K-DRAMA FIRST LOOK: “The Atypical Family” Attracts Attention With Its Unique Family Story

With nothing seeming to work out, getting her atypical family to regain their lost superpowers, our matriarch is clutching at straws, desperate for a way to alleviate her family’s plight.

So, when our heroine offers her a glimmer of hope, our matriarch is more than willing to hold her hand. Except, our leading lady isn’t as nice as she seems, hiding an agenda of her own.

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Bunny S. watches The Atypical Family on Netflix

Opening Week Rating:

The Atypical Family Opening Week Story

“The Bok family is doomed unless we recover what we’ve lost.”

We first meet our atypical family as they lament the loss of their superpowers, standing on a ledge. Mother, Bok Man-heum (Go Doo Shim), suggests they might as well jump off and die since there is no hope left for them to regain their powers. But it looks like Son, Bok Gwi-ju (Jang Ki Yong), took her words too seriously as he indeed jumped into the water.

Luckily, Gwi-ju was saved by a mysterious woman. Yet Man-heum was so taken aback that she even forgot to get the woman’s contact to thank her for saving her son. Shortly after, Man-heum comes across the savior lady once again at a spa.

“I can sense a special energy emanating from your fingertips.”

Desperate to cure her insomnia, Man-heum has promised a whopping million won to the one who helps her fall asleep. But thus far, no one has succeeded. So when she opens her eyes after a short nap, she is amazed and asks for the name of the therapist who treated her.

She is even more astounded to learn that the therapist is the same mysterious lady who saved her son from drowning earlier. Looking as if she finally found what she was looking for, Man-heum asks for a house call with this amazing therapist, Do Da-hae (Chun Woo Hee), from whom she senses a strange energy that her family currently lacks, good health.

It looks like Man-heum’s hunch was a little off this time around. As we come to know, she could sleep not because of Da-hae’s outstanding skills but because Da-hae mixed her tea with a sleep inducer. Also seeing how she volunteered to treat Man-heum and knowingly dropped the wine bottle Gwi-ju was trying to open to catch his attention makes us suspect an apparent ulterior motive.

“Even after getting hurt by people, she still seems to dream of having a family.”

Further hyping up Man-heum’s interest in Da-hae is the fact that despite having failed at marriage twice, Da-hae maintains her optimism and yearns to have a family of her own, unlike Gwi-ju who can’t move on from his late wife’s death even after seven years has passed and doesn’t even bother to do anything but drink and lie down.

Seizing the opportunity of Gwi-ju’s daughter, Bok I-na’s (Park So-yi), upcoming birthday, Man-heum invites Da-hae over. Seeing through his mother’s plan to set him up with Da-hae, Gwi-ju tries to scare Da-hae off. Yet seeing how unfazed she is even after he recites a long list of reasons why she should run away, it seems his plan has failed.

“How could you pick this date to invite another woman home?”

Gwi-ju might not care about anything happening around him but I-na is an exception. So, he is understandably mad at Man-heum for inviting Da-hae over on I-na’s birthday. A fight ensues between them. Yet worst of all, I-na was there all along, listening to everything they said. And though she tries not to show it, I-na gets hurt by Man-heum’s words about how her mother’s death was a result of Gwi-ju’s stubbornness, ignoring Man-heum’s warnings, and getting I-na’s mum pregnant.

We get some flashbacks of Gwi-ju’s wife dying in a car accident and him remaining alive solely because of his superpowers. (When the accident happened, he was time-traveling and only got back into the car after the crash.) Since then, Gwi-ju felt guilty and blamed himself for not having been able to protect his wife. And it seems like I-na shares this sentiment as well, deeming her birth a misfortune to her parents.

“Didn’t you notice something off about my family?”

One more thing I-na has in common with her father is urging Da-hae to run away from that peculiar family. And though I didn’t expect it to happen this early, I-na openly tells Da-hae about the superpowers issue and how her family lost their powers to modern-day lifestyle. Doesn’t Da-hae wonder why Man-heum is obsessed with falling asleep? No, it isn’t because of insomnia but because she can’t dream of the future unless she gets asleep.

