Thoughts so far: The Greatest Marriage (2014)
OK, let’s be honest here. I started The Greatest Marriage just for fun because i couldn’t think of something else to watch at that time. Of course, some recommendations helped me to start it in the first place. It was already reaching the 8th episode, so since it was half the road it was meant to walk while airing i managed to give it a chance and see how it flows. Truth be told, it took me by storm unexpectedly. In one hand, i was glad it took me some time to start it because i would be unable to keep waiting for the next episode to air since TV Chosun changed its schedule from two to one episode per week during Saturday’s prime time. On the other hand, now that i did marathon The Greatest Marriage i don’t know how weeks are going to pass because i crave a new episode at the moment. And i have to admit that it’s one of the best dramas currently airing, if not one of the best dramas of 2014. After all, only two months are left until it reaches its end. And we’re only at the middle of The Greatest Marriage, so my hopes for an even greater flow on the next episodes and an ending worth its price in gold have reached another constellation up high. It’s based on the same-titled novel of Jung Yi Joon and while watching its adaptation on screen it never felt as if i was spending my time on it, it was more like investing my time on something humorous, meaningful and intense, it almost feels like a successful protest so far! It’s one of these series you start cherishing without realizing the moment this special drama-audience relationship started. By the time you notice it, it’s already too late, you just can’t get enough of it!
Scriptwriter Go Yoon Hee does an exceptional work on creating the main core of the series upon which everyone will step in order to make it work and reach completion. So, The Greatest Marriage, up to this moment it sums up really well the social discrimination, problems and dilemmas a modern woman has to face in modern societies. Of course it’s not the same way it used to be decades or even centuries ago, but patriarchal “values” and “ethics” still exist in which a man’s always right and ethical, especially when he wields power and money and the circle of men around praise him. On the contrary, a woman can truly suffer, at her workplace by colleagues, outdoors by neighbors or passers by, even at home by her own family members. Especially when she’s a divorcee or a single mother and if she happens to be a public figure then the problem is reaching another climax. It’s the key point, the problem’s real shape appears when many people know you and through you they express their circular or specific views on the matter. The power of the mob is something immense and frightening at the same time. And that’s the moment when one of our main figures appears, Cha Gi Young (Park Si Yeon) who is the news anchor of Korea Channel for nearly a decade. She’s fair with the news and she cares more about justice and morals rather than chasing at all costs the next big thing that would launch into space her channel’s ratings.
The Greatest Wedding wants to deliver some messages and it does it well, in a bit exaggerating manner sometimes, but since exaggerating things happen in modern reality they are not far from reality. And it depicts the South Korean reality, but it surely relates to other realities around the world. Something highly noticeable is the fact that everyone shines through his/her role, from the main actors/actresses to the supporting roles and everyone surrounding them. And the more you find it either hard or impossible to digest a character’s words and actions the better the actor’s impersonating his role. Another main figure is Park Tae Yun (Noh Min Woo), he’s a food reporter and a great cook himself, he’s not such a bad person, but he’s not that good either. His family is deeply conservative and preserves the patriarchal status to the core. This explains a lot about his personality and his extreme mood swings, of course it’s not enough to justify his words and actions, but it brings in a little understanding. Slowly and steadily his traumatic relations with his family appear one after the other.
Hyun Myung Yi (Uhm Hyun Kyung) is one of these girls a man would never like to meet. All she cares about is money and a wealthy life, something that would be the outcome of a marriage with a man with ultra heavy pockets. Love is not an option for her and she’s permanently working at Korea Channel as an intern. She might seem innocent to one’s eyes when she’s around people, but she’s treacherous and every mask she wears is according to plan for everything she says or does. I utterly dislike this figure, but she’s essential for The Greatest Marriage, since such women willing to throw away any part of self-respect do exist. As she stated, she used to be a part of a very rich family, but her family’s corporation was torn to pieces and debts, so she had to live a poor life all of a sudden. Apparently she couldn’t adjust to her new reality, although i’d like to see more facts about her past life and see the course that made her become such a cold-blooded and threatening person. Hyun Kyung is doing a great job as Myung Yi!
Now, Jo Eun Cha (Bae Soo Bin) comes from another planet. In one hand, you can’t digest him, he’s as disgusting as a man can be, a villain with manhood medals on his suit jacket. On the other hand, he’s hilarious and humorous. Especially when he’s in a difficult situation he’s more like a war captive rather than a colonel of manhood on a discriminative mission. He used to be a news anchor as well, but he wanted to chase a political career. Of course due to a scandal in his love life he couldn’t achieve anything in that sector. Such an oily man always has the right connections, so he managed to come back as a news anchor of Korea Channel. This time though he’s the second news anchor accompanying Cha Gi Young. It’s something his manly mind can’t comprehend and his ego won’t let him at ease. I’d like to find out what lies beneath the surface and of course i’d like to find out what made him be this way. I’m pretty sure there are certain facts in the past that forged such a strong and without moral constraints personality. Bae Soo Bin does an exceptional work as Eun Cha!
Director Oh Jong Rok does a really good job with closeups in order to capture the intensity of the moment giving the audience the opportunity to cherish one character’s emotions to the fullest. Everything’s depicted vividly and naturally through the characters’ expressions. The landscapes that appear during excursions are utterly beautiful as well. Our four main figures interact with each other in various aspects of their daily lives and on their side appear many distinctive figures that play their important part in The Greatest Marriage. Suddenly their lives become connected one way or another through misunderstandings, facts and actions and there’s a crucial point from which Gi Young gets pregnant and decides to proceed on her own as a single mother without Tae Yun, even though he’s the father of the baby. At the same time, Myung Yi is after Tae Eun’s money and tries her best to earn a place in his family. Tae Yun’s sister had a one night stand with Eun Cha and their relationship is one of the boiling pits of hell, whereas Tae Yun’s conservative parents can’t accept Gi Young as a daughter in law. Of course, feelings are mutual and she would never want such parents in law to make her life a living hell. Gi Young’s mother can’t bear the burden of her daughter as a single mother, there’s always the thought of what will other people say. But she has her best friend, Na Yun Hee, whose husband is an obstetrician and helps Gi Young with her pregnancy. There’s also Seo Hwe Pyung, the president of Korea Channel, and Eun Cha’s circle of minions that work at the channel. A brand new type of work comes to the surface through The Greatest Marriage, emergency husband! A hired husband to support a woman depending on the occasion, of course it requires money and it’s Pedro’s turn to stand by Tae Yun’s heartbroken sister Sun Nyeo. Last but not least, among others, comes Kim Joon Young, who is a restaurant owner and many of the main figures know him, he lies in the middle of chain reactions and works as the missing link in the turn of events.
I wouldn’t like to spoil the magic before you lay your eyes on The Greatest Marriage, so i presented some generic arch hints of the story so far, the rest is up to you to find out. At this very point my thoughts are more than positive and the next episodes are highly anticipated. Keep in mind that The Greatest Marriage is more meaningful than you’d expect. It’s a brave attempt of a drama from which both men and women could be taught a few things. Will Gi Young be able to survive in this vicious patriarchal world? In the end there can be only one first male lead, who will survive through the fog?