Friday, January 2, 2015

The Greatest Marriage (최고의 결혼): The Final Review

What should I say about the finale?
Does it make me happy? Not really. Does it disappoint me? In a way it does.

First off, if I’m only using my normal standard in watching dramas, which is all about romance or to be specific, a happy ending between the OTP than I should be happy. Especially since two of the best scenes in the finale are the ‘romantic’ scenes between my favourite couples, which for your information do end up together.

If you are like me and happen to think that the most important question you have for the show is ‘Does it end with a happy ending?’, the simple answer is yes it does. Then why am I still not happy? Why am I still disappointed?

The problem is this show is not about romance. No matter how much I want it to be, it is not.

So, before starting to get serious (talking about heavy stuff e.g. what the show is really about) I want to talk about my favourite scenes (read: romantic scenes or what I consider as romantic in the middle of the romantic drought).

Instead of romantic in its normal sense (which usually involves skinship and cheesy lines) I find the ‘romantic’ scenes between Jo Eun Cha and Cha Ki Young to be funny and smart.

I like how these two approach the issue of marriage and settle things between them with an honest conversation/negotiation. I also like how the proposal is alternated between them.

Cha Ki Young who first proposed to Jo Eun Cha in desperation and didn’t get an immediate answer from him decides to say yes when Jo Eun Cha officially proposes.

I love how she looks when she agrees to marry Jo Eun Cha. Her one gulp yes reminds me of earlier Cha Ki Young, the one who is admired by Jo Eun Cha for her ability to always surprise him.

I guess the cheesiness of that red rose gets on her nerve while the business side of the matter of their marriage that comes before the rose doesn’t.

And I love seeing how that red rose falls from between Jo Eun Cha’s teeth when he hears her answer. He is the first male lead in dramaland to have that expression when his leading lady agrees to marry him.

But then again these two are not our usual couple. Their ways of proposing are not the usual proposals either.

Some dramas veer this way and that way depending on the blowing wind. But, despite having few issues, inconsistency is not one of the Greatest Marriage’s shortcomings.

This drama has my admiration with regard to how the relationship between Jo Eun Cha and Cha Ki Young is being built and showed. There is nothing obvious in their relationship that we could use to mark them as our OTP.

1.  Opposite attract?
Nope, because Jo Eun Cha isn’t like our usual male leads. He is the enemy. Moreover Cha Ki Young and Jo Eun Cha are not that different actually. Both of them are overachievers who don’t mind playing the hard ball.
2.  Accidental first kiss?
Definitely not. They never kiss, hold hands or what have you. She even sleeps with someone else. The fact that he is a world class loser doesn’t immediately eliminate him from nomination because she has his kid.

What makes Jo Eun Cha the front runner is the fact that the other male lead is even much worse than himself. Plus, we could see that despite doing horrible things (not as unforgivable as what Park Tae Yun did) to Cha Ki Young, Jo Eun Cha is also the one who is there for her when she is at her worse with nobody else to count on.

Perhaps that’s why Cha Ki Young feels the way she feels about Jo Eun Cha. She explains it to him once before that despite what have happened between them she feels safe and comfortable with him. She nevertheless trusts him, an admission that Jo Eun Cha never imagines.

The most important thing in marriage is trust. You need to have a complete trust in the one you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. Once that trust is gone, the marriage is finished.

What’s so good about marrying someone you love if you know that person isn’t good for you. What’s the point of marrying the one you love if you never feel secure, always on your toe and never at peace whenever that person does/doesn’t do something.

Jo Eun Cha understands the gravity of Cha Ki Young’s trust.

In Park Tae Yun’s case that trust has been shredded to pieces and burned to ashes. Again and again. He has betrayed Cha Ki Young twice. Once by cheating on her and the second time around by taking what she loves the most in the whole world.

He has shown her that he is not the kind of guy that could be responsible for others. With him, it’s always him first and foremost no matter how much he loves the other person.

Cha Ki Young’s decision to marry Jo Eun Cha is not surprising. She was even considering to reunite with Park Tae Yun when things become too unbearable for her and she finally realized that for Cha Dan’s sake she couldn’t stay single.

She’s been thinking about marriage for quite sometime.

