Personal Taste, episodes 5 to whatever it’s up to now

Guess the title of the post gives you a sense of my feelings towards the show, eh?

I took it off my “Currently watching” list because I had a couple of problems with the show starting with episodes 5 and 6, and then they got to be bigger and bigger problems as the weeks went by. Maybe I just have slight drama ADD and can’t emotionally invest in more than one drama at a time, but it’s hard for me not to compare Personal Taste with Cinderella’s Sister at the moment — not because the stories or the actors are appropriate points of comparison, but it’s easy to compare the level of writing that goes into each and the direction that each story takes.

At the heart of it, both Personal Taste and Cinderella’s Sister have the standard story lines typical to both television serials and K-dramas in particular — PT harps on the move-in-male-who-falls-for-girl, and CS is a Cinderella story. But what piqued my interest is that both of those dramas try to subvert those norms by angling the story in a different light: PT goes for the sexuality factor and CS goes for the reversal of the Cinderella plight.

Surprisingly, it’s not how the writers chose to handle the sexuality plotline that I have a problem with — in fact, I think this show does a really good job illustrating sexuality in both men and women — but the problem I have is that there are some things that suspend my belief and makes me go, “Really? You’re gonna use that plot contrivance? Really??”

Minor spoilers ahead.

My problems with the plot

Like I said, I don’t have a problem with the premise of gayness on the show. I think the writers are actually really doing way better than I expected. The gay jokes are funny, the misunderstandings about the characters’ sexuality are hil-a-ri-ous. Sure there’s still a lot of feminizing gay men and cliches like “love is love, no matter who you like (but it’d be really nice if you liked me as a woman)” but this is all tame as far as insensitivity go and I expected something much, much worse.

I even like that there are constant hints of sexual urge from the lead characters because we really do not see enough of that on K-television. Sexuality and sexual urge must be locked up in NC-17 movies at all costs and never shall any young Korean children think that men, but mostly women, should have sexual urges and desires. So yay for that.

My problem, then, lies in the other plot points.

1. I hate that they made making Gae-in a “woman” a part of the story. The fuck? Take two steps forward and six steps back, please. We’re going to make Gae-in a woman by dressing her pretty and giving her a blow-out. She must refrain her eating habits because we know that pretty women must eat teeny bites and say they’re full when they’re not even halfway there yet because otherwise, men are turned off. We also want our women to be deathly patient, so that lest a fire starts and she dies, at least she died patiently. I repeat: The fuck? Take two steps forward, six steps back.

2. Revenge on the ex. Typical, but still. I’m not a fan of the secondary characters, and revenge plots are so lazy because they inherently include misunderstandings and double-crossing and secret conversations behind so-and-so’s back and there’s not even a need to try harder, especially when this story is already so straight-forward. It’s so uninspired.

3. Accidents of the physical kind that force characters to acknowledge how much they care about each other. I HATE THIS MOST OF ALL. I knew that the drama was going to take a severe downward spiral the moment they made Gae-in get hit by a stack of wood (fakest blood ever) and then the situation, of course, is that she was having a conversation with Jin-ho on the phone and Jin-ho panics when he hears what he thinks is an accident. Rolling my eyes so hard right now.

This seems to come up again in the reveal of Sang Go Jae’s structure and the accident that took place when Gae-in was a child, and honestly, I don’t even care. It doesn’t compel me and I have no vested interest in Gae-in’s relationships with her parents and how Jin-ho is going to help her resolve those.

My problems with the characters

I don’t take issue with the leads, but I am constantly irritated by the secondary characters, and In-hee moreso. In-hee is such a stock character. There’s no depth to her beyond her wanting all the things that Gae-in has and then getting jealous when she can’t get them, which is so typically second female lead of her in a K-drama.

Her abrasiveness in combination with a rather passive Gae-in is driving me nuts, which is also a problem I had with Minam and Heyi in You’re Beautiful. It pisses me off that there’s such a lack of female leads in K-dramas who stand up for themselves without a single waver in their voices, even if it means she has to be a bitch back to her opponent. This is, consequently, something I LOVE about Cinderella’s Sister, which is why in comparison, Personal Taste is not agreeing with my tastes.

