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KDRAMA REVIEW: The Atypical Family (2024)

I knew after I watched the first episode of The Atypical Family that I needed to do a review of this Korean drama when it was complete. I started this drama for many reasons and the buzz on social media is that a lot of people were going to skip this drama for one MAJOR (and important) reason. As we all know, I started this blog because I wanted to highlight the less talked about dramas or hidden gems so, people could discover them later. The Atypical Family seemed to fit the bill, especially since it was up against stiff competition that everyone seemed to be watching. What I got was a unique and fantastic story with heartwarming moments and a discussion of real and important societal issues which we all know I love when dramas highlight that type of thing.

Now as per usual with any review I write, I will not be including any spoilers in the first part of this review - you will get a spoiler warning before we move into spoiler territory


A QUICK SYNOPSIS OF THE ATYPICAL FAMILY - The Bok Family has superpowers but due to modern day problems, they have lost those powers. Do Da Hae enters the picture. She is a con woman who approaches the family for a specific mission. She eventually begins to live with them, and things begin to change for everyone.


I ABSOLUTELY ADORE THIS DRAMA! At first, I did not know what I thought about the drama. I started for 2 reasons. One reason was the whole super powered family affected by modern day problems intrigued me. The BIGGER reason why I started this drama was because Jang Ki Yong got out of the military, and this was his first drama post military. WE ALL KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE JANG KI YONG! It has a very different vibe from anything else that has aired in 2024 so far. It was a little quirky and dark. As the drama went on, the characters grew on me. The story unfolded in a beautiful and unpredictable way. You learned about the superpowers but then wanted to know how the family would overcome these modern-day problems so, they could heal. You sprinkle in a romance that you could root for but, for me, I stayed because of the family. As I said above, this drama is a heartwarming and unique story that discussed societal issues and had important, kick in the gut, close to the heart conversations that left you raw and exposed after the fact.


⚠️THIS IS YOUR SPOILER WARNING!!!! WE ARE ENTERING SPOILER TERRITORY BEYOND THIS POINT!! ⚠️

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT THIS DRAMA

FLAWED CHARACTERS - Now, I said above that the Bok family faced modern day problems which stopped them from using their superpowers, they obviously had to heal and solve these issues and that was a major plot point in the drama. What I loved about this was the twists with this plot point. It wasn't just the Bok family that needed healing. I think everyone in these cast of characters had something figure out, heal from or just needed to realize something. All of the characters need to grow and change from the beginning of the drama to the conclusion of the drama. These characters were flawed, and I honestly didn't like multiple of these characters in the beginning of the drama. They grew on me though and I became attached by the end. Just through their characters alone, this drama turns some tropes on its head.


FOUND FAMILY - As I have said multiple times, Found Family is my favorite trope. The female lead was the center point of this trope. She technically "found" 2 families in this drama. The first family being the con family. The second family being the Bok family. By the end, both the con family and the Bok family found each other as well. I think these found family relationships helped heal characters and gave them a sense of support, friendship and love they had not experienced before. It was so fun to watch these character embrace each other's flaws and support one another through the hard times. They all won at the end. This drama really was about family with romance as a second story line in my opinion. What was funny about this found family was the con family approached the Bok family to con them. When they discovered how miserable they were, they actually got mad and was like we are going to slap some sense into all of you and make you better people. Thus, creating this found family bond with them unintentionally.


FATHER-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP - A highlight for me (and one I did not expect) was the father - daughter relationship we got between Gwi Ju and his daughter I Na. Their relationship was the one I was most invested in. I loved watching their relationship get discovered again and grow to what it was by the end. I Na got more confident as well as her father got more confident in being a father. He finally kept the promises he made. He rediscovered his love for his daughter and put in the effort. I Na was able to open up and find the support she needed from a parental figure with him. I rooted the most for their relationship to heal and for them to come out on top. In my opinion, these 2 characters had the most to heal from and had deeper scars than we all know - including themselves. I Na saved her father in the end.


FEMALE RELATIONSHIPS - The female relationships were also a highlight in this drama. I loved watched Do Da Hae and I Na's relationship grow and develop. I loved watching Bok Dong Hee and Grace's relationship. I eventually loved watching Do Da Hae, Dong Hee and Grace together and their relationship. Even the con family's mother and Gwi Ju's mother developed this relationship by the end. Also, watching I Na support Hye rim (the girl who was mean to her in the drama) and want to be her friend by the end of the drama was great. There was big message within these relationships where women can overcome anything together. The message where there can be women supporting women no matter the circumstances like Grace trying to break up Dong Hee and Her fiancée to I Na approaching Hye rim and starting to mend their relationship. Instead of going to tropey route and making these characters hate each other and be at odds, these characters turned the trope on their head and supported each other.


