Watch Wednesday

Watch Wednesday #20: Go Back Couple

Um, are the holidays making me crazy?!  I completely forgot to post this earlier.  It’s been a long week…

Like I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been watching an excellent show lately, so let’s just dive in and let me convince you to join me.  Because seriously.  People.  Go watch this already.

Go Back Couple

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Go Back Couple follows what is admittedly a very simple premise.  A couple, Ma Jin Joo and Choi Ban Do, freshly divorced, wake the next morning to find themselves in their 20-year-old bodies.  No explanation, all other parties completely unaware of their switch, they just open their eyes and they’re over a decade younger.  The two are left to decide:  Given the chance, would they choose each other again?

While the set-up itself is quite basic in its summary, Go Back Couple is a lot more complex than I thought it would be.  I mean, the title itself is quite kitschy, right?  It doesn’t exactly reek of anything deep or meaningful.  I was mostly expecting a series that was funny with a touch of drama and then the big come-to-terms moment and, wah-lah, finito–something along the lines of Seventeen Again, maybe.  Oh boy, did the weight of this show surprise me!

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The best way to introduce Go Back Couple is as a piece that centers around real issues with a hearty vein of comedy mixed in.  While the show itself seemed largely advertised as a light-hearted piece about a couple who is forced to remember just why they got married in the first place, it’s actually a show that pulls back several more layers of emotion and experience for all characters involved.

One great thing about the show is that the story and its characters don’t all entirely revolve around the center couple.  Oftentimes side characters–especially as they appear in the past in a genre such as this–can become like stagnant stepping blocks for the lead character or characters purpose.  They don’t have much worth outside of either helping or hurting this goal, and not much else.  This wasn’t the case for Go Back Couple.  The side characters are actively working on their own story arcs, especially considering the fact that they have no clue about the lead characters’ time-slip in the first place.

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Of course, the issue of Jin Joo and Ban Do take the major stage in this production and, dang, there’s a lot to be told.  We don’t know really anything about their history.  From the first 30-minutes of the show, we see that Ban Do is a workaholic in a salaryman’s job and that his intent on pleasing his employer has left Jin Joo, a stay-at-home mother to their young son, feeling isolated and unloved.  It is when Ban Do forgets their wedding anniversary that sets things in motion, resulting in their choice to divorce at the end of that day.

This is what we know, it’s what we’ve seen, but when you think about it there’s so much that isn’t known.  What got them here?  There had to be a moment that they were happy, right?  When did their marriage start to change?  As you watch the show, you’ll see more and more of the college setting where they met and that just brings up even more questions.  Where did it all begin?  When, how, where did they fall in love?  Can’t they be happy again?  Then you’re even asking yourself what you would be doing.  What would I do if I slipped back in time?  What if I never met my spouse?  The mystery brings a lot to the enjoyment.

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Go Back Couple is actually based on a pretty smutty webtoon titled Let’s Do It Again.  While the genre itself is the same, the drama takes an entirely new turn to the story and works on a far deeper level.  While the webtoon’s focus is on fanservice and some basic questions, Go Back Couple is surprisingly real.  And this is what makes the show so dang great.

These is a unique exploration of character that goes on in the show.  Jin Joo and Ban Do face the crushing loss of their son, Seo Jin, who doesn’t exist yet in the time they’re in.  Yes, they’re again full of youth and allowed to re-live or re-work their past life, but that past life leads to Seo Jin, who neither of them considers a mistake.  At the same time, Jin Joo finds the delight of being with her mother again, who is dead and gone in the future she came from.  It’s raw and striking.

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Don’t get me wrong, Go Back Couple isn’t all about the emotional impact.  At its roots, this is a freaking funny show to watch.  The characters are often over-the-top and outright hilarious, even within what is quite the emotional wreckage that is their situation.  The jokes are on spot and meld so comfortably with the dramatic set-up that it was continually impressive for me to watch.  And, oh my gosh, there’s a moment that parodies Descendants of the Sun and I just about died.  SO FREAKING FUNNY.

Perhaps the key to my enjoyment with Go Back Couple is the directing which lead to what is a very funny show, but never at the expense of characters.  The build-up, funny or not, almost always felt necessary, and the show takes this one-sided understanding of Jin Joo and Ban Do and really fleshes them out.  Ban Do isn’t just a workaholic, Jin Joo isn’t just your typical unhappy wife.  They both have histories which ground their future personas.  The suspension of belief is held together with excellent timing that includes a structure of scenes from the future, past-present, and the actual past.

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This is a show takes a look at marriage, adulthood, youth, parenthood, and friendship through an unfiltered and very relatable viewpoint.  Yes, it’s definitely a K-drama, but its bones are so well put together that you can confidently walk through any tropes that Go Back Couple utilizes and enjoy your ride.

Watch Go Back Couple on Drama Fever!  SERIOUSLY DO IT.

2 thoughts on “Watch Wednesday #20: Go Back Couple

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