Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pretty Man: Is it really possible?

Nervous! Who me?
Mattei gets within touching distance and women lose the ability to think. Also, eat, sleep, read, write or speak in sentences with more than one syllable. It seems so far-fetched, and yet . . . I remember a restaurant waiter who served my table once. It must have been at least five years ago, but I've never forgotten him. Why? Because this guy was Beautiful with a capital Hubba, Hubba. He wasn't the ordinary level of good-looking. He rated off the charts. When he got near, I got flustered and couldn't make eye contact easily. It was the weirdest thing and it's never happened before or since. But because of that incident it helps me believe a guy like Dokko Mattei could exist.

That's not to say this drama is grounded in reality. But who cares when they give us such charming, oddball characters to laugh at for an hour? Their situations may be beyond belief, but their emotions feel true. Here are a few of the things I enjoyed in week 2 of Pretty Man:

Strike a Pose
Mattei's ability to Vogue it at a moment's notice cracks me up. He revels in the adoring glances women shoot his way and milks it for all it's worth. This sometimes leaves him stretched on a couch or broodily standing in the rain for hours at a time, but he must appear from his best angle, no matter what. You would expect to hate him for it, but this actually makes it all the more poignant when he drops the mask to do a little dance over his new car or dig in to a heaping plate of his favorite fried eggs.

Speaking of which, doesn't anybody feed this boy?
I just love the running gag of how Mattei enjoys the food Bo-tongie leaves him. First, he casts petty sneers at the homecooking. Then he daintily grabs his chopsticks and pokes around. And, finally, he shovels it into his mouth with all the finesse of a bulldozer. Is there a fat man inside him just itching to get out? How great would it be if they showed us his backstory was an overweight little boy being teased in school, until he hit a growth spurt and vowed never to go back. It would explain a lot, including his compulsion to always look good no matter what.

You can't fool me . . . can you?
This show excels at presenting ridiculous characters up front, and then explaining them little by little. How heartbreaking was Jaek-hee saving Mattei over herself, and then admitting she loved her money even more than him? And the electric fairy's handicapped parents who still worked because they wanted to help the less fortunate. Motivations are key. The writer knows that, and keeps giving us good reasons to forgive these morally bankrupt characters. Even the ice princesss, Yu-ra.

Don't get me wrong. I still think Yu-ra is eeeeevil . . . sorta. I mean how can you hate someone who just wants to go to her little girl's birthday party? The actress, Han Chae-young, is doing a great job painting some sympathetic colors into her black-hearted role. I still hate how she manipulates Mattei, but it's so much better when the villain actually has a believable reason for being the way she is. I forsee redemption in her future. Maybe she and her husband can get it right the second time around.

Two sides of the same wacked out coin
Can you imagine if these two defied the second-lead odds and got together? (It's never gonna happen, but just think about it.) They would have the weirdest, most hilarious, adorable children ever. I can just picture their family photos with Mom and Dad dressing everyone in hair hats and flower-printed cat suits. I enjoy their scenes so much, not only for their cute chemistry and wacky hijinks, but also the jealousy it instigates in Mattei.

Beauty and the Beast
I think we all know who the beast is in this equation. Honestly, Bo-tongie's all-consuming crush on Mattei seemed a little pathetic in the beginning. I'm happy to see that she recognizes when he's being a jerk and is not above pretend hitting him when he's not looking. She knows when he's being awful, but chooses him anyway. (It reminds me of Oh Ha-ni and Seung-jo in Playful Kiss.) And you can start to see that Mattei cares for her, as well. When she's hurt at the sock store, he not only tends to her, but also vehemently declares it's not her fault. Quite an accomplishment for such a self-centered egotist. I look forward to the day when he looks at his pixie stalker and sees her for the beauty she truly is.

So far, so good. Lots of questions left unanswered, including will Mattei get a new haircut for each romantic conquest? But we've got lots of time, and I'm enjoying the wacky ride.

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