“Hi Bye Mama” ended its run a couple of days ago, since I’ve seen the drama I decided to watch it completely and then write an article about it. So today, we’re here to review “Hi Bye Mama.” This is a spoiler review, but don’t worry, if you want to know whether you should watch it, skip to the final section titled ‘should I watch this drama?’
“Hi Bye Mama” marked Kim Tae Hee’s return to the small screen for the first time in 5 years, people were anticipating the return of the actress. The ratings were okay, a lot better than many public channels dramas still, but many expected a bit better.
Note: as usual, this is a subjective review but I tried my best to look at it from both sides. Take it with a grain of salt.
The biggest reason why I was looking forward to “Hi Bye Mama” was the screenwriter, Kwon Hye Joo. It’s the same woman who wrote one of my all-time fav dramas “Go Back Couple.” This is the first time in a while that the biggest factor had been a screenwriter.
Don’t get me wrong, if the script sucks, I usually bail out but in most cases I watch if my fav actors are in certain dramas. If they’re unknown actors or actors I am not fond of, I’ll still watch if the script is amazing. Even if the actors are A+, if the script turns out to be bad, I always stop. But it’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about a screenwriter project.
Kwon Hye Joo seems to love combining fantasy with motherly-love in her works; “Hi Bye Mama” is very similar in its tone to “Go Back Couple.” It is still an entirely different entity of its own, but you can tell both scripts were written by the same person if you pay close attention.
Kwon Hye Joo writes with warmth, this is something I can’t say about a lot of kdrama writers. I don’t always feel the warmth in many kdramas and this is me life dramas, we’re not talking about violent crime dramas.
The thing I understood from “Hi Bye Mama” is that life is fucking unfair; it’s also something I’ve come to realize fully in recent years. I loved the message it delivered and it something I relate to, albeit in a different scenario, but still, I understand what the writer was going for.
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how nice you are or how much you take care of yourself and your surroundings, you could still end up in a lot of shit just because, and no explanation or justification is often provided. Sometimes, it just happens and there is nothing you can do about it.
“Hi Bye Mama” is about Yuri who’s life came to an end a bit too early, it’s something the writer touches on over and over again as Yuri cries about why this happened to her many times throughout the drama, oftentimes, it was heartbreaking to see.
“Hi Bye Mama” is a beautiful idea that didn’t need to be this long to deliver its message in my opinion. Let me explain.
The logistics behind 16-long episodes dramas is understandable if you know about the industry or have been watching for a while, it’s also the standard at this point but it doesn’t mean that you won’t find shorter kdramas. I don’t exactly know if the writer asked for 16 episodes or if they agreed on 16 episodes regardless, if you understand me.
I don’t think “Hi Bye Mama” had enough material to warrant those 16 episodes and that’s my biggest issue with it, among others I’ll get to shortly. It’s a heartwarming story that’ll make you cry at least twice every episode if not every single minute, but the same idea could’ve been delivered in more impactful way if it had been shorter.
“Hi Bye Mama” tells the story of Yuri , a mom who passed away before having her baby, she watches over her family as a ghost for five years before given the chance to live for 49 days, she must take back her place in society if she wants to stay alive.
“Hi Bye Mama” is a story that’s best fit for a movie not a drama, 8 episodes would’ve been enough or 10 if you wanted to drag this on. The writer didn’t exceed my expectations this time and I left feeling disappointed by what it could’ve been.
“Hi Bye Mama” is a plot-driven by the actions of its characters, but it ended up becoming extremely watered down to the point that I was questioning why on earth was it made this long. Yuri thinks it’s best to avoid the people she loves when she goes back to being human for too long. I understand the justification behind it but she keeps hanging out around the same places her loved ones frequent then acts shocked when she’s found it.
She only meets the people important to her either through coincidence or through sheer luck not early on but half-way through the drama, you can tell the writer has a concrete idea and an end goal but is literally strapping for ideas to dilute the plot as much as possible to fit 16 episodes. The characters also end up apologizing and agonizing over the same point over and over again during the second half of this drama.
To those who watched the drama and loved it I must sound pretty pretentious right now. “Hi Bye Mama” is one of the rare kdramas in which I can fully understand both sides of the arguments, those who found it heartwarming and those who found it draggy.
