8/10, on viki.com
Oh My Venus centers around the story of a lawyer named Kang Joo-eun (played by Shin Min-a) who was once a schoolgirl so pretty she was named the “Venus of Daegu” (Daegu being the name of the city she’s from). But now she’s all grown up and as the years passed, she’s gained a bit of weight. Her first and long-time love Im Woo-shik (played by Jung Gyu-woon) for the last 15 years, breaks up with her saying that they’ve become different people.
Kim Young-ho/ John Kim (So Ji-sub) is a personal trainer to Hollywood stars, and after becoming embroiled in a Hollywood scandal (scandalous maybe for Koreans, not for Americans) returns to Korea with Jang Joong Sung (Sung Hoon) a pro MMA fighter he’s been working with and Joong Sung’s manager Kim Ji-Woong (Henry Lau). A series of coincidences ends up having Young-ho “save” Joo-eun from a few situations, and before you know it, Young-ho is helping Joo-eun through her weightless journey and slowly falling in love with her.
Things I liked:
-The backstory use of Young-ho’s childhood cancer to ground his character. Young-ho’s not working out to look good, but out of a drive to be healthy out of a fear of cancer. As someone who spent much of his childhood in hospitals, he is someone who recognizes that that what someone looks like on the outside is not who they are in the inside. This makes his falling for the overweight Joo-eun more realistic.
-Joo-eun has a drive, determination and confidence that she never lost, even when she had picked up weight. Her motto is “I can do anything if I put my effort into it,” which doesn’t change even when she is overweight. It’s an attitude you often see in middle-school books about fearless girls, less so in adult women, but it’s so refreshing to see a female character who still keeps that attitude. Though the break up with Woo-shik is definitely a catalyst for embarking on a weight loss journey, it is not the primary reason that keeps pushing Joo-eun to keep going.
-Slowburn of Joo-eun and Young-ho’s romance actually felt realistic. They navigated issues by talking about them like adults. After their first kiss, Joo-eun is not sure what that means for their relationship as a Coach/Trainee. The next day is a kind of hazy status quo of them acting normally towards each other with a few flirtatious hints. This worked nicely because as a viewer, I got caught up in the will they/won’t they.
-Complex characters and relationships: There’s a point in the series where Joo-eun sits down with Woo-shik and talk about how at first her weight loss journey was originally motivated by their breakup, but became about recovering a part of her self, when she realized they had become different people. Woo-shik admits that he is a little jealous of her new relationship, even though he doesn’t want to get back together with her, you can’t just make 15 years of feelings vanish over night. There’s a complexity here in their relationship that isn’t just pure jealousy or regret, and it strikes me as being very realistic.
-Oh Soo-jin - the primary female antagonist, Joo-eun’s former friend from law school, now her boss, who is now dating Woo-shik. You want to hate her for her cutting remarks and nastiness, but underneath that is an extremely lonely and self-conscious girl who fears that she will never be truly loved.
-Young-ho’s found family with Joong Sung, and Ji-Woong. Young-ho really is like their father figure to them and they readily adopt Joo-eun into their circle. These guys man, if everyone had friends like these two, the world would be a better place.
Things I didn’t like [SPOILER SECTION BELOW]:
-The secondary romance with Jang Joong Sung and his famous female stalker. Yes, I know they’re trying to play it off as being ok because she’s pretty, but really? There was no chemistry and no actual romantic buildup to their relationship. It was basically let-me-follow-you-and-harass-you-until-you-like-me.
-When Joo-eun finds out that Young-ho is actually a chaebol heir (and a client of her firm), she freaks out and walks out of the corporate meeting they both find themselves in. He chases after and she confronts him about lying (even though it was more of a deception by omission). He says to her they haven’t exchanged promises or rings, so he doesn’t see why she’s running already. She admits that’s the case, but leaves to mope around for a day, even leaving Seoul to see her family in Daegu (a 3 hr drive from Seoul). He comes all the way to Daegu to see her that evening and she just runs to him. I know that’s a big gesture on his part, but I felt like it should have been bigger.
- Young-ho spends an ENTIRE year away from Joo-eun recovering from the car accident. Granted I get that seeing her in pain because of him would upset him more and yes, I know he needs to concentrate on rehabilitation and learning to walk again. But to not even read her texts? Or have a single phone call or email? And then to have Joo-eun not be just a little bit furious when he shows up again (especially after she chewed out Oh Soo-jin for ghosting her after law school).
- The whole backstory with Young-ho’s father, step-mom and step-mom’s uncle. I don’t understand why step-mom’s uncle would suddenly get it into his head that killing Young-ho would be the way to grab control of the company. That sub-plot kind of came out of nowhere for me.
Having just previously watched the ugly ducking themed sitcom, She Was Pretty, which had far fewer plot issues, Oh My Venus suffered in comparison.
Still overall, I enjoyed Oh My Venus and I am glad I watched it. This is a good romcom to watch if you’re looking to binge something fun and delightful.