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.
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).
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!)
• 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.
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