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lara2018

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  1. lara2018

    [Drama 2018] Familiar Wife, 아는 와이프

    JH’s reaction to the divorce makes sense. He would feel like a failure. He gave up his wife and kids for HW and couldn’t make this work either. This is why he thinks he is a loser and can’t be with WJ. I don’t think it is because he is unwilling to break the bro-code and go for a friend’s girlfriend. It will be some time before he is ready to be with anyone, and I think if he were any other way, I would not root for him.
  2. lara2018

    [Drama 2018] Familiar Wife, 아는 와이프

    This is a phenomenal drama. I think most married people have moments (or years) when it is a struggle to see past the flaws of their partner. As this show portrays so well, so realistically, the struggle is hardest when there is no energy to be positive -- when your energy is spent fighting the indignities suffered at work, worrying about money, taking care of babies and older dependents, surviving. How can you be positive or nurture someone else when you are so depleted? It feels like you can't. It's much easier to hate and blame the other person, and to imagine escape -- whether it's divorce or what it might have been like if you had gotten together with some other person. A friend who constantly fought with her husband once told me that she would never divorce him because there was no guarantee that any other man would be better. The show makes me feel so much empathy for both WJ and JH. WJ rushes from work to daycare to home. Once she gets the kids down, she has to raise her exhausted carcass up to tidy up the house. She has zero "me time." She has no time to even shower or pretty herself up. Most working moms of young kids have gone through this and it's like coming back from the dead when your kids finally sleep through the night and become more independent. But WJ isn't just the main caregiver to her two young children. She is responsible for a mother succumbing to dementia. And she doesn't have money to help her with all of her responsibilities. Her husband doesn't make much, and she herself never got to reach her professional potential. Instead, she makes low wages as a masseuse catering to self-centered, condescending socialites. WJ doesn't get enough sleep, exercise, respect. She is like a pile of dry tinder; any additional stress makes her combust. And who else do you explode at but the person closest to you? JH has also had to shelve his own dreams. He wanted to be a ballet dancer, not a middle-manager at a bank, wedged between the higher-ups and subordinates. He feels a lot of pressure as the main breadwinner. He doesn't make enough to allow his wife not to work or to look pampered and pretty, or to live in a nice home, or to drive a fancy car. He doesn't make enough which is why they all have to share a single bed. He doesn't even make enough money that his wife can't help but freak out at him spending money on a lavish floral bouquet for their anniversary instead of food, because money is so tight that she can't bear to waste expired products. He can feel his wife's unhappiness, and probably feels responsibility as well as resentment for this. As JH so heartbreakingly said to WJ when he found her drowning his new Playstation, it's been years since he's bought anything for himself and he wants to have a little release, particularly when he only sees her sour face at home every day after work. And, as JH discussed with Jong-Hoo while eating breakfasts not cooked by their wives, they grew up with expectations of gender roles -- where his wife would take care of the home front while he only had to do battle at work -- that are now obsolete. He is afraid of his wife's temper, and he doesn't have much "me time" either. He has to hide his old videogame console in the back of his closet, to hide his new console in a garbage bag picked from the actual garbage bin and tucked behind diapers, and steal from sleep time to recreate. A man needs his pride, and in his life with WJ, he has almost none. Who has it worse? WJ or JH? I want to say that it's easier to be JH (whose attachment to his kids is pretty freakin' thin). But then, that's the root of their marital problems, isn't it? WJ would be explosively angry at JH for playing videogames because why should he have any time to play when she doesn't, and why should he spend money on toys when she can't afford to put her mother in a care facility? JH would be resentful of WJ for yelling at him in public about making her go to the back of the grocery line so that he can buy shaving cream because he needs to shave for work and he ran and he even picked the brand that is on discount. No marriage will work if you keep score. No matter how hard things are, you can choose to shift your energy to think about the other person and their struggles instead of your own, to make him or her a priority, to see those things about him or her that made you first fall in love. When you do, you add to their energy and to your own, and you usually come out of the downward spiral. For JH, this perspective comes through the device of time travel to an alternate universe in which he is married to Hye-Won. At first, it seems that all of his old grievances are gone. He's got a big gaming set-up, a big house, a fancy car, a pretty wife, status. But things aren't really any better because these are matters of the exterior. He is still the same. His outlook is still self-centered. He spends almost no time with his wife, or thinking about whether she might be unhappy being a musical dilettante instead of someone pursuing music seriously. She asks him to come home early and he almost never does. He criticizes her for buying clothes and expensive groceries and using a housekeeper without considering that given her chaebol background, keeping house to the extent that she does is probably impressive as it is. I think that's why she is susceptible to that awful gold-digging valet. She's not a bad person. She suffers from loneliness just as WJ did -- but because she has too much time on her hands, it expresses itself in a wandering eye instead of in angry outbursts. And so, the core problems for JH are still there. He doesn't have much pride because everything comes from his in-laws, and he is basically their dog. What's really interesting is