Aug 24, 2014

[K-Drama Review] Marriage Not Dating

August of 2014 is a good month for K-Dramas. Most of the shows that aired this month had a good start, maintained the quality and ended on a happy note with no lingering hard feelings. Some of the dramas I looked forward to in my Drama Expectations 3 were among them. But what I'm here for is not to write about those dramas but another one that made me write the introductory sentence above and that drama is none other than Marriage not Dating. It's a weirdly phrased title, I know, but my momma told me not to judge a drama by its title or something like that.

Remember Reply 1997? Oh man, I had the same experience with Marriage Not Dating. It's a drama that I read once on the news before it premiered but due to lack of actors I'm fond of in the cast, I didn't include it on my Must Watch List. I'm supposed to make a pass on it but people on Tumblr and Instagram were abuzz with praise on the drama so I checked it out. I watched the first episode and it was love at first sight. The leads are outright likable and the premiere hinted of a crazy story along the way. It was just the kind of rom-com I hoped would sneak up on me this year and right there and then I knew I'm in. I didn't come out with the need to rant about how I wasted my hours on something bad. That has to count for something, right?

So sit back and relax while I lay out the fine points of this one of a kind summer romance.


The Contract Dating

The concept of contract dating has been around since forever I should be sick of it by now, but I'm not. This is my cup of tea. Couples in dramaland subject their selves into contract dating for different reasons, those reasons range from the no-brainer to the outrageous and Marriage Not Dating falls in the latter. To be exact it's the what-the-hell-it-doesn't-make sense kind of contract dating. Gong Gi Tae (Yeon Woo Jin) who wanted to be a bachelor for life coerced Joo Jang Mi (Han Groo) to pretend as his girlfriend so his mother would get off his back about marriage. Joo Jang Mi on the other hand had to play along for reasons even stranger. She wanted to bring back the love between her parents so she agreed to Gi Tae's scheme in order for her parents to have something to talk and be excited about. I don't see the logic in any of their reasons but somehow it worked and produced a hilarious tale of fake dating that eventually lead to the real one. Oh fun!

The Love Hexagon

 The world that our OTP live in must be small because everyone knows each other creating the most hilarious love hexagon in the history of Kdramaland. A triangle is crazy enough now they went ahead and put everyone in a hexagon. Well, nobody said this is your typical rom-com. The love hexagon was actually a brilliant idea because it put the OTP in a tight space where they have to do a lot of convincing of the authenticity of their relationship. Although the other player in the hexagon was sometimes annoying, they are not downright hateful. There's no question that the second leads, Kang Se Ah and Han Yeo Reum, were just there to create an obstacle for our OTP. They're not the hysterical kind of second leads and at the end of the day the six of them even became close friends.

The Emotional Scars 

Gong Gi Tae wanted to stay a bachelor for life not because he really wanted to but because he had a good enough reason. He was burnt by a previous relationship and his parents' relationship wasn't exactly a role model. That's pretty understandable and is not unheard of in reality as well. Knowing Gi Tae's back story had me looking forward to how will Jang Mi change his view on love and marriage. It's fun to watch how the walls he build around himself crumble block by block with Jang Mi's charm and positive energy. I like that by being close to Jang Mi, Gi Tae was able to accept his scars as part of who he is and moved on without hang ups about marriage.

The Romance

What I hate the most in dramas is when they approach romance like people never heard of it before. Unless the characters are robots without a pre-programmed response to anything romantic, I might believe that someone would be as stiff as a board when kissed. Well, they aren't, so I won't be fooled. Thankfully, none of those are in Marriage Not Dating. Everyone is an adult who know what romance is and all the things related to it. The kisses are legit and there are actual bed scenes. (Yey! Thank you, cable!) And because they are adult, they act appropriately as adults, well, except for Hoon Dong whose every bit a Mama's boy. When Gi Tae and Jang Mi realized their feelings for each other, they acknowledged it and the conflict of bringing them back together wasn't dragged out for too many episodes. It was paced nicely to bring in maximum feels. When Se Ah and Yeo Reum realized that they won't have a chance with Gi Tae and Jang Mi, they accepted it and moved on. There were no temper tantrums and evil schemes to bring our OTP apart. I like it. All second leads should be like them.