Too bad for Park Tae Yun instead of showing that she could depend on him now, he once again shows her his worst and pushes her to another hell.

I love the calm and the matter of fact way she lets him know that unfortunately it’s too late now. It’s too late because he doesn’t change at all and she has decided to marry Jo Eun Cha.

Now, let’s talk about Jo Eun Cha.

I love how until the finale we could still see glimpses of the craftily wimpy previous Jo Eun Cha. I love that he doesn’t change into a Saint – which is a possible course that could be taken by the writers – to justify their union.

Jo Eun Cha’s charms is his interesting character. Here is a man who has no qualm what so ever into grabbing whatever chance comes his way and turns it into his advantage. Getting rid of other people that stand in his way is just another logical step up the ladder.

At first he looks like someone who is completely without principles. Someone who is willing to sell his soul for anything, which come to think of it isn’t true at all because if he is indeed willing to do anything to get what he wants he wouldn’t ditch Park Sun Nyo like that.

As the only daughter of President Park she is a golden ticket. A fast lane to get what he wants, as admitted by Pedro. The fact that he doesn’t take it reveals something important about his character.

Jo Eun Cha might look sleazy on occasions but he has his own standard and rules on how to get what he wants. His refusal to use smear campaign which is very common during election time doesn’t come out of the blue. It’s part of his character. One that is well hidden and rarely shows its pretty good face.

Underneath all the ugly masks that he has been using, there is a strong willed man with a good understanding of human natures and principles of his own. A man who knows what he wants, the best way to get it and a conviction that he will get it.

The differences between Jo Eun Cha and Cha Ki Young are that Cha Ki Young will never actively thinking about screwing other people up nor thinking about kissing up some asses to get what she wants.

Cha Ki Young the straight laced, Jo Eun Cha the flamboyant.

It might be interesting to see how these two conduct their marriage and how their relationship develops.

I love seeing how understanding Jo Eun Cha is about Cha Ki Young, Cha Dan and Park Tae Yun being together in that loser’s apartment. There is no jealousy like the one displays by Hyun Myung Yi nor flipping out that sure will happen with Park Tae Yun if their role is being reversed.

I love how he stops Hyun Myung Yi from barging in into that apartment and drags her to his place instead.

It’s easy to see that he’ll welcome Park Tae Yun into their family with open arms because that is what is best for Cha Dan. Cha Dan needs to have his real father in his life and for them to be on a good term with each other to feel secure.

On Cha Ki Young’s side, since she is not a spiteful person nor an emotional one, she’ll gladly welcome Park Tae Yun as an important part of their family. She loves Cha Dan too much to alienate Park Tae Yun.

And perhaps that’s Park Tae Yun’s punishment. To see the happiness of the three Chas with his very own eyes for the rest of his life. To be warmly included into their family but never to get what he really wants.

I’m not surprised with this ending because after all is said and done he is still Cha Dan’s father. There is no way the writer could write him off of the picture no matter how worthless he is.

What I find surprising though is how generous the show is towards Hyun Myung Yi. Not that I hope she is going to die or something, because nobody deserves to get a bad ending more than Park Tae Yun. If he gets a happy ending, understandably everyone does.

But, Park Tae Yun is saved by his son.

Hyun Myung Yi is saved by the writers' desire to make everybody happy.

And that’s what I find very disappointing with this show. After all those craziness thrown at us without mercy, the show is ending with being very merciful towards everyone.

And what about the issue of the Greatest Marriage itself? Every married couple in this show couldn’t be considered as an example of having a good marriage let alone a great one.

The Park senior and his wife are staying together not because the husband doesn’t have a fling or two outside, but because the wife doesn’t see a problem with that. Their marriage works because the wife makes it so.

Na Yoen Hee divorces her husband because he is having an affair for years without her knowing. But she then decides to have an affair with him because her boyfriend is also having an affair.

She clearly finds adultery an issue but she chooses to have a relationship with an adulterer. How is that going to work? To make matter worse her daughter ends up considering her former lover as her father.

Is the greatest marriage that this show tries to promote as a good model are the ones that happen between my favourite couples? Cha Ki Young and Jo Eun Cha and Park Sun Nyo and Pedro?

I admit that I do like their kind of marriage.

