Good evening, everyone!
I hope that most of you are already on holiday so you can do what you enjoy the most. Before the new year ends, I need to finish a couple of dramas and write reviews. Today I will talk about “Bubblegum”, which aired on tVn until last week. This drama is sort of romantic comedy that sometimes reaches melodramatic tones, with Lee Dong Wook starring as an Eastern Medicine Doctor called Park Ri Hwan, and Jung Ryeo Won as his longtime friend and PD of a radio station Kim Haeng Ah. The two have known each other since forever, and they had many adventures together. They are at a point in their lives that is crucial: they are at an age where they should marry, and after some coincidences that make them think about whether or not they can be together as lovers, they try to test if they can last. This journey is not easy, since besides Ri Hwan’s mom Sun Young (Bae Jong Ok), there’s more people who try to interfere their relationship. I am talking about Kang Seok Joon (Lee Jong Hyuk), famous radio personality and Haeng Ah’s ex boyfriend, and Hong Yi Seul (Park Hee Bon), a dentist who is the daughter of a wealthy woman who wants her to get married with Ri Hwan.
At first glance this story looks like the usual comedy. Well, it is, but unlike many other dramas, it is more different and I’d say, philosophical. The drama itself will make you think and reason about stuff, and you won’t bang your head on the wall because of the triangle (or better, quadrangle) you will find in it. The love interests and their opposite one-sided loves are treated in a more mature, serious and diplomatic way, unlike dramas that are older than ten years which featured the second leads attached like glue to the ones they liked.
Although Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah have it hard because of some oppositions in the beginning, they will go past the obstacles that put themselves in the way with strength and passion, trying to give the audience a “life lesson” about what it went wrong. They express various considerations in the voice overs and they often leave the spectator speechless because many situations are left open, to make one imagine how things went from there. The characters’ thoughts seem to interact with the audience, and it is surprising.
“Simple” is one of the terms I would describe this drama with. The story is typical, we can’t say otherwise, but in its being usual and realistic, with its simplicity it is able to get to the heart of a question and to make you laugh as well. It had been a while I didn’t laugh, and I was surprised to smile while watching this. Every character was funny, even those who were a bit hard on themselves and tough. The drama starts with various couples that could be together or that blew up already, and together they try to overcome their frame of mind, and to become better people.
Now on to the cast. Who knows me is aware that I am a fan of LDW. Not only he is handsome, he is also good at doing dark roles. Here his character was more cheerful, optimistic, despite life threw some sad things at him. He tried to be funny and he succeeded most of the time, but on some occasions I wasn’t convinced. I believe he has to “master” in a kind of role, because I like that he tries anything because he doesn’t want to stick to a certain type of character, but there are some things that he acts that I don’t buy. *Sorry LDW, I love you but it is my opinion* What was surprising was his relationship with Jung Rye Won. The two already knew each other before and I get the feeling she is a really nice woman in real life, so it wasn’t a secret that they would get along. They played a believable couple and acted the romantic scenes authentically. They had feeling, I must admit. Lee Jong Hyuk and Park Hee Bon, the second leads, were two actors I already knew and they played roles completely opposite to the ones they did here. LJH was super serious and closed, and same goes for PHB who usually did the cheerful girl role. Perhaps it was given less screen time to them than to the leads, and this could be okay since the main focus were Haeng Ah and Ri Hwan, but I feel like they, compared to some other secondary characters, were used very few times. It felt as if the writer didn’t have a clear idea on the position they had, or she had it (because they had a logical position somehow) but the idea wasn’t received by me as it should had. I don’t know what it is, but like I wrote above I am happy they didn’t have unnecessary drama because they had a one-sided love.
One last consideration about Bubblegum, is how much this drama is “indie”. You have surely heard about this word in the musical or literary world. In the environment of dramas, that are super attached to tradition and where a racier kiss or an allusion to sex could be criticized if it airs on one of the BIG 3 (SBS, MBC, KBS), the word “indie” sounds like an euphemism. This is probably the first indie drama I ever seen on Korean TV. With its soft musical atmospheres and its philosophies put into action by Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah’s younger counterparts, you will be “different” people after watching this.