“It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” First Half Is Simply Amazing But Has One Glaring Issue- Episode 1 To 8 Review

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“It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” marks Kim Soo Hyun’s first post-military drama comeback, and the pressure was on for the drama to do well, and in my opinion, its been a fun emotional ride.

Today I am here to review the first half of “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” and discuss why I love it so much. I’ll also talk about why I find the way it dealt with the mental health treatment aspect was lacking.




Note: this is a subjective review and will include spoilers of episode 1 to 8.

The script

The screenwriter of “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” only has one other credit to his/her name. But I think he/she doing an amazing job so far making us feel for the characters.

“It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” script is intriguing and feature the female lead as the psycho troublesome one when it’s usually the other way around.

In 2020, I’ve noticed a shift in kdramas, now many of them feature unlikeable female leads and that’s interesting to look at because it’s not always that you can create an ‘unlikeable’ character that becomes likeable as time goes by.

“It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” is supposed to be a healing drama so its pace is slower. The first two episodes weren’t exactly my favorite because I found them very average. I had high expectations going in and I am glad the drama changed my mind by the 4th episode.

Passing the characters introduction and expositions, what’s beyond that is intriguing to say the least. I really like the drama so far. It’s a mixture between fun and sad and deals with pain caused by parents and how it affects their children as they grow up.

The theme itself has been explored many times already so it’s not that unique but I’d say the combination of its intriguing characters is what makes the show so interesting because if they were ‘average,’ I don’t think it would’ve been half as interesting.




I said this before but I still worry whether “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” has enough material for 16 episodes. There are a couple of points left to explore but aside from that I don’t know if the show has enough material to fuel 8 more hours.

Writing interesting engaging content for 8 episodes isn’t easy at all and for healing dramas it’s a difficult balance because it can become tedious and boring if not done properly. So far, “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” is doing a good job.

I would’ve loved the script even more if it hadn’t introduced that mandatory second female lead who is very unlikeable. I am glad that the screenwriter didn’t attempt to create a full-fledged love triangle.

The characters and performances

These are my favorite part in this drama and I think it’s the reason I have stuck around, each one of our main characters has interesting qualities and their existence under the same roof provides entertainment because they will always clash at some point.

My favorite character is Sang Tae. I can talk about how great actor Oh Jung Se all day and it still wouldn’t do him justice but he’s flawless here and I can’t begin to imagine how tough it is to play such a character so well. Whenever he’s on screen, he simply steals the spotlight, I love the way he’s written and it never feels like he’s interrupting the flow of the drama like many other second male leads.

At first glance, Moon Young’s character appears to be similar to other female characters that are trying to be edgy but I think she’s written so well and I love the way she’s opening up.

She’s still herself but slightly less volatile. I think this character would’ve not ended up being this intriguing if another actress played it. Seo Ye Ji is a marvelous actress that gives her all, I am glad more international fans are getting to know her.

Generally speaking, I think “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” cast ensemble is one of the strongest this year.

Kim Soo hyun is also amazing, we all know that, and in this role he gives his all and isn’t afraid of experimenting. I like that he chose this particular drama as his comeback project instead of something over-the-top.

His crying scenes make me cry, and when he smiles my heart just melts. Can I also add that he’s such a treat to look at? I mean sometime I be watching the drama and his face just distracts me, how can he be this good looking?

My least favorite character in the drama is the CEO’s character. Aside from his overbearing qualities, the fact we have yet another ‘CEO’ who follows their artist/idol around again in a drama submitting to every demand is pretty darn disappointing. I expected better from the writer regarding this character, I wanted more than just this annoying CEO who keeps pestering her around and has no other motive but to drive the plot forward, in the most recent episodes we see that he’s becoming more than this one quality type of character but still, I didn’t expect to see such character in this drama.

And I don’t need to talk about chemistry for too long but Kim Soo Hyun and Seo Ye Ji’s chemistry is off the charts. I enjoy them together so much and I think this is Kim Soo Hyun’s best pairing EVER. I haven’t seen him having so much fun with a female co-star on screen before and I am happy they seem to be enjoying their time together filming.

The one issue that’s bothering me

“It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” tackles mental illness and the consequences of parents harming their kids one way or another. However, thus far, I’d say this part of the drama is not explored properly and at times, downright disappointing.

Unlike physical illness, mental illness requires constant care and sometimes, it’s something patients have to deal with for the rest of their lives. The drama has done a poor job at demonstrating that.




All the characters that had mental illnesses (thus far) were featured for one or two episodes but then suddenly resolved or thrown out of the window. Kwak Dong Yeon’s character had so much emotional baggage that was resolved in like two episodes, I am not here to say that radical therapy or sudden triggers might not work but logically speaking, the way they handled his exit was poorly done. Making it seem as if he’s ‘ready for discharge’ simply because he exposed his father in a rally is a very disappointing thing.

The same goes for other characters as well, the ahjumma whose daughter died gets a wake up call from Moon Young’s character and after acting delusional for quite some time, she just suddenly snaps back to reality because Moon Young told her off in the most awful way possible? That doesn’t really make sense. Suddenly, she’s realized was delusional and making shit up?

Which brings me to the biggest issue among those, Moon Young!

Moon Young is sick and has a mental illness that should be treated, thus far, not only has she not received treatment but the writer is treating ‘love’ like this miraculous potion that shall resolve her troubles and I find that sad, just sad.

Moon Young endured so much hardship under her psycho mother’s watch and finding someone to love or make her feel like she has a family isn’t going to resolve everything that happened to her.

