BY HanCinema | Nov 01, 2016 07:28 AM EDT
Every so often Nan-gil has a very dangerous scene. We see the tattoos, we see what the guy's like when he's mad, and all of a sudden it seems like all of Na-ri's worst conspiracy theories have been validated. Then there's most of the rest of the drama, where Nan-gil acts like a bit of a clumsy goof, and doesn't even seem remotely dangerous. That's the essential contradiction at play in "The Man In My House". Which one is the real Nan-gil?
In all fairness Na-ri does have a right to be paranoid. Dong-jin is a supremely uninspiring ex-boyfriend. His attempts to worm his way back into Na-ri's favor are fully unimpressive, in part because Yeo-joo makes a conscious effort to sabotage him, but also because Dong-jin himself is just not much of a man. Nan-gil, for all his borderline creepiness, does at least have a sense of personal dignity that he tries to maintain against Na-ri, as Nan-gil is firmly ensconced in his role as father figure.
Now there's a weird idea. Even if Nan-gil is ultimately dangerous the man does seem to sincerely think of himself as being Na-ri's father, in the sense that Nan-gil thinks it is his responsibility to look after Na-ri and protect her. Even assuming Na-ri's conspiracy theories are wrong, it's hard to imagine what could compel Nan-gil to do this. Surely Na-ri's mother would not have insisted on Nan-gil taking on such an inherently awkward role?
It is a somewhat less awkward role with Deok-sim (played by Sin Se-hwi), Deok-bong's younger sister who appears to have developed an obsession with spying on everyone. It's a weird personality trait that has gotten her a bad reputation among classmates. And yet it is Nan-gil, not Deok-bong, who makes a sincere effort to try and make Deok-sim feel better with no expectation of award. This even as he looks like a clumsy, awkward dad in the process.
Of course, all the pretty critiques in the world can't hide the basic silliness inherent in the premise of "The Man In My House". This is a drama where the main setpiece involves characters getting drunk and giving each other a piece of their minds- and contrary to sober expectations, it's actually the women who demonstrate a stinging, genuine revulsion for each other. The conflict in this drama is quite literally about characters trying to overcome the awkwardness of the premise, and while often interesting, as of yet "The Man In My House" is not really terribly compelling.
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