Monday, October 21, 2013

A Collage of Better Shows: Nail Shop Paris Korean Drama Review


The good news about the drama Nail Shop Paris is that it's only 10 episodes long.  The bad news about Nail Shop Paris is that I probably wouldn't have bothered to finish it if it had been more than 10 episodes long.

Since this is a short show, I'll also try to keep my review short.



Overview

In one of the first scenes of the show, Hong Yeo Joo ("Bunny"), our female lead, complains that every time she starts to write a story, she finds herself repeating ideas from other books or movies.


Unfortunately, Nail Shop Paris is a self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to writing.  Nail Shop Paris, like its writer lead, seems to believe that basing a story around a male nail artist is enough to make something fresh.  Once Yeo Joo finds her new muse, she proceeds to write an immensely cliche story that sometimes goes to a nail shop for no cohesive reason.  That's exactly what happens to this drama.  They draw attention to the novelty of an all-male nail shop and then proceed to write a tired story that doesn't bring anything else to the table.

The problem here is not only that they repeat ideas, but that they try to repeat too many ideas.  It's like the writers listed ALL of their favorite shows and then tried to cram them all into 10 episodes. Rather than carrying out any of the conflicting stories to a satisfying conclusion, the result ends up being something of a convoluted mishmash without full development anywhere. You can't do justice to a gender bender AND a gumiho story AND every character overcoming inner demons AND a case-of-the-week show all in 10 episodes.
You can't just wink your way out of this!

A perfect example would be the ending.  I don't want to spoil anything, but the last 15 minutes of a series isn't the idea time to turn your show into a supernatural thriller.  And no, having the characters tout the virtues of an "open ending" doesn't really help much.  That's just lazy writing.

So why did I keep watching?  Well, to be honest, it wasn't ALL terrible.  Even though Alex is, quite possibly, the most boring person on the entire planet, I kind of liked Kay, the grumpy corner of the love triangle.  I genuinely wasn't sure how the whole thing would turn out, so I stuck along for the ride (and since I was halfway through before I realized how short that ride would be, it all worked out).  Sure, Kay is grumpy and kind of looks like a gigantic praying mantis when he runs, but at least he's an endearing praying mantis.  I also liked the way that they established flirtation in this show.  It somehow felt more natural than what I've seen in a lot of dramas.

Speaking of men who look better with facial hair...
..And that's basically it.  Park Sang Hyun was cutesy and adorable as Jin, but that only goes so far.  The side plots were all resolved so quickly and neatly that I didn't really get invested. Okay, except for the old people in love.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I have an incurable weakness for old people in love.  All I have to do is listen to the first three notes of the song from Up, and I start to sniffle like it's allergy season in a hay field.

Random Observations

  • Chalk this up to having to rush the plot along, but how on earth did ALL of the characters keep their cool like that with the ghost case?  I mean, the lady says, "This woman is having unconscious sex with her dead boyfriend," and they all nod like it's totally normal and calmly go set up her exorcism?  Uhhhhhhhh did we all miss the part where GHOST RAPE IS A THING? No. Nononononononononononoono. I will never sleep again.
  • A note to the costume designers: If you want people to believe that this woman is a man, don't dress her in skintight pants all the time.  I don't have the time to give you a full anatomy lesson, but suffice it to say that man parts and lady parts aren't exactly the same.  Skintight leggings aren't helping your case.  Neither is the lip gloss.  Surprisingly, I found her most convincing in her manly role when she was dressed as a girl pretending to be a guy pretending to be a girl.  something about the way she carried herself in that scene was pretty effective.
  • Kay obviously took Beyonce a little too literally: "If I like this, I have to put a ring on it! RIGHT NOW!"
  • Apparently, it's totally cool if some random young men walk into the third grade and start taking pictures of the kids.  Creeeeeeepy.
  • Was I the only one who found the nail art kind of grotesque instead of stunning?
Seriously, so impractical! How are you supposed to dial the phone with those things?

Conclusions

If you want to see a more satisfying gender bender, watch Coffe Prince. If you want to see a more satisfying Gumiho story, watch My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho.  If you want to see a more satisfying case-of-the-week procedural, watch Vampire Prosecutor or Dating Agency: Cyrano.  If you want to save time by watching bits and pieces of all of these shows in one place, watch Nail Shop Paris.  At least it will be over quickly.

