Overall Rating: A+ (I’m on a roll lately with these A+s)
Subtitles: The Netflix sub for this were not my favorite. I don’t appreciate how Netflix reverses the name order in subtitles even though the characters say it in the correct order and this had some awkward translations/odd grammar issues. I think I get pickier with Netflix because I know a professional team works on it whereas the subs for Viki are fansourced, but also because I’ve had the Viki sub experience I am bothered by the way Netflix subs try to over-Westernize the translations. Some things are better with their intended flavor. That’s all I’m saying.
Brief Synopsis: Five girls in their early 20’s live together in a shared house with a strict no boys rule. Despite their differences the five grow close as they deal with past traumas and the present pains of being young, single women trying to balance life, work, and school. Watch it on Netflix here.
**Full show spoilers below the image. If you do not wish to be spoiled, do not proceed**
Ending Type: We’ll call this a happy ending. Since this was a slice of life drama there wasn’t much in the way of a direct plot that needed to come to a conclusion, but where all five women were by the end was satisfying and reflected their growth over the season both individually and as a group.
Characters: The characters were the heart and soul of this delightful slice of live drama. I was impressed by how distinct and individual all 5 were while still being realistic and dynamic people. None of them felt like a trope or a stereotype–they were all given depth and breadth and got to explore different ranges of emotion and experience.
Our “main” character in that we are introduced to the house through her and her story is the final piece of the tapestry that needs to be solved before the conclusion is Yoo Eun Jae (Park Hye Soo). She is timid to a fault and very overwhelmed in the big city. She’s been a loner all her life and is harboring a secret that keeps her on edge. In the first episode we see her get beaten down over and over again because she can’t stand up for herself and the people around her walk all over her, but she reaches her limit and gets a little bit of grit that really carries the character for the rest of the series. She was adorable and sweet and quiet and had the cutest arc of first love/like while also dealing with her personal guilt over her father’s death and the difficulty of navigating the rather intense dynamic of the girls in the house. I really loved her character and constantly just wanted to give her a hug and tell her it was OK to stand up for herself. But I appreciated how her general shyness also got to be a good thing in some situations, and it made her little romance extra cute.
Her roommate, Yoon Jin Myung (Han Ye Ri), is also quiet but not in a shy or timid way. Jin Myung is incredibly serious, and we learn very quickly that this is because she has a messed up family situation and has to work three part time jobs to pay for her schooling so she has no time to relax. Ever. She is introduced as passive aggressive and overly concerned about the minutia of everything in the house that could lead to higher utility bills, but the why of this becomes clear quickly and her care for her housemates also becomes clear, even when she doesn’t have the time or resources to care for them properly. She was the character I cared the most about and rooted the most for, even if I wanted to shake her half the time and tell her that she is allowed to stand up for herself, and that other options exist. She figured out on her own that she did not have to live in misery and that was beautiful and I loved it.
Song Ji Won (Park Eun Bin) was possibly the most fascinating of the five, if only because she had that natural free spirit charm. Many of her charms set up and drove along the story (like her lie about the house ghost that became the focus of everyone’s misery moving forward) and we got to see all the dynamic sides of her, even if she was definitely the character that got the least focus and not much growth. I actually really appreciated that they did not give her a love story, considering how badly she wanted one. It was an interesting choice that really kept the focus on her and her relationship with the other girls and I think it made me enjoy her character more than I would have if she had gotten what she so badly wanted.
Her roommate, Jung Ye Eun (Han Seung Yeon), was a classic cute girl focused on looks and status and her super cute and super crappy boyfriend. I liked her arc overall because she was the one that was prone to conflict and was not always caring or considerate towards her roommates, but she came through for them enough to justify their response when she was in her moment of need. I really enjoyed that she came to the conclusion that she needed to breakup with her boyfriend on her own and truly was moving on before he kidnapped her. I don’t know that the kidnap story line was entirely necessary, but it was a good moment for the group and represented the extent to which they had become a family and really started to care for and about each other. I also liked that her story left on an open note, as she finally accepted the trauma she experienced. I enjoyed that we did not get closure there because it felt more natural for her growth arc to end with that moment of self-acceptance that she had been avoiding.
And we cannot forget Kang Yi Na (Ryu Hwa Young), a prostitute living with the girls under the guise of being a college student who went on quite a journey herself. I loved the way her story was handled, from the moment the other girls discovered the truth about her up until she finally admitted to her friend how she was related to his daughter and decided to actually live her life. I loved everything about her character, and especially her boldness and refusal to apologize for who she was. The dynamic she added to the group was amazing, and I will be real that I cared way more about whether they were going to ever truly forgive her again than I did about any of the little romances in the story. I was really impressed Hwa Young’s performance and felt she had the most natural charisma of any of them, which was appropriate given her character.
Relationships: This show was all about the relationships, from Ye Eun’s shitty relationship to the innocence of Eun Jae’s first love to the ridiculously sweet and adorable relationship between Jin Myung and her chef. But the real relationship that mattered was the dynamic between the five housemates.
I felt the build of this relationship was natural and awesome. When Eun Jae first arrives you get the impression the girls are just sort of living in the same space and they notice things about each other but don’t seem to really KNOW each other. When they sit down to drink together after the incident with Eun Jae and share their secrets the dynamic instantly changes. It makes it hurt when Yi Na’s secret comes out and she more or less gets kicked out. And you really feel Yi Na’s loss and her pain while she’s gone, and the way the others cannot approve of another roommate because they recognize the bond the five of them had started to form was irreplaceable. The best moments of the show were in the house as the girls just chatted with each other, and the heart of the show were the moments when they call came together to help each other. The scene in the convenience store when they’re covering for Jin Myung was incredible and the way they came together to save Ye Eun was phenomenal. The worry they all feel when Eun Jae disappears was palpable. I loved them all so much, but as a group their dynamic was perfect and realistic and amazing.
High Points: I went to an all women’s college and after the first episode was over all I could think while I watched this show is how much I miss living with other women. It’s hard to beat the bond of a group of women living together as they come of age and try to navigate things like love and meaning and purpose. This was also my first slice of life K Drama but it was one of the most compelling shows I’ve seen. I just cared SO MUCH about all of these characters and their relationship to each other and I thought this show was absolutely phenomenal across the board.
Low Points: It occurs to me that we never learn why that one girl left the house? I actually entirely forgot about that storyline until I was writing this and remembering the first episode and how cleverly it set the rest of the story up, except for that piece that was never revisited. Odd.
Final comments: Honestly this show is fantastic and I just highly, highly recommend it, especially for women in their 20s. A deeply enjoyable and meaningful experience all around.