I know that evildoers like In-hee are always in dramas to illustrate that the good, kind-hearted girls will win at the end of the day, but I severely dislike it when there’s such a lack of dimension in the antagonists. This is not a heavy drama so I don’t expect that the writers will go too in-depth into all the characters’ backgrounds, but we know that Chang-ryul is the way he is partly because he has an extremely overbearing father who doesn’t know his own boundaries. What is In-hee’s story? Where are her motives beyond being a golddigger and being jealous of Gae-in’s goodness? Her parents dying at a young age is such an offhand “Oh, so here’s what happened to In-hee” point that we might as well have never learned about it. It doesn’t resonate with me.

This is another thing that annoys me — that female characters in general get such shitty treatment from the writers. It’s like there’s no need for In-hee to be compelling, as long as she fills the quota of being pretty-enough-in-comparison-to-the-“shabby”-main-lead, and then bitchy enough so that you have a legitimate reason to dislike her for being antagonizing. Blah.

My problem with Son Yeh-jin

This is an unavoidably big obstacle in enjoying this drama. I’m just not a fan of Son Yeh-jin. I watched one of her movies prior to starting PT because I wanted to get a feel for her acting. Didn’t enjoy her performance. Watched Personal Taste. Decided that the first movie could’ve been a fluke because she’s alriiiiight in PT, so I watched another movie of her’s. Didn’t enjoy her performance a second time. Got discouraged.

There are just some actors and actresses whose acting doesn’t click with you. I know that Son Yeh-jin is a good actress, I just don’t like her performances and how she portrays her characters. I have the same problem with Chae Rim, which is why I couldn’t fully get into her character in Oh! My Lady (in addition to a blah story and pretty unstable performances from Siwon). Ditto for Park Shin-hye.

This is probably the most subjective complaint out of the other two problems I touched upon earlier, but it just comes down to personal preference, I guess.

However, all said and done, I fucking love this guy:

You win some, you lose some.

  • melissa

    i’m still on the fence about giving this a try or not, especially since it’s comparable to mi nam and he yi in you’re beautiful. it was so frustrating to sit and watch their interaction. my biggest pet peeve with mi nam was her passiveness. it drove me crazy.

  • xiahkixiri

    lol at how you started disliking it at 5/6, when everyone else started adoring it. i was planning on watching this later but i’ve been semi keeping up with spoilers. i seriously concur on your first issue about needing her to become ‘ladylike’, whatever the hell that is. i’d gotten used to the makeover scene in dramas, and sometimes i even enjoy it (hwan in brilliant legacy comes to mind God he was cute), but i really, really resent that getting your hair straightened is supposed to make you better and more desirable. the male lead falling for the girl anyway or because of it is also a giant cliche, but it’s still better than this.

    i actually really adore the physical accidents.. although actually it depends, but in any case, often it’s because a drama will be crawling along and the moment will usually be a ‘hallelujah, progress!’ moment. and sometimes it’s just really cute. mostly i love it when the girl will physically take one for the guy. speaking of cinderella’s sister though, i was also completely, completely enamoured by such a refreshing female lead.. but i’ve got the last 4 eps to catch up on because i needed a break from all that goddamn hostility and tension and anger, they were overdoing it. but i heard that’s when the characters finally made progress, so yay. i miss the perfection of the teen episodes. shame pickle.

  • mintyboy

    If you thought Minam/Heyi was bad, then you’ll definitely hate PT. For me, at least Minam had a reason to be scared of Heyi blabbing her secret out to the world and Heyi was a bitch who was losing attention thus she acted out . Here, nothing, like Amy said, no specific reason why KaeIn should be scared or get so antagonized by Inhee. She’s not even a golddigger since she’s doing pretty well for herself. I tried all reasonable cause of her “evilness” but the closest is that Inhee lost her parents and KaeIn supposedly had everything, but then…KaeIn’s parents, well 1 is dead and the other is pretty much nonexistent in her life. So, that’s another failed theory. Oh, and WHY IN THE WORLD ARE YOU (KaeIn) STILL TAKING FLACKS FROM THE WOMAN WHO STOLE AND MARRIED YOUR BF? and, sigh, the revenge-on-ex angst is misdirect. Why go after the smallfry when the cause of your trouble is still smacking you across the face…Personal Taste had such a promising concept, but story-wise, I think even Oh!My Lady is more believable, and that’s saying a lot.

