The Good Wife: OTP (?) vs. Third Wheel (?)

The common feature Kdramas have is the guaranteed existence of an OTP, which you can recognize from as early as ep1 and the couple will end up together no matter what happens. Theno there is also the third wheel (second male lead) in the relationship, usually a super-nice-you-can’t-find-him-anywhere type of White Knight who gets the short end of the stick.

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Together with the OTP + third wheel are the truck load of “shippers” on each side of the camp. The third wheel’s shippers are used to getting their hearts broken (since their hero is doomed to never get the girl), and online vitriol may ensue between them and the OTP’s shippers.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) in Good, there may be a rather low chance for shippers to clamber onto any form of “ships”. Cos both male leads are horribly flawed, and at the end of the day, you will likely hope that Hye-kyung stays divorced — and single.

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At the beginning, Good appears to hint that Tae-joon may be a good guy, who was framed for taking sexual favours. (in fact, he half insisted to his wife that the one-night stand didn’t happen) Prosecutor Choi helped in making us think Tae-joon is innocent, since he is so smarmy and you know he shouts “Bad Guy” from a mile away. But as the narrative progresses, Tae-joon begins to turn really creepy.

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Tae-joon’s insistence that he is “innocent” and that he was “framed” begins to wear thin, as you see him crossing both the black and white borders of law enforcement to obtain information and also to (literally) brow beat people into submission. Like Amber, the prostitute who was hired to trap him. Kidnapping and threatening to maim/scar her if she harasses Hye-kyung again is scary, to say the least. And in ep8, we think Tae-joon may have something to do with Guk-hyun’s “suicide”, since earlier on, he did slam a fork into the corrupted chaebol’s hand, with a rather violently evil grin to match. (plus those burly guys who are acting on Tae-joon’s orders to restrain Guk-hyun? they don’t look like law enforcement to me).

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Professional evil-doing aside, Tae-joon is also deadly ambitious, and we get the sense he will not balk at making use of his loved ones if it means they can help him attain his goals. Like how he had emotionally blackmailed Hye-kyung into keeping silent about the hit-and-run way back when they were still in Law School and single. And now, when he is faced with the sex scandal, he parades Hye-kyung around to show there’s marital “support” within his family. Never mind that Hye-kyung is obviously uncomfortable being pushed to share the dubious limelight with him. Tae-joon isn’t shy about using his 2 “trump cards” (aka the kids) to reel in Hye-kyung when he senses that she had had enough and is about to run away to Joong-won. (and he has the cheek to suspect her of having an extramarital affair? oy, who started it first?)

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The irony is, Hye-kyung never intends to run. Despite all the sh*t she has to put up with after Tae-joon’s infidelity is aired on national TV, she hasn’t strayed and jumped into Joong-won’s arms — though she is sorely tempted. Not only are her children holding her back, but she is also painfully aware of her fragile state of mind at the moment. Besides Joong-won, there is no other friend (whether male/ female) she can turn to. Her previous life revolves entirely round her family, and those get-togethers with other well-to-do housewives in the neighbourhood? They are merely parties where the women get around to show off and belittle each other — not exactly a place to make friends. In addition, Joong-won is also now her superior, and the last thing Hye-kyung needs is MORE gossip. Thus, I can’t blame Hye-kyung for keeping a distance between herself and her ex-school mate cum boss.

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Joong-won himself isn’t the stereotypical White Knight either. Though he shares one common trait with all the Kdramas’ third wheels — indecisiveness. The trait that causes him to miss out on declaring his interest on Hye-kyung earlier when they were both in the same Law School. I suppose his inability to act on his feelings now is more “legit” — for the same reason Hye-kyung is holding him at arm’s length. But being a slow poke in Love doesn’t make Joong-won “bad”. It is those small hints that other characters drop along the way — Joong-won is known for being excessively materialistic, and picks only cases which will earn big bucks, even though they are not necessarily for the social good.

His father, retired Lawyer Lee, is disappointed with his only son cos of this, since he had build the M&J Law Firm with the sole purpose to help the poor seek justice. But in ep8, we sense that he does feel conflicted about his past behaviours. And as Kim-dan puts it, although she recognizes Joong-won as being as ambitious as her ex-boss, Tae-joon, at the very least, he is aware of his flaws.

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That puts Joong-won in a better light than Hye-kyung’s husband. So if I muz really choose a “ship”, I’m hoping Hye-kyung ends up with Joong-won.

[and on a side note: who does Jeon Do-yeon aka Hye-kyung’s wardrobe? omg, they look fabulous. I want those one-piece work dresses she wears too! and those heels…]

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2 thoughts on “The Good Wife: OTP (?) vs. Third Wheel (?)

Add yours

  1. Thank you for writing this. I didn’t think I could read one more comment defending Tae Joon because of his status as her husband or because of his hawtness. Yes, Joong Won is no perfect white knight, but at least he has a conscience. Tae Joon is ruthless beyond description, and only cares about Hye Kyeong because he needs her to look good to the public. His use of the kids in the parking structure scene reeked of emotional blackmail. I hope she stays single as well.

  2. Thank you! You’re so on point. Some of the male leads’ characteristics were lost in the multi-season US show. But in only a few episodes, the writer must focus on the heroine’s struggle and the men’s “qualities”.
    As far as I’m concerned, Joong Won has a strong advantage. His punchline just seconds before the famous kiss in his office made all the difference: “When I’m with you,I want to become a better person”. So, his father’s legal inheritance as the lawyer of the poor plus his old crush that resurfaced plus his current admiration for his old crush may put him back on track and help him become the attorney he was supposed to be. Whether his past can prevail over his mostly corrupted present is yet to be found but he has a boost after all.
    On the other hand, Tae Joon is a lost soul without a single hint of remorse. The accident and the way he handled it indicated his ambition as well as his focus on his career ever since he was young. He’s ready to do anything and everything and he does it. His motto in life is that “Only the weak asks for forgiveness” which instantly erase all his efforts to be forgiven by his wife. I don’t know if he was born that way or the attorney status made him a devil or his luck of the proper background even though he was obviously too smart (plus too manipulative) but the outcome remains the same: He will never EVER be a better man, husband or father. He’ll never try because he doesn’t want. Period…
    So the answer is obvious: Joong Won, reluctantly though.
    PS JDY’s wardrobe is simply amazing. And probably quite expensive too!

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