TRAUMA - Everyone had some sort of trauma in this drama. Some had more trauma than others but everyone had something they were dealing with. This is essentially a healing drama. Characters overcoming their trauma to come out on top. Their trauma could come from various incidents, characters and even societal expectations. It wasn't just the Bok family trying to get over their traumas to gain their superpowers back but also the con family having important conversations and overcoming their trauma. They also fought against things in their lives to have a better life or see a positive outcome. It was interesting seeing how these characters overcame this trauma. Do Da Hae was a major factor in this healing for other characters but also other characters had a hand in healing these characters. I Na helped heal her father. I Na helped heal Do Da Hae. The Uncle and Grace helped heal Dong Hee and I Na. Everyone helped out in some way and their bond grew because of it. I loved seeing everyone think their trauma was one thing at the beginning of the drama and them the journey of discovering what their actual trauma was and then healing from that. Or at least starting to heal from it. There were some powerful conversations said over this topic such as the scene where Gwi Ju talks about food and his hospital stay with his sister Dong Hee. Essentially telling her that he loved seeing her happy and if that means she gets happy from eating, just eat because he would rather, she be happy and eating versus hiding in a corner binge eating and miserable. She flew when she was happy, not because she weighed too much. It was never about the weight. She lost the weight in the end and still was not happy. Another scene I loved watching was Do Da Hae running through the fire to save I Na despite her trauma, she overcame it to save someone she loved.


POWERS - It was funny to see that a lot of the powers had to do with past and future. We had three characters having to have something to do with time with their powers. I mean if a major plot point of your story has to do with time travel, it makes sense. I just found that to be interesting that so many powers in the Bok family had to do with time. I loved the idea of a family with superpowers dealing with modern day issues which broke their powers. They had lived off of their powers for so long that they didn't know how to work them when dealing with these everyday issues. It was also interesting to see them discover new things about their powers as the drama went on. I guess it was a part of the healing process as well. It was learned that the matriarch of the family had dreams that could tell you the future, but it also depended on how she interpreted them. This caused a lot of issues along the way because she didn't have the full picture and made assumptions. Gwi Ju and I Na's powers changed and mutated throughout the drama which the story did tell us could happen so, they had to relearn how to use them and these new abilities. Even some of these societal issues were not the problem that these characters faced, blocking them from using this power so, they had to discover the real reason why they couldn't use their powers anymore. It was an interesting concept and story that I enjoyed exploring.


CINEMATOGRAPHY - I just want to point the cinematography out a bit. I LOVED when Gwi Ju time traveled and the colors changed. I thought that was unique take on the concept. It also made it easy for the audience to understand what was happening. It was also beautiful to watch. Beyond that, the cinematography was great and such a joy to watch as a whole. The story of Gwi Ju visiting Do Da Hae in different time s and helping her out with certain things and then us seeing that happen alter on in the episode. That was always a joy to watch unfold and the camera work that had to go into that whole concept was SO GOOD and believable.


VIEWPOINTS AND MESSAGES - There was a major viewpoint in The Atypical Family that I wanted to point out. It was the idea that different perspectives lead to different results. The Bok family viewed their powers as curses. Part of their healing process was changing that perspective to view their powers as a blessing. On the other hand, people who never had to deal with the negative part of their powers, immediately thought their powers were a blessing. Just depended on the person's viewpoints and these people also influenced the change in the Bok family's viewpoint of their own powers. Especially Do Da Hae's influence on the family. Also, the family members defying their mother's dreams by making their own choices and not to be influenced by her dreams. One message that this drama had was you may a dysfunctional family who dislike each other or are absorbed in their own problems but at the end of the day, you are still family and will support each other no matter what. Everything stemmed from happiness in a way. A quote that was also a message in the drama was "It's not a crime to survive." This quote stuck with me. So, many of these characters were dealing with survivors guilty or living with people who were dealing with that. A lot of these characters such as Gwi Ju and I Na had to come to terms and accept this quote for them to heal.


OSTs - I just wanted to give a shoutout to the OSTs and instrumentals of this drama. It added to the uniqueness of this drama. A lot of these OSTs and instrumentals had sort of a whimsical sound to them but the topics and scenes that were being shown on screen did not match the whimsical vibe of the music. I found that to be very unique in the drama.