As for I-na’s dad, Gwi-ju, he can travel back in time to happy moments. But how can he do this when he suffers from depression and doesn’t remember the last time, he was happy? Lastly, Gwi-ju’s elder sister, Bok Dong-hee (Claudia Kim) used to fly around but she can’t do that anymore because of obesity.

Da-hae’s initial reaction is to brush off I-na’s words for a young kid’s imagination. Still, there is something fishy about the Bok family. How can they be this loaded when their only source of income is running a gym? Is it true that Man-heum can see the future? What if she can see winning lottery numbers and stocking charts in her dreams?

“Da-hae already charmed the lady of the house. Isn’t it game over?”

Da-hae might have saved Gwi-ju’s life by coincidence but the same can’t be said about approaching Man-heum and setting foot in the Bok family house. Learning that Man-heum plans to transfer the ownership of her building to the one who gets married and has a kid first between her children, the wheels turn in Da-hae’s mind.

What about making Gwi-ju fall for her? Afterward, she can come up with a scheme to make him look at fault like she did with her exes, get a divorce, and snatch the building as alimony. Man-heum is already in the palm of Da-hae’s hand. And she can just plant a spy in the gym to pull the plug on any chance for Dong-hee to get married and keep her posted about the Bok family’s news.

But we have a small problem here. I-na is already suspicious of Da-hae, having caught her slip something into Man-heum’s tea. Da-hae claimed it is an extract to add a hint of sweetness, but I don’t think I-na completely bought it.

“Looking for a better present?”

Gwi-ju might seem listless and has a fierce battle every day to get himself to go to work and then leave immediately afterward because he ran out of energy. (This scene cracked me up even if it wasn’t the drama’s intention) Yet when it comes to I-na, he opens his eyes wide open and listens carefully even when drunk.

So, if Da-hae wants to marry Gwi-ju, winning I-na over is a must. When staging a coincidental meeting at a department store and helping Gwi-ju pick up a proper birthday gift for I-na doesn’t achieve much of a result, Da-hae’s side shifts to a different technique, planting someone on I-na’s tail to find a way to get through to her.

“She called me. I have to go to her.”

But this plan goes awry when I-na senses someone following her and calls Gwi-ju for help. Though wasted, Gwi-ju musters up every little bit of strength left in him to go save I-na. The ensuing fight might have ended quickly after Da-hae signaled to the man to get lost but Gwi-ju’s concern for I-na has undoubtedly reached us. He might not be good at expressing himself, yet I-na is Gwi-ju’s ultimate priority.

As it turns out, the suspicious man wasn’t the only reason I-na called Gwi-ju. She had her first period. And after failing to reach anyone else in the family, I-na hesitantly called Gwi-ju. For once, having Da-hae around proves useful. Sensing something is wrong with I-na, she handles the situation smoothly, buying I-na feminine pads and wrapping her jacket around I-na. Knowing how awkward Gwi-ju and I-na are around each other, I guess they would have had trouble handling the situation on their own.

“You held my hand. Remember?”

Earlier at the shopping mall, Da-hae almost got a panic attack when the fire alarm malfunctioned and was set off by mistake. But she calmed down after Gwi-ju came back and held her hand. The problem is: Gwi-ju has no memory of doing that and it doesn’t seem he is lying about it. Actually, though she jokes about it, the one who held Da-hae’s hand is indeed Gwi-ju from the future.

Giving it a shot, Gwi-ju closes his eyes and thinks about the moment he was in the shopping mall. And for the first time in a while, he is transferred back in time to when Da-hae was panicking on the floor. Everything is painted in black and white except for her. Though he doubts it, Gwi-ju slowly approaches Da-hae and holds her hand. So far, no matter how many times he tried Gwi-ju hasn’t been able to touch things while time traveling, yet it seems Da-hae is an exception.

