I was planning on recapping the Key/Arisa segments of We got Married Global Edition. (Give me Dramas has done a few great recaps of the Heechul/Puff Gao segments, if you’re interested.)
I have been studying Japanese, speak English, and know a tiny bit of Korean, so their conversations combining all three are heaven to me as a language nerd (especially since they tend to speak slow for each other.) I especially love when I realize they are saying something different from what the sometimes “creative” captions say. It makes me feel accomplished.
Unfortunately, I am now struggling with the fact that I like/hate the show. Here’s why:
(Warning! Minor Spoilers abound for several different seasons of the show.)
My first Impressions
This season was the first I have actually sat down and watched. The scriptedness of this season of We Got Married Global Edition didn’t bother me. Even if everything was 100% unscripted, the couples would still be surrounded by 20 or so cameramen and the like. It couldn’t be completely “real.”
Still, even though many activities and ideas (such as the sundae list) are clearly planned out before, I felt that the interactions between Key and Arisa were pretty much real. Although Arisa has a job that requires her to receive a lot of attention, she is obviously very shy; as a fellow introverted extrovert, I would recognize that deer-in-the-headlights “I should do something now but I don’t know what” face anywhere. I don’t think she could convincingly fake the comfort she feels with Key. I did get more of a friendship vibe, but that didn’t bother me.
As for Heechul and Puff, I was pretty sure a lot of Heechul’s corniness/lechery wasn’t serious, but I know people who are like that constantly in real life. Heechul and Puff’s fake marriage strikes me as a very honest fake marriage, if that makes sense. Neither one of them are proclaiming undying love for each other. The moments where Puff just laughs and ignores Heechul’s nonsense are my favorite. I don’t think that’s the language barrier in play. Heechul’s response to anytime he doesn’t understand what Puff is saying- repeating “Hao” and hoping he isn’t missing anything important- is pretty amusing. I actually could see them dating in real life, although it wouldn’t be a deep relationship.
So, what I enjoy about the show is the couples finding ways to communicate despite language barriers, the moments where despite a manufactured situation the couples are genuine with each other, and of course the fish-out-of-water moments that are just pure funny.
Things that Bother Me
I decided to watch the last season of We got Married Global Edition. Some things started to really rub me the wrong way. Taecyeon was a big part of it, I gotta admit. I know some people feel he was rude and “Americanized.” I just felt he was trying to be honest, for instance when he said things like he didn’t want to be called the Korean equivalent of ‘hubby,” or when he said he didn’t trust that Gui Gui liked him. I think he just isn’t the type of person to express his emotions to others. That’s why, when he said things like “I feel like it’s changing from a like emotion to a love emotion” in a completely emotionless voice, I felt really embarrassed for him. There were good moments in this relationship, and I actually do believe the two had at least a good friendship. When Taecyeon said that he and Gui Gui were all about having fun, that seemed to me to be an actual expression of affection for her. But the show was too busy making the two say incredibly corny stuff to take note of that.
Wouldn’t just allowing these people to interact without pretending they’re deeply in love work better? I think having the couples do things married couples do, like meeting each others friends, and allowing them to just express real emotion would still be interesting. Even with the Lee Hong Ki/ Fuji Mina, who I felt were possibly actually interested in each other, I got the feeling they were encouraged to pretend they were on the verge of getting married in real life. I have heard their relationship described as boring, which just points out to me why all the couples have different vibes- viewers don’t all prefer the same style. I wonder if that’s one reason the show is scripted.
I made a tactical error I went back and watched the Taemin/Naeun We Got Married. I felt real chemistry. I thought it was adorable, and then I started wondering what was real and what wasn’t. When certain things happened in the show that made Taemin look bad, I just felt uncomfortable. Some of it was clearly engineered. And when it was time for them to part, I felt wretched and I couldn’t really put my finger on why.
Watching the Adam Couple helped me figure it out. Although I wasn’t quite sure how much of the emphasis on skinship was Jo Kwan and how much was written beforehand, I did think Ga In and Jo Kwan might have actually liked each other.
When I realized neither Jo Kwan and Ga In nor Taemin and Na Eun dated in real life , I started wondering if it was that they weren’t allowed to date by their companies, didn’t want to date publicly, or just didn’t actually like each other. These questions eventually led me to realize that I felt very manipulated.
A huge part of We Got Married is making the viewer think that the people in this fake marriage want to date each other in real life. I know the show doesn’t do this with every couple, but many. This is just so weird, especially when you consider the fact that when a Jonghyun, a member of Shinee (which Taemin also belongs too) dated in real life, the public hated on him to the point that he broke down crying on stage.
It is basically impossible for Idols to date publicly, and difficult for other celebrities. Yet, We Got Married is a little bubble that allows the public to spy on a relationship and pretend it’s real, carried out 100% as the public would like and with their approval.
(Actually, that is one reason I believe that a good bit of the emotion in We Got Married is real. These people, for a good stretch of time, have someone they can hug, be affectionate to, and do stupid things with in public. They have actual scheduled time to do things like go skiing together or have dinner together. It seems impossible that they wouldn’t at least consider the other person good friends.)
After the show, however, they will mostly say they don’t see each other often, were never involved at all, and occasionally will avoid seeing each other in public. I’m sure everybody noticed that Naeun wasn’t present at Key’s “wedding” last episode (episode 7.) (By the way, I’m probably in the minority, but how I wish Eun Ji had been absent also. Arisa was surrounded by Key’s friends and had no one she knew there, and had to hear all these jokes about Eun Ji and Key. I know Arisa and Key don’t have a real relationship, but it still seemed a little embarrassing.)
Odds and Ends
Another thing I’ve heard lately in forums is the belief that a huge portion of the men on We Got Married are gay, and that the show is a bit of a beard. I think that is a pretty western take on the situation. Just because a behavior is labeled as “gay” in certain countries doesn’t mean it is genetically attached to homosexual DNA, or something equally absurd . In the US in particular, men showing affection to each other is taboo, but this is a fairly recent thing and in my opinion, is a bit sad. I’m 100% sure there are a few Korean celebrities that are in the closet. I’m just as sure, however, that trying to identify them by how they act on TV or in planned fan service in concerts isn’t going to work. Also, if every idol the internet said was gay actually was, I would wonder how South Korea planned to produce new generations.
Back to the main point. During the show, the viewer is encouraged to believe the couples involved have real feelings for each other. After the show, you’re encouraged to believe they don’t. Besides feeling a bit manipulative, it seems to enforce the idea that the public has the right to dictate how and who celebrities should date, and I don’t think that’s fair.