A quick summary of how Eccentric ends before I go into the proper review…
Conflict 1: Se-mi/ Dong-seok/ Mdm Yang
Se-mi and Dong-seok very nearly file for divorce when Dong-seok starts accusing Se-mi of having an extramarital affair with her boss. And Se-mi had enough of Dong-seok’s whininess and pestering, plus (in her eyes) Mdm Yang’s oppressive behaviours.
The divorce doesn’t go through, thankfully. Se-mi’s boss turns out to be a crook, and is nice to her only cos he feels she is gullible and “easy”. He uses her identity to apply for a hefty bank loan, putting her as guarantor, and disappears. Dong-seok learns of this, and together with his dad, helps Se-mi to recover the funds and capture the crook.
Se-mi, meanwhile, moves back to Mdm Yang’s home (cos her apartment was also loaned as a “front” by her boss). Mdm Yang, instead of adding salt to Se-mi’s wounds, sympathise with her. Se-mi, in return, tries to be nicer to her mother-in-law.
Dong-seok also finally finds a proper job — as In-young’s new manager cum CEO. He signs her on (or rather, she signs him) when In-young gets kicked out by Joon-soo.
Conflict 2: Young-ah/ Joon-soo/ Mdm Jang
Mdm Jang should be given Bitch Mother-in-law award. Seriously.
A member of the public rats on Mdm Jang taking bribes. Young-ah, knowing how much Joon-soo respects his mum, decides to take rap for her — in return for Mdm Jang to give up on excavating her family’s home. Mdm Jang pretends to agree, but later takes back her words.
Young-ah is infuriated. She finally has enough of her unsupportive husband and annoying mother-in-law. Due to her becoming the scapegoat on the corruption scandal, Young-ah is “volunteered” to be deployed to the countryside.
Joon-soo doesn’t know of this until his dad tells him. Although he is furious that his mum has been meeting his dad secretly, he caves after his mum whines and wails a whole lot over it. (bitch) He is upset that Young-ah hasn’t told him about her move. But Young-ah drops another bomb on him — she wants a divorce. (that clueless pathetic husband…sigh)When Joon-soo learns of the sacrifices Young-ah made, he is appropriately mad with Mdm Jang. In the end, Mdm Jang apologises, helps get Young-ah back and owns up to her corruption. (yay) Young-ah and Joon-soo have a baby boy 2 years later.
Conflict 3: Mdm Jang/ Mdm Choi
Mdm Choi initially sets out to pull rank over her bff, by ordering her around in her new status as “mother-in-law”. That backfires when Mdm Yang walks out after Mdm Choi snidely comments that she can’t control her children and their spouses. Only after Mdm Yang’s departure, Mdm Choi realises that she has been the pillar of the Cha’s household. Not only is Mdm Yang capable, but she has been handling the huge responsibility of running the family business, and maintaining the family for decades without complaints.
When Mdm Yang returns, Mdm Choi’s stance towards her softens. She admits that she has been acting silly, and would rather not lose a good friend even though she has married her bff’s father-in-law.
(Central) Conflict 4: In-young/ Myeong-seok/ Mdm Yang
When Mdm Yang learns of Myeong-seok/ In-young’s relationship, she is aghast. She kicks In-young out, despite Myeong-seok’s protests. Later, she tries another tack — she persuades In-young to give up being her daughter-in-law. In return, she will adopt In-young as her daughter.
In-young understands what Mdm Yang wants, and decides to give Myeong-seok up. But she can’t handle it very well and falls ill. Myeong-seok then tells In-young to buck up as he will soon be leaving for England on an exchange programme. In-young does buck up, and accepts a position in the States as a trainee artiste. She also mistakenly thinks Ha-ji and Myeong-seok have become a couple.
When Myeong-seok hears of In-young’s pending departure, he becomes depressed…anyway, to cut the roundabout story short, In-young doesn’t leave for the States when she learns of Ha-ji’s evil plan. She returns to help Mdm Yang in the culinary competition. In return, In-young gets slammed online (and gets into debts) for breaking her contract with the artiste management company in the States. Since her situation is partly caused by the Cha family, Mdm Yang allows In-young to return to the house.
Myeong-seok later is tricked by In-young to leave for England anyway and spends 2 years there. In-young (under Dong-seok’s company) manages to reverse her bad image. She reunites with Myeong-seok again while completing her undergrad course in university.
Conflict 5: Second Bitch Ha-ji
We finally get to see some action from her. Ha-ji realises that Mdm Yang has no intention to let Myeong-seok date her. In a fit of anger, she steals Mdm Yang’s ganjang (soy sauce) and sells them (together with her skill sets) to another competing business. However, they played her out later and she becomes penniless.
In-young and Dong-seok manage to find her by chance, and bring her back home, where Mdm Yang promptly forgives her and everything resumes their normal operations.
Eccentric is a very simple show really. In fact, it’s close to being a no-brainer to watch. You know how the story will play out — that Myeong-seok and In-young will fall in love, that Mdm Yang will eventually give in, that bitchy mother-in-law Mdm Jang will get her just dues and her son, Joon-soo, will finally get that fine balance between been a Mama’s Boy and a man.
Despite the very obvious ending, Eccentric is surprisingly enjoyable. Maybe cos it’s so easy to watch, and yet, so relatable. Even if you aren’t married, you’d heard “horror stories” about mother-in-laws, those women who seem to be witches at heart. Yes, Eccentric does play up this idea of the stubborn, biased mother-in-laws, who seem to find fault with anything their daughter-in-laws do.
And yet, Eccentric manages to also show that well, yes, some women do that…but maybe there’s a background story to it? Mdm Yang too has suffered under a domineering mother-in-law, but she displays steel in character by gritting her teeth and withstanding it. Mdm Jang, for all her whininess and bitchiness, is still very much the insecure mother. Unlike Mdm Yang, Mdm Jang doesn’t have it in her to be independent. She will need to rely on a man for her whole life, be it her son, or her returning husband. No wonder she is both in awe and extremely jealous of Young-ah, who has inherited Mdm Yang’s strength.
Maybe the only small complaint I have is Da-som‘s inexperience when it comes to acting. Playing the part of the giddy airhead In-young is fine. But when Eccentric moves to the conflicts, her lack of skills show up. She is not able to deliver with finesse the anguish at having to part with Myeong-seok and the need to not disappoint Mdm Yang. But that’s ok. Cos Eccentric other supporting characters (though not bigwigs) deliver a pretty solid performance. (i especially love Ko Do-shim and her delivery of Mdm Yang…her character’s “softening” is quite nicely handled)