The Atypical Family Opening Week Musings

One of my favorite highlights this week is Gwi-ju’s relationship with his daughter. It touched my heart that though Gwi-ju wouldn’t care if people wrongly assumed he tried to commit suicide, he made sure to tell I-na it wasn’t the case. They even have the same dress sense and messy hairstyle, which probably stems from the guilt that weighs them down.

Just before the accident, Gwi-ju gifted young I-na a stuffed bunny to hold in his place while he traveled to the past. And seeing how I-na’s drawer is filled with stuffed dolls she got from Gwi-ju as birthday gifts, Gwi-ju’s time hasn’t flowed ever since. It isn’t that he can’t travel back in time anymore, he is stuck in his past.

Though she denies it, I believe I-na possesses a special superpower like her fellow family members. This might have something to do with her eyes. Seeing the future, perhaps? By any chance, did she foresee something ominous happening when her eyes turned blue just before the accident? Is this the reason why she keeps wearing glasses and avoids making eye contact with others? Was it an accident that killed I-na’s mother? Or is there more to it than meets the eye?

Speaking of accidents, Though it is Da-hae’s go-to ruse when it comes to seducing men, claiming the man before her looks like her savior, Da-hae was caught in an accident for real, a fire. Given how she has difficulty turning on the stove and would rather eat the noodles raw and her panic when the fire alarm malfunctions, she seems still traumatized by it.

We also learned that Gwi-ju worked as a firefighter for a while. So, what if Gwi-ju was indeed the one who saved Da-hae? Wait a moment. Did Gwi-ju’s wife’s accident happen while he was saving Da-hae? Da-hae being the only one Gwi-ju can touch while in the past makes this theory more than plausible. Are we getting an ill fate entangling our leads? Interesting!

It isn’t Chun Woo-hee’s first rodeo playing a con artist (looking at you Delightfully Deceitful) but she feels more human here, mostly because of her trauma. When Da-hae thanked Gwi-ju for holding her hand while she was panicking, it wasn’t just to hit on me but a part of her was grateful to Gwi-ju and touched by his kindness.

Da-hae might be uttering lies every time she opens her mouth, but her words have some sincerity to them. Case in point: how she tells Gwi-ju that I-na reminds Da-hae of her childhood since they both grew up without a mother.

Jang Ki Yong is doing an amazing job as well, selling Gwi-ju’s depression without making it too bleak. More than the depression, I think the lack of self-confidence is the reason why Gwi-ju can’t travel back in time anymore. How could he travel to the past and try to save people when he couldn’t protect the woman he loved?

I don’t know if it is only linked to Da-hae or if Gwi-ju has retrieved his superpower for good. But seeing how Dong-hee managed to lift her foot off the floor and fly even for a short while makes me believe the Bok family’s problems stem from their inner selves not because of the modern-day lifestyle as they assume.

Speaking of Dong-hee, she seems to be more reasonable than Man-heum, being rightfully suspicious of Da-hae. You know. what are the chances of Gwi-ju’s savior working at the massage parlor Man-heum frequents? Rather than a coincidence, or a fateful meeting as Man-heum puts it, it is more likely that Da-hae approached them of purpose.

I can understand Man-heum’s concern for her son. But inviting another woman without discussing it with him first was a big no-no. Worse, said the woman turned out to be a con artist scheming to steal the building. No matter how desperate Man-heum was, she should have looked into Da-hae before getting her into the house. Not to mention how she suspects I-na isn’t related to them by blood as she isn’t showing any superpowers.

We are only one week in. But the drama looks promising. More than the superpowers they possess, I am invested in the Bok family journey to beat their insecurities and live a happier life. And who knows? Maybe after watching them for a while, Da-hae will turn over a new leaf as well and gets some character growth.

Can Bok Family regain their inner powers? Tune in to The Atypical Family every weekend on Netflix!

Photos and Videos: JTBC Drama