21 March, 2014

A Mid-Way Peek at 'Cunning, Single Lady'

I thought I'd pop my head in and share a few thoughts about Cunning, Single Lady. For the most part the drama has been fairly watchable, funny, and I really like the chemistry between Cha Jeong Woo (Joo Sang Wook) and Na Ae Ra (Lee Min Jung). Sure the drama has some flaws, and the set-up of how horrible Na Ae Ra's family (particularly her brother) and her life circumstances were was on the maddening and irritating side, I like the groove the drama's settled in. Episode 8 though definitely took on a bit more of a melancholy vibe, but it's forcing the lead couple to interact more meaningfully, so I don't mind. I actually appreciate the more serious moments of the episode.

It's been pretty apparent from the beginning that both Cha Jeong Woo and Na Ae Ra have some pretty deep pain and hurt from their divorce. I kind of felt that we hadn't really had enough of a window into Na Ae Ra's pain and why she was so angry with Jeong Woo. I get the having to work hard and slowly watch your dreams go down the drain, and I totally get that he really has no clue why she feels so hurt by that. I thought it was really telling at the after work noraebang party scene where he denied that he'd worked his wife to the bone. That was completely unfair. Before episode 8 though, I was a little more on his side that you should try and work through the hard parts of a marriage (but don't worry, I was pretty mad at him for just quitting his stable job just so he could follow his dreams). That was definitely a choice they should have made together.

I think that what it comes to. They both had different expectations from their marriage to begin with (to a degree) and they failed to fully communicate with each other. He about how important his dream was. She about the stability and security to be able to take care if him and a future family. Then again, letting one's wife slave away into fatigue to the point of collapse is never cool. I'm not saying women can't work outside the home, but she was supporting him while he frittered away money and time rather irresponsibly. I think that if they'd talked about it more, they could have perhaps made something work. I understand that he feels betrayed by the trust he expected of her, the whole "in sickness and health* and "for richer or poorer", I really get that, but I think he really, and quite tragically failed at recognizing what he was doing to her.

The flashback scene we have of Ae Ra collapsing and being taken to hospital, Jeong Woo not answering the phone, and Ae Ra finding out she's miscarried, it was heartbreaking. I'm not sure if she knew about the pregnancy in the first place, but I don't think he had any idea. I wonder if she ever told him that (a) she had collapsed and gone to the hospital and (b) that she had miscarried. My suspicion is that she didn't and that he has no idea the extent to which she was being overworked. Having had close friends and family suffer miscarriages, I have seen what an immense emotional toll it takes on both the husband and wife, particularly when there are happy dreams of that future child. Both Ae Ra and Jeong Woo have built a child into their dream plans, and for Ae Ra to lose that child, alone and without her husband comforting her is painful, heartbreaking, and so very sad. I could see that as a major catalyst for her requesting the divorce. He couldn't even wake up to go to the hospital.

I think that part of the problem is that Ae Ra, despite her feisty-ness, often suffers in pain without explaining or getting the chance to explain how bad it is. We see her basically just grin and bear most of the really crappy stuff that life has thrown her way. The painful and hurtful divorce, the miscarriage, her brother who steals the money, Jeong Woo who has been rather a brat to her since he's become CEO, her parents shouting at her at the hospital after the food-poisoning incident, her co-workers giving her crappy jobs and trying to set her up for failure, her sunbae stealing her competition idea and getting the credit. I dunno, she's had a rough go of it, and often she just bears the insults and anger directed her way and often gets into trouble if she does fight against it. And when she does feel like she's in the wrong or wants to apologize (particularly to Jeong Woo in that rooftop scene) he just doesn't listen to her pain, and misinterprets what she's saying and she just gets hurt more. She is definitely a pitiable character and that works towards us sympathizing with her.

And I do see Jeong Woo's hurt, it is real. It is a horrible irony that Ae Ra left him right on the cusp of success. There is a part of me that wonders though if the pain and hurt of the divorce might have been the catalyst he needed to pull through that one last time and succeed. Ae Ra is totally right that the company is built on her blood, sweat, and tears (and her ideas). The scene where he took her to the "dream house" was quite painful. Both for him and her and he was quite harsh towards her. And now knowing about the miscarriage, that scene becomes even more painful for Ae Ra. It has been nice though to see Jeong Woo softening towards her (I really, really, really hope that he finds out about the miscarriage and all the other injustices she's suffered) because I want him to see her and her pain and comfort her. When she confronts him in the elevator about the idea for the free messaging app because of her request in the past, he does come to find her to take her out to dinner. He's starting to see her as the complete Ae Ra, and not just the woman who left him.

And she's doing the same. I know she sort of joined the company for revenge, I think she's starting to understand some of the burden he bore. After he gets injured on the Superman CF set, and saves her from injury, you can tell she has real concern for him. It was really beautiful to watch her care for him in hospital, and it's directly contrasted with her caring for him all night, and his not waking up in the past to come take care of her when she collapsed and had the miscarriage. She is really at heart someone who cared too much for too long without speaking up enough about it. And even though he doesn't know (yet?) that she stayed there all night, he does ask her to come to his father's side while he's dying. And she comes because that is who she is. I am also really glad that his dad really liked her. (And wasn't that little rice-bowl fish bowl solution so cute?!)

Another scene that I completely loved in the episode was when Jeong Woo is weeping at his father's deathbed and Ae Ra comes and comforts him. She holds his grief and pain sincerely, and he just leans back in into that embrace. At heart they both still care so much for each other, and there is something about a bond formed from the early, happy days of their marriage. I think that deep down he really knows how dependable she is, and I think he wants to be able to depend on her again.

And then those few ending scenes where he rescues her from being cursed at by his sister and comforts her. And I am glad that he feels some responsibility towards his father. I think they're both right to feel some responsibility. It's a pity that we have to complicate things with the Gook Yeo Jin and Gook Seung Hyun love tangle. Seo Kang Joon is adorable as Seung Hyun, and I like how well he treats Ae Ra, and how sees the good in her. And I really do feel sorry for Kim Kyu Ri's Yeo Jin. I just feel like her whole backstory could be a whole other drama in itself and she really hasn't gotten over her husband's death. I just don't think she can expect to be happy with Jeong Woo without resolving her past pain. She needs counseling and less of a crappy dad. And I really hate that she set up that dinner and the tie purchase to purposefully hurt Ae Ra. Ack! That is the irritating and nasty second female lead territory that I particularly hate. I am glad that Jeong Woo was sort of able to avert that.

And I think that about brings us about to the end of the episode. I really loved those parting looks between Jeong Woo and Ae Ra. There is so much said in that exchange of glances, and Gook siblings can tell it as well. Let's hope that the second half of the drama doesn't get too melo, and that we can have some more of the cute and funny from before. Not that I mind meaningful and serious character development (especially if it's working well) but there's only so much I can take.

So here's to more of the cute and funny! And hopefully some romance...?

◀ You From Another Star OST Part 8 Music Video                 Favourite Finds #2 [22 March] ▶

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