"Marriage Contract" is a romance melodrama about an unlikely pair - a rich chaebol heir and a single mom - who enter a contractual marriage for mutual benefits, only to eventually fall in love with each other. On the surface, it may seem like the drama is putting the romantic relationship at its center, but upon a deeper look, it actually reflects the effects of familial relationships of various sorts at its core. "Marriage Contract" gives us unique angles regarding the importance of family, as told from the perspectives of a son, a step-dad, a brother, a single mom, a mother-in-law, a child. It teaches us a lesson that the definition of family is not by blood, but rather, how much you support and care about each other even if you're not related biologically.
Beyond the meaningful theme, "Marriage Contract" has many other aspects worth noting. From the excellent acting performances from the leading cast, to the memorable range of quirky supporting characters, from the masterful mix of comedic scenes to sentimental ones, to the closing message about hope, everything works together to make a heartwarming story come to life. If it weren't for the superfluous love triangles and a slightly dragged out ending, "Marriage Contract" would have been a top-rated drama in my books.
Our story begins with getting to know the main cast of characters and discovering the ways in which their paths inevitably cross. In what seemed like an unusually lighthearted opening for a melodrama, we meet rich restaurant owner and playboy Han Ji-hoon (Lee Seo-jin). He nearly runs over single mom Kang Hye-soo (UEE) chasing after her daughter Cha Eun-seong and rushes the unconscious Hye-soo to the hospital. From there, the two have an unpleasant exchange of dialogue where Hye-soo's attempt of dodging her gangster debt collectors misleads Ji-hoon into thinking that she's trying to con him for money. So, they agree to settle the case when her test results are out.
"Marriage Contract" then delves a bit deeper into the backstories of our protagonists and supporting characters surrounding them. Ji-hoon turns out to be the illegitimate son of his chaebol father's estranged mistress, but is favored because he's an intrepid entrepreneur. He also seems to have a complicated past with his brother's arranged fiancee Seo Na-yoon (Kim Yoo-ri). But what's been on Ji-hoon's mind is his mother's liver deterioration; he needs to find her a donor soon to save her life, and time is running out.
On the other hand, Hye-soo lives alone with the adorable and sharp Eun-seong, who's very mature for a 7-year-old as she tries to take care of her mom's birthday. They barely manage by as Hye-soo struggles to pay off the debts that her belated husband left her with. Hye-soo finally gets a break when she became a kitchen assistant at Ji-hoon's restaurant, leading her to inadvertently hear about his illegal plans to enter a fake marriage so he can exchange money for a liver donation.
As if life's not harsh enough to her already, Hye-soo finds out from her test results that she has a brain tumor and her chance of survival isn't looking good. In order to pay off debts and secure a bright future for her daughter, Hye-soo decides to enter a fake marriage with equally desperate Ji-hoon. Their contract is - her liver for a lot of his money.
In a short two episodes, the drama does a fantastic job of setting up all relevant characters and their situations, all the while maintaining a perfect balance of comedy and melodrama, so that it doesn't feel too heavy too fast. The drama leaves just enough tease at the end of this section to keep me guessing what obstacles the fake marriages would encounter and how our lead couple's relationship will evolve.
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"[Funcurve Review] "Marriage Contract""
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