Witch’s Romance is continuing to be truly excellent. It’s almost evolving from a simple sexy romantic comedy to a genuine character piece. The story keeps expanding to give sub-plots to more and more characters, but it’s not padding that’s only there to fill the airtime. Instead, the expansion of the story is more like a reflection of Ji-yeon’s character growth: as she lets people in, their lives take up more of her thoughts and energy, instead of being limited to just herself.
Ji-yeon’s character arc really takes shape in episodes 5-8. The first few episodes showed us Ji-yeon as she wants the world to see her– a cold-hearted, independent, take-no-prisoners bitch. Now, we get to see her as she truly is. She cares about people, but doesn’t want anyone to know she cares, as she thinks it makes her look weak. Case in point: She overhears Dong-ha talking about the costs of surgery for a boy she assumes is his brother. This leads her to motivate her team to win the sports competition at the Trouble Maker MT so Dong-ha can have the cash bonus, despite having actively sabotaged her team in years past for the sake of her manicure. And when her photographer/friend questions her, Ji-yeon both tells him the truth and swears him to secrecy. To Ji-yeon, people realizing she has a heart is a fate worse than death.
Of course, that doesn’t really work when one of Witch’s Romance‘s strongest qualities is the refusal to indulge in drawn-out misunderstandings. Everyone makes clear and conscious attempts to ensure the whole story is known. When Eun-chae runs into an old schoolmate who insinuates she’s a slut, all the staff buy it… for about an hour. At that point, she returns from her breakdown and gets to explain her side. At this point, everyone indulges in group payback, including smacks, throwing food, and blackmail. It’s a very nice change of pace for a drama to tell a story that could happen in reality just as easily as Dramaland.
The element where this is most noticeable and most wonderful is the love triangle. Drama heroes and second leads have certain unwritten rules that they follow– the hero is a man-child, the second lead is more stable, and nothing trumps her first love. In Witch’s Romance, it feels not unlike the writers wrote all these rules down and then set them on fire. Dong-ha is steady, dependable, and unwilling to play games. Sure, he may be young, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t lived. His first girlfriend dies of a heart defect, and it took him a long time to recover, but he took that experience and grew into someone Ji-yeon could form a real relationship with.
On the other hand, there’s Ji-yeon’s ex-fiancée, who abandoned her at the altar. Played by Han Jae-suk, Noh Shi-hoon is a dick. He is the worst kind of guy. Shi-hoon thinks that because he still loves Ji-yeon, he is entitled to her. Oblivious to her pain and anger, and quite honestly, her feelings in general, he barges back into her life like a bull in a china shop. Apparently, he thinks that leaving her at the altar and not speaking to her in six years is the kind of thing that can be undone with a confession and history. Even if he had a valid reason for missing their wedding (he was shot and in a coma), Shi-hoon still could have called. He had time to become a famous photographer, you would think he had time for a phone call.
What really sticks about Shi-hoon, a.k.a. Captain Asshat, is that he doesn’t care about Ji-yeon the person as much as he cares about Ji-yeon the idea. If Ji-yeon hadn’t been sent to interview him, she would have learned of his return to Korea when news of his exhibition, which includes a photo-mosaic of her and the declaration that she is his true love, hit the papers. It never occurred to Captain Asshat that she might not be okay with having her life dragged into the press, complete with implication that she’s a heart-breaking witch. Or more, accurately, it did, but Captain Asshat decided that didn’t matter, becuase he wanted it out there.
The show never misses a chance to illustrate that Dong-ha is younger, but Captain Asshat is much more immature. They both make grand romantic gestures, but while Captain Asshat’s is public and unescapable, Dong-ha’s– a romantic meal of fried chicked and wine, surrounded by candles– is private, and something that Ji-yeon can take or leave. Dong-ha makes conscious, repeated efforts to show Ji-yeon he cares by doing small things with her. He chats about her day, hangs out with Ji-yeon, her bestie Na-rae, and Na-rae’s husband to keep her from becoming the third wheel, and gives her mother instructions on how to eat more healthily. Captain Asshat just makes grand speeches about how much he loves her, with the only result being Ji-yeon’s mother verbally handing him said ass on a platter, because, seriously, dude, phones exist.
The only real complaint about episodes 5-8 is the shift in tone. They were good episodes, just as snappy and sexy as the first four, but they weren’t as light-hearted. The drop in tone to something more serious was needed, because, let’s face it, you cannot write about a dead ex-girlfriend and her sister in a fun, positive way. That said, it’s disturbingly common for romantic-comedies to lose their comedy and become melodrama-light. Come on, Witch’s Romance. You can turn back to the fun path. I have faith!
Witch’s Romance is continuing to impress. It’s developed it’s story and characters while keeping everything fresh. How are you liking it, readers?
(Images via tvN)