After a brief hiatus and some big adjustments, Introverted Boss made its return to try and win back the viewers with a new and improved direction. The script rewrites certainly fixed any slight pacing issues that may have been present and made the story more appealing to mass audiences, resulting in an ever so slight ratings increase. However, these changes also managed to erase all traces of edge and originality that made the first four episodes so engaging. What started off as a potentially novel and progressive drama has now devolved into a mess of tired clichés .
In their attempts to get a leg up in the ratings race, it seems that the writers have fallen back on some of the oldest tropes in the book. For example, episode 8 finds the two male leads in a very uncharacteristic drinking competition that ultimately results in cutesy inebriated acting and goofy confessions. In the end, the female lead carries the two bumbling fools back to their hotel room and (surprise, surprise) promptly falls asleep after stumbling into bed between her love interests.
In another instance of contrived plot devices, Eun Hwan-gi and Kang Woo-il (both grown men) wrestle around on the jungle floor, fighting over who gets to go rescue Chae Ro-woon, who has gone chasing after a purse-stealing monkey. The most eye-roll inducing trope, though, comes when the boss’ sister, Eun Yi-soo, runs out into traffic and gets hit by a car in a desperate attempt to keep her fiancé from leaving. It is later revealed at the hospital that she has a history of self-harm, so this incident should certainly not be made light of, but the writers themselves seemed to brush it off by approaching it in the most predictable and lazy way possible. In dramas these days, it is not a matter of if someone will get hit by a car, but when they will get hit.
These predictable plot moves have come at the expense of the real hard-hitting commentaries showcased in the first few episodes. While the beginning of the show led the viewer to believe that issues of gender identity, mental health, and corporate corruption would be addressed in a more realistic way, such issues have been abandoned in favor of romance and cheap laughs.
Perhaps audiences felt uncomfortable about the darker nature of the prior themes or perhaps the writers made that assumption on behalf of the viewers, fixing parts of the plot that were not even a problem to begin with. This is not to say that the drama has abandoned more serious subject material entirely, as Yi-soo’s struggles with self-harm and strong dependency are still present in the story. However, the way such issues are addressed is brief and rather dismissive, as they hold too much potential to draw focus from the main love line.
The most disappointing change, though, has been in the character development. Previously, it seemed that Hwan-gi was going to allow himself to change in a rather natural way, with Ro-woon helping him take baby steps outside of himself and find his own voice. Instead, what happened is the boss taking unrealistically large and silly steps, with Ro-woon primarily helping him through the implementation of a mood-indication post-it system.
With the female lead treating her love interest essentially like an elementary school student, it then becomes very hard to buy into the chemistry of the supposedly sexy shower kiss scene that occurs at the end of episode 10. In fact, at this point, it seems as if the most realistic character is the one people should want to like the least, the cheating and scheming Woo-il. Though his actions are not justifiable, once his backstory is revealed, viewers get a clearer sense of just how trapped and suffocated he must feel by the people he calls family. This inner conflict and feeling of defeat are very well portrayed by Yoon Park, whose acting makes it very hard to label his character in black and white terms.
The drama scene has been a sea of sameness recently, with no one drama making any serous impression. It looked as if Introverted Boss had a chance at pulling forward and standing out from the crowd, but it seems like the show was doomed from the start. Without rewrites, viewers were displeased with the direction and ratings plummeted. After the rewrites, though, the quality of the writing took a major hit without even reflecting a significant increase in viewership. Six episodes still remain before the conclusion of this drama, but if it continues in this particular direction, audiences may have to settle for nothing more than a basic entertainment experience.
(Images via tvN)