"Nail Shop Paris" is a ten episode rom-com by "Manny"'s writer/director pair, Seong Min-ji and Park Soo-cheol. The first episode is cute and breezy, a perfect fit for the MBC Queen network, a channel geared towards women.
The show runs like an anime: quick plot setup and immediate, detailed character introductions. It throws us into a world full of pretty boys, nail art and the boys' adoring female clientele.
Minutes into the episode, we meet our heroine, writer Hong Yeo-joo (Park Gyu-ri) who has been accused of plagiarism and is desperate for a new story to save her good name as a writer. Her roommate suggests people watching to find fodder for her imagination, and that is exactly what Yeo-joo does.
Her recon expedition takes her to the train station where she spots a man saving a women. She follows the heroic man to a manicure shop, the titular "Nail Shop Paris", where we discover he, along with two other handsome men, are the highly sought-after manicurists of this high-end nail salon.
Yeo-joo decides that this manicurist and his life are perfect materials for her writing. After all, who would ever write a story with a male protagonist who...does nails...
Luckily, the shop is hiring. Unluckily, it only hires men. And so, one make-over later, Yeo-joo is fulfilling one of my favorite drama tropes: the cross-dressing female.
The cougar shop owner explains that the shop only hires men so that it can better cater to women. Not only will they care for your ragged cuticles, but they will heal your wounded hearts!! Doesn't this sound like shoujo manga material? Anyone? Anyone?
Jin from "Nail Shop Paris" Episode 1
Anywho, Yeo-joo lands the job and her research on her mysterious protagonist begins. She formally meets the manicurists: her story's inspiration Alex (Jin Hyun-bin), Ice Prince Kei (Song Jae-rim) and Smiley Angel Jin (Cheondung). Jin acts as the exposition fairy, explaining the workings of the shop and its workers to Yeo-joo and to us. Kei finds Yeo-joo's very clumsy snooping suspicious. Alex is the quiet leader with a mysterious past.
At one point, a couple that was unable to have a wedding or buy a wedding ring comes in and the men of "Nail Shop Paris" work to make their dreams come true. These scenes makes me think this show will be episodic and light-hearted.
The only true source of conflict in this episode came in the form of a poisoning: a high-paying, Alex-obsessed regular customer leaves a coffee cup for caffeine-addict Alex, who is rushed to the hospital at the end of the episode. It's clumsy and contrived, but the rest of the episode was so zippy that I'm willing to forgive it...for now.
Frankly, this episode was underwhelming, but sometimes that is kind of nice. We drama watchers need brainless television sometimes.
I'm finding the OST a little stifling as well. It sounds like campy lounge music that runs the gamut of styles from bossa nova to jazz to film score-esque. This jumpiness also reflects the acting, which seems a bit stiff, especially on Park Gyu-ri's part.
For now, however, I'm interested in seeing what will happen. Maybe it's 'cause I'm a woman. Maybe it's 'cause I like nail art. Maybe it's 'cause I like hot men.
Yeo-joo from "Nail Shop Paris" Episode 1
Written by Raine from Raine's Dichotomy
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] Nail Shop Paris Episode 1"
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