Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 -|Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 6 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 9 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 10 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 11 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 12 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 13 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 14 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
True to Love is a charming drama, and the perfect choice for when you’re in need of a romantic comedy. The series ticks off a lot of boxes in the standard romance genre and yet, there’s a lot that sets it apart. The characters are quirky but grounded, the humour is low-key and the show clearly has empathy for its characters. Throughout the 14 episodes, True to Love has a feeling of restraint. It holds back the story and the scenes from becoming too dramatic or overblown. This understated quality becomes True to Love’s strongest charm.
For those who don’t know, the series revolves around Yeon Bo-ra (pen name, Deborah), a famous writer, dating coach and social media influencer who is known for her expert dating advice. Sadly, her own love life spirals when she finds that her longtime boyfriend is cheating on her. Then she meets Lee Soo-hyuk, a publishing planner who doesn’t agree with Bo-ra and her strategies. And the two get entangled more than they meant to.
The storytelling of the drama is definitely its crowning jewel. Episodes are paced well and bookended in compelling scenes that keep you watching. The script is sharp and the writers’ skills are prevalent in the well-written dialogues. The bright colour palette, polished cinematography and array of Bo-ra’s stylish clothes make it visually appealing too.
The series features a wide set of characters, each with their own set of quirks. Ju-wan, the ex, is suitably dislikable while Bo-mi, Bo-ra’s sister does grate on one’s nerves sometimes. And while their stories do entertain, it’s the primary romance that takes the cake. Bo-ra and Su-hyeok are the heart of the show.
When you first start watching True to Love, you might expect a typical enemies-to-lovers tale. Bo-ra and Su-hyeok’s first interactions are definitely reminiscent of that trope and their banter is endearing enough to make you eager to see it play out. But the story goes in a different direction and instead of butting heads, the two leads end up finding unlikely support in each other. They bond over their respective breakups and end up developing an unexpected, but truly wholesome, friendship. A friendship which then takes slow, bite-sized steps into becoming something more.
The one thing I really appreciate about the romance is its tendency to focus on the ordinary. Where a lot of romantic comedies focus on grand gestures and dramatic reveals, I enjoyed watching the main leads bond over ordinary moments. Particularly the many conversations they had, while walking or drinking or eating. The show lingers on these conversations far more than one would expect, but watching Bo-ra and Su-hyeok get to know each other and react to each other is a delight that never bores.
To those who are more inclined towards the extreme highs and lows of K-drama romances this subtle transformation of their relationships might come across as slow or dreary. But personally, I found it exceedingly charming. Not just because it was a refreshing change and more grounded in reality, but because it was a genuinely enjoyable story. The journey of their relationship becomes a gentle but delightful ride.
Apart from the commendable writing, the credit for this impactful romance also goes to the lead actors. Yoo In-na is endlessly captivating as Bo-ra, never crossing the line from adorable to annoying. With her many flaws but likeable sentimentality, you can’t help but root for her. Meanwhile, it takes a couple of episodes to warm up to Yoon Hyun-min but that’s primarily because of the way his character is written. Once past that point, Hyun-min too pulls out all the guns in the way of pining looks and lovelorn gazes.
There are moments when the story tries to do more. It attempts to dissect a couple’s life after marriage and even dips a toe into the field of unplanned pregnancies. While these undertakings start out well, the series soon pulls back and sticks to safer grounds. Which is a bit of a shame.
So, of course, True to Love isn’t perfect. While it starts out seemingly critiquing modern-day dating and the several approaches people take, the plot overshadows any larger statement. Additionally, the steady writing does get a bit shaky towards the end, relying on tropes more than it needs to. Apart from snippets, we don’t really get to see Bo-ra and Su-hyeok as an official couple. Which, after the long wait of the slow burn, feels like a bit of a disappointment as well. Despite all this, there’s something about the show that just makes you want to curl up and watch it, with a smile on your face the entire time.
Verdict - 8.5/10