Review – Personal Taste
I just rewatched Personal Taste, after several years, and have to admit… it’s still a funny, cute, and charming K-Drama. Sure, it’s a bit dated. Sure, it’s over the top and almost laughably preposterous. Sure, it’s full of gay jokes that are just thin layers hiding serious homophobia. “You were born as a man but unable to fully live as one.” Jeez. You’ll just have to accept the icing on the cake is homophobia and let that go to enjoy the humor. Though on the flip side, it did feature one of the coolest gay dudes in K-Drama history, the classy Director Choi of the Art Museum. Anyways, despite the chips on the veneer – it’s so freakin’ adorable. Full of sex jokes and innuendo, this show knows how to have fun with its context and its subtext and pull you along for the ride.
First of all, Lee Min-Ho has never been better cast as the fussy heterosexual everyone easily mistakes for a flaming homosexual. This is one of his best roles, in my opinion.
Secondly, the female lead is absolutely lovable and adorable. The frumpy furniture designer living comfortably in her father’s badass house while her personal and professional life flounders. She’s such a “good girls come in last” stereotype, but instead of being pathetic – I really admired her and wanted to be her friend. I mean, I really, really wanted to be her friend. Why can’t I have friends like that? Why can’t I have friends like her friend? No, not the boyfriend stealing one or the money stealing one, but her bestie girlfriend, the humorous and loyal companion who will have your back for life. I loved her best friend. She’s the type of friend who will key the car of the person who hurt you and then buy you ice cream and say you look beautiful when mascara is running down your cheeks.
I love stories where the couple fall in love while sharing a house. I mean, it’s hard not to really get to know someone when you are co-habitating. That goes triple when you are sharing a house with paper walls. Literally, rice paper walls.
To me, one of the best staples of a classic K-Drama is the arch nemesis who has no conscience. Personal Taste provided an ice queen who knew no boundaries in her villainy. Combine her with a flaky, weak man who also stirred up trouble wherever he went, and you have a deadly cocktail of foils for our main couple. There were a lot of plot points – relationships, work, family, and friends – and they all worked well together. It also had one of the greatest first episodes in K-Land… a lot happened. Reminds me of She Was Pretty… another show with a great first episode.
Overall Rating – 8/10. A Prudish Virgin Finally Gets Laid.
More… including shop talk, gay musings, sex and spoilers follow…
The house really is awesome. I can see why someone who would fake being gay just to check it out. Damn. Good architecture is hard to find. The open layout, the courtyard, the separate little rooms. It was like having a mini palace. Everyone gets their quarters. Everyone shares common grounds. I will not lie – it is the thing I remember most about this show – the traditional Korean architecture style, so different from anything I had ever seen before, so fascinating and welcoming and beautiful.
I loved that house.
Now lets talk about the “gayness.” Remember how Sex in the City captured a particular point in time – including the myth that gay dudes are around to be besties with straight women… and you really can’t do better than securing a gay dude in your life if you’re a breeder… ? This theme was pretty prevalent for a decade or so. These shows are just a reflection of the era. We wanted to talk about gayness but still weren’t sure how to go about it – so it was always through the heterosexual lens. The movies “The Object of My Affection” or “The Next Best Thing” or “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” It’s the baby steps to equality, people. And in the process, sure, the gays were stereotyped and subplotted behind the hetero plotlines… but they were also VISIBLE… finally… characters with lines and stories and sympathies… humans on the screen, sure negated to straight comfort levels, but still… Will & Grace, they were there.
We’ve come a long way in a short while. Still not there… but moving in that direction.
Speaking of gay… hello Sun Joon! He played the gorgeous, entirely silent, model who played it gay for the photoshoots. And it was hot. And he is hot. Watching him caress all over another dude while being photographed was delicious.
You know, gay people have been playing it straight for eons, so it’s nice to see straight people playing gay every once in a while. Even gay for pay. I am not ashamed of loving it.
I also loved that a male/female friendship was able to form due to fake gay shenanigans. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, men and women can be FRIENDS. And good friends at that. It was so cute that two characters bonded while the dude was pretending to be gay – but even after the gig was up, they realized they missed each other. She was a happily married woman and he was a horny single dude – and guess what…? They could still be friends. Heterosexuals of the opposite sex can be friends! Alert the press! And thank you, K-Drama.
And we can’t forget about Director Choi – the uber classy, uber reserved, uber lovable Director of the Art Museum who was actually gay… and had a big ol’ crush on our leading man – who he thought was gay because the dude was pretending to be gay. So it’s not like our gorgeous Director was out pursuing straight dudes. He was way too classy for that.
This was such a solid, understated gay character that I can’t help but applaud this show for grounding their gay silliness with gay realness. This guy shared his story of tortured first love… and, we can only hope, found a little inspiration to try again. Of course we won’t see his happy ending, cause K-Dramas weren’t about to actually sexualize a real gay character – they’re still having trouble with it… so we just have to use our imaginations and pair off Director Choi with some handsome fellow in fan fiction. But at least they allowed this character dignity.
And last but not least… let’s talk about sex.
I don’t know if the writer’s of this show were reading my mom’s diary from the 1960s or what… but geesh. This romance was so sticky sweet and off the chain pre-teen girl-fantasy that you could get glitter in your eyes from watching it.
Handsome dude moves in with you – then proceeds to cook for you, clean for you, get maxi pads for you, rub your stomach when you have cramps, sing to you, carry you around when you’re drunk, nursemaid you back to health, go on picnics and tandem bike rides and dry your hair. And there will be hand holding but you don’t have to worry about him ever crossing your personal boundaries. Ever. Sleep with ease, virgin girl, the man beside you is immobilized. Just like Edward in Twilight. A young girl’s dream. Cuddle up beside him, sweetie, he has full restraint so you can abandon yours.
Except she wasn’t a teenager. She’s… what? Thirty? Geesh. Sometimes her behavior was so awkward it made me cringe. Thank God she finally got laid in the end. A girl shouldn’t go her whole life in fear of second base. And third. And…
Get some, girl.
Anyways, Personal Taste is a classic. And a good one. I highly recommend it, especially as a K-Drama primer.