Thirty but Seventeen – Final Impressions

I dawdled a bit watching the end of this one, mainly because I really loved this cast and didn’t want to see anything heartbreaking or worrying happen to any of them, and I didn’t want to leave their little “family.” But, I made myself watch the final 6 hours last week and it was worth it!

Spoilers after the jump.

Where do I begin? With the ending, of course! 😉 I loved the ending of this series and found it, in a way, more gratifying than the very enjoyable fan-service ending of What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? 

No, we did not get a happy bride and groom and lavish wedding, but on many levels of the satisfaction scale, it was even better. We get a young man who understands that the woman he loves is not emotionally mature enough to embark on a physical (marital) relationship yet, slowly and waits for her to adjust to her chronological age and for her to be ready to see him as his equal in terms of age and experience. It’s not that he is anymore “experienced” in sexual relationships than she is, we discover, but he’s had more years to be exposed to the expectations of dating and settling down than she has. I loved her surprise (and slight scolding) when she finds out that their kiss was his first kiss too! Whereas Park Seo-joon’s character was making it pretty clear that he found Park Min-young’s character sexually desirable and was having to hold himself back out of respect, he also made it clear that he really wished he didn’t have to do so! He could be so forthcoming because they were close in terms of age, familiarity, and having been in the age of dating (others) for a number of years. He knows her well enough to know that she will be a willing partner because she signals this in her responses to him, even if she is demure. Woo-jin, on the other hand, is so gentle and caring in his expressing the same desire. He does nothing to frighten her; he is kind, above all. Instead of mutual seduction, we see them settle into a very comfortable cohabitation, first with shared laughter and companionship, then see the sweet napping together on the sofa in the living-room. We know that’s the precursor to wedded bliss, but instead of the wedding, there is the waking up together in bed scene, peaceful and cozy in their matching pajamas. (Matching jammies being the Korean shorthand for married couples – we don’t even need to see the wedding rings to be sure, though we do get a shot of the shiny gold bands just to make this all PG.) I thought the drone shot of them outside the window, panning out to see the rest of the cast and then the crew was a fun way to close the series too.

I also really enjoyed every minute with Chan – what a shiny bright future Ahn Hyo-seop has! They handled his crush on So-ri so sweetly, and realistically. He wasn’t some obsessive, stalking, jealous young psycho; he was a hard-working, tender-hearted, loving and giving young man. He was the series most perfect character. Does he fully believe that he has a chance with his ‘stairs ahjumma’? I don’t think so, but he does know that he has to try, even if he fails, just as with his rowing career. He listens to his heart and has the courage of his convictions, but not to the point that he wants anyone to worry or suffer. He can’t even tell anyone about his ankle because he doesn’t want them to worry. He’s like a pure, golden child; he desperately worries about his uncle’s mental health, he wants only to have those he loves happy and near him. If they’d made him an honor roll student he’d have been obnoxiously perfect; he wouldn’t have needed a scull, he could have walked on water. Instead, he’s a little dim about that chick of his, and his spelling could use some work, but he’s so adorable you just want to take him home and keep him. I don’t blame that girl for having a crush on him at all! They kept him true to character too, so when So-ri gently lets him down he doesn’t turn bitter and resentful; he kind of always knew it was a pipe dream, but he was brave enough to try. He’s a great contrast to his uncle; he’s not afraid to try, get knocked down a bit, and learn from it all.

I thought the revelation sequences were very well done, and fit well within the overall tone of the series. There was heartache, to be sure, but it wasn’t over the top and manufactured. She was always going to find out about their past, just as he was, but it was so lovely the way the show let us hurt with them a little bit (and fear a wee bit about Woo-jin’s possible return to his guilt-ridden past) but then tell us that they were thoughtful young people who could actually find a way to talk things out. It was perfectly plausible that she, just as he, had noticed an attractive young person of the opposite sex and developed a crush. Her “Crescendo” nickname was cute – her feelings just grew and grew as she saw him – and they still do. His learning that she had been as interested in him as he was in her was a little bit of a healing balm, but also so too was the knowledge that she always rode that bus and always got off at the stop of “fatal destiny.” Nice touch, show. It was Fate, but not an implausible Fate.

Jennifer’s story finally coming out into the open was not exactly a surprise, you could figure out that something like the loss of family led to her behavior, but it was complementary to have her need to learn the same advice she was dishing out to Woo-jin. The Fate of her tie to Woo-jin and So-ri, all three having been damaged by the same accident was a little dramatic license, but they needed a magical Mary Poppins to come in, but not be a total weirdo. This actress, Ye Ji-won, always brings something different to her characters, that’s for sure.

I will say that I was a little annoyed with the doctor classmate and his attitude, but honestly, it was probably also some of the more genuine sentiment that we got all throughout the drama. I can understand how he might have felt that he was So-ri’s protector and guardian and in a way, in a type of relationship with her (if a doctor can have a relationship with a comatose patient). Once he could see the bonds she had made with Chan and his friends, and see how mutually true the relationship was with Woo-jin, he retreated to being the concerned friend, and that was just the right note.

I was sad that So-ri’s uncle had turned to drink and died as a result, but could there have been a good ending with him having been instead a scoundrel? They gave us a little hope that it was he, having turned manual laborer after his business going bankrupt, was the one paying the bills, but it was not to be. The only odd little note was the reserved attitude of her aunt by marriage towards So-ri, and her hesitation at the bond between So-ri and her newly met nephew. Could it be that she felt guilt still? She needs her own Mary Poppins Jennifer to come and help her heal too!

Overall, thumbs up for me on this drama. I’m very glad to have taken the time to be thirty (times two) but seventeen (ish) again!

#30-but-17, #ahn-hyo-seop, #shin-hye-sun, #thirty-but-seventeen, #yang-se-jong, #ye-ji-won