The Secret Life of My Secretary – SBS

A romcom drama about a director at a telecom company who develops face-blindness and the only one whom he recognizes is his secretary.

Review : By txc_vertigo (link)

The Good:

(1) The show is campy in the best way possible. To truly understand why this drama works, we need to talk about the element of camp. A piece of media being described as “campy” indicates that it is ridiculous and over the top in a way that is cheesy but it’s sometimes tacky taste and ironic value is what makes it enjoyable. So many things in this drama are very over the top, but that just adds to the campiness of the show. The show also dips into being a genre parody, which I find hilarious. Whether or not the campiness and parody-like moments are intentional or not is up for debate, but I consider the show to be rather self aware.

(2) Kim Jae Kyung as Veronica Park, the CEO of a giant film company, is just such a hoot. Now some may say that the character Veronica Park is just Jun Ji Hyun’s Cheon Song Yi from You Who Came From The Stars on way too much caffeine, but I’d like to think that she is a pretty good joke/comic relief character on top of having a fair number of pretty human and relatable moments. Veronica Park is meant to be a character that is half parody and half serious. For the most part, she is hilarious and even has some elaborate jokes in the show. One such example is her showing her powers of telling when a movie is supposed to do well in the box office and then dissing Train to Busan saying it’s going to be a failure was hysterical. However, she also has her scenes where she shows off her insecurities which affect her character as well, which made me connect with her more than just as a comic relief.

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(3) The genre parody moments had me rolling.For instance, having cherry blossom petals and raining falling at the same on the main couples first date had me rolling. On top of that, we also got other cliché happenings accompanying the main couple for their such as bubbles, fireworks, more rain, falling stars, you name it. They through the romantic effects “kitchen sink” at the viewer and it ends up being really funny in a tongue-in-cheek way.

Other things that are supposed to be romantic also end up being comedic, and I kind of love that. Such as Min Ik putting her hands in his armpits to warm them up. Like I get that it seems sweet but I know how sweaty your armpits get in a three piece suit. Once again, I’m not sure if this was intended to be a genre parody or not, but I choose to view it as such.

(4) There are some pretty sick shots in the drama as well, believe it or not. There is a shot in the office of the male lead, Do Min Ik played by Kim Young Kwang, that was made to look like it was filmed from within the aquarium was so sick. I got surprised when suddenly a fish entered the frame and then it hit me. That shot showed some really creative thinking on the directors part. I would guess that was done by filming the fish from the outside, mirroring the picture and then putting it as the outward most layer on top of the regular angle shot. I could be wrong though. Still impressed that they decided to experiment a bit with the cinematography without it becoming overbearing.

(5) Despite how light hearted the drama is, it actually has some heavier moments as well that hit me harder than I would have expected. The female lead, Jung Gal Hee played by Jin Ki Joo, doesn’t have an easy life and the actress really sells that as well. Her crying plays with your heart just as much as all the sweet moments between the two leads with all the “lovey dovey”-ness that is in their eyes. Probably the peak of emotional moments for me is the rooftop scene where Min Ik and Gal Hee have their first kiss. She knows that kissing him under the pretense of being Veronica Park is bad and even says to herself and her dead mother after giving in to her own desires: “I thought it wouldn’t be so bad to die young since that is the only way that I’ll get to see you again, But now, I don’t think I will ever be able to see you again. I might not be able to up to where you are”. Personally, this hit me like a truck as I thought it was a really powerful and human statement. Through this it has become clear that Gal Hee decided she will no longer live for someone else, but instead live for herself.

The Bad:

As the drama becomes very enjoyable because of its campy nature, there are a lot of flaws that comes from being a cheese fest as well.

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(1) The show requires a lot of suspension of disbelief, as the whole set up of the drama relies on the male lead being a clueless fool once he gets hit with facial blindness. This guy who was a master at picking up social clues before being hit with facial blindness, suddenly becomes inept at sensing in someone’s voice when they are crying right in front of him and also can’t recognize the female lead’s voice or mannerisms even though they spend almost every waking hour together. As a viewer, these kinds of issues are just something you’ll have to turn a blind eye on.

(2) The stunts are certainly not within the expectations of visual media in the 21st century at all. In the second episode a character is seen falling from a building. In the first shot of the scene, the speed, angle and manner the character falls in makes it very obvious that they used wires to make sure the person stops about halfway from the ground. Also, in my humble opinion, using wires looks worse than having someone someone falling onto a mat because of the risk of looking fake. Thankfully, they at least edited out the wires with a film processing software. In the next shot, the character is seen from above falling towards the ground and the green screen effect used here to simulate that the character is indeed falling and not acting standing in front a green screen is terrible. I’ve seen youtubers make better green screen effects than this. The perspective of the scenery in the effect makes it obvious that the background is indeed 2d and not 3d.

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(3) There are other effects that are really cheesy and low effort as well, like showing a star falling on the night sky when there is no context of why they would show that shot at all and the effect doesn’t even look good. The exposure of the shot is way off considering that they are showing a Seoul skyline filled with bright lights and somehow a falling star manages to be spotted yet even brighter than the city lights.

Score: 7,0 / 10 – It’s a pretty cliché and cheesy drama, but it is quite self aware and that makes it okay in my book. I think it’s strengths outweighs it flaws which makes it far from great but extremely enjoyable.

5/5 - (1 vote)

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