Thursday, September 20, 2012

Drama Review: 9 End 2 Outs (2007)



Grade: B-

Category
Light romantic melodrama

What it’s about
This drama’s marketing would have you believe that it’s a romantic comedy about best friends falling in love while sharing an apartment, but in truth 9 End 2 Outs is a light melodrama revolving around five longtime friends looking for professional and romantic success while coming to terms with their hard-earned adulthood.

First impression
Reasons why I expect to like this show: (1) It aired in 2007, the year of perfect dramas, (2) Its female lead is a wannabe writer who works at a publishing house, (3) It features a noona romance, (4) There will eventually be cohabitation, and (5) Second lead Lee Tae Sung is a dreamy cream-puff of a boy. Reasons why I expect to dislike this show: (1) It’s a sports drama, and I hate sports dramas (and sports).

Final verdict
Although it’s a fine, low-key show, 9 End 2 Outs left me largely unengaged. It does have a lot going for it, though, including a large cast of compelling characters played by a group of likable actors. Best of all, it wisely does more with its running time than dwell on histrionic fighting and never-ending moves from the shared living space. In contrast with the narrow focus of most cohabitation dramas, 9 End 2 Outs fleshes out its central plot with workplace storylines and multiple romances for each of its leads, and also makes good use of their close circle of high-school friends.

On the down side, the thoughtful female lead suffers from the curse of all wannabe writers: her self-obsessed navel-gazing makes her obnoxious. Add to this a male lead who’s a sensitive playboy but never really achieves any emotional depth, and you’ve got a recipe for a mediocre romance. Plus, their screen time comes at the expense of the show’s most relatable characters, all of whom are relegated to economically sketched supporting roles. If they’d been given more time, 9 End 2 Outs would have been enriched by the starry-eyed fangirl love of the female lead’s arch-rival, the growing pains of her married friends, and the charming almost-romance shared by her hardworking single-girl friend and her chubby office manager.

At its heart, 9 End 2 Outs (whatever the hell that may mean) is a show about becoming an adult that happens to include a number reasonably well-executed romantic subplots. It has an appealingly mellow, realistic vibe and some real insights into the difficulties of sharing a living space and allowing friendship to become something more, but never quite manages to become essential viewing.

(P.S.: Beyond a few belabored baseball metaphors and one character’s dream of playing pro ball, this is not a sports drama. Hooray!)

Random thoughts
•  I’m gratified to see that the median age for pathetic Kdrama spinsters has risen a bit since this 2007 drama. Its heroine is just turning 30, while in most of today’s dramas the age of the afflicted is closer to 35.

Episode 7. For me, the female lead can really make or break a rom-com. If I find her unlikable or annoying, I’m bound to pick at the rest of the show until I dislike it, too. This drama’s heroine is in danger of bringing on just that response: no matter how much people around her are suffering, all she wants to do is bemoan her horrible lot in life—even if said horrible lot involves being well-fed and well-clothed, having a decent job, and being loved by her family and friends. It’s always a pity party of one with her; in spite of being 30, completely immature. That’s one thing Dal Ja’s Spring did well: its female lead acknowledged that she’d learned a lot as an adult and had grown into a capable manager of her own life. Nan Hee, on the other hand, is completely incapable of dealing with even the slightest bump in the road. She’s cowering in terror at the thought of a high schooler snatching away her young boyfriend, when as an adult woman she should be more than up to the task of keeping him. And should she keep him? I would argue no—throughout the show, everyone is always talking about whether he’ll continue to be faithful as she ages. Well how about whether she’ll want to be faithful after those chocolate abs disintegrate into middle age spread and all that’s left is someone she has nothing in common with? She’s too smart to be happy with a husband who’s barely capable of abstract thought and has a fourth-grade reading level. [Finale update: I’m happy to report that as the show continues, Nan Hee mostly gets her act together.]

Episode 14. I know as much about baseball as my cat knows about long division, but I’m pretty sure that 16-inning games are very, very rare. Or maybe even impossible.

Watch it
Drama Fever
Good Drama

You might also like
I Need Romance 2012, for its depiction of best friends falling in love while living together

My Sweet Seoul, for its slice-of-life noona romance

19 comments:

  1. I watched this drama a couple years ago after people wrote about how amazing it was and I was somewhat disappointed, which is bound to happen when people rave about something. I liked how low key and mellow the whole drama is but it failed to engage me. There were only a handul episodes where I was really invested. I watched it but was never fully connected. The female lead never bothered me but it was the young writer played by Yoona that drove me frickin nuts. That character worked my nerves throughout the whole series.

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    1. Ugh. I completely agree on all fronts—this show was okay, but I had been expecting something great based on the misleading marketing materials and the reviews I've read about it. I also hated the young writer, who was yet another one of those characters (like the second female lead in TTBY) who exist for no reason other than annoying the leads. And they never did get around to saying what happened between her and the baseball player in America, which is kind of a cop out.