We’re halfway through the drama and there is no mention of Moon Young’s getting treatment. She’s borderline crazy and could go off if someone triggers her too much; she could easily end up killing or seriously injuring someone because they got on her nerves. Even if those who do get on her nerves are assholes, it doesn’t make it okay to badly injure them or worse.

I hope that “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” focuses on getting Moon Young the therapy she desperately needs instead of using ‘love’ as the cure for everything, it will undermine the message the drama is trying to send.

I don’t mind it when dramas use mental health as the core subject of their plots but it should be done thoughtfully, thus far, I don’t think “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” is doing a good job at that.

Conclusion

I still deeply love “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” and its characters, I think the actors performances are simply amazing and they should be winning awards for that. Aside from the one issue I have with the drama thus far, I still think “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” is one of the best of 2020. I hope it keeps up the pace with its second half.

What about you guys, what do you think of the drama thus far?

8 COMMENTS

  1. I love KSH, he’s a good actor. I also think that the drama is lacking. It can be boring sometimes. But don’t get me wrong, this drama have good actors. I dont understand why the rating is just average . This is KSH comeback drama. It didn’t even come close to to DOTS, Goblin or CLOY. Maybe, KSH time has lapsed, or Koreans still think about his movie “Real”, which didnt have a good review.review

    • I highly doubt they’re considering his movie real, but I am surprised its not doing better. One thing is for sure, from my experience, healing korean dramas don’t usually do extremely well. They’re usually praised by critics but not as wildly popular as you’d imagine

    • I feel I’m seeing this trend with more fantastical, high-concept dramas lately, that k-netizens are just not feeling. A Korean commenter on YouTube explained it to me when I asked why World of the Married was more popular locally than TKEM, besides the better writing. They explained that World of the Married being more realistic and closer to their everyday life, it was more accessible.
      Me personally, I like to escape when watching TV, but I can understand wanting to seek some clarification and validation for the problems happening in one’s life.

  2. You said it all!
    I’m still waiting for Mun Young’s treatment!
    The CEO is just my least favourite too!
    And I also agree to the fact that if these characters weren’t used for this drama, there wouldn’t have been a better execution for the plot of the drama.

  3. Woah! I kinda agree with you coz i remember the guy in the drama “It’s Okay It’s Love” had to really get drug treatment and all for his schizophrenia. He even had to stay away from the female lead in order to get treated properly because they knew their love for each other isn’t the most realistic solution and medicine to his illness. But who knows, we’re still halfway of this drama anyway. I hope they address that sort of an issue in the drama to look more realistic (which is by the way ironic coz the drama seems to really lean on the fairytale-like theme and concept of the story)

  4. I kind of agree on the handling of mental illness or just internal issues overall. However, I do like the idea of Moon-young being this covert, inadvertent healer. I’m not a fan of coddling or sugar-coating the troubles of those that are sick. The goal should be getting to some form of self-sustaining normalcy, and no one is going to achieve that being babied. You have to be pushed and challenged at some point (safely and with care) to achieve a breakthrough. In Moon-young’s case, she’s the perfect person to dole out these tough love prescriptives, but it’s being handled very recklessly. And what good does it do anyone if they or she doesn’t even acknowledge or realize what she’s doing. The broken can be redeemed and even helped by helping others, but there needs to be some follow through or energy put into bringing it full circle to aid her healing as well. But the drama often drops the ball on that. Whenever we’re facing a major issue for Moon-young or even Kang-tae, it doesn’t get fleshed out, and we’re on to the next scene. It makes no sense because these characters talk A LOT, just not directly or about anything truly important.

    • So well put, thanks for your comment. I agree that whatever issue they’re faced with, it doesn’t get fleshed out properly. If they want to tackle mental illness they need to do a better job at it.

  5. hi! i just read your review about this. thank you for pointing out their superb acting skills. i agree with you—the cast is amazing.

    but I would have to disagree with your points—especially in terms of how mental health problems are portrayed and dealt with. I have mental health issues as well, so watching this drama was a tough decision for me. i’m glad it is becoming one of the best choices:

    1) The show is NOT even using “love” to deal with Moon-young. Kang-tae didn’t even stop her nightmares or stop hee from being a volatile person. When MY had a nightmare, all KT did was help her not feel that shitty the next day. MY’s triggers to do better are her own works and the messages she imparted on them.
    – Zombie Kid (warmth vs hunger)
    – The Boy Who Ate Nightmares (face your trauma)
    – Cheerful Dog (cut your leash, which in this case, is her mom)

    What did KT do? Remind her that these works exist. But who wrote these books and took it upon herself to make the first step? Moon-young. I saw a good thread online which explains this.

    https://twitter.com/midflight18/status/1283750983277752322?s=21

    2) On Gido and the mom
    I’m not sure if you’ve seen it but in episode 4, the director mentioned something along the lines of “your son will get better”. but he did not say that the son is healed. The fact that the son is planned to be transferred to another mental health facility made it clear that the son still has his manic episodes. It’s just that the son took his first step towards getting better.

    – Same with the mom. In episode 7, the director told her to take the time and pause. It’s just that letting go of the shawl relieved her of the burden of having to hold on to her daughter. episode 6 and 7 were pretty clear on showing the intensity and extent of her major depressive disorder with psychotic features.

    There are really a lot of insightful users on Twitter, Tumblr, etc. I appreciate reading reviews, but I really hope that the matters I pointed out are reevaluated in the review that you wrote. It is misleading and builds a relatively biased notion against the drama, that has been doing a nice job portraying it.

    It is disheartening that some people who haven’t watched the drama would read this and won’t watch it. I hope they will read this comment first, because to NOT watch this drama is a wasted opportunity to learn more about the struggles of people with mental health problems.

    please keep safe 🙂

    Thank you! Keep safe.

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