Weekend Drama Report: Watching family dramas, with family

Hallo! We don’t have the energy for a regularly formatted Weekend Drama Report this week. So we (Paroma and Anisa) thought we’d talk about what we’ve been watching in a more conversational way. Let us know what you think of this new format!

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Anisa: I actually have been watching a bunch of stuff, but maybe the heat is getting to me? I’m a bit spare on words. But I am still watching and loving both My Unfamiliar Family and It’s Okay to Not Be Okay!

Paroma: I’ve been saving It’s Okay for a stretch of time when I’m not snatching minutes away from work to watch this drama. It deserves ALL of my attention. So, I’m woefully behind on it and quite jealous of all the oohs and aaahs I can hear in the social media chatter that I’m trying to tune out right now. 

Anisa: Probably wise! I’m all caught up and it’s KILLING ME to have to wait a week to find out what happens next. (Also my mom is lamenting that we’re watching it live, since she’s definitely a binge-watcher.) But beware spoilers! I’ve already accidentally seen one. *crying face*

Paroma: You lucky person. I wish I hadn’t started watching dramas live. It’s far more absorbing than marathoning ever was. I even envy you the accidental spoilers! 

Anisa: Noooo spoilers make me so upset! I wish I didn’t care, but it really does affect my viewing experience. So I guess the only solution is to watch the episode immediately when it drops. (Such a chore, really.)

Paroma: Ha. Which is exactly what I usually do. But now I have a nice big stash of episodes to get through this weekend.

Anisa: I won’t go into details since you’re quite behind, but what I’m appreciating more and more with this drama as it unfolds is how thoughtful, detailed and well-constructed the writing is. You get a clear sense that this writer knows where she’s going and has the confidence to get there. And the acting and directing are both SO GOOD that they maximize the impact of the excellent script. For an example, they’ve built the relationship between Kang-tae and Sang-tae so well, and with such delicate layers every episode, that when it is time for them to finally deal with their issues, the blowout is going to both be and feel epic. (Mang-tae OMG 😭)

Paroma: I rewatched the first four episodes a week ago. I never do that, A. Never! Not while it’s still airing. 

Anisa: Same here! I rewatched the first few episodes with my mom when she decided to start watching and I was still just as glued to the screen as I was the first time around. This drama is an all-around feast for the senses.

Paroma: The beautiful people, the gorgeous cinematography, the perfect background score… none of it would touch me so much without the wonderfully woven fairytale they’re telling us. I love it! (And I miss it!)

But what else are you watching, A?

Anisa: We’re coming to the end of My Unfamiliar Familytwo episodes to go!and I’m sad to see this group of people go, in all their bad, mad and brilliant human-ness. They’ve come such a long way from the hot mess they were individually and collectively, and I’m as proud of them as if they were my actual friends. Except Chan-hyuk. He has been perfect from the beginning and I want one for my own. If I hadn’t already been a huge fan of Kim Ji-suk, this show would have cemented my forever love for him.

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Paroma: Ha. I think we all know you want a Kim Ji-suk for your own. Hee.

Anisa: Yes well. Moving on.

But in seriousness, all these actors are SO GOOD and honestly whoever cast this show deserves all the awards. Han Ye-ri did an amazing job leading, as a character that I’d probably have hated played by another actress. But she has the charisma to pull off Eun-hee’s mistakes, her frustrating people-pleasing habits, her bursts of temper and stubbornness, all so relatable and personal. They balance her more endearing traits like her die-hard loyalty, the way she puts relationships above pride, her cuteness and willingness to laugh at herself—making her a fully formed person I love and root for wholeheartedly.

Paroma: I’m getting serious Father is Strange vibes, and I really want to watch this too. It’s sad that my entire spiel this week is how much I want to watch and can’t. 

Anisa: You know, as much as I enjoyed watching this week-to-week, I think you’ll really enjoy marathoning it once you do have time. Seeing the episodes in close succession as I’m doing now (watching again with my family from the beginning) really shows the brilliance of the writing, and how this drama builds entire characters out of little moments. How it slowly reveals the truth about every single person, and all these secrets and stories fit together to make the small universe of this family. 

Paroma: Do you have anything else on your viewing plate right now? Or is it all K-dramas?

Anisa: I finally started the Pakistani drama Zindagi Gulzar Hai, which originally aired in 2012 and which my grandmother, mom, sister, you and Saya have all seen and been recommending to me for years, haha. Even my brother watched it last summer! Now that I’m done with school and it’s too hot to do anything, my family and I have settled in to (re)watch it. 

Paroma: Dude, I think I recommended it two years ago! We even had listeners mailing in that they watched it (with mixed experiences). 

Anisa: I know! And my family saw it years before then! I don’t know why I waited so long. I do feel the gap in terms of how dated it feels at this point, because the production values are obviously not at 2020 levels, but more than that, some of the characters are really straining my patience. Especially the male lead, who really comes across as the villain of the piece. I know the show has an arc planned for him, but I’m not sure I’d be along for the ride if you all hadn’t already watched and loved it.

Paroma: It’s definitely aged worse than I’d thought it would at the time, even though its very twisted depiction of modern feminism was never very subtle. But what I deeply enjoyed in the show was the Austen-ish setup of marriages of convenience, caricaturish family members, stories of growth and relationship development, and above all, the resilience of Kashaf’s little family of four women in the face of hardship. 

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Anisa: I really love Kashaf’s family. The mom can be frustratingly selfless and Kashaf is full of bitterness, but I completely understand them, and as you say, the little fortress of solidarity they’ve built among the four of them is truly beautiful. And some of the dialogue, especially Kashaf’s voiceovers, is so enjoyable purely from a language standpointUrdu just has a poetic quality like nothing else.

Paroma: I particularly loved Kashaf’s bitter, jaded perspective. She was so refreshingly caustic all the time! And this was particularly interesting because a large part of her disillusionment with the world comes from how her father treated her family, and when she does soften, it’s because her character learns to trust in the love of a man. 

Anisa: I’m only at episode 10 and I get the feeling the story is just getting started now that Kashaf and whatshisface have had their big blowout in the library. 

Paroma: Oh my god it gets so much better AFTER the halfway point. Though whatshisface is really a sweetheart in real life, so forgive him his awfulness in the first half, eh? 

Anisa: It’s funny because I was ranting and raving about how much I hated him, and my mom was like, “It’s not any worse than a K-drama.” I replied, “If it was a K-drama, I would have dropped it by now!”

Paroma: Aunty can land some sick burns. Heh.

Anisa: She has a gift, haha. I’ll probably have finished it by the time we record the Long Yak, given that we’ve watched ten episodes in about three days, so I’ll have more thoughts about whathisface then. As well as Kashaf and her lovely family. (Not her dad though, he can go die.)

Paroma: Kashaf is seriously my fav, and the actress playing her is just as badass. I’m definitely looking forward to your thoughts on this show on the Yak!

 

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