“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 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.
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?