First Impression: Thirty, Nine

Drama Profile

Title: Thirty, Nine
Main Cast: Son Ye-jin, Jeon Mi-do and Kim Ji-hyun
Writer: Yoo Young-a (Encounter)
PD: Kim Sang-ho (Run On)
Timeslot: Wednesday and Thursday, 22:30
Network: JTBC
Streaming Site: Netflix
Episodes: 12
Genre: Romance drama

Plot Synopsis:

Leaning on each other through thick and thin, a trio of best friends stand together as they experience life, love, and loss on the brink of turning 40. (Synopsis from Netflix)

Maknae’s Impression:

“Never in our wildest dreams did we expect a funeral to be held for one of us in our late thirties. We laughed and cried a lot. This is our passionate story.”

Thirty, Nine begins with this narration from Cha Mi-jo (Son Ye-jin) which sets up the tone for this new female-centric series. The first two episodes focused on giving us a rundown of the main three characters’ situations: Cha Mi-jo, Jeong Chan-young (Jeon Mi-do), and Jang Joo-hee (Kim Ji-hyun). The character introductions felt more like a glimpse of the three women than actual introductions; like we’re still outsiders and we’re yet to see their innermost thoughts. The latter is important so that I can actually understand the motivations behind their actions. 

Cha Mi-jo, for instance, has been hinting at her anxieties about being adopted but I have yet to feel emphatic about her back story and why she kept on insisting she had to go on a sabbatical. I feel like there’s more to it than what the initial episodes are letting on. The romance for her character, though, is interesting. It started with destined encounters and end up with peonies. Aside from the initial work-related qualms, her relationship with Kim Seon-u (Yeon Woo-jin) is progressing smoothly. Too fast, I think, which would lead me back with my initial assumption about Mi-jo’s back story as her character arc’s main conflict and that Seon-u would be her source of support rather than cause of distress. The opposite of Jeong Chan-young’s story.

The main conflict for Jeong Chan-young, on the other hand, was clear from the start. She’s in a very unfair relationship but she kept on denying the truth. She kept on insisting she’s not a mistress because she’s not exactly sleeping with a married man. But it was obvious they are maintaining a relationship of some sort. It is emotional cheating! And that frustrates Mi-jo (and me too tbh). Again, there’s something that Mi-jo knows that we had yet to discover. Because when the big plot twist got revealed, Mi-jo’s first course of action was to vent out her anger to Kim Jin-seok (Lee Mu-saeng) rather than going to comfort Chan-young, which is a very bewildering decision.

Anyway, Mi-jo and Chan-young’s individual stories give off very melodrama vibes but whenever they are with Jang Joo-hee, the mood somehow changes. Joo-hee is the most colorful character in this series. Her story is more normal than her two other friends but that’s what makes her more relatable. She also somehow brings out the childishness within Mi-jo and Chan-young. But I wonder if her life is really all rainbows and unicorns (and K-dramas). Whatever it is, I’m just hoping she will eventually get her chance at romance like her friends and maybe it could be with Park Hyun-joon (Lee Tae-hwan).

Thirty, Nine’s first two episodes are a mix of drama, comedy, and romance. But the melancholic tone was obvious, probably because we know that everything would lead to Chan-young’s death. I’m not sure if the writer’s decision to use a “stolen prologue” style was a good choice but I’m still looking forward to the next episodes. The characters have traits that piqued my curiosity and I hope it would be developed further as the story progresses. But since the main plot still feels ambiguous, for now, I would most probably be staying to see more of the three main characters’ friendship.

Afterthoughts

-I was actually looking forward to Lee Mu-saeng’s role here after watching The Silence Sea but turns out his role is an emotional cheater. Urgh.

-I would never ever look at peonies the same way again.

-Kang Mal-geum is always a scene stealer. I love her.

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