I remember girlfriday having doubts as to why Show, despite its weekend family drama sounding premise, is placed in the weekday slot, but after being halfway through Show, the choice of time slot made sense. Unkind Ladies is not just a family drama, but with some darker backstory at play (seems like the topic of this season is public education woes?). Show does not lose its humor though, which mostly come in the form of the titular unkind ladies.
Yes, most of the ladies in Show are unkind, with perhaps the exception of Ma-ri (Lee Ha Na) and her Mom, Hyun Sook (Chae Shi Ra). Grandma Soon Ok (Kim Hye Ja) is perhaps the most petty of them all, though she is fully aware of it, and makes no effort of changing her ways. She is mostly petty to the third party to her marriage, Jang Mo Ran (Jang Mi Hee), though I feel it’s just Soon Ok’s way of dealing with her anger, which gradually gave way to understanding (albeit grudgingly) and camaradie with Mo Ran. And it was Soon Ok who invited Mo Ran to stay with them in the beginning, claiming that she wants to get back at Mo Ran.
While Soon Ok is petty (and a smiling tiger), Hyun Sook’s high school teacher Na Hyun Ae (Seo Yi Sook) is the biggest hypocrite among them all. She looks down on anyone who is not a good student (aka she deems as stupid), and from what Show has shown us so far, Na Hyun Ae is a materialistic, self-righteous and insufferable person. She sees nothing wrong with her differential treatment of students who are either rich or smart (or both), and students like Hyun Sook, who dared to be different (which is sadly frowned upon, especially back in the 80s in Korea). She continues to be like this even in the present, favoring her stepson Doo-jin (Kim Ji Seok) over her own son Roo Oh (Song Jae Rim), most likely because the former is obedient and studious, while the latter was never a good student and rebellious.
The other unkind women in Show would probably be Soon Ok’s eldest daughter Hyun Jung (Do Ji Won), but rather than calling her unkind, I’d prefer to think she’s more stoic and perhaps to some, she’s more self-centred? I think it’s her self-defence mechanism, and to hide her unhappiness and humiliation as she loses the coveted popular news anchor position at the workplace. But even so, I think she’s not unkind, compared to Soon Ok’s assistant, Park Eun Shil (Lee Mi D0). Sneakily copying Soon Ok’s recipes, Eun Shil also squirrels away part of the fees paid by Soon Ok’s students, which are meant to be paid as tax, as well as trying (but subtly) to seduce Hyun Sook’s husband, Jung Goo Min (Park Hyuk Kwon). Right now Eun Shil’s sneaky actions have been found out by Mo Ran and Hyun Sook’s friend Ahn Jong Mi (Kim Hye Eun). Mo Ran chooses to close one eye to the copying of recipes, keeping up the camaraderie , while Jong Mi is more hot-headed (much like Hyun Sook) and warns Hyun Sook to be careful of Eun Shil, and even wanted to out Eun Shil but was prevented by Hyun Sook (and of course Hyun Sook doesn’t believe Jong Mi).
As mentioned earlier, the only ones who are not unkind are probably Hyun Sook and Ma-ri, who appears rather trusting in comparison. Hyun Sook is simple-minded and happy-go-lucky, which are probably traits that got passed on to Ma-ri. Which is good in a way, especially we get a house-full of ladies who’re either cold, petty or hypocrites. Perhaps that is also why both mother and daughter are being loved by men (hmm, that sounds abit sexist, but it is such in Show), and Ma-ri even has two half-brothers in love with her!
I really like the friendship between Hyun Sook and Jong Mi, and Show likes to insert scenes of the past as kind of an exposition to the present, which is interesting in a way, because we get to see how their friendship developed, and they’re really those friends who went through thick and thin, covering each others’ back (more of Jong Mi looking out for Hyun Sook than the other way round though).
I find the male characters in Show are more of supporting characters, though they play pivotal roles to the lifes of the women here. I was still wondering about the role Lee Soon Jae halbae is playing when I started watching Show, hence I was rather surprised that he actually is the husband of Soon Ok, whom everyone thought is dead. He plays Yang Mi Nam (heehee, we all know Lee Soon Jae halbae was good looking, and is still good looking), who stays in an elderly care centre, and has absolutely no recollection of his past. The only teacher who took Hyun Sook’s side, found Cheol Hee (Mi Nam’s original name) unconscious at the side of a rail road, and nursed him back to health. Cheol Hee actually fell from a train, and only Jang Mo Ran knows what exactly has happened, which is unrevealed yet. I believe Mo Ran is putting up with all the pettiness from Soon Ok because she felt guilty of being a third party in others’ marriage, though I think Mo Ran is also good natured to begin with (which she thinks is why Cheol Hee fell in love with her, and it made Soon Ok really angry).
And of course, hands up for those who’re watching this solely because of Song Jae Rim! I find the role of Roo Oh more similar to his real life character (from what I saw in We Got Married): a little cheeky, yet a caring guy. He confesses about his feelings to Ma-ri, and don’t we know it, Ma-ri also likes him. Hooray! But I think Roo Oh is heading for a noble idiot arc now, because somehow he thinks Ma-ri actually likes his brother Doo-jin, and he saw them more than once together. Ma-ri, on the other hand, has the misconception that Roo Oh has a girlfriend, and this misunderstanding between the two of them is giving Doo-jin the chance to be more proactive. Facepalm, I say, at this love triangle. And may I add, I think Roo Oh will not be part of this OTP. Boohoo.