The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Three Brothers

aka: 수상한 삼형제 / Susanghan Samhyungje / Suspicious Three Brothers

2009 K-Do about ... you guessed it ... 3 brothers.

The dad is a cop, the mom is from hell with fire-breathing capabilities, red eyes that glow in the dark, and talons for fingernails.

The eldest son is her pet. He's shiftless, aimless, and useless hiding his transgressions from them because even going on age 40, he's terrified of his parents (esp. his serpent-like mother). He's been divorced for a few years yet no one knows, so he hides and pretends everything is great when it isn't.

The second son is desperate for attention, affection, and acceptance. He's been money-hungry most of his life and never really applied himself to being a child, or exploring himself or the world around him, and is only concerned with making money in order to please the bitch known as his mother. He owns a spa, a gas station, and a wedding hall and does whatever his mother tells or asks of him while treating his wife like shit and ignoring her at every turn.

The youngest son is handsome and became a cop because his hero was and still is his father. The drama opens with him receiving a citation for great conduct. The undercurrent of bad blood between mother and father is evident but not in-your-face terrifying just yet.

For the next 69 episodes we watch this family grow in size due to marriages and births, then fall apart in a rather absurd yet formulaic style before things are set back to right again.

2009 ... 70 episodes ... which means day-time drama ... which means a lot of strife, agony, shouting, vindictive, evil behavior week after week until the metaphoric cannon is eventually lit and shot over our heads. In the aftermath, and when the smoke clears, we're expected to watch these characters dust themselves off and start all over again, but on the proverbial right track to 'success'.

In one part of this show, someone at the police station said that Koreans are an angry bunch (which explained all of the drunken, disorderly situations during a New Year's festival). Later, I think it was Umi who claimed it made perfect sense that the divorce rate in their country tended to go up after such holidays.

This thing didn't start out as a message-driven, preachy type of day-time drama meant to entertain every ajumma who has the time to plunk her ass down in front of a television set at the local sauna, crack a few eggs against her forehead, and 'learn something about life' by watching.

It became that way in the middle, though, before turning right around and getting back into step with the way it ran at the beginning.

Something huge happened in the middle of this one - like they swapped writers, or the actors were told they wouldn't be getting paid on time so they decided to just give up - I can't be too sure, but I do know that it threw me for a loop and confused as well as annoyed me from episodes 50-68.

It didn't hurt any to skip around while watching, either. After about 7 episodes, I was able to watch only the even numbers and didn't miss a thing because of the re-hash and flash-back's peppered inside each episode I watched. I didn't miss anything and you won't, either.

Umi was supposed to be the 'star' of this one despite it being about 3 brothers and their life lessons. She got pregnant by the middle son when they were still young, and he ran when he found out about her condition, so she sought him out and that's how they ended up together.

Ten years later is when this drama unfolds, and Umi is the family slave: cooking, cleaning, shopping, care-taking, and putting up with the caustic bullshit thrown at her by the bitch-in-law and her unaffectionate, money-hungry husband whose only concern in life is work.

The dad knows how to talk to his sons, but in a half-hearted kind of way that wasn't as helpful or insightful as it could have been. The mom is as selfish, arrogant, and hateful as they come. Stereotypical, I hope, and yet I'm never quite sure to believe it's stereotypical after seeing her in every day-time drama that's ever been released from Korea.

Whoa is me, no one loves me, you never take my side, why do you love your wife more than me, my husband is useless, he never loved me, he never listened, no one cares, let me die, why did I give birth to you ... sigh.

Every time this woman shouted "Do you want to see me die?" I was like, "Yes! Please! Die already and let everyone else around you live for a change!"

Then I felt bad for thinking that way, which ended up making me resentful of having been made to feel that way at all.

It was frightening, to be honest. The woman terrified me. She favored one son over the others, told another son she loved him more than the others, and then told another that he was actually her favorite. Absolutely mind-blowing from an American perspective. Even if you feel that way, which isn't a sin in and of itself because we're all human, but to utter the words to a child, even a close friend, is absurd.

To say her mother-in-law was a lot worse is like admitting to being beyond stupid, too.

Aside from the mother scaring me half to death a majority of the time, and then watching each of the characters fall apart, and then seeing how they slowly but surely rose back up from the ashes of self-destruction, there were the odd bits and pieces to make me even more confused.

Every time they became penniless, I worried. But, apparently this isn't something to really worry about over there in Korea land. Even without a job, they were able to shop, eat at restaurants, and buy food at the open market. The kids remained in school, and even the guy who got out of prison lived in a decent apartment, had a hand phone, took his son to an amusement park, and could eat 고기 gogi.

In the United States, if you lose your job you rely on your savings to get you through until better times, and when the savings run out, you start to do without - like driving your car because you can't fill up the gas tank, and skipping meals because there is no food in the cupboards, and then finally the utilities are shut off and the repo man arrives to take your car and/or house. You end up in a shelter or at a friend/family members place.

You starve to death and die.

What we don't do is continue to buy food, cook, pop into the neighborhood coffee shop, and get drunk enough at a karaoke bar to weep over our misfortunes - because the money isn't there to do such things.

Another thing that amazes me about these stories is the availability of jobs even when they tell us the economy is bad or it's hard for people to find work. These characters always manage to do it. They find work even under the most dire of circumstances, and to me this is beyond far-fetched; unrealistic, and a bad message if sending out messages is their aim.

At least this time, with this particular story, they didn't cram down my throat the fact that 'family' is the be-all/end-all of life. They tried, but not half as hard as some of the others I've watched. And, excuse me, but if that is any indication of family life then I want no part of it, gamsahabnida.

In my country, respect is something you earn and not a birth right based on age or sex. After the Asiana incident in California that killed so many passengers because of pilot error, and then discovering that KAL has the worst safety record as a result of that way of thinking - not being able to question or argue with anyone older than them - it stands to reason the entire country should step back and rethink the mentality.

This drama did that in a manner of speaking by having the parents of these boys fall apart, lose 'everything' (yet still manage to keep their house, the utilities were never cut, and to buy food to eat) they were also reborn, so to speak.

They ended up discovering their own personality flaws and learned how to readjust in order to live a proper, respectable life instead of the one they lived prior to having had all hell break loose.

I'm not saying being disrespectful is the answer, either. It's just as wrong and just as disgusting a behavior as lording over those beneath or younger than you are. Either way, you lose and no one really respects anyone.

Discovering the power of honey versus vinegar is the answer, and it's a lot easier to implement than the world would have us believe, too.

I'm not sorry I wasted 4 days plowing through this 70-episode melodrama filled with predictable, agonizing scenes and cringe-worthy preaching that felt embarrassingly awkward to hear and see from time to time. I'm still terrified of the mother-in-law and will likely continue to have nightmares about her, but whatever. If you like this stuff, watch and enjoy. As for me, it'll be another few years before I decide to take a stab at another round of this type of crap and agony.

I'm emotionally drained now and need to revive my spirits in order to be able to smile again.


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