I have restarted my sporadic on-off watching of Hello Miss.
It's a kdrama I enjoy when I watch but then I turn the TV off and forget about it for months. There is nothing there to 'grab' me.
And I keep trying to think what the problems with it are: it's filmed in bright pretty colors, the plot could be fun crack (our heroine, a cooky and old-fashioned head of a family long on history but short on money gets a job in a company where she interacts with two very different cousins who are heirs of it), and the cast is rather a darling.
But that's the thing. Lee Da Hae might be in the running for my favorite Korean actress, but even she must be given something to work with. Lee Ji Hoon might be full of effortless charm as the male lead, but the same applies. And the problem is the script and the direction. The story tries to come across as the super-successful My Girl at times (cooky heroine played by Lee Da Hae, two cousin-best friends in love with her, one a serious working type and one a playboy) but it's not MG at all, but at best an inferior (and sometimes tiresome) copy.
Let's start with the heroine. Yu-Rin in My Girl is one of my all-time favorite kdrama heroines. Yes, she might be quirky, but it's realistically enough so, and she is also tough, pragmatic, intelligent and very very human. You fall in love with her and you certainly see why the composed Gong-Chan goes so crazy for her and why the playboy Jeong-Woo is ready to reform his silly ways for her. She is someone making the best of a tough life and less than an ideal situation and you root for her.
But LDH's character in Hello Miss is almost a cartoon. The director didn't reign her in at all and the script gives her little to work with, so she comes across as this weird oddball caricature of a charming eccentric, all tiresome ticks and very little heart. Shrill. Unreasonable. Immature. The only reason she is not unbearable to watch is because Lee Da Hae has so much natural charm and appeal that you cannot dislike her. HM is one of 5 dramas I've seen LDH in, and the only one where you don't really get the sense that the character she portrays is a real person. The unscrupulous party bad-girl in Sweet 18, the wounded schemer in My Girl, the stoic and grief-stricken businesswoman mourning lost love in Green Rose, the determined single mother in Robbers. They all came across as real, however unrealistic their situations might have been, but I don't get that sense from her Hello Miss character at all.
The same is true for Lee Ji Hoon. This is the first drama I've seen him in, and I am rather smitten. Physically, he is not my type (too girly looking, not enough cheekbones) but the charm is undeniable and irresistable. And the character himself is probably the nicest male lead in a kdrama I have ever seen. Someone who is well-adjusted, hardworking, dependable, with a sense of humor, from a well off and loving family, and with a great deal of kindness and a noticeable lack of an ex, basically cannot be bettered. But...the drama actually turns it into a problem! Now, I don't expect Lee Da Hae's character to fall for him right away because love is one of those subjective emotional things (and then where would be the drama?), but the fact that she is openly hostile to him and won't treat him even with a sort-of general vague friendliness you treat people you casually know and like well enough ends up making at least this viewer irritated with her heroine and forced to view her as either unforgivingly shrill and bitchy for no reason or just so dim she cannot notice that her co-worker/boss is a very nice person.
And past a certain point it makes you wonder what on earth is wrong with Lee Ji Hoon for falling for someone like that.
There are things to like about this drama: the secondary characters are, for the most part, fun, including the secondary girl who, for once, has no interest in the hero, but instead has issues with the heroine stemming from their childhood together.
But...nothing basically happens. That's right, in addition to the tiresome 'quirks' noted above, there is no inherent conflict in the situation: whether from external circumstances (family opposition, deceptions, conflicts of interest etc etc) or characters' internal issues or flaws (old love to be gotten over, emotional frozen-ness, etc). What we are left with are two well-adjusted people in a good situation. So any conflict that makes the drama go for 16 eps is entirely artificial and manufactured and thus exasperating. If the only obstacles are ridiculous misunderstandings that go on for too long because the heroine is too dim and too set in her opinion to solve sooner...it's not fun, is it?
I don't mean to rant. HM is not a bad drama, by any means. But it's not great, either, and it could have been so much better!
But then I look at the cap above and melt.