International Dramas: ‘Business Proposal’

Promotional image of (left) Ann Hyoseop and (right) Kim Sejeong. Copyright goes to Kross Pictures, SBS, and Netflix.

Hi! It’s Annie!

So lately I’ve been stuck in the middle of my favorite K-Dramas and watching ones that are actually new. After watching a few dramas that I liked but didn’t really love, I was seriously considering just stopping for a while and returning to some old favorites. But I was stopped in my tracks from doing this when Jungkook did a recent Q&A on his Instagram and recommended this drama. And then I had something else that was new to watch. I wasn’t really expecting much other than mild enjoyment from this, especially because the synopsis of the show didn’t sell me right away. I feel like I’ve been spoiled rotten because of shows like ‘Crash Landing On You’, ‘Itaewon Class’, and ‘Vincenzo’. But, only a few episodes in, I was absolutely convinced that this would become one of my favorite current dramas out there. And definitely one of my favorites in the romance genre. This show doesn’t shy away from certain tropes while completely subverting other ones, and I constantly questioned what would happen next and was on edge for the next episode. That’s not to say that there’s a lot of action here; it is mostly just very wholesome. So, I’m going to get into this, but before that here is your MAJOR SPOILER WARNING!!

Synopsis: Hari is a fairly ordinary business worker who’s only big connection is her best friend, Youngseo, who comes from a very rich family. Youngseo’s family is determined to marry her off for financial gain, which has prompted her to ask Hari to go on all of her family set up blind dates in her place. Hari is used to acting crazy on these dates to scare off any potential suitors. But things get complicated when the CEO of Hari’s company is set up with her friend, and Hari’s crazy act seems to intrigue him more than drive him away. When he suddenly proposes marriage to who he things is Youngseo; Hari must now hide who she is at work and lie to everyone around her.

The Good:

The Female Lead- Finally! I’ve found another female lead that I absolutely love! I have to say, I was a little discouraged, especially after watching ‘Inheritors’ so recently. But Hari was full of personality, and she didn’t just give up when things got difficult. One of the things I really liked about Hari was how funny she was! I haven’t seen Kim Sejeong in anything before this, but she completely sold me here. Her comedic timing was always on point, she was excellent at conveying emotion without even having to say anything, and she’s just overall likable! It’s difficult not to like her, which works so well for the show because that’s one of the things that gets Hari into the most trouble. As awful as she tries to act, you can still see who she is underneath. I also really liked that the drama made sure to portray Hari as incredibly smart and capable. She’s one of the best workers in her field, so she doesn’t rely on Taemu for his stability. That was also very refreshing to see.

The Male Lead- Taemu was confusing at times, but he’s always adorable. It’s difficult to see what he sees in Hari’s act at first, but eventually you realize that he’s probably more observant than he lets on. Though his immediate need to marry her is still confusing. My favorite parts of Taemu’s character were mostly unspoken however. When Taemu first finds out that Hari has been lying to him, his immediate reaction is that he wants revenge. And watching his silent struggle between his determination for revenge and his want to help her was absolutely amazing. There’s this moment where Hari burns her hand and he panics, and the only reason you know he wants to help her is his widened eyes and a close up on his hand. It was all very ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with Matthew Macfayden as Mr. Darcy and I loved every bit of it. It’s just hard not to love this very open and adorably awkward character. He seems reserved at first, but then you realize just how much he wears his heart on his sleeve.

The Second Female Lead- There are two main couples in this drama. There’s the main advertised one and then the secondary, which has so much time devoted to it that it barely feels secondary. And I have to say, I love these two characters just as much as the main ones. Youngseo is the sassy, confident, supportive friend that we all want to have and all want to be. She has the name of her family backing her, but her main goal is to become successful in her field by herself. Something else that was refreshing to see. The women in this drama were really badass! She has this rival, but this drama never does the female rivalry thing for too long. They eventually become semi-friends and it’s more comedic than anything. I absolutely laughed my ass off at “You know I have no chingu!”. Youngseo was more than stubborn, but seeing her flaws made me appreciate the depth of this character.

The Second Male Lead- I think Sunghoon might have been my favorite character in the entire drama. Firstly, it’s hard to get over this adorable and responsible glasses character that’s just trying to do his best. Sunghoon was constantly exasperated by the choices other characters made, because usually he had to clean up the mess, but he was supportive no matter what. Definitely the most loyal friend you could have. The kind of guy who would be by your side in a heartbeat if you need him. I find that the cool and smart glasses character usually is pretty stoic and seems like he doesn’t care. But while Sunghoon can be stoic, you never question how much he cares. He puts his all into every relationship in his life, which is often where he meets the most trouble. I love him. Definitely one of those characters that you feel like would give great hugs. Also, can we talk about the way he took off his glasses to kiss Youngseo?

