Creating a heartwarming story about human pain, desperation and the bonding between strangers is no easy task. When the plot devices which bring the people in question together are also outrageous, it takes extra effort to really solidify the motivations, emotions and troubles of the characters in order to make those outrageous devices feel human. 'Super Daddy Yeol' is not such a show at the moment. In fact, it has achieved the exact opposite through its clumsiness and mishandling of its important points.
One of the first things that viewers would probably wonder about would be if this is a romantic comedy when the female lead is dying of cancer and how that can possibly work. Oddly enough, the series has kept its light tone throughout the first four episodes. Some of it is done by annoying measures, such as the overuse of bad comedy and sound effects, showing complete lack of faith in the actors' comedic skills, but there is nonetheless some effort there. Keeping its light tone, however, comes at a cost. The cost is that many serious issues which should have been handled with responsibility are laughed off.
Both the comedic and dramatic sides of the show have a talented cast portraying them and this is really the biggest good point of the series at this point in time. Lee Dong-gun and Lee Yoo-ri are doing great with the extremely problematic material they are given, Lee Re is a delight and seeing a world lacking in the typical rich heirs or cool and mean-spirited jealous second leads is a pleasant change in itself. The series is also very fair in its focus between its two leads and there is some potential with the second leads and secondary characters, who are rooted enough into the leads' lives to surely matter down the road.
Infuriatingly, though, the series manages to make them both feel unnatural and hard to really sympathize with. A mother who is dying will do anything for her child and a man who has not gotten over his first love will carry wounds he wants to heal. Everything is good until that point. Inevitably, however, certain decisions must be made and certain things must happen so that the two will get together for the premise to be fulfilled and the main story to begin. 'Super Daddy Yeol' forgets a very important thing. The motivations, emotions and logic of characters always need to be consistent and given the time they require to make sense.
There is an inherent issue with the premise of a woman lying to a man in order to dump a child on him when she dies. It is something which is unwise for the child, if the guardian-to-be has not consented and is unfit for the part. It is also unfair to that person who has their lives decided for them. The role of Mi-rae can generate sympathy for her motherly love and fear of leaving, but the show's insistence on making her manipulative and sadistic in enjoying what she does at times is where things go wrong. At the same time, Yeol is not really looking out for the child either and seems to change his reasoning abruptly. This means we get a light and happy, but also rushed presentation to what ends up looking more like a story about people abusing one another and about a child's life being handled irresponsibly.
The writing is what it all comes down to and 'Super Daddy Yeol' is suffering from dehumanization of its characters and unfitting, half-baked approach to the very heavy subjects it is presenting. Despite this, all hope is not lost. This could all very well be a setup for the characters to crash and burn before they realize their issues, but if it is, then the presentation has failed in making those things seem as actual issues. A human drama presented with romantic comedy superficiality just does not work and 'Super Daddy Yeol' needs to pick a side. It is clearly not capable of juggling both and its very premise makes that near impossible to begin with.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing opinion pieces and database upkeep. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Super Daddy Yeol""
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