Currently Watching: Jealousy Incarnate

Jealousy incarnate (2)

Jealousy Incarnate has been the focus of a lot of behind the scenes drama what with multiple broadcasting stations fighting to air the show. Not that I blame them. With Gong Hyo Jin and Jo Jung Suk at the helms, it is guaranteed to be some sort of success.

I have watched the first four episodes of the drama and I enjoyed them. I don’t know if this will remain true for the next 20 episodes but as of right now, this drama manages to be both relevant and heartwarming.

Gong Hyo Jin always infuses her character with such warmth and naturalness that I really want to see her playing an antagonist. But she’s not an antagonist this time around, she’s a weather girl yearning to be an announcer. The PD of the news program is horrific in his demands that the weather girls contort their bodies in appealing ways for the (male) viewer. Jo Jung Seuk’s character, Lee Hwa Shin, is…complicated. It would be so easily to call him an asshole and dismiss him as yet another Mr. Darcy but that would be too quick a judgement.

Lee Hwa Shin is a very flawed human being; he has too much ego, he is brash, and he sucks at communication which is odd considering his job. He treats Na Ri pretty horribly–at first that’s what I thought but then again, he is the one who tells off the PD of the news program for the way the man treats the weather girls (ugh). He is the one who fights to have her reinstated when she gets fired (not that she knows it). The problem is he dresses up his goodness with remarkably jerkish words that make me want to slap him silly.

Thankfully, Nari is not a Candy. She is sassy and just so…likable. Gong Hyo Jin is a master at making you feel for the characters she plays and it’s no different this time.

I also love that the writer casts such an intense spotlight on breast cancer. Na Ri’s mother, grandmother, and aunts have all died of the disease and she has monthly checkups with her doctor so they can catch and remove any lumps etc. The discussions are very frank in the drama and I appreciate that. But what I appreciate even more is the fact that Lee Hwa Shin also has breast cancer–that sounded wrong. What I mean is, Lee Hwa Shin is groped by Na Ri who tells him that he needs to go see a doctor because his chest feels the same way her mom’s chest did. He resists but then circumstances force him to a doc who sends him to a breast cancer specialist.

He resists the idea that he, a man, could have breast cancer but the fact is inescapable and I love that Jo Jong Seok is able to convey his terror and his embarrassment (for having breast cancer) with such delicate and layered detail. I love that Na Ri and Lee Hwa Shin have a common ground that equalizes them because cancer doesn’t care about social and economic class.

The side characters are also very interesting. The two older women, one an announcer and the other a reporter, are rather rare examples of older women with power and good looks because usually older women are shown in the domestic sphere being conniving. These two have pride in their work which leads them to be rivals with each other but it’s sort of a cleaner rivalry than the ones found in makjang dramas.

The drama is characterized by love triangles. The older generation has one (the aforementioned ahjummas and a chef), the current generation (Pyo Nari, Lee Hwa Shin, and Lee Hwa Shin’s best friend), and the younger generation (Pyo Na Ri’s brother, Lee Hwa Shin’s niece, and this dude I don’t know who). I suppose the drama will give us different shades of jealousy.

The other man in this tale, Jo Jung Seok’s best friend, is an interesting character but one I am not sure what to feel about. He is a chaebol which means his is a life controlled by his parents and company but his decision to ‘cheat’ on the woman his parents want him to get married to with Na Ri fills me with dread because along that way lies pain, tears, heartbreak.

But I guess that’s why this is a drama.

So far so good anyway.


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