Kdrama Review: Marry Me, Mary!

Marry Me, Mary! poster매리는 외박중

Romanized title: Maerineun Oebakjung
English titles: Marry Me, Mary! / Mary Stayed Out All Night
Broadcast station: KBS2
Broadcast dates: 8 November – 28 December 2010
Episodes: 16
Cast: Moon Geun Young (Wi Mae Ri), Jang Geun Suk (Kang Mu Gyul), Kim Jae Wook (Byun Jung In), Kim Hyo Jin (Seo Joon)
Streaming on KBSWORLDi and DramaFever with complete with English subtitles
Synopsis: This drama is based on the manwha of the same title. The story revolves around Wi Mae Ri who is a poor young woman. Her father is on the run from debt collectors and their apartment was recently cleaned out of all furnishings to help pay off some of the debt. She is involved in a car accident with indie rocker Kang Mu Gyul. He stays at her apartment for a few days until his injury healed. Meanwhile, her father runs into an old friend who agrees to help pay off his debt as long as his son, Byun Jung In, can marry Mary. Wi agrees to this, much to Mary’s horror when she finds out. To try to stop the arranged marriage, Mary enlists the help of Mu Gyul by asking him to pretend to be her fake husband. They stage a wedding, but neither her father nor Mr. Byun are willing to accept this and go so far as registering Mary’s and Jung In’s marriage themselves. Jung In wants nothing to do with the marriage either at first and the three set up a 100 day contract in which Mary must divide her time between Jung In and Mu Gyul. Add to the complications a scheming manager, Mu Gyul’s ex Seo Joon, a drama production, and OST production, an immature mother and father, and more complications in the contract and that is the gist of this story.

My thoughts: I love Jang Geun Suk, Moon Geun Young, and Kim Jae Wook. I really wanted to love this drama. I don’t completely dislike it, but it could have been planned out a wee bit better and done differently. The first half of the series wasn’t too bad, but after awhile it took a turn to the worse for me. This is mainly because of the rocky on-again-off-again relationship of Mary and Mu Gyul and what goes on with Jung In and Mary. I understand Mary and Jung In not wanting arranged marriages (Jung In saw his own parents’ marriage collapse). So Jung In deciding to honor the 100 day contract in order to keep his father’s funding is understandable, but when the whole farce was revealed and Jung In began to honestly fall for Mary, I felt bad. The whole idea was that Mary was supposed to give Jung In a chance, which she never really did. She cared for him as a friend, but never actually opened up the possibility of liking him as she kept herself pretty closed off in spite of Jung In doing everything he can to help and opening himself up to Mary more and more.

I really felt bad for Jung In after he started opening up and you saw the insecure boy lying behind his cold facade. Yes, Mu Gyul is the same in many ways, hiding his insecurity about love (his mom had him out of wedlock as a teenager and spent her adult life bouncing from man to man) behind his cool indie rocker exterior, but it seemed he wasn’t as bad off as Jung In. And then there is that whole thing where Mu Gyul confesses to his bandmates that Mary was like a mother and through her he felt like he really began to understand just what it was like to have a mom who cared for him. With him and Mary constantly making parental references to one another, it is almost hard to believe that it turned to love as Mu Gyul always referred to Mary as a mother and Mary began to see a father figure in Mu Gyul (not exactly sure how – at least you could see how Kae In in Personal Preference could view Jin Ho has a lover, father, mother, and brother all in one). In a way, I was kind of rooting for Mu Gyul and Mary to have a more familial relationship versus a love relationship as that is how the first part of the series played out and I wanted Kim Jae Wook to get the girl for once.

Once Mary and Mu Gyul make their declaration of liking each other (on the night of Mary’s engagement to Jung In after the initial fake marriage is found out), then the series takes a melodrama swing. Melodramatic in that Mary and Mu Gyul constantly fight, come against obstacles in their way, and come close to letting misunderstandings end their relationship multiples times. A long, deep, trusting relationship is new to Mu Gyul whose prior relationships didn’t last longer than a week or a month. So it does make sense why he is quick to jump to the wrong conclusions when things happen between Mary and Jung In, but it really got annoying to see him constantly getting mad and fighting with Jung In and Mary both. He knows the situation the three of them are in, but seems to forget that. Ever time Mary tries to bring everything to an end, her father interjects that he will never accept Mu Gyul who he believes will only bring her misery, Mr. Byun rears his more organized crime-like connections and goes full steam in planning the wedding with no one’s consent but Mr. Wi’s, and Jung In pleads with her to stick it out in order to keep Wonderful Day from going under from his father pulling support.

