23 May 2014


Roommate, The Introduction--Episode 1 part 1

Posted by lafer on May 23, 2014
Move over, Secret Love Affair, there's a new show in town.  It's not a drama, but I can tell within the first ten minutes it will be my new crack.  It's the new Korean variety show, Roommate.
bcook: love it! love it! love it! Warning Shin Sung Woo Ajusshi is mine! All Mine!! *marks her territory*
JoAnne: And every time you don't look I pat his butt.

The premise is simple - put 11 Korean celebrities together in a house with 60 cameras and film 24/7. While we call it Roommate, they call it Home Share, which I guess they thought was too difficult a concept for us English speakers to understand. But a Korean Big Brother with famous people - some I've really familiar with - this is soooo up my alley. There's nothing I like better than a little reality, even though I know that "reality" is a very loose term. (I'm still mourning over Yoon Han and Lee So Yeon - I SWEAR it was real.)
bcook: SMH I told you Yoon Han was just trying to get on TV. You didn't believe me.
JoAnne: Didn't watch it, but I remember your sadness. Me, I watched a few episodes of YoungYoung couple and I thought for sure Wooyoung liked her.  I lost track of it, though.
Watching this group of mostly strangers live and interact together is an often hilarious and sometimes touching experience. It's also  a constant reminder that the acting we see in dramas is just that - acting. But we'll get to that in a bit.
Episode 1 tackles the introductions with a look into their audition interviews. First up, the "senior" residents, actor/singer Shin Sung Woo and supermodel Lee So Ra.  Frankly, I've never heard of these two before, probably because they became famous way before I became interested in the kdrama world.  Sung Woo has been living alone for 30 years, while So Ra for 20. Both have a mature air to them, but while Sung Woo seems happy to live with others, So Ra seems a lot more anxious as even being with her family makes her uncomfortable. I'm already sensing there will be a whole new following for Sung Woo, the hot, gentle ajusshi!
bcook: Mine!! Mine!! Hands off Jo!! That hair! That beard! rwwwar. The age difference is ok. I'll give him blasian babies and he'll teach them how to rock. This is love people! Don't come between us. Lee So Ra was on strong heart. She didn't impress me in episode 1 (and 2 actually). Some of that might be editing because in ep 3 she seemed pretty fun.
JoAnne:  Cookie and I may come to blows over this one.  Show better hurry up and give us a flaw because this man is kind, gentle, generous, easy-going, thoughtful, handy, knows how to cook, sings like a dream, plays guitar, and LOOK AT HIM.  Lee So Ra, on the other hand...I have a soft spot for her because she is SO damn awkward, but still.  She introduces herself as a supermodel.  No.
 Next we have Lee Dong Wook (who's also narrating this first episode - they take turns for subsequent ones) and Hong Soo Hyun, both actors living with their parents for over 30 years.
bcook: Wookie!! Do I feel a little guilty gushing over my ajusshi and not wookie? ... I should but then I look at that magnificent facial hair and it doesn't seem to matter.
JoAnne:  I was particularly interested in these guys because 1) I never liked him or found him attractive and it puzzled me that everyone else did, and 2) I always dislike her characters intensely so I wondered if it was actually something about her that rubbed me the wrong way.  I am happy to report that they are both adorable and charming and I fell for them before the first episode was even over.
In theory I like Soo Hyun, but her last role as the drippy dishrag who got the (wrong) guy in A Little Love Never Hurts turned me off.  Luckily, this is NOT her real personality, and even though she says she is painfully shy, it seems as if her flirting, drinking champagne through a straw and playing go-stop are more in line with her true self.
bcook: I have to say when she pulled that champagne in a Nalgene (equivalent) move I laughed out loud. I consider myself shy (but only on the initial meeting) so I empathize.
JoAnne:  Yep, that was a good one.  And she's just so interested in seeing what it's like to live with people that it's charming.
Right away I can tell that Dong Wook will be a hoot, although not intentionally.  He starts out by sticking his foot in his mouth with a Freudian slip about his roommate being female, and when the host starts kidding him about it, Dong Wook replies "Should we just all die together?  Before the show even starts?"  Then we cut to an a clip of him with his mother, where she says he must live with her until he's married.  You have to laugh as he tells her he's afraid no one will want to marry him after viewing that clip. Yes, the perfect Hotel King persona is pretty much shattered within the first 2 minutes.
bcook: It makes him seem more real (which is always good for an actor). I have to admit his mother gave me pause but she seemed so happy to hear that he would have female roommates that I think she's eager to see him married off.
JoAnne: That point, when he said the bit about dying.  That's when I changed my mind about him. He's going to be fun.
ChanYeol from EXO is the first of 4 roommates who have been living in dorms.  He is new to me, as I have severely limited knowledge of KPop, but I bet he is popular and will bring in more than a few viewers.  As the first to arrive at the house, the humility and awe he displays is enough to make me immediately like him. Talk about a puppy!  He's like a little Golden Retriever, excitedly wagging his tail but not sure which direction to go or what to do when he gets there!
bcook: because I respect my life I will not say anything about ChanYeol except that he's AWESOME!
JoAnne: Fortunately, it's easy to say that about him because it's true.  What a complete love.  I do know a little bit about KPop and I am familiar with EXO and their music - which I often enjoy - but there are so many of them (12 11) that I don't know much about HIM, specifically.
Park Bom from 2NE1 is the next female roommate we see.  OK, I've never heard of her before, either. WHAT?! When I googled her I mostly saw articles about her plastic surgery, which is really, really, I mean REALLY apparent. (Although I guess it's working as I thought she was about 21 and she's actually 30.) I mainly was concerned her face might explode during filming, but having had the benefit of watching 3 episodes I can tell you that I actually love her spunk and craziness and am now routing for her loveline! (Or anyone's, for that matter.)
bcook: It does take a while to get used to the face. One article says her face looks puffy coz she suffers from some kind of lymph node disease. *shrug*.  I love her little flirtation with the camera in their room.
JoAnne:  I am not a fan of girl groups in general, but I do like 2NE1 quite often.  I don't know much about Park Bom except for the PS stuff and her reputation for being a bit odd.  I found her absolutely hilarious, though, and am quite certain I'll become very fond of her crazy, tiny, tiny, TINY butt.
When they introduce Seo Kang Joon, I'm shocked to see a) he's only 20 in American age (although he says he's 22) because he seemed a lot older in his role in Single Cunning Lady and b) he lives in a teeny tiny room with 5 other actors who line up to sleep on the floor, have only one outlet to share, have no furniture and eat mostly ramen.
He's so excited that he'll actually get to sleep in a real bed and is hoping he can have some meat to eat. Wow. This made me sad. Eat up, sweet boy!
bcook: I know!! So sad. Seeing this reminds you of the meat factory that is Korean entertainment. Though the Hollywood mill isn't any better so...
JoAnne:  He's part of the very first 'actor group', which is fashioned to work like an idol group, but mostly with acting.  Although they do all sing and dance, and he certainly has ability with the piano.  They debuted less than a year ago and he's the only one really doing any WORK so I'm sure money is tight, but I also think they probably edited that to play on our sympathies.  Not that the adorable puppy NEEDS more noona-love, because he gets it in spades.  And he is a talented actor already, so we'll see him in lots of things. That's good news!

