K-Drama Review : Oh My Venus

This review contains spoilers for the series; read at your own risk. 

 

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Kang Joo Eun turns head as the young “Venus.”

I started watching “Oh My Venus,” on a whim, not really sure that it was my kind of show. But upon the first episode, I was completely sucked into this drama that was completely different from any other KDrama I had ever seen before. I was shocked to encounter a drama with a main girl who was not absolutely flawless, but was actually chubby. I was even more astonished that the drama, though featuring romance, was not focused on the main girl, lawyer Kang Joo Eun, finding true love, but finding her best possible self again. Really, what a breath of fresh air! It also didn’t hurt that the show was hilarious, often made me laugh out loud, and handled the typical drama formula in a way I hadn’t seen before! In fact, I even liked the second female lead! Astounding, right?

 

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Kang Joo Eun with her first love, Im Woo Shik

“Oh My Venus,” started the show with a bang, with gorgeous actress Shin Min-Ah as the queen bee of her school and the other schools around it, Kang Joo Eun, a.k.a., “the Venus.”  The audience saw “the Venus” asked out countless times only to refuse on account of her working hard to become a lawyer. She didn’t break her rule of no dating until she met her first love, swimming star Im Woo Shik. They dated for 15 years, with Joo Eun successfully becoming a lawyer in the midst of that time period. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, she let herself go, becoming overweight and not taking very good care of her health—she continually tried crash diets, and also developed a thyroid problem.

 

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Joo Eun after catching Woo-Shik cheating on her.

On her 15th anniversary, she planned to propose to Woo Shik, only for him to reject her and for her to shortly after discover that he was cheating on her, the Venus, with one of her old friends. I couldn’t believe a drama had started like this—not only the star losing her formerly renowned beauty, but being dumped—ouch! I knew that the show would continue to go in new directions and it mostly didn’t disappoint.

 

 

But things would get worse for Joo Eun before they got better. On a flight, she passed out, only for the male lead, and coincidentally the only doctor aboard the plane, to cut off her blouse and restrictive Spanx-like top underneath it in order to treat her. When she regained consciousness, Young-ho teased her about taking her clothes and Spanx off within the first 5 minutes of meeting her. Not too surprisingly, Joo Eun was horrified and the two bickered, with her pointedly calling it a “corset.” Meanwhile, I absolutely couldn’t believe that the two met this way! Sure, I thought that most drama-watchers were no strangers to seeing the two leads have misunderstandings or fights when they first met only to end up falling in love, but it was just plain hysterical!

 

And I loved when Joo Eun turned the tables on him, blackmailing Young-Ho (who by the way, was also the heir to a super huge and wealthy corporation, aka a “chaebol,” and a famous and secretive personal trainer in America), to become her personal trainer. The give and take between these two was always entertaining. My only complaint was that while the show somewhat depicted the realistic work and time Joo Eun put into her weight loss, it still happened too fast and the show gets caught up in the typical drama surrounding Young-Ho’s inheritance of the company and what that role portended for his personal life. Been there, done that. If that was the show I wanted, I would have watched “Boys Over Flowers” again.

 

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What made this show great was its coach versus trainee mentality and its resulting relationship; it made me laugh, anticipate the eventual romance, and of course, also made me wish I had my own personal trainer to yell at me when I broke my own very unsuccessful “diet.” But I felt that the first kiss happened too soon after their initial attraction, and I was dismayed that the “will they, won’t they?” feeling was gone from all of those tae-kwon-do training sessions on the mat and late night check-ins with the excuse of snacking prevention.

 

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Young-Ho is a chaebol heir, doctor, and celebrity personal trainer.

I also felt that it was completely unnecessary for Young-Ho to be a chaebol, top-secret celebrity personal trainer, a doctor, and someone suffering from a mental illness related to past injuries—one of these roles would have been more than enough. Plus, I found that all the drama at the company involving Young-ho’s family members and even Woo Shik, who worked there, couldn’t keep my attention at all—even with a car crash or two thrown in. Plus, I was absolutely disgusted by Young-Ho’s treatment of Joo Eun, remaining silent about his accident and refusing to let her see him not only in the hospital, but also during is months of recuperation and physical therapy. Instead, only his friends and family members were told about his accident and whereabouts and were allowed to see him. Joo Eun, the saint, waited for him and sent him messages every day, even though he refused to communicate with her at all until he was completely better. When he finally did show up, it was months later and Joo Eun thought that she was actually hallucinating him appearing before her.

