FantastiC episodes 1 and 2 Recap: Determining To Be More AuthentiC
JTBC's FantastiC tackles an entire casting list of serious issues from abuse to inner demons, balanced with stellar comedic timing and I have a feeling this show is going to have tons to say about friendship, closeness, transparency and comfort, as we bring together old friends and clear up some hurtful misunderstandings. The introduction to these characters hits the right marks, seeking to remind us all, that no matter what we may be going through, never to take yourself too seriously. And if you're anything like me, I'm sure you're hoping we continue this journey with more heartfelt laughter, than unhappy tears.
We jump right into our characters’ world, rolling cameras, on presumably the worst day of a couple of their lives. For high school besties Lee So Hye (Kim Hyun Joo) and Baek Seol (Park Si Yeon) are both confronted with how little control they have in what happens to them. Like most people, So Hye and Seol have lost touch over the years and their paths veering into two different directions. One would think that no matter how close they were in high school, the lives they’ve chosen for themselves has rendered them with little in common. Where So Hye chose career and success, Seol landed love and marriage but if nothing else, this narrative highlights the reality that tragedy, insecurity and loneliness eludes no one, regardless of lifestyles, career paths or social status.
So Hye may be a popular drama writer, but she realizes quickly that none of that matters when it comes to office politics, familial burdens or her health. If you ask me, she definitely gets a bit of a pile on, when she not only has to work with the biggest betrayer of her career, she pops by for a friendly script consult and finds out she has cancer, then is pressured financially by, not one, but both of her siblings. She’s being pulled at all sides and though she does end up blowing all her emotions at her weakest link, I couldn’t really blame her (for so many reasons).
However, no matter how shocked, surprised or sad So Hye may be, she decides to pick up and keep moving, by reconnecting with people that gave her some of the best memories of her life. I found this move of hers refreshing because it’s not like she wants to relive those times but rather she’s decided to stop taking herself for granted and wants to feel more like herself again with the warmest people she's ever known.
And that includes one of the coolest girls around, Seol. But unfortunately, Baek Seol has become little more than a wallflower and indentured servant to her politician in-laws. The contrast between young rambunctious, spunky Seol and current haggard housewife Seol was so stark, that when she strolls down into the wine cellar to collect that 29 million won ($27,000) bottle, I was certain she’d come back up and create a blood bath. Cause, you know, the life sh's living is rife with horror and cellars are just the best places to keep weapons (in my opinion).
The thing is, while her captors, I mean, family, may deserve sudden death, they feel completely justified in juicing Seol for all she’s worth, simply for becoming such a burden and shameful addition to their household. Ultimately she's a lemon (defective); unable to bear children, riddled with debts and sickly dependents. And they make no secret of their elitist indignation over her sullying their legacy by her very existence and find it quite suitable to keep her relegated to servitude, believing that's all she's good for.
So, it’s maddening and uncomfortable to watch as she cowers to their every balk and lies to her ever so grateful mother, heavy from the weight of her repayment. It's clear she feels indebted to them, regardless of how poorly they treat her, therefore when she has to ask, (or was it beg?) for permission to leave the house for something other than a grocery run, then finds her craptastic husband happily making out with another woman, it was no wonder she (literally) spun out of control. The saddest thing is even after she makes a break for it and tastes freedom, she has no choice but to return to her dungeon out of sheer obligation. And though I've only spent a short amount of time with her, I want a better life for her. I can't help but hope she finds the courage (and the funds) to leave, with nothing but the clothes on her back and the wind in her hair.
But if you think there’s nothing fun about this show, you haven’t met So Hye’s hottie foot acting hitman Ryu Hae Sung! For with him comes a myriad of emotions, filled with insecurities and hangups but by golly does he bring all the comedy as well! Whether it’s his random ab shots (which he sends to convince So Hye Hitman should show more skin), pouty puppy dog faces or painfully awful attempts to "get into character," Hae Sung brings sunshine. And I suppose, that’s what a huge Hallyu star is supposed to do, who cares about talent, right?
At least that’s what Hae Sung would like for everyone to believe he thinks. And honestly, he might have the world fooled, save his manager. Only he sees how hard Hae Sung works only to get laughed in the face for his meager (nonexistent?) skills. The meta of the table read was almost too much to handle, though Joo Sang Wook made every second comically perfect. There’s no doubt the man is an awful actor, but the knowledge that no one truly takes him seriously, nor has tried to help him over the years, coupled with the personal desire to give his grandmother one last drama to see, his attempts to get closer to So Hye again wrenches my heart because all I hear is a cry for help.
My personal favorite aspect of their dynamic is how put out she is by his antics and his complete enjoyment being so terribly annoying. I love that their feelings for one another aren't exactly mutual and her irritation, though warranted, is shallow. Something went horribly wrong between them, but she doesn't hate the guy and her gripes or complaints register more as upset with a petulant child (that you head butt sometimes), than scorn over the betrayal of a friend. Right now, I don’t see her wanting to patch up anything they once were but I think Hae Sung is reaching out and I’m certain he believes one day she’ll notice.