During this weekend, I found I had a few hours to kill, so I picked up my watching of Only You, a kdrama starring Han Chae-Young and Jo Hyun Jae, something I tried a few months back and stopped at ep 2. OY is about a female aspiring chef (HCY) whose life gets detailed when she meets a rich guy hunting for his Mom in Italy (JHJ). They have one-night stand, she ends up with a baby, they meet six years later when he hires her for his restaurant. Today I got through ep 9 with a lot of fast-forwarding.
Will I finish it? Yes, I am a completist. Is it a drama I would recommend? Not really. It's not a bad drama, and probably would have been nice to watch in a ep-a-week-after-a-long-day sort of way, but in a combination of weakness of script/actors, it just doesn't grab at all.
I think the biggest flaw of the drama is a lack of genuine emotion in either the script and actors. I can buy some incredible things if the emotion feels real, but it does not here...The script doesn't sparkle, but the fault is also in the actors, IMO, both of whom are perfectly capable but aren't amazing enough to rise above the limitations of the script. JHJ looks like a hot middle-manager (WTF is with the haircut btw? He was smoking with a buzz-cut in Nine-Tailed Fox from what I saw, but longer hair is not his thing) and he is very competent, but he cannot tear out my heart with one look, the way someone like Jo In Sung or Lee Seo Jin can. And HCY is very pretty, but except in Delightful Girl Chun-Hyang, which I think might have been written specifically for her, she has never impressed with her acting skill. She is no Song Hye Kyo or Shin Min Ah.
The story makes me think of some sort of hybrid of Something Happened in Bali, My Name is Kim Sam Soon, and Save the Last Dance, but the problem is...it doesn't work the same way.
Just like Bali, it tries to go for the vibe of the rich boy from dysfunctional family employing poor girl who is strong-willed and won't put up with his family or 'selfishness.' Oh, and a poor guy who likes her and who she might like. But it's no Bali, which, to date, remains the only 'phenomenon' kdrama I really adored. It lacks the emotional punch of Bali, which was just as intense and passionate as it could be disturbing and harsh. Of course, it doesn't help that the rich family in OY is not the collection of everyday monsters as in Bali (ugh, Jae-Min's father still wins 'worst Dad' award hands down, a tough competition, and the rest of them aren't much better). Bali family is awful, in a very believable fashion, and of course that also leads to my interest in Bali's Jae-Min, a product of this messed-up house. The family in OY is snobby and a bit cold. So? A lot of families are like that, and I can honestly buy why they wouldn't be keen on their son hooking up with barely employed single mother. The angle of the OTP's love being so strong for withstanding all of family opposition seems to ring rather hollow. And of course, this makes me view JHJ's character as rather annoying and selfish in a not very interesting fashion. I loved Bali so much because of Jae-Min, who was this complicated, contradictory, wholly damaged and wholy irresistable mess. You really bought both into his uncontrollable passion for Ha Ji Won's character, and the extent of his dysfunction. Granted, in part this is because Jo In Sung is one of the best Korean actors I've seen (have you watched A Dirty Carnival? OMG), and JHJ just isn't in the same league, but another reason is the script and the fact that I just can't sense that degree of urgency and desperation in OY's story. It doesn't help that HCY's character does not have the same combination of 'little girl lost' and desperately needy and rather strong that Ha Ji Won had in Bali (and, let's face it, Ha Ji Won is a better actress). The OTP interactions in Bali were all levels of passionate and dysfunctional and riveting (the chemistry didn't hurt). JHJ and HCY and their characters are just going through the motions.
It is also like Save the Last Dance, in that a girl desperately gets a job in a place where her old flame is boss and the love is rekindled, despite her unsuitability. But once again...no. And not just because of chemistry (Eugene and Ji Sung burned up the screen) but because StLD spent episodes and episodes on developing its OTP love as true and sweet and pure. I could buy them as (to use a corny word) soulmates, but in OY...they had a one-night stand. Come on. I am supposed to buy it as something more but I can't. Neither the acting nor the writing support it. And of course, Eugene portrayed optimism and fragility but HCY doesn't engage my empathy the same way. And Ji Sung's character was just so incredibly sweet, in a rather reserved fashion, but I am hard pressed to find JHJ's character either sweet or magnetic.
It is also a little like Kim Sam Soon, where a chef ends up hooking up with her boss. I am in the minority of not being a KSS fan, probably because I couldn't really connect to the characters or feel the genuineness of the OTP's emotion, but even with my dislike for KSS, the writing was indubitably sharper, and plus, Daniel Henney! :)
So basically, it's not bad, and I will finish, but it's a rare kdrama where I can't feel the emotion. (Even something like Loveholic, which was very flawed, made me feel the characters loved and suffered).