A woman attempts to climb the social ladder by means of vengeance and ambition in order to capture one man’s heart.
Goo Hae-Ra (Lee Min-Jung) is in a state of hopelessness as her father’s shoemaking business crumbles and she’s left to pragmatically look after her sister, after a suicide attempt leaves her sister in a vegetative state. Chased by loan sharks and used as a tool for simply being female, she accepts the offer of a lifetime when Jin Tae-Oh (Lee Ki-Woo) asks her to steal a man’s heart by any means possible. Little does she know that genuine love exists between her and Tae In-Joon (Joo Sang-Wook) the man she approaches with ulterior motives in order to live a life of ease and complete her end of the bargain.
I definitely wanted to see how the drama would unfold and prolonged a First Impressions post because this seemingly atypical melodrama series like many others, always has me shifting and reforming opinions down the line in comparison to the first few episodes. And I’m glad I waited it out since there’s aspects of the show I’ve grown to like and things that I wish would change.
As far as characters go, Hae-Ra is a bit of an anti-heroine which is a nice change for once but also not surprising considering the genre. Melodramas tend to have female leads with a paroxysm of emotion and personal turmoil and Hae-Ra definitely fits into that category. In-Joon on the other hand, only has tense relationships with his fiancee and family since the only person who ever meant anything to him was his deceased mother.
What I find most compelling about the two is how similar the leads are regardless of their statuses and social spheres and their similarities create this undercurrent that sparks their romance. So the drama goes beyond a woman trying to break ceilings, but a couple breaking down walls and rebuilding them to their own design.
The chemistry is hands down the best thing about this show. Lee Min-Jung and Joo Sang-Wook were an incredible onscreen couple in Cunning Single Lady and they’re synergy is just as amazing in Fates and Furies; it’s definitely the most captivating factor about this show. What’s interesting is how they’re able to maintain this phenomenal chemistry despite the entirely different genre this time around but it’s there nonetheless, through their very stares and subtle (but not so subtle) glances.
I do have a few qualms with where the show is headed and what its done halfway. It does lag and could use more progression and the scheming and vengeful plotting is turning petty so soon. Think early 2000s melo K-dramas and you get our second male and female leads since their irrational and unfathomable emotions as well as behaviours create the main form of conflict within the series.
I find the second female lead so overdone and horrible as a character (this could very well be the Writer’s intentions) that I find myself fast forwarding her scenes and root for Hae-Ra anytime the two of them have physical scuffles, but by no means would I have a change of heart if Cha Soo-Hyun (So Yi-Hyun) has positive character change or redemption. It’s clear when a show tries to increase the tension but this drama does have a tendency to overdo it in the most dramatic ways with Cha Soo-Hyun acting as a vile human being in order to convey this sense of deplorableness embodied by elite women.
I do appreciate the social messages and love story but the chaebol antics founded on the shoe business as well as political marriages and conglomerate business transactions through all aspects of life a tad draining. There’s also quite a bit of domestic abuse and violence portrayed that hasn’t been addressed yet, so the Writers better get on that before it becomes normalized and the audience desensitized to it, simply labelling it as part of the evil mother in-law’s character. I’m hoping when Hae-Ra walks into the chaebol household, she’ll give them all a piece of her mind since she’s uncompromising and sick of what her life has become at the hands of others.
So the question remains, do I love this or hate it? There’s aspects I like and things the show could clearly do without. It’s traditional K-drama formula set within the melo genre, with a cast that knows how to deliver. I’d give it a chance but if this isn’t your cup of tea, I don’t blame you. Although I have to admit, Joo Sang-Wook’s romantic lines are quite deadly for my heart.
Release Date: December 1, 2018 (Eng Sub available on Viki)