I believe the reason why people watch romantic dramas despite the predictable plots and overused dialogues is because love is something that you can’t completely get sick of, no matter how many times you experience it. I rather like genres that constantly make me question everything throughout the series, but once in awhile, I find myself going back to good old romance when I want to relax. This time, my go-to romance drama happened to be More Than Friends.
More Than Friends is JTBC’s newest offering in the romance genre. The title gives away some of the story already, but the plot itself is something that most people can relate to—being friend-zoned. The story follows a group of friends and their love stories, friendships, struggles, and other experiences as they grow up. The focus is on two protagonists who keep coming back to each other even after establishing that they can only be friends. For ten years, the two have remained close friends while they circle around a series of misunderstandings that keep them from being lovers.
The series features a strong lineup of promising rookie actors led by stars Ong Seong-wu (At Eighteen) as the aloof but straightforward Lee Soo, Shin Ye-eun (Welcome) as the naive Kyung Woo-yeon, Kim Dong-jun (Chief of Staff 2) as the cool, charismatic CEO Ohn Joon-soo, Baek Soo-min (Hospital Playlist) as the smart and independent Han Jin-joo, Ahn Eun-jin (ID: Gangnam Beauty) as the hardworking and frank Kim Young-hee, Pyo Ji-hoon (Hotel del Luna) as the goofy and bubbly Jin Sang-hyuk, and Choi Chan-ho (Strangers from Hell) as Young-hee’s caring and thoughtful boyfriend Shin Hyun-jae.
Like many other romance series, I have already braced myself for the romantic clichés. You know, the scenes of a movie date where their hands touch as they reach for the popcorn at the same time, or where something threatens to fall on top of one character and the other rushes to save the moment and then they both fall on the ground, staring at each other in slow motion while realizing their feelings for the other.
But then again, it is these romantic cliches that make romance dramas so much fun. Fortunately, the two main stars Ong Seong-wu and Shin Ye-eun have worked on their onscreen romance chemistry, so it is not awkward watching them interact in the series. I have only watched the first two episodes, so I still can’t decide if Shin Ye-eun has the same chemistry with her other leading man Kim Dong-jun, as they have only interacted with each other two or three times so far. But things are looking promising.
Oftentimes, the first two episodes serve as introductions to the characters and the story, while the next few episodes are spent building up the characters. When it comes to first impressions, while the rest of the characters seem normal and ordinary, I find Lee Soo very complicated. For this review, I would like to focus on the two main characters, as their odd relationship, which is where the series revolves around.
Two episodes are not enough to determine Lee Soo’s real personality, but I have seen enough to determine that he is a very unpredictable character. From the start, Lee Soo attaches himself to Kyung Woo-yeon. He follows her around, talks to her, saves her from disasters, and even asks her to hang out with only the two of them, alone. Even when Woo-yeon does not want him around, Lee Soo persistently sticks his nose into her business.
Inevitably, Woo-yeon finds herself drawn to Lee Soo and eventually falls in love with him. On the day that Lee Soo is scheduled to go to the US to continue his studies, Woo-yeon decides to shoot her shot and confesses her feelings for him. Lee Soo proceeds to reject her without hesitation and tells her that he only sees her as a friend. Woo-yeon is heartbroken but decides to go out with other guys in hope of finding love for herself.
However, Woo-yeon is unable to move on and admits in the later part of the episode that she was not able to like someone as much as she liked Lee Soo, and that’s why her past relationships failed. She finds herself still longing for Lee Soo even after 10 years have passed and keeps coming back to him in hopes that her unrequited love can finally be reciprocated. Only to be rejected again and again by Lee Soo, who keeps insisting they should just stay as friends. Devastated, she eventually gives up and asks Lee Soo to never meet her again. Lee Soo, to my surprise, refuses to do so.
At this point, I’m finding Lee Soo incredibly selfish and insensitive. Even after Woo-yeon has declared her desire to move on from him, he continues to pester her—constantly telling her how much he misses her, helping her out, and even when Woo-yeon asks him to stay away, sticking with her even more. What strikes me the most is Lee Soo’s apparent unwillingness to let go of Woo-yeon, even when he refuses to reciprocate her affection. He is very straightforward with his words and sometimes hurts Woo-yeon’s feelings, all the while refusing to apologize.
At the end of the second episode, we are given a peek into Lee Soo’s childhood, which makes me understand his character more. He comes from a dysfunctional family where his parents always fought (and ended up divorced), so he grew up emotionally distant from his peers. I believe Lee Soo is not entirely indifferent towards Woo-yeon and feels some sort of attachment to her. But because love is somewhat foreign to him, he ends up pushing Woo-yeon away as a form of defense mechanism. However, he also does not want Woo-yeon out of his life, which further confuses her.
Like you, I, too, am looking forward to finding answers in the coming episodes. More than just the romance, I hope that Lee Soo will be able to find himself and heal his broken past before he is able to love another person. As for Woo-yeon, she may see herself as unlucky in the romance department, but the amount of love and loyalty she constantly gets from her friends, whom she considers her support system, is enough to make up for all the love that she could not get from her past failed relationships.
Admit it, you wished to be part of the circle of Woo-yeon’s friends when all of them comforted her. Especially Sang-hyuk, who even closes his restaurant down to give Woo-yeon the whole place to grieve. The friendships are as exciting as the main romantic relationship in this show, and that is why, even though I find the main couple’s dynamic slightly weird, I’m still looking forward to how this show continues its run.