Hyena: first look

Four hyenas, one inquisitive hand.

Fun, fun, fun frolicking romp. Four episodes on, I am sold!! Giddy anticipation before clicking the play button, being reduced to a laughing horse or a giggly mess, all because of Hyena. From the moment SuJu’s version of The Night Chicago Died blasts on the stereo, I feel such a joyful glee I can’t wipe this big loopy grin off my face. Even now, writing this makes me want to swoop over and plant a big kiss on everyone’s cheek (OK, and other places on Jin-beom).

So, a while ago I finished The Vineyard Man, fell hopelessly in love with Oh Man-seok, and googled and Youtube him like a maniac, which obviously leads to a few Hyena pics, which didn’t really jump to me. Went to mysoju… unavailable? Ah, bad luck. I was ready to let it go. However, after reading really, really good recommendations by Dahee Fanel and Thundie’s Prattle, slowly that sense of urgency starts to nag me. Must. Find. Must. Watch. Besides, I’m curious as to how Korea does naughty in a drama. With an insightful drama about what men are really like. With a Sex and the City concept. This fact alone makes a lot of people scoff, but as one of those rarity who’ve never caught a single episode or movie of Sex and The City, I am totally neutral, and watches with slightly elevated expectations.

The result? I love it. Hyena is frank, fresh. It is risqué and daring – you do want to stay away if you’re under 19. There are times when I feel risqué scenes are there just for the sake of it, even if the show does use sex as an effective comedy tool. But do not dismiss this as just a gratuitous sex comedy. It is smart and insightful, witty, funny, tug your heartstrings on the right moments, while at the same time never takes itself too seriously.

I wish they're wearing briefs instead.

The first four episodes are mostly bright and comedic – especially the Choi brother scenes – as the storyline is set up and we are introduced to the four hyenas. The spotlight is on the hapless Kim Chul-soo, out of luck with career and love life – a PD who’s yet to debut, embarrassment to his mom, and not feeling his impending marriage to long-term girlfriend So-mi. I would hate to associate with him in real life because of his unreliable and immature ways, his lack of direction in life – and that tendency to whine in self-pity over the his own mess. You bring it upon yourself, dude. Me and him started badly and I find him more annoying than pitiful. However, lately I start to find myself rooting for this pathetic loser, and want him to be a phoenix and rise from his own damn ashes! Maybe because starting from episode 3 I saw glimpses of potential. What Chul-soo needs is not just supportive friends who stick by him and are ready to bail him out (he’s got three of those), but someone who would whip his arse but at the same time bring out the best in him.

Brothers Choi Jin-sang and Jin-beom are polar opposites. Jin-sang an oversexed slacker who’s an internet writer past his prime (would stay away from him as well, but he would be an awesome crazy uncle) – whose lack in looks is more than compensated with wit, easy charm and confidence, and whose sole intention in life appears to be bedding up as many girls as he can. He’s willing to do whatever it takes, and his success rate is pretty high.

Jin-beom is a PD at the top of his game, refined and intelligent – no doubt a stud – but also incredibly picky, perfectionist and sometimes snobby. Seok-jin is another stud – a successful chef with an army of swooning fangirls women from his cooking class, friendly and easygoing personality, helpful to his friends, Mr. Perfect from the outside. But behind his cool and detached attitude to women, he’s all turmoil on the inside, hiding the fact that he’s gay and lies to everyone including himself.

Then, come along Jung-eun. Ditzy, innocent, pretty, brainiac but doesn’t appear so – she’s a medicine graduate – and completely clueless about men and faces life in a completely carefree, spontaneous way. She is Seok-jin’s ex-girlfriend who comes back to Korea for an arranged marriage but is still in love with him, and still can’t come to terms with his one-sided decision break up. Guess what happens to her arranged marriage. After a series of events and running into Seok-jin again, she’s determined to win his heart (poor girl) again. The group immediately warms to her and regards her as a little sister and not the least bit view her as an attractive woman (yeah they think she’s Seok-jin’s woman but..).

I love the writing and the acting in Hyena. Each actor brings their charm to roles. Kim Min-jong – first time seeing him here – is utterly convincing and yet still manages to make me sympathise with Chul-soo. And Oh Man-seok, whoa, never seen him any hotter before! Yoon Da-hoon is absolutely hilarious and Shin Sung-rok is just dashing and oozing a lot of charm (to my surprise, though, I actually like his character the least. For now). And So Yi-hyun is absolutely adorable as Jung-eun although such ditzy character usually very, very easily annoys me.

All characters both endear and irritate me in turn, like real people; and the group is so diverse I wonder how come they become such good friends in the first place. But then I kind of get it – the lousy every man, the know-it-all womaniser, the kind and thoughtful bloke, the snob who grudgingly helps anyway. They complement one another and their dynamic is really interesting to watch.

Time to end the post me thinks… Hyena turns out to be a really good show and I’m hoping more people will see it. All you need is an open mind. To end, let me link some eloquently written blog posts for more insights on Hyena:

Trivia: Jin-sang’s ringtone is Sexy Boy by Air.

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About toopai
part time couch potato, full time movie and drama enthusiast.

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