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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 2

2015/08/18 | 878 views | Permalink

Myeong-seok (played by Ryu Soo-young) is a mathematics professor and In-yeong's husband, for the sake of the television program. He's kind of grumpy. Myeong-seok is interesting for being an aloof math genius in a way that's not commonly portrayed. He's perfectly capable of being social. It's just, all Myeong-seok really cares about is math. His temperament is the exact opposite of In-yeong's in pretty much every concievable way. Which would seem to doom any hope of this variety program actually working out.

What makes Myeong-seok (somewhat) different than the other characters is his degree of patience. Myeong-seok is, grudgingly, willing to accept that In-yeong is at least trying to make this fake marriage work. In-yeong is failing rather spectactularly in all these attempts but this isn't a matter of malice on her part. In-yeong genuinely just doesn't understand how anything at the cookery works, so she interprets life in terms of entertainment tropes.

Take, for example, In-yeong's constant attempts to act sexy for the sake of ratings. As a girl group performer, it makes sense that In-yeong thinks this would be appealing. What In-yeong doesn't get is that to someone not familiar with trendy Korean culture, most of her actions just come off as really cloying and annoying. The variety program is a challenge to In-yeong's entire notion of social standards.

Interestingly, so far the traditional family is coming off better than that regard. Yes, In-yeong is being treated rudely by her faux mother-in-law Choon-ja (played by Go Doo-shim). But that's at least partially because In-yeong is incompetent, and Choon-ja is just being brutally honest. By contrast, the city mother-in-law Mi-hee (played by Kim Bo-yun) is duplicitious and also kind of crazy. Yet to the actual characters, she doesn't come off that badly because Mi-hee makes a conscious effort to act sympathetic.

A lot of what makes "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" interesting is the way it blends tropes together in such a way that it's difficult to sort out the parody from the seriousness. Every time 'Kim Dasom' is shown in close-up, the variety show editing manages to make her emotions seem much more exaggerated than they really are, in a way that implies a sublime mastery in her performance that probably doesn't actually exist. Directors Lee Deok-geon and Park Man-yeong appear to be trying to mock storytelling that's far more simple than is being implied. The joke is a fairly bizarre one, but it does manage to be funny.

Review by William Schwartz

"The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" is directed by Lee Deok-geon & Park Man-yeong, written by Moon Seon-hee & Yoo Nam-kyeong and features Kim Dasom, Go Doo-shim, Ryu Soo-young, Kwak Hee-sung, Kim Yoon-seo, Kim Sung-hwan and more.

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