My Heart Twinkle Twinkle 내 마음 반짝반짝(2015) Initial Review of first Act: ep 1~4


My Heart Twinkle Twinkle (2015) Initial Review of first Act: ep 1~4

 Keywords:#JangShinYoung #BaeSooBin #LeeTaeIm #LeePilMo #NamBoRa #KDrama  #내마음반짝반짝



Introduction
My Heart Twinkle Twinkle” (2015) is a show that is not getting much interest in the English speaking viewer sphere I am positioned in. This is not totally a surprise since, compared to more love based Miniserieses, family dramas tend to be less popular outside of Korea. At the same time, this show “My Heart Twinkle Twinkle” (2015) or  마음 반짝반 seems oddly off kilter from the start.

At this point, I am not sure what it is trying to be which is not necessarily a surprise since many Korean dramas, especially full series, tend to be that way. However, I am not sure how long this show will even go for since the network it is airing on has not released that information which is just weird.



While it is filling the  “Birth of a Beauty" (2014) slot which was a 21 episode miniseries, “My Heart Twinkle Twinkle” (2015) does feel like more of a full series from the pacing of the first 4 episodes. When I used the term “full series”, I am indicating a show around 50 episodes or so. A miniseries is around 16~20 episodes.

In any case, to the plot!



The plot
 The first four episodes are basically the back story to what would be the main focus of the show… I think…? One manner in which I could describe the show is that it is chaotic.

Just damn chaotic!

I’ll try my best to describe what I glimpsed of the plot. From the plot description of the show, this seems like one of those food based “an underdog beating the wicked rich people” show. Usually food based “an underdog beating the wicked rich people” shows are structured around a central protagonist who is the genius chef who wants to show the greedy corporation people about “true” food. They are not really ensemble shows.

You know those shows!

However, from just the first 4 episodes, it does not feel like that kind of show. Oddly enough, “My Heart Twinkle Twinkle” (2015) feels like a more ensemble Korean family drama about two families, one rich and one poor, feuding. Thus, you have a mismatch going on.

This makes it rather confusing to define what the show will be. What makes it worse is that first 4 episodes ends up being a prologue to the main story at best. More accurately, I would call them the back story that could actually be cut out and inserted as flash backs afterwards.

Chun Woon-Tak

The gist of the first 4 episodes’ plot is that Chun Woon-Tak is the CEO of a big fast fried chicken chain. This makes him the evil person. His father was once friends with Lee Jin-sam and built up the business together before Chun Woon-Tak’s father betrayed his friends and went off on his own.

Lee Jin-sam

Now Chun Woon-Tak’s father is dead and Chun Woon-Tak is running the company in a mustache twirling evil manner. In other words, the show portrays him as your gangster-businessman or a robber baron. Lee Jin-sam now is operating a small fried chicken shop which is failing and has 3 daughters.

Lee Soon-Jin

Lee Soon-Jin  is the eldest and is a high school teacher I think. So she is the silently suffering responsible type. Lee Soon-Soo is the middle daughter who is a pianist and resents her family. She is working part time at a gentlemen’s establishment. The youngest daughter is Lee Soon-Jung is the tomboy high schooler daughter who loves the chicken business.

I think the show ultimately wants Lee Soon-Jung to be the main protagonist since she is the only one who want to be in the chicken business. However, she is not the focus of these first 4 episodes although she ends up being the catalyst of her family’s problems. Lee Soon-Soo is in these episodes less than her younger sister. Rather, among the daughters, the focus is on the Lee Soon-Jin, the eldest.

The first 4 episodes of “My Heart Twinkle Twinkle” (2015) is a three character dynamic show. This triad includes Lee Soon-Jin, her father Lee Jin-sam, and the antagonist Chun Woon-Tak. And this triad is the only reason I kept watching the show.



The Problems
If you know anything about Korea, the setup of the show is rather ridiculous with the evil gangster “chicken” chain. To a large degree, the “chicken” business is so saturated with supply that even “KFC” is barely holding on here. Thus, it was difficult to take the setup of the show seriously.

