I don’t remember seeing Joo Won in comedies, so when he was revealed to be the lead in Show, I was totally anticipating watching him in a different genre from his previous works. My Sassy Girl is essentially taking only the idea of the love story between an unconventional (?) girl and your usual guy and transplanting it in the Joseon era, and so far two episodes of it seems pretty alright.
A good portion of Episode 1 builds the background (yawn, for some) story, which is mainly power fight within the palace and will eventually serve as some sort of reasons for Princess Hyemyeong (Oh Yeon Seo) to fight for in the future. To cut it short, our Big Bad General Jung (Jung Woong-in) is in cahoots with a royal concubine (Yoon Se-ah) and together, they removed the Queen (who’s Princess Hyemyeong’s mother) so that the concubine can become the next Queen. While being brought away from the palace, the Queen gives birth to a son and the baby was saved by a warrior (whom I think is the King’s brother) who is accused of having an affair with the Queen. The warrior then kills himself, and we get a time jump of 7 or 8 years.
Joo Won plays the character Gyun Woo, a scholar who spent several years in Qing China and recently returned to Joseon. He knows where his strengths lies (looks, intelligence and a glib tongue) and is not afraid to flaunt it, especially his looks. There’re several meta references here, such as the Hallyu in China (considering Show was filmed before all that THAAD squabble escalated) and Joo Won IS a pretty big name in China. It’s definitely refreshing to see Joo Won not taking himself seriously.
Shortly after his return, Gyun Woo had a run-in with Hyemyeong which ended with the latter accusing him of trying to rape her. While that of her incessantly calling him a rapist was a little uncalled, I guess from her perspective it did seem like he was trying to undress her. Also, growing up in a heavily sheltered environment, it’s not unusual for the princess to jump to the conclusion. I do like that while she may seem rash and unforgiving in some of her behaviors, she’s actually very loving towards her kid brother and understanding towards the hardships of the commoners. What I’m guessing is she deliberately lets others misunderstand her and passively encourages rumors surrounding her, so as to delay her marriage while she seeks her missing lover (of whom is still an enigma).
I particularly enjoy quirky characters and doesn’t mind lowbrow humor if done right, so I find Show ok with some of the physical jokes although I wasn’t sure if some of the editing was really required (ie that slow-mo puke scene). I also think some of the humor may be lost on the viewers, judging from some of the comments I’ve read elsewhere. I also didn’t realise the scene of Hyemyeong creating a ruckus over running out of peanuts was a reference to the Nut Rage Incident until I saw a comment somewhere (I’m pretty sure that scene was just a reenactment of the fliers being passed around regarding the princess). I’m pretty certain Hyemyeong is hiding her true self under a mask and I can’t wait to find out how Gyun Woo will fall for the “wayward” princess.