The Weekend Binge: "Gaus Electronics"
Marketing blunders, terrible bosses, clueless colleagues, and not-so-secret office affairs: Gaus Electronics is the hilarious 12-episode comedy series that gives k-drama fans a much-needed break from all the legal, murderous, and revenge dramas currently flooding the genre. Near-zero ratings may not have made this show a mainstream darling, but the raves it's been getting on social media have us wondering if Gaus Electronics is the real sleeper hit of 2022.
There isn’t really one giant plot to Gaus Electronics. Instead, it’s a slice-of-life comedy that revolves around Gaus' bumbling Marketing Team 3, and mines their highs, their lows, and everything hilarious in their corporate lives. Based on Kwak Baek-soo’s webcomic Gaus Jeonja which ran from 2011 to 2019, Gaus Electronics is a litany of corporate woes set to comedy. At only 45 minutes per episode, the show is a gathering of some serious comedic k-talent that generously gives us the smart, savvy, and sometimes completely bizarre after-work laugh trip we all need these days.
Stephen King once said that a “tragedy is a tragedy…but it takes a genius to make people laugh.” That probably explains why there’s only a handful of k-dramas that attempt 16 episodes of full comedy — the sheer brainpower needed to craft hilarious scenes and dole them out by the minute is not for every writer. This makes Gaus Electronics a rather courageous attempt to join that rather small cabal of comedy k-dramas, and it works quite well that we’d love to see more of it. Thanks to its whip-smart writing and extremely talented cast — especially to the comedic talents of Kwak Dong-yeon (Love in the Moonlight), Bae Hyun-sung (Our Blues), and forever villain Baek Hyun-jin (Political Fever) — you’ll find yourself literally laughing out loudly from jokes that wouldn’t have worked had they been given to lesser actors.
The show doesn’t even just poke fun at Korean work culture — it goes meta and pokes fun at how Korean work culture is depicted on TV. No product placements? No problem. Gaus Electronics makes their own post-episode “advertisements” which are more laughable than the real ones, and they even take time to mock coffee placements (watch out for “Mixim,” their own instant coffee mix). They also poke fun at business hero worship (count the number of times “Elon Musk” is mentioned) and the secrets of corporate culture (polyamory, anyone?). But mostly it pokes fun at the lengths subordinates will go to prove their love and loyalty to the company (scrubbing the boss’ back at a sauna? Sir, yes, sir!). If you’ve ever been a corporate slave, you’ll certainly relate to the brown-nosing, the credit-grabbing, the 365-style office evaluations, and most especially, the embarrassment of office karaoke. But of course, this being a k-drama, there’s also the expected tinge of heartbreak and some serious life lessons that simmer underneath the hilarity. Really, there’s something in here for everyone.
But what truly makes Gaus’ Marketing Team 3 shine is how they remain incredibly relatable despite the hilarious exaggerations. Anyone who’s suffered under a horrible boss, been secretly in love with a colleague, hated their projects, been pressured to deliver on impossible deadlines, and learned to tolerate loathsome co-workers will see themselves in this scrappy team who somehow manages to stay employed despite their daily chaos. This show, in its wisdom, knows how we can hate our work and our bosses every hour of the day, but we will somehow find the strength to keep going back every Monday morning anyway.
Now, this is the part of the review where I shall take time to gush about the absolute gem that is Kwak Dong-yeon. A quick look at his impressive filmography will show that he’s proved himself as a reliable working actor in the last decade. He has already worked alongside the big names: with Park Bo-gum in Love in the Moonlight, with Song Joong-ki in Vincenzo, and even scored a memorable cameo with Seo Yae-ji in It’s Okay to Not Be Okay. He’s certainly shown his talent for melodrama and nuance on the small screen and has proven he can work with the best of them. Gaus Electronics rightfully gives him the spotlight, and boy, does he ham it up. Not only does Kwak have great comedic timing and an impeccable poker face, he also dares to go all out when bizarre scenes call for it. What’s more thrilling is that Kwak can turn up the heat when he needs to, and the handful of hot scenes with his love interest Ko Sung-hee in this show should convince everyone that he needs to be a rom-com lead in a mainstream show, stat!
Second only to Kwak’s hilarious turn is the poker-faced comedic talent of Bae Hyun-sun, in a departure from the angsty teenage dad role we all saw him in the early episodes of Our Blues. Bae plays the secret chaebol heir Baek Ma-tan who insists on experiencing “ordinary” life at Gaus Electronics, but can’t seem to hide his privileged upbringing. Bae is so consistently deadpan and hilariously naïve that he manages to carry the comedy when Kwak and the rest of the cast no longer can. Fearless forecast: if Bae keeps playing his cards right in comedy and drama, he’ll definitely be an A-lister in a few years. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Even if the humor does taper off and slog through the middle of the show (it does hit the doldrums at around the sixth to the ninth episodes), the easy chemistry of the cast manages to keep the comedy afloat and the LOLs rolling. The show does have its fair share of physical comedy and some jokes land better than others, but as a whole, Gaus Electronics is a hoot and perfect for unwinding after work, best watched with a cold beer in hand.
Stream if: You're in the mood for something light and funny.
Skip if: Comedy isn't your jam.