This has been a year of ups and downs when it comes to drama creativity, and onscreen chemistry, but how nice to have a few series to think back on that bring both, and in spades. I’m going to put Extra-ordinary You in that collection.
Because high school is many years ago for me (sob), there are times I just can’t get into dramas set in that age bracket and will often take a pass on dramas that others rave about, but there were some compelling arguments for giving this one a look/see and I’m so glad that I did. What first intrigued me was the premise; the characters were inhabiting the arbitrary world of an in-progress manhwa (or manga) and the main characters in the drama are not the main characters in the on-page story, but supporting characters — extras. This was a fresh take on the school setting and allowed a lot of unusual things to take place that introduced both creativity and urgency to the plot.
Eun Dan-oh, played by relative newcomer Kim Hye-yoon, is frustrated by her character’s nonsensical besotted behavior in the presence of her intended fiancé, Baek Kyung (Lee Jae-wook), who does the surly teen thing proud (he has his reasons, of course, for the attitude), and the fact that her character has been given a heart condition that is likely to be terminal in the course of the story. This irritation, and strange elements around her lead her to becoming “aware” of her surroundings. Her off-page character is feisty and energetic and determined to not take things lying down. If she can change her story and her future, she will do so.
A tall, almost mute fellow extra (so unimportant he doesn’t have a name) catches her eye and is instrumental in saving her in a situation; this leads to her becoming curious about him and how he seemingly has this ability to alter the course of the plot. She pursues a friendship with him and in doing so, gives him a name: Haru. Played by the extremely TD&H Rowoon of the group SF9, Haru slowly becomes more integral to the story, and the love of off-page Dan-oh’s life, to the increasing chagrin of Baek Kyung.
The problem with changing the plot without the unknown writer’s intention is that the so-called “butterfly wing effect” occurs. Things go askew in other aspects of the plot, and not always with the happiest of consequences. Complicating matters, it turns out the writer has been a little lazy when it comes to building characters and plot triangles in her/his works, and there is precedence to much of what will happen to Dan-oh, Haru, and Kyung, thanks to this “recycling” of concepts and characters.
This is a romantic little fantasy, and very gratifying in that regard. It’s not as mature in its fan service of kisses, etc., as Her Private Life, for example, but then it is a young adult-plus drama. Watching Haru be so protective of Dan-oh is lovely to watch (don’t we all have a thing for the tall protective male and the petite female in his arms?) and frankly, those glowering looks of Kyung as he seethes with anger towards his father’s on- and off-page actions and grows increasingly jealous of the relationship between Dan-oh and Haru are worth the price of admission on this drama. He’s another one of the reasons I chose to watch this drama; I enjoyed his work in WWW:Search so much I knew I wanted to see more and he did not disappoint. As sweet and lovely as he was in that prior drama he was angsty and sulky in this one. And, it turns out, he was filming them simultaneously, so talk about your mood swings!
I’ve seen some complaints online about the plot bogging down about the mid-point, but I did not find that to be the case for me. I was fascinated by the worlds created and wondered all the time how the drama writer would get them out of the plot holes created by story disruptions and the manhwa writer. I spent a ridiculous amount of time just admiring the “visuals” of the drama (oh, the dimples!) and really came to enjoy the plucky Eun Dan-oh.