Assorted Gems, first impression

Current stance: cautiously optimistic.

I find Assorted Gems likable but not amazing, it piques my interest enough to keep reaching for the next episode and maintain a slow and comfortable pace, but doesn’t enthuse me. It has not instantly charmed my socks off, like the fantastic first few episodes of Job Well Done, instead it starts off with a cheesy dance routine. Slowly though, I do warm up to the show as it gets funnier and sillier.

The six episodes I watched have established the set-up of a large, working-class Korean family with good looking children, a cosy and worn-down courtyard house, two male tenants, two grannies, and a super adorable baby. The theme, I think, is pretty interesting. Sane adult kids who somehow all manage to grow up well despite those zany and childish parents they have.

The characters are terribly melodramatic. In despair all, three generations of Goongs would beat their chests and wail phrases like, “Just kill me now!”, “Why would I live!”, “I’m going crazy.”, etc. But then perhaps Koreans have dramatic genes – isn’t that why they make such good dramas?

Bi-chwi, the oldest daughter, is the reason why the siblings turn out sane. She’s got all these good, true mother hen qualities like assertiveness, a level head, dependability, leadership, but I also sense stiffness and reluctance to ask for other people’s help. She’s the most daring one to be openly antagonistic against her parents and her pretty face always carries this annoyed and angry expression whenever she faces them (esp. mom). The role reversal’s hilarious: the younger siblings would tattle their parents’ newest shenanigans to her, then off she goes to give them a good scold.

Second daughter Ryu-bi (Look, it’s So Yi-hyun and her adorable neck mole!) is smashingly pretty, knows it, and wields it as her weapon to snag a rich man so she can quickly get married, lead a comfortable life, and off with her messy family. I like that she shamelessly admits and pursues this goal by becoming a nurse and hoping to marry a rich doctor. This goal looks close to fruition in the form of Dr Yoo, whom I think looks like a taller, slightly awkward version of John Cho (Hmmm, yummy!). If only she can overcome his stuck-up bitch of a mum. She’s a strong one who can stand up for herself, esp. to the above-mentioned stuck-up bitch and some patients with similar traits who all deserve it; but comes off as annoying to the new tenant Kyle who doesn’t deserve it. But I totally suspect this is her hurt pride talking because he’s seemingly impervious to her charms.

The boys San-ho and Ho-bak I don’t have much to say yet, except that they’re always a very pleasant sight for my eyes. The former’s always at home gearing up for an all-important exam, but nevertheless manages to date his college junior. The latter’s a high schooler, a cheeky, easygoing, and humorous one (typical baby of the family traits). And when baby Tae-ja shows up, they both (esp Ho-bak) seem to naturally take turns on the babysitting role contentedly and effortlessly, which is cute.

That baby Tae-ja, by the way, is an illegitimate child whom father Goong just brings home one day, tail between his legs. That baby is just… coooo… gorgeous.

Have I mentioned that these siblings are good looking? Ah, so easy on the eyes…

Probably the only one good trait passed on from their parents, who are both childish and incredibly unapologetic about it. At least Dad still looks remorseful and chastised from his mistakes, but the thoughtless way Mum spends money as if she farts it, seriously frustrated the hell out of me. They don’t earn sympathy points from me.

Even though they make heaps of mistakes, they’re also miraculously forgiving – most evidently that time during Tae-ja’s arrival. A mighty storm shook the house (figuratively) and mum’s all ready to kick dad out. But when all dejected four kids left house and didn’t come back for hours, the parents worried about them and all was later forgotten.

The two grandmas, who always bicker, insinuate, mock, and find excuses for their offspring’s latest shenanigans, are hilarious. And yet, one constantly looks for the other. Their frenemy-ship is so far the most enjoyable thing on the drama.

I’m not used to family dramas (Assorted Gems is my second attempt). Being 50 episodes or so, they take time to slowly engage the viewers, a large cast of characters which apparently always involve bickering grannies and cooing babies. My brain, usually fed with speedy and zippy trendies no longer than 16, or at most, 20 episodes, is often impatient. Changing old habits is hard, Kyle’s advice to switch your number-twos to night time is easier said than done. (The fantastic family-trendy hybrid Bad Family, which I’ve loved immensely since my early days of k-drama watching, is an entirely different creature by the way)

Still, perhaps I’d expose myself to more family dramas to intersperse with my trendies, since it’s a welcome, refreshing chance for a drama to be silly, let down pretenses and attempts of sophistication and slickness – just like how we behave amongst our family members. I wouldn’t be able to touch everyone since there are so many characters, many only touched on the surface; and an outsider like me and the new tenants often can only watch with raised eyebrows at the Goong’s latest antics and dramatic ways of facing and solving problems. I do like the direction it’s going, and I can say I’ll keep watching.

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

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