Love Mate: A first Impression

What better way to question love than with love itself? 

The new Korean BL Love Mate starring Cho Hyun Min as love-shy team leader Seo Yi Jun and Cho Han Gyeol as the persistent new employee Ha Ram not only questions love, it does it by offering up a bevy of romantic tropes. 

All while making its viewers laugh. 

For two episodes, it felt very much like the creative team behind Love Mate formulated this series by saying, “Hey, let’s take a hate-to-love trope using Yi Jun and a forced proximity trope using Ha Ram, smash it together with some instalove, opposites attract, possible second-chance romance, and just see what happens.” 

What it ultimately delivers is a fun, heart-fluttering trope fest full of laughter that requires a little suspension of disbelief. 

And yet, it also hints at something more profound.  

Love Mate focuses on Yi Jun, a man who views love as a curse. Rather than attempt a real relationship, he restricts himself to dating app blind dates before blocking the men he goes out with. 

While this can feel off-putting, it also adds a layer of vulnerability to his character and the story. Yi Jun’s disdain for love seems to border on philophobia, an actual fear of love. The trope-filled fun and laughs Love Mate offers in its first two episodes  only for it to conclude with Yi Jun’s fainting reaction to an almost kiss with Ha Ram, adds an interesting ‘touch of serious’ to a romantic comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously. 

I find romcoms that remain light while also looking deeper appealing. But what I find most appealing is the mutual unlikeable likeability of the two main leads, as crazy as this sounds. 

Yi Jun and Ha Ram will provoke a bevy of viewer reactions. Some will dislike them. Some will love them. Some will feel turned off by Yi Jun’s disdain for love, while others will relate. Some will feel turned off by Ha Ram’s harassing persistence, while others will feel endeared by his determination. 

But this unlikeable likeability will also spark a blaze of viewer frenzy, opening up an online discourse that will fan the flames of a series already on a course toward success. That is if it keeps to its fast-paced, fun-loving format while providing just enough ‘serious’ to give it a ‘bite.’ 

I like dramas with flawed characters. I don’t believe in perfection. No one is perfect. Perfection means there is no room for improvement, and there is always room for improvement in everything and everyone. ‘Flawed’ gives viewers something to talk about. ‘Improvement’ gives viewers something to fall in love with.  

And I have a feeling Love Mate will give viewers a lot to talk about, a lot to discuss, a lot to laugh about, and a lot to fall in love with. 

For a romantic comedy that pulls from many of the stand-out tropes the romance genre has become famous for, check out Love Mate now on Gagaoolala and Viki. 

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