First Impressions: “The Man Living In Our House”

After the end of “Moonlight Drawn by Clouds,” KBS is helping drama fans kick off the week with this new Monday-Tuesday drama starring Soo Ae, Kim Young Kwang, Lee Soo Hyuk, and Jo Bo Ah. “The Man Living in Our House” is based on a popular webtoon and marks Soo Ae’s return to the rom-com genre. What may appear at first glance to be the “two guys, two girls” formula starts off with an interesting twist that promises to make this an entertaining drama.

Is that cute, but almost typical rom-com drama poster a warning to not set expectations too high? Or can viewers look forward to a refreshing take on another fun webtoon? Read on for my initial impressions from the first two episodes.

Warning: some spoilers ahead!

Production Value

KBS

When I first saw this title I immediately thought of “Full House,” and imagined a drama centered around this supposed house as the main setting. I was relieved that this wasn’t the case. Soo Ae’s character, Hong Na Ri, works as a flight attendant, so the first episode featured a great look into her work and her relationships with her co-workers. In the first episode alone, scenes were shot in more places than I have fingers, which helped it move at a good pace both story-wise and visually.

What I enjoyed almost immediately was the styling. While Soo Ae wears her flight attendant uniform for a lot of the first episode, her appearance outside of work was at times “cute and comfortable” or “everyday lazy.” I definitely wouldn’t mind wearing her assortment of sweaters.

Hong Na Ri

The stylists are also doing a great job differentiating between the classes and personalities of the two main males, Ko Nan Gil (played by Kim Young Kwang) and Kwang Deok Bong (played by Lee Soo Hyuk). It was pretty much “love at first sight” for me and Kim Young Kwang’s hat in the first episode and Lee Soo Hyuk always looks good in suit attire.

Nan Gil

Deok Bong

Cast and Characters

One of the first things I check when a new drama is announced is the cast. The second? The writer. A writer can say a lot about a drama. If she’s written four tragedies, chances of a happy ending are slim. Some are really great at making cute side couples. All writers have their strengths and weaknesses, but Kim Eun Jung’s specialty?

Dialogue.

If you watched her last drama “Flower Boy Next Door” then you may remember the fast and amusing back-and-forth banter and cute mumbling by the main cast. The dialogue was one of my favorite things about that show, and if you liked that too, you’ll be happy to hear that this drama is very similar.

All these forces combined make for some fantastic meetings between the characters. I may have howled with laughter the first two times Hong Na Ri and Ko Nan Gil met. One moment he’s hiding in the grass while she yells on the phone in the woods, and the next she’s drunk and threatening him with a shovel.

Sweet Stranger Shovel

I think it’s safe to say we can look forward some really great chemistry and hilarity between the two leads.

Unfortunately, Jo Bo Ah’s character hasn’t stepped up as the second lead. She still strikes me as a third-tier character so far, but perhaps her role will increase as the show continues. I’ve really enjoyed her characters in the past and as much as I want to hate her for stealing Hong Na Ri’s boyfriend, her scenes with Kim Ji Hoon have been amusing.

The side characters are also great, from the other workers in the dumpling store to Hong Na Ri’s cheating boyfriend (played by Kim Ji Hoon) to a ridiculous doctor (played by In Gyo Jin) who introduces himself to viewers by examining Lee Soo Hyuk’s character and remarking, “Look how pale you are!” Lee Soo Hyuk is pretty pale, but wrong patient, Doctor.

Sweet Stranger Doctor

Basically, this show and the characters are perfectly aware of the ridiculous nature of some of these scenes. I actually like a comedy that is self-aware like this because it makes me think the actors got to have a lot of fun with the writing and their characters. Take Kwang Deok Bong’s reaction when he’s sitting in his car playing reluctant chauffeur and Ko Nan Gil sweeps Hong Na Ri up into his arms: “Is he shooting a movie?”

Nan Gil Na Ri

Sometimes it’s nice when a character says what we’re all thinking.

Story

So we have a webtoon and a writer who knows how to write a good retort. But what is “The Man Living In Our House” all about? There are two common female lead tropes in a rom-com: she’s down-on-her-luck but optimistic or life is good until she hits rock bottom. Hong Na Ri is the latter: she’s pretty, respected at her job, and is set to be engaged. Then comes rock bottom, starting with the death of her mother. Our main girl tries to make a clean getaway to her childhood home, but instead of doing some hometown soul-searching, she finds Ko Nan Gil, a man several years younger than her, living in her house.

Not only is her inheritance not all hers… surprise! He’s the stepdad she never knew about.

Sweet Stranger Picture

When I first saw another poster with four leads, I admit I was skeptical. This twist, however, may just be that pinch of something special to make this drama a sweet cake. There’s definitely a lot of potential for awkward situations as Hong Na Ri has to cope with moving in with her young stepdad.

Ko Nan Gil doesn’t make it easy either. He’s got tattoos, comes off as rough around the edges, and bashes heads with Hong Na Ri from the moment they meet.

This drama definitely starts off with a case of “suspicious motives.” We don’t know if Ko Nan Gil is a conman or not, and the second male lead, Kwang Deok Bong, jumps into their lives for less than cavalier reasons. At this point, we don’t know which male character we can trust and hopefully Hong Na Ri won’t pay a steep price trying to figure out the answer.

Final Thoughts

Will I continue watching this drama? Yes. The writing and characters have been thoroughly enjoyable thus far and I laughed plenty during these first two episodes. I’m definitely curious about Ko Nan Gil’s past and how the main characters are going to cope with the feelings that are sure to come. I mean, he’s her stepdad. Talk about awkward. But their chemistry is already something to love.

Lee Soo Hyuk’s interactions with the two main actors have been really fun, and the background music has that bouncy beat I love in drama scenes when something “silly” is going on. The background music and sound effects are definitely A+ so far.

Plus, I’m looking forward to more scenes like this:

Or maybe even the return of the straw hat.

Sweet Stranger Hat

Watch the first episode of “The Man Living in Our House” here:

heytoto currently teaches ELL in Seoul, and when she isn’t waiting in line for something, can be found drinking a latte.