Friday, April 4, 2014

WGM Global: Fake, but Funny

Who knew faux marriage could be so fun? The new We Got Married: Global Edition airs tomorrow and, in honor of Season 2, I dug out an old recap of last year’s premiere, starring Ok Taecyeon and Lee Hongki. (All the Bride of the Century fans should excuse me for my obvious bias towards the Taec/Gui Gui pairing. This was long before our scratchy-voiced Hongki played the charming, crankypants Kangjoo.) For those unfamiliar with the setup, two celebrities are paired up in a pretend marriage, complete with bogus ceremony and honeymoon. (No, I don't think they take the honeymoon THAT literally.) It's like getting a front row seat to the ultimate blind date, as we indulge our voyeuristic tendencies and secretly hope that one of these couples will fall in love for reals.

Episode 1 Recap
We open at JYP Office and our first groom, Korean Actor/Singer Taecyeon (Dream High, Wonderful Days), poses in front of a full-length mirror with one foot propped behind the other like he's in a revival of All That Jazz. The show reminds us of his boy group fame as a member of 2PM, and also gives the obligatory shot of his six-pack.

The bride, Taiwanese singer/actor Gui Gui, gets dolled up at a Seoul beauty salon and tries out her limited Korean as she greets the camera. The show tags her as a girl with "innocent and cute attractiveness." Now, be honest, who would really describe themselves that way on their Facebook page? When asked who her favorite member of 2PM is, she answers "Nichkhun" with a laugh, but then clarifies that she likes Nichkhun's face on Taecyeon's body. I think I like this girl.

The pretend lovers' first meeting is set at a Shoes Cafe. (I don't know what that is, but I'll take an order of Louis Vuitton's to go, please.) Taecyeon arrives first and fidgets as he waits for his other half. Under the half-drawn blinds, he sees a pair of legs walking outside and leans over to get a better look. The door opens ever so slowly. Gui Gui appears and immediately starts laughing. Taec interviews that his first impression was something very bright had entered the building.

They speak almost entirely in English which adds a whole other layer of cuteness. Taec lived in Boston for seven years, and his American is perfect, but hers is endearing. She communicates very well, but makes the little, grammatical errors here and there that lead to unintentional hilarity. She asks how she should address him and he says in no uncertain terms, "You will call me, Oppa." Gui Gui balks a little, protesting that there's only a year's difference in their ages, but Taec reiterates that he is Oppa.

They sit at the table with matching cups of hot cocoa. Taec takes a gentle sip, and she murmurs and waves at him to drink up. He panics when he realizes she literally means "One Shot" with the steamy beverage. Taec tries to keep up with his bubbly partner, but eventually reaches over to take the mug from her when it looks like she's going to lick the cup clean.

Then he asks a stupid question. "Do you like shoes?" Proving she's a girl, she says yes, and for some inexplicable reason, she's drawn to a pair of shiny, gold, grandpa loafers, complete with tassels. A hilarious sequence follows where he tries to put the shoes on for her and she freaks out, crying: "What are you doing? I don't the like the boy touching my . . . I can do myself." Taec collapses on the couch already worn out from his first thirty minutes of marriage. He later tells the interviewer he thought it would be this great Cinderella moment. Um, Fail! But in the best possible way for the viewers at home.

Gui Gui thinks he's buying the gold monstrosities for her, but he proves he's a guy, and says no. Cue Hilarious Interlude #2 as we see her version of Aegyo. She grabs his arm with both hands, swinging it back and forth while saying, "So saaaaaaaad." Despite this, he remains firm in his refusal to buy them. But she has her revenge later on when she dubs him "Scrooge" in an interview.

We meet our second groom, FT Island's lead singer Lee Hongki, though some may remember him better as Jeremy in You're Beautiful. It appears his real-life personality is a far cry from that sweet, doting character who only let himself be sad on buses. When his friends found out he was doing the show their reactions fell into two camps: “Don't Do It!” and “Oh, That Poor Girl!” Apparently, Hongki is not known as the best of boyfriends. He's the type that will let a door slam shut in the girl's face and then not understand why she's so upset. But there's something kind of cute about how readily he admits it.

