This is the drama whose number of episodes is elusive. Some says it’s in the range of 50s, others states it has 30. I was bidding time to decide whether I’m going to stick around and make a bail. That’s why I avoided talking too much about this because if it is true 50 episodes, then it is a pretty ambitious goal in my part. There are lots of long dramas, but I just never really watch them. I have never watched them because I either get bored, or get lost in the storylines.
The last time I attempted to watch a longer drama was Happiness (58 episodes, if I’m not mistaken) but that quickly blew up in my face. By episode 12 I was bored and I ended up waiting until the drama finished and just watched some cuts of it. Pretty much the longest drama I’ve watched is Brilliant Legacy with 28 episodes, followed by 1% of Anything with 26 episodes. So it is with much amazement that I see people watching those crazy long dramas like Be Strong Geum Soon, Jumong, or the current Queen Seondeok. I don’t have the patience or the devotion to do that.
But, I decided to catch Smile, You anyway because I feel like this drama has a unique charm. It’s not necessarily different or revolutionary, but everything about it is strangely charming and refreshing. I also like how none of the main actors are the high profile trendy actors, yet they have appear in enough projects for me to see familiar faces. I’ve seen Jung Kyungho in the fantastic drama I’m Sorry I Love You and the forgettable movie Herb. Lee Minjung was in the drama Who Are You and of course, she was ‘Gu Junpyo’s fiancee’ in Boys Over Flowers. Admittedly, I have never seen Lee Chunhee act, but I saw him countless of times in Family Outing. The talented and hilarious Lee Kyuhan was ‘Samsoon’s asshole of an ex’ in My Name is Kim Sam Soon, but for me, he was most memorable in Que Sera Sera. Choi Yoonjung have had quite a lot of projects under her belt but I remember her most in Bad Couple and Taereung National.
So, Smile You is about the rich Seo family, comprised of dad, mom, eldest son, eldest daughter, and youngest daughter. Working for the Seo family is Grandpa Kim who heads a family of a son, a daughter in law, and a sole grandson. When the spoiled, arrogant Seo family goes bankrupt, they are forced to camp out together in Grandpa Kim’s house and live by his (super tough) rules.
I admit that while I loved episode 1 and 2, I thought episode 3, 4, and 5 lacked a certain oomph. I understand however that episode 1 and 2 were mostly laying out the foundation of the characters on the drama, the relationships between them, and some special dynamics. Episode 3, 4, 5, and 6 were where things build up to set us to the direction the drama takes.
I almost gave up the drama because a lot of the characters just pissed me off. It’s not like they are evil or manipulative, but they are so spoiled and annoying that it just grated on my last nerve. And I wasn’t having fun watching the drama anymore. You know, when you watch a character you hate, there are 2 different kind of hate going on. One is where you hate the character but secretly marvel at them (case in point: Kim Soyeon in All About Eve and Kim Misook in Brilliant Legacy). The other is when you hate the character because they annoy you so much that you just can’t spare them any drop of sympathy whatsoever (case in point: Park Shieun in Delightful Girl Choonhyang and sadly Goo Hyesun in Boys Over Flowers).
Now,watching a drama with the first type of hate is pretty overwhelming, but a very good ride overall, usually. But the second one, it just leaves you exhausted and pissy. It’s OKAY if you only have one of those in a drama. But imagine having 4 of the second kind in ONE drama. 4 times the frustration, yo! I felt like I was going to explode anytime while I was watching Smile You. I ended up skipping a lot of parts and just got to the characters I actually liked. To note, I think if a drama can evoke such strong sentiment from you ABOUT the character, it is already a successful drama in one aspect. But then, when you hate a character (the 2nd type, mind you), there might be some problems with either acting or writing.
But then episode 6, finally hinted that these characters would not stay annoying forever. Perhaps 1 would (Seo Jungkyung played by Choi Yoonjung), but I think the other characters would be introduced to some humility, which I am looking for, by the way.
Now, the things I like. I love love the two main characters here, Hyunsoo and Jungin. I love that Hyunsoo is such a sweet guy. He tries to treat everyone really well and even if he disliked Jungin in the first instance, he always tries to do right by her. When his mom, having to serve the guests she doesn’t like, is angry and sad, Hyunsoo buys her a lotion to put on her hard worked hands. That was the sweetest gesture and the best scene in episode 5. Jungin is someone that is spoiled (and it’s cute that Hyunsoo has now taken to spoiling her too, lol) but in the face of hardship, she doesn’t recoil. She’s not stuck up like the rest of her family and actually loves and respects Grandpa.
But more than the character, Jung Kyungho and Lee Minjung are two lovable actors who ‘become’ Hyunsoo and Jungin. They’re natural in their interactions and they actually look really close, which is refreshing to see actually.