Another revenge drama?
The 14-episode JTBC series centres around the arduous life of Jin Young-soon (Ra Mi-ran) — a single mother and her son Choi Kang-ho (Lee Do-hyun).
She moved to the quaint village of Jowoo, following the death of her late husband in 1988, murdered by a gang leader. The murder was covered up with the help of a prosecutor with lofty political ambitions.
As a result, Jin became extremely strict with Choi in his adolescent years, pushing him to be a prosecutor with hope that he does not end up like her.
Fast forward to the present, Choi becomes an influential prosecutor as wished, but also grew distant away from his loved ones as he gets entangled with the culprits responsible for his dad’s death.
Asian mum gets the spotlight
Revenge is on the agenda. So it does seemingly look like yet another revenge thriller.
Spoiler alert: Not quite.
The series takes a complete turn from episode three. Choi suffers from amnesia, as he returned with memories as a kid, following an unexpected accident.
Deviating from the revenge plot, the show shifts its spotlight to the mother-son pair as it explores the love-hate relationship between them with various flashbacks while growing up. The identity of an Asian mum comes through, and is relatable, with scenes of Jin reprimanding young Choi for not focusing on his academics and chasing grades amongst others.
With a shot at redemption to become a good mother instead, there are countless heart-wrenching moments throughout the show as she takes care of her beloved son, even with her failing health.
While her actions in the past might seem cold and harsh, it was all done with good intentions.
Special mention needs to be given to Ra Mi-ran for her delicate delivery and nuanced portrayal of both the good and bad sides of an Asian mum. It’s perhaps this relatability and shared experience which makes the show such a success, now JTBC’s highest-rated weekday drama.
While The Good Bad Mother tugs on one’s heartstrings, it pales in its story and narrative. For viewers expecting a thrilling revenge drama, you might be left disappointed.
The main revenge story is hastily concluded in the last episode. There are also questionable plot holes such as how dramatically unfortunate Jin’s life could be or Choi’s miraculous road to recovery for his revenge.
The ensemble cast in the Jowoo home village does provide some form of comedic relief. But the slapstick humour is cringeworthy at best.
Looking beyond the K-drama clichés, The Good Bad Mother is still an enjoyable slice-of-life drama, especially with its refreshing cast.
Ahn Eun-jin plays Lee Mi-joo — Choi’s love interest in the series. She is most notable for her role in the Hospital Playlist (2020) series.
The main protagonist is also probably Lee Do-hyun’s meatiest character yet. He alternates between the role of a cold, plotting prosecutor and a young, innocent village boy.
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Not forgetting their loveable pair of twins Seo-jin and Ye-jin, whom we would have loved to see more.
The Good Bad Mother is now streaming on Netflix.