Thursday, January 24, 2013

Drama Review: I Miss You (2013)

Grade: C+

Romantic melodrama

What it’s about
A fashion designer and cop fall in love as they deal with their shared history, which (in the way of Korean dramas) revolves around a childhood full of tragedy, abandonment, and cruelty. They eventually realize that not everyone from their past wants them to be together.

First impression
You know how when you’re at a restaurant and someone gets something that’s super spicy and they freak out, and then everyone else in your party is obligated by some sort of lemming-like instinct to try a taste of whatever the hot thing was? Well, that’s what this show is to me...only with misery. I’ve heard good things about it, but word on the street is that it’s so unrelentingly tragic that Dramabeans has already dropped recapping it as of episode 4. How can I say no to a challenge that? So far, so miserable: I’m ten minutes in and there has already been one brutal beating and several cases of child abandonment. Bring it on, Korea! Whatever you can dish out, I can take.

Final verdict
Thanks to its compelling group of central actors and a few wonderful scenes, I don’t regret watching I Miss You. And that’s saying something—the things this drama had going for it didn’t even begin to make up for what it was lacking.

For the first half or so, I thought it was going to be a decent show. The early episodes were action-packed and the characters were relatable (however crazy their backstories might have been). The child actors were surprisingly good, and once their grownup counterparts arrived it was a pleasure to watch the quiet intimacy and simmering chemistry between Yoon Eun Hye and Yoo Seung Ho. I also really liked the character of Han Jung Woo, a melodramatic lead that managed to be all casual charm and smiles no matter how awful things got for him.

But the show frittered away this strong foundation by filling most of its episodes with underdeveloped murder mysteries, useless side characters, and pointless secondary (tertiary?) plots. It had lots of forward momentum and didn't dwell too long on any particular secret or plot point, which was nice. But the cost of this zippy pacing was total abandonment of anything like logic or consistent characterization.  Whatever happened to the real Harry Borison? Did Kim Eun Jo have a reason for existing beyond making it less weird that Jung Woo spent fourteen years living with Soo Yeon’s mom, habitually calling her “girlfriend”? What was the motivation for Michelle Kim’s murder? We’ll never know the answers to any of those things, because I Miss You settled for skin-deep piffle. When it should have explored its characters on a human level, it glossed over depth in favor pat answers and scenery chewing histrionics. When it should have built a strong plot to carry its narrative from beginning to end, it was content with wheel spinning calculated to fill time.

I Miss You is an amiable enough distraction, if you can handle the litany of horrible things that happen in it. Early on, you’ll ache for the lead characters as they suffer through almost every  kind of torture imaginable. Later, you’ll ache for the lead actors as they do pretty much the same.

Random thoughts
Episode 3. A lifetime of psychoanalysis is not going to fix the scars inflicted on every young character in this episode. No wonder the male lead becomes obsessed with the girl, having essentially failed her at what will probably be remembered as the worst moment in either of their lives.

Episode 3. Joon reminds me of Michael Jackson’s youngest son. Even before his dad died, he always looked distressed and tragic under that dark fall of hair.

Episode 3. Boy, that’s one localized snowstorm. As the detective is kneeling on the snow covered road, you can see bright green, totally bare grass just behind him.

Episode 4. Two realizations: (1) I love this show. (2) I should have waited a lot longer before starting it, because if the kids’ portion is any indicator, the wait between episodes is going to be long and painful.

Episode 4. So this pair of shiftless Korean thugs have hanging in their lair a poster for the Ethan Hawke movie based on Dickens’ Great Expectations. Classy, for gangsters. Also interesting because I think Korean dramas are very Dickensian—they’re melodramatic and over the top and not afraid to use coincidence and cliche in their favor. Dickens was a great writer and all, but he painted with a broad brush that, evaluated by today’s standards, would be embarrassingly cheesy, Not unlike, say, a juicy Korean melo.

Episode 5. It’s too early to judge the grown-up actors in their roles at this point, but what I’ve seen, I love—they’re all so young and beautiful it kind of hurts to look at them. I especially like that Yoon Eun Hye is a punk-rock fashion artiste, not one of the cubicle-dwelling drones that populate most fashion-themed workplaces in the Kdrama world. This is also the first time I’ve really been drawn to Yoo Seung Ho in a role, and I think it’s fantastic how ambiguous he is at this point. He might turn out to be a nice, cuddly second lead, but I’m also getting dangerous vibes from him. (Maybe it has something to do with that little trick with the brake pedal? More, please!)

Episode 7. Too bad I Miss You’s plot slowed to a crawl the second the adult cast took the stage. There are lots of great things to explore—the murder mystery, the little sisters, the growing up years of the leads, the dynamics of revenge, etc. Yet the show is just spinning along, doing very little with its time.

• Episode 7. Ever since reading this article at The Vault, it’s become less amusing and more sad that Kim Mi Kyung is in 2 out 3 dramas on air at any given time. The drama industry is getting away with unforgivable labor abuses.

• Episode 7. Although I like Park Yoochun as much as the next pervy noona, I wish they’d just write him out of this show to focus on the important things, like ensuring that Yoon Eun Hye and Yoo Seung Ho spend at least half of every episode cuddling and/or making out. She’s never been more beautiful than she is as Zooey, and he’s gone from goofy second lead to smoking, smoking hot drama star. Heck, let’s go ahead and petition for a name change for the show. “Zoey and Harry’s Twice-Weekly Hour of Sexual Healing” has a nice sound to it.

