Time Travel Drama – A Familiar Wife Review
TIme for another review! This time, it’s another time travel drama featuring Jisung and Han Ji Min. It’s about the story of a husband and wife who’s grown apart and dislike each other. Seo Woo Jin (Han Ji Min) is our scary wife – an exhausted mother of two small kids and a full time worker at that, too. We have the husband Cha Joo Hyuk (Ji Sung) who’s a bit of an underdog – he’s both scared of his wife and his boss at work.
What happens when the person you marry has a 360° change in personality? What if you get given the chance to change everything, from where it all began?
And this, my fellow kdrama viewers, is the start of everything – the heartbreak, the chaos, the laughter and the redemption. I am always up for a good time travel drama and although this has been different from my expectations, it definitely won my heart for how they all turned out to be like. Without further spoilers and if you’re here to decide whether or not I think you should watch this time travel drama, my answer is, I do!
For what it’s worth – this drama deviated from the normal time travel dramas we’ve already seen. The time travel drama aspect in this is more of like a setting rather than the main thing. It dealt more with the reality of the couple rather than explored more of the fantasy side. There were moments in there where you don’t necessarily agreed with the characters but they made me stick with them for being so relatable and the potrayal of reality.
They weren’t perfect people. There’s moments when I questioned their decisions but when you compare yourself to them, you find you aren’t actually much different. We can never choose the best decision at all times and it’s these consequences that we’re left to deal with.
The decisions they made aren’t something to be proud of in the end but it was what made them act and realise they can only do so much in the now theyre given. A lot like real life. Amidst all the regret and sadness, this drama delivered characters I LOVED – from the smallest role down to the main. With that, it’s definitely worth giving this a try.
The rest of my review – SPOILERS BELOW.
Things I disliked
The flow of the story in the beginning:
The show started off promising – it made me think it would be him traveling back and realising his mistakes and then going back to the present. But sadly it wasn’t that kind of a time travel drama. The first few episodes I found didn’t really improve the plot so I really had a hard time watching them.
Nothing was wrong with them in terms of portrayal – it was just the way the story unfolded. It feels like it was a case of misadvertising – it wasn’t what I came for at all. It felt like what happened those few episodes didn’t really touch on the main issue Familiar Wife was advertising about on its posters. It completely went on another story altogether. Having said that though, it did end in a good result and it’s become a time travel drama I’ll remember for the warmth and reality it provided, despite the road it decided to take.
Seo Woo Jin/ Cha Joo Hyuk
I’ll explain. I think I’m not the only one who’ll agree that she WAS indeed really scary and unapproachable pre-time jump. I read about Lee Bo Young’s interview (our main lead’s real life wife) and I remember her saying that he wouldn’t be able to live with her if his wife was the same as in the drama.
Although we get the reason why she turned into the way she did, I wish they’d have given us just a bit from her perspective. I know the show was mostly about the husband realising his faults but I felt like her side could have been handled better. She was just purely unlikeable.
When I found out about her working as well as taking care of her children too, I finally understood her and felt dislike about Joo Hyuk’s character. Now, it’s so tricky to comment about their situation because as much as they are both at fault, it seemed as if everything came together against them. And I guess this is the reality they wanted to show us – sometimes, life just… happens.
This one bothered me a lot in the start of the show. I do not like comparing but I just couldn’t help it at this point. Joo Hyuk was successful in changing his wife but he’s lost his kids in return. Familiar Wife touched on that for a very brief moment but it honestly deserved more than that. I felt like they tried to resolve that part of the story as quick as they could and then forget about them altogether. I actually did later on. And that’s one of the reasons why another time travel drama, Go Back Couple, remains superior atleast in that part.
That show always had the family at the central heart of the story. I was so invested with them and especially the female lead’s longing for the kid. I don’t know how to say this, but I always felt for the leads in Go Back Couple regardless of whether I agreed with their decisions or no.
There was just this irksome feeling at the back of my head that failed to really understand why or how the leads, especially Joo Hyuk who remembered everything, seem to have put everything in the past already. Like he didn’t have much attachment to the kids as strong as you would have expected.
