Urban Japanese workplace drama
What it’s about
A Steve Jobs–style tech billionaire has his world turned upside down by two people—his longtime business partner and his company’s hardworking new intern.
This brisk, breezy romance is just what I’ve come to expect from Japanese dramas: it’s got quirky characters to spare, and thanks to its fast-paced plot and streamlined storytelling, it makes most Kdramas feel painfully clunky and self-indulgent in comparison. So far, though, Rich Man, Poor Woman is lacking the emotional depth of Nobuta wo Produce, my favorite Jdrama to date. We’ll see how things go—this is the first Japanese love story I’ve watched, so maybe it will just take a while to get going.
It turns out that what actually took a while was my realization that Rich Man, Poor Woman was not what I wanted it to be: a swoony Kdrama romance. In spite of its cheesy title, this is actually a workplace drama about the value of connection and appreciating the people around us. And while there was a romance between its two leads, their love story felt peripheral—instead, the show’s most compelling relationship was the conflicted bromance between prickly genius Hyuga Toru and his right-hand man, Asahina Kosuke. Rich Man, Poor Woman’s plot revolves largely around the corporate intrigue created when envy finally gets the better of Asahina, who spent most of his long history with Hyuga trapped in the other man’s boy-wonder shadow. Their brotherly love is this show’s true heart, and it was agonizing to watch their friendship waver.
And speaking of agonizing, it’s been a while since I last wanted to leap through the television screen to throttle someone as much as I did during this show’s speedy 11-episode run. Again and again, the leads refused to communicate and instead did idiot things that prevented them from being together. As far as I’m concerned, spineless characters who never try to get what they want are more tiresome and frustrating than fun.
Rich Man, Poor Woman was an easy, amusing watch, but it lacked the homefront-minded charm and obsession with love that keeps me coming back to Korean drama.
• Episode 1.
Would you please stop making it so frigging hard for international viewers watch your dramas? I would literally pay you for easy access to this show—I spent 45 minutes trying to watch part 1 of the first episode last night. All the streaming sites kept freezing or throwing me out. It got old very, very quickly.
Your frustrated friend,
• Episode 1. Ye Gods...as if job interviews aren’t terrible enough to begin with, I can’t imagine having to be one of twenty interviewees. I’ve been interviewed by multiple people at once, but never had the competition sitting right next to me, looking cuter and more competent. (And it’s a good thing, or I’d be chronically unemployed.)
• Episode 3. How interesting to see a chaebol type who actually works. Most Kdramas with similar plots star princelings with no mission in life beyond being nasty to commoners. Not that this show’s male lead isn’t plenty nasty—but at least he has some sort of personal merit. Or so we’re told.
• Episode 6. I’m glad this show’s female lead is brainy, but couldn’t they have made her smart in a less stupid way? She can memorize incredible amounts of information in no time, but she’s still more starry-eyed and naive than any human being over the age of 5 should be.
• Episode 6. This is definitely more information than you need to know, but while watching this episode I got a huge nosebleed. This clearly means one of three things: (1) I am dying of cancer; (2) I just watched 2 episodes in a row of Boys over Flowers, and my brain, liquefied by their stupidity, is leaking out; or (3) it’s allergy season. Hmmm...I wonder which it could be?
• Episode 7. This show is well done, but I could use a little more bedroom and a lot less board room. Has Korean drama ruined me for shows that exist for reasons other than fan service in the form of broody shower scenes and over-the-top confessions of love?
• Episode 9. Although Asian dramas are renowned in the West for their serious communication problems, it’s been a while since I’ve seen something as frustrating as this episode. Just explain yourself, you stupid drama bot. Human beings aren’t psychic—if you let him draw his own conclusions instead of telling the truth, it’s your own fault if he misinterprets what is a fundamentally innocent event. Speak, damnit!
You might also be interested in
Pasta, for its similarly workplace-centric plot (added bonus: its lead couple are way more interesting and have exponentially better chemistry)