First Impression – Suspicious Housekeeper

Dramas come and go, and so is the mood to watch them. Maybe I’m reaching a point where I’m not that addicted to dramas after being ‘forced’ to reduce the time spent for the addictive hobby. While I spend less time watching dramas, I do pay attention to the updates from the Kdramaland, witnessing the end of several dramas through the news and reading people’s takes on new shows. Since the blog was left without any updates for the last few weeks, I think it’s good to share my impression about Suspicious Housekeeper, the new drama on Mon-Tue slot that replaces Empire of Gold starting last week.

To be honest, I wasn’t planning to watch it, but when my Twitter friend dramacf raved about it, I thought that I need to give it a try. And I did.

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Suspicious Housekeeper (수상한 가정부) is a remake of the Jdrama Kaseifu no Mita, telling the story of a mysterious housekeeper Park Bok-nyeo (Choi Ji-woo) who is hired by a recently widowed father of four, Eun Sang-chul (Lee Sung-jae). The original Jdrama was a ratings hit back in 2011 but I think that’s not the only reason why SBS decided to produce a remake of it. I like the second part of the drama synopsis, where the mysterious housekeeper will be the person responsible of uniting the family after the mother’s death.

The first episode opens with the scene of Bok-nyeo presumably receiving an order to kill someone and she’s a woman that will do anything when she’s ordered to do so. I can assume that the dialogue “Is that an order?” “Yes!” “Then, I’ll follow your order.” will be common throughout the drama. Then, the scene jumps to the funeral of Sang-chul’s wife but only the youngest daughter Eun Hye-gyul actually cries during the funeral, while the others choose to stay there with solemn faces. Sang-chul, on the other hand, is awkward in front of his children, noticeably when he wants to introduce his co-worker Yoon Song-hwa (Wang Ji-hye) to them.

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The kids slowly show how they are affected with the sudden death of their mother, with the maknae Hye-gyul (Kang Ji-woo) being the most vocal, always stating about how much she misses their mother. The eldest daughter Han-gyul (Kim So-hyun) tries to take over the mother’s job of taking care of the house, but she can’t do much. The other two boys Doo-gyul (Chae Sang-woo) and Se-gyul (Nam Da-rim) serve as the mouth who complains and the one who tries to make peace, respectively.

Enters Bok-nyeo into the family’s picture, where she’s hired as the housekeeper through an agency, Happy Agency. She has this mysterious presence which continues to bug the whole family but she’s doing a great and perfect job despite her robotic manner of speaking. She’s a gifted housekeeper but communicating with others is not for her. She stays out of the family’s problems; however, that doesn’t mean the kids aren’t curious about her since she talks only for important things.

The family looks normal at first glance, except that each of the family members have their own issues to deal with. Being left alone to deal with the children, Sang-chul finds himself more awkward around them, plus his relationship with them wasn’t that comfortable to begin with. It’s a new thing to see in kdrama where the father who is supposed to be the leader of the family chickens out as early in the morning and chooses to stay inside the bathroom for as long as it permits to avoid looking at his children who’s still at loss with their mother’s sudden death. It turns out that his wedding was a shotgun wedding and he wasn’t ready to be a father, plus staying away from them when they moved to The Philippines made the relationship worse. Sang-chul was also in love with Song-hwa and the affair was the reason why his wife committed suicide. Song-hwa was the one who told the wife about it, but I’m also curious about Sang-chul: did he tell her about the affair before that? He looks so surprised to see the will left by his wife.

As for the kids, Han-gyul’s conflict is to deal with her father’s affair. She accidentally hears about it and chooses to deal with it alone while keeping it a secret from her younger siblings. Although the first two episodes provides a peek into her social life, I don’t really feel attached to her yet. I’m looking forward to how she would cope with the family problems and also with her own love line. Will there be any high school romance for her? I think it’s on its way, though I find the boyfriend Choi Soo-hyuk (Seo Kang-joon) a little TOO perfect. Suspicious, suspicious…

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Since Hye-gyul is the most talkative and friendly among the siblings, I’ve learned quite a few things about her. She’s a cheerful girl but beneath that exterior, she’s still a vulnerable baby without her mom. Her curiosity is one of her good qualities, though there are time where her questions result in awkward moments of silence and exchanging glances between the other family members. I like her budding companionship with Bok-nyeo and she’s spending most time with her compared with others. My favourite moments of them together are: when Hye-gyul wants to hold hands with Bok-nyeo, when they go to the river, and when Bok-nyeo shows her talent in magic. The cutest thing is that Hye-gyul loves to copy Bok-nyeo’s way of speaking, enough to annoy Doo-gyul.

The two middle brothers are not properly introduced yet but I like Se-gyul. It’s not that I hate Doo-gyul, I just adore Se-gyul so much! Plus, he happens to look like a little Lee Hyun-woo! Doo-gyul is the most wary about Bok-nyeo and I really hope to see him bonding with her because it will be great to see the hate turns into love.

Bok-nyeo’s background is still a big question mark to the people in the drama and also to me. It looks like the only person who knows about her past is the Director of the agency (Kim Hae-sook), who is a hilarious woman swinging from trying to tell ghost stories to laughing merrily. Although she tries not to get involved with the family, she’s somehow embroiled in their problems when they order her to do things. Based on the hints from the Director, she’s holding onto her painful past. Let’s just learn about it along the way.

Despite her cold exterior, she does show her emotions once in a while, especially when the family says something that probably reminds her of her past. Maybe it’s just me but in some scenes, instead of the blank stare she has almost all the time, her eyes look sad. She’s straightforward but it won’t be easy for her to open up and tell others about her own life. Bok-nyeo’s robotic manner of speaking is definitely a rare occurrence in real life but it serves as a comic relief at times. My personal favourite is when she’s reporting about Seung-chul to his father-in-law and vice versa, repeating the exact words using her robotic style.

Slated for 20 episodes, it does feel like watching a Jdrama at first, although the mysterious sound effect  is something new in kdrama. I’m sure it will include the flavours of kdrama in the upcoming episodes, though I’m hoping to see a different drama this time.

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