Tara’s Thoughts On: Cafe Minamdang

The drama’s premise was promising. I admit it got me hooked the first time I read it, and I was expecting a lot of Squad 38-esque hijinks, led once again by the brilliant Seo Inguk. But alas, everything turned out to be a hot mess from the third episode on. I came in for Inguk and stayed for Inguk, but honestly if I weren’t watch partying this with anyone, I would have dropped this very early on. (Thanks for keeping me company, Jay.)

The overarching plot for our main leads was very thin, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for a drama with a premise like this. A lot of different cases could have been handled by the Cafe Minamdang squad even if it weren’t connected to our main arc. However, the writers seemed hell bent on tying everything up with a neat little bow that they sacrificed so many other elements that could have made the drama better. Like characterization.

I mean…a police officer who’s allegedly a legend because she’s so good but carelessly reveals a detail that gets a suspect in witness protection/custody killed? Handcuffs a civilian to herself because of a long time grudge, but handcuffs a suspect to a ladder in the middle of a bust—giving said suspect the chance to escape?

Let’s not even start with how she was abusive and had no respect for boundaries. Yes, I’m looking at you, Han Jaehee. And I’m very disappointed because I love me some sassy, empowered female characters, but she just came off as rude and manipulative (hello, that hypnosis scene still grates at my nerves).

Also, the Minamdang squad who started off as a really savvy team that’s always one step ahead of the police? They ended up becoming almost as incompetent as the police force in the second half of the drama. Always managing to corner the baddies but never really catching them. It’s just frustrating overall, and I found myself wishing a main character would die at the end so I could feel something. And that’s saying something for someone who HATES main character deaths.

How I felt the entire time watching this show.

Seo Inguk’s acting skills and innate charm could only do so much for a badly-written drama that’s rife with plotholes and poorly fleshed out characters. Will not recommend.

Number of episodes: 18, but the writers could have finished this in 10. And I’m being generous.

Where to watch: Netflix (but we already watched it so you don’t have to)

Favorite characters: None. I would have said Hanjun, but even he got me frustrated towards the end.

WTF moment: Every time any of the characters are working to solve the crime and basically announces to the whole world that 1) they’re working undercover, or; 2) their next step is this or that. Who the hell does that.

Honorable mention to the hypnosis scene I mentioned earlier where Hanjun was forced to relive a traumatic memory, and his emotional breakdown was used as a vehicle for a soft moment between him and Jaehee to happen, thereby starting their loveline. WHAT THE FUCK, JUST NO.

Is there romance? Yes. But is there CHEMISTRY? You’ll need a high grade microscope to find it, maybe.

Overall rating

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