His future, fake wife is being primped and polished. She is the very glamorous, Japanese actress Fujii Mina. She reveals that she would like a "Ladies First" type of guy, and we can all see the warning signs in the distance for this couple.

On the way to their first meeting, the bride "spontaneously" decides to send him a photo of herself. It's obviously an excuse for a cell phone commercial as she texts him cropped shots of her eyes, her chin, and her legs, for him to paste together into one photo. (This kind of blatant product placement totally works, since I am now a proud owner of the Galaxy Note 2.)

You can see the difference in the two grooms right away. While Taecyeon sat in nervous expectancy, noticing Gui Gui from the moment she walked by the window, Hongki sits with his back to the door, completely absorbed in writing something. He doesn't even hear when Mina enters and she's practically in front of him before he turns around.

Her beautiful face kind of throws him, and you almost hear his internal monologue:

Yes! My wife is hot!
Uhhhh . . . what do I do now?

Their conversation is painfully polite, in that forced setup kind of way. She likes books. He doesn't. She knows his work. He doesn't know hers.

The couple has the exact opposite situation of Taec and Gui Gui when Mina informs Hongki that she is two year older, but she doesn't want to be called Noona. (I understand age hierarchy is a huge deal in Korean society, but I'm with her on this. I would not want my husband constantly reminding me I'm older than him every time we have a conversation.)

He gives her an envelope that has puzzle pieces in it and, when you put them together, it forms a letter he's written her. Okay, I must admit I dig that. So does the bride as she starts fitting the puzzle together so fast it actually intimidates the groom.

Internal Monologue #2

She likes books AND she's good at puzzles.
Definitely have to up my game.

The personal note with a promise to grant her a wish impresses Mina. She interviews that the time passed very quickly for her. Add a point for Hongki. But then she says that she sees him more as a little brother than a husband. Subtract two points for Hongki.

Back to Couple #1, Taec and Gui Gui visit a ski resort and she delights in the dazzling snowy expanse. And I must add, it takes a very secure man to wear matching stuffed animal, couple earmuffs. They ride the ski lift, visit an igloo to take pictures with a sleepy, fake polar bear, and then Gui Gui rams her head right on the icy door jamb on her way out. These two are like an episode of I Love Lucy with the pratfalls, and Taecyeon refusing to buy her things.

Gui Gui initiates a very powdery snow fight with her new, pretend husband. He retaliates and pelts her with clouds of the stuff until she protests, and points out the difference between her snow-covered clothing and his pristine black coat. To make up for this, he throws the two handfuls he'd been holding on himself. So cute.
Taecyeon comes across very paternal as he tries to explain the snow is too loose for packing snowballs, but she runs away mid-lecture like an errant toddler. Then does a few more trips on the ice, just for our amusement. The groom looks . . . befuddled. You can tell he doesn't quite know what to do with this charming, childlike bride. But he tries to watch out for her by holding her hand and wiping her nose with a handkerchief. Maybe she should call him Appa instead of Oppa. He sings part of 2PM's hit song "I'll Be Back" for her, and they confirm that they both had fun as they walk off hand in hand.

Old Comments

I don't get romantic vibes from either couple, but the show is definitely entertaining. The hook is in the mutual culture shock going on in the already awkward context of a fake marriage. If it were only Hongki and Mina, I probably wouldn't stick around. They have their own brand of cuteness, but it's very well-behaved and low-key.

The star of the show is undoubtedly Gui Gui. Her charge-ahead cheerfulness, coupled with Taecyeon's bewildered good humor is a winning combination. It's a hilarious kind of slapstick comedy. Taec is obviously the straight man, standing around giving reaction shots as Gui Gui stumbles around building one-foot snowmen and running head first into igloos. You can tell that the crew finds her hilarious, as well, from how often you hear the PDs laughing in the background during her interviews.

New Comments

I admit after watching all 15 episodes, the Taec/Gui Gui interactions got a little repetitive, while Hongki/Mina’s relationship grew into something more natural and sweet. Season 1 must have been a hit, because the show is back for more with two new couples. You can watch it on the official Youtube channel or Dramafever. Come back next week for my initial reactions.

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