I would characterize Manny as a quirky, yet fun drama, that talks about the Korean family value system. It’s funny, and though it doesn’t have the high production values of something like Goong, it still is entertaining and doesn’t pretend to be anything but what it is.

I think if you were a fan of such dramas as Bad Family and are a fan of the longer Family dramas, I think this is your ticket. it’s a nice break from the string of Melodramas coming out recently.

Episode 1

We start out with a man in an airport waiting for a “Manny”. The guy next to him asks him what a Manny is, and the man explains it is a male care taker. On his sign reads Kim Yi Han. This is when we are introduced to Kim Yi Han (Seo Ji Seok) who is fresh from New York City. He’s fighting with a kid over a luggage cart. The kid argues that he got the cart first. Kim Yi Han makes him cry, which brings over his mother. Kim Yi Han, then, tells the mother that the kid has asthma.

In the car, Yi Han puts on a Mets Hat and the driver (who is driving him to an interview) thinks it is a NY Yankees hat. Yi Han explains that he thought the kid was breathing weird on the plane, but that he can only tell if the kid has asthma from the kid crying. He’s quite arrogant and self-assured about it.

We now cut to Seo Do Young (Choi Jung Yoon) who has a really nruly hairstyle and large glasses. Do I smell a make over coming on? Yes, I do. In the tradition of many K-dramas, I’m betting on it. She is riffling through her daughter’s bag, Oh Eun Bi (Jung Da Bin, the younger not dead one–You might remember her from I Really Really Like you). Do Youbng is really scattered and can’t find anything or remember much.

Oh Jung Min (Newbie: Goo Seung Hyeon) is sick in bed, though he doesn’t seem to have a temperature or anything that would preclude my parents from kicking me to school. He swears he’s sick. And Do Young trusts him. There is a call and the kids have been playing pranks on their nannies. Such as a fake spider, dropping ink and so on. This mildly reminds me of Down With Love, the Chinese drama–though they made those kids into true hellions. This is difficult since Do Young is a single mother and works, though her older sister stays with her. Her older sister, Janice (Byeon Jeong Soo) (who loves the sound of her American-picked name) is the head of a model agency and likes to wear fake contacts.

I enjoyed her going down in flames later on. Men parade around her with their shirts off. She pinches the model’s bellies saying that their six pack is their “expression.” She’s pulled aside to talk to a client who wants to hire her for a job. She declares she can do it because she’s “Korea’s Janice.”

So we’re going through the “crossing of fates” beginning which K-dramas like. Lee Han is on a TV show which Do Young is watching, promoting his book. The house is dirty and cluttered, which makes the newly arrived Janice distressed. She tells Do Young that she has to get a Nanny. And asks why did her sister get married at all.

Do Young is reading Lee Han’s book in the book store when we see that Lee Han’s agent is having trouble–and speaking in Saturi while Lee Han is doing a book signing. The agent pulls in front of Lee Han and then sticks out his tongue–taking off with Lee Han’s bag. Lee Han chases after the car only to almost be run over by Do Young. Do Young breaks fast and Lee Han jumps into the car telling her to drive. Do Young really doesn’t get how a car chase is supposed to go and doesn’t seem to understand that they are chasing *that* car over there where Lee Han is, ya know, pointing like wild at.

Lee Han tells her to drive faster, but she’s worried about a ticket. (I would be more worried about dying in K-drama land via car.)  So he starts directing her and as they catch up to the car with his bag in it, Do Young over takes the car. So Lee Han tells her to slow down, but she doesn’t get it, so he tells her to use the breaks, which puts them at a complete stop and the agent sticking out his tongue and wheeling away.

This puts Lee Han out of money and his cards canceled. His hands are tied and he’s broke. I think we can see where this is going. Lee Han calls his lawyer to find out what’s happening. It turns out that Lee Han is stranded for six months because he pissed of the head of immigration. The Head of Immigration’s wife had a thing for him and jumped him against Lee Han’s wishes, leading to a misunderstanding.

Do Young is debating having a Manny after reading a book. But her coworker thinks that it might be uncomfortable, putting strange images in Do Young’s head. Thus setting up the “forbidden relationship” trope.

Meanwhile, Lee Han is stranded in a small room and not happy about it. He only has about 30,000 won to his name. He looks at a baseball, signed by Tom Seaver, which makes him remember that his mentor (a black man on the Mets team) told him that ball can give him luck. This renews his spirits so he goes for an English teaching job.

This gets him to meet Janice. They instantly don’t like each other. She insults his Manny job and he insults her model job as “Teaching people how to walk.” He storms out. This puts him on the street again.

This puts Lee Han on the street again, and Do Young calls him to “babysit” her kids. He agrees. However, Do Young learns of the scandal with the Head of Immigration’s wife.

Do Young goes to confront Lee Han and calls him a pervert, but struggles to throw water on him–her glass is empty, so she tries to throw the sugar packets, but the sugar packets are stuck, so she grabs some passing water and then throws it on him.

There is a cut to Jung Min who has pushed down a boy and run. This leads to a hunt for Jung Min.

By K-drama coincidence, Jung Min runs into Lee Han and he calls Lee Han “Appa,” which leads Lee Han to assess that the kid has been in a fight (after some zooming graphics and music–expect this to continue). He tells Jung Min that he should make up with his friends and invites him for yogurt.

Janice spots Lee Han on the street and reports it as a kidnapping. This puts Lee Han in jail, however Do Young comes to see that it was a misunderstanding and cautiously invites Lee Han into her home–he declares he’s not hungry, but his stomach growls.

Lee Han finds out that Janice is trying for the Top Model program, so has his friend cancel on Janice! Yes for petty revenge. Lee Han sees some drawings and says that Jung Min is depressed.

Lee Han discusses it with Do Young and then goes to Jung Min and puts a hat on his head. He pulls Jung Min out of his funk is a really cute scene. So he tells the story of Tom Seaver. And how Tom Seaver didn’t beat up his competition but gave him a scare. Jung Min says the boy he pushed down was teasing him about not having a father. He cries into Lee Han’s arms. This makes Do Young also cry watching it.

Janice finds out that the manager of Top Model canceled on her. Cue hatching more plots of petty revenge.

Do Young is watching over her sleeping son and remembers that Lee Han told her that coddling is fine, but as the children get older she is supposed to help them learn tools to operate in the world.

This leads to in the morning Lee Han and Janice fighting, so Lee Han storms out, much to the distress of Do Young. Not knowing what to do, Lee Han wanders until his lawyer calls and tells him he has a plane ticket–Lee Han can go back to America now. Lee Han, however, sees a boy and his father in the airport, feeling a little guilty for leaving his depressed charge behind he cancels the ticket.

Summary

This drama is campy, cheesy and cliché in many places, but at the same time, I think the appeal won’t so much be from the cliché moments we all know by heart, but from what the drama can get from the interaction of the family aspect of the drama–talking about raising of children and those warm and fuzzies that make one smile.

Current Predictions

I smell a make over coming up for Do Young. The curly hairstyle represents how scattered she is as a mother, so when she gets it together, her hair has to change with it.

I’m also seeing lots of petty revenge between Janice and Lee Han–which I welcome. I hope they push off the attraction bit to either never or very late in the game.

I’m also seeing for our characters, The we have a professional relationship according to the contract, isn’t this awkward moments. The chemstry isn’t there yet, but I hope it warms up.

Rating: ★★★☆☆