A Lover Girl’s Guide: The contemporary Cinderella?

Nov. 9, 2023, 1:57 a.m.

The genre of Korean drama (K-drama) is garnering ever-greater global attention. Typically shorter than American soap operas like “F.R.I.E.N.D.S,” k-dramas are especially appealing due to their ability to cater to the female gaze, utilize universal messages within powerful storytelling and market themselves uniquely on streaming platforms. “A Lover Girl’s Guide” focuses on romance in this growing medium. For many, it has transformed our standards for love (singles out there, you can decide if this is for better or worse).

In the classic version of “Cinderella,” our protagonist is a young orphaned girl in rags whose entire life is swept up when she meets her Prince Charming. Although the Brothers Grimm tale was originally published back in 1812, a modern — and perhaps slightly more plausible — equivalent endures in the cliche of the poor girl who meets the wealthy CEO.

“Business Proposal” isn’t the first k-drama to bring this theme to the TV screen, but its iconic humor makes it a staple among k-drama rom-coms. It is a must-see for anyone looking to explore this genre of film. 

Shin Ha-ri (played by Kim Se-jeong) is your average girl working for a large corporation — but she’s no average friend. When her best friend, Jin Young-seo (played by Seol In-ah), is forced by her family to go on a blind date, Ha-ri agrees to show up in Young-seo’s place to scare off the date. 

Hilariously, Ha-ri’s unnaturally bold and flashy alter ego fails to faze the date, Kang Tae-moo (played by Ahn Hyo-seop). Tae-moo decides to propose to her regardless. As Ha-ri and Young-seo attempt to navigate themselves out of this mess, Ha-ri realizes Tae-moo is actually her boss as the CEO of the company. With her romantic and professional future in the crossfire, Ha-ri finds herself weaving more and more false narratives to try to evade the marriage. 

“Business Proposal” is a wholesome story that follows not just one, but two couples with singular chemistry that’s sure to pull at your heartstrings. The casting for this drama has captured the attention of fans on social media. Rumors even circulated that Ahn and Kim were dating off-screen, but they were eventually debunked, much to fans’ dismay. 

Some k-dramas are critiqued for leaning too heavily on the same cliches, such as the poor-girl-meets-rich-boy trope seen in “Business Proposal.” Yet, the series is able to balance the predictability of this cliche with its own distinctive elements. It successfully creates unique, vivid moments between characters that stayed with me long after I’d finished the show. A turn of events in the plot ultimately forms an opportunity for complex character development, and we see the characters flourish as a result. The 12-episode season meets a satisfying end as they grow their communication and openness to expressing difficult emotions.

Although romance takes a central role in the plot of this kdrama, I admired that the writers still highlighted the significance of female friendship between Ha-ri and Young-seo. Romance plots relegate the supportive friend to more of an auxiliary, backseat role once the couple gets together. Ha-ri and Young’seo’s bond remains strong when their love lives are full of dramatic twists and turns. The duo’s friendship is a tender portrayal of how it is indeed possible to maintain a healthy balance of romantic and platonic relationships in life. 

This k-drama is an endearing story of friendship and love. It’s a rags-to-riches story that somehow still feels down-to-earth being set in the modern day. The characters are relatable and lovable, even the aloof workaholic Tae-moo. This light-hearted comfort show is both digestible and exciting for viewers. Ultimately, it’s the perfect watch for any fellow daydreamer out there.

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.

Hana Dao is a vol. 264 Science Technology News desk editor. In addition to writing for the Daily, she enjoys discussing fashion and having picnics on campus.

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