A cute Uee and Choi Shi-won carry a cute story on virtual dating that has little depth but a lot of cute.
Did I mention it’s cute?
As the SF8 anthology has unfolded, I’ve talked a bit about the series’ techno-optimism and the way in which it reflects the generally positive way that Korean television views and portrays technology. Well, SF8‘s seventh episode is no exception. It is a simple tale of two people falling in love; one that could easily be a drama or even an American romcom such as an updated You’ve Got Mail.
The idea of people finding love in a virtual world is hardly new. And Love Virtually has nothing new to add to this space, other than a comforting truism that dating is dating no matter how you do it.
If I was forced to reduce the episode to a theme, it would be a simple one. Despite the flashy apps of virtual reality and online dating, when it comes to finding someone to share your life with nothing has changed.
In the near future, dating has moved almost completely online with millions using virtual dating app Love Virtually. The app allows users to meet in a completely simulated environment where they can use an avatar of their own choosing.
The simulated environment has a verisimilitude that’s presumably a result once again of cortical stimulation, though the technical aspects of how this is possible isn’t touched on. Those on virtual dates can see, hear and even touch the other person as if they’re in the same room.
The Dates That Are More Real Than Actual DatesLove Virtually tagline
Seo Min-kjon (Choi