Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 11 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 12 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 13 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 14 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 15 – | Review Score – 1.5/5
Episode 16 – | Review Score – 0.5/5
Korea has a long line of excellent slice of life dramas. From Sky Castle and Reply 1988 to soapy primetime hits like Beautiful Love, Wonderful Life, these shows effortlessly weave comedy, drama and romance together in a compelling way.
At the other end of the spectrum is something like Penthouse, an exaggerated melodrama with so many twists and turns that you end up with whiplash by the end. And yet, it remains an enthralling and unmissable treat.
For all the good that comes out of Korean television (and there is a lot), there are a few real stinkers. Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce) then is 2021’s ugly duckling. Unlike the fable though, there’s no chance of this becoming a beautiful swan, instead relegating itself to the recesses of TV history thanks to 16 episodes of regrettable fluff.
On paper, the ideas here are actually quite good. Three women, each of different ages, are forced to confront the very real possibility of divorce and cheating husbands. It certainly opens up the possibility for some thought provoking drama and commentary on life in general, but the show squanders that with a meandering story and some very questionable design choices.
The story, as mentioned, centers on these three different couples. In their 50’s, Shi-Eun and Hae-Ryun are seemingly happily married with two kids and a big house. Unfortunately Hae-Ryun is having an affair and files for a divorce.
Meanwhile, Pi-Young and Yu-Shin are very much in love with each other and play up the middle-aged couple. Only, Yu-Shin is having an affair.
Our third couple are newly-weds Hye-Ryung and Sa-Hyun. Only, Sa-Hyun has a secret which is – yep you guessed it – an affair.
All three of these stories remain separate for most of the series, not allowing for any intriguing cross examinations between characters or for organic and intriguing bouts of drama to crop up.
Instead, the show makes an absolutely bizarre choice to switch the tone and perspective around the midway point to jump back in time and see how these affairs came to be. Across 1 or 2 episodes this feels like a nice distraction but across 8 episodes, each 65 minutes long, it’s a slog.
It’s not even enjoyable either, and between drawn out dialogue and eye wateringly poor editing, Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce) throws away any of the good will it’s built until that point and never looks like recovering.
The characters themselves are a bit of a mixed bag too, with the three leading ladies intriguing but ultimately underdeveloped. When the perspective shifts to the men instead, none of them have any redeeming features so there’s no emotional engagement to be had while they cheat on their partners.
In fact, the show even has the audacity to throw in romantic music during these kissing segments. Trust me guys, there’s nothing romantic about cheating.
It also doesn’t help that the motivations for these cheating husbands simply boils down to physical attraction and lust. In Sa-Hyun’s case, his affair begins by perving on a girl at the gym while she’s trying to work out. As a male myself, this sort of behaviour is precisely why women don’t want to work out alongside us. It’s creepy and uncomfortable – and this is a guy we’re supposed to be empathizing with!
I could go on but to put it simply, Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce) is an absolute train wreck. It’s a sloppily edited, poorly paced, mundane, dreary waste of 16+ hours.
With high ratings in Korea and the promise of a second season on the horizon, Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce) feels like a prison sentence and by the end you’ll feel like you’re waiting on death row. Avoid, avoid,avoid. This is the worst TV show of 2021.
Verdict - 2/10