Food and love collide in this latest drama based on a popular web series.
Based on the webcomic, Jeonyeok Kati Deusilraeyo (Would You Like To Have Dinner Together) by Park Shi In, the drama centres on Woo Do Hee (Seo Ji Hye) a Producer for an entertainment company that focuses on live broadcasting segments. She’s aggressive at her job but easy going in her personal life, with luck on her side except when it comes to men and goes through a tough, spectacle of a breakup on her trip to Jeju Island. Encountering Do Hee on Jeju is Kim Hae Kyung (Song Seung Heon) a famous Psychiatrist known to be a food Psychologist, believing in food as a cure and means to understand his patients. Witnessing Do Hee’s unfortunate breakup, painful memories of his own past come flooding back and he takes it upon himself to comfort her out of an altruistic duty but more lies underneath their reasons to be drawn to one another.
I went into this series knowing absolutely nothing but the main leads and after the premiere of the drama, I’ll admit to having enjoyed it quite a bit and found it surprising and pleasant, with a positive start. The show has a great sense of pacing with comedic moments that leave you satisfied and just the right amount of drama and melancholy that conveys the notion that there will be a healing process as two broken hearted people become dinner mates. Their professional lives clash and they become sworn enemies as Do Hee attempts to get Hae Kyung on her show but the Psychiatrist has managed to remain elusive, his image hidden from the public. Despite the hilarity and banter that arises from their dislike for one another professionally, they manage to get along as two souls willing to share a meal and ease their pain.
I haven’t read the original source material but after doing some general searching, discovered that the drama has made some major changes that were originally found in the webcomic, even the very scenario as to how the two leads meet. So if you are a fan of the webcomic you may either feel very disappointed or forgiving of the changes made. Directing the series is also the same Director of Player which was Song Seung Heon’s previous project and quite surprising as the two individuals went from an action-crime series to a rom-com. I do see similarities as far as pacing goes because it can seem swift at times and Player was, generally fast-paced and kept you in full anticipation.
The role of Do Hee was originally offered to Shin Min Ah but I’m somewhat happy she declined since Seo Ji Hye does comedy quite well, and after her last performance in Crash Landing On You which gained her much popularity, she’s finally able to shake off secondary characters and take on the role of a leading lady. Do Hee is immediately a likeable character that you can empathise with and easily jump on the bandwagon when it comes to her unique quirks that make her spunky at times as well as soft-hearted and vulnerable.
Hae Kyung on the other hand, is characterised more stereotypically as successful and handsome so it really does take a charismatic actor like Song Seung Heon who knows how to harness and balance the correct emotions on screen to play such a role. Hae Kyung as a Psychologist is more hard headed and keeps himself at a distance so his sensibilities when it comes to Do Hee stem from his own heartache. Overall, it’s hard to hate him and as a viewer, you can’t help but warm up to him despite his poor actions at times because of the information we’re given about his past or his internal dialogue. It’s also refreshing to see a character conveyed as more earnest and neutral instead of a complete stick in the mud.
The romance is already subtle and on its way to being shipped and sailed effortlessly as the two characters already have a sixth sense when it comes to what the other is thinking and even have a matching taste palette despite their food endeavours being drastically different than the other. It’s also interesting how the show takes on food in a positive light for mental stability instead of the negative stigma we usually see attached to over indulgence and gluttony which may occur during depression or battling disorders in dramas. I’m not sure if we can expect more details and complexity in regards to the psychology the drama portrays since this is after all, a romantic comedy and frankly, I have no qualms with either the romance or the comedy so far.
My fears lie in what’s to come as former ex-lovers make an appearance and disrupt the lives of our characters. I’m thoroughly looking forward to Lee Ji Hoon’s entrance since he’s an actor that’s well rounded and has experience under his belt. Son Na Eun on the other hand, leaves me feeling more apprehensive since she has primarily starred as a second lead or briefly made featured appearances in a series so we can only remain positive for now and hope for the best considering the optimistic response the show has gained from domestic audiences.
Off to a great start with a slew of of cameo appearances, the drama brings us romance and food at the heart of it all. Dinner Mate may become a gem of a show to add to your summer list and a fun rom-com if all goes well!
Release Date: May 25, 2020