that when fate throws JH back with WJ, he starts to think (finally) more about her. Maybe it's the luxury of no children, or the prompt of jealousy, but he starts to remember what she was like before the pressures of life took over and to pay attention to who she is beyond those circumstances. He starts to take responsibility (which is the root of real pride) for making her into the monster that he wanted to flee. I think that's the explanation for the time travel man's exhortation to let WJ be happy. I want to see WJ go through the same journey, because there really isn't an excuse for hurling a sharp crab-leg at your husband's face, or ruining his Playstation (which cost a lot more than a bouquet of flowers, and it would have been much more rational to just ask him to consider selling it on the secondary market, as did the seller). I don't think this has to happen just through memories. The same planetary blackhole/gravitational/moon time travel thing could apply to her. But I guess it's not necessary. JH's words to her about how she never considers how he feels seemed to hit her pretty hard. So, if JH can get back to the first timeline, particularly with a new outlook on supporting her, it strikes me that she may be in a place to do that work too. The thing that troubles me most is how the writer is going to resolve the problem of WJ's mom if they go back to the main timeline. Her dementia could go away as a result of the cosmic forces. Or JH could get a promotion and be able to (a) pay for care, or (b) allow WJ to stop working and care for mom and the kids. One thought is that if WJ were to go through the toll, I think she'd want to go back to save her father from the car accident. If he had lived, she could have gone to school and had a well-paying job. She might not have been in such a hurry to marry JH, but their romance could still have blossomed. They could still marry, have kids, and either the mom would not develop dementia or the father would be there to care for her, and there would be financial resources to support them. That would be a nice material resolution of matters, to match the inner change of heart in our married couple.
  3. I have been thinking about the episodes that have to do with court personnel. Those are the people who aren't in the limelight like the judges, but who make everything run: the security officers, the clerks, the stenographers, the janitorial staff. I really appreciated that the show gave some attention to their lives, their talents, their problems. In particular, I was moved by the court clerk who was a single mother -- she worked diligently and uncomplainingly, and then rushed to pick up her child from daycare. She agonized about whether her best was good enough for her child. For her birthday, she got to let loose a little -- dress glamorously, and dream about romance. This show is so good about making human people who are so often overlooked. On a separate and totally frivolous note, the Knowing Bros episode 131 on which Go Ara and Kim Myungsoo appeared is adorable. They apparently shot the episode the day after production wrapped, so maybe the actors were still in character -- certainly Kim Myungsoo said that he was still talking like Im Ba Reum. Or maybe the people in the editing room were trying to sell a shipping line. Whatever the reason, there sure seems to be genuine affection between GA and KMS. KMS can't help smiling (and he really tries not to) or leaning towards GA when GA does or says anything remotely cute. He steps forward to help her when she is having trouble with limbo. He can't help giggling after the brothers tease him that when he says he lives with a cat, maybe that's code for living with GA. He looks down shyly when GA talks about first love and how she fell for a boy from church who brushed snow off of her feet. He peers at her intently when the brothers joke that GA must have dated Henry when she taught Henry English. He listens attentively to her talk about her childhood dream of being an anchor and her experience of online anti-fans. He looks eagerly at her when she seems stunned at the revelation that he had to throw up noodles that he ate while acting. For GA's part, she looks reluctant to demonstrate her dancing skills until she sees him urging her on with his clapping. It all makes one long for the two of them to work on another drama (or do anything else, really) together.
  4. Judge Han resigned before they got the verdict in the last case; he just told the associates after getting the verdict. Anyway, I like that he wants to protect them and I even think it is fine for him to want to move on with his life. But the show emphasized that the world is right and just with the three of them, so I’m not happy with the implications of separating the world from right and just!
  5. @bebebisous33 I see... but the show implies that Mr. NJ Group is going to get exposed for buying off the victim so that she changed her testimony. That was the basis for the appellate reversal. And Justice Sung was in charge of the reversal, and he’s been publicly-exposed as abusive and incompetent. So I get why Judge Han would have the impulse to resign, but by the end the episode, there’s really no need. And he made BOTH of our sweet judges cry!
  6. My favorite thing about Episode 16 is that it closes no doors to a second season! Judge Im can make Min Yong Joon kneel down before the law, as promised. Judge Park can take on the discrimination that women who marry and get pregnant and have children (confident, bedimpled ones @jeijei ) face in the workplace. There's certainly no shortage of societal ills and philosophical conundrums to explore. The episode was not the series' strongest though. It's strange that Judge Im and Judge Park would have commenced dating in the previous episode, and still behave so distantly in this one. They are two people in their late 20s or early 30s, in love, in a tiny office together from morning to night. They are professionals, yes, but you'd think there would be some physical displays of affection - touches on the shoulder, wiping away of the other person's tears, hugging - given that both of them find it heart-taxing to be in close proximity with each other. I can't tell if this is a failure in the writing, directing, or acting, but I wasn't satisfied with just the conversation about how there wasn't any time to think about