A drama that was entirely off my radar, My Husband, Mr. Oh or My Husband Oh Jak Doo (alternate title) brings back the contract marriage plot with a few unique twists.
Strong-willed and hard working Han Seung Joo (UEE) is a single woman in her 30s fighting the prejudices people hold against her for being an unmarried woman and temperamental in the workforce. As a Producer for a broadcasting network, she sets out to find a gayageum craftsman rumoured to be hiding in a mountain village for a documentary and runs into Oh Jak Doo (Kim Kang Woo).
On her trip back to Seoul, traumatizing events crumble Seung Joo’s headstrong personality and make her cave into the idea of marriage. She resolves that she needs someone to protect her and be close without pouring her time and energy into a serious relationship. Seung Joo decides to offer Jak Doo the proposition of marriage, and the two form a contractual relationship.
I watched four weeks worth of episodes in order to really assess the drama and give an honest opinion and there’s plenty I have to say. The plot and feel of the drama is akin to a weekend family drama that runs on KBS for about 50 episodes but My Husband, Mr. Oh speeds things along with it’s shortage of episodes, forcing the drama to have better progression and less fillers but it gives readers an idea of what to expect.
That being said, the characters also resemble ones you would find in a family drama because there’s quite a bit lacking in terms of depth from most of the actors (both primary and secondary) besides Kim Kang Woo’s amazing efforts to bring his character to life.
UEE has improved tremendously because the moments she needs to express trauma or Seung Joo’s panic disorder are delivered quite well but her interactions with other actors is really stale. I didn’t mind her character’s consistent yelling and ‘quick to be annoyed’ attitude but after three episodes of it, I could really do without all the unnecessary screeching. I’m not sure if that’s how Seung Joo as a character was written or if that’s UEE’s interpretation and study of her character so it’s left to be argued. If I had to describe the ensemble of characters and how their portrayed then I’d say it reminds me of dramas from the early 2000s and there were plenty of screechy females back then.
Kim Kang Woo as an actor is way out of everyone’s league here and gives Jak Doo dimensions and emotions where someone else less skilled couldn’t possibly achieve. Jak Doo is quite reserved and only talks when necessary, his feelings being expressed through his mannerisms or careful choice of words. He looks great as a frumpy, tacky clothed country bumpkin but Kim Kang Woo even manages to change the way he speaks and it feels like I’m watching him being possessed by a 70 year-old man.
When it comes to romance there’s chemistry but it isn’t sizzling, rather the traumatic experiences that set up the whole premise for the contract marriage are new and something I haven’t seen in a drama before and that coupled with Kim Kang Woo keep me going, fuelling my curiosity. I also like the steady build up of the relationship from strangers to friends, to lovers despite the lack of sizzle. Jak Doo doesn’t believe in the idea of men and women being friends but everything he does for Seung Joo prior to their romance is something only a close friend would do for you and that’s extremely adorable to see as a viewer.
The way Seung Joo and Jak Doo become consciously aware of the other and showcase their feelings in the smallest of acts like when Seung Joo buys red bean jelly from the convenient store because she knows it’s Jak Doo’s favourite, create moments that are believable and add to the progression of the romance. It’s a relationship with layers, ones that are believable and consisting of small and large acts resulting in a romance we can all agree on that deserves recognition. It lacks the superficiality and artificial foundations for love (e.g. love at first sight) found in many shows so kudos to the drama for that!
I find the notions and expectations surrounding women in the drama completely ridiculous, dramatic, and excessively glamourized. This might be a form of satire and the show’s way to mock the way women are tied to the idea of marriage; you can be hard working and stable but even then, that’s not enough or it might just be going with the flow, since Seung Joo does technically/sort of gets married.
What I do appreciate is that despite all the pressure, Seung Joo’s marriage is on her own terms and Jak Doo as a male lead respects her and everything she’s accomplished and done, treating her as his equal. The drama seems to tackle various societal problems through Seung Joo’s day-to-day issues and the labels given to her but still falls short because of a warped mother, subplots, and UEE only being able to scratch the surface of her character.
Despite the gender issues the drama addresses and depicts, My Husband, Mr. Oh will be an interesting watch for romantics and suckers of contract marriage plots. With the feel of a family drama, new twists, and a romance that gradually builds into something sweet, it’s a drama you might want to check out. If not for the drama itself, then for Kim Kang Woo!
P.S. Jak Doo is simply precious ?
Release Date: March 3, 2018