There’s this very familiar sense of comfort when you’re a few episodes into Business Proposal. This recent rom-com series is not just determined to pack in as many tropes as possible, but wears them proudly on its sleeve through its 12-episode run, which ultimately, turns out to be its biggest strength.
Towards the end of its run, Business Proposal was even leading Netflix’s global non-english series rankings despite being one among several releases through February and March. With not many light and breezy contemporary rom-com shows having released in the last few months, Business Proposal has perfectly filled this void. It has been two weeks since the K-Drama finished airing, and it continues to be the second most-watched show on Netflix India.
Food researcher Shin Ha-Ri (Kim Se-Jeong) takes her friend Jin Young-Seo’s (Seol In-Ha) place on a blind date with a marriage prospect, only to discover that he’s Kang Tae- Moo, the uptight, workaholic president of her company. She soon finds herself knee-deep in a fake dating scheme with him, all while trying to hide her true identity and struggling to keep her job. There’s double the romance, as Young-Seo soon falls for Tae-Moo’s Chief Secretary Cha Sung-Hoon (Kim Min-Kyu).
There’s a lot to love about a show which doesn’t spend most of its time on a love triangle, and instead has its focus firmly trailed on the two couples. The chemistry is off the charts with both sets of actors, and it helps that they’re all immensely likeable.
Se-Jeong’s initial scenes when she’s in disguise as the often wildly-inappropriate Geum-Hi are a hoot. While one can’t help but compare Hyo-Seop’s Tae-Moo to the iconic Lee Young-Joon from What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim, played by Park Seo-Joon, the similarities thankfully end quite early on in the show.
There’s a gradual progression, where we revel in the very familiar trope of her quirks slowly melting his grumpy, chaebol heart. Watch out for the sequence where Ha-Ri is mindful of what Tae-Moo fears, and plans an evening around it; when K-dramas decide to get romance right, they target perfection indeed. There’s also a completely avoidable arc where Tae-Moo gets aggressive and competitive, but the writers are quick to move past it.
The second lead couple are equally, if not more charming. They hog the limelight in the first half of the show, and get the most swoon-worthy scenes. Min-Kyu also walks away with a line that’s going to be remembered for years to come, and will probably be referenced in future shows in the same genre. Social media still hasn’t calmed down, and the onslaught of gifs and memes haven’t stopped since.
With all the romance and chemistry the show has to fit in, it is lovely that the friendship between the female leads isn’t put on the backburner. There’s an easy camaraderie that Se-Jeong and In-Ha bring about on-screen. However, while Tae-Moo and Sung-Hoon also seem to have a strong bond, there’s hardly any time spent on showing us their relationship in depth, and is a surface-level bromance at best.
There’s a bevy of supporting characters, such as Tae-Moo’s grandfather Chairman Kang who sparkle in their small roles. To make a simple, no-frills rom-com like this one work, much of the burden is on its lead characters and it helps that all four actors take to their roles with ease.
Se-Jeong in particular is consistently sprightly, and switches between characters with ease. While Hyo-Seop’s Tae-Moo is as conventional as it gets, there’s plenty of charm and warmth he brings to the role. Here’s hoping In-Ha and Min-Gyu are cast soon in a new series as the lead couple; such effortless chemistry is hard to come by!
The show works as an instant pick-me-up and hits the spot as a frothy, simple rom-com that stays true to the genre. Look no further, if you want some wholesome, tropey comfort.
All 12 episodes of Business Proposal are out on Netflix