The Virtual Bride – E01

A strong-willed has-been idol star gets forced into a variety show where she has to pretend to be the daughter-in-law of an even more strong-willed traditional mother-in-law.  And, we get introduced to two goofy families.

THE RECAP

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Our main character, Oh Inyoung does her best on stage but the audience spends it’s time waiting for the next performer. Once the song is finished, Inyoung group walks off when a young and upcoming idol group walks past without giving the traditional greeting to the more experienced group. To add salt to injury, the leader of the youngster group bumps into a member of In-Young’s group and refuses to apologize.

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Inyoung grabs the younger girl and forces her to give a reluctant apology and greeting. Seeing how reluctant and rude the younger group is, Inyoung barely holds on to her calm but spjns around when the younger girl mutters that Inyoung’s group doesn’t deserve respect.

Instead of backing down, the youngster pipes up with, “Unni, you don’t like me, huh?” (For those who weren’t following Korean celebrity gossip, this is similar to what some sources say happened when Yaewon from the girl group Jewelry was allegedly rude to an older experienced but less poplar actress Lee Tae-Im causing the older girl to lash out at the younger one.

In the drama, Inyoung satisfies her anger by grabbing the younger girl’s hair. However, she loses the last laugh because her management company head (Kang Junsu) yells at her for being rude and hurting a more popular idol… Whom they had to pay the hospital bills and the cancelled appearance fees for.

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As the company head furiously chastises her, he gets a call from a producer about a call about a new TV show.

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Enter Choonja. She’s the matriarch of a traditional family whose business is to sell their handmade kimchi. Thanks to her younger son’s scheming and the state of current television production, a variety show producer wants to make a new variety show. It would place a modern idol as a fake daughter-in-law under the traditional Choonja.

At first Choonja is not that enthusiastic but she relents when her younger son tells her that her pride and joy first son Myungsuk, who is a professor, agreed to do it.

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At the same time, Inyoung is basically threatened to do the show even though she sulks that it is a lot of suffering for an idol star. The head of her management company basically tells her that if she does not do it, he won’t schedule her group for anything.

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The morning of the first filming, Choonja makes life miserable for her current real daughter-in-law (Semi) and we get some background. Her second son got Semi pregnant and begged her to marry him. As a result, she did but her mother-in-law is unsatisfied because she wanted to marry her son off to the daughter of a banker…

Semi pretends to be docile but she says everything that she wants under the guise of an apology – basically, that she is sorry for coming back to Choonja’s son which has ruined her own life as her husband is currently a bum.

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When Choonja snipes back that she needs a real respectable daughter-in-law, Semi throws her stuff down and leaves to yell at her husband. Semi demands to know when they are leaving his mother’s house as he promised her they would only need one year. Le sigh…

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Meanwhile, the first meeting between our fated lovebirds! Inyoung took some diarrhea medicine to debloat. However, the medicine keeps filling her up with gas instead. Unable to take the smell, her manager sends her to the public bathrooms… After which Inyoung quickly runs into her car and farts… But instead of her manager, her beau shows up.

She runs out and finds her manager next to their car which is parked a few spaces away… Hello first impression!

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The first impression with the family is a bomb as well… We get to see it with the variety show filter. Basically, none of the family members except the younger sons approve of Inyoung’s dress… She knows her family neighborhood but doesn’t know her tribe… And accidentally mistakes a question about her tribe as asking for the time she was in a gang in junior high…

Trying to smooth things over, the younger son asks her to sing a song. Instead of singing, Inyoung dances and overturns the table… As well as shocks the traditional adults…

She runs into her car and declares that she cannot do this but her manager basically tells her that this is her last chance.

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Choonja also calls to complain to her daughter. However, her daughter (Young-Ah) tells her mother to be patient as the girl is from her husband’s entertainment company. ^^

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Young-Ah has her own issues at work it seems. She tries to submit a proposal which is better than her direct superior’s and gets denied because her superior is her mother-in-law… When Young-Ah refuses to back down, her mother-in-law gets revenge by running home first and changing the pass code on her daughter-in-law’s house.

