What do you get when you mix a Tim Burton movie with a Korean Melodrama? We are about to find out, and I hope the entire drama is this eye-pleasing and tensely delicious.
Damaged women with A-mazing taste in clothes is kind of the new norm in Kdramas lately. Hotel del Luna, Mystic Pop-Up Bar, and now It’s Okay to Not Be Okay. I am NOT complaining. Well, as long as the very hard exterior of our female leads cracks and we get to meet the vulnerable underbelly of our heroines. Here are a few reasons you HAVE to watch, and some that might turn you away.
This is listed first because it is the best thing about this drama so far. The opening sequence is mesmerizing and could be a whole spooky children’s show itself. Go Moon Young (Seo Ye Ji) is a children’s book author, and her style of drawing is a bit morbid. The director has taken that and incorporated it into the show, and it is working so well.
Drama Geek: Not only was the opening stunning, but there is a scene where they keep making the city around them more like toys (the train totally made me think of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood) and they play around with her size. She gets big and towers over him. When he leaves, she grabs at him from a distance saying, “I want him,” while pinching her fingers around his little body. The directing is a huge part of the storytelling and I am digging it.
Kmuse: The claymation intro had my heart beating with joy. You know that cinematography is one of my must haves and this show does not disappoint. Even after you realize that the show isn’t magical and that our leading lady isn’t a real witch, you have this sense of fantasy that lingers and it is all because of the way it is filmed. Have to give a shout out to whoever is styling our cast. That has just as much impact in creating the dark fantasy vibe.
Clkytta: Wait, what? The show isn’t magical? I was totally entranced! The intro got me all excited. The mix of the claymation intro and the setup of their real lives works for me. Life can be so complicated, we all have trauma of some sort, and to see them use the claymation to give it more of a fantasy feel really resonates. True fairy tales aren’t what we see in Disney movies, they were far more gritty and bloody, so I’m intrigued with the presentation in this drama.
Karie the Maknae: Sometimes when we watch a new drama, we cross our fingers and chant “Please don’t suck please don’t suck please don’t suck.” But with It’s Okay Not to be Okay, I was too entranced from the very beginning to even be concerned. This dark fairytale began beautifully, and it has HUGE promise.
Kim Soo Hyun has RETURNED!
I am loving his portrayal of a slightly odd man who has many secrets in his past, and seems to be drawn to Moon Young, even though he knows she’s trouble. Where Kim Soo Hyun is shining is when he interacts with patients and his brother. He has a calm gravity about him, and genuinely seems to care about the people he takes care of.
Drama Geek: His soft smiles that balance out his more stoic personality draw me to his character. He’s had a hard life, and has spent it protecting his brother while running from his past. By the end of episode two, I was fully invested in seeing him and his brother move on from it and heal. Side note: he has phenomenal chemistry with Seo Ye Ji.
Kmuse: All the pain he keeps hidden with a fake smile comes through in his eyes. I love that his eyes also can’t hide the fascination he has with our leading lady. The way they eat her up whenever they lock gazes is hot, hot, hot!
Clkytta: His character is literally a caretaker; he takes care of everyone. He’s very observant, and he has so much compassion. His love for his brother is so strong. He is so strong, but I also think he is the one who has been hurt the most in life. He takes care of everyone else and doesn’t seem to take care of himself that well.
Karie the Maknae: Some of my favorite characters are the ones who bear their burdens or their pain stoically, because when we finally get to see their vulnerable sides, we see JUST how strong they’ve been this whole time. Something like that usually cracks my heart wide open for them. Kim Soo Hyun’s character is definitely one of those, and his journey intrigues me.
While the directing is fantastic, I think the other element that is really helping set the mood of this show is the music. It’s not your typical kdrama OST and I think it’s pairing so well with the visuals.
Drama Geek: I took my phone out 3 times trying to figure out the different song and artist. The opening song had Mr. Drama Geek coming over to listen too. It’s beautiful and so well paired to the show.
Kmuse: The fantasy element is really highlighted with the soft and haunting songs they have chosen for the OST. I think they will play heavily in my personal playlist for the next while.
