Rich girl cop, Apple (Priscilla Wong) poses as wife to boorish colleague, Tai Shu (Edwin Siu) in an undercover operation to root out a loan shark syndicate. They move into an estate apartment to investigate their neighbours who are all indebted to a resident loan shark: housewife, Dan Dan (Mandy Wong), single mother, Lin Heung (Rachel Kan), and beauty shop owner, Fung Nei (Kaki Leung). Various hijinks ensue, and hate turns to love for Apple and Tai Shu.
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: ★★★
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: To be clear to readers, I watched “Madam Cutie on Duty” and you read my recaps. So, you probably have a myopic view of this Hong Kong drama.
Only 만: Right. Since my only perspective on “Madam Cutie on Duty” is through your recaps, I’m just going to ask you questions.
From your recaps, Apple and Tai Shu were pretty entertaining. Did they have good chemistry, as well?
Junggugeo Kaenada: Apple and Tai Shu were great when they were hating on each other. He is the boorish oaf and she is the rich princess. They played up their roles enough to create friction, but not to the point where they became caricatures or unlikable. They were a good comedic duo.
When it came to romantic chemistry, I am not sure. Sexual tension is not usually a characteristic of HK-dramas, but maybe I should get to generalizations later.
Only: I got the impression that you found the side characters less than interesting most of the time, or poor distractions from the main story of Apple and Tai Shu. Did I get it right?
Junggugeo Kaenada: The secondary characters were neither here nor there, as you would say. I did not dislike their story lines enough to fast forward through them, but they were not what kept me interested in the show. To be fair, I think weekend family K-dramas follow the same format of spreading the attention around to a wide array of interconnected characters. And, I avoid weekend family K-dramas.
Only: Which brings us to the obvious question, which is how does “Madam Cutie on Duty”, being an HK-drama, differ from the K-dramas you normally watch?
Junggugeo Kaenada: Many of the things that I liked about “Madam Cutie on Duty” are the things that K-dramas tend to lack: a female lead who can hold her own and does not resort to weeping, a male lead who is entertainingly crass, and snappy repartee between them.
However, “Madam Cutie on Duty” failed to capture me the way K-dramas do, because it did not allow for sexual tension between its characters. When I think about the K-dramas that I have liked, I get giddy about the heat that the lead couple generated, and I enjoy how skinship is standard fare. Whenever Apple and Tai Shu kissed or touched, it was always in the context of a joke. They are never allowed to get physically intimate.
The worst aspect of “Madam Cutie on Duty”, though, was the sentimentality. The last few episodes were practically dripping in syrup.
Only: Is that typical of HK-dramas?
Junggugeo Kaenada: Yes, the crass comedy and the sentimentality are, weirdly enough, characteristics of HK-dramas.
It occurs to me that while K-dramas frequently start with the cold chaebol who warms up thanks to the poor yet principled female lead, HK-dramas like to start with the lout who clashes with a woman who gives as good as she gets until they soften up to each other. Whereas K-dramas inevitably become melodramatic, HK-dramas give way to undignified remorse and self-flagellation. Isn’t that strange? I’m sure there’s a lucky graduate student watching lots of research material to compare and contrast Asian dramas.
However, the dominance of Korean pop culture is undeniable, even in “Madam Cutie on Duty”. When Apple and Tai Shu are presented with potential back stories for their undercover operation, one option is the K-drama scenario. The estate housewives are all up on the latest K-pop bands when they go to karaoke. In the final episode, Apple teases Tai Shu by calling him “ahjusshi” while he insists she call him “oppa”. So, even the HK-drama writers are clearly watching K-dramas.
Only: So, would you recommend “Madam Cutie on Duty”?
Junggugeo Kaenada: I found it entertaining, but it never captured me. However, I can’t really blame an HK-drama for having all the characteristics of its genre. So, I will say that I enjoyed “Madam Cutie on Duty” for what it was, and it was consistently amusing enough to get me to the end.
Did you have any comment based on your reading of my recaps?
Only: Given your description, I suspect I enjoyed your recaps more than I would have enjoyed the show, though the idea of two leads fighting like equals is pretty interesting. And, crass humour is always appealing.
Junggugeo Kaenada: That’s enough reason for me to consider recapping another HK-drama in the future.