It would be hard for any drama to air at the same time as While You Were Sleeping, but Because This Is My First Life met this fate, the first episode airing amidst the While You Were Sleeping craze. In instances like these, many good dramas with interesting storylines can slip between the cracks as noise about the one big show overshadows all else. Being only a few episodes deep into the story of Because This Is My First Life, it’s easy to tell that this drama is one of those overshadowed gems.
The Cliché Marriage Plot… or is it?
Arranged and fake marriage AUs run rampant in the fanfiction world, so clearly the story of two people coming together for certain reasons that shape up into romantic intentions is a favorite of the masses. However, until this point it seemed that this plotline wasn’t used very often in dramas, especially compared to the incredibly cliche poor-girl-falls-in-love-with-a-rich-boy plot that seems to completely dominate dramas as a whole.
Yoon Jiho (played by Jung Somin) is a 30-year-old drama assistant writer who attended Seoul University for a literature degree despite the push-back from her extremely patriarchal father. Her younger brother whom she lives with when she’s not spending months in the writing studio is now suddenly married, which she only discovers upon returning home and walking in on the two of them (talk about every sibling’s worst nightmare!). She quickly decides then that she must find a place to live on her own, but struggles to find anything within her budget that doesn’t require a deposit.
Nam Sehee (played by Lee Minki) is an emotionally distant and robot-like IT worker whose standards for most humans are far too high. The two end up roommates due to mutual friends and a complete misunderstanding, as Jiho thought Sehee was a female name and vice-versa. Despite living together, the two miss many occasions to formally meet each other because of differing work schedules, but Jiho still manages to pass all of Sehee’s tests and comes out with an astounding score as his roommate. Yes, the man keeps a highly calculated, and frankly incredibly extra, rating system for his roommates.
The progress toward the marriage proposal is actually fleshed out surprisingly well. While I had expected that plotline to be made obvious at the very beginning, a significant amount of backstory precedes it. Viewers watch as Jiho’s world begins to crumble underneath her, her struggle being incredibly relatable to any single adult who’s struggling to find meaning in this life. The relatability of her problems makes her character all that more compelling, as it gets to the point where you’re just shouting at her to make the necessary choice.
That was another factor: the writers toyed with you till the very last second. Although the story is initially brought up as a fake marriage plot, many, many opportunities where it can be brought up are passed before it finally happens. I know I wasn’t expecting how long the road to the main plotline would take, which is surprisingly refreshing in a potentially super cliché scenario.
I found the story to be incredibly realistic thus far, not only in the case of Jiho’s story, but the entire view that Sehee has of marriage in general. His decision to marry Jiho is not only because of a purely financial situation, but because he gets along well with her. With her world crumbling around her, feeling as if she has no place to return to, she leans on the shelter that Sehee willingly provides for her when she finds herself with nothing left to lean on.
Lee Minki’s character seems rather boring, cold, and calculated at the beginning, but his reserved character quickly becomes endearing for the very traits that make him seem so boring. The purely rational mind that he approaches every life issue with ends up being rather adorable, especially when it becomes clear that it totally overshadows any semblance of emotion he could have. In a way his simplicity is somehow totally lovable. Lee Minki does a fantastic job of portraying the overly robotic Nam Sehee, even to the point that the most subtle of changes in facial expression is incredibly noticeable. This is paramount for his character, who puts on a mask so thick it’s impossible to see what he thinks or feels.
Although I’m only a few episodes in, I’m incredibly excited to see what ups-and-downs Because This Is My First Life has to bring to the table. I had initially ignored the release of the drama because of While You Were Sleeping, but looking back I believe that was a mistake on my part for sure. If you’re looking for a romantic drama with a twist, Because This Is My First Life is definitely for you. 10 out of 10 so far on the story and its progression!