Clkytta: The songs pull at you. They really have made some great choices for the OST. I’m someone who is pretty picky about the music choices a lot of dramas make, and so far, I totally approve the way this music connects me to the drama.
Karie the Maknae: The smallest details have had so much attention lavished on them that I’m not at all surprised at how well this OST blends with the drama.
Many Kdramas have started showing healthy ways for people to take care of both their minds and bodies, but they are not always the best or the most accurate, especially when the counselor ends up with their patient. With this drama, Kim Soo Hyun is a nurse and caretaker and the female lead isn’t his patient. They do show him working in a mental health ward, and there is potential for many situations where it could be questionable about how it’s handled. On the same note, his older brother is a person who is intellectually disabled. This is always an iffy area for me. If handled with care, the inclusion of characters like this can be a step forward in representation and understanding. So far, the actor’s portrayal feels well done.
Drama Geek: I think I stated most of how I feel about this. I always watch shows like this with trepidation, but like to give them a chance because talking about mental health and appropriate ways for it to be treated, really is the goal.
Kmuse: I have to agree. There are so many dramas that I just couldn’t make it through because of the way they treated mental health and medical treatments. Thankfully, this feels very organic and not forced into an over-the-top depiction of autism.
Clkytta: What I like is that he treats his brother with compassion and he considers his likes and dislikes. He gives him choices, and explains his options in a way that is not condescending. I also liked that he let his brother stand in line alone. His brother is allowed to make mistakes, but he gives him the space he needs.
Karie the Maknae: The handling here of mental health has been incredibly well done. It feels genuine in a way I haven’t seen in a long time, and I feel like all of the actors put a lot of time into figuring out just how trauma and differing mental abilities would affect their characters.
Go Moon Young
There is no other way to describe Seo Ye Ji in this drama other than STUNNING. Her aesthetic is gorgeous and takes from her drawing style. It’s slightly goth, and many outfits seem out of time. She writes children’s books, and loves to scare the pee right out of kids. Princesses aren’t the pretty ones in her books; it’s the witches. Everyone runs and hides their knives when she comes around, and possibly their puppies too. Her smooth voice lulls you until she strikes like a viper. Okay… so I might be a little bit in love. But, as you can see, she is not nice. She is very handsy with the lead, and seems a bit obsessed with him. There is definitely viewers who will be majorly turned off by her, and want to skip the drama.
Drama Geek: For me, the show hinges on her character. Will they be able to slowly break down her walls and reveal someone worth rooting for? Her treatment of his brother will the the key ingredient for my opinion of their relationship.
Kmuse: I love how the director has her visuals as a hard shell and every once in a while a flash of emotion comes through her eyes before she hardens the shell again. Not many actresses can pull that off but Seo Ye Ji is killing it with this performance so far.
Clkytta: Her character is hard and harsh, but she writes children’s books. Even though they aren’t the traditional fluffy bunny kid’s books, she has a large following of fans. Why? Because kids like to be scared, and they know that sometimes things aren’t always what they seem. I’m also curious how she will treat his brother, but I have a feeling that they will be very close.
Karie the Maknae: Knowing her trauma going into it helps me understand the choices she makes. She’s absolutely compelling and determined to control her world and follow anything she finds fascinating. I think that her awareness of her sociopathic tendencies is a brilliant twist.
Are We Going to Keep Watching?
Drama Geek: I am SO in for this drama. The aesthetic alone is worth checking out the first two episodes. I do think how they handle the areas I stated above, will decide whether I finish this one or not.
Kmuse: I hadn’t realized how much I was missing Kim Soo Hyun before I started this drama. Add in the fact that this OTP has sizzling hot chemistry and beautifully filmed scenes, and you can’t keep me away.
Clkytta: I’m in! So far it’s hitting all my feels and keeping me interested. I just need them to keep with the momentum and not have her change into someone who needs to be saved. She’s a total badass, let her be a badass.
Karie the Maknae: I’m absolutely thrilled with the writing and directing and styling of this drama. It’s darkly beautiful, and like Pandora’s box, I think we’ll find hope at the very bottom. I’m in.
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi