Song Ji-hyo‘s latest drama is one that sees her playing a producer named Kim Soo-jin whose latest work ends up being one that will either make or break the company she works for. She has the task of pulling her company back from the red by working with her “ex-boyfriend” Bang Myeong-soo (Byun Yo-han). To get this production off the ground, she also has to deal with the opposition of his three ex-girlfriends, setting the scene for high drama.
Ex-Girlfriend Club starts with the machinations of a typical K-drama but after a few episodes, is able to find an intriguingly quirky tone. The exposition of the first couple of episodes is slow-moving and relies on quite a few tropes — especially in setting up the stakes of this movie production for Soo-jin. A kind of off-kilter laughter, the jokes can be a little hit or miss. The punchlines and reactions are often very animated, but they can also be played up to almost melodramatic ridiculousness (although this works in its favor at times).
What the drama starts to do well in episodes three and four is in pushing past some of the protracted plot points. The most important of which is the did-they-date-or-didn’t-they question lingering between Soo-jin and Myeong-soo. Myeong-soo denies that they have even though there was a period of time in their past where they were really close.
There is a surprisingly rewarding scene where Soo-jin sits down with the three ex-girlfriends and tries to curry favor through her honest story of her “relationship” with Myeong-soo. The situation is unexpected (especially so early on) and goes against viewer expectations to keep Myeong-soo and Soo-jin’s relationship interesting. Myeong-soo’s declaration of not having ever dated Soo-jin — in front of her newly developed camaraderie of ex-girlfriends — keeps shifting their understanding of one another.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBFtMO0xFMc]
Song Ji-hyo does a great job playing PD Soo-jin. For a drama where some characters are extremely colorful, her easy-going, down-to-earth personality gives Ex-Girlfriend Club a more personal touch. There are moments where she lacks screen presence and goes through the motions, but so far she provides a nuanced portrayal of PD Soo-jin.
Myeong-soo on the other hand doesn’t seem as complex as Soo-jin, yet. He still seems a mystery to me because he plays a nice guy, but at the same time has qualities of a player who writes webtoon about his three ex-girlfriends. When Byun Yo-han is on screen he has a strong personality and presence, but I wonder about his character’s motivations. What compels him to always help out these women, and why does he and Soo-jin not see eye-to-eye about their past?
On the other hand, the three ex-girlfriends are each full of personality. Their entrance at the end of episode one was over the top — with strong gazes, kisses and a big giant slap. It makes me wonder if the webtoon was that far off from reality. Each one is a harbor of strong presence — overflowing with an antagonizing pressure that Soo-jin will likely have to overcome. At times, these women are referred to as their character in the webtoon — Na Ji-ah (Jang Ji-eun) is the cat, Jang Hwa-young (Lee Yoon-ji) is the lion, and Ra Ra (Ryu Hwa-young) is the fox — and it makes me wonder how she is to work with the ex-girlfriends.
These women add layers of complexity to the story. If you think about it, Myeong-soo writing a comic about these women is kind of messed up. It’s his view of them played out in an entertainment medium viewed by millions. Each woman has their motivations for challenging the movie adaptation of the webtoon, and their stories get further entangled with Myeong-soo’s as Soo-jin aims to get the production off the ground.
Hwa-young’s life has led her to be the team leader of a large corporation that ends up funding the movie. However, Hwa-young wants to change everything about the script to mask her representation in the webtoon. It turns out that she’s engaged to the director of the corporation and although the production does eventually make progress, this secret of her previous involvement with Myeong-soo seems to be lingering over her head.
Ra Ra is an actress that isn’t taken seriously in the industry. She wants her shot at a dramatic role but doesn’t quite know how to get the industry to take her seriously. She wants to get an opportunity to act and is using the movie more as a means for building connections and openly declaring her intent on finding the perfect role to achieve her goal of being a great actress.
Lastly, Ji-ah seems to still maintain a close relationship with Myeong-soo. She has gotten a divorce from her prior husband and is now running a restaurant — which serves as the setting of a few ridiculous meetings including one large hair pulling incident that all the girls and Myeong-soo get caught up in. Anyhow, Myeong-soo helps out in her restaurant as he claims she doesn’t know how to wash dishes very well. She is protective of Myeong-soo and afraid he will be taken advantage of in the movie deal by Soo-jin.
So far, Ex-Girlfriend Club is doing a solid job of moving its plot along, and it has a wacky sort of charm to it. We have also gotten to a point where several situations are starting to intersect. Soo-jin has aired out her anger against Myeong-soo for reducing their past relationship to just platonic friendship. However, in order to keep the production going, she may have to pretend to be Myeong-soo’s girlfriend (isn’t that ironic?). Furthermore, the movie’s director, Jo-geun (Do Sang-woo), has taken an interest in Soo-jin and Myeong-soo, and their curious connection to Hwa-young. Jo-geun is personally close with the corporation’s director and has an invested curiosity in figuring out whether Hwa-young is suitable for the marriage.
Will Soo-jin and Myeong-soo eventually end up together? Is this production going to continue successfully, or will Myeong-soo’s messy relationships cause it to fail spelling doom for the company Soo-jin works for? Let us know what you think about this drama in the comments!