrity on the show without that extra something in their onscreen personalities. Seo Inyoung became so hotly popular after her ‘Witch’ personality on WGM. Solbi had always been known to possess a quick wit and was funny herself. Alex became popular for his romantic gestures. Even Jung Hyungdon with his lazy bum ahjussi personality gained a lot of attention. They are interesting people, they were able to portray themselves in a ‘Variety Show’ manner. Some of these traits were perhaps exaggerated, like SIY’s bratty attitude, but it doesn’t change the fact that these celebs were successful in marketing themselves through WGM.
The less interesting people got left out pretty quick. There was nothing wrong with Lee Hwijae and Jo Yeoejong, or Marco and Son Dambi, or Hwanhee and Hwayobi, nothing. They were good looking people, they were moderately successful in their works, they were absolutely fine. But they were just normal, nothing new, nothing exceptionally interesting, in my opinion. Hwanhee and Hwayobi started out great. Hwanhee’s profile as the indifferent husband and Hwayobi as the quirky affectionate wife. But after a few episodes, it became clear to me that while they might be interesting as individuals, they were just so so as couples. Then it was later made known that Hwayobi was in a relationship when she was shooting WGM. I guess THAT was also a reason why they never got too close.
Of course, things like editing, directing, and stuff like that mattered too and in the end all these things contribute equally to the success of the show. But having a niche image is a must.
Anyways, on to the Lettuce Love Part 2.
2. Moving In Together, Housewarming Party
After the honeymoon, Hyunjoong and Hwangbo move in to their suite together. They bring a few things they have from their real house and decorate the place. The suite is simply beautiful, by the way, I think it’s a hotel or something. I’d so love to stay there sometime. Before they get down to unpacking, Hwangbo asks if Hyunjoong can play the piano. According to him, he only can play 1 song, even that, he cannot play the whole thing. The song is Kim Bum Soo’s Bogosipda (I Miss You) and will come to be one of the songs in unofficial Ssangchu OST. Hwangbo proceeds to show him her knitting, saying that she’ll give him that after it’s done. Hyunjoong challenges her to a deal. When she finishes the scarf, he will play the entire song. We will soon see if this promise holds.
They look through their belongings, noting that Hyunjoong has a lot of love for guitars and a lot of the guitars themselves. In one of the funniest Ssangchu moments, Hyunjoong, who asks Hwangbo to open a coke bottle with a spoon on the honeymoon, tells her he cannot open one of the guitar cases and asks her to open it. A little miffed that Hyunjoong keeps telling her to do these ungainly tasks, Hwangbo gathers her tools and open the case with ease, earning her a nickname of Gulgong (Walking Tool) to Hyunjoong’s Guljo (Walking Sculpture).
I thought this episode is really cute. You get to see how they are trying hard to navigate their way around this fake marriage smoothly. After shooting together for the first time during the honeymoon episodes, they now have to move on to portraying being married for real, with perhaps a little bit acting involved, but ultimately it’s still obvious that they are still nervous and still very much a stranger to each other.
So anyway, they begin preparing for the housewarming. Both Hwangbo and Hyunjoong invite 3 people from their respective side. It is a contrasting age different between the guests they bring. Hwangbo’s guest are her unnies (older ‘sisters’) while Hyunjoong’s guests are his dongsaengs (younger ‘brother’). Song Eunyi, Choi Hwajung, and Park Sieun come for Hwangbo, while SS501’s Kyujong, Hyungjoon, and Youngsaeng come for Hyunjoong. It’s quite interesting how it seems like Hwangbo invites older people to give an impression that she’s not old, while Hyunjoong invites younger people to exerts a little bit of a mature image. It’s like they meet inbetween.
The housewarming goes very nicely. The guests are accommodating in a sense that they try to help Hyunjoong and Hwangbo to connect. The unnies tell them that things will get better, less awkward, as time goes by. They advises Hwangbo on how to deal with younger husband and show your real self instead of trying to act cute. In short, be proud of having that little bit of age with you. And I cannot agree more. Before the youngins come, Hyunjoong has to contend to the ladies’ mischiefs. It’s so hilarious actually to see Hyunjoong SOOO stiff and sweating under these much older ladies’ scrutiny. It was only later that we found out he’s got ‘phobia against older people’, so today, seeing him so polite to the point of being terrified is pretty funny.
