A romantic comedy full of laugh out loud moments, The Undateables is a love story about two unlikely people and the love industry itself.
Yoo Jung Eum (Hwang Jung Eum) is a former Diver and professional Athlete who leaves her past behind, developing a fear of water. An unfortunate breakup at the airport with her boyfriend causes a stir, several people bearing witness including Kang Hoon Nam (Nam Goong Min) a Director of a Toy Art Gallery.
Five years later, the two meet again in Jeju as Jung Eum is tasked to bring in a wealthy client for the Matchmaking company she works at. She mistakes Hoon Nam for attempting to steal her client and gives him one hell of a time on the way back to Seoul when his only purpose was to sign on the same person for a gallery exhibit. Wishing to never run into him again, Jung Eum admits her blunder and moves on with her life but fate has other plans in store.
Kang Hoon Nam happens to be a love expert who works as a ghost Writer for a romance column, offering holy dating advice but rejects the idea of true love and being in a relationship. Jung Eum on the other hand, wants to fall passionately in love in the hopes of getting hitched but her failed relationships and trauma have made her give up on the idea completely. The two agree to work together to set up Singles who are considered undateable, their philosophies and experiences with love in opposition with one another.
My first comment has to be, did the Writer literally write the characters with both actors in mind considering their names? I mean, Jung Eum is her real name! The literal title itself translates to Handsome Guy and Jung Eum, which is pretty accurate and hilarious in itself. Hoon Nam also means “handsome guy” so his parents were expecting great things when he was born and the Writer seems to have tailored it down to one specific actor entirely.
Despite the irony and cleverness with titles and names, the drama itself is a treat or present wrapped in bright wrapping paper, with a bow on top! It has the right set-up of a Rom-Com and introduces our characters and the whole ‘love’ theme with ease, managing to give us hilarious moments throughout it’s course.
The premiere was solid, giving us a good idea of the personalities and makeup of all our characters, from our leads to our secondary ones as well…The second lead syndrome is strong in this one folks. I’m sure fans are already summoning all the powers of the sea to decide who to ship and what boats to sail.
The pacing is fairly fast, since we discover so much about Jung Eum and even Hoon Nam through their jobs and interactions with coworkers, friends, and family. I’m still quite surprised that so much was given to the audience in a pilot episode but it’s worth noting since the drama wants to delve right into the love scenarios and matchmaking. It’s breezy in the sense that the content is light and uncomplicated, and essentially allows the drama to progress quickly and do its own thing.
It’s full of quirks and colourful characters you’d expect from a Rom-Com but unlike dramas like Wok of Love which is swimming with zany-ness, The Undateables still uses character outlines we’re accustomed to or have seen somewhere else. It just colours into the characters slightly differently to give unconventional individuals. And despite their oddities, our leads are justified and realistic when it comes to their opinions on love and what they want to experience, or not want to experience in Hoon Nam’s case.
Jung Eum wants to love passionately, giving the person she loves her entire being, both body and soul. She doesn’t think expressing her love for the world to see is a blow to her pride since she believes that the person who loves more is truly the happiest. Hoon Nam is the arctic polarization of her beliefs since he’s built a fortified wall around his heart, being born out of wedlock and coming from a muddled family with a tarnished view on marriage, love being out of the question. He makes women swoon and fall for him with ease but he’s not a playboy, only wanting to give counselling to people in dire straits who don’t have a clue when it comes to dating.
I absolutely love our characters since the female lead is the foundation and source for comedy while our male lead is a breath of fresh air. Jung Eum misreads her surroundings and can’t take a hint so her misunderstandings lead to hysterical moments. Hoon Nam as I mentioned before, is no playboy or party boy but a man who only wants to work while remaining fashionably dressed. His job is hands down, one of the greatest since he’s surrounded by toys (a man who is an expert on Winnie the Pooh figurines is sexy in my books). And this choice of career might reflect his inner desire for abandonment, to be free from the restraints his family holds over him so a fun and upbeat female is exactly what he needs in his life.
There’s definitely psychology involved as Choi Tae Joon plays the role of a Clinic Doctor, and coupled with Jung Eum’s trauma and Hoon Nam’s dysfunctional upbringing, we can all expect a bit more depth as the series continues. It’s great to see matchmaking back as the overarching theme of a drama since Rom-Coms have abandoned it for quite some time now.
It’s hard to say whether there will be plot holes or annoying love-lines since it’s far too early to see signs of that. Overall, this is a gem of a drama with a great cast and convincing story based on what we’re given in the first 2 episodes. Besides, Nam Goong Min should make up 95% of the reason you watch this along with Hwang Jung Eum whose made a name for herself as a Rom-Com Queen (although she does have a tendency for being over the top and screechy).
Release Date: May 23, 2018 (Eng Sub available on Viki)
Thank you for your first impressions. I'm looking forward to watching.