At this point "Bubble Gum" seems satisfied with just existing. If all you wanted to get out of this drama was cute romantic scenes between Lee Dong-wook and Jung Ryeo-won, well, there's plenty of those lying around. What's completely absent is any sense of dramatic urgency. Even a visit to the wedding boutique ends up becoming a bit of a red herring, since nobody's actually getting married this episode and whole scene is mainly just an exercise in provoking memories.
To that end, we have a full-on celebration party for Seon-yeong. What specifically is supposed to be celebrated isn't actually clear. I mean yeah it's her birthday and of course everybody loves Seon-yeong, because she's family. But Seon-yeong has done a lot of crummy things over the course of her son's life, and while these actions may have been inadvertent, the whole dementia plot point has made it so that Seon-yeong quite literally can't learn from her past experiences. And that tends to be really unsatisfying.
Once the Ri-hwan / Haeng-ah cuteness and the everybody-loves-Seon-yeong material has been taken into account, that leaves little room for the subplots. Se-yeong and Joon-soo appear to be completely unfazed by their awkward conversation last episode and are now back to their usual happy smiling selves. Work at the radio program is just more of the usual work at the radio program, except I guess everyone is slightly happier than usual.
This episode is like an epilogue, which is awkward because the last episode was already an epilogue. I have no idea where "Bubble Gum" is supposed to go from here. I'm hoping for a timeskip because at least that would change the background situation somehow. I'd have a lot more confidence that I-seul is actually able to start a new path toward happiness if she was doing anything different than just having more calm-subdued conversations with people she knows.
About the only place where there's any kind of dramatic tension is the question of whether or not Ji-hoon and Tae-hee will get back together. But even here I can only barely bring myself to have any interest in the situation at all because these characters, like nearly every other character in the drama, were just foils intended to contrast with Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah, and the leads of this drama have been relegated to perpetual cuteness. And while there's nothing wrong with that, they just don't seem cute enough to me to justify all this attention.
Review by William Schwartz
"Bubble Gum" is directed by Kim Byeong-soo, written by Lee Mi-na-I and features Lee Dong-wook, Jung Ryeo-won, Lee Jong-hyuk, Park Hee-bon, Bae Jong-ok, Lee Seung-joon and more.
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 15"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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