착하지 않은 여자들 (Unkind Ladies)

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착하지 않은 여자들 (Unkind Ladies)

KBS2 – 24 Episodes
An IOK Media Production
Timeslot: Wednesday and Thursday Evening, 10:00 PM
Genre: Drama
Format: 1080i Dolby Digital 2.0 – 65 Minutes
Runs from: 2015/Feb/25~May/14

WITH 김혜자 (Kim Hye-Ja) as Kang Sun-Ok; 채시라 (Chae Si-Ra) as Kim Hyeon-Sook; 도지원 (Do Ji-Won) as Kim Hyun-Jung; 이하나 (Lee Ha-Na) as Jung Ma-Ri; 이순재 (Lee Soon-Jae) as Kim Cheol-Hee; 장미희 (Jang Mi-Hee) as Jang Mo-Ran; 이미도 (Lee Mi-Do) as Park Eun-Shil; 박혁권 (Park Hyeok-Kwon) as Jung Gu-Min; 서이숙 (Seo Yi-Sook) as Na Hyeon-Ae; 김혜은 (Kim Hye-Eun) as Ahn Jong-Mi; 손창민 (Son Chang-Min) as Lee Moon-Hak; 송재림 (Song Jae-Rim) as Lee Ru-Oh; 김지석 (Kim Ji-Seok) as Lee Doo-Jin; 채상우 (Chae Sang-Woo) as Guk Young-Soo; 지이수 (Ji Yi-Soo) as Jae-Gyeong; 하승리 (Ha Seung-Ri) as Young Hyeon-Sook; 최정우 (Choi Jung-Woo) as Han Choong-Gil; 박철호 (Park Cheol-Ho)

CREW Production Director 유현기 (Yoo Hyeon-Gi) B-Team Director 한상우 (Han Sang-Woo) Main Writer 김인영 (Kim In-Young) Executive Producer 신인수 (Shin In-Soo) Chief Producer 정해룡 (Jung Hae-Ryong) Producer 김동휘 (Kim Dong-Hwi) 윤재혁 (Yoon Jae-Hyeok) Director of Photography 김경호 (Kim Gyeong-Ho) Lighting 김재선 (Kim Jae-Seon) Art Director 이병덕 (Lee Byeong-Deok) Editor 안영록 (Ahn Young-Rok) 박경현 (Park Gyeong-Hyeon) Music 박성진 (Park Sung-Jin) Action Choreography 한지빈 (Han Ji-Bin) 안용우 (Ahn Yong-Woo) Assistant Writers 김보라 (Kim Bo-Ra) 정진우 (Jung Jin-Woo) Assistant Producers 윤종호 (Yoon Jong-Ho) 김소영 (Kim So-Young) 김성진 (Kim Seong-Jin)

RATINGS
AGB Nielsen Nationwide
HIGHEST: 13.7% (04/02 - E12)
LOWEST: 9.1% (02/25 - E01)
AVERAGE: 12.13%

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Photo © IOK Media

SYNOPSIS

This drama features the women of three generations and people around them. Mari grows up as a good teacher of this generation where there is no true mentor. Hyeonsuk, who has been a troublemaker, realizes the love and support of her family. Kang Sunok regards herself as unlucky, but later on realizes how happy she has been. How can you hold up when your life gets tough? You will figure it out by holding up day by day, just like these women in the drama. [KBS World]

EPISODES 01~02 [57/100]

There are moments – yes, even in this show – when for the umpteenth time you wonder what would have become of Kim In-Young if only she understood what her real strengths are. Those moments are a lot subtler, and yet stronger, than most of the rest of the show, and they deal with a deceptively easy aspect of storytelling: female interaction. I know that in a show dominated by (unkind) ladies that is going to sound like the most obvious of statements, but how many moments of female interaction that ring true can you really see in dramas these days? It's generally two opposite ends of a dichotomy throwing thinly-veiled F-bombs at each other just for the sake of shallow shock value, or two vapid flower vases fighting for the attention of our latest stiff boyo whose platform abs emote more than his eyebrows. But once Chae Si-Ra and Jang Mi-Hee meet each other on Episode 2, you see that genuine sense of “sisterhood” that made selected moments of Kim's older works shine, at least for an ever-so-brief moment -- before they generally crumbled under the weight of stubborn unevenness. Imagine what she would do with a slightly more serious subject – say, a sort of Thelma & Louise-like road movie where two women go on a journey of discovery. Realizing what your strengths and shortcomings are is not exactly easy at Kim's age and in her position, because pandering to the mainstream is a lot easier (arguably even good old Jung Ha-Yeon waited a comfy 15-20 years before he stopped writing facile commercial fluff and started becoming the icon he is today). But it's a true shame to see such a cast (Lee Ha-Na's derangedly out of tune performance and Song Jae-Rim's steam-powered stiffness notwithstanding) wasted on a hopelessly uneven pot pourri like this. There are fine moments indeed, instants that remind us that Kim In-Young still remains one of the more eclectic mainstream writers on TV. But I'm afraid it's still not good enough. Drop the silliness, stick to those pillow shots of frankness. Then we'll talk.

