Review – Last Scandal of My Life
I started this drama based solely on the romantic cover picture and the suggestive title. Little did I know this would not be a suave romantic drama but instead end up a delightful romantic comedy. Turns out it was exactly what I needed – a short, playful series about adults finding love (again) later in their lives. It’s not the best rom-com I’ve seen, but it was certainly charming and had a lot of the elements I cherish in k-dramas.
Overall Rating: 8/10
Let’s hold hands and skip while we examine this feel-good drama…
Much more than the above photo, this alternative title picture more accurately portrays the rom-com Last Scandal of My Life.
Big difference, no? Packaging matters, people!
This drama is about two people that fell in love during their last year of high school – were separated by college – and find each other again twenty years later.
The female, Sun-He (which comes out as Sunny in the dramafever subs) but whom I shall refer to as Super Mom in this post is played by Choi Jin-Shil. Super Mom has been married to a rather spineless fool of a man who’s squandered their finances on poor business choices and lands himself in jail. She has an unlikable step-sister and even more disagreeable step-mother, but don’t concern yourself – they all but vanish from the show after two or three episodes never to be seen or heard from again. Super Mom also has a plucky pre-teen daughter who is obsessed with Song Jae-Bin, a famous actor.
The male lead turns out to be none other than Song Jae-Bin, played by Jung Joon-Ho. He’s been pretending to be a decade younger than he is and enjoying his celebrity status. Let’s call him Super Star from now on. He lives with his older brother/business manager and his young nephew in a big (if not poorly decorated) mansion.
Super Mom is obviously down on her luck. Not only does her life suck, generally speaking, but she’s suffering from severe fashion-disorder.
Like most Cinderella-Makeover stories, we know right away that it won’t take much more than a new wardrobe, a flat iron and some contact lenses (she gets lasik surgery, actually) to turn our ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. But first, of course, she must meet Prince Charming (aka, Super Star) again.
Their paths cross twenty years later at a commercial shooting, where Super Mom is playing an extra to pick up some additional income. A labor strike, misunderstanding and bawdy fist fight later – the two long-lost lovers reunite.
They’ve both changed so much they don’t recognize one another, but once they do… it’s the inevitable dance of retained attraction, despite their different circumstances. She’s a married woman, after all, and in dire straits. He’s running around making movies under a fake name. As unlikely as it was that Super Mom would take film work as a part-time gig, the premise of this show is even more ridiculous. After failing to squeeze money out of Super Star to bail her whiny hubby out of jail, she is mistaken for the maid and much to Super Star’s horror (and secret delight) she accepts the position. A few episodes later, she’s moved into the guest house of his mansion and becomes an integral part of his daily routine. Do I mind that this is preposterous? Nope. It’s a rom-com. If I’m going to except her insane perm, I’ll accept anything else this show has to throw at me.
So, what about her jailbird husband? Well, a wealthy wine-bar owner sprung him out of jail after very frankly stating that she wants him for herself. Seeing a golden opportunity to live the life of luxury, jerkoff has his mother lie to his wife and say he’s on the run from creditors and left the country. The side plot of the hubby-on-the-run (not really) and the desperation of his wife to help him out is both pathetic and humorous. It’s pathetic because you feel terribly sorry for Super Mom and it’s hysterical because her douche husband is an extraordinary comedic actor. He pulls off elaborate, spur of the moment lies and dances around his own messy situation with a relatively sure foot. His new lady-friend baffles him by demanding a romantic courtship, wanting love over lust – which is unexpectedly ludicrous considering she basically bought the man. It’s like weirdos who buy hookers in Vegas then want to take them out to candlelit dinners and share secrets over lobster. Whatever. I guess if you’re paying you can ask for whatever you want. This lady wanted a lapdog and got one.
Meanwhile, Super Mom’s situation goes from bad to worse and she’s basically kicked out onto the streets – thus the sudden move in with her new employer. See, it works. Well, sorta.
The two bachelors and motherless child take to Super Mom instantly. Why? Because she’s Super Mom! She cooks, she cleans, she fusses and nags, she jumps when you say jump. She’s the perfect cliche housewife, caring and subservient and eager to please. Sure, she’ll grumble about it. The woman has some hysterical disgruntled facial expressions. She might even sass you a little – if you’re her ex-boyfriend that is. But she’ll still bend over backwards to met your stupid demands… cause she needs the job, damn it, and putting up with a house full of boys is preferable to the local homeless shelter.
The boys really run this show. They’re far more interesting and entertaining than any of the female characters, unfortunately. The cowardly husband (who becomes her ex-husband by tricking her into a divorce, the sly dog). The Super Star and his endearing childish, spoiled behavior and winning playful smile. The straight-laced older brother who keeps his small family in line at the cost of his own possible personal relationships. Let’s take a moment to talk about this guy, actually.
The older brother is played by Jung Woong-In, who plays serious characters very well. I think what makes him so incredible is that he has this really sweet, unexpected smile… and you just want to see it. Every time he’s walking about stoically, you’re thinking – this guy is such a sweetie… have you seen him smile? No? Let’s go tickle him!
