Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Prime Minister and I (The Prime Minister is Dating) Korean Drama Review


The Prime Minister and I happens to be one of the few recent dramas that both of us watched together, so we’re going to do a joint review on this one. A warning: spoilers will most definitely abound in this review. Here we go!

The Story: A spunky female paparazzi reporter is assigned to write a story about Korea's most eligible bachelor, the Prime Minister, a very serious, overworking widower who is out of touch with his three children. Through a series of misunderstandings, a scandal erupts where the public believes she is his lover. The only way out of it? A pretend marriage, of course! Which is also in her favor because she has a terminally ill father whose dying wish is to walk his daughter down the aisle. Will this contract marriage turn into real love???

Answer: Obviously, yes.



Coco: I fell in love with Prime Minister and I in the beginning because of the personality of the female lead. She was smart, fun, and adventurous. 


Vivi: Same here. She was so sassy! Even though there was an age gap between the two, she didn’t let the male lead push her around.



I do have to say, though, that I’m still upset that she just dropped her scooter in the middle of traffic. Spunky, yes. Safe? No. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SCOOTER?



Coco: It was just a casualty of the trade. One reason I loved her was because she had the funnest job. Who wouldn’t secretly love to be paparazzi? Even though everyone “hates” them, you know you peek at tabloids while in line at supermarkets. I think sneaking around and taking photos of people and prying into their personal lives sounds like a blast. Right? I was just sad that this side of her so quickly disappeared.



Vivi: Look, I was just happy that she started with a job, period. At no point in time was she on the brink of homelessness! That’s female empowerment right there. But yes, I feel like they set her up with a unique, rooftop-sneaking personality, and it just disappeared the second she got married and started straightening her hair. Is she like Samson or something? The curls give her power? In the end, she was this deflated version of her former self. Typical bland, nice female lead.


Exhibit A: Curly and sassy on left, Straight and dull on right.
Coco: Agreed. It was kind of strange because we didn’t even get to see the transition or makeover. Suddenly she was wearing dresses instead of jeans and it barely mentioned that leaving her job and becoming a housewife was any kind of a loss for her. She mentioned that it was hard for her to be in the house all day once, but there was no talk about it after that. As much as the ending plot device of the female lead venturing off on her own to find herself gets tiresome, in this case it made up for it a little.

Vivi: No way. She ventured off to become a successful author, which appears to be the new Kdrama version of the “fashion designer.” Remember Marry Him If you Dare? She did the same thing.

Coco: Plus, if I think about it, it was really more of a sign of her domestication. Since she was struggling with becoming a mother to these children, becoming a children’s book writer is the tamest version of her former career.

Vivi: Yes, exactly that. But what makes it even worse is that they domesticated her into a nice housewife, and then SHE ABANDONED THE CHILDREN! What kind of logic is that? “You know what would totally help these poor, abandoned children? If I ALSO abandoned them! Their mom is in town--this is the only possible answer!” Because we all know that kids can only handle one loving person in their lives at a time.


Coco: Yes, that seemed like the worst idea ever. As if they weren’t traumatized enough. I don’t think that piece of writing was true to her character. I think they just fell into the noble selfless love plot device, which as we’ve already discussed, is stupid and awful. Not to mention that it just led to the whole thing evolving from a fun romantic comedy to a lackluster melodrama.

Vivi: Yeah, aside from the deflated female lead, that’s the second big problem with this show. It turned into a melodrama, but it was a shallow melodrama. Instead of going into depth with the actual real-life problems they were facing (him dealing with his wife’s death, her dealing with her dad and struggling to fit into her new role), it felt like the writers were just saving up random plot devices (He got stabbed!) that they could toss in for emotional impact. It felt cheap. I hated all of the boooooooring political intrigue, and the whole side story with the wife dragged everything down so that I didn’t really care about any of it.




Coco: Yes, I wish they had never brought her back to life. It would have been much more interesting if they had just focused on him dealing with his wife’s betrayal and death and the guilt he felt, and her dealing with the fact that she was giving up her life and personality while also dealing with her dad’s terminal illness. It makes me think that the writers just added that storyline in because ratings were slipping and they thought people might be more interested in a melodrama. I would have instead liked to see their relationship develop as they each find identities that make them happy with each other’s help. 