The key to my understanding is the screenwriter here, she writes her script with love and viewers can feel it through the actors’ performance, they might not understand why they feel that way but the writing is the key here. This is why “Hi Bye Mama” was a beautiful experience to many kdrama fans. If this drama sucks you in, it’s over.
Another point that annoyed and nearly made me quit “Hi Bye Mama” was the supporting actors, especially the god-awful annoying family of three who died in a car crash. I just wanted them to go away.
I don’t understand what the writer was aiming for exactly with the addition of ghost characters that continuously bother Yuri. At first, I thought the drama would shift in the direction of Yuri helping out every single one of them and that was briefly explored in the first episodes but it suddenly disappears and is never fully addressed again.
Yuri had enough on her plate and adding those characters just felt like filler scenes that shouldn’t have been there. Oftentimes, they were too much, wayyy too much. They took me out of the mood.
Other than that, I loved that “Hi Bye Mama” didn’t have an outright devil character that needed to be extracted, or anything that’s comically evil. All the characters were nice and make you wish you knew them in real life, they’re all normal people with nice characteristics, I really liked that.
My favorite character is the stepmother, I was surprised that they made her this nice but I think it made the drama a lot more fun and took it in a different direction adding more complications to Yuri’s decisions.
You end up rooting for Min Jung and Yuri and you wish that somehow they could both have a happy ending. The drama sucks you in and seriously makes you feel for each character, the actors did an amazing job, which leads us to our next point.
I often thought Kim Tae Hee was an okay actress. This might get on a lot of people’s nerves, but I never regarded her as one of the greats. She’s beautiful and I think that’s the biggest reason for her popularity, if she was average looking with the same acting skills, she wouldn’t have made it far.
Kim Tae Hee does okay in some roles and not-so-okay in others. Having said this, “Hi Bye Mama” is by far her best performance in recent years, in my opinion of course.
It felt that Kim Tae Hee was meant to play the role of Yuri; I honestly didn’t expect her to do this well. She literally carried the drama on her shoulders with her acting. I felt that Kim Tae Hee understood Yuri and above all sympathized with her, I often forgot I was watching Kim Tae Hee, she became Yuri to me and that’s the biggest compliment I can give her.
Kim Tae Hee is a mother to two daughters and that could be the reason why she felt a strong connection to Yuri. Regardless of the reasons, I think Kim Tae Hee did exceptionally well in this drama.
Every other actor is fucking amazing; I can never give enough praise to any of them. They all did so well.
The kid actor is okay, he’s not out of this world but he’s ok. In case you’re wondering why I am addressing the kid as ‘he’ that’s because it’s a boy playing the role of a girl, in case you didn’t know.
There was controversy surrounding that, many people including me found it weird and unnecessary, they could’ve cast a girl for this role but the mother said she’s got it under control, plus his parents are both psychology majors. If anyone has gotten it under control, it’s them.
The Ending [spoilers]
“Hi Bye Mama” screenwriter came under fire for the ending she wrote for the drama which I found puzzling to be honest with you. I mean if you watched the first couple of episodes, the ending was clear as the blue skies.
So when I heard the drama ending became controversial I was pissed. It almost felt as if the audience hadn’t been paying attention. Yuri has always stated that she never meant to take her place back over and over again, how could anyone have thought the character would change gears and suddenly become fixated on another goal?
I understand the ending and I actually like it. Its bitter-sweet and justifiable for this drama. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Not every drama is meant to end happily, sometimes, it’s best to end it with a sad note.
Should I Watch This Drama?
The answer to this question depends on you; do you like dramas about life and death? Do you like the actors involved in this production? Do you like crying your eyes out over and over again?
“Hi Bye Mama” is an emotionally draining drama, it’ll have you feeling all the feels. This can be taxing on some who’d rather watch happy kdramas, but if you want a good cry, please go watch it.
If you’re the type who likes well-written scripts that waste no time, “Hi Bye Mama” is probably not the best choice. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it a lot but I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who likes well-crafted scripts that get to the point fast and waste no time. It drags on and on and if you’re paying close attention, it’ll become too much and you’ll bored off your mind.
“Hi Bye Mama” has a lot of flaws and it mainly comes from its script and the 16-episode long format. However, it also has a very special message to share with the rest of this world and that’s something I’ll always give credit for.
“Hi Bye Mama” could’ve honestly been one of the BEST of 2020 if it had been shorter and more concise in its delivery. It’s a missed opportunity indeed especially considering how well everyone performed.