Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
There’s something about soapy dramas that keeps people coming back for more. With the constant backstabbing, shocking plot twists and long, wistful glances at forbidden love interests, Korea is no stranger to stand-outs in this genre. Whether it be the class-war of Sky Castle or the mistress mayhem of World of the Married, there are some real heavy hitters in this field.
This ultimately proves to be a bit of a double-edged sword. With so many big players occupying this space, how does a new drama craft a unique slice of the pie? Attempting to step in the ring and challenge the champions this time around is Netflix’s Remarriage & Desires.
With all the usual hallmarks of the genre – revenge, affairs, catfights and plot twists – Remarriage & Desires is surprisingly formulaic and despite a burst of late episode drama, is actually rather tepid compared to other offerings in this field.
Split across 8 episodes, Remarriage & Desires revolves around a matchmaking company called Rex. They exist to serve the wealthiest high class individuals, who are separated into different levels depending on their wealth and family background. Morals and personality go completely out the window here, something our protagonist Hye-Seung soon learns when she gets involved.
But to backtrack a little, the story really begins with Hye-Seung’s husband, Nam-Sik, committing suicide. Jumping off the roof of a building, he falls to his death – right in front of his shocked wife. It turns out he was driven to this by Jin Yoo-Hui, a ruthless and cold lawyer who set him up to take the fall for fraud. Not only that, but she also accuses him of rape and blackmail.
When Hye-Seung finds out, she’s shocked and vows revenge on Yoo-Hui no matter what. She signs up for Rex and sets out to try and take her nemesis down, unbeknownst to her that Choi Yoo-Sun, the woman in charge of the company, has her own plans for these ladies.
Standing as two male pillars in this otherwise female-centric revenge plot are Lee Hyung-Ju and Cha Seok-Jin. I won’t reveal their backgrounds here but suffice to say, they play an important part of the story going forward.
The first half of this show essentially plays out like a game of chess. The pieces are moved around the board, strategically put down in positions best to strike their enemy. There’s an air of anticipation for everything to explode into soapy, melodramatic territory but the show never really pulls the trigger until the final 3 episodes.
The whiplash effect felt here is pretty massive and it’s surprising to see the show rocket through its story with such ferocity, given how slow and methodical the first half is. It’s almost like the writers realized the show was coming to an end and doubled down on squeezing as much action into these final chapters as possible.
The problem, however, is that Remarriage & Desires never quite lives up to its full potential. The characters are never fleshed out all that much until very late in the game, while the ambiguous ending will likely leave some feeling a little disappointed. I’m not about to spoil what happens but that earlier analogy about chess could be used here too, as the showrunners appear to be gearing up for a second round of moving pieces about, trying to broach for a checkmate – if this is renewed of course.
On its own though, there isn’t anything particularly remarkable about Remarriage & Desires. It’s certainly enjoyable and has a few stand-out segments but beyond that, this series feels lost in the shadows of other behemoths within this this genre. This is nowhere near as thematically deep like Sky Castle was, nor is it as adrenaline-fueled as Penthouse. Instead, this falls somewhere in the middle, with some nice ideas that are never quite explored as thoroughly or as deeply as they could have been.
Verdict - 6/10