19 comments:

  1. I agree. The show just threw too many tired-and-done concepts together. I was mostly okay with that, despite my headache and disinterest in the lead (I actually liked her best friend more). Then they kept pressing the gumiho B-story and that’s when I realized I was just there to stare (very intently) at Kay and scream at Bunny for straddling the fence like a fool. Everything else quickly grew just about obsolete when I settled with that fact.

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    1. Yeah I would go from staring giddily at the screen to rolling my eyes almost every time they switched scenes.

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  2. Yeah, I don't like quitting dramas. The few times i did i looked up the ending to feel satisfied, but I have a feeling I might have just read the recaps if this drama was any longer. Then again, if it was longer it might have better because they could have gone more in depth with everything and take their time with each "bump in the road." But looking at how they did this drama, they probably just would have added more confusing subplots.

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    1. I'm afraid a 2-episode extension would have been like, "Is this enough space to include time travel? Of course!"

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  3. Don't agree. Great drama!!!! Something special and interesting. The ending was so so, but in general very good.

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    1. That's why there are so many dramas! Something for everyone!

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  4. Haha, this post made me laugh so hard. I really couldn't have put it better than that.Especially with the part about the ugly art design. I honestly couldn't help but cringe everytime I saw the nails of their customers. Really, is there anybody out there who thinks thi is beautiful?

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    1. But...it's supposed to be unique and special, right? And solve all of life's problems?

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  5. LOL, this was likely the worst drama I had watched since Fashion King. And the out of (almost) nowhere last episode twist was truly a WTF moment (not as bad as Fashion King, which is what I measure all others by). It's almost as if the writers, halfway through the show, said to themselves, let's jazz this thing up a little by making the fantasy story she's writing turn out to be REAL. And talk about fantasy/wish fulfillment - the heroine gets Kay, and will eventually get Alex as well (wow, the writers of Boys over Flowers could have solved THAT problem if they'd just thought of this twist!).

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    1. I'm almost tempted to watch Fashion King just to see how bad it is. Almost.

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  6. But I just CANNOT stop myself from watching every. single. gender. bender. drama. Seriously. I love 'em! I went through the first 6 or 7 episodes of this drama as it was airing and then I just stopped watching. I was in between dramas and since it was so short I went ahead and finished Nail Shop Paris over the last few days. I LOVE Kay so I'm actually pretty happen that she picked him at the end as Alex was about as exciting as lukewarm pudding, but Kay was getting pretty desperate so I thought he was pushing her away... The last episode was kind of hilariously bad even though the beginning of and development of Bunny and Kay's relationship is really cute. **SPOILERS** And I love the scene where she runs after Kay to his "art retreat" in the old couple episode and they get all kissy.

    But yeah, trying to cover that menu genres in 10 eps is bound to fail at one or more of them.

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    1. I also watched this because it was a gender bender, and then they barely even did anything with that part of the show! They were like, "Oh, she's dressed as a boy, but eventually everyone found out, and it was all great."

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  7. The only thing that kept me going was Kay-Bunny Romance....and that too because Kay was so aggressive.....like he was not the kind to hold back and wait for the other guy to take charge........he liked her, fought for her, made it clear to her. Bunny on the other hand.....so much confused till the very end.......made me wanted to slap some sense into her(no offence meant).
    Oh and Jin's cuteness was a factor too.....in making me watch the drama.
    All the other details....confusing and messy :)

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    1. Kay was easily the best part of the show. He might be the most vocal second male lead I've ever seen, and I loved it.

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  8. I so agree with deepredhope; couldn't have said it better. And each time they created a special nail design for someone I thought "really?"

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    1. So, so bad. I laughed out loud when Bunny got her "special" nails and then clearly couldn't move her fingers properly in the next few scenes.

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  9. i didn't watch it..idk every time i decide to watch it i change my mind xD
    do you recommend it?

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    1. I don't think you'll be missing out on much if you skip it, to be totally honest. It has some cute parts, but it was pretty messy overall.

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  10. It is like a B movie... You know that you are kind of wasting time by watching it, yet it is weirdly unstoppable to watch. The only character that stuck to me was Kay. I found the other ones uni-layered and forgettable.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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