They all make it very clear from the beginning what makes them want to marry the other person. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t love or like the one they are going to marry, it’s just that they value the other person so much more than just how they personally feel about them.

In Cha Ki Young’s case she needs a good marriage to bring back happiness into her life. She needs a good environment to make sure that Cha Dan will get everything he needs to ensure his happiness.

She knows Jo Eun Cha quite well by now and quite sure that he can provide everything she needs to make them happy. She knows why Jo Eun Cha wants to marry her. She knows what he wants from her and is willing to align her goals with his. She can picture their lives together and loving it.

The extra bonus is she also knows for sure that Jo Eun Cha will never ever cheat on her.

In Park Sun Nyo’s case, she knows that Pedro will be good to her because he is basically a very good guy. But she is more than sure that he’ll be good to her because he admits that the main reason why he wants to marry her is her money and family background.

The greatest marriage in my humble opinion is a marriage where each person can still be him/herself. A marriage that doesn’t diminish their individual happiness but increases it by folds.  

The greatest marriage could happen when all concerned parties know exactly what is expected from them. A marriage that is made with the same mission and vision.

Jo Eun Cha who is probably soon aiming at the Blue House will want a worthy partner at his side. Cha Ki Young who experiences how unfair their society towards a single mother will see her chance to improve things and promote change.

Besides, she can work to her heart content. Jo Eun Cha will never try to change her into something else because he loves her just the way she is. He would also never become jealous of her relationship with Park Tae Yun. He would be the one to force Park Tae Yun into taking more interest in his son’s life.

What could be greater than that?

It would be much better if the show refrains from being so mean to its viewers in the previous weeks. It would be much better if the previous episodes have some of what its two last episodes have.

As it is, everything feels like it’s been rushed and cramped into one short episode.

I don’t think I waste my time for nothing. There are many things that we could learn from the Greatest Marriage whether we agree or disagree with it. Knowing the ending will help to reduce the pains of watching for those who haven’t seen it and plan to marathon this one.


Anonymous said...

Excellent review, love it. I've watched Ep 16 a few times - where is it shown (subtly?) that Eun Cha ends up with Gi Young (which is what I want - anything but GY ending up with the nutcase PTY). cynkdf

Fixy said...

By accepting his proposal I assume that they do end up together (finishing the drink in one gulp means she says yes).

By explaining things (saying it's too late means no) to Park Tae Yun how she had felt about him(including the fact that she was actually willing to give him a second chance when he returns) she gives him a closure.

And if we don't continue watching the epilogue (which is usually what I do) and just stop at the last scene(when Jo Eun Cha comes up knocking the door and hugs Cha Dan) we could see the expression on Park Tae Yun's face of how jealous he is and that his reaction is the reaction of an outsider. On the other hand we could also see how happy Cha Ki Young is.

Besides, it's totally against Cha Ki Young's character to renege on her agreement to marry Jo Eun Cha. And it's totally in her character to maintain a good relationship with Park Tae Yun.

I think the show does it on purpose (not showing any weddings or any obvious scenes) to keep all the viewers happy.

There are many younger generation who love No Min No and wants him (Park Tae Yun) to end up with Cha Ki Young.

But there are also many perhaps a little bit older viewers who don't like Jo Eun Cha and want Cha Ki Young to end up alone.

So, this is in a way is a compromise to make everyone happy ^_^

Our view/understanding of Cha Ki Young's character is the final answer to the question what will she do after saying 'yes' to Jo Eun Cha and 'it's too late to Park Tae Yun'.

It is a rather smart strategy. But cowardly and not to my liking at all.

Seeing how the drama is courageous/crazy enough to show us something different it should be brave enough to give us 'I don't care what you think' ending.

Anonymous said...

Hi Fixy, many thanks for your explanation. I agree the writer and/or production team have been cowardly as far as the ending goes. Probably reacting to pressure from Korean viewers etc. Yes, NMW has many fans - I don't know if you visit the Baidu forum dedicated to TGM. Right from the outset they have been calling NMW the male lead.

It's a pleasure reading your praise for BSB as I think he's so under-rated.

Kind regards, cynkdf

Fixy said...

And thank you too for sharing your thoughts about this drama and your love for BSB cynkdf ^_^