It’s all about first loves, struggling youths, and growing pains in this coming of age series.
Yoon Tae-Oh (Ji Soo) finds himself in possession of a family owned property, believing it to be his humble domain and the set-up he needs to lose his virginity. As a full-fledged college student and independent bachelor, he thinks he’s on top of the world until a few intruders come knocking on his door. Han Song-Yi (Jung Chae-Yeon) finds herself at Tae-Oh’s doorstep after her mother abandons her and leaves her homeless. As his childhood friend, Tae-Oh takes it upon himself to look after her, and battles with his on and off crush for Song-Yi, repressing his feelings to continue their platonic relationship.
With a college drop-out pursuing a career in music and a runaway heiress to complete the group, Tae-Oh finds himself living with three unlikely housemates that form bonds of friendship and find love along the way. What Tae-Oh could have never expected however, is his closest female friend falling for his classmate, Seo Do-Hyun (Jung Jin-Young) whose sworn off girls in order to focus on his future.
I intentionally put-off writing up a First Impressions post on this because I wanted to find out when on earth the second season would come out. I actually finished season 1 within a day and found the cliffhanger to be excruciatingly frustrating (in a really good way) and didn’t want to recommend this till there was news of this series being continued on Netflix. Had the network decided to leave it at season 1, my views on the show would be very different. So that being the case, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I saw this back in April and have been holding back on you guys? Phew. My dirty confession is over with!
I quite enjoyed this series because it brings a lightness that’s simply attractable and this airiness doesn’t make the show bland. The characters might have a few scuffles and misunderstandings amongst themselves but there’s no real villain, it’s just them against the world. They go through the struggles of what it means to be young and trying to leave your mark on the world or simply trying to get by. So there’s definitely fluff, especially in regards to some of the young romance and moments of comedy gold but there’s also a bit of rawness and realism of what these youths are going through that we can all relate to.
The show gives us five individuals who are uniquely different, either living or interacting with each other and discovering for themselves what it means to love and find love. Tae-Oh has a really compelling character development and at first glance this might not seem apparent, but he goes through a lot of doubt, a questionable relationship, and the pains of missed timing and not following his heart. In contrast, Song-Yi learns to be self-sacrificing at the expense of her own heart, discovering for herself how difficult it is to date once you have other priorities that can’t be chucked to the backseat and forgotten.
The characters are all concrete and fairly detailed once you look at each of them separately, and collectively their archs come together to create a lasting friendship (although jealousies and rivalry are going to be in the works). I think it’s a breath of fresh air to have a love triangle with male leads who possess both pros and cons because their imperfections make them more real and accessible as an audience. Its usually clear cut and set in stone who a female lead will end up with, but My First First Love does a good job of keeping us guessing, consistently re-evaluating who Song-Yi will be the happiest with. So for once, feel free to pick a side, the boy you choose just might come out as the victor! I also like how the uncertainty of the love lines formed lends itself to the overall story in order to portray the intricacies of each character’s thoughts and personalities. And we definitely get more of this through narrative, since most of it comes from Tae-Oh’s perspective and his internal thoughts.
Despite the show’s genres being fairly lightweight when it comes to substance, it encompasses youth in ways that create chapters for the characters during each episode and this might imply a choppiness to the storytelling but its fluid and well thought out. Childhood first love adds nostalgia while our main leads try to integrate themselves in the game of love or realize it was there, right in front of them all along. That being said, the messages are positive and depict youth in this filtered lens that conveys hope. A hope that they’ll overcome any of the heartache and pains of becoming older and facing new experiences in life and with love.
As far as the cast goes, I think they’ve picked a great group of actors even if I’m slightly disappointed in Jin-Young. I wish there was more depth to his acting because his characters in his latest works are all coming across as being identical when it comes to the way he emotes them and portrays them onscreen. I’m not upset, but I wish we could see more acting range and a bit more intensity instead of similarly passive-aggressive characters. The cinematography on the other hand, is pretty in the sense that it uses the same lighting and effects that seem designated for school/youth dramas and contributes to the overall tone of the story.
My First First Love is digestible, sweet, and gives you feelings of youthful nostalgia. It’s a great series to watch when you want something simple to unwind to with characters that you’ll easily love. After watching the first season, you’ll definitely anticipate the second one and if you’re like me, then you’ll have your fingers crossed that Ji-Soo finally gets the girl! I’m team Tae-Oh and that’s all I want from the second instalment that’s soon to come! Can’t wait for some more wise fortune cookie dialogue either!
Reelase Date: April 18, 2019 (Eng Sub available on Netflix)