Romances are not my usual viewing fare because they tend to be ridiculous, shallow, or boring — yes, my opinion is showing 🙂 — but since this series is only sixteen episodes long and stars some of my favorite Korean actors, I thought I’d give it a try.
Nope. Nope, nope, nope.
Summary on the website:
Jang Ha Na (Ha Ji Won) and Choi Won (Lee Jin Wook) are incredibly close platonic friends: throughout 20 years, they’ve braved it all through thick and thin. As Ha Na’s 30th birthday approaches, Won extols the virtues of aging as a man—like a wine—while explaining that women are like grapes that shrivel into raisins. Determined to prove him wrong, Ha Na strikes a bet on which of the two will marry before turning 35. Based on Taiwan’s hit In Time With You, can these two friends make the ultimate leap?
Characters in their thirties allow fear and misunderstandings and all sorts of other obstacles keep them from telling the truth to themselves and to each other. There’s a hint of My Best Friend’s Wedding, but without the mania.
It took me a few weeks to watch the first seven episodes, but that was sheer stubbornness rather than actual interest.
It’s not that the writing is terrible or the acting is stiff or that I didn’t like the characters. Perhaps I expected — I don’t know — more spine or mental strength or maturity from the characters. Perhaps I expected me.
When I was thirty-something, I was interested in more than friendship from a close friend. I know the fear and uncertainty of declaring myself. And, when I did, the worst happened: the friendship fell apart. However, I mentally prepared myself for that rejection. It still stung, I still felt as if my lungs had been crushed, but I gave that person room to be true to self. Granted, I was not prepared for the anger that accompanied the rejection — “You’ve ruined a good friendship!” — but the uncertainty was suffocating and I needed to move forward. If that person chose to come with me, wonderful. If not, I had to straighten my shoulders and walk on.
That was years ago, and sometimes the sadness springs out from the shadows, but I wouldn’t trade the freedom and all the good things that have happened since.
So watching fictional characters drag their feet for more exaggerated, soap opera reasons than those I experienced in real life is torture, not entertainment.
The ratings (overall 4 out of 5 stars) give evidence that viewers without my jaded, curmudgeonly perspective consider “The Time That I Loved You” must-see TV. Good. Whatever kinds of writers we are — screenwriters, TV show developers, novelists, playwrights — there’s the story we tell and the story the audience views or reads. Our experiences inform what we write, and theirs color what they see/read. Stories interact with the audience in ways even the creators may not expect.