The Romances- This show was really good at painting every romance as different but just as important. While the main romance is more of an unexpected thing that grows over time, the second romance is one that’s expected by both sides and only doesn’t happen earlier because of a communication issue. And both are treated as just as cute and given just as much time for you to gush over. Taemu wants to hate Hari but finds that he can’t, while Hari wants to avoid Taemu but finds that his presence is something she values. While both Youngseo and Sunghoon like the other but are convinced that the other person doesn’t like them. It’s so different, but it’s all developed brilliantly. When the couples in the show get together, it makes sense. It feels like the right time for them. They don’t try to throw everything off to throw in a random plot twist with either couple. When Taemu’s grandfather doesn’t approve, Hari becomes determined to make him approve instead of just taking it. And when Youngseo’s father calls Sunghoon to try and make him break up with his daughter, Youngseo decides to start her own business away from her family instead of break up. Even when their situations don’t feel natural, the show goes out of its way to make the connection feel natural and strong.

The Friendships- I don’t think I’ve seen more realistic or developed friendships in any other drama. I loved Hari and Youngseo’s friendship possibly the most, because female friendships are often skipped over or just not there at all in many shows both internationally and not. I don’t mean to pick on ‘Inheritors’ again, especially because I did like the show, but that show only seemed to have female rivalries. It was nice to see these characters go through trials together, scream over roaches together, and constantly be there for each other. Not just going to lunches, but also knowing each other’s parents and having sleep overs. Because that’s all stuff I can relate to. On the other hand, the male friendship was also amazing! Especially because the drama went out of its way to show both guys being vulnerable around each other, which is not how male friendships are often portrayed. To me, these portrayals of friendships felt like a step forward.

Trope Subversion: This happened so many times and it was either brilliant or almost parody. There’s a cliff hanger at the end of one episode where Taemu gets into a car accident. The entire series they had been setting up a possible tragedy, as his parents had died in a car accident in the rain and he is afraid of the rain because of this. And in this scene he is shown driving in the rain. But the next episode he has a fractured wrist and not much else and the situation is almost comedically dropped. You know it’s done in parody because throughout the drama, Hari’s parents are watching a very trope-filled drama that parallels what’s actually happening in the drama but it’s all very much more dramatic. So something will happen in that drama, and then the show will instead show a more realistic version. I thought it was both funny and very clever. Another way they did this was by actually improving some tropes. This drama doesn’t have many flashbacks, but when they do it’s always new and interesting information. They did a flashback sequence with the secondary couple, but it was shown from Sunghoon’s perspective when what the audience saw before was shown from Youngseo’s perspective. It made it actually interesting to watch the flashback sequences, which is something I never thought I’d say. This drama purposefully subverts tropes and I honestly hope that more dramas also do this in the future.

The Bad:

Rushing- One of the only elements of this drama that stood out to me as not feeling natural, was how quickly the romances escalated. I mean, Youngseo and Sunghoon went from drunkenly confessing to sleeping together in one night, which was an issue the drama pointed out but also never seemed to really regard as an issue. And then they got engaged after having only dated for a couple months. At least the main couple had more build up, and they did get engaged after the one year gap rather than just a couple months. But they also didn’t see each other for that year, so I still don’t know how to feel about it. For me, I’m ok seeing my favorite couples happily dating at the end of a drama. I don’t need them to be married to feel secure in their ending or to feel like their relationship may lead to marriage.

Year Gap- This was one trope that they didn’t subvert. Though I do have to admit, one of the reasons they used this trope was to subvert the ‘grandfather suddenly dying of a heart attack’ trope. But, I still wasn’t sure why they needed it. Year gaps feel like a lot less time after having been in quarantine for over two years, but I still didn’t see the need for separating the two main characters. Especially because it happened right before the show ended, and they have to end up together at the end, so it felt like it didn’t serve any plot purposes either.

There you go! Seriously not much for me to pick apart with this drama! I would like to thank Jungkook of BTS for the recommendation, because I absolutely loved it. If you’re in the mood to watch a cute romance, this should be on the top of your watch list. Definitely some of the most supportive and wholesome couples I’ve ever seen in anything ever. Today my sister and I will be at the BTS concert in Las Vegas so hopefully we’ll have plenty to talk about when we get back! If you’re going on any of the days, I can’t stress enough how much you need to be safe! As someone who has lived in at least a decent proximity to Vegas all her life, it isn’t the safest place despite what they would have you believe. Be careful of what parts of the Strip you walk at night, especially if you’re alone, be careful about accepting anything from anyone, and also I would highly recommend continuing to wear a mask! Let’s all be safe out there tonight! I still can’t believe I’m seeing them again so soon!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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