Woo Jin’s memories
This too really bothered me. As much as I loved the ending, I couldn’t shake this off, forget about it and move on. Familiar Wife spent time showing us flashbacks of them as a young couple and then maturing into grown adults. It was shown to be such a vital part of their lives that it felt wrong to not have Woo Jin remember them or at least know about them. It’s as if that part’s written off completely.
Although I do get the point that the writer may have wanted Woo Jin to have just great memories, it was completely opposite to what I thought it would be. I really thought they’d atleast go back to the time Joo Hyuk left, made things right and then work from there.
But dissecting all that means rewriting how the show went. So I guess what I am trying to say is I just disagree with that bit. Whether good or bad, I’m sure Woo Jin would’ve still liked to know about that time-line.
And isn’t it a bit sad that only Joo Hyuk remembers those sweet memories from before?
That’s why it might’ve been a bit harder for Woo Jin to understand where Joo Hyuk was coming from when chef Edward Kang (Woo Jin’s university sunbae – Jo Jung Suk’s cameo reprising his Oh My Ghost role!!! 🙂
I mean, only Joo Hyuk knows about the past where it was Joo Hyuk who was Woo Jin’s first love, not Edward Kang. I think Woo Jin at least deserve to know about that. Anyway, enough of this. Familiar Wife went further in the ending and I do not want to take away from that 🙂
Things I liked
This is one show where all the perfect group of people came together to deliver the perfect characters and create a great chemistry.
Starting from the people at the KCU Bank down to Joo Hyuk’s friends and their family – it was SUCH a joy to watch. Despite all its flaws and if there’s only one thing I’m happy I watched this drama for, it’s the characters. I remember thinking that I can just watch them interacting with each other.
I loved when they all try to flatter Mr. Cha – they get him and they all understand. Whenever those scenes come on it never fails to make me laugh. Mr Byun, Ms Jang – our bickering asst. branch manager couple. Hye Jeong and Hyang Sik and of course Hwan. They got all the perfect balance of people together and you can really see them blend well together. What made it so effective as well is that their interactions never felt forced. That’s why I loved watching them.
I love Joo Hyuk, Joong Ho and Sang Sik’s friendship too. I love bromances in a drama and their ones are one of my favourites. They all have their own unique personality so everyone had something to bring to the table.
- I want to mention him especially. I think he did very well in this drama. For a minor role, he’s definitely shined and I have really noticed him. He’s character is strange – he had such a ‘doesn’t give a sh’t personality’ and that’s what made him strangely likeable.
- When everyone else wanted to suck up to the boss – he was the only one who didn’t care. It honestly gave so much more into the dynamics of the team. The guy, N, an idol from the boyband VIXX, played his character well. He gave off just the right amount of feelings – no over exaggeration or over acting – he was on point. I loved watching him – his scenes made this drama more enjoyable and fun to watch.
- Lee Hye Won
- Played by Kang Hana – an actress I like too. Hye Won was such a soft spoken character in the beginning and she had her moments of being so cute and adorable. After the time jump though – she changed for the bad. She was so disappointing and unlikeable. Her character felt shallow and immature – a complete opposite from when she was in college and when Joo Hyuk first saw her as his wife.
- It didn’t feel like her at all.
- Yoon Jong Hoo
- Played by Jang Seung Jo. He’s an actor I’m glad to have discovered. He’s played his character really well too and managed to portray different depths of emotions. I especially loved him in the part where he found out about Woo Jin and Joo Hyuk’s ‘betrayal’.
- He was really good and I loved how his love and friendship with JooHyuk prevailed. He’s just a genuinely good person and I loved the way they concluded his story – he deserved to be happy!!
- OH – I almost forgot to mention about Woo Jin’s mum. I didn’t like her that much at first but she grew on me. And isn’t she just one of those people you like to be around with. I loved how she remembered Joo Hyuk – it’s like another missing link to their previous life. A comforting person to be around with.
Familiar Wife: The Ending
Reading other people’s comments, I think we are all on agreement that this drama has one of the best endings ever! It certainly has redeemed itself with that ending. I love that they weren’t afraid to use that whole episode to show us that happy ending. No unnecessary problems – just things falling back to place on their own. Honestly that ending was such a feel good ending.
