I never expected to watch such a heartwarming series! This year is truly the year I get to catch up on some oldies but goodies… and 9 End 2 Outs is definitely one of those gems.
I’m going to admit – only Soo Ae and Lee Jung Jin attracted my attention. Therefore, I paid more attention to their scenes together than with any of their friends. The plot interweaves the friends’ stories together nicely, but the real draw are Soo Ae and Lee.
From best friends to roommates to lovers, both actors played their roles realistically and were highly relatable. Everyone else around them felt too good to be true, including Lee Tae Sung as her younger boyfriend, and Park Hye Young and Hwang Ji Hyun as his two exes. I couldn’t wait for all those people to get out of the picture so that Soo Ae and Lee Jung Jin could just get together. (By the way, first time seeing Yoona from SNSD act. Can’t say her character helped me like her any more.)
The two of them never overplayed their feelings, and so I could feel that their growing attraction to each other was getting stronger with each episode. It’s sweet that they were each other’s first forbidden loves, and so it makes their getting together even stronger. I also like that they skillfully handle their breakups so that they could be together. Soo Ae’s character Nan Hee says that Love is Timing – and for this drama, it’s so true. It’s only when both have finally reached that level of experience, that age, that understanding of each other, that they can each have the courage to give up everything else for the other. I like that Lee Jung Jin’s Hyung Tae realizes he loves Nan Hee first, and that Nan Hee is more reluctant to let herself fall in love. It’s as if she knows she needs to grow up and be more independent first before she can be worthy of Hyung Tae’s love, and in a way…it’s all about loving yourself first before being ready to love and be loved by someone else.
Nan Hee is incredibly gracious as the female wingman; she helps Park Hye Young’s character score a date with Hyung Tae, and later on she supports Hyung Tae getting back together with his first love Sung Ah (Hwang Ji Hyun). Despite being jealous and definitely wanting Hyung Tae for herself, she’s already had years of practice being the girl by his side, but never his girl. I could never be that patient or gracious. As for Hyung Tae, at least he’s honest for his confusion and his feelings, and perhaps it helps that his confidant is also the girl he loves.
There were plenty of odd situations and constant reminders that a man and a woman cannot be friends, and cohabit, without something happening. I enjoyed all those little hijinks, especially when they were trying to hide their living situation from the rest of the world. It consisted of most of the series until two-thirds of the way through, when both characters finally realized that they loved each other but didn’t know how to go about it. The angst hit me like a ton of bricks, but it also meant I couldn’t stop watching.
I don’t know why I liked this drama so, and why I cheered when the two of them kissed, or why I giggled so much when Hyung Tae first dreamed that he was in love with Nan Hee. I don’t know why my heart got stopped in my throat whenever they’re rooming situation was about to be found out, or when they were almost outed as a couple by a fellow traveler during their vacation. I don’t know why a simple premise of two best friends looking for love managed to be so entertaining for all 16 episodes. Granted, parts were slow for sure, and that’s the beauty of the fast forward button, but I don’t hold it against the drama. To get a more well rounded drama, we had to visit the other characters, and they just emphasized the point that friends are irreplaceable; finding a lover who is also your best friend is extremely lucky.
When Nan Hee asked Hyung Tae at the end when he started falling for her, he replied, “I don’t know.”
I also don’t know when I started to enjoy this drama so much. I just did.
P.S. After I finished 9 End 2 Outs, I went and watched Story of a Man. How’s that for a crazy genre tailspin?