Friday, October 3, 2014

Two New Romantic Comedies for the Fall

I was pleasantly surprised when I caught the first episodes of two new romantic comedies the other night. Why surprised? We'll come to that later. For now let me introduce you to:

Romantic Comedy #1

Leading Lady: a vapid, social media-obsessed narcissist who dresses provocatively because she thinks the attention it brings from men is positive. She is always focused on her phone, says things like "LOL" and adds hashtags to her sentences.

Leading Man: a workaholic marketing genius who doesn't make time for personal relationships.

One day, LL humiliates herself and finds that for all the online friends she has, not one would come to her aid. She enlists the help of our LM (who, incidentally, is her co-worker) to repair her image and teach her how to make real connections with people. He doesn't want to cooperate at first, but soon takes pity on LL. Thus begins a series of lessons that will change them both.

Romantic Comedy #2

Leading Lady: a small town girl who is clumsy with technology, so she does things like inadvertantly updating her Facebook status with her blind date's name and sending him an embarrassing text that she meant for her best friend. She seems naive, but she's strong and intelligent.

Leading Man: a jaded boy from the city who thinks he's seen all that it has to offer. He's a bit self-absorbed and enjoys being a playboy.

LL moves to the big city to pursue her dream career. She's bullied at work, but determined to find a way to excel there and be accepted. Her best friend sets her up on a blind date with LM and while there is a physical attraction, their personalities clash. We hear their innermost thoughts and realize that relationships can only be maintained when these thoughts are never voiced out loud.

Both are good setups for the classic dynamic of a Kdrama. What is surprising is that these aren't Kdramas, but sitcoms on abc. Whaaat? Was I really watching American television programming? Obviously someone had hijacked my TV because when I turned it on, instead of displaying the Korean channel, it was on this abc network - who has heard of it? But it was John Cho who caught my eye and pulled me into the first sitcom. Incidentally, he's Korean American and was born in Seoul.

John Cho plays Henry, the stern workaholic professional, in a warmer version of the archetypical iceberg role. Karen Gillan is Eliza, the shallow ditz in need of a makeover... or makeunder. I should mention that I watched these shows through the filter of my natural Kdramavision. Yes, I was seeing it in Korean, visualing it as an actual Kdrama.
I know, I know, I could have kept John Cho as the leading man, but Bae Soo Bin came to mind. I've loved him as both hero and villain, and pictured him giving a sweet performance as a not so cold iceberg. Yoon Eun Hye would be perfect as the self absorbed Eliza. She is so good at superficial and trying-too-hard, and also at transformation in a role. I would love to see the chemistry Bae Soo Bin and Yoon Eun Hye would develop in this setting!
I'm not at all famliar with Analeigh Tipton who plays the lovable Dana, but she totally reminds me of Meg Ryan - adorable even while being tough. Jake McDorman as Peter is a likeable obnoxious pig, who tries to be accommodating, though he's ultimately selfish. Kind of like most of the men I've met, though at varying degrees of likeability. Their inner voices are hilarious, and their push/pull is quite fun - I only hope they keep it up and everything doesn't get all lovey dovey early on.
I kept seeing Daniel Choi as the bratty Peter, at times condescending and at times considerate, yet more clueless than he realizes. Han Hyo Joo plays a good sweetheart, but also conveys strength and resilience well. I would love to see her make a comeback to the small screen in a comedy like this.
Selfie and Manhattan Love Story opened to Nielsen ratings of 1.4 and 1.3 respectively (among 18-49 year olds), which isn't terrible. They were up against powerhouses like NCIS which got 2.6 and The Voice with 3.5. If I were to guess what the equivalent would be in Korea, I would say 6. Not the greatest turnout, but pretty decent and not likely to get cut. I'll continue to watch these shows this fall (can I really spare an hour from my Asian drama addiction?) and will probably end up becoming increasingly frustrated that they aren't being done in Korean. Oh wait, with my potent Kdramavision, I'll be thinking they were Kdramas by the end of the season.

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