Within the first five minutes of Thirty-Nine, I was already hooked, not just because it features Son Ye Jin, Jeon Mi Do (how I've missed her since Hospital Playlist), and Kim Ji Hyun. Of course, the fact that they are leads is an influence, but the bigger influence is that it's a mature drama that tells the story of three best friends who stand together through thick and thin as they experience life, love and loss as they turn 40. From resolving petty arguments to overcoming life's challenges, the premise of Thirty-Nine already reminds me of the bond I have with my own friends.
It's so, so true when they say long-time friends are family that we choose. Everything from the last minute mind change of a planned activity to mistakingly liking an Instagram post to getting into a fight without knowing why, just because it involved your best friend, to telling off that friend for letting herself be emotionally used in the name of love. I felt like I watched a chapter from my own life with my own friends, and that is what makes Thirty-Nine charming and relatable. Aside from that, though, it's also because for many of us, life is just one long, hard kick after another, and after one too many kicks, we just want to watch a show about good, likable people who love each other – where no matter what happens, by the end of the 60 or 90 minute-long episode, everything will turn out okay even when it's not
Son Ye Jin, Jeon Mi Do, and Kim Ji Hyun mashed so well in their roles as Cha Mi Jo, Chan Young, and Joo Hee respectively. So different, yet so bonded in their love and care. I was especially touched with how Mi Jo nagged at Chan Young for her wasted love and time on a married man. An emotional affair is still an affair. I might sound like a hypocrite, but I faulted Kim Jin Seok (Lee Moo Saeng) more than Chan Young for emotionally manipulating her to keep her by his side. He was definitely trying to eat his cake and keep it too, which was selfish of him, since he'd already made his choice. In a way, I was glad Chan Young saw Kim Jin Seok with his wife. It was the painful wake call she needed to realize she was wasting herself away, and even more glad that she decided to break free of her emotional tie to him. She deserves so much more.
As realistic as Thirty-Nine was in many of its moments, there were a few others that were so fantastically drama-like, yet refreshing nonetheless. I loved Cha Mi Jo and Kim Seon Woo (Yeon Woo Jin, it's so good to see Yeon Woo Jin in a drama again. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy him as an actor), together. Their coincidental meetings, mature attraction, and eventual connection were quite endearing to watch. I loved how mature the drama was about their coupling, despite having only met a few times. It made them seem so much more realistic, as two people who met and were instantly attracted, but rather than play games, went for what they mutually desired. So, the fact that he is the doctor replacing her as she goes on her year-long sabbatical is the icing on the cake.
I even liked Joo Hee's moments as the virgin of the group. Everyone deserves to love and beloved, and maybe being paired with Park Hyun Joon (Lee Tae Hwan), the owner of a new restaurant in her neighborhood, and coincidentally Kim Seon Woo's friend, makes the story entertaining rather than cheesy. The best part of Thirty-Nine is the friendship, its heartwarming, and what makes the drama so charming. But what makes it stand out is the side stories, some complicatedly sad yet strangely loving, and all the other bits and pieces round up this drama beautifully.
From Chan Young's complicated and selfish emotional affair that doesn't want to let up no matter how hard she tries to Mi Jo's beautiful budding relationship, and even Joo Hee's potential, makes me love this drama even more than I did. I don't know what I would do if I found out my best friends had cancer. I don't think I could function. The anguish would be unbearable, and Mi Jo and this drama delivers that so well. With that said, I look forward to the journey of laughter, excitement, tears, of which it seems there will be plenty of, judging by the opening monologue seconds as well as joyous occasions it promises to bring. Watch episode 1 & 2 here.