Episode 8. First world problem alert: My new black-Friday TV is so high definition that I keep getting distracted by a strange scar on Park Yoochun’s check. Has it really always been there, and I’ve just never noticed?

Episode 8. That almost kiss has rendered me almost dead.

Episode 12. Reality check: If the boy you liked when you were fifteen read the diary you wrote about him, you would have been mortified, not dewily flattered like Zooey is in this scene.

Episode 15. As a designer, it’s only natural that Zooey’s fashion sense would be patterned after style icons from the past. I just never would have expected the combination of Cher from Clueless on bottom and Dorothy from Golden Girls on top.

Episode 16. This show may have had an awkward, teary transition into adulthood (then again, who didn’t?), but it has turned into a speedy mystery that never lacks in forward momentum. Things happen, secrets are revealed, and people change in every episode, which is a refreshing change from all the clunky, go-nowhere plotting in recent dramas.

Episode 19. Who knew that cold toes were a fatal condition? Or I suppose it’s possible she died of boredom—this show is bringing me ever closer to that demise myself.

Episode 21. Yoon Eun Hye’s pointy nails in this drama are really freaking me out. Is she planning on scratching out somebody’s eyes with them?

* Episode 21. So does Harry Have an oubliette under the bathtub or what? Is this place Seoul's version of the Winchester Mystery House?

Watch it

You might also like
Can You Hear MyHeart, an earlier effort by I Miss You’s screenwriter that seems less terrible in retrospect


  1. An 'amiable distraction' huh? Somehow I'm sort of glad to have missed this one. Hearing how CYHMH seeming less terrible now is not quite the greatest of recommendations for me. :D

    So, you going to start School now? Only one more episode is due out next Monday. NO extensions! And though that makes me cry thinking I have to say goodbye once and for all next week, I'm so relieved. Extensions seems to be the final death knell for dramas these days.

    1. I'm not going to lie: if the show had treated Yoo Seung Ho better, I would have liked it a lot more. CYHMH managed to have a nuanced, somewhat sympathetic bad guy who got redeemed at the end. I Miss You just decided somewhere mid run that Yoo Seung Ho's character was batshit crazy, and acted accordingly. I hope he doesn't go off to the military before he had a chance to make a better drama. (I Miss You would have been stupid, extension of not.)

      I'm torn...School, or A Wife's Credentials? I should probably chose the later, because the minute I pay for a membership at that other streaming site for just one drama, it will instantly become available at Dramafever. Because my fate doesn't involve ending up with my first love after insurmountable obstacles—it involves being as annoyed as possible as frequently as possible.

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  2. i had high hopes for this drama. first 6 episodes or so were great- gripping back story, breathtaking scenery, amazing child actors, and leads that were just beautiful too look at (with sizzling chemistry at that!). then the story started to drag, and then made a turn for the worse when the characters started to do things that didn't make sense at all! such a waste of great talents!

    drama gods, can you please, CHEBAL, write another great drama for yoon eun hye?! why are you wasting her youth and acting chops with nonsensical stories like this? i can forgive lie to me (because the chemistry was off the charts!) but this, i can't even defend to the haters. :(

    i guess if we just judge this drama just on the acting and eye candy, it's actually great. but all in all, it was a big disappointment.

    1. I couldn't agree more on all these points. Although I do have to admit that I kind of liked Lie to Me. It was silly and not that well made, but the actors were charming and the story was reasonably interesting. (I wish she'd ended up with the second lead, though—I don't get the appeal of the lead.)

  3. It was a very depressingly sad drama. The father was definitely not a human being. I love Yoon Eun Hye and Micky Yoochun and watched it mainly because of them. I also fell in love with the child actors and will watch as they mature into adult roles. From what I understand the entertainment industry in Korea is a lot like it was in the US when studios "owned" the actors causing many abuses. As their industry continues to evolve I think it will change.

    Overall, except for the buckets and buckets of tears, I really like this drama.

  4. I liked it overall, but it definitely got kind of ridiculous towards the end with Harry Borrison's whole overdone "If I can't have her noone will" type deal. At least if nothing else this gave YEH a chance to play a different type of role, even if it wasn't a CP level of awesomeness drama.

  5. I kinda agree with Amanda. Yess, I also think that this drama could be better if they were willing to repair at some points. I know, it's too late for saying now. heehee. The story tells us that Harry and Zoe have had been in some kind of romantic relationship for 14 years. But they arent showing many scenes of intimacy between Harry and Zoe. I think, they need to emphasize the bond between Harry and Zoe's relationship. To show that how hard it would be to choose your long-lost first love or the one who took care you for over 14 years. How could 14-years-bond being broken that easy. I feel pitty for Hrry this time. And for the revenge and love-turns-to-obsession, Harry's role is lil bit unclear in my opinion. I really hope YEH and YSH can get a better story to play within.

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  8. Spoiler alert!!!!!!!!

    Ughhhh, good drama. The actor that played harry, he's really good! Wished drama went in a bit of a different direction like she ended up choosing harry last minute. More romance scenes between harry n zoe, harry not being the murderer. Etc... but good watch though, it's just incredibly sad. I am convinced zooey is a backstabbing whore.

  9. Spoiler alert!!!!!!!!

    Ughhhh, good drama. The actor that played harry, he's really good! Wished drama went in a bit of a different direction like she ended up choosing harry last minute. More romance scenes between harry n zoe, harry not being the murderer. Etc... but good watch though, it's just incredibly sad. I am convinced zooey is a backstabbing whore.

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