Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Drama Stage 2020: Big Data Romance

It was a really cute and sweet episode about finding love, overcoming obstacles on the path to it and if there is a lesson to learn from it is that love appears when we least expect it.
And that dating apps are rubbish.

The whole episode was basically a clash of force from two teams: team AI and team analog. Bit-na, an upbeat and cheerful young woman goes on a blind date match-made by the dating app Big Data Romance. It is a disaster and not because of her. Her date, as it turns out was on previous 11 dates, and after his little behavior display it's not that hard to guess why. His ennui is so palpable, you could almost squeeze it (along with his... lungs).

The app matches people's compatibility. So Bit-na and him are matched at 94%. But their date ends within 15 minutes, so that the guy can get a refund because he's not interested and he's not excited. Meanwhile we have the app presentation by its inventor and CEO, Seojun. He is taunted by both the host of the event and the audience over why an inventor of the app doesn't use the actual app. So he's nearly coerced to use it.

And when Bit-na and her friend go to another blind date set up by the app, she is matched with Seojun, who - to his horror - learns what he actually is supposed to like. And none of these things are true - turns out (of course of course) the universe has other plans for him than his sterile and "in data we trust" life of a neat-freak. But the match between him and Bit-na is almost 100% so they start talking. Seojun starts doing things he never did or forgot how to (like smiling).

Until the bug is fixed, and to avoid the value of the app plummeting, his friend ask Seojun just to pretend dating Bit-na and all will be solved with the next app update. Because we didn't see enough tv to not see where this is going...
Bit-na is a romantic girl, she believes in heart fluttering, emotions and falling in love with open arms. Even though she was hurt by her ex, who cheated on her and treated her like a servant (and now wants her back). Seojun thinks that "love is just chemical reaction. Anything else is just variables" because he too, was hurt by a woman that comes back and wants to be a part of his life yet again.

So that relationship starts and with time we see both of them getting more and more comfortable around each other to the point of sharing the stories about their exes (who, as exes usually do - made a scene), kissing at the basketball game, or Seojun fussing about why Bit-na didn't remove the memories of her ex just like "hitting delete and emptying the trash can" to which she resolutely responds that people's memories are not files on the computer. But this exchange resonates, I think, with a lot of people. Everyone has some memories that they would rather erase completely. We can't. We have to learn how to make them not affect us anymore.

And a moment of truth hits one day - Bit-na hears that Seojun only pretends to date her. And given the fact they could talk with each other I firmly believe the misunderstanding would be resolved, but alas - thy end up with scratches at the hospital after Seojun saved Bit-na from being probably hit by a passing car. And then he explain that yes - it all started with a faulty matching and to save the launching of his app he pretended, but during that he fell for her for real. And the spike in his heart rate on the monitor when he held her hand was the proof he was being sincere (that or a heart attack).
Anyway, we see them alone for a moment after that, during which Seojun develops the update for his app - he added a heartbeat (sadly, 2PM were not featured on the OST, what a missed opportunity) and Bit-na shows unexpectedly during the public launch of it.

The episode uses rom-coms usual tropes - we have an awkward kiss, possessive exes, saving from the passing vehicle and an accident. Their abundance plays actually an important role - we are all anchored in tropes. We may say we don't like them and we're annoyed when a series uses them ad infinitum, but a) life is made of tropes, everything we do was done by someone else at a point in time, and b) saying that is a trope in itself.
But they also underline that yes, falling in love is also a trope.

Have a tall glass of some nice plum wine at the end.

One thing I really liked it was the pervasive theme of compatibility according to statistics. Bit-na's friend hit it off with her date right away, they had sex on the first date, and all was good and exciting - for about a week. Then it became predictable because, after all, they knew all about each other's preferences, hobbies etc. So no discovery, no learning new things about the other person. And when Seojun took the matching test again after the bug was fixed, his compatibility with Bit-na showed 23%, so that would mean no match at all. And yet, because she was so different from him and people around him, he became intrigued, interested and in love in the end.
Yeah, it was a bug that brought two different people together who would otherwise never had met.

P.S. since the episode aired on December 25th, during the credits we got new year's wishes from the cast. And Song Jaerim's cat.

My own unofficial OST song for this episode.