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'It's Okay, That's Love': Therapy for the rerun blahs

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SBS 'It's Okay, That's Love'

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Let's be honest, American television has precious little to offer in the summer. Oh, sure, there are perennial summer reality shows and a few summer replacements such as CBS's 'Under The Dome,' but when it comes to shows good enough, interesting enough to actually make a point to stay in and not miss, the choices on U.S. air waves are few and far between. Thankfully, Korean television is nowhere near as lazy as their American counterparts and constantly produce new mini-series all year round, including this summer's absolute must-see, have-to-watch, you'll-kick-yourself-if-you-miss-it hit, 'It's Okay, That's Love' from SBS.

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Actress/model Kong Hyo Jin and Jo In Seong star, respectively, as psychiatrist Ji Hae Soo and novelist Jang Jae Yeol. At first glance, the show seems to be a tribute to ABC's 'Castle': Rich, handsome, impish, playboy & author Jae Yeol gets under the skin of the hot female professional Hae Soo, while offering her surprisingly helpful insights into her own cases - earning her grudging respect and love in the process. It's a great formula, and the chemistry between Ms. Kong and Mr. Jo is absolutely intoxicating, making the dynamic seem wholly fresh, new, and original.

That's where the comparison ends, though, as we learn that Jae Yeol, his older brother, his mother, and even his love interest Hae Soo all have mental problems. This in itself is enough to make for a great show at home or abroad, but it's especially poignant in Korea, where the general public's attitude toward mental illness and therapy is roughly comparable to what it was in the U.S. during the 1970's.

While the ensemble cast is brilliant (far too many to list in this space), and director Kim Kyoo Tae is truly masterful behind the camera, what makes this show sing is the script writing of screenplay genius Ms. Noh Hee Kyeong. Every episode is perfectly paced, with layers of nuance and detail and a constant juxtaposition of truly serious problems, violence, and tension with moments of whimsy, beauty and joy. The way the heavy and light elements play off each other is a wonder to behold and makes each side shine all the more brightly for it.

In short, 'It's Okay, That's Love' is nothing less than a television masterpiece. While there may be some minor flaws in the psychiatric diagnoses, there are no flaws in the story, cast, direction, or music (the opening theme song alone is addictively catchy). Watch it with your friends, watch it with your parents, watch it with strangers next to you on the bus, but watch it. It's entirely too good to miss.

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