Kim Soo Jin (Song Ji Hyo) is reunited with her ex-boyfriend, Bang Myeong Soo (Byun Yo Han) and forced to contend with his three, unruly ex-girlfriends for the sake of her film making career. Sparks fly between the leads, but love is hindered by his dating history and her never ending movie production.
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: ★★★.5
Only 만: ★★★
Only 만: “Ex-Girlfriend Club” was a bit of a roller coaster ride. We were really excited to see Byun Yo Han in his first lead role, after his scene-stealing turn in “Misaeng”, but then, “Ex-Girlfriend Club” ended up being cut down by four episodes.
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: Our initial reaction was outrage, though as the show went on, we could see that tvN might have had a point. The show seemed to be running out of steam prematurely.
Before we get into the issues we had with “Ex-Girlfriend Club”, let’s list what we liked.
Only: Byun Yo Han as Myeong Soo, no question. He was super cute, and I think a lot of the genuine laughs in the show came from him, rather than some of the contrived setups. I enjoyed Do Sang Woo’s turn as the obnoxious Jo Geun, and I liked that he was the second lead, so I could enjoy him without worrying about Soo Jin ending up with him. I also really liked Hwa Young, the actress who played Ra Ra. She made a slight character both funny and appealing.
Junggugeo Kaenada: Agreed on all counts. It also helped that Byun Yo Han had genuine chemistry with Song Ji Hyo. In spite of the incongruous approaches to their characters – she went for wacky, he was more natural – there was definitely a spark that made their couple moments very engaging. In the rare moments when they were allowed to smolder, the couple built up heat without even touching lips.
Only: The two of them really did have a spark, and I feel like they settled into their disparate acting styles towards the end. Unfortunately, the end came too soon, and I’m not sure whether to blame the cut for the problems in the show, or whether they were there in the first place.
Junggugeo Kaenada: Even in the limited number of episodes they had, the writers wasted so much time on the movie adaptation of Myeong Soo’s webtoon. Not to say that I was against a career-oriented storyline. After I read the show premise, I was looking forward to watching the Korean movie production process. Instead, we were stuck at the pre-production stage right up until the final scenes of the final episode.
Everything became bogged down in the questionable excitement of contracts and securing financial backing. First, Soo Jin had to convince her ex and his ex-girlfriends to cooperate, then they had to maintain a charade to keep their funding, then the rights to the movie were taken away from them, and we were left to watch Soo Jin’s production company fold.
All the while, the romance story line dwindled to Myeong Soo repeatedly chasing after Soo Jin, who was mostly distracted by work.
Only: Again, I’m not sure if it was due to the cut, or poor writing, but some of the characters were underdeveloped. Unfortunately, one of those was Myeong Soo. I kept waiting on the moment when we would learn more about him, but in the end, we didn’t get much more than what a great boyfriend he was, and how much he loved Soo Jin. Not that I didn’t enjoy how cute they were as a couple, but I thought there should have been more to him than that. Kudos to Byun Yo Han for making him appealing regardless.
I had the same problem with the ex-girlfriends, who weren’t given an opportunity to be anything more than caricatures. The cut made the story feel disordered, but it didn’t do the characterization any favours either.
Junggugeo Kaenada: I would complain about Soo Jin’s older sister and brother-in-law, but I can’t muster the enthusiasm to write about them, both in my recaps and in this review. The conversations in which Soo Jin confided in her brother-in-law were nice, but that sister was just relentlessly grating.
It seems like we are complaining a lot, but for me, it is only the result of disappointment at a show that had such potential and squandered it through aimless writing.
Only: I’d agree with that. The saving grace of this show was how cute Myeong Soo and Soo Jin became, and also some really great moments. For me, the fight between Jo Geun and Myeong Soo in Soo Jin’s apartment was classic. I dislike how we got there, but the two of them trying to silently fight and ending up rolling around on the ground like idiots was worth it. I think the moment where they realized they had been caught and started pretending like they were joking around was the biggest belly laugh of the show.
Junggugeo Kaenada: The surprise party for Myeong Soo was also fantastic. It started as a thrilling moment in which Myeong Soo takes a chance and proposes to Soo Jin that they date. Then, the ex-girlfriends pop up one-by-one to violate the couple’s intimacy, and Jo Geun steps out from behind curtains to say, “Surprise” in the most sardonic way possible. Soo Jin tries to help Myeong Soo regain some dignity by laughing the situation off, but Myeong Soo irritably refuses to play along. The scene ends with the couple looking like morose clowns.
Any favourite romance moment?
Only: Probably when Myeong Soo sneaks in a kiss on the cheek by asking Soo Jin to take his camera out of the bag. For such a chaste moment, there was some genuine sexual tension there. It was miles better than the scene in the last episode with the two of them sitting drenched in the back seat of the car, talking about colours. How they let that moment slip away is beyond me.
Junggugeo Kaenada: This show really did demonstrate how to be sexy without being explicit. The moment when Myeong Soo is about to demonstrate his first kiss with Soo Jin by actually kissing her for the first time was swoon worthy. However, I was really drawn in by the first episode with the first meeting of Soo Jin and Myeong Soo shown in flashbacks. The way Soo Jin looked at a soaking Myeong Soo as he tried to charm his way into their car so effectively yet subtly conveyed love at first sight.
If only these magical moments dominated the series rather than peppered it.
Only: A coherent story and better writing would have worked wonders.