Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 9 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 10 -| Review Score – 1.5/5
Episode 11 -| Review Score – 2/5
Episode 12 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Thirty Nine has all the ingredients to be a certified banger. Fresh off the success of Crash Landing on You, Son Ye-Jin fronts a line-up of talented stars in a slice of life healing drama that – on paper at least – looks incredible. Unfortunately, Thirty Nine’s execution leaves a lot to be desired.
The story revolves around three friends (or really just Ye-Jin’s character Mi-Jo if we’re being honest) and how they tackle growing older together. Joined by Joo-Hee and Chan-Young, the group dynamic is changed forever when Chan-Young receives a terminal diagnosis. What follows from here is a slow paced show that dives into how these characters deal with this diagnosis and what impact it has on their life.
While that in itself is fine, there are so many episodes here that don’t progress the story. That’s to say nothing of the awkwardly skewed romance between Mi-Jo and Seon-U which just does not work.
Not only is the show about 3 episodes too long, it absolutely butchers the development for almost all the main characters. Some of that stems from the overall focus which feels torn between presenting Chan-Young or Mi-Jo as the main protagonist.
What we end up with is a show that’s neither here nor there, with episodes largely revolving around these two, and also having the knock-on effect of sidelining Joo-Hee in the process.
That’s really disappointing actually because Joo-Hee is consistency one of the better characters. She becomes self conscious about her age, job and those around her, eventually becoming friends with a young chef but worrying whether the age difference will be an obstacle. Ultimately Joo-Hee embodies what this show feels like it wanted to portray but somehow lost focus along the way. Unfortunately, it’s relegated to 10-15 minutes max in each of the 75 minute episodes.
Most of this show meanders its way through a lukewarm romance between Mi-Jo and Seon-U, a separate storyline involving Mi-Jo’s orphan woes and Chan-Young’s indecision over whether to date her ex Jin-Seok or not.
For all of its flaws, you certainly can’t take anything away from the acting. Everyone here brings their A game. There are flickers of a great K-drama; banter between the three girls, a few well-placed jokes and a couple of genuinely heart wrenching scenes. But that is not enough to cut the overwhelming lack of chemistry between the actors. There’s actually one kissing scene between Seon-U and Mi-Jo which honestly sums this show up. Cold, lifeless and lethargic.
Thirty Nine meanders its way through 12 episodes of mediocrity, wasting a talented cast with a bland and forgettable story. What a disappointment.
Verdict - 3.5/10