Weekend family dramas are an iconic fixture of South Korean television.
At times laugh-out-loud funny or downright melodramatic, these twice-a-week installments voice the underlying concerns we face on a day-to-day basis, acting as companion and cathartic outlet for our anxieties, generally through the lens of an epic, ginormous extended family.
At first glance, the set-up might appear incredibly archaic, impervious to change. After all, how many urban-bound families can still afford to live together in a sprawling hanok-style house?
Yet, the truth is that though the household setting itself may have changed over time, the basic fears, conflicts and happiness filling it have not, which is why these weekend series tend to reel in top viewer ratings and attract legions of devoted viewers.
KBS has long held onto a strong track record in the realm of weekend family fare and its newest series, “You Tumbled Into My Life,” bears the trappings of yet another success.
|KBS’ “You Tumbled Into My Life” stars Kim Nam-joo (right) and Yu Jun-sang attend the drama’s press conference at the Imperial Palace Hotel in Seoul on Tuesday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)|
Though this is her first family drama, scriptwriter Park Ji-eun is well-versed in whipping out dialogue that resonates with modern-day women, as proven with her tongue-in-cheek, home run series, “My Wife is a Superwoman.”
Actress Kim Nam-joo was point-on in the show, which inevitably led to the teaming up of the two again for the less successful spin-off, “Queen of Reversal.”
Though Kim balks at the thought of partnering up again for a fourth work (“Again? I don’t think viewers will like it,” was her take on the proposal), the two are attempting the marital genre for a third, and, possibly, final time.
In the upcoming series, the heroine, played by Kim, is a successful drama production company producer who marries an orphaned doctor (veteran actor Yu Jun-sang) and thereby acquires the supposed, ultimate career woman’s dream ― accomplished husband minus the in-laws.
Her marital bliss is shattered when her husband finds his birth parents and she realizes she has married more than she has bargained for. Once again, the stage is set for a butting of the heads between daughter-and-mother-in-law.
As with most standard family dramas, this allows viewers a full view of both the wife’s and husband’s siblings’ and parents’ lives, giving the writer a wide expanse of characters to work with.
Scriptwriter Park’s creative prowess will be put to the test with a 19-member ensemble that features characters running the gauntlet from playboy (CNBLUE’s Kang Min-hyuk), rich rogue (“Wild Romance” actor Lee Hee-joon) to a cosmetic surgery employee looking for perks on the job (“Baby-faced Beauty” actress Oh Yeon-seo).
With so many characters to flesh out, Park could fall prey to stereotypes especially when dealing with such sensitive subject matter as cosmetic surgery, but Oh assured reporters that her role will not feed into negative stereotypes about the practice at the drama’s press conference Tuesday.
At the press event, “You Tumbled Into My Life” director Kim Hyung-suk voiced confidence in both the crew and ensemble to keep the narrative from falling flat.
“What differentiates our drama from other series is that it reveals a lot from the get-go,” said Kim.
With each episode moving the plot forward quickly, “it will be fun to watch at every turn,” he added.
Furthermore, the new series also promises to shy away from trying to present neatly packaged solutions to the challenges of married life.
According to actress Kim, her role does not seek to solve concerns regarding the daughter-and-mother-in-law relationship so much as portray and represent them.
“Women can really relate to it,” Kim, 40, said.
“Even if you have stellar in-laws that are very good to you it is still stressful,” Kim, who is married to actor Kim Seung-woo, admitted that even she is not exempt from a little in-law-related anxiety.
“I really relate to this role,” she said, stressing that the script takes a comedic approach to the trials and tribulations of her character, affording viewers the opportunity to find the humor in stressful situations.
“One of scriptwriter Park’s strong points is that she is able to take a double-edged approach to her subject matter,” Kim elaborated. “The tone is both comical and serious, without getting too skewed to one side.”
“You Tumbled Into My Life” starts airing Saturdays and Sundays at 7:55 p.m. on KBS 2 TV Feb. 25.
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org)