“Happy Together” is one of the longest running South Korean Variety shows. It is a KBS talk show that started airing back in 2001. I started watching this show mainly because (1) I really liked Yoo Jae Suk’s hosting style, (2) this is a legit talk show where you can hear so many stories about different celebrities, (3) where else would you be able to see celebrities casually telling stories and showing off their random variety talents in sauna clothes (starting in S3)??, (4) it was on KBS World – and guess who has an awesome Youtube Channel?, and (5) because I really really loved Late Night Cafeteria.
Oh Late Night Cafeteria…why did you have to be done away with?
Happy Together has been in a slump for a while. This has clearly been highlighted by the more and more frequent changes in production staff, the hosts, sets, and concept of the show. My favorite period of this show (which coincidentally includes the year I started watching the show) had the line-up of Yoo Jae-suk, Park Myeong-su, Shin Bong-sun, Park Mi-sun. During the earlier period of this period (wow. That was a mouthful), G4 was part of the package too. However, the lineup soon changed to Yoo Jae-suk, Park Myeong-Su, Park Mi-sun, Jo Se-ho (Carbon Copies), Kim Shin-young (Carbon Copies) when Shin Bong Sun left the show. Park Mi-sun left soon after. Kim Shin-young also left, despite her short stint. Yoo Jae-suk, Park Myeong-Su, Jo Se-ho, Jun Hyun-moo, Kim Poong became the next overly short-lived line-up.
This is where I will begin my rants.
From October 8, 2015 – February 25, 2016, the line up included MC Yoo, Park Myung-soo, Jo Se-ho and new additions Jun Hyunmoo and Kim Poong. Honestly, i don’t know what the producers were thinking, but Kim Poong was totally unnecessary…the ratings showed that and the producers quickly realized. I don’t think that Kim Poong is a bad entertainer in any way, but with MC Yoo, Park Myung soo and Jun-Hyunmoo in one show – the effect was overly overpowering. Jo Seho was necessary to play a subservient role (not to be offensive. It’s what completes a variety show. Someone had to serve as a cushion for political purposes). Jo Seho is already perfect for the role as he’s used to it, thus Kim Poong basically had no place to call his. I hope he made some money before he left the show…because it was going to be a short stint from the start.
The line-up wasn’t the only problem. The new concept was fresh…but really lacking. If you watch the very episode, which featured Running Man members Kang Gary and Ji Suk Jin…it is very evident. It’s very hilarious that guests have their belongings raided…but for the entire episode? I mean it would definitely take up that much time…so don’t you think the efficiency levels are dirt-bad? The viewers would get sick of it. They quickly scrapped this idea.
Cue transition in trying to drag celebrities into separate rooms for interrogations. One of the highlights of Happy Together is that celebrities who are guests often leave the show with a new keyword associated with them – the show was a star-maker. The new producers certainly knew this…and only saw this…so what do they do? Exploit it so much that it made the show downright stupid. I apologize for my harsh words, but you can’t force this kind of stuff. Dragging guests into separate rooms to make up keywords like its some sort of 7th grade project that is finally started the day before it’s due is a big NO-NO.
This obviously failed…so the lineup changed again to Yoo Jae-suk, Park Myeong-Su, Jo Se-ho, Jun Hyun-moo, Uhm Hyun-kyung, and so did the concept & set. This time the lineup is slightly better because Jo Seho and Uhm Hyun Kyung’s roles are different. However…to be honest…I don’t think Uhm is that promising as an entertainer. She reminds me of Lee Kwang-Soo (perhaps because she loves giraffes), but not quite. She’s awkward to the point that she’s funny. She thinks she can dance, but she can’t. I think the producers were kind of just sucking up to her agency basically when they got her to join the show. She seems very much like a reporter on Happy Together, and I really appreciate that she’s trying to make Happy Together back into the talk show it’s supposed to be, but the dynamic is so out of whack at the moment. I don’t really know what’s wrong, but the hosts and guests no longer give the atmosphere for a talk show that’s wild yet structured, fun yet “serious” – in other words – balance.
The house/homey set is a good try, but Park Myungsoo crossdressing as an ajumma isn’t that hilarious. From the show itself…why a hoemy set? What’s the link? What’s the point? They don’t even utilize the set to do anything. Back in the Sauna days, at least the guests may tweak their otherwise very uniform sauna clothes to show off their personality – like Big Bang – but now the guests are just wearing their “normal clothes” (likely the clothes their stylists picked for them). It’s not really them. Sure, you may argue that Big Bang’s robes were tweaked by their stylists too, but at least they were fun.
I don’t like the direction Happy Together is going right now, but hopefully they score a miracle, because things don’t look to good. I’ve basically stopped watching too, unless I have absolutely nothing to watch and am dying of boredome. Bona fortuna, Happy Together, may the force be with you.