Updated: Sep 20, 2020
The Plot The Plot is not your run-of-the-mill romantic comedy. The first episode opens up with a short animated story about a girl who lived in a castle and had no friends. When she tried to make friends they ran away claiming that she was a monster. The last scene of that animated story introduces Seo Ye Ji's Ko Moon-young. At present, she is a successful children's book author. Her books are not traditional, colorful books with happy-go-lucky stories, but are inspired from her own traumatic childhood, the artwork is, well eerie, but the message underneath the stories is deep and inspiring. Moon Gang-tae played by Kim Soo-Hyun, is a character devoted to his autistic hyung ,older brother. He has been changing cities every spring as with spring comes the butterflies, and his hyung get nightmares where butterflies attack him. At present, he has been working as a care-giver (read nurse) in Mental hospitals. The latest season change brings them back to their hometown where one opportune night their mother was stabbed to death. He takes a job at the mental healing facility called OK Psychiatric Hospital. My Take : Moon-young and Gang-tae have a past history. And when their path collide in the present, sparks fly everywhere. Their chemistry in few first episodes is so electric, the sexual tension so palpable that had this been a LA production, the characters would ripped each other apart in the third episode itself.
A shared traumatic past is not a new K drama plot, infact 99% of the K drama protagonists have met in their childhood, be it 'What's wrong with Secretary Kim', 'Kill Me, Heal Me' where the characters help each other overcome their childhood trauma or dozens others where childhood trauma shapes their future life together. But what sets 'It's Okay to Not be Okay' is the cinematography and the unique, gripping story telling. Every episode is titled with the name of a book that Moon-young has written, and follows that specific theme. The truth about Moon-young's family, her mom's psychotic personality and even her face is revealed slowly, touting it to a suspense thriller at times. And yes, beware of few jump-scares in first few episodes, this series sure has some horror movie touches.
In entirety, I feel it is the story about Parent-Child relationships. And so far I have felt that the narrative is one sided. It mostly blames the parents for ruining their kid's childhood. Also, it is about how the mental illness of a family member, affects others in the family. Be it the psychotic megalomaniac mom or the autistic special-needs hyung. But the character of Sang-tae , Gang-tae's older brother grows tremendously as the story unfolds. You are up for some beautiful moments of brotherly love and sacrifice. All actors have done a great job. Kim Soo Hyun felt too stuck up or plasticky initially, but I think that was because his character has stopped living for himself and is always on a auto-pilot mode, looking after only the needs of his borther. Seo Ye Jin, is the perfect match for the role of Ko Moon-young, her voice and demeanour as a anti-social person is perfect, and she feels warm and lovable as well when she decides to. Oh Jung-se has done a fantastic job bringing Sang-tae to life. In few scenes, you could just read his mind even when the character doesn't say a word.
An award worthy performance for sure. All in all, this one is not to be missed. Oh, did I mention the greatest ever k drama kiss: