Has it ever happened to you that you have tried your best to like a drama, cheered for its characters but ended up disappointed with it? I liked Kim Young Kwang as the second lead in Pinnochio and was excited to see him as the lead of The Man Living In Our House. Sadly, liking the show was not as easy as liking him. Though I liked the story and enjoyed the initial friction between the lead couple I fast started losing interest in the drama. I practically gave up after episode 10 because there was nothing to lure me back. The drama may be good for binge watching but it wasn’t something to keep me anxiously waiting for a whole week.
The Man Living In Our House / Sweet Stranger And Me (2016)
Hong Na Ri (Soo Ae) is an air-hostess living in Seoul. After her mother’s death, she has no one but her long time boyfriend Jo Dong Jin (Kim Ji Hoon) to rely on. However, Dong Jin cheats on her with her junior Do Yeo Joo (Jo Bo Ah). Heart-broken, Na Ri returns to her mother’s home only to find a young man living in her house. The stranger introduces himself as Go Nan Gil (Kim Young Kwang) and tells her that he is her stepfather as he had married her mother some time before her death. Nan Gil now owns Na Ri’s mother’s house and her dumpling restaurant. Shocked at this unbelievable revelation Na Ri decides to stay back and dig out the truth behind Nan Gil and her mother’s relationship only to find herself fall in love with the handsome lovable stranger.
Let’s weigh The Man Living In Our House / Sweet Stranger And Me on our show beam balance and see which side the drama falls heavy with.
Hong Na Ri: Actress Soo Ae did a fair job playing the strong-headed, independent Hong Na Ri who does not break in gravest of tragedies. Na Ri’s way of handling unexpected blows in life is admirable. For instance, when her boyfriend cheats on her she takes her time to digest the truth, cries her eyes out, gets drunk and then moves on to never look back. When a complete stranger appears before her claiming to be her step-dad she doesn’t lose her cool and analyses the situation from every angle possible. Neither does she trust the stranger nor does she fully doubt his intentions. She first collects facts related to him before jumping to any conclusion. She faces a tough enemy who has a bad name of dealing with debt holders but nothing seems to scare her as she is confident of tackling any kind of enemy just to win her love. I like the gutsy Na Ri and the way she handles hardships in life.
Kwon Duk Shim: This little cutie provided much-needed relief from a rather cumbersome drama. Duk Shim is Go Nan Gil’s stalker who also has some behavioural issues. She is weird, obsessive, unpredictable and a complete whacko. She is lonely and her fixation with Nan Gil is justified in the drama. Actress Shin Se Hwi’s expressions were hilarious. At times she looked fearsome and at times she looked utterly vulnerable. Moments, when she tries to drive Na Ri away from Nan Gil and set her up with her brother, are too cute. Some episodes would be so boring that I would wait for Duk Shim’s appearance to make the show more delightful. I loved this crazy little stalker.
Do Yeo Joo: She is not the ideal second lead neither is she the antagonist. Yeo Joo is just Yeo Joo i.e. selfish, scheming, and pitiful. Viewers hate her for stealing Na Ri’s boyfriend but despite her ill ways I somehow sympathise with her. I like her because she is unabashed and unapologetic. Not that these qualities are always worth admiring but in her, I see the desperation to be accepted and that makes her endearing to me. There is a reason behind her gold-digging ways and that is explained in the latter half of the show, after which I started seeing her in a different light. In the second half of the drama series, she persistently pursues Duk Bong only because latching onto him could help her in many ways. I do not like her approach but I do like her honesty. She is very open about what she wants and does her very best to get it.
Kim Young Kwang: Young Kwang may not be a great actor but he is decent enough to watch a drama for. In the show, Nan Gil suffers panic attacks and is supposed to feel disoriented, dizzy and collapse. Now, Young Kwang doesn’t do it as well as Woo Bin in Uncontrollably Fond but he does manage to look sick. He shines in romantic scenes owing to his swoon-worthy smile. He is a good-looking actor who makes the character of Nan Gil extremely adorable, especially when submissively giving in to lady love Na Ri’s most unreasonable demands.
Slow Pace: There were times when it felt like the story wasn’t advancing in any direction. Certain revelations took so long to come to forth that I lost all interest by then. There were meek twists, which were highly predictable and made the show lose its appeal early on. Though certain scenarios were funny and intriguing, it wasn’t enough to keep me hooked.
No Character Motivation: Apart from Duk Shim, no other character seemed fully reasonable and believable. For instance, Duk Bong determinedly pursues Na Ri even when she never showed any interest in him. Na Ri never did anything to generate any hopes in his mind and made it clear several times that she likes Nan Gil but despite that he continues to chase after her. Why? Ok, he is the second lead and has to be in love with the heroine but why is Duk Bong so relentless? Is there a dearth of pretty women in the countryside that he is so hung up on one woman?
[No I haven’t forgotten to add aww and wow scenes I just didn’t have any to add here. I tried to remember the best scenes in the show but couldn’t remember even one.]
Bad weights on the show beam outweigh the good weights. The Man Living In Our House could have been good considering its plot but sadly I could never connect with the characters. Its slow pace further made the drama dull. The drama started with a bang but all the hype fizzled out after the first few episodes.
I give this drama a 2.5 out of 5 rating. An extra 0.5 is for the three ladies on the show who were each unique and cool in their own way. This one is just an average drama with a decent storyline and good looking cast (Duh! Don’t all Korean shows boast of a good-looking cast? :P).