For some reason, it’s generally the case that the second male leads in many, if not most, Korean dramas end up winning a dominant chunk of the audience popularity vote and thus the male leads’ thunder. This almost never happens in Chinese, Japanese, Thai, or other comparable formatted dramas. Memorably and famously done by Won Bin in Autumn In My Heart back in the earlier crash of this Hallyu Wave, followed up Lee Jun Ki in My Girl, and more recently Yoon Sang Hyun in Queen of Housewives, (female) audiences also succumb to this infectious syndrome in Queen of Reversals, where the troublemaker, scene and heart stealer in question is played by Park Shi Ho. Park’s rendition of his character may have arguably saved this drama from its earlier disappointing initial responses indicated in industry reviews, mob postings, and tuned in viewer numbers. Not only has audience warmed up to the romantic comedy thanks to its improved storyline which includes finally injecting sweet ole romance, not just hints of it, but MBC has given it two extensions, first an additional ten episodes and now another two to wrap up whatever it has in mind for the last stretch, bringing the drama to a total of 32 episodes, herego another six weeks in the rat race.
The longer run will benefit the drama in the obvious ways- a shining moment on everyone’s resume, more work and thus more pay- but it will also benefit the follow-up drama, The Duo, allowing it more preproduction time to polish off the rough patches.
Queen of Reversals stars Kim Nam Joo who also starred in its franchise wannabe predecessor Queen of Housewives, Jung Jun Ho, Park Shi Ho, and Chae Jung Ahn.
When a sequel to 2009’s sleeper hit Queen of Housewives was announced, it was marketed as a real sequel, in the universal definition of the word, complete with the same characters, continuing time line, and background. At last count, real sequels are unaccounted for in network k-dramas, so the production team behind Housewives was stoked to engineer one. Turning an audience recognizable and supported drama into a seasonal staple cuts down on many production costs- mainly creative and marketing- and promises a receptive, if not guaranteed sponsor base, thereby making it more profitable for the network and production team. But, alas, it is not to be, as the latest project ultimately bears little to no resemblance as a continuation storyline to the original melodramatic comedy.
The major impediment to a sequel’s life is re-signing all or some of the actors from the original hit. Because of the way Korean network dramas are produced, where the cast and crew need only commit to one series and network at a time and are then free afterwards to book with another network and project, it makes it very difficult to sign so many participants together again for another project. This seems to be the case for this project as only one actress has agreed and contracted on board. Although it happens to be Kim Nam Joo, who was the lead actress of the original, this doesn’t suffice to make the new project fit to be called a sequel. In fact, the new series, first depressingly titled Queen of Tears and now more optimistically finalized as Queen of Reversals, isn’t even a spin-off as it doesn’t share the universe the original characters live in. In fact, none of the original characters are penned into this new series.
In Queen of Housewives, Kim Nam Joo’s character was an ordinary housewife of astruggling common household, while in Queen of Reversals, she plays a completely different character of a different economic and social status. Reversals centers on Kim Nam Joo’s character and her husband, played by Jung Jun Ho, who rashly rushes into marriage only to then find out how challenging married life is when you don’t know nor understand each other. Unlike Oh Ji Ho’s character as the husband in Housewives, who is honest (almost to a poverty and divorce state), good natured and kind, the husband in Reversals is described as spoiled, idle, and useless.
These blatant character reversals lend themselves to the argument for this series’ title naming, but the ‘reversal’ is most likely in reference to the chronological placement of the journey a couple takes together before and after marriage. Reversals reverses the order of the couple’s courtship period, when the two learn about and work out each other’s differences and compatibility level, with their wedding, which commences their marriage. Reversals is giving us the marriage then the journey of the couple.
Marketing wise, Reversals certainly seems to be capitalizing on the popularity of its alleged predecessor so far, as much attention and anticipation have already been built and buzzed around it. It awaits to be seen whether its viewership support can match or surpass the progenitor’s.
To help it achieve its goal is its new cast which includes Park Shi Hoo coming off Princess Prosecutor검사 프린세스 (2010) and Chae Jung Ahn of Cain and Abel카인과 아벨 (2009) fame.
Writer Park Ji Eun returns from the original series to pen, hopefully, another hit, while director Kim Nam Won steers the helm of this series. Queen of Reversals will air after the overstayed 60 episodes Dong Yi’s exit on MBC’s Monday-Tuesday nights.