Between let downs and false advertising, 2013 has been a disappointing year for fans of the romantic comedy genre. While 'The Prime Minister and I' brought some hope, it also had a lot of worries attached to it. Now that four episodes have gone by and the show is settling into its routine, it is possible to make an assessment. Thankfully, for fans of rom-com, the worries mentioned are disappearing with each episode.
One great thing about 'The Prime Minister and I' is that, while it does employ certain tropes and a style found in many a romantic comedy drama, its tone and way of handling those tropes make it incredibly refreshing and give it depth often lacking from works of the genre. Where many series choose to go for an incredibly light tone which quickly deteriorates into melodrama, this series goes for balance, presenting all the elements we know will bring said melodrama later on and spending time on its light and heavier moments in a wonderfully balanced way. The series is very funny and brings back much missed laughs and comedy, but it also has a lot of heart. Additionally, the melodrama is mostly done in moving ways, not with exaggeration and theatricality in mind.
But what really makes 'The Prime Minister and I' refreshing as a drama and a romantic comedy in general is that it does two things very well when it comes to the romance, that most other works fail to do. It resolves its misunderstandings quickly and it uses them to bring further closeness between the main couple. Dramas often like to drag each individual issue out, which makes the characters seem quite dim and plot forced. This series is all about getting such issues out of the way fast and not going down the path of using those tropes in a way that just feels like stalling and getting stuck on clichés. The couple also bond through those and learn more about each other, bringing them closer together. Instead of two strangers ending up as two strangers + romance, what this series seems to be attempting is to get two strangers to know each other, understand each other and give each other what they lack, ultimately making them a family. If it does continue this way, it will be a very mature love in comparison to the majority of romantic works out there.
The main couple are also a revelation for many, the age gap being an non-issue as soon as they interact a few times, and the chemistry between Yoona and Lee Beom-soo is firing on all cylinders and working like a charm. Yoona's acting is not bringing any distractions and she finds her place well, even next to a solid actor like Lee Beom-soo. The characters' differences are also used well, becoming part of the plot and love game, rather than being avoided. And with plenty of adult humor and yes, even skinship and kissing thankfully added into the plot, it is very promising in the romance department.
Of course there are things to criticize here. There are in every work. Given the contract marriage premise of this and its fast pacing, some decisions related to it do feel unrealistic. Even if we suspend our disbelief enough to accept contract marriages in general, especially when a young and quite modern person is involved, the lack of thought both characters seem to give the contract and how it will affect their lives in the future, not just present, is a bit hard to swallow. It will be necessary to get more into their thought process to make such decisions justifiable.
Additionally, while all the secondary characters are nice and diverse, we have not yet seen anything but a caricature role from the villain and the two second leads are also a mystery and not yet developed much. The series focuses on the main couple and the family they will form through the contract marriage. While there is nothing wrong with that at the moment, the role the secondary characters play is important, so their development will need to live up to their involvement from now on.
That said, when these things are the only major points of criticism to find in a series, it just shows how well it is doing up to this point. And 'The Prime Minister and I' is really doing great for its genre. SM C&C and KBS said this will be a warm family-oriented romantic comedy and so far, they have delivered. The goal now is to keep this as is in terms of how it tells its story, maintain the balance in tone and not let things turn too melodramatic or start employing tropes to force the story.
Melodrama will come, it is inevitable, but the series has shown enough to fill one with trust that it will be handled well and not go into makjang territory. If these four episodes are an indication of the quality we are in for, 'The Prime Minister and I' is going to be a wonderful little gem of a romantic comedy.
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] "The Prime Minister And I""
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