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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 13-14


A lot of the story in "Strong Family" is very low key. I know that the central plot of the thirteenth episode was Ra-yeon trying and inevitably becoming frustrated with her attempts to fit in to a more high class mom clique. I also know that the central plot of the fourteenth episode was Cheon-il's rather creepy fixation with the person who lives upstairs and generally irritates Ra-yeon with constant cigarette smoke. Beyond that, though, what we have are a lot of very small plots with frustratingly little development.

I write frustrating because these plots are indeed interesting in their own right. I've written pretty extensively about how charming Jeong-min is, which is why I know that there are exactly three scenes where she features. In the first, all she does is react to another character's shocking revelation. In the second Jeong-min is surprisingly ignorant about the implications of this revelation, considering the process of elimination. And in the third Jeong-min just...changes her wardrobe.

Ik-hee suffers similar problems, even as an alleged main character. In both central plots Ik-hee is just a sideshow. We don't actually get to see her travel overseas when a big part of Ra-yeon's conflict was over wanting what's best for Ik-hee versus wanting what's best for Ra-yeon's own social image. Then in in the next episode Ik-hee simply stalks Cheon-il without really expressing an opinion of her own where it comes to the whole cigarette smoke issue.

Lastly, there's Miss Jo (played by Kim Hye-ok). Her main purpose in the story is to dispense motherly advice of curious disposition to Ra-yeon and her sisters. This makes Miss Jo difficult to discuss in a vacuum, which is why it's a little surprising when she runs into her own problem in the fourteenth episode rather similar to Ra-yeon's. Alas, we only have the vague hint of further plot springing from this, leaving us to wait for further delivery.

"Strong Family" frequently has this problem where it does self-contained storylines that require little context while also introducing running plotlines that are too tantalizingly short to be of much interest in there here and now. So it is probably worth noting that the likely intended context for watching this drama is just in short bursts while there's nothing else on television. As late night programming "Strong Family" is questionable at best, but then even at its best, the drama remains rather average.

Review by William Schwartz

"Strong Family" is directed by Choi Moon-seok, written by Jin Yeong and features Park Hyuk-kwon, Park Sun-young, Kim Ji-min, Uhm Hyo-sup, Park Hee-bon, Kim Ki-ri and Lee Ho-won.

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