Vivi: The one consistent positive for me was Lee Bum Soo as the prime minister. Yes, there was a patch in the middle where the writers made him shout at his wife a little too much for my taste, but I thought he handled the role really well overall. I genuinely liked the prime minister, and that was 100% due to acting. Yoona did well with what she had, but she didn’t get much to work with for the last third of the drama. They were so cute together!


Coco: I loved Yoona, and I think she did a great job even though her character degenerated. And it’s not like her character became totally unlikeable. There were aspects of her that were lovely and admirable, but she just lost the spirit and feistiness that would have made me want to be her best friend. I will definitely watch her next drama because she is really cute and fun as an actress. Let’s just hope that next time she has better material.

Vivi: I felt the worst for Yoon Si Yoon, though. Poor guy got nothing to do the whole time. I guess he got to practice his worried face a lot?


Coco: The only other drama I had seen him in was Flower Boy Next Door, and I wasn’t a fan of his childlike, slightly annoying character. This drama actually made me like him a whole lot more. He’s really pretty good at crying. But he played a second male lead that I only felt somewhat torn over. At the end when he’s like, then just date me, I was like, ok that would be pretty good, but I wasn’t crying inside that she chose the Prime Minister instead.


Vivi: You’re right. I liked him even though he just had to be sad all of the time. How I feel about these characters is how I feel about the drama in general. It wasn’t actively bad; it just lost the magic towards the end. I certainly wasn’t nearly as angry with this drama as I was with some others that I’ve seen.

Coco: You know what was actively bad though? The fact that there was NO KISS! A handshake? SERIOUSLY?


Vivi: I wonder if it’s in Lee Bum Soo’s contract that he can’t go past a hug. The same thing happened in History of a Salaryman. Maybe his wife gets too jealous?

I actually didn’t completely hate the handshake at the end. (*waits to be attacked). I mean, I didn’t love it, but I got that it was trying to be symbolic. Besides, I was much more upset that we didn’t get a scene with the kids at the end.

Coco: True! How cute was that little boy? He sent me into some serious baby hungriness as only really adorable Asian kids can.


Vivi: Man Seeeeeeeeeeeee!

Coco: If I had stopped watching The Prime Minister and I halfway through I would probably have added it to my favorites list, and maybe even to the recommendations list, but it took a nosedive due to writing and I honestly struggled to make myself watch the last couple of episodes. 

Vivi: Ditto to all of that. 

What did you think of The Prime Minister and I? Comment below!

12 comments:

  1. I think the age gap did the skinship in. Lee is a veteran and professional. He kisses in both dramas and movies and Yoona does too and she has kissed older co-stars, from what I am told. So that would not have been the issue.

    And I guess the fact that they wanted this to be "for the whole family" ruined things too. Since zombie wives and melodrama are clearly great for kids. But seeing how it turned into praise of the Divine Uterus by the end and how the skinship died the minute things got serious, I am guessing they got some hell about not respecting traditional family values or something. Explains why the family was never reunited either.

    This was a brilliant little drama and it would have been my personal favorite romantic comedy drama, had it not lost its way completely with a few key plot devices it never even made up for by the end.

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  2. Whoops! Thanks for the heads up.


    It's interesting that the mother who abandoned the kids seemed like the more "family friendly" option. Sure, forgiveness is nice, but I just didn't feel that sympathetic to her cause after the YEARS of pain she caused everyone involved.

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  3. But remember that this is a drama. The medium is incredibly conservative, the censorship organization which rules it even more so. They slapped a fine on 'A Thousand Kisses' for showing a divorced woman being accepted into a new family.

    Many Korean viewers were apparently genuinely believing Na Young could come back to the family here, because giving birth is somehow considered as giving her extra rights. The culture and society place great importance in biological bonds and when the medium is by definition on the conservative side of that culture and society, it's not surprising.

    What is surprising is that the production did not somehow expect this and leave the birth mother out completely. But so much goes on backstage. It's a very dark industry. Perhaps the channel or SM C&C assured them they would get to tell the story, but backlash or pressure from some people or group of people made them go back on their word.

    It happens often, it seems. Get creative people to cough up their work by making empty promises. Business is basically mafia without the official recognition of it as a shady activity. Or the writers lost their minds, but I find that hard to believe, looking at the quality of the work before it all went bad and how supportive they were of the OTP and new family they formed. Something changed radically along the way.