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At the same time, Inyoung is tasked with cleaning all of the kimchi and sauce jars where she realizes that her life is just about to get harder. She also one-up’s the other daughter in law by noting that she’s higher up in the fake family hierarchy… Her fake husband is the older brother…

After all the cleaning, she runs into her car only to find her beau as her manager has left already. Turns out, the company already posted her stuff to Choonja’s house and this is Inyoung’s last chance as the manager reminds her.

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Myungsuk calls Inyoung over to cheer her up… By showing her the amazing equations of the probability of them meeting like this coincidentally twice! Inyoung is not amused but Dongsuk saves her by appearing and we find out that Myungsuk had no idea about this variety show. Myungsuk refuses to play along until his grandfather appears and asks him to help out with the damage control of what his younger brother caused. Myungsuk reluctantly agrees and it looks like the show will continue!

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At the same time, Junsu arrives at home to find his wife sitting outside her door. He indulgent follows his mom into her apartment across from their own apartment and texts his wife the new keypass. Then he continues to indulge his mother who seems to be using her son as a substitute husband as her own husband left her for a younger woman… Meanwhile, Young-Ah looks at the calendar and sighs about her husband sleeping at his mother’s place again… Today was the night they hoped to become pregnant.

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Early next morning, Inyoung walks into the kitchen to find it full of activity. Semi brings Choonja some picked vegetables only to find Choonja taking out her frustration on how the veggies were prepares. Semi replies that she only followed her mother-in-law’s instructions and Choonja overturns the bowl onto the floor.

After Choonja leaves, Semi yells at the camera crew and also angrily stalks out. She goes straight to her husband to yell at him.

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In the middle of their lovers spat, a nearby Academy CEO calls to ask Semi to start teaching at his Academy.

Meanwhile, Junsu is stick reading a book to his mother while his poor wife anxiously waits for him…

Inyoung also finds it hard to sleep and goes outside to call her manager. As she talks to herself as if her manager was there, she hears a noise. Thinking that it’s a robber, she runs out after the guy with a urn lid and smacks the robber in the head.

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Unfortunately, the robber turns out to be Choonja’s adventurous but wayward husband. On the bright side, he knows of Inyoung’s group and is a fan!

Young-Ah also had a morning battle with her mother-in-law who wants to keep her from submitting her proposal…

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Back at home, Jungsuk takes his mother’s side and tries to convince Semi not to go to work. Semi has to physically push her husband away so she can get away…

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Inyoung is also busy. She brings her camera crew over to her fake husband’s room where she finds a blackboard… With the equation that her husband worked on all night. Ignorantly, she erases everything and draws a doodle on the board instead.

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Myungsuk comes in to find his work erased and he yells at her for being so stupid and erasing weeks of research. Inyoung reacts defensively and throws the eraser at his face.

MY TWO CENTS

On a first impression, the show seems adorably light and fluffy. Considering that Make A Woman Cry is heavy enough for me, I’m probably going to recap the next episode as well.

In the romcom world, it’s about time that someone poked fun at all of the variety shows that are gaining attention in Korea. It’s like there is a variety show about everything from the fake marriages in We Got Married to the Three Meals a Day farming variety to just a variety show about celebrities doing webshows to ride off the vlogging wave.

Returning to this drama specifically. Inyoung’s character is likeable enough. She’s a has-been idol who has some pride in her work. While, she isn’t a running candidate for the Korea Mother Theresa, not many people are. For her background and experiences, she seems normal and she has loyalty. She knew that there would be risks in standing up for her groupmate to the younger more popular group, but she did anyways.

Of course, Inyoung’s reaction seems more like a reaction to her own frustration at her current state than just protecting her groupmate. Yet, even if she’s complaining, she still does what is necessary and beneficial for her group whether it means taking diarrhea medicine or taking on the role in the variety show so that her groupmates don’t have to. Either way, she seems like an interesting character and I feel some empathy towards her.

I also thought that the Choonja/Semi conflict was interesting. It’s clear that Semi is no pushover and Choonja seems a bit overbearing. My drama instincts tell me that there may be a love triangle in the future with someone in the academy for Semi… She’s already had to deal with an overbearing and disrespecting mother-in-law for the mistake of trusting her idiot husband, let the games for her heart begin as well!

Finally, I am lukewarm but open to Myungsuk’s character. It is the typical goofy nerdy but cute character… I get it. But other than a stock character, I felt like I got nothing from the first episode.

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