He, too, is crushing on the new housekeeper. He admires her. He likes her smile and vitality. He likes how she takes care of her daughter. He likes how she takes care of his son even more. And he loves the stabilizing influence this woman has had over his home life. I actually thought Super Mom and the older brother made an attractive couple. There is an episode where he takes her to a beach house with his son and her daughter. When they’re all in the car together, you can’t help but notice the instant-family vibe. Naturally, nothing will come of this. It’s perfectly clear that Super Mom and Super Star will end up back together and never once in the show do you doubt this outcome.
Instead, the older brother gets to bond with his Super Star sibling. They are a powerful duo of opposites, but there’s enough familiarity and love there that it makes it easy to believe these two men were once boys together. They protect each other, they defend each other, and they secretly keep tabs on one another. They may get in fights but you know they’ll mend their disagreements later… possibly with binge drinking and passing out on the pool table.
Though this is a romantic comedy, it’s central theme is family. How families come together, how they break apart. How people become ingrained in each others’ lives. The bonding of mothers and daughters…
of fathers and sons…
The sweet transformations of reluctant (or unknowing) adults into parents…
Which leads us to our second female lead played by Pyeon Jung-Su. She’s a film star who’s been making it big in America, only to resurface in Korea – insistent on shooting a film with Super Star and just as eager to incorporate herself into his life. Turns out they’d been lovers once, but she left him for the states… but not before having an affair with his older brother that resulted in the adorable young nephew we’ve grown to love. Being a K-Drama, birth secrets abound. Is he really the son of the older brother… or… gasp!
This character also suffers from insane hair in her introduction but quickly abandons her eighties style for a more contemporary look, just as our main female lead. She is also largely under-developed as a character and pushed to the side when not being used as an easy plot device.
But with birth secrets, bad husbands, and more – this show will keep you entertained while you wait for the happy ending. There are so many playful, fun and endearing moments between the two families. Competitive spit-toss games on the deck…? Instant hit.
But enough about the family. Time to talk about the main couple.
They are really cute together. They have that cozy, teasing banter that seems to stem from sharing formative years together. I know this is true in my own life. The people who knew you in high school will never be the same as those you meet later in life. Whether this is good or bad is besides the point. There will always be a split screen when dealing with them – half showing your present self and the other half always reminding them of your past. You can’t help yourself and neither can they. Super Mom could never quite idolize Super Star or treat him as a respected celebrity… he was the guy who mooned over her in high school. Super Star could never quite accept the dowdy wardrobe and pathetic life circumstances of Super Mom… she once was the hottest girl in town and had the power to turn him into a gushing fool for love. It makes amusing dynamics, for the couple and us viewers.
Childhood sweethearts seem to easily revert to childishness together. And it’s fun and invigorating to watch.
Not to mention all their adorable “dates” that aren’t officially dates but we know (and they know) they are…
Super Mom, who has been stuck in her shell for years, seems to blossom into a smiling, assertive woman when she’s with Super Star. One of my favorite couple-aspects of the show was the use of walkie-talkies. Super Star uses the walkie to draw his love interest from one side of the house to the other, just to get near her, by coming up with a slew of preposterous requests. “Bring me my pillow!” Yeah, it’s that bully-style romance that sometimes annoys me, but it didn’t bother me in this show. I kinda wanted to bully Super Mom too, truth be told. That same impulse that makes me want to bully my own mother sometimes. A weird impulse that seems shameful when you become aware of it but is generally subconscious. She was so serious all the time (and with good reason mostly) that my instinct was to force her to lighten up, frustrate her, bother her a bit, get her attention… which Super Star always managed to do. He also managed to take his jokes too far – bumble his compliments – and be genuinely naive about her financial desperation. But whatever, I like my romantic leads to have flaws.
Though the lead couple were adorable together, they also kinda left me wanting. Which is why this drama isn’t more than 8/10 for me. Super Mom never seemed to crack under Super Star’s charm – and held in her emotions almost all the time. He was the one pursuing and pursuing and she just went along with it… but often it seemed unreciprocated. Especially at the end. Maybe she was just worn out by then… but geesh, lady, he just put an engagement ring on your finger, can’t you muster some emotion? He was the grinning fool for love again and she the aloof (or just tired, I don’t know) object of his affection.
Let’s face it, Super Mom shines when she’s being super mom… not romantic. Stick her in the kitchen, surround her with children and she’s the bright shining star of the family universe. I appreciated this unexpected ode to motherhood, adulthood and domestic bliss. Her ambitions did not go further than the home. And that’s kinda cool, cause modern society has a tendency to be a little disrespectful of stay-at-home moms and this show celebrated her and all the people who were better for having her in their lives.
So, if you want some family time on your television with a little romance and drama mixed in, check out Last Scandal of My Life. It’s a quick, breezy show that keeps a decent pace and wraps itself nicely with a bow at the end. Sure, there are better rom-coms… Secret Garden and Greatest Love spring to mind… but most of us have already seen those and are looking for something else, something a little different, something new (to you, it’s from 2008). This may be the next rom-com you add to your que, waiting to pull your sentimental heartstrings like a big mother’s day card with balloons attached.