EPISODES 03~04 [58//100]

I admit I'm slightly fascinated by the “inner meanders” of Kim's writing, reason why I can't quite give up on this show even though there would be enough elements to encourage me to. Her biggest limitation is that those instances rarely build to a cohesive whole strong enough to make a mark, leave a long lasting impression that goes beyond a “she can write, sort of.” But still… four ladies (Lee Mi-Do, Chae Si-Ra, Kim Hye-Ja, Jang Mi-Hee) sitting around a table discussing what on the surface seem like petty matters, Lee Soon-Jae and Choi Jung-Woo making small talk, Seo Yi-Sook and Son Chang-Min talking about a current issue (her latest “shitty” writing tour-de-force) on the surface, while deep down discussing age old matters that defined their characters. Talk. That's they keyword. Too many dramas today build far-fetched plots and throw overwrought platitudes at the screen to keep the undemanding masses awake, but not enough of them give us characters who really talk – even if it's the ordinary, everyday banter that most writers take for granted. Sometimes this show gets that right, in which case it has the same veneer of familiarity of Hwang In-Roi's female-centric early works – especially those narrated omnibus style like 여자는 무엇으로 사는가 (What do Women Want) and 연애기초 (Love Formula). That the moment Lee Ha-Na and Song Jae-Rim appear all this vanishes and turns into a much blander quasi-trendy concept is inevitable, since Kim is not in a position to have a drama “without plot” (even if the plot is the same old regurgitated mainstream pap) in an age where a nonsensical but buzzworthy event that moves the plot forward (for instance meaningless, unjustified histrionics) is more appreciated than slow burning storytelling that makes sense is more appreciated. So the feeling is a slow food chef forced to cook double cheeseburgers and fries. Maybe jTBC and a Kim Yoon-Cheol or Ahn Pan-Seok-like PD could be the answer for Kim. But this, as occasionally intriguing as it might be, it definitely is not.

EPISODES 06~12 [56/100]

This is a strange show… erratic doesn't even begin to define it. The cast is filled with heavyweights, but they still have to exhibit any of the fire they're capable of (both individually and as an ensemble) – at most we get a few rather sparse atmospheric moments, as I mentioned above. It's almost as if the most talented cast members were being held back by their characterization and the loose directing – to the point that Hyeon-Sook works a lot more when played by Ha Seung-Ri than Chae Si-Ra. Even thematically the show would have a lot to offer, at least in theory: for instance, it's rather charming how Kim In-Young avoids the usual politically correct pitfalls of anything tackling bullying or “evil deeds” related to childhood (in the sense that most dramas attempt to give the villains some kind of redemption, something that for the most part is nothing more than wishful thinking). What we get here instead is a victim still suffering from the trauma of her childhood and being stifled by it (both for what concerns her career and her social life), and the perpetrator doing perfectly fine, with very little sense of remorse – after all, they're “unkind” ladies. But then we have to compromise and add the kind of formulaic coincidences (so the perpetrator ends up becoming entangled with her victim again, this time because of their children's impending romance) that have made sure that few people with critical discernment would touch the average Korean drama with a ten foot pole. So there's a potentially fine drama at the core, ready to make a mark and possibly even impress us with irreverent social commentary. But the need to make this as mainstream as possible, with all the warts that it entails, fatally limits this to a passable but disappointingly underachieving misfire. How many times has this happened to Kim In-Young?

ACTING GRADES

72 김혜자 (Kim Hye-Ja)
72 서이숙 (Seo Yi-Sook)
70 최정우 (Choi Jung-Woo)
70 채시라 (Chae Si-Ra)
70 이순재 (Lee Soon-Jae)
70 박철호 (Park Cheol-Ho)
70 박혁권 (Park Hyeok-Kwon)
67 손창민 (Son Chang-Min)
67 장미희 (Jang Mi-Hee)
67 도지원 (Do Ji-Won)
65 김혜은 (Kim Hye-Eun)
65 이미도 (Lee Mi-Do)
65 하승리 (Ha Seung-Ri)
60 채상우 (Chae Sang-Woo)
56 지이수 (Ji Yi-Soo)
50 김지석 (Kim Ji-Seok)
50 송재림 (Song Jae-Rim)
50 이하나 (Lee Ha-Na)

~ Last Update: 2015/04/15