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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 5

2015/08/31 | Permalink

I'm struggling at this point trying to figure out what exactly the point is supposed to be to "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law". Is the drama really just supposed to be a standard romantic comedy between In-yeong and Myeong-seok, with no other frills? That much wouldn't be...terrible or anything, but their romance is among the most least interesting topics here, and the jokes we get don't really have that much variance. Even the kiss was more just, eh, that happened. There wasn't any urgency.

Character arcs are important. And right now I'm keenly feeling the lack of any character arcs, in the sense that I'm dreading scenes with certain characters because they're just going to act and react the same way again and again. Like Mi-hee. She abuses her son's filial devotion to a point that feels just plain criminal. It seems especially likely that her ex-husband's situation is more sympathetic than Mi-hee lets on, because the woman just pathologically lies about everything.

This is behavior that's presumably been going on for years, and several other characters are in similarly unhealthy relationships. At the end of this episode, the fifth one, nearly halfway through the drama, there's still no apparent solution in sight for these issues. The backdrop is much less "charming dysfunctional family" and more "horrible family that no one should ever want to get willingly involved in".

The big irony of all this is that Choon-ja, the alleged terrible mother-in-law of the show-within-a-show, is actually one of the more pleasant people to be around simply because she's honest. Choon-ja also gets very little screentime considering how high her billing is. This is especially annoying because In-yeong's more positive qualities could conceivably win Choon-ja over. As far as I can tell In-yeong has a better natural talent for ingredient preparation than she does for the girl group celebrity life.

That's another one of the many potentially interesting hooks in "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" that remains frustratingly unexplored. How exactly does the cookery work anyway? A drama from a few years back, "Fermented Family", did great work with its setting by making food preparation and discussion a constant plot point. It really did a lot to help me identify with the characters and appreciate just a little bit more the serious work that goes into traditional Korean food. Whereas "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" just brings up fraudulent advertising as a random plot point for In-yeong to solve. It's all terribly irritating.

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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