THE ENDING - A lot of people were confused or unhappy with the ending. I can see why but I thought the writers pulled it off so well and it made TOTAL sense. For me, it was not an open ending., which some people interpreted as it was. For people who are still confused by the ending, here is my interpretation of it. In the present day, Gwi Ju saved I Na and Do Da Hae from the fire at her dance competition. He escaped death from the wall collapses in the present-day fire by time traveling back to Do Da Hae's school fire to save her. He saves Do Da Hae from her school fire. Because he traveled back in time to Do Da Hae's fire, there was no body to recover from I Na's dance competition fire. So, he was presumed dead and given a funeral without a body. Jump forward 5 years from present day (I Na's dance competition Fire), Do Da Hae has given birth to her and Gwi Ju's son Nuri and 5 years has passed for everyone but Gwi Ju. Do Da Hae discovers that her and Gwi Ju's son can summon things from the past that were lost. Since Gwi Ju traveled back to Do Da Hae's fire during I Na's dance competition fire and there was no body, he is deemed to be lost and can't be recovered. Since Nuri can summon lost things, he pulls his father from Do Da Hae's fire and brings him back to the family and Do Da Hae. So, 5 years have not passed for Gwi Ju. It was a matter of minutes. That is how he survived Do Da Hae's fire as well because his son used his power to find him in the past and bring him back to present day. Since his son yanked him from Do Da Hae's fire into the 5 years ahead of I Na's fire at her dance competition, he did not go back to I Na's dance competition time. He was already returned to the family 5 years from I Na's Dance competition fire. So, Do Da Hae and I Na had to catch up to him. Gwi Ju also knew he was going to survive this entire ordeal when he went to talk to his firefighter friend and heard about the fund that was set up to support the dead firefighter's son and he hadn't set that up yet. So, he accepted his fate and was able to accept this journey knowing, he was going to survive to set up that fund at some point. I loved that they ended with the quote "This isn't the end, it's the beginning". It perfectly sums up the ending and the whole concept of this time travel. They now can live out their lives as a married couple.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER

PACING - I think some of the pacing could have been different. I liked that the drama was 12 episodes. I wish some of the storylines would have been paced out better or some things were revealed earlier. The ending felt a little rushed with Gwi Ju saving Do Da Hae because the story concentrated on other story points in the middle episodes too long.


CHARACTER ENDINGS - Along with the pacing, this I think also affected some of the character endings. I thought Grandma Bok started her mending of her relationships with her family but due to being rushed, some of that was left out or just not written in. It seemed like her family forgave her somewhat too easily. Same with the con family mother, granted we got 2 beautiful scenes with Do Da Hae with both of these women. I just remember watching them and all of a sudden, they were interreacting with characters as if they had had this huge apology conversation off screen. I would have loved to see those conversations. Due to the pacing as well, I thought Dong Hee and her father had rushed or almost no healing in the story. I think this is partly due to the fact that there was so much healing that had to be done with Do Da Hae, Gwi Ju and I Na's characters, everyone else sort of was on the back burner sometimes. I would have liked to see some of these conversations happen on screen. We did get some beautiful conversations, I just wanted more.


FAT SUIT - According to my research, this drama was an original story and not based off of a webtoon/manhwa. Correct me if I got that wrong. Now, we know that a lot of people did not watch this drama due to the promo pictures coming out and showing Claudia Kim in a fat suit. I was also upset with this, but I still gave this drama a shot. I am SO GLAD I did. I knew going into this drama, if written well, that it was never going to be about her weight. Something else was going to be the reason why she had lost her power. Which we learn later was her loss of happiness through a wonderful conversation with Gwi Ju. I think the drama used the fat suit trope well and made it a wonderful and touching story with a complex character. I also think we probably could have done that wonderful and touching story with a complex character without the fat suit. They could have changed her power or maybe never used the fat suit but still gave her self-esteem issue or something else. I think if we thought hard enough, we could still have this beautiful story without the fat suit. I just can't think of it right now. Did the drama use the fat suit in a good way and had the best out come? I think it did. Was it needed? I think things could have been rewritten to not have it be in the drama.

THAT IS MY REVIEW OF THE ATYPICAL FAMILY!

The Atypical Family - 9/10 (NETFLIX)


Ultimately, I gave this drama a score of 9/10 on the MDL scale. It isn't a perfect drama which I talked about in the review above but still a FANTASTIC DRAMA! I think I loved this drama more than I thought I would. I hope more people check this drama out now that it is over. I think a lot of people missed out on an amazing drama just because of a poor decision made by the production. Due to the fact that not a lot of people were watching this drama, it wasn't talked about a lot on social media. If you want a different but touching drama to watch, PLEASE CHECK THIS DRAMA OUT!


Did you watch The Atypical Family?

What did you think of the drama?

Is it on your list to watch?

Will you watch this drama now after reading my review?

Do you agree with my review?


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