Final Review: Happy to Die

I really quite enjoyed this show, even though the office politics narrative was a little over the top at times. Like how CEO Kang thinks he can get away with using brute force to make his subordinates obey — he forgets that he isn’t Hitler. (and then, there’s a Chairman (his dad) who doesn’t share his sentiments and sits above him on the corporate ladder)

Otherwise, I did love the transformation of the “no-EQ Jin-sang” to the “relatable Jin-sang”. Granted, he still is a Type A personality Team Leader (who later is promoted to Deputy CEO after successfully kicking CEO Kang out), but that no-nonsense and overdrive to succeed attitudes are finally tempered with compassion. So much so that in the penultimate and last eps, he wanted to matchmake the resurrected Roo-da to Joon-ho (even though the previous lovebirds have no memory of their relationship), mistakenly thinking it is “better off” for her. A little bit of the noble idiocy, but I can understand his pov. After all, he was brutally rejected by (a dense) Roo-da in her “previous life”.

While Jin-sang may have “flunk” his second chance for love, he did make good use of the time loop (this time he was thrown back a full month, after breaking the curse his previous subordinate cast on him) to save the company. Acting on hindsight (or foresight?), he knows the root cause(s) of the corruption in MW Food. From CEO Kang’s insecurity to wanting to “prove” himself to be a better son than his hyung, to Director Yoo’s simmering anger at the injustices she faced as a “capable woman” in a male-dominated workforce and the general apathy of the employees — Jin-sang addressed and corrected them on his “return” to a month-ago’s time line.

His first order of the day was to gather as many allies as he can. Jin-sang obtained the blessing of Chairman Kang, who was shocked then saddened when presented with the stark truth of CEO Kang’s corruption (and the reasons for his behaviour). But importantly, Jin-sang quickly cleared the air between himself and Director Yoo. The latter, in the previous timeline, was a real pain in the ass as she worked secretly behind CEO Kang’s back to sell off MW Food, but at the same time, became an insidious right hand (wo)man instigating CEO Kang to set some really horrid HR rules for the company (and causing every employee to hate/ fear him).

But in the renewed timeline, Director Yoo (with Jin-sang’s persuasion), put her brains to better work. Like Jin-sang, she is another Type A boss; competent but she can be cruel. Since her “cruel” streak came from her underlying anger at being tossed out of her internship due to her gender, it was rather easily addressed by Jin-sang — who dangled the possible title of CEO to Director Yoo (once she comes on board his plans). Which she did. And yes, they were a dream team.

I do have a slight complaint about the narrative — the love angle. As mentioned before, whether in the previous or current timelines, Roo-da had never displayed that she felt a romantic connection to Joon-ho (even though in the previous timeline, Joon-ho was smitten and actively wooing her). Their short-lived romance (which ended with Roo-da’s death) was pretty abrupt in the narrative.

Other than that, I do like how Happy successfully sold the message that a company is only a company when there are people (employees) in it. From the working mums who had to juggle between work and family, to the sole breadwinner dads who sacrifice their family time to “overtime”, to the frontliners who suffer abuse from customers cos “customers are ‘Kings'”, to the contract staff who slog their hearts out in the hope that they can be converted to perm staff and the majority of the apathetic employees who see bullying and injustice but choose to keep their heads down and mouths shut in self-preservation (i.e. the “not-my-business” attitude)…all of these are relatable in various degrees in whichever culture you come from.

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