Cunning Single Lady aka Sly Single Lady is a show that is completely misnamed. Pretty sure it’s one of those phrases that is skewed in translation. Even the descriptions about the show that I read don’t demonstrate the type of show this is. I didn’t have high expectations of it and I thought it would be a melodrama about ex-spouses. Instead, its hilarious and charming and if it ends well this week will be one that I re-watch just for the laughs.
Our leading lady, Na Ae Ra, can hardly be described as cunning. Unless pitching your transferable skills in jobs unrelated to the internship you’re applying for is cunning or sly. She is a honest and genuine person who we find out has high moral standards although she has a bit of a temper. She reprimands people for not using good manners often–sometimes nicely, sometimes not so much. Even when she momentarily tries to get revenge on her ex-husband for becoming successful because he used her idea for text messaging, she stops trying pretty quickly. For the first half of the show she is misunderstood and mistaken for a women who is trying to climb up in society by landing a wealthy man when really she is just a woman trying to survive.
Our leading man, Cha Jung Woo, on the outside looks like the epitome of a smooth, confident handsome chaebol. But really he’s just a nerd who is a gaming and computer coding genius. He is an awkward, but loyal guy who is angry because he thinks his wife dumped him because he was poor, but he really still loves her. It’s definitely a situation of “there’s a thin line between love and hate.”
From the beginning you can see their strong chemistry and how they gravitate toward each other. They definitely need to be in the running for cutest couple in the Dramafever awards. But since most likely the younger voting block will pick whatever idols are currently in a drama for that perhaps there should be a category for cutest older couple.
Hot or Not? Second Lead Syndrome
No worries for me about second lead syndrome (SLS) here. The actor isn’t my type even though his characters appears to be a pretty affable, yet lazy and spoiled guy. Commentary elsewhere about the show says there was plenty of others who instantly fell into SLS. I can’t see why, but hey, as a friend used to say, there’s a lid for every pot.
The Gook Family
The second leading lady Gook Yeo Jin is fantastic—at first. And then the writers took a strong, confident business woman and turned her into a screaming, delusional, unsympathetc shrew prone to hysterics. The longer the show goes on, the more annoying she becomes. Her single-minded, selfish pursuit of Jung Woo turns into obsession and finally after the millionth time of Jung Woo telling her he is not interested, she steals his company. What bothers me is that he was a nice person and friendly with her in a professional manner. Never did he give her the impression that he was interested in her in a romantic sense. But she willfully persists trying to strike her claim and then ruins him financially.
Her brother Sung Hyun is similar. His pursuit of Ae Ra isn’t as annoying, but once she tells him no, repeatedly it becomes tedious. The brother and sister are awful people. When things don’t go their way, they purposely try to hurt Ae Ra and Jung Woo by taking DonTalk from him. With friends like these who needs enemies! It’s not all that surprising however, because they learned it growing up with their father who willfully tries to hold on to his wife. He is essentially holding his kids hostage to try to lure her back once she escapes from him and goes to France to paint. All they know about love is what they’ve seen from their parents so it’s understandable that they have a dysfunctional view of it. I have that much sympathy for them but as the show goes on, not so much. They seem like spoiled brats who take all the toys back when things don’t go their way.
What! No misunderstandings?!
Okay in the beginning that backstory shows there were lots of misunderstandings. And there were plenty in at least the first five episodes. But here’s how Cunning Single Lady was atypical. That stopped somewhere along the way. Even though Cha Jeong Woo claimed to hate his ex-wife, the more he got to know her better than he did when they were married, the more confidence he has in her. There were not the usual misunderstandings. When he witnessed the aftermath of a fight with Yeo Jin, he didn’t instantly assume it was Ae Ra’s fault and get angry with her. He was considerate of Yeo Jin taking her to the hospital but looked for Ae Ra later, not to reprimand her but to comfort her. When Ae Ra thinks it’s best to break up with Jung Woo so that he can keep his business, he doesn’t get upset at her for pretending to be dating his former young friend Sung Hyun. He follows them to the movies and even childishly throws popcorn at them when Sung Hyun gets too close. But he trusts her. And eventually lures her away from him. Later we find out she had already confessed her plan to him while drunk and thinking she was talking to her friend Min Young. He comes to realize that her criticism of him is actually her cheering him on and pushing him forward whenever he’s down.
The Na Family
Ae Ra’s father and brother are charming rogues. That make you so mad but the women always forgive them no matter how many times they scam them. Min Young is such a good friend to Ae Ra, I kinda hate to see her fall for and start dating Ae Ra’s brother. Viewers can only hope she is able to keep him on the straight and narrow, gainfully employed and not stealing his sister’s money and causing problems but dealing with crooks.
Ae Ra’s dad clearly loves her mom and his children, but he too cares more about his appearance. He’d rather take the easy way than work. Leaving his wife and daughter to work hard just so they can live. He does seem to believe early on that Ae Ra and Jung Woo should be together and it deosn’t seem to be just for the money. He genuinely seems to sense that both still love each other and he is cheering for them to reunite and actively trying to help them.
Fun! Fun! Fun!
This show is really fun. I always looked forward to the next episode and felt giddy while watching and after each episode ended. For those who like traditional K-drama, this show has some elements of melodrama with the chaebol family storyline and the brief interactions with the Cha family mother and sister during the funeral. I was far less interested in the Gook story than seeing how Ae Ra and Jung Woo find their way back to each other. Most of the moments are hilarious. Myung Soo aka L from Infinite is adorable as Secretary Gil. He is the true friend of Jung Woo, not Sung Hyun, even though he is his personal assistant. CEO Cha and Secretary Gil’s bromance ranks with the best in K-dramas. Various sound effects are used as hilariously as they were in the show Reply 1997 (Answer Me 1997). Sung Hyun is most funny when he is fighting with Jung Woo in silly ways to win Ae Ra’s affections. That is really when you laugh yourself to death.
The nosy coworkers provide some great laughs too. The climber boss who frequently throws English into her sentences is somethimes a mean brown-noser but also sometimes fun and caring. The young snooty female coworker is irritating and the nerdy man whose family lives abroad is completely funny. I really want him to sign up for the company dental plan and go to the darn dentist!! The elevator scene in episode 13 is just one of many small, unexpected moments that will having you laughing like a fool.
Some parts weren’t meant to be funny such as when because of her prosthetic leg, Yeo Jin falls down a small slope. It ends up being funny because by this point in the story the audience hates her so instead of feeling sympathy, they laugh. Check out the comments on Viki.com. You’ll see.
A must watch and a re-watch
Overall this was an easy show to watch with many lovable main and supporting characters. This is one to put on your To Watch List. It’s best paired with a melodrama or action show to keep you in balance. I’m just loving that I finally got my Hollywood-esque, happily ever after ending for a show I truly enjoyed from start to finish.