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  4. I agree that something clearly changed between the tart of the drama and the end. You actually brought up the exact thing that I think would have saved the drama: leaving the mother out completely. That way, the characters could focus on the real-life problems facing them in a thorough way.


    I also find it interesting that, given the culture of celebrity scandal, everything got patched up so nicely in the end. Remember, this was the show where even the suggestion that the Prime Minister might be dating was a huge, career-ending blow, and yet somehow the appearance of his dead wife and his "divorce" (since I guess it was never registered) from his second wife didn't seem to be a big deal in the end.

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  5. They also did not touch upon the cheating of Na Young much either, but perhaps that is why they made her mentally unstable, to excuse all of that. So many subplots and characters got abandoned, loose ends left loose and it turned into 'Na Young and I' by the end. Horrible final act to a wonderful series and it was clear they dropped the ball for some reason or other.

    I guess this industry and its main audience are not ready for progressive and different yet. At least not from romcom and the main public stations.

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  6. Her character and plot changed when she first wore the hanbok; wasn't that rather symbolic?

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  7. I would love to see a season 2 of this show to finish up all the loose ends and show us what might have happened. I would love to see how the younger children reacted to seeing their mother, and how they all got along with her afterward. They could show us how the Prime Minister and his new wife dealt with the presence of his ex-wife, and the problems inherent in having two mothers. They could also develop the futures of the other characters in the drama much more fully.

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  8. LOL. You captured my sentiments exactly. By the last episode I was disillusioned that the drama that had so much promise had lost its magic. Sadly kdramas tend to bite the dust due to poor writing at the end of the show and this drama is no exception.

    I don't care who you're married to, when you sign on to do a rom com you should at least put in one solid kiss. At the end of the show I was like seriously A HANDSHAKE!??? Really? I'm sure I wasn't the only one who felt that way. As good as Lee Bum Soo's performance was, I felt it was kind of lacking in the romantic aspect.

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  9. This one is probably my biggest let down in Kdrama history. The way I would describe it is: anticlimactic. I loved it SO much the first 14 episodes that I thought for SURE it would be my new favorite show. Even while I watched it I thought, "There is no way the writers could possibly mess up this drama. It's gonna have a slamming ending!" Then the last 2-3 episodes happened and destroyed pretty much everything. I hated how the leads parted ways so easily... and conveniently Yoona comes back a year later having published book. Um, random much? She should've been back at Scandal News! Also, there was never any tie up with Yoona and the kids; that was such a huge and beautiful part of the show, how could they leave that out?

    Handshake... um yeah. If I knew it was going to end like that I probably wouldn't have watched. I don't buy the whole lead male being married and much older. That's bogus. That is why they call it acting my friends!

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  10. Urg, I really struggled to watch this drama but eventually gave up towards episode 8. I'm sorry to say but some artists need to stick to singing and commercial coz acting just doesn't cut it for them. I liked how they tried to boost viewers and ratings by bringing in Suho from exo even though that didn't help with the crappy ass story line. What happened to the female lead being a paparazzi? that story ended in like episode 3 and all of a sudden she became a housewife. I was more interested in the relationship development between the PM's secretary and his bro-in-law. At some point, I just couldn't anymore.... especially when I have other good dramas like Empress Ki and My love from the Stars.

    Btw, have you seen Life is Beautiful? can you do a review on it? its long but definitely worth a watch. Its funny and also deals with real life family struggles. Not to mention a gay couple trying to cope with being gay in Korean Society and trying to gain acceptance from their respective families.

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  11. HONESTLY LIKE WHAT THE HELL KIND OF ENDING WAS THIS!!!!!!!!! I wanted Yul and Da Jeong to be together! What the hell they are supposed to be together I was so set on the love confessions then they just leave each other?? What were the writers thinking when they made this ending?!!!! Im so pissed about this right now! Why bring the first wife back too that doesn't make any sense!! This show was a great shame to Kdrama! I was so in to it at first then the last few episodes ruined it!

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  12. Please support out campaign for Prime Minister and I PART 2!!
    https://www.facebook.com/WeWantPrimeMinisterAndIpart2
    Follow – @PMAIpt2 on Twitter
    Thanks!!

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