  • Findus

    lol I stopped watching this drama at episode 12 ^^

  • Donna

    Cinderella’s Sister sounds interesting. I’m going to download it. Where do you usually download your korean dramas?

  • oreoreo

    ahaha im so glad you put in that last part – that guy really makes this drama – his interactions with Jinho are just gold

    about your other points too:
    1. Inhee – i totally agree about the writers using and abusing her character.. she was actually bearable when she showed some emotion during her breakup with Changryul.. but then after that, bam! back to the conniving biatch.. such a shame
    oh, and don’t even get me started on Haemi and Seulong – they could def win some prizes for ‘most annoying and useless peripheral characters’ EVER – which is also a damn shame bc seulong’s love for haemi is pretty cute

    2. Son Yejin – her only other work i’ve watched is 무방비 도시 (2007) and i loved it – but not her (i think Kim Myungmin is a god^^) I don’t think she’s a bad actress, but i can’t warm up to her
    i guess my yardsticks for hapless-yet-lovable women leads are Kim Sunah in ‘My name is Kim Samsoon’ and Lee Dahae in ‘My Girl’.. and for some reason i find myself feeling sorry for Gaein or being annoyed at her a lot of the time, which is different to sympathising with the character

    3. Superficial – because i am, and because i also love fashion, especially in dramas and how they are meant to represent their characters
    Gaein – ok, i’m not asking for bloody Balenciaga or Erdem here, but can they loosen up on the ‘little country schoolgirl’ outfits? I have a hard time placing the ages of the characters (Gaein’s friend Yongsun is married with a kid, but all 4 leads are relatively high-flying self-dependent working types).. so I dunno how old the stylists want to portray her – but her outfits (like in your first screengrab of bow blouse, pleated skirt, knee high socks) just make me *sigh* most of the time
    Inhee – again, she is meant to be the sexy bitch, but who the heck wears outfits like that in her (very) well-placed position? im sick of nearly seeing her crotch in some of her ‘dresses’ or ‘shorts’ (read: ‘tops’ and ‘knickers’)

    one thing i was impressed with was, like you say, their portrayal of sex and sexuality.. that scene where Gaein and Jinho were drunk and he said that Changryul broke up with you bc you didn’t sleep with him, and Gaein wondering whether there is a rship where the guy will still want a girl if she doesn’t want to sleep with him.. and much later, how she jumps into his room (and bed) as her sign that she is ready, and how Jinho plays it down – i actually really liked this, bc it seems that the writeres didn’t try to gloss over it too much, but still resolved it nicely.. though i wonder how long that’s gonna last

    overall, i’m actually kinda just hanging on with personal taste, but i’m seriously into prosecutor princess :D tbh i think i’m watching for lee minho at the moment (still think he is one of the hottest young things around), and the hyung’s priceless moments :D
    hopefully you’ll do your cinderella sister summaries nxt, bc i stopped watching that after ep4 or 5 – a little too heavy for me

  • jamieguo

    I have to agree with most of your points. The whole make you a woman thing was pretty stupid and superficial really. Why didn’t they just call it what it was, a “makeover”? And why did she have to practice walking with something on her head? Was bad posture one of her problems before? Eliza Doolittle she is not. The lessons on having more confidence and patience did have more meaning.

    The revenge thing came out of nowhere, the In-Hee character (she reminds me more of the girl from Wish Upon a Star then Heyi from YAB)is such a cliche as well.

    But I have to say I have continued watching it and the recent episodes 13 and 14 involving the mysteries of the house really made me glad I kept watching. I like the main couple, but outside of that, the show didn’t really affect me. The last episode changed that.

  • http://gmail cake

    you are so negative about everything…i mean, there are also some things in the drama that i don’t like or have disappointed me but i just accepted it as it is..Yes, the plot was so ordinary but there are also some happenings that are so unpredictable…one more thing, Cinderella’s sister is way, way too far than PT…Lee Min Ho is enough to fill the gaps in PT…CS has no interesting stars with them…