(연애조작단; 시라노) Dating Agency: Cyrano
Flower Boy Edition #4
Secret Flower Boy Cupids? Where can I find this dating agency?
Based on 2010 romantic comedy “Cyrano Agency”, Dating Agency: Cyrano is the fourth installment in the Flower Boy series. Cyrano Theater faces being closed down for good, so director Seo Byung-hoon takes over his friend’s theater and starts a dating agency to pay back that friend’s debt. Assisted by the younger flower boys, Moo-jin and Ah-rang, and the spirited Mi-young, these four put together romantic situations for their clients and help them woo the people they love.
Seo Byung-hoon (played by Lee Jong-hyuk) is the older director who comes back to Korea when he hears of his friend’s death. He vows to restore the rundown theater to its once renounced glory, but he can’t do so until he pays off the enormous debt. Despite love being the core element of his work, he doesn’t believe in love and has a very disagreeable attitude towards others. He is the natural leader of the four – not only because of his age, but because he is a mastermind when it comes to thinking of heartfelt and touching lines for his clients to say to the targets and planning intricate operations to show off their client’s positive aspects and sincerity.
Gong Min-young (played by Choi Soo-young) is the bubbly new member of Cyrano and the only female of the group. She gets recruited after expressing strong determination in her previous matchmaking job, and demonstrates that she is willing to do whatever it takes to get two people who love each other to be together. She is diehard romantic. Despite being shown the cruel sides of relationship, she still remains positive on true love and believes everything in life happens for a reason. A bad experience means one is just a step closer to finding their soulmate.
Moo-jin (played by Hong Jong-hyun) is the genius engineer of the group and is in charge of all the technical devices used in their missions. As one of the flower boys, he is strikingly handsome and paired with his black motorcycle and dark and mysterious personality, he is an obvious attraction to the girls around him. However, he is completely clueless on the matters of love, never having been exposed to any in his life, thus keeping to himself and saying as little as possible. Do Ah-rang (played by Jo Yoon-woo) is the youngest member of the group, a 19-year-old high school student who wants to be an actor. He is a kind-hearted individual who tries to keep the mood up between the somber Moo-jin and the irritable Byung-hoon. He has yet to fall in love, making him naïve on the topic of love as well as Moo-jin.
Cha Seung-pyo (played by Lee Chun Hee) is the chief and owner of the restaurant next door to the Cyrano Theater. With a sketchy past he tries so desperately to keep hidden, he finds himself drawn to Gong Min-young’s peppy personality, while at the same time displays a remarkably cold persona to Byung-hoon, indicating a troublesome past between the two. He often helps the Cyrano gang with their missions, even lending his restaurant on occasion for one of their “set-ups”. He even comforts Min-young whenever she gets frustrated with the boys’ lack of compassion towards their clients.
Other characters in the drama were the different clients/targets (as each mini storyline lasted from 2-3 episodes before it switched to another “job”). Many of these roles were filled by familiar faces. Jin Ji-hee, Lee Chung-ah, Choi Won-young, Lee Yoon-ji, Lee Tae-min (SHINee), Lee Kwang-soo, Gong Yoo and Jung Yoo-mi all played a variety of characters – from ballerina to chef, magician to even idol singer. (And I think we can all guess who that one was!)
“True love can only be achieved through true feelings.” – Gong Min-young
“Sincerity doesn’t always come in straight balls. Sometimes you need to throw curve balls or throw outside the strike zone.” – Gong Min-young
The reason why the Dating Agency: Cyrano worked is because it didn’t try to fabricate love out of thin air. They simply dug up sentimental emotions, turning points for the clients/targets, and launched them into full view. They waved the hidden feelings around like obvious flags, but played them off as circumstance or coincidence. For all of their “missions” to work, the sincere emotions of the client had to be there. And that became the basis of all their work – sincerity and true love.
There were many accusations that Dating Agency: Cyrano was not a morally abiding business, simply using tricks and manipulating the emotions of others to fit into their perfect situations. The group consistently tried to prove to all of those who criticize their work that they are not “creating” any emotions that were not already there. None of their plans are 100% guaranteed. Human error, no matter how effectively they are trying to convince the target to look upon the client, might not be swayed enough.
“The most important part about loving and being loved is loving yourself first. A person that doesn’t love himself/herself cannot shine. They cannot be loved by others.” – Gong Min-young
The clients that Cyrano received were people who cannot express their love. They don’t know how or are simply too shy to make a move or confess. Cyrano helped these individuals who were not confident by being their cupids or guardian angels; they hide in the background and control the scenarios so that they are able to let their client shine in their moment. In a particular case, a client had difficulty approaching the guy she loved because she did not have enough self-confidence to even speak to him. Before the group could begin to alter the heart of the target, they had to first change the heart of the client to love themselves before they could even begin to love someone else or allow themselves to be loved.
Moving on from Past Love:
“Nothing happens by mistake, it was all meant to be…You never know who you are going to end up with” – Gong Min-young.
