Even though the story of "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" is bearing an increasingly strong resemblance to safe family dramas, the material still feels a great deal less outrageous. So I'm not totally sure how to feel, for example, when an opener that consists of a kiss, and quite literally just a kiss, ends up defining the entire conflict of the episode. In-yeong and Myeong-seok act like and are treated more as teenagers than adults.
Sometimes this portrayal can make their antics seem funny, but the attempts made to wring serious drama out of "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" here run afoul of the generally tame subject matter. Even the cultural commentary regarding how impossible it is to please traditional mothers / mother-in-laws just comes off as material that's been done countless times before in Korean drama except with some sort of more exciting hook that's better able to act as a distinguishing factor.
Here, the variety show element is the only piece of worldbuilding that's especially interesting- and for the most part this backdrop is completely wasted. Given that we would expect In-yeong and Myeong-seok to act somewhat lovey-dovey for the sake of the program, it's a bit annoying how none of their antics are ever caught on camera. Choon-ja's threats are especially puzzling in this context, because from what we can see there's not much of a show to cancel.
In a better quality production these flaws might be more forgivable. The problem with "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" is that its issues can't be easily extricated from the drama's position as a placeholder rather than a production with serious pretensions and budget. Take the sound design- it's extremely basic. On a simple level, the music is servicable to whatever rudimentary emotional point the drama is trying to make at any given moment. But the strucure is so transparent that it's not much better than just having a laugh track. There's barely even any misdirection.
The lack of flash is the biggest obstacle facing "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" right now- it forces even big dramatic moments into being only mildly interesting curiousities. The only real success the drama is able to manage is in clearly defining its character archetypes. We know which characters should be hated, and the characters themselves also have a decent understanding of what kind of behavior is so over the line that toleration just isn't an option. But that's a pretty low standard to clear.
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.
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] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 9"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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