Contract Drama Face-Off: Business Proposal vs. Only Just Married vs. The Full-Time Wife Escapist

Three new dramas about contract relationships have popped up lately, all with outgoing female leads and reserved, formal male leads. They are all funny, and yet they are all different. Come see if I found a favorite!

Business Proposal

Drama Geek has already told us about the most boisterous one, the Korean drama Business Proposal, which is on Netflix. It’s about Ha Ri, who subs for her friend Young Seo on a blind date. It’s fun and fresh and full of silly surprises, like the animated archaeopteryx that pops out of Ha Ri’s phone when Tae Mu calls, because she thinks he looks like one!

Tae Mu has no time for all the blind dates his grandfather sets up for him, so he decides to marry the first woman he goes out with – and then changes his plan to contract dating instead. He likes to think he is proper at all times, but gets pulled into an epic chase around the office building.

Even though the second leads vie with the main leads for the cutest couple, the person stealing the show here is Tae Mu’s energetic Grandpa, who watches dramas every evening and just wants some great-grandchildren before he goes.

Only Just Married

This more subdued Japanese drama, Only Just Married, showed up recently on Viki. It’s about Akiha, a career woman who suddenly needs a lot of money to help her grandmother and agrees to a contract marriage. But the guy offering her five million yen is so nitpicky and such a neat freak – and has such a loud alarm clock that rings forever every morning – that she soon asks herself, “Can I do this?”

Shu, the original neat freak, looks shocked when he sees that Akiha has left her house key on the dining table. He had decided on a contract marriage to cover up his unrequited love for someone else, but is pretty clueless and proposed to two women on the same day. Let’s just say that didn’t turn out very well and water got thrown. He also thinks a wife isn’t someone he will have to interact with very much. Hahaha, sure.

Every episode they clash about something, and then somebody says just the right thing and helps them along. Shu’s sister-in-law tells him to make his wife happy, so he apologizes and asks for help getting up in the morning. Akiha starts to appreciate him for his gentleness and sweetness, and tries to help him with the cover-up, which sometimes gets out of hand. But for an adult to take so long to understand emotions and be so attached to routine, I decided that Shu must be on the spectrum – and that adds another layer to the story.

The Full-Time Wife Escapist

Another Japanese drama — it’s a few years old but just started to air weekly on Viki — is The Full-Time Wife Escapist. You might recognize it by its original title, We Married as a Job. It’s about Mikuri, who has a master’s degree and has been a temp worker at several places, but keeps being passed over for a real job. Finally, her dad gets her a chance as a part-time housekeeper for someone he knows from work. Craving being chosen for something, she is really pleased when Hiramasa likes her first day’s work and hires her.

Hiramasa, a top-notch software engineer, is a bachelor and ten years older than Mikuri. He is very bashful, but because she is so competent and takes care of him when he gets sick, they warm up to each other. After a few months, however, her parents decide to move away. That will destroy their cozy little setup, so the two of them pretend to get married so she can continue to work for him.

Hiramasa is detail-oriented enough that he figures out all the financial costs and lays them out on paper. One of the cutest parts of the drama is later when they negotiate their actual contract. Writing up a contract happens in most of these shows, but this show is more nuanced than most, and the way these two cooperate and work it out together gives it a warmer feeling than the others.

So which is my favorite?

Who can remain unmoved by this face? Business Proposal is the one that makes me laugh out loud the most, and is the one I’m more likely to watch with my granddaughter. I’m fonder of the characters in We Married as a Job, because they seem more real and relatable, and I’m for sure going to rewatch that one. I really love Akiha in Only Just Married, but Shu is a little hard to sympathize with, and his story arc is a little dragged out. My favorite character in that one was probably Shu’s brother, Asahi, who is really warmhearted and welcoming. Actually, you should watch all of them!

How many of these have you watched? Which is your favorite? Drop down in the comments and let me know!


Dramas With a Side of Kimchi

5 thoughts on “Contract Drama Face-Off: Business Proposal vs. Only Just Married vs. The Full-Time Wife Escapist

  1. Yes, they may have similar trope and characterizations on paper, but they have different tones (one is surreal but fun, one is relatable but cute, one is sweet but angsty) so there’s something for every mood 🙂

  2. I’ve watched all three but my favourite is We Married as a Job. I watched it years ago and still think of it at times (especially when I do housework….)

  3. Pingback: April 2022 Monthly Favorites – Phoenix Talks Pop Culture Japan

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