Will Goo Yeo-reum and Park Jae-hoon turn from friends to lovers or are they doomed to be in the friendzone forever?
Goo Yeo-reum (Lee Da-hee, Search: WWW) works as a producer of a reality show. Her longtime best friend Park Jae-hoon (Choi Si-won, Work Later, Drink Now) is a plastic surgeon. They've dated other people before and the subject of dating each other never came up. But all that is about to change when Jae-hoon finds himself a contestant in one of Yeo-reum's shows called Kingdom of Love. Along with the other contestants and members of the production staff, they must now ask themselves if they're ready to fall in love.
Full disclosure: k-drama rom-coms were what got me started in the k-drama rabbit hole. In more than a decade of watching k-drama rom-coms, I’ve noticed that Korea has a very wide range of what they consider as part of the rom-com genre. So these days, I start them with a wary eye waiting for the traumatic childhood, hidden birth secret, stalker, kidnapper, or absentee deadbeat parent to come out from the wings and play their role as a plot device to keep our fated lovers away from each other and also, ultimately bring them back together.
So it is always a delight for me to know when a drama has none or at the very least does not obsess over it. Enter Love Is for Suckers, a straightforward romance that keeps its focus on two longtime friends who must decide if they should finally risk their beautiful friendship for a shot at love. That’s a trope that’s been done to death but Lee Da-hee and Choi Si-won still make it work and get the audience invested in their long, meandering love story.
Perhaps it is because the leads in this story are older, more world-weary, and scarred by love that makes the audience root for them and wish they would realize that they’re each other’s sanctuary. There’s a place, too, for this kind of romance, one that is more cautious and less sensational, but not necessarily less intense. In fact, Yeo-rum and Jae-hoon’s most important conversations happen when they’re seated on benches or at a meal. There are no amusement park dates or rollercoaster confessions, no balloons or confetti, airport chases, or public confessions. There are real conversations that are dramatic in their honesty and simplicity.
All of these are in stark contrast to the scenes orchestrated in the “reality” TV show that’s going on around them. The subplot of a reality TV dating show is such a wonderful foil to the lead couple’s steady and quiet friendship. Filled with an interesting roster of supporting characters who show growth and development, and insightful glimpses of love in the made-up real world, the story within the story is just as engaging. In fact, it’s just as easy to be invested in the other contestants in the dating show as it is with the main characters. The back and forth between real and reel makes the show a pleasure to watch. Without it being preachy, the show actually has a lot to say about romantic love. And if those who still choose to believe in it are called suckers, well, count me in.
Love Is for Suckers is a wonderful love story, and definitely one of my favorites this year. It’s a shame it didn’t do so well in its ratings because I certainly found it more entertaining than the other rom-coms that rated higher. May more hopeful romantics discover this show.
16 episodes available on Viki