Not All Neighbors Are Good Neighbors
Episode 1 of Green Mothers’ Club starts with Lee Eun-Pyo having a bad dream. Within this, a strange woman antagonizes her while she’s giving a lecture. Eventually she bolts upright and breathes heavily, as a new day begins.
As the sun shines on separate apartments, so too does the spotlight shine on our various different families. There’s Yun-Ju and her daughter Soo-In, Young-Mi and her children Julpin and Sae-Bom. There’s also the defacto Queen Bee Chun-hui with her daughter Yoo-Bin. There’s also the woman from Eun-Pyo’s dream too, Jin-Ha, whose child is called Henry.
Together, these four form Green, which is a sort of traffic safety group. Anyway, 10 minutes into the episode we get our obligatory white truck trope, as the women save a kid from crossing the road in the wake of Eun-Pyo heading into town to move into her new apartment.
The movers help unload all of Eun-Pyo’s things, including several stacks of books that her mother-in-law is not exactly pleased to see. Eun-Pyo’s friend, Yun-Ju, heads over to see her, as the pair riff about the way they’re bringing up their children.
Eun-Pyo is very much a woman who wants to let her kids experience the world for themselves while for Yun-Ju, she intends to groom Soo-In into a mini version of herself.
Now, Eun-Pyo’s move appears to be linked to her partner whom she’s broken up with. The details of this still aren’t clear though so we’ll have to hold fire on making assumptions just yet!
Outside, Eun-Pyo runs into Byeon Chun-Hui, who’s not happy about walnuts in a lady’s bakery. Eun-Pyo is caught in the middle of this disagreement, forced to try a walnut-laden pastry to make sure it tastes okay. She’s uncomfortable about being put on the spot, and an awkward silence ensues between the two women as they end up getting the same elevator.
It turns out Chun-hui lives opposite her, but as Eun-Pyo apologizes for not getting her a moving-in gift, Chun-Hui nonchalantly shrugs that off and decides they should just live out their lives separately. When she riffs to Yun-Ju about the earlier incident, Yun-Ju points out that Chun-Hee is a “tiger mum” and her daughter Yu-Bin is a high-flier. Yun-Ju suggests her friend head to an upcoming birthday party to smooth things over with the other mums.
Eun-Pyo shows up late, struggles to buy a birthday present, and even realizes Dong-Seok (her son) is alone. Soon, the aforementioned Goddess of the group shows up to drop off her son Henry. She’s too busy working though and leaves him there. Just then, Chun-Hui shows up with her son.
As all the women sit together, Eun-Pyo is put on the spot as Jun-Hu breaks her promise and begins gushing about EunPyo’s past – including how she dated a professor and graduated from university.
Eun-Pyo shrugs off sending Dong-Seok to an academy, claiming she’s “not that sort of mother.” She points out a mother’s greed in choosing to do this, which ultimately sees her shunned by the other women. Yun-Ju is quite the snake too, deciding to turn away from Eun-Pyo too and join the other women. Her real play here though is getting her child into a better educational program.
Eun-Pyo’s day goes from bad to worse when Dong-Seok messes up a violin performance for Yu-Bin. He then slips over and breaks her violin on a trampoline. If the rivalry wasn’t already red hot, it certainly is now. After sending her account details over, Eun-Pyo is shocked to learn that the violin is actually 3 million won (about £2000).
Interestingly, Eun-Pyo heads over to pick up a bookshelf first and the seller happens to be Jin-Ha. Now, we don’t know the full story of their past but Jin-Ha seems to be very friendly and even picks up on how Eun-Pyo was in France with her in the past.
Eun-Pyo clearly feels uncomfortable, and even more so when Jin-ha offers to help her move the bookshelf into her house. After dropping it off, Jin-Ha and Henry head home but there’s a phone call from Chun-Hui, which reveals a lot given Jin-Ha’s exasperated facial expressions. It’s clear that she feels alienated from the other women, mostly because they’re trying to sponge off her success and selfishly try to do right by their children.
In the morning, Eun-Pyo is feeling under the weather, sweating and struggling to stand up. Part of this comes from reflecting back on her career the night before, and how everything came tumbling down after her kids hit a button and published a secret entry on her phone about Professor Lee.
Eun-Pyo is a mess but she does her absolute best for the kids, arriving at Sangwe Elementary to drop her kids off. As she does, Jin-ha checks her phone and notices Eun-Pyo hasn’t replied to her messages.
It’s here that fragmented memories of the past bleed through, including snapshots of her old relationship with Luis Bunuel, Jin-Ha’s husband. When Eun-pyo collapses, it’s Luis who catches her, scooping her up and hurrying off with her. All the women watch as he leaves. Jin-ha though, rips up her photo of Eun-Pyo and Jin-Ha from their school days, seemingly signifying their upcoming rivalry.
The Episode Review
So it took 10 minutes before the white truck showed up but thankfully no one was hurt.
Green Mother’s Club delivers an Interesting opening episode though, with a delightful dynamic between the women already. That birthday party was absolutely brutal and it’s hard not to feel for Eun-Pyo, who’s thrown right into the snake pit, with these women ready to spit venom on anyone who isn’t in with their clique.
As a dad, I know what this is like, walking into a soft-play or a playgroup in the morning with my kids and being surrounded by suspicious glances and whispers at being the only dad there. It’s not a nice feeling.
This episode captures that sense of alienation so well and the characters are interesting and certainly hide a lot of baggage. I’d imagine Jin-Ha “stole” Luis from Eun-Pyo in the past and that’s what caused the pair to break up, souring their relationship somewhat. Then again, that’s jut a guess at this point so we’ll have to wait and see.
At this point though, Green Mothers’ Club feels like a blend of Sky Castle and a female-led Graceful Friends. That’s an interesting blend but it remains to be seen if this one can really knock it out the park.