I like how the journey from fake to real dating has made both Gi Tae and Jang Mi realized that love is not about unicorns and rainbows but about loving each other through thick and thin. That love is about accepting the person you love, flaws and all.

The Family Drama

At the heart of Marriage Not Dating are the families of both Gi Tae and Jang Mi. The parental pressure Gi Tae and Jang Mi both felt were huge enough to make them think of crazy ideas. But then the marriage pressure was just the surface because beyond it were the dysfunctional relationships between both pair of parents that attributed to Gi Tae and Jang Mi's emotional scars. Unlike other family dramas, Marriage Not Dating treated the issues with comedic vibe so it wasn't that heavy and I thank the drama gods for that. It's interesting to watch all of them as they went back-and-forth trying to outmaneuver each other. Finally, after all the crazy schemes and petty manipulations that all of the parties involved threw in the bag, it's heartwarming to watch how those relationships healed and even made stronger by that one fake act (with the exemption of Gi Tae's parents who eventually got divorced.) The sweetest of them all was that phone conversation Gi Tae had with his mom after he learned everything. Too much feels.

 Joo Jang Mi

Despite agreeing with Gong Gi Tae in the faux dating scheme, Jang Mi was actually the believer of love type of girl. All she ever wanted in life was to find the right man and get married. Fake dating Gi Tae and the risk of getting caught on their lie didn't stop her from searching for Mr. Right and stranger still Gi Tae became her reluctant love advisor. You cant't help but love her earnestness. She is adorable in a way that she has no qualms in putting her heart on her sleeves. She was burned by her previous relationship and being close to Gi Tae made her realize how complicated love is but she kept her faith in love. That's her redeeming quality and a heroine like that is a winner.

I'll just go ahead and say it that Marriage Not Dating wouldn't have been as addictive as it turned out if not for Han Groo. This is the first time I saw her in a drama but I became a fan of her immediately. She is damn good. Her comedic timing is awesome, her facial expressions were hilarious and she gives her all in all her funny scenes. It's like watching a rom-com slash gag show. But when the scene requires her to be serious, she is even better at it. Han Groo gave heart to the Joo Jang Mi character.

The Wacky Sound Effects

I included this because I find the sound effects totally funny and perfect for this rom-com. Especially the sound effects used when a character makes exaggerated facial expressions and hilarious body gags. It brings the fun to a whole new level. The ones used for Hoon Dong are priceless!

The only thing I hate about Marriage Not Dating is the way Gi Tae's dad was written. He was every bit a douche bag. I hate to watch a beloved actor portray an unpleasant role but I guess, someone has to be the bad guy, right? It's a good thing the character was played by the awesome Kim Gap Soo ahjusshi or I might have smashed the screen every time I watch the asshole with his mistress. [Sorry computer screen.]

At that wraps up the fine points of this drama. I didn't count how many times I giggled watching Marriage Not Dating (I'm sure more than the minimum my giggly self can take) but trust me when I say this drama is worth watching. I would recommend it to all rom-com fans out there or anyone who just want to spend sixteen hours of pure fun! Personally, this drama is awesome because it brought me out of my reviewing funk, that in itself is a feat of epic proportion.

P.S. This drama is currently airing in the Philippines on ABS-CBN with the title, Let's Get Married.

1 comment:

  1. Hello. This is A.K.I.A. Talking…
    Thanks for the great review of Marriage, Not Dating! I enjoyed it a lot.
    I added it to my collection of reviews for the show. The show has now an average score of 85%.
    Here is a link to the page if you would like to give it a look:
    Thanks again for the review.