The Undateables (Handsome Guy and Jung-eum) is a comedic and lighthearted K-drama about finding love with someone who is different from you but provides balance to your life. While it had an overloaded finale, it was a positive ending to a mostly cheerful story. Don’t expect to watch this K-drama for tons of dramatic conflict between the main couple or for ridiculous family drama. In fact, most of their issues are resolved in hilarious scenarios. It also parodies some typical K-drama scenes but still isn’t completely unique.
Aside from the main romance, this drama dealt with the romantic issues of single people called the “the undateables” that the main couple needed to resolve. Although there were pacing issues with the quick resolutions of the “undateables'” romantic problems, they were interesting and quirky characters. Their speedy love stories were oftentimes more enduring than the main couple. Generally, Kang Hoon-nam (Namgoong Min) and Yoo Jung-eum (Hwang Jung-eum) realized that each lonely member needed someone who had different characteristics from them. For instance, an “undateable” who was overworked found love with a woman who helps slow him down and enjoy his life outside of his job.
In keeping with the theme of balance, Coach Yang’s (Oh Yoon-ah) finally gains some self-esteem and moves past her obsession with Yook Ryong (Jung Moon-Sung). Originally, her character was unlikeable because of how desperate she seems for Ryon when he had no obvious interest in dating anyone exclusively. I was disappointed at how poorly written her character was with all the other strong women in the story. However, once she breaks up with him, she refocuses her energy on her job as a coach for an all-girls swimming team. This ultimately pushes Ryong to reevaluate his womanizing ways and want to seek out a more serious relationship with her.
I touched on this in the previous review, but Hoon-nam’s mother (Shim Hye-jin) has a surprisingly refreshing characterization. Her character did away with your basic rich, evil, and overbearing mother stereotype. In fact, the show comedically pokes fun at that trope. Jung-eum hilariously expects her to toss water in her face or offer her money to leave her son. Instead, she tells her that she has no say in who her son dates and welcomes her to the family. She also treats Hoon-nam no different to her other son despite that he was the product of an infidelity with her husband and another woman. The finale shows her completely taking charge of her life and walking away from her selfish husband.
In general, family was an important aspect of the drama but it didn’t take itself seriously. Jung-eum didn’t want there to be any issues with Hoon-nam’s father (Nam Kyoung-Eub) and encouraged him to resolve any problems between them. The show is mostly a comedy so these resolutions were more on the quick and comedic side brushing aside serious problems. For example, Hoon-nam spends the night getting drunk with his dad and lamenting his problems to him. When Hoon-nam’s mother arrives, she has to drag them to bed. The next day, everything is better between his father and him.
For the second half of the show, our main couple has a pretty cute and mushy relationship, but they still had their hurdles to overcome. I was impressed with how well Jung-eum’s character defended herself and wasn’t the lovesick person she was years ago with her first boyfriend. However, most of their issues were resolved easily to the extent that they were sometimes the most boring couple in the show. It’s clear they have opposite personalities and they bring together those differences to help with their clients better. They also still fell victim to a k-drama trope that their characters had unknowingly met many times before. The writers didn’t tie up all those loose ends on their past meetings, and just left the viewers wondering if they would both ever know.
As typical for most K-dramas, the finale felt like the writers were quick to stuff everything into the last 30 minutes. Both second leads were written off; they conveniently left Korea to pursue their careers. With how much Jung-eum valued Joon-soo (Choi Tae-joon), growing up with him like siblings, it’s odd that he would just walk out of her life without any resistance from her. There’s also no further development in Jung-eum’s and Hoon-nam’s relationship aside from them showing us they’re still together. Several other topics were never or only quickly addressed like Jung-eum’s water phobia, the tin-man originally belonging to Hoon-nam, and Hoon-nam’s mystery guest in an old photo with his biological mother.
For the most part, it was a decently written comedy about love with a focus on how opposing personalities brings about balance. It parodies some K-drama tropes but wasn’t completely cliché-free still falling into some common K-drama scenarios. It is nice to see that K-drama writers are aware of all those typical scenes we’re sick of seeing and trying to keep things fresh by developing their characters beyond stereotypes. Both actors that portrayed the protagonists did a wonderful job displaying varying emotions and had great comedic timing.
This k-drama is mostly full of sweet and sugary romances, so I’d recommend it for someone looking for a story about a funny show about love.
(Images via SBS)