Misty Korean Drama Review
You'll notice I've been too lazy to post anything in about two months. But now, thanks to the complete and utter trash fire disguised as cleverness that was the finale of Misty, here I am. Nothing like a little (okay, a lot of) rage to fuel the blogging flames!
The thing is, I wouldn't be so angry at Misty if I hadn't loved it so much up until the ending. I started reviewing this K-drama in my head all last week, ready to sing its praises to the heavens (and the drama viewers who hadn't started it yet).
So, before I have my say about Misty's ending, let's review all of the many things that went right in this K-drama. Don't worry—I'll warn you when we're heading into spoilers.
A complex female lead you can't help but admire
Misty revolves around successful news anchor Go Hye Ran (Kim Nam Joo). When she's accused of the murder of a former lover, her estranged husband, Kang Tae Wook (Ji Jin Hee) must step in as her defense lawyer.
Let us all pause here to recognize the sheer glory that is the character of Go Hye Ran. I jumped ship over to this show in a bout of frustration over Hwayugi basically sidelining its female lead, and Misty saved me from just about giving up on all K-dramas.
Years ago, I wrote a post about "unlikable" female leads in K-dramas. I didn't know it then, but Go Hye Ran is the drama character I was wishing and waiting for. She's not a perfectly "good" person, and I often disagreed with the choices she made—but that's exactly what makes her so compelling.
Here we have an ambitious, successful, capable, determined, and brilliant woman, and we see how having all of those qualities in a world dominated by men has forced her to also be calculating, hard, and, at times, outright cruel. Over the course of the drama, she doesn't become an entirely different person or a docile, domesticated female lead, but instead, she embraces who she is while also learning how to be vulnerable and open herself to love.
I don't often watch melodramas, but I found myself swept up in Hye Ran's story because all of the emotions felt realistic and earned.
Yes, the pantsuits get their own subhead (and ahead of the romance, to boot). Whoever ran the wardrobe department on this series should get a gigantic bonus because Kim Nam Joo looked flawless from head to toe in every single scene. I would watch this entire series all over again just to bask in the beauty of those pantsuits once more.
|Bam. (Ji Jin Hee ain't half bad, either.)|
Pantsuit envy is a very real malady, okay?
The relationship dynamic
Misty isn't a traditional romance by any means, but it's certainly a compelling one. Just like I rooted for Hye Ran without applauding every single decision she made, I also fell hard for what a friend called Tae Wook's "courtly love" while also recognizing that his adoration wasn't always healthy or productive. (More on this later.)
They're two flawed people navigating a very flawed relationship, and I found myself breathlessly hanging on to every longing glance from Tae Wook or small smile from Hye Ran.
It doesn't hurt that Kim Nam Joo and Ji Jin Hee make for a mature, sexy onscreen couple. There were a few scenes where they walked off arm in arm, and I just thought "Dang, they look good."
|Cue "Sexy and I Know It"|
The Bad (WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD)
Don't read after this if you don't want to be spoiled on what happens!
(Is it safe to start?)
I did not go into Misty expecting a happy ending. I wasn't watching to see Hye Ran and Tae Wook strolling off cheerfully into the sunset, so the fact that it's a tragic ending isn't what made me so upset.
But here's what gets me: that particular choice of an ending undermined almost every single thing I loved about the rest of the show. Some people may see the whole thing as a clever twist or as a reasonable outcome for a complex story like this, but I honestly feel like the writer sacrificed the heart of the series for the sake of surprise.
Let me climb atop a very large soap box to explain why.
Ok, so Tae Wook is the killer. SURPRISE! Yes, it's an unexpected outcome, but it also takes all of those nuanced, emotional interactions between Tae Wook and Hye Ran and releases a giant fart in their face.
Tae Wook didn't have to learn to trust and believe Hye Ran because he knew she wasn't the killer from the very start. Sure, there's still the internal conflict of defending a wife he believes has betrayed him, but he also doesn't have much choice because she's getting blamed for something he did. Way to cut the emotional legs out from under the entire first half of the show.
All those scenes where she's begging him to believe her? Oh wait, pointless. He's a murdery murderpants. And he just stood there and watched her sob.
|So what you're telling me is this face was a lie.|
|And these puppy eyes?|
|Surely not this one too!|
But even if the writer must make Tae Wook the killer (which I don't buy because who killed Kevin wasn't the actual point of the show to begin with—why not just reveal that it really was an accident or leave it ambiguous?), the way the aftermath played out in the final episode was even worse.
Allow me to take some deep, calming breaths before rage typing about this.
Throughout the entirety of Misty, people like the police officer and Eun Joo keep making comments about how the death of the pawn shop owner and, later, Kevin, are Hye Ran's fault because the men around her kill to protect her.
The way the finale plays out just reinforces that claim.
So let me get this straight. Because Hye Ran has the absolute audacity to want to go to college or break the glass ceiling or—I don't know—not get sexually assaulted by a guy she dumped a decade ago, she cannot possibly learn to have a normal, loving relationship.
Did she do things wrong throughout the show? Yes. But we already saw how she and Tae Wook worked through the betrayal of her abortion and her tryst with Kevin. Literally the only reason the show has for suggesting that she doesn't deserve happiness at this point is that she's Go Hye Ran.
The finale reaffirms that no one in their right mind would love such a woman, and the only men who could possibly stick with someone as ambitious as her are obsessive, impulsive killers. If only Hye Ran had been nice and sweet and popped out babies for her in-laws to admire, Tae Wook wouldn't have snapped!
Even the final scenes support the idea that Hye Ran had no right to think she could ever be happy. Tae Wook's "Hye Ran-ah...so, are you happy?" mocks her and her foolish belief that a powerful woman is also allowed to have a personal life.
OF COURSE SHE'S NOT HAPPY, YOU MORONS! Why would she be happy when she's spent her entire life traumatized by guilt over an act of violence that wasn't her fault, only to let her guard down a teensy tiny bit and have ANOTHER idiot take over her life with ANOTHER act of violence that wasn't her fault.
Forget the beautiful relationship of mutual respect she's built with her boss over the years. Forget how she becomes a trusted mentor for the upcoming generation of reporters. Forget how she took down the untouchable baddies. Forget all of that because this ending is about dudes making terrible decisions and everyone blaming it on her. (And that police officer can go take his self-righteous lectures on a long walk off a short pier because accusing people of murder over decades-old hunches is way less ethical than anything Hye Ran did.)
Watching all of this play out makes me want to go full Myung Woo on whoever thought this was a great idea. Congratulations. You've taken badass Go Hye Ran fighting against sexism and injustice and turned it into dudes controlling Hye Ran's entire life again.
Is Misty worth watching?
If you asked me a week ago, I would have said yes times ten million. But now? Maybe I'll have a better answer for you once the emotional response wears off.
At least we'll always have the pantsuits.
Where to watch Misty:
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