 

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A newly slim Joo Eun running with Young-Ho.

Not only was this extremely frustrating and rude, but I would have much preferred if the show had taken a different route and allowed the newly in shape Joo Eun to become his trainer/physical therapist. She could have helped him with physical therapy, supported him, and it would have been a complete and much more interesting role-reversal! After all, I found it very hard to believe that any person could wait that long without giving up on a person, who refused to see them or talk to them, all the while letting all of their mutual friends see him. I truly hated that this drama too romanticized long distance relationships, something that requires a ton of work and commitment from both parties in the relationship, and think it was very unfair that Young-ho refused to let Joo Eun see him at his worst, when she allowed him to see her overweight, dumped, and with thyroid problems.

 

And if Joo Eun became a trainer to an injured Young-Ho would have supported her constantly reiterated statement that she could do anything to which she set her mind! This role for her also could have served to allow his snobby family to see that Joo Eun was good enough for their son, instead of what actually happened on the show, when scary Grandma just gave up an arranged marriage for her grandson. This was after she magically decided that Joo Eun was different from other women after witnessing her sobbing outside of Young-Ho’s hospital door. I felt like the show just didn’t know what to do anymore after Joo Eun lost weight.

 

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Woo Shik embracing Soo Jin.

But there were plenty of other things to like on the show besides the romance between Young-Ho and Joo Eun.  The drama took even more chances with its portrayal of their second leads. “Oh My Venus,” wasn’t bogged down by the typical second male lead who pines away for the main girl, and the bitchy second female lead who does everything in her power to stop the main girl and main guy from falling in love. Although this drama did have Im Woo Shik, who filled the spot of second male lead, he didn’t really fit the mold. Unlike most too-perfect-to-be-real second male leads, Woo-Shik was no angel and was far more concerned with the second female lead, former close friend of Kang Joo Eun, Oh Soo-Jin, than he was with pining away for Joo Eun.

 

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Soo-Jin is entirely sympathetic.

Throughout the course of the drama, I was utterly surprised to find that I liked man-stealing Soo-Jin! It was literally a first for me to like a second female lead in a drama this much! I was really amazed to find myself feeling more compassion for Soo-Jin, who always felt completely outshined and burned by her friend Joo Eun in every way. Every girl has been in this place at least once in her life and as such, I found the flashbacks with a formerly obese and shy Soo-Jin excruciating to watch. Thus, I couldn’t help but feel proud of Soo-Jin for her accomplishments, becoming a high-powered and enviously thin lawyer—outranking Joo Eun at the same law firm—getting the guy, and sticking it to not only Joo Eun, but also Woo Shik when he deserved it. It was daring to portray such a multi-faceted character when it would be easier to portray the main and second female leads as white and black, good and bad, right and wrong.

 

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Joo Eun and Soo Jin.

But what was even more satisfying than my ability to like Soo-Jin, was seeing Joo Eun and Soo-Jin reluctantly finding common ground and mending their broken relationship. Though their friendship would never be the same as it was in high school, it was obvious that the two had a grudging respect for one another that survived boy-stealing, weight loss, and workplace drama. It was very heartwarming to see the two crying together on a sick Soo-Jin’s bed and still not having to compromise who they are to each other—they have seen the ugly of the other (and I’m not just talking about the heavier on the scale days), accepted it, and still wished the other well. If this depiction of women was not a success for a drama, I don’t know what else was.

 

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Joo Eun is pregnant with twins!

All in all, I enjoyed this drama and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good comedy that isn’t the typical drama. The drama portrayed its characters, humor, and plotlines in daring new ways. And it was certainly refreshing in that it wasn’t bogged down by the usual angst with the second female and male leads. Though I did feel that the drama somewhat lost its way after Kang Joo Eun lost her weight, I still enjoyed the ending and its good-natured humor. In a way, it reminded me of a more wholesome and Korean version of Bridget Jones’s Diary.  If the show ever decided to come back for a second season, I would definitely watch it to see how Joo Eun lost her baby weight, got in shape again, and became a mother, while staying a successful lawyer and wife.

 

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Posted March 27, 2017 in K-Dramas, Watch

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