The youngins come and Hyunjoong cannot hide his relief, hahaha. Kyu, Hyungjoon, and Youngsaeng are responsible for making their hyung relax. They joke around and talk among themselves and it is thanks to them that there are a lot of humours and comedy injected into this episode. It’s sooooo cute when Hyunjoong brags how his ‘wife can open a bottle with a spoon’.
While lounging around in the pool, the guests try to get Hyunjoong and Hwangbo closer. First, Hyunjoong sings a ‘propose’ song to her, In A Rush by Blackstreet, which I thought was nicely rendered even if it was very short. Hwangbo then sings her ‘reply’ song, which is received enthusiastically by the little brothers, hahaha. I swear, the guests, the old and the young are all like letting loose here. They’re all probably drunk at this point. The crowd prods them to give each other a hug, but because things are still new, they end up not doing it. Hwangbo’s interview reveals that she thinks if he hugged her, it would’ve been meaningless because she knows he did it just because the guests told him too. This, I think is a very very good point. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the next time this couple hugs is in the last episode, at the last moment. So hugging is not their thing, if they hugged in this early time, then it will carry less meaning, perhaps it will just feel fake. Or I’m taking too much into things again, hehehe..
They carry their talk into the living room. Starting a game, they decide that whoever loses will jump into the pool. Now, Kyujong is the one who gets in the water on one condition. The groom picks up the bride and carries her to the pool. Thanks to Kyujong, we get a major, and a very much anticipated skinship.
I don’t think much of these episodes actually because I feel that there is still a relatively considerable amount of acting on their part. Perhaps not scripted-ness, but the couple tries hard to interact as if they are closer while off screen, we hear things about them rarely interacting while on breaks. Like I said earlier, it’s pretty clear that Hwangbo and Hyunjoong are merely distant and impersonal colleagues at this point.
I don’t hold it against them. It’s understandable, because heck, they have only shot together one time. There is also that age issue which makes it harder for this particular couple to connect, even on friendship level, I guess. All the other couples have either smaller age difference or older males, which is the more conventional setup. Also, with the many staff and crew on set, the possibility of them interacting more closely is quite slim. If they don’t make an effort to do so, there is always someone ELSE they can talk to, the manager, the stylist, the PD, the scriptwriter, the cameraman, etc. So it DOES take time and effort to get to know the other person. It’s also a matter of personalities. If they are both easy going, then things might get on more smoothly, but if they are more on the reserved side, then either they will just take forever to become close or one of them has to exert more ‘friendliness’ to the other person.
For this couple, I suspect there are a little bit of both. I think Hwangbo is caring and friendly, but not to the point where she will go at great lengths to make the other person comfortable, which is completely justifiable of course. I suspect that she initiates conversation in the beginning and tries to engage Hyunjoong more. Off screen, while she probably doesn’t do a complete 180 degree shift of personality, I think she tries to establish a sense of professionalism and a respectable boundary between personal life and work. The show also has some ground rules, I believe (like no dating outside the show, no contact to the partner outside the show, etc), and because of them, she must be more alert to the implications that this show can put upon its participants.
Hyunjoong just looks really realy uncomfortable. I’m thinking it’s the age gap that gets to him. He’s repeatedly stated how he doesn’t care about age difference in romance and stuff, but it sounds more like a rehearsed answer to me. He’s not used to ‘romancing’ older woman. To make it more complicated, this older woman is also someone new, someone he doesn’t really know. He probably doesn’t warm up too easily to new people, so this is another block in the path. This far, I’ve seen Hyunjoong around more older women/costars and he maintains a polite, sometimes borderline stiff manner in front of them. In his words, it is already amazing that he can loose the formal speech and speak casually to Hwangbo.