Romance is a Bonus Book Review

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I know I never talk about dramas on this blog, but I came across this drama several days ago and I was instantly hooked, so I thought I’d share my thoughts and experiences with y’all in case you’re curious but not 100% sure if you want to watch.

First Impressions

The only reason that I started watching this drama (I mean it–literally the only reason) was this photoset I saw on Twitter. My thoughts were “Pretty??? Gay??? GIRLS??? IN A K-DRAMA???” and after that I took all of ten seconds to scroll down the thread, get the name of the drama, and head over to Netflix to watch it.

I’ll admit: I went into it with the intention of watching the scene with the gay couple, determining if they were a constant part of the show, and then either watching if they stayed or stopping if they didn’t. However, the show surprised me.

It’s a story about a woman named Dan-i who goes back to work after years of taking time off to raise her child and run her home. Her husband has left her, her home (in which she is squatting illegally) is about to be demolished, and her daughter is off at an expensive school in the Philippines because she was bullied for being poor in Korea.

She goes to interview after interview for a job in her field and everyone thinks she’s been “taking time off” (as if raising a child was easy?) and that her experience is dated and no longer valid. She works a dozen little low-paying jobs in convenience stores and public bathhouses but it’s nowhere near enough for her to live and she begins to get desperate.

Then, miraculously, a position opens up at her 동생’s publishing company. His name is Eun-ho, and they’ve been friends since he was in elementary school and she was in middle school. He works as a professor, writer, and editor at Gyeoroo Publishing.

Dan-i decides to take off every part of her resume that makes her appear experienced–all of her education, her professional certificates, her actual job experience, everything–and apply for an unskilled helper position. She goes into the interview as if she has never worked a day in her life and has only graduated from high school. And she gets the job.

From there, the drama is mostly predictable and sweet. It is much more lighthearted once you go past the first couple of episodes, and it begins to tell the story of Eun-ho and Dan-i in the context of their new circumstances.

Why I Love It

Um, the gays? But no, seriously, this drama does a lot of things that we really haven’t seen in many dramas prior. First of all, Eun-ho likes to sleep around. Which is fine and not really anything new, but the women that he sleeps with aren’t shamed! Or made out to be sloppy and irresponsible! In fact, all of them are intelligent, self-sufficient women who happened to sleep with him. I was so surprised how chill the show was about introducing that element.

Actually, the show is really chill about introducing a number of elements. Including the gay couple. Na-Kyung, Eun-ho’s ex, is the one who admits to Dan-i that she cheated on Eun-ho. When Dan-i appears confused at how calmly Eun-ho interacts with an ex who cheated on him, he explains to Dan-i that she’ll see he has no chance. Then Na-Kyung introduces her girlfriend.

In the car, after the scene is over, Dan-i jokes to Eun-ho about how he could let another woman steal his girlfriend, and Eun-ho jokes back about how she could let another woman steal her husband. They laugh and neither one is disgusted or uncomfortable. It was so cool!

Watch Romance is a Bonus Book on Netflix

It’s the same way with Dan-i’s misfortune. Dan-i goes through a million terrible things before she lands her job at the publishing company, and she’s not afraid to ask for help getting back on her feet. Eun-ho chides her for being shameless but Dan-i has no qualms–she’s down on her luck, she’s hardworking, and she needs help. Period. None of this “I’m too proud” nonsense, no “I’m so depressed and there’s no point and I should just give up.” Dan-i picks herself up and she’s back it again.

That is so important and so different from every other drama that I’ve encountered. Especially since in the past I watched a lot of dramas about kids in college or kids starting out their careers–which is relatable still–this is a sharp turn from all of that. I like seeing that perspective represented since it is such a prevalent thing! Moms go back to work all the time and they have to go through hell and back to prove that they haven’t just been lazing around. Which, like, goes to show how little people actually know about parenthood and being a stay-at-home mom, because they WORK.

And Dan-i addresses that. She tries to explain to interviewers that being a parent has given her seven years of experience in things that most people don’t know about, and the interviewers act like she’s crazy. I’m pretty sure if Dan-i listed out the things she did every day as a parent, they would cower at the number of things that have to be done just to make everything not fall apart.

But anyway, my fury at stay-at-home parents not getting their dues aside, this drama is awesome and it tackles a bunch of issues in a way that is accessible and definitely addictive.

Final thoughts? Highly, highly recommend.

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1 comments on “Romance is a Bonus Book Review”

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