...Apparently we're still setting up the premise, which isn't much to the drama's credit. The more the characters discuss the details of the plot, the more difficult it is for me to ignore the fact that the plot doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. All we really need to know for the drama to make sense is that Geum-ran got plastic surgery to take revenge on her husband and that Tae-hee has agreed to help her for some reason.
Well, in all fairness the episode does kind of throw us for a loop with all that. Geum-ran has a surprisingly quick change of heart regarding the whole revenge scheme, and there's definite hints given here that for Tae-hee this whole scheme is actually quite a bit more personal than he's let on so far. If nothing else "Birth of a Beauty" deserves praise for the sheer speed of the narrative trajectory. In most dramas this would be the halfway point. Here we've barely even started.
My main worry is that this kind of momentum will be really difficult to sustain. If we're really getting this many big emotional revelations per episode, where does it end? Will "Birth of a Beauty" just perpetually drag itself into more and more absurd situations, or are we actually going to get some emotional heart here? Certainly, given the events of the first episode, it's hard to imagine that Kang-joon and friends are going to be rehabilitated into sympathetic characters somehow. But stranger things have happened.
In the immediate sense the drama has a more glaring issue- it's just not funny. We got the whole joke about Sara's magical power to turn mens' heads around last time too, and if this literally happens everywhere she goes that bit of fantasy just begs more questions than answers. How is Sara supposed to seduce Kang-joon if a crowd of onlookers is just constantly following her around? Isn't that a bit of a distraction?
I know that's nitpicking, and probably unfair nitpicking at that, but it's genuinely difficult to stay focused on "Birth of a Beauty" at this point. The plot is moving at such breakneck speeds that it's making me tired. A little balance would be nice. There's a middle ground between comedic setpieces and throwing out plot complications as quickly as possible. An ideal production would be able to merge these narrative points into the same scene, and maybe even throw some heart in there to boot. This was a big part of the appeal behind "200 Pounds Beauty", and it's possible "Birth of a Beauty" may be able to pull this off too. But it hasn't happened yet.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Birth of a Beauty" Episode 2"
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