At the end of the series, everything is thrown to the last episode. Marriage, divorce, who is staying together, just what is Mr. Byun’s big secret, etc. I hate last episodes that make a series seem unfinished due to everything trying to get resolved in one hour-long episode. Some things aren’t. They make a huge deal about Byun liking Mary’s mother and that is why he really wants Jung In to marry Mary, but nothing is actually ever done with that storyline. There was an interesting relationship going on between My Gyul’s immature mother and Mary’s father, but that comes to nothing and, in fact, the parents disappear from the end of the episode when they actually played pivotal roles throughout the series in making their children’s lives complicated and painful. I wasn’t necessarily expecting a sappy, happily ever after at the end, but nor did I expect an end where the problems were resolved, but it felt like nothing really happened at all. As if the previous 100 days that entangled their lives really left no mark or impact or furthered their relationships whatsoever.

As for the actual characters.

Moon Geun Young did a great job as Mary. A girl who is positive despite her hard life and who is still naive and young, but can be startling mature and is quite talented in homemaking and in writing. However, I really did not like Mary’s selfishness at the beginning. When Mu Gyul had a chance to get into the music business through Wonderful Day‘s OST, she continually tells him that he can’t because it will make things too hard and could expose their false relationship. Despite Jung In and Mu Gyul being supposed rivals, it was an excellent opportunity for Mu Gyul and his band, but Mary only ever thought of herself at certain moments where she should be considering others more or she thinks of others more when she should be considering herself. I do love her saying that out of “faith, hope, and love” the greatest thing is “loyalty.” Mary is fiercely loyal to Mu Gyul, but never really showed the same loyalty that she should have to Jung In. At times when he really needed her loyalty, she left him high and dry, but then again, stayed by his side to help him out at other occassions.

Jang Geun Suk did a good job in playing a very multi-layered character. Mu Gyul had so many different personality aspects at times it was amazing how JGS could show them all without them being too overdone. He was cute, tough, jealous, mature, child-like, naive, and wise all at the same time. That said, Mu Gyul’s constant quitting and backing out of promises/contracts gets old fast, as does his constant, childish temper tantrums. Even though he didn’t have the best examples of stable relationships and love, he made the decision to pursue a relationship with Mary and to trust her, something he actually didn’t do all that often – even to the final episodes with the wedding scene. I did feel really bad for him every time his mom abandoned him or let him down yet again. Both he and Mary had to be the parent in the family while their own parents acted more like the children.

Kim Jae Wook had a rocky, wooden start to Jung In, but when his character started opening up to Mary and to others around himself and he began to soften, his character really took off – especially at the end when he began teasing Mu Gyul and letting his true feelings for Mary show. I couldn’t really understand how or why he allowed his father to dictate every aspect of his life. Even the whole kidnapping case and his father’s coldness does not show why he put up with it for as long as he did. If he only could have stood up to his father sooner, a lot of this misery wouldn’t have happened. At first, I thought he didn’t care about marrying Mary because he and Seo Joon were so close, but it turns out that they are just good friends. I am kind of glad that they weren’t made a couple at the end. They didn’t really fit well together.

Kim Hyo Jin made me hate Seo Joon, so that encapsulates good acting I supposed. I never felt sympathetic to her character. She was too impulsive and explosive. Her trying to be “cool” always made things worse. I actually don’t see how others could refer to her putting up a cool and indifferent front when the girl was always a ticking time bomb. Her obsession with Mu Gyul was not healthy. Blaming Mu Gyul for her current life also doesn’t make sense. It is not wholly his fault that she chose to cast off her family and old life to pursue a life of her own. She always harped and picked at Mary once she knew the truth. Seo Joon and Mu Gyul are alike in always complaining and running away without listening. Actually, Mary and Jung In were a lot a like as were Mary and Mu Gyul, Mu Gyul and Seo Joon, and Seo Joon and Jung In. Having these four people share a lot of traits actually can bog things down as attitudes and situations are exasperated by their commonalities.

Loved the music overall and can’t wait for the 2nd OST to be released that had the later half of JGS’s songs he wrote for the drama. As much as I liked the song “Hello Hello” it started to get on my nerves as it was played in almost every scene after it was released whether or not it fit the situation at all.

This series is definitely worth a gander. It has some originality as we have one girl “married” to  two men instead of the typical contract marriage and the drama production and OST production was more original as well, but in the end the plot fails to too many holes and even some stereotypicalness that kdramas are often ripe with. So watch, enjoy, get annoyed by the repetitive episodes that start dragging the series and watch everything come down to the last episode with little to no explanations and a watery resolution.

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