It is difficult to pinpoint what makes some failures easy to forgive in some works and unacceptable in others. How the creators treat their piece and audience plays a big part, because even flaws can be forgiven when something good is delivered by people who do not attempt to mask their weaknesses as strengths. 'The Girl Who Sees Smells' has many problems, but it is also an entertaining show which seems to have a lot of passion put into it.
Choi Moo-gak (Park Yoo-chun) and Oh Cho-rim (Shin Se-kyung) both have strange conditions. Moo-gak cannot feel pain and Cho-rim sees smells. Their abilities were caused by the same incident which ties them together. Cho-rim is the sole survivor of the unresolved Barcode murders and has lost her memory ever since. Moo-gak's sister was mistaken for Cho-rim and murdered by the killer. Now Moo-gak is a police officer who hopes to find the culprit. When he meets Cho-rim he realizes her ability can prove useful in crime solving.
The best parts about 'The Girl Who Sees Smells' are undoubtedly its romance and characters. The emotions and relationships portrayed between friends and foes alike elevate it to the point where even its flaws are very easy to tolerate. One thing which romances often do wrong is that they trap themselves in tropes and male lead praise. In this show, both characters have their flaws and virtues and both matter. This generates a pairing which viewers can like together and individually. Therefore, the romance feels rewarding and enjoyable, rather than just mandatory.
This extends to the other characters, main and secondary. Everyone, from the stereotypical trio of useless detectives to the serial killer himself is interesting and entertaining to watch. Not only are they acted by a cast so perfect for their roles and capable that they already add so much to them, but the writing itself is great with building their relationships, as well as their personalities. There are more relationships than just the romantic one and they all get their development. The characters feel alive, they make sense and create compelling drama.
At the same time, the series has problems when it comes to its crime part and most often simple logic and common sense. Characters go back and forth between capable and useless, smart and slow. Such as a veteran detective having a matryoshka doll-related epiphany which solves a key mystery or a talented profiler expecting a highly intelligent killer to barge into a hospital while he is being hunted and murder a police officer. When a show's logic is so problematic that it becomes frustrating to watch how things play out, there is a problem and 'The Girl Who Sees Smells' is full of such situations.
Contrivance comes in other forms too. The trope of everyone being connected does not work when pure chance is the deciding factor or when adequate backstory has not been established and those connections suddenly spring up. The series also makes its secrets too obvious, sullying its mystery. An early example of this is when a character who has not really been shown as doing anything evil gets suspenseful background music and menacing camera work around them every single time they appear. The series might as well be admitting this person is just a red herring.
'The Girl Who Sees Smells' is not a good crime show. Considering its plot is largely about that, it would fail miserably under normal circumstances. However, its good parts mentioned above keep it entertaining and endearing. Perhaps best viewed as a romantic comedy with some spice, the series is worth a look. Patience with its flaws is necessary to enjoy it, but there is a great show to be found behind them.
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 Review] "The Girl Who Sees Smells""
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