Back it up, My Sassy Girl
After a long, deep slumber, this blog is finally resuscitated by what/who else, Prince Charming, a Korean one by the name of Oh Ji Ho. Only seven episodes (of 16) into the hit Korean dramedy, Get Karl, Oh Sung Jung! (aired last fall), I’m enamored by the irresistible physique and boyish dimples, of its ugly-duckling-turned-beautiful-swan who is the desired object of the title’s intrusive command to its leading lady, Soo Jung. Dumped by his fiancé after failing the bar exam, Go Man Soo vows to return triumphantly as a headlining success story, in both profession and appearance, becoming Karl Go, a rising PGA champion with the looks to paralyze any nearby female into abrupt seizures of unattainable fantasy. In the first few episodes, we find out he struck gold in America, even dating former IT girl, Gwyneth Paltrow (pre-Brad, pre-Apple, pre-Shallow Hal), before returning to Korea to find a suitable wife and end his glamorous bachelor life. Behind this publicist stunt is Karl’s true motive, to seek revenge against his former love, who falls short of the audience’s sympathy, as she exhibits all the temperaments of the perverse modern woman—brazenly charismatic, porcelain-figured, overtly pompous—yet considered a barren old spinster by society’s standards. Gold-digging through her friend’s dating agency, she needs to find a husband fast and loaded, and who better than her now 150-lb lighter ex-high school slave.
Since the show lacks the melodramatic polarization of virtue and vice, any clairvoyance about possible coupling is shrouded in suspense and uncertainty, driven by the faint glimmer that some form of re-marriage should occur towards the end, a comedic one for sure, a crying fest, why not? So far, it relies on the cat-and-mouse game to test out the limits of fidelity, of love without conditions, while displaying shamelessly all the luxuries afforded by the magic of television to dazzle us with upper class goods and leisure. To its advantage, the show overcompensates the wear-and-tear gimmick with uproarious slapstick performances by its two leads, hinting at the absurd lengths in which only the sitcom format could make such vengeful madness relatable. Will she change her ways? Will Karl take her back? Sound like the typical cliffhanger-engorged stakes that haunt and punctuate the fictional reality of Korean romances, yet the writing obsessively comments on its oh-so-obvious trials and tribulations, as character by character bemoan that these coincidences and happenstances could only occur in “dramas” and “movies.” In one of the most hilarious openings, Karl Go tells his caddy/manager that he calls himself Karl after noticing that all the men in films like Titanic and The Graduate suffer the loss of their betroved at the altar simply by sharing this fateful namesake…Karl (or its many variations).
Some have labeled this show as the television complement to the 2006 hit, 200 Pound Beauty, which I covered earlier. Though they can be categorized together by their superficial premises, Get Karl isn’t concerned with the plasticity of the body and how surgical artifices tend to be more real than the natural, rather, it revolves itself around the status of marriage and the question it asks for women already in the 30s and hitting menopause. Taking a page out of Carrie Bradshaw’s cop-out compromise that “Love itself is a label,” Get Karl confines love within the parameters of matrimony, and unlike the usual Debbie Downer PSA that this billion-dollar-per-year institution bakes dull Stepford wives out of our liberated single ladies, the life under this regime isn’t much different from the Match.com dog-date-dog world. Most of Sung Jung’s girlfriends, who are indeed secured with a husband plus/minus children, spend their time hatching plans and offering advice to our main protagonist. Their freedom not curbed nor resemble anything productive, though it procures the prospect that being a wife is fortunately, only a status symbol, a financial benefit, and yes—a label rather than a role to be taken seriously.
I have no clue where Karl and Soo Jung will end up, or when for that matter, but I’ll make sure to post about the finale, however of a whimper it might be.