I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Not my usual drama fare, I must say. Listed as a black-comedy, I am not quite sure what to expect…maybe perhaps something along the lines of New Tales of Gisaeng? The drama focuses on four main characters, Han Jeong Ho and Choi Yeon Hee, who are the husband and wife of a extremely prestigious family whose life is turned upside down because their son, In Sang, in a night of passion, makes a baby with his girlfriend, Seo Bom, who is from an ordinary family. The first episode gives us a look at In Sang and Seo Bom’s young adult love made possible at a study camp. Their young love is very endearing to watching and really reflects the passion, yet still awkwardness of individuals at that age. From that one night, Seo Bom’s life is changed forever as she dropped out of high school to keep the baby even though she was going to stop seeing him only to just study for college entrance exams. Meanwhile, In Sang, is constantly pressured by his family expectations to do well in studies and take the civil service exam. In Sang, without knowing she was pregnant, did not have contact with her until one fateful day where he finally found her location. After a moment of cowardliness at the Han River where both played a moment of drama by wading into the lake, it was time for D-Day at In Sang’s house. The two nervously and abashedly tell their story to the parents who are furious. The father is especially angry and the mother is emotionally distraught. In Sang and Seo Bom end up birthing the baby at his home! I give so much props to In Sang for staying with Seo Bom during the birth. Not a lot of fathers can endure watching this process, and just this shows the hidden steel in him, even though he is blubbering fool with a weak spine right now in front of his parents. His parents coldly decide to break this new family apart by separating them. The baby with a professional nanny, Seo Bom locked in the guest bedroom, and In Sang locked in a study room away from the house. As father said, “divide and conquer.”
This drama definitely makes a lot of social commentary on the class divides. For In Sang’s family, it is all about image, power, and money. Like your typical drama chaebol family, In Sang is pushed to achieve familial expectations, be a puppet for the family, marry a wealthy and connected girl, and be a carbon copy of his parents who lived the same way. The pressure must be immense for In Sang, and to be honest, I don’t blame him for his current weak spine as he had never had to endure any hardships when his parents paved the rode for him. This surprise birth is the first time something is out of his parent’s control and I hope to see him grow from this experience. As for Seo Bom, we can see she lives with her mother during the pregnancy as her father thinks having a child out of wedlock is very shameful. Without being married, this single-mother issue is very controversial and people look down upon women like Seo Bom. However, overall when the family is reunited, we can see the warmth of a such family unlike the coldness of In Sang’s. For Seo Bom, she is willing to endure the hostility and shaming of In Sang’s family if only to give her new child a better future in a rich household. While that is admirable on her front as a mother, I really will find it painful to watch her endure such torment. I hope that she will be able to touch that family’s hearts or at least rise above him with or without In Sang’s help.
I also find Go Ah Sung and Lee Joon’s acting to be very refreshing. This is the first drama I have seen of Lee Joon’s, and I am super please that he lived up to my expectations and good things that I have heard about his acting. Having watched Go Ah Sung in Snowpiercer, I find her very endearing and her acting very natural. Her birthing scene was very well done, something that is often hard to portray realistically in and accurately, coming a nursing perspective, I have seen how these births really go!
I found the way this drama was filmed was very interesting. As a black-comedy, I can see how this drama makes humor out of subjects considered taboo. I found that the drama definitely makes fun of the attitudes of such prestigious families who care so much about image and are so histrionic in their home. For example, playing music so loud in the house and closing off all communication because a secret is being “born” in the house. The horrible separation of family and how the upper class treats the lower classes. The way that In Sang must study, isolated, staring and a black dot and cramming his life away. The extreme emphasis that S. Korea puts on academics and power connections. The belief of the upper class that specs or skills don’t matter anymore as long as you have the connections to pull the strings you want. While none of these scenes are laugh-inducing, it gives us a sardonic view of what life is possible like for these upper class people. This drama also touches upon the topic of sex education, a topic that all youngsters as well as adults should be well acquainted with and educated about. This prevents mistakes from happening, especially preventing the hardships of single mothers and teenage pregnancy. This puts so much stress and financial suffering of the parent who must raise the child either alone or if they are lucky, with their young spouse. Having a child is big a deal and I feel like it is important to have one when you can emotionally, physically, and financially support one, not when you can’t sexually control yourself or don’t have the mind to use protection. I like how this drama emphasizes that they did use protection, but unfortunately it was defective. While we usually see dramas that have chaebol romances with Candy girls, this drama takes new perspective with a young non-jaded man who is still stuck in his familial bubble put now needs to pop it and grow up for his young family.