“What are you afraid of? You can focus on the present with that attitude. Focus in the present. Be happy in the present. Love in the present. That’s the most important thing for you as the person alive in this moment” – Seo Byung-hoon.
Occasionally, people can get caught up in their first loves. Even though they are over, they are not able to forget the memories, and that stops them from being able to love another. This struggling to let go off the past not only was shown through the clients but through some of the main characters as well.
Love Personified: Love was without a fail the main theme of this drama, and it was able to expand on the different levels and ranges of loves with the numerous examples. Love was occasionally personified, and Byung-hoon gave it this negative strength to show how powerful love can be to an individual; it could either make or break someone.
“The most powerful venom in love is false hope” – Seo Byung-hoon.
“There is no vaccine for love; you can never have immunity for it” – Seo Byung-hoon.
*Spoilers* (Do not read if you don’t want this drama spoiled for you, you have been warned!)
What I Liked:
- Archs: I enjoyed how the mini love stories end up being a reflection of the main characters. It either becomes a lesson to re-think a previous notion of love, or it also allows them to grow and learn from this new exposure to love. Each time, the main leads were able to undergo character development in a natural way that spanned over time and was logically backed-up by the “missions” that they went under which changed their minds.
- The Guest Cast: I loved that the “clients” and the “targets” were famous actors or actresses, idols or comedians who made cameo appearances. This might have been the drama’s saving grace (in terms of ratings) for it brought along a wider audience to view a specific episode(s). I personally loved the format of little mini-episodes, where the story-line only last 2-3 episodes before it changed to another one. It allowed for more variety and kept things interesting without running the rhythm or pace of the drama.
- Choi Soo-young: I have become a bit skeptical of idols acting in dramas these days, but I was glad that this Girl Generation member was able to convince me otherwise. Her acting was great and she really brought the character to life, stealing many of the scenes where the Flower Boys should have done easily just by smiling (or in Moo-jin’s case glaring) at the camera.
- Loan Shark Goons: Otherwise known as Lee Min-shik (played by Bae Seong-woo) and Go Young-dal (played by Kim Min-kyo). These were the two “henchmen” or muscle guys for the loan shark Cha Seung-pyo and also the comic relief characters of the drama. They tried to be tough in front of others but they were simply dorky guys who really adored their boss (even when he yelled at them). And how hard they tried to set-up their boss and their idea of romance was really fun to watch.
What I didn’t’ like:
- The Age Gap: There was an age gap between the two leads that distracted me to no ends. Choi Soo-young is 23-years-old, but her two love interests were 12 and 15 years older (respectively). The fact that there was an age gap was not a problem for me, but seeing it on the screen was very distracting because she looked and acted so much younger than the two male leads. Especially when she had the school uniform on for four episodes straight, that made the two leads really looks like father figures instead of potential boyfriends.
- The Loose Ends: There were so many loose ends in this drama despite how sweetly this drama ended. For instance, it was never really made clear what happened between Byung-hoon, Yi-seol, and Do-il that their friendship became so estranged before Do-il’s passing, or what exactly happened that night that would make Byung-hoon guilty. What happened to the chefs Min-ji and Dal-in’s relationship? Last time we saw that they had broken up because Min-ji had found out they got together because of the matchmaking of Cyrano, but the drama never hinted if they got back together or if the issue was resolved. What about Hye Ri? Even though she did change sides at the very end, she was still an accessory to a kidnapping/murder attempt. And there were many more things that left me pondering the realistic nature of this drama.
- Do Ah-rang’s disappearance: I was personally very excited that Jo Yoon-woo was going to be back in another drama and another Flower Boy edition as well! He showed so much potential in “Flower Boy Ramyun Shop”, however they seemed to have given him the exact same role: a very happy, sweet flower boy who is only kind and selfless to others. And as well as he pulls this character off, I was unhappy by the fact that they only gave him attention during the first five episodes and then cut his time in the drama by a lot. Moo-jin’s character development was executed a lot better by lasting throughout the drama, going at a slow pace and building with each new “mission”.
- The Kidnapping/Action attempt: Honestly, if it wasn’t for episode 15, I would have given this drama a higher score. That “action” twist only ruined the drama for me. The drama was a nice romantic comedy, a slow but sweet summer drama. But the random change to an action/thriller was not only jarring but seemed to have been thrown in last minute. The episode itself was not bad; it just didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the drama. All it did was make me feel guiltier for our poor gangster-turned-into humble-chef, Cha Seung-pyo, who not only gave away his life to serve under a different mobster, but also got stabbed trying to protect the girl he loved who was in love with someone else.
Author’s Final Remarks: 7.5/10
Dating Agency: Cyrano was a cute drama. In some moments it blew away my expectations with great acting or an amazing line/scene. But then on other occasions it left me with a sense of disappointment. It’s the kind of drama that one can watch casually, but doesn’t leave you at the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen next. And in some ways that’s kind of its charm; that this drama is so laid-back and quirky in its own way. It’s portrayal of love was so diverse and refreshing, and with the initial plot of having a dating agency that makes their love come true, it lived up to the creative freedom it was given.