Since I’m ONLY at episode 10 (yesyes, i know the world has moved on), I’m going ahead in all my thick skinned-ness to do a super duper late mid-show review. Judging by the 20% and higher viewership, PLUS the attention this show has been getting from local/ foreign papers (yep, there’s an editor who did a satirical column on Stars effect in my local papers…and…Taiwanese media are going gaga about Stars too), this show has several X-factors that juz draw us earthlings in by the dozen.
1) Unearthly chemistry between the leads
Despite having a real 7-year gap in age (and a 400++ age gap onscreen), Jeon Ji-hyeon and Kim Soo-hyun have no problem upping the onscreen temperature and making women all over pine for an alien boyfriend too. Who wants a mundane chaebol when you have an uber rich (he owns half of Gangnam!), super handsome alien other half…who also comes with special powers? Stopping time and telekenesis are such useful traits to have in a man. Firstly, he probably can make you age slower (ok, even for a minute or so), while time freezes…and he won’t complain about household chores if things can clean up themselves with his “eye power”.
Naturally, having super powers (and a handsome face + chocolate abs) are not the only factors that made Cheon Song-yi fall head over heels with her “Manager Do”. They are good together because they complement each other. Song-yi has the flair (accredited to her bimbo-ness) and the daring-do to gloss over any sticky situations. Do Min-joon has the brains to back her up when said situations get too complicated (read: too brainy for Song-yi to understand). Alone, Song-yi is juz a pretty face that may have punch, but lacks substance. Likewise, Min-joon is smart, but too aloof. Put them together, the world is for their picking.
2) Consistent running theme and meta-jokes
I can’t count the number of ways which the show throws us with aliens — there are explicit references to ET (literally THE alien that defines nice aliens for us), and metaphorical references to aliens or being alienated — Min-joon as the literal alien and Min-joon as the being who chooses the outsider role and allows himself to be alienated, vs. Song-yi the seemingly popular girl, but has to alienate herself to secure her privacy… and more strikingly, being treated like the bubonic plague by her “friends and associates” when she falls from grace. All enough to let the literature geek in me drool buckets. (lol)
And not juz the clever word play is intriguing…the show makes all sorts of references to Kim Soo-hyun‘s and Jeon Ji-hyeon‘s previous films and other popular dramas/films to tickle the viewers’ funny bone. We have Boem (Song-yi’s ex-manager) and Song-yi having a My Sassy Girl relationship, where the guy continues to like his girlfriend despite her being eccentric and slightly abusive. (there’s even the Sassy Girl soundtrack thrown in at one scene, in case viewers forgot the film which launched Jeon Ji-hyeon‘s career). And of course, having Kim Soo-hyun in saguek scenes bring to mind The Moon Embracing The Sun, where he plays a young emperor.
There are references to Answer me 1994 as well, with Song-yi’s drunken biting behaviour (Na-jeong!!), plus tongue-in-cheek references to Yoo In-na‘s rise from being supporting cast to lead (her breakthrough was in Queen In-hyun’s Man, after making countless appearances as sidekicks in popular shows like Secret Garden and The Greatest Love).
3) And let’s not forget the sidekicks, who are not sidelined
Yoo In-na, as mentioned above, is one of my favourite actresses. I thought she did a pretty good job in Queen In-hyun, even though it was her first time as lead and she had to maintain being on-screen in virtually every scene. Her role here as the sweet Se-mi, who finally bites back after being a doormat for years, is sympathetic. Ok, maybe you’d think her hypocritical, after all, she maintains the all-caring friend facade in front of others but snaps at Song-yi in private.
However, I think she does not fall into that category of bitchy k-drama second lead (yunno, those with an angelic face but a viper at heart)…cos if she is THAT mean, she won’t have meekly stand by and help Hui-kyeong pursue Song-yi for 12 years. I don’t begrudge her for wanting to step into Song-yi’s shoes for once and BE recognised finally for her talent, after sucking up all the sh*t from being Song-yi’s shadow.
Hui-kyeong too, doesn’t fall into the usual male second lead mold. Sure, he is all sweet, etc towards Song-yi. But, he doesn’t come across as being a threat to Min-joon (not like some other second leads (Chilbong!!) whom we have swooned over and wished for a second chance), mainly cos Song-yi has very clearly told him off countless times he is friend material ONLY. Again, maybe cos the female lead is so da*n sure about who she really wants, and not vacillate between Guy 1 and Guy 2 like in MOST other k-dramas.
In addition, I must say Park Hae-jin‘s acting is very good. Especially scenes where he tries to cover his hurt at Song-yi’s rejections and later the growing suspicions that his hyung is a psycho-murderer. Most of these scenes do not have much dialogue or big body movements, but he manages to pull it off with juz his facial expressions and gazes.
So, in case you are one earthling who hasn’t watch Stars yet (what, do you live in a cave or are you on Mars??!), our hunky alien (residential?) guest is on screen every Wed-Thurs. It is currently at ep 16/17 this week, and will end in another 2 weeks. (and i wonder what will be the ending? i want it to be happy, pls!)
[side note: in my recent trip to Korea, the Cheon Song-yi look is ALL the rage. Red lipsticks are IN, gals. Or in case, you can’t take reds, bold orange is in too]