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    2. I tried watching this a while back but ending up dropping it after about 6 episodes for all the obvious reasons. I think 9 End 2 Outs is actually supposed to be 2 Outs in the 9th Inning implying this is her last chance (her final at-bat). Anyway, stupid title.

      Amanda, have you seen TTBY ep 11 yet? Prepare yourself. It's very Hana-centric, and I was not happy with it at all. Fortunately, it does have it's bright Eun Gyul moments, just not enough.

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    3. Stupid title, stupid show ;) I should have known one followed after the other.

      I haven't seen this week's TTBY yet—I've actually been watching some American TV lately. (Gasp.) I can't say that Hana-centric sounds particularly appealing, either :b I'm returning to dramaland with an Answer Me 1997 marathon tomorrow...I've watched about half of it and can't even believe how much I love it.

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    4. Haha, yeah I believe the literal translation came out weird, so it's supposed to be something like "Bottom of the Ninth with Two Outs."

      TTBY was equal parts awesome and draggy this week, so even if Episode 11 is hard to get through, 12 was so worth the wait!

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  2. I actually liked 9 Ends when I watched it. It was really draggy towards the middle and took me a long time (I think there was a gap of months involved) to watch the whole thing, but I totally loved the relationship between Nan-hee and Hyung-tae. The drama didn't feel AS organic and real to me as it might have for other people, but I did find it an accurate representation of life and relationships in today's world. There were no K-drama "fated meetings" or over-the-top dramatics, and when the leads fell in love, I was totally right there with all their friends going, "Well, yeah, about time!"

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    1. I think part of my problem with 9 End 2 Outs was that I watched marathon-style over the course of about a week—which just felt like too much. And although its lead couple were cute, I had just seen I Need Romance 2012, which for me was a much more visceral version of the same story. I was actually rooting for that show's leads *not* to get together, because an eventual breakup would have been too costly for both of them.

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    2. That makes sense. I don't think I would have liked it as much had I marathon-ed it. That was part of the reason I had to take a break... the show was sooo slow through the middle half, that I pretty much had to coax myself into finishing it. I really need to watch INR2012. I love best friend romances!

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  3. I am almost through with the Coffee Prince marathon with my family and friends. After the middle section's awkwardness and drags (when I thought I may have to kill them for bashing my precious drama), the last 6 episodes are sooo much fun to watch again. However, in the vein of remembering just how awesome it is overall.. even they were noticing how well written all of the characters are, up to and including DK! His little "I hate being the third wheel around here," storm off, and later at the airport when he realizes she's not coming with him, and throws his muffin in the trash with such 'whatever' attitude. :) So unlike most second(or third) leads who sit around whining like a little brat for several episodes.

    Coffee Prince almost feels like a baby. Makes me giggle with pride when others realize how awesome/cute/amazing it is. :D

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    1. Will any of us ever recover from the awesomeness that is Coffee Prince? I just finished watching Answer Me 1997 and popped over to read the Dramabeans finale comments. Their conclusion made me think of Coffee Prince—they were saying how all AM 1997's characters were written as multi-dimensional human beings, not Kdrama robots. How Coffee Prince-ish!

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  4. I liked 9End 2Outs. But I like "wordy" dramas and I adore Park Soo Ae to bits. She's on of my favorite actresses. I like to rewatch random episodes on rainy days when I'm sick or feeling sucky. Feels like chicken soup, comfortable and warm. I recommend watching this drama over a long period of time as opposed to marathoning it. I like to use it as one of my "break from kdramas" kdrama because it's so much about the relationship between Hyung Tae and Nan Hee, and there are not hysterics or birth secrets or evil plotting second leads. The best thing about the show though is the main couple, their interactions and conversations as friends and how they end up opening up romantically to each other. I loved the episode when they went on vacation together because they were so shy with each other even though they had known each other for so long...

    I've found that when one of the leads is a writer, then that lead or the drama itself will probably be either heady, self-absorbed or both. I think it's because the actual writer of the drama probably interjects him/herself into the character somehow and maybe loses clarity about what they are trying to write/do. Just can't help it I guess. ~malta

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    1. Coffee Prince is my go-to drama for times of personal crisis. Who needs Prozac when there's Choi Han Gyul? ;)

      A lot of people really love 9 End 2 Outs, and I can see why—it's definitely got low-key charm to spare and a nice, homey vibe. As sad as it is to admit this, it might be a little grown-up for my taste. (In spite, of course, being a bona fide grown-up myself.)

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    2. I don't think there are such things as grown-up tastes in the fantasy world of Kdramas ;)

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    3. Thank heavens! Reason 4,000 why I was so eager to ditch American television is that so little of it is actually geared toward youthful viewers. I may be old, but I'm not ready for geriatric family sitcoms or victim-of-the-week procedurals. :b

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