The Virtual Bride / The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law (2015) First Impressions

The Virtual Bride / The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law (2015) First Impressions

Hello. This is Prof. AKIA with a new Korean drama First Impressions article. Before anything, “The Virtual Bride” is a terrible title as it revokes a sense of some cheesy 90s techno-erotica.

You youngsters may not get it.

“The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law” is more of a literal translation of the Korean title. And, to be frank, the original Korean title is no prize peach since there is no actual “Daughter-in-Law” involved in the show making whether or not she is Eccentric rather moot. And yes I expect the female protagonist to become the real “Daughter-in-Law” at the show’s end if the show follows the basic Korean drama formula. In any case, this is my rather quick first impressions.

Oh and this is after watching the first 2 episodes.

I was never a fan of variety shows or reality shows even the Korean ones. So, it is somewhat baffling that Foreigners find these type of Korean programs interesting. But that is just me considering that the number of these shows multiplied like crazy during the decade or so I was abroad.

Why do I dislike those shows?

I am not sure… Partially it is the superficiality those shows display. Partially, it is the over exaggerated and fake human emotions on display. I am not sure that exactly if this is everything. I do think that the masquerading of artificiality as sincere reality that these shows deploy really rubs me the wrong way. 

So, in this vein, it is very weird that the Virtual Bride or The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law (2015) actually somewhat works for me. But if you look into the structure of the show, you’ll see it has many layers to it that may not be obvious. It is a “scripted drama” about a so called “reality variety show” and the behind the scenes shenanigans. In short, it is a show within a show. While there are at least 3 layers to the show, the final exterior layer is a scripted drama which means that it does not push the alert button in my brain. Thus, my brain seems to give it a pass.

The Plot
While there are many structural layers to this show, the plot is nothing that special once the gimmick is removed. You have a now has-been D-lister Kpop singer who is an inch away from losing representation and getting kicked to the curb. In desperation, she agrees to join a reality variety show where a celebrity spends time playing the role of Daughter-in-Law to the matriarch at the head of an old Korean clan. In other words, it is “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006) without the fashion but with the brutal labor and constant demeaning. Considering that the Kpop singer is in no way prepared for this, a lot of “fish out of water” shenanigans happen as we are introduced to the immediate family of the matriarch.

What It Is?
Beyond the gimmick, “The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law” is basically a typical Korean family comedy with some romcom tossed in the mix. The Kpop singer will learn the meaning of family and also fall in love with the elder son of the matriarch. The matriarch will learn to express her love more openly. And we will laugh while they do so.

All of the characters in the show are stock characters you pick out of the Korean drama creator app. All of their motivations and character arcs have been done a dozen of times over. However, considering this is a comedy, that doesn’t matter as much if the execution is done well. It just needs to be funny. The cast of this show does help with this as it seems to be filled up with mostly veteran actors.

The elder stateswoman of Korean drama Ko Du-Shim is the matriarch. Ryu Soo-Young is the eldest son who has an awkward meet-cute with the Kpop star which means that they will end up together. His last big starring role was in “Endless Love” (2014) but he has been around the block since 2002. Kim Yun-Seo plays the actual daughter-in-Law. While she plays mostly second leads, she has been playing them since 2009. And the list goes on.

Then there are the youngsters represented by Dasom of K-pop group "Sistar". While she has some minor roles on her resume, this is her big Korean miniseries drama break. And, to be frank, she is not a good actress in the traditional sense. She still feels like she is a singer on an actual Korean variety reality shows rather than an actress playing a role.

And this creates two contradicting effects for the show. On one hand, the overall character drama involving her doesn’t really fly. It is Armature Theater time.  On the other, this oddly enough makes the in-show “reality show,” which could just be seen as tacky, work better. It is not easy to pull off a show within a show well especially when that in-show show is a “reality show.”

The reason for this success lies with the format of the show. “The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law” uses the awkward character work done by Dasom as the setup to the jokes. Then, when the show cuts to the in-show “reality show” scenes with all of the crazy editing and graphics you see in “real” Korean reality shows, the punch line is delivered with Dasom in the thick of it. It is actually an effective arrangement.

At The End
I will have to say that the gimmick of this show really makes the show as anything else is rather standard fare for a Korean family comedy. The only question to ask is whether the gimmick is strong and consistently executed enough to support of a whole miniseries. I am not sure of this. It may get old fast. In addition, Korean dramas have a poor track record regarding being consistent in terms of story structure. In addition, Dasom is still an unknown factor at the moment.

However, the first two episodes are funny enough that I will give the show a few more episodes. What more can I say other than I will give the first 2 episodes of The “Virtual Bride / The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law” (2015) a cautious B- grade.

Score: B- or 6 /10

This was Prof. AKIA and thanks for reading. Also try out my raffle I have with tickets costing $1.40. 

Please comment below and you can do it as a guest.

Created by AKIA Talking
All of the pictures and videos here are used for criticism and references purposes. They are not mine. Only the article itself is my property!


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