Friday, August 1, 2014

First Impressions:// It's Okay, It's Love

Posters for It's Okay, It's Love 괜찮아, 사랑이야

It's Okay, It's Love is a romantic comedy with a psychiatric theme. Director Kim Kyu Tae, and writer No Hee Kyung also paired up together for Padam Padam and That Winter the Wind Blows, so expectations are high, especially considering the caliber of the cast. Not surprisingly, the series has the gritty, serious feel of a melodrama, despite the presence of silliness and charming comedic scenes.

Gong Hyo Jin 공효진 as Ji Hae Soo, consulting as a psychiatrist, and having drinks after work.

Ji Hae Soo (Gong Hyo Jin) is going through her first year fellowship in psychiatry. She has intimacy issues which impacts her relationships and she can't seem to work through them, even with therapy. She's flawed, but fun, and cares about her patients even if she may not quite understand them.

Jo In Sub 조인성 as Jang Jae Yul in It's Okay, It's Love.

Jang Jae Yul (Jo In Sub) is cocky and arrogant; he's like an incarnation of Oh Soo from That Winter, The Wind Blows, incidentally also played by Jo In Sub. Not that I mind, I like his evilly smug smiles and the fact that he has the smarts to back up his attitude. Jae Yul is a radio DJ and popular author which gives him celebrity status, not to mention, lots of money.

Ji Hae Soo and Jang Jae Yul on the set of the television debate.

Hae Soo and Jae Yul meet on a talk show where they have a debate on topics pertaining to his book; crime, justice and human nature. Jae Yul is condescending towards Hae Soo as he plays to the audience. Hae Soo is annoyed, but confident as she counters him.

Hae Soo: He has a personality disorder who thinks that the sun rotates around him.  Jae Yul: That woman... She never produced the love hormone oxytocin.

After the show, their opinions of each other are less than flattering. Luckily they probably won't cross paths again, right? Actually, their paths do more than cross, and the fighting that ensues is just the right precursor for the love that is sure to follow.

Despite the absence of romance in the first two episodes, the presence of romance is made abundantly clear with the soft light infused close ups in key scenes. The photography is really outstanding in the drama which gives it a movie-like quality.

Sung Dong Il 성동일 as Jo Dong Min and Lee Kwang Soo 이광수 as Park Soo Kwang in bed, watching a broadcast, touching butts, and doing breathing exercies while Jae Yul looks on in confusion.

The beloved duo of comic relief are a doctor/patient team who also happen to be Hae Soo's housemates. Jo Dong Min (Sung Dong Il) is a psychiatrist and Hae Soo's sunbae. He's a bit crude, but is the voice of reason in the house. Park Soo Kwang (Lee Kwang Soo) is a cafe worker and patient, suffering from Tourette Syndrome. Together they are funny and endearing, and have a very organic and affectionate dynamic with Hae Soo as a kind of oddball family.

D.O. 디오 as Han Kang Woo plays with Jae Yul after the book signing.

On Jae Yul's side, well, he's got some complicated relationships in all aspects of his life. It's enough to evoke compassion for him even though he seems impossibly pompous. Then there's Han Gang Woo (D.O.), a student and aspiring writer who follows him around everywhere. Apparently he's abused by his father and Jae Yul treats him like a little brother. There's something that feels a little odd about their relationship, and seeing as how this is a psychiatric drama, I get the feeling that Gang Woo is actually a part of Jae Yul's personality that he's become disassociated with. At least that's how I would write it.

Yang Ik June 양익준 as Jang Jae Bum attacks Jae Yul, Jae Yul and Hae Soo chase a schizophrenic patient, a fast car chase on the freeway.

The first episode felt a little gimmicky. We get right into a violent attack that wasn't intelligently carried out, but served to raise questions about Jae Yul's past. There's also a foot chase and a car chase that weren't vital to the story, but seemed written in as if to fulfill a checklist of "exciting elements" to include.

However, the rich characters and delightful interaction between them all are really the charm of It's Okay, It's Love. Though it follows the basic formula, something feels different about this drama. It's a quirky rom/com in melo clothing with a lot going on without being overwhelming. The writing got better in episode two, and by the looks of the previews, it seems that things will continue to improve as the drama unfolds.

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