Things just kept happening that hit all the right spots. We get another issue of Woo Jin being promoted first before Joo Hyuk. It’s so nice to see how Jooo Hyuk felt happy for his wife, just as he should. It showed us that even when they were together – it doesn’t stop at that ‘happy ending’. Things kept happening, good or bad and it’s in those events that their bond grow stronger.
Although I felt a bit uneasy still at how they were obviously struggling at juggling work-life balance – there were definitely massive improvements there compared to from before. They made sure to have time together alone and keep their own identity, especially Woo Jin’s.
I did question a bit at how they were going to be on the long run. They still had some petty fights and I felt like their relationship somehow still felt a bit shaky- as if it’d only take one blow to knock everything to how it was again. But then I guess this is reality – things happen that’d really test your patience and it shows that it is a matter of decision. You have to choose to fight for each other and over come well. I like how Joo Hyuk acknowledged this by lecturing Joong Hoo about it.
Ahhh. one of the highlights for me is when Woo Jin gifted Joo Hyuk that game console. And the latest model at that. That was VERY sweet and really showed a complete turnaround of her character. Just look at the Woo Jin at the first and the last episode. Totally different people.
Familiar Wife OST
A Korean Drama isn’t truly complete without at least one good OST to round it up. I’ve been trying to finish this review right after I finished watching it but I somehow couldn’t. There were so many things I wanted to say and include but I can’t really find the exact words to express them. I’m listening to this OST as I am writing this and it brings back the memories of the scenes in this time travel drama that truly stand out.
It’s these scenes that made me love this time travel drama despite its flaws. I’m listening to Roy Kim’s No Longer Mine and I can remember scenes were Joo Hyuk would just watch over Woo Jin realising she’s no longer his wife. And I could feel his pain and regret in those moments. I guess that’s the power of this drama – although things felt a bit disjointed, when we get moments like those they truly manage to convey the emotions and the right feelings.
Other Familiar Wife Osts I liked:
Familiar Wife had so MANY things going on. It felt like I was watching a drama longer than 16 episodes. The path it had taken was like a double edged sword. It was both good and bad. There were some things I felt the show could have done without at the same time in hindsight, I was happy that it went the path it did.
I think it’s a reflection of life like it’s trying to tell us. When choosing a decision you tend to pull your hair and wish you’d have done the other thing. But then you’d never really know until that moment right? And whatever decision you end up making, you also end up thinking about the what ifs.
Their decision to go back left them with less than wanted consequences but with it came the knowledge of what they should do. And that’s what helped them create the life that helped each other grow instead of destroy. Finally, they were facing each other and seeing things eye to eye rather than on their own perspectives.
Whilst it’s not the best drama out there, this drama has a special place with me. There were moments in there I really loved and all the characters I adored. With less than amazing actors, the story’s flaws would have been sorely visible. But it actually highlighted how good the actors were. Like what others said, this is a drama where the characters/actors are definitely better than the story. And is that such a bad thing? I don’t think so. You often find dramas where it’s the other way around and honestly I feel more disappointed when that happens.
Would I recommend it? Yes! There’s a but coming though. But don’t expect too much in the first few episodes of this time travel drama story. The way they’ve decided to take it was unexpected and quite.. unique? Don’t worry too much because the characters are going to guide you to be able to pass though those episodes. By the time you’re out of them, you’ll be enjoying the show and realising its worth.
This time travel drama is certainly Ji Sung’s not best drama plotwise (I loved him in Defendant and Kill Me Heal Me) but no question about him delivering. I was glad to watch Han Ji Min- she totally nailed this role and I liked watching her. Jong Hoo was so good and so kind – a friend you’d love to have. I really love his friendship with Joo Hyuk and he proved that he’s loyalty and friendship is real during those really trying times.
Ah. I just loved, loved it. I’m happy they’re happy ♥. Do yourself a favour and watch this drama – you’ll definitely love and hate the characters at times but most certainly fall in love with all of them in the end.