Go Back Couple is one of 2017’s drama gems. While it didn’t receive the attention dramas like Goblin, While You Were Sleeping, Because This is My First Life, and Strong Woman Do Bong Soon did, it is one worth checking out. The 12-episode drama initially aired October 13 through November 18 on KBS2, but now you can catch it on Viki with full subtitles. If you’re on the fence, here are some reasons you need to check it out.
Go Back Couple has a fantastic cast. Jang Nara (Ma Jin-Joo) and Son Ho-Jun (Choi Ban-Do) are believable as a husband and wife facing difficulties in their marriage. Jang and Son (who grabbed his first leading role in this drama) show authentic emotion with each other that make their performances standout. Jang and Son play off each other way and have good chemistry. Son, especially, has a good range of nuances that make him enjoyable to watch. His chemistry with Jang as well as the supporting cast makes the drama feel relatable.
The supporting cast also has amazing chemistry to where every character feels like they are truly friends and people anyone could run into in real life. Heo Jung-Min (Jae-Woo) and Han Bo-Reum (Bo-Reum) turn in great performances as the cutesy couple we all knew in school, but they do it in a way that isn’t obnoxious. Kim Byeok-Ok (Choi Gi-Il), Jo Ryun (Kang Kyung-Sook), Lee Byung-Joon (Ma Pan-Suk), and Kim Mi-Kyung (Go Eun-Sook) are fabulous as Ban-Do and Jin-Joo’s parents. Jo Hye-Jun (Chun Seol) and Lee Yi-Kyung (Go Dok-Jae) are charming as the oddball friends, while Go Bo-Kyul (Min Seo-Young) and Jang Ki-Yong (Jang Nam-Gil) are perfect as the “first loves” of Ban-Do and Jin-Joo, respectively. Finally, Im Ji-Kyu is perfect as the sleazy Park Hyun-Suk.
Go Back Couple’s cast is special because everyone felt like family. There isn’t a loose piece that makes anyone feel out of place. Because of this, it’s easy to be absorbed into the story as it unfolds.
It’s an Emotional Rollercoaster
Go Back Couple has a lot of heart, but it’s not heavy-handed in how it forces its audience to deal with the content. However, the show will make you laugh one minute and searching for Kleenex the next as it switches between college hijinks and family affairs.
Ban-Do’s friend Dok-Jae is great comic relief without being too over-the-top. During his scenes, he provides great laughter and reminded me of two friends I had in high school that did the same things he did (either intentionally or unintentionally). He has a personality that viewers will either love or hate, but it is guaranteed he will remind viewers of someone they once knew.
There are number of heartbreaking moments in the drama, particularly the scenes with Ban-Do, Jin-Joo, and Jin-Joo’s mother. For anyone who’s ever lost a parent, the secondary story about Jin-Joo and her mother will yank at your heart. The chemistry between Jang, Son, and Kim Mi-Kyung add to the emotional depth of this side story, making it an important theme. Whenever these three are on screen together, it’s a guaranteed tear-jerker.
Despite it being a light fantasy drama due to the time-travel element, the overall story is relatable on different levels because each character is someone the audience may have known at some point in their lives including the broken couple, a family experiencing loss, stoic kids with difficult home lives, over-achievers, the class clown, and someone who will do anything to impress the one he loves. There is a character that could make anyone say, “that’s me.”
The Child Comes First
The lead couple of Ban-Do and Jin-Joo stand out because many viewers can connect with the issues they have as a middle-aged couple. The stress of raising a child, the pressures and struggles of work, and even being a young mom at the crossroads of still relating to a younger generation and needing to be an adult and being there for your child. Even when they travel back in time, it’s clear that their child is their number one concern even as the pair rediscover themselves through new loves and improving their already established friendships.
A Different Spin on Time-Travel
Many wish they can go back to the past to change life paths. Go Back Couple does play on this trope, but in a way to where changes aren’t drastic. There’s are changes that involve helping friends discover their self-worth, and there is one major change involving Park Hyun-Suk that, while cheesy, is totally worth it given his character. However, the characters, overall, remain true to themselves but with stronger self-awareness in a way that the time-travel arc doesn’t cloud the entire series. In fact, viewers may often forget the characters went back in time 20 years because the story is that well put together.
Age is Just a Number
Jang Nara and Son Ho-Jun are 36-years-old and 33-years-old, respectively. In Go Back Couple, they have to be simultaneously 38 and 20-years old. On paper, this seems like it wouldn’t work, but it does. A huge kudos needs to be sent to the makeup and wardrobe departments for how well they made the age differences work for not only the main characters, but for the supporting cast as well.
At 38, Jang’s character looks tired and fed up with the dark circles under her eyes, the stringy hair, and the frumpy “ajumma” attire. At 20, she’s fresh-faced with glowing skin, bright eyes, and healthy, bouncy hair. At 38, Son’s character looks ragged, greying, with dulled skin; but at 20, he’s vibrant and fresh. The contrasts between the ages are worth seeing alone.
Speaking of age, a lot of reviewers weren’t happy that Ma Jin-Joo and Choi Ban-Do still acted like their 38-year-old selves when they were in their 20-year-old bodies. Ignore that negativity! The discrepancy here is necessary to the story, especially since the characters are aware they are only temporarily in these bodies and that it’s an opportunity for a do-over. There’s a reason the characters are taken back to this moment in their lives, especially since– while it was a good period for them back when they were actually 20 as shown in flashback scene– it was a tumultuous time for their friends. This is something they didn’t realize at the time. Now that they are older, they have a chance to set things right and “save” some of their friends that needed it. However, Jang and Son balance the dynamics well.
Jin-Joo and Her Mother
One of the secondary stories in the series is between Jin-Joo and her mom. The scenes featuring them along with Bong-Do and Jin-Joo’s mom have a way of squeezing the heart. As mentioned, for anyone who’s lost a parent, this storyline will be the most relatable out of the entire series because of its portrayal of love, regret, and wanting to act out in kinder ways. The scenes require Kleenex, so keep some handy!
Go Back Couple has a lot of reasons to be a drama list beyond what’s listed here. Check it out for yourself and let us know your thoughts!