anything but the trial, but Judge Im made Judge Park's heart beat fast, and Judge Im found her confession cute. It's not just a desire for romance, but an issue of character development and the series' arc. Judge Park is a passionate person, and part of her journey is being able to express that with a man after years of bad experiences with them. Judge Im has been more or less pining for Judge Park since they were teenagers, and I think that seeing him express his affection physically is important to show that he no longer just keeps his feelings checked by expectations of disappointment and bottled up. I found the music a little overwrought. I also wished our protagonists got to do more in this episode. Judge Park was limited to some questioning at the trial, and Judge Im got a bunch of signatures, but mostly, they had tearful or satisfied-smile reaction shots. The resolution of the villains (Judge Sung and Min Yong Joon) was way too rushed. And Senior Judge Han's resignation didn't make much sense. Someone has to take responsibility, but I thought that person was going to be Supreme Court Justice Sung. What is Senior Judge Han going to do? Join NJ Group's legal department so that he can pay for his daughters to go to better schools? Become a stay-at-home dad and give his wife a chance to do something other than fold laundry? And I'm not sure I'm a huge fan of the final scene with the adolescent fist bump. But the jury trial was interesting and the episode was also uplifting and hopeful in a way that seems in short supply these days. I love this theme of how it only takes one seed to grow something new. Judge Park, assisted by Judge Im, has been busy scattering seeds since Episode 1, and enough have born fruit to make a revolution. Judge Hong finds her voice and steps up to defend her defender, and in #metoo fashion, inspires dozens of other associate judges to speak out on Senior Judge Sung's abusive ways. Judge Jung finds the courage to get signatures for a petition on Judge Park's behalf. The peeing duo join the effort. The sexual harassment and medical malpractice victims whom Judge Park fought for team up to expose Min Yong Joon's perfidy. The department chair is ashamed of scapegoating his juniors and rescinds the disciplinary proceeding against Judge Park. Secretary Lee writes her dream script Miss Hammurabi. And it's not just Judge Park who has been scattering seeds. As Secretary Lee says, the judges you thought didn't exist are really everywhere. I thought this was profoundly expressed through the jurors, both the female juror who so deeply empathized with the victim's mother when one might have expected her to identify with the defendant, and the subway drunk who spoke up on behalf of the victim and urged the group to deliberate carefully for the sake of justice. There is goodness everywhere, and the most unexpected people may be warriors against injustice in their own way. All those seeds add up to make an exponential difference. I am grateful for this special drama that has so much heart, and am sad that it is over.
  7. What are they saying in the BTS?!
  8. This is the ultimate romantic drama for our times, when the news is constantly filled with stories of men who abuse women. Park Cha Oh-reum is that woman, who has seen and survived some of the worst that men can dish out -- an abusive father, an abusive teacher, abusive clientele. Her mother and aunties have all experienced beatings and betrayals by men. But instead of being defeated by all of these experiences, Oh-reum decides to become an active force for good. In her armor of high-necked tops, long-skirts and trousers, trench-coats, and flats, Oh -reum is battle-ready. She speaks up in public, and she becomes a judge. In her search for justice at the courthouse, Oh-reum finds healing. She faces numerous challenges, some of her own making from being an overzealous rookie, and some because of institutional misogyny. But she doesn't have to face these alone, because she has the backing of Senior Judge Han Se-sang and Right Associate Judge Im Ba-reun. Judge Han is the father figure Oh-reum never had. He is gruff and yells a lot, but he gives her opportunity and leeway to explore cases, he mentors her, and he supports her when it most counts in her efforts to tackle sexism and corruption. He also employs strong women as his stenographer, clerk, and court security officer. Of course he does, because he is the father of two teenaged girls who mean the world to him. Im Ba-Reun is the kind of man who can win a wounded woman's heart. It's not because he's perfect. Far from it. It's because he respects himself and he respects women. He is too principled to take a job or marry just for money. He regards his mother as the head of his household -- whatever the official registry says -- because she was the one who took responsibility for their family. He is drawn to Oh-reum's soul, her strength and fragility, not just her outward appearance. He is self-assured enough to challenge his own worldview by thoughtfully considering seriously her diametrically-opposed views. His instinct is always, always to support the women he loves, and Ba-reun loves Oh-reum without expectation, or demand, or reserve. He deserves her trust. As Lee Do-yeon explained, when a woman feels a man is safe, then she is willing to go on an adventure with him. Writer Judge Moon Yoo-seok, director Kwak Jung-hwan, and the production team deserve tremendous credit for bringing to life this story, with its rich and complex themes, and its deep romance. The actors, too, deserve praise for choosing this project. Go Ara, Sung Dong-il, and Kim Myung-soo, in particular, are attractive, popular entertainers with significant fan bases. The ideas they sponsor -- even through the dialogue of fictional characters -- can have far-reaching effects. Ba-reun was moved to action when he saw young men at a club about to take advantage of a woman they got extremely drunk. He confronted them: What kind of a man "does things on his own to someone else's body"? What kind of a man enjoys an encounter with a stranger who has not consented? May every Inspirit be influenced by Ba-reun's words and example. And may every Oh-reum who watches this show smile like crazy with the hope that somewhere out there, maybe sitting just to her left, is her own Ba-reun.
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