Na Na from Orange Caramel is the last of the dorm-livers. She was named the second most beautiful woman in the world last year so I guess we can expect a little conceit from her, which she happily delivers from time to time. She also lives in a boarding house room with 4 others, no couch and no money.  Seriously, is this how these poor idols have to live? Even she admits it's a sad life. I'm beginning to feel so happy that they will get to experience some decent living conditions. Good thing this isn't a show where every week one person is voted out.
bcook: I like her! I want to be her friend. We'd probably have lots of fights but I bet she's a riot to party with. Apparently knetizens do not like her at all. smh.
JoAnne: Remember that I don't like girl groups, generally...all I know is that Orange Caramel is a sub-unit of After School.  I don't know anything about either of the groups.  I think Na Na is pretty, and she doesn't show any false modesty which is refreshing but SO not Korean - still, she seemed quite likeable here.  I'm looking forward to getting to see more of her.
Comedien Jo Se Ho, 21 year old mixed martial arts fighter Son Ga Yeon, and actor Park Min Woo round out the cast.  As soon as he enters the house, you can tell Jo Se Ho will be pretty much in control. He admittedly wants to use this opportunity to become friends with more celebrities, but his wit and wisdom, which we get to increasingly see in future episodes, make him a natural leader.
bcook: He was on Happy Together a while back and I wasn't too impressed with him. But he's adorably funny. This is a good vehicle for him I think.
JoAnne:  I was worried to hear that he's a comedian because so often their regular personalities are loud and pushy and suck all the air up - but he didn't do that all and I was very happy.  I also thought it was hilarious how he talks himself through being surrounded by all the pretty people while he is decidely normal in appearance.
Song Ga Yeon, on the other hand, is rather quiet and reserved, even though she could singlehandedly kick everyone's butt. It will be fun to see how she comes out of her shell.
bcook: She's cool! And much prettier than the female US MMA fighters.
JoAnne:  I agree!  I have never heard of her, but she's lovely and has a nice personality and I'm looking forward to more of her.
Actor Park Min Woo, who I just watched in I Need Romance 3 (and who I have to say looks about 21 but is actually 27) is slightly overshadowed by his flower boy roommate, Kang Joon. Some of their future conversations are hilarious, and I'm sure we'll see a lot of competitiveness going on between the two.
bcook: Those dimples man! Was he in I need Romance 3? What was his role? Why don't I remember those dimples?
Lafer:  I stand corrected.  It was Can We Love. Too many noona love lines this year. This is why I need nicknames for these guys.  I can't get their names or dramas straight!
JoAnne:  Min Woo Puppy was new to me with Flower Boy Ramen Shop, where he played the adorable Ba Wool in love with his noona.  And then in CWL he was the adorable baby daddy for his bitchy but ultimately ok noona.  He's immensely likeable, and I think he has a bit of a crush on Song Soo Hyun...who has the hots for Kang Joon but insists she likes both of the 'Flower Brothers' as dongsaengs.  We'll see.
So there we have the 11 roommates, who for different reasons agreed to do this show.  Next step, moving in. Let the fun begin!

.....to be continued

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