Sudden encounters, marriage, and life choices define this time travelling drama about a man and his wife.
Cha Joo-Hyuk (Ji Sung) and Seo Woo-Jin (Han Ji-Min) are a couple living miserable lives with a stagnating marriage.Their tumultuous relationship turns into a spiteful one as they’ve grown apart over the years with Joo-Hyuk dreading the very sight of his wife. He’s an average Joe who’s irresponsible and cowardly while Woo-Jin has developed an abusive hold over her husband, resentment and motherly responsibilities weighing down on her.
During a night of two moons that creates a supernatural phenomena, Joo-Hyuk has the chance to time travel back into the past and his choices alter fate. This results in him and Woo-Jin living completely different lives in the present, creating an entirely new timeline.
I watched 3 whole episodes in order to get a grasp of where the show was headed since there’s quite a bit of moping on Joo-Hyuk’s part in the beginning, and had it been anyone other than Ji Sung, I might not have been able to keep my cool. It almost seems like Joo-Hyuk as a character is still in his mid twenties, living the life of an Ahjusshi with a midlife marriage crisis, trapped in the body of a man in his thirties.
That not being the case, Joo-Hyuk thinks his life in the new timeline is a dream come true but my guess is, he’s about to grow up and have fate crashing down on him and teaching him valuable life lessons. The drama does a decent if not steady progression of setting up this angle of the story, sinking deeper during the pilot episode of why these two people are so unhappy and caught in a toxic marriage.
I think Han Ji-Min has done a fantastic job portraying completely different versions of Woo-Jin in two contrasting lives. I absolutely detest her as the spiteful wife even if I can understand where she’s coming from but abuse is still abuse and she doesn’t take accountability for it but Woo-Jin presented in the new timeline is a career woman with a bright personality and positive outlook on life.
Joo-Hyuk’s choices have not only changed their lives but of those around them and it shapes and refigures relationships in the present timeline that’s been altered. There’s consequences to everything and the show does a clever job of surprising us with these twists as Joo-Hyuk learns all the changes that have happened in his life.
He’s the only one aware of any change but Woo-Jin gets glimpses of her life as a married woman with Joo-Hyuk through certain flashbacks and this creates a certain mystique to the entire time travelling phenomena. As viewers, we’re not sure about the boundaries and limitations of these different lives presented so we’re left guessing, simply knowing that fate and the idea of destiny weigh heavily into the show’s aims.
So there might be supernatural forces about to wreck havoc or Joo-Hyuk might be in control of what’s about to happen; it’s a matter of figuring out if a purely black warped hole has given Joo-Hyuk a second chance or if the gods are pulling red strings of fate and bringing Woo-Jin closer to Joo-Huk even if he thinks she’s no longer relevant to his life.
The drama has garnered quite a lot of buzz, topping ratings but for me personally there’s just something lackluster about it or amiss. I’m thoroughly enjoying Thirty but Seventeen and can’t help but compare my positive feelings for that show to this one. I suppose if I had to really narrow it down, the show ended up being more melancholic with a slower pace than I anticipated so I find myself waiting for twists and real surprises while tuning out from a lot of Joo-Hyuk’s scenes.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Ji Sung and Joo-Hyuk as a character isn’t a terribly written protagonist but there’s just something that falls short and I can’t seem to warm up the characters despite the great display of acting.
The only other complaint I’ve seen floating around the internet is the comparison between this drama and Go Back Couple which contains the same genres and similar plot. I haven’t seen it myself, so I can’t draw on anything and as someone who hasn’t seen the latter, Familiar Wife is a slightly new concept to me. Time travel itself however, is not unfamiliar territory for K-dramas so the show has to do a lot to make a distinction and really stand out.
I do appreciate how it’s a married couple we’re dealing with and how maturing can still be found even for those who seem like they’ve got their lives put together. It’s interesting to see how not getting married at a certain point in life has drastically changed Joo-Hyuk’s and Woo-Jin’s lives since marriage like most things, is all about timing.
With a decent premiere, a disorderly couple will learn the true meaning of fate and find love that’s been lost. Even if it’s a time travel show, there’s nothing too fantastical or over the top about this story and its characters which is a compelling aspect that might get you interested along with the lessons on marriage and family it promises to bring.
Release Date: August 1, 2018 (Eng Sub available on Viki)