At the same time, I really hate that more and more businessmen are portrayed as gangsters in Korean dramas. In reality, businessmen were never gangsters although some gangsters pretended to be businessmen a few decades ago. Most conglomerates in Korea were created by people from the traditional peasant or tradesmen classes. Thus, the intellectuals and entertainment people who view themselves as the heir of nobility like to look down on them. This phenomenon is just getting worse as time goes on.

However, the biggest problem with the show, the first 4 episodes, is that the story is told in a non-linier manner. You have a massive amount of flashbacks throughout the episodes which basically are indifferentiable from the current period scenes. I was constantly confused what time period the show was showing.  No one looked younger or the footage did not look old. In many places there were not even proper transitions.

The result is that the plot is more confusing than it should be. This is a huge problem. I would have stopped watching if it was not for the character triad.


The Anti-hero
Spoiler warning!

At the center of the triad, there is Chun Woon-Tak played by Bae Soo-Bin. He is an actor that always ends up being cast in sleazy villain roles that are too shallow to be interesting. However, in “My Heart Twinkle Twinkle” (2015), he is actually given more to do although he is still playing a villain.

Since the first 4 episodes are back stories, the show is going for a “Sympathy for the devil” like approach to the character. In a way, I could even call him an anti-hero. He is a villain who can be reasoned with and has restraint. In these episodes, you see that Chun Woon-Tak actually likes Lee Jin-sam as a person and wants to be on good terms with him. Thus, he puts in an effort so that Lee Jin-sam does not end up colliding with him and his interests. In addition, he tries to be a gentleman to Lee Soon-Jin when he has the luxury to do so. It is rather a shame that, because of random events out of his control, Lee Jin-sam does a Sean Bean!

I said spoiler warning didn’t I!
Lee Jin-sam has tragic written all over his face.

When I say anti-hero, I do not mean the anti-social “Mr. Darcy” archetype used so much in Korean dramas. Chun Woon-Tak is a bad guy but he is competent and reasonable for a bad buy. And, in American shows, these are defining traits of an anti-hero.

You can respect the bad guy.
Competence is a key virtue for Americans.

I do not think that Koreans really get the concept of the anti-hero like Americans. Koreans do not respect competence. We usually choose passive but incompetent over active and competence always. That is why most Korean drama characters end up lucking out at the end even though they are not actually competent enough to deserve that ending.

While the character of Chun Woon-Tak  is interesting, “My Heart Twinkle Twinkle” (2015) does not handle him very smoothly. In many ways, the character shifts from nice-ish guy to gangster as if he had split personality syndrome. And this is not that kind of show.  

I think the show only let the character be the great way he is because the first 4 episodes are just back story. I guess Chun Woon-Tak will become a 2 dimensional villain in the actual story.

Poor Bae Soo-Bin! I think he could actually do more with better roles.




The other triad members
The second part of the triad is Lee Jin-sam played by the veteran  actor Lee Deok-Hwa. Lee Deok-Hwa is playing who he always play. He is the old fashioned macho man’s man character who you would want to hang around and gain his respect. This is why  Chun Woon-Tak  likes him so much. He has a man crush.

Since Lee Jin-sam exists the show early, you have Lee Soon-Jin as the remaining counter point to Chun Woon-Tak . I think that these two have an interesting relationship with Chun Woon-Tak putting in the effort to retract his claws in front of her and Lee Soon-Jin very carefully tiptoeing around him as if she knows that he is a beast that has not been totally domesticated. I am actually interesting in where this relationship will go.

 Lee Soon-Jung


Conclusion

I am not sure if I will keep watching this show. I feel like “My Heart Twinkle Twinkle” (2015) will end up being a show I would not be interested in as the triad is broken after 4 episodes. I actually have no interest in the other characters including members of both families. I especially found the youngest daughter, Lee Soon-Jung, to be irritating as heck. And she may end up being the main protagonist.  In addition, I am not that interested in the revenge genre.


Thank you for reading this article!

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