I’ve been debating whether or not to write this since, as you may have noticed, I have the tendency to abandon recaps (which doesn’t mean that I abandoned the show!). I realized that the way I’ve been doing recaps made watching the show twice as long and it stopped being enjoyable, which is why I stopped doing them. When I watched the final a few weeks ago though, I felt the urge to make a review. I probably should have done it while my emotions and thoughts were still raw but life got in the way. Better late than never though, right?
What I loved
Eun-joo and Eun-hee’s relationship
I have a sister so this was the most relatable aspect for me. I loved how even if they claimed to hate each other, they would still seek each other out when they needed support or comfort. My favorite scene was when Eun-hee stayed over at Eun-joo’s and continued to talk nonsense throughout the night, no matter how annoyed Eun-joo got. It also showed how they didn’t need to get along or be similar to love each other. I also loved how well they knew each other: Eun-joo knew that Eun-hee constantly put herself down despite how cheerful she seemed to be, Eun-hee knew that Eun-joo was suffering even if she pretended to be strong and aloof.
Ji-woo’s struggle for independence
Compared to other issues in the show, this was touched on very briefly and almost felt like an afterthought, with how abruptly it happened and was dealt with. It even felt like a plot device, just so the family would have a catalyst to finally air everything out and for Ji-woo to have a story line. Still, it was relatable to me because this is how most Asian families are: we’re a unit through and through, even if someone gets married or moves out. Even as an adult, you live your life thinking about what your parents would say about your choices, and that’s stifling. His need for independence wasn’t really about cutting ties; it was about having the freedom to create a life of his own, mistakes and all. In a way, I hated that he failed (and so quickly at that) but maybe the show was trying to make a point about how family is always there for you.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Eun-joo’s story lines are my favorite. Sure, it was kind of cliche, with the gay husband and not being a real daughter, but I like characters that manage to show different kinds of strength to overcome what life throws at them. I liked how practical she was (to the point of almost being cold) and also her emotional outbursts when things got too much. Her acceptance and reconciliation with Tae-hyung at the end were nice, as well as her second chance at love.
Portrayal of families with adult children
Again, I can relate to it, though no one has moved out or gotten married yet. I suspect we’ll go through something like this once someone leaves though. Anyway, I liked how they showed how some interactions and reactions were forced to make someone happy, and how you’d try to form alliances and make a strategy when breaking an important piece of news. That’s kind of how most families work actually, not the happy ones where you’re comfortable saying whatever to everyone. I especially liked the part at the end where Sang-sik wanted to do a family trip and none of the kids responded and Jin-sook said they should just do it themselves. It felt realistic to me, and also an acceptance of how things will be in their family now.
Two songs in the OST
These are Family by BUMKEY and When We Were Close by Kang Seung Sik. I felt a pang in my chest whenever these songs were played. The songs were beautiful and were placed during the perfect moments.
What I didn’t like
The amnesia and sickness tropes
I hated this so much that I thought I would drop this show. I hate amnesia tropes outside of fanfiction. And once the amnesia trope ended, we had Sang-sik having dizzy spells and making it seem like he would die. These were just plot devices but I wanted to roll my eyes every time and did not really care for them.
All the misunderstandings
These all felt unnecessary and were mostly plot devices. Maybe I just don’t have that much drama in my family but do these people not talk? How can you be married to someone for almost thirty years, not tell her about an accident and its consequences, and choose to make her believe that you cheated on her and raised a second family instead? How was the alternative to the truth better than the truth in this case?
Eun-hee and Chan-hyuk’s romance
If you read my reviews, you know how strongly I feel about this pairing. I didn’t like how this played out, with Gun-joo’s character being destroyed and these two suddenly finding the courage to confess and be together. I know it was a long time coming and they always had feelings for each other, but the resolution felt flat. (I would say give me my unexpected Eun-joo and Chan-hyuk pairing but I actually like the new guy for Eun-joo.) They had many moments that were supposed to be cute or sad because of the pining but I was just not into it. When they took Gun-joo out of the picture and I had to accept that this was where the show was going, it got better, marginally.
Would I rewatch this? No. It got a bit boring in the middle, and you really do have to suspend your disbelief with some major storylines.
Would I recommend this? Yes, if you’re someone who’s fond of family dramas. My mom cried watching this because it reminded her of us. If I was a bit more attached to this show, I probably would have cried too.