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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 1

2015/08/17 | Permalink

In-yeong (played by Kim Dasom) is a girl group singer who has fallen on hard times. Nobody likes her girl group anymore. Also In-yeong is kind of a jerk, who has a really bad habit of making smelly farts. But all is not lost- in the world of Korean broadcasting, there is constant demand for variety shows featuring low-level celebrities in comical pseudo-realistic situations. Like marriage. For basically random business-related reasons, In-yeong is offered a shot at a comeback provided she become "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" to a well-known traditional cookery.

The main obvious standout quality about "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" is that it is low-brow and low-class. Really. The whole production looked like it was filmed really cheaply, with old sets and grainy cameras. None of the actors even seem to really be, well, acting. They all just have this sort of disgusted look on their faces, like they all know this is a completely stupid idea but they have to go on with it anyway because that's how show business and marketing work.

So far I'm probably not making the drama sound very fun. Well, that's because "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law exists in a very bizarre, very South Korean entertainment industry context that probably won't make much sense to someone not familiar with it. To put it bluntly, South Korean variety shows are frequently about celebrities having fun with normal people or each other, and even though these variety shows are supposed to be about the real world, in practical terms everyone knows that to a large extent this spontaneity is actually staged.

That's what the drama is mocking. It's also why the drama looks so cheap- actual variety shows also look cheap. But the big joke is that rather than pretending to be fun, "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" is actively mean-spirited. The special post-production editing is used to emphasize how much these people really genuinely dislike each other. And I couldn't help but laugh at seeing these editing techniques used for obviously evil purposes in a genre format that's otherwise ridiculously positive.

There's a sheer crudeness to this production that's rather unreasonably amusing. Writers Moon Seon-hee and Yoo Nam-kyeong aren't trying to write particularly deep material here. This is basic satire of Korean variety TV show production with a bunch of mother-in-law jokes and conflicts tossed in. Everything about this drama is just plain goofy- and that's enough to, for the moment anyway, hold on to my attention.

Review by William Schwartz

"The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" is directed by Lee Deok-geon & Park Man-yeong, written by Moon Seon-hee & Yoo Nam-kyeong and features Kim Dasom, Go Doo-shim, Ryu Soo-young, Kwak Hee-sung, Kim Yoon-seo, Kim Sung-hwan and more.


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