Review of the Netflix series ‘Love to Hate You’
Humor, feminism, and action go hand in hand in this romantic K-drama.
I love to hate you it unfolds the cliché of enemies-turned-lovers in a catchy way. The series looks good, but it also contains critical notes on gender relations and fan culture. These are happily delivered with a touch of humor, though without losing sight of the characters’ points of view and integrity. It’s a wonderful series to snuggle up on the couch with characters that immediately pull you close to your heart, making it hard to do anything else in between.
The story revolves around the lawyer Mi-ran and the star actor Kang-ho. At first glance, Mi-ran thinks Kang-ho is a sexist bastard, but it soon turns out that his own prejudices have blinded her. Kang-ho, on the other hand, thinks she’s weird and doesn’t like lawyers, but he also has to change her mind when he keeps bumping into her.
The viewer is introduced to Mi-ran when she meets her boyfriend on a one-night stand at a hotel, also with a date. It is immediately clear that Miran has little faith in men and sees the worst in them. When she later overhears Kang-ho being mean to a fellow actress, he confirms that image and she’s determined to take him down if she gets the chance.
Mi-ran is a likeable character because she doesn’t take herself for granted, and with her wide range of skills in martial arts, DJing, and driving, she’s a woman worthy of the men around her. The series easily exposes how she is underestimated everywhere and how society often dismisses women without giving them a chance, but it doesn’t simply tell a moralistic story about gender inequality. Mi-ran also has insecurities, prejudices, and weaknesses, which makes her a three-dimensional character.
The same goes for Kang-ho. Although she clearly holds sexist views, her character is open to change. In the end, he hasn’t miraculously changed and neither has Mi-ran, but the two have grown closer without the series denying the characters and their points of view. This could have easily happened if the creators had wanted to end with a big wedding.
That’s not to say that history is unpredictable; from the beginning you know where it is going and who is going to end up with whom. Fortunately, the mode there is very entertaining, with humorous sound effects, small animations, and the use of split screen. It can take some getting used to, but these humorous elements aren’t overly present and thankfully don’t drown out the actors’ performance.
The actors are responsible for much of the success of the series. Mi-ran is played by Ok-bin Kim, known for much darker roles in Chan-wook Parks. Thirst a Byung-gil Jung of the villainess. He brings both the toughness and grumpiness of his character very well when it comes to sexism, as well as humor and innocent enthusiasm. That versatility makes it the brilliant centerpiece of I love to hate you.
Teo Yoo also has a long list of international roles, like in the biopic of the Russian rock band. leto and the already acclaimed Sundance hit Past Lives, and also knows how to do something good with a relatively ‘ungrateful’ role. Though she has less to work with, because his character is a bit more straightforward than Kim’s, she nonetheless takes down a charmingly romantic opponent. Each of the supporting characters brings their own complications and because they also develop throughout the series, as a viewer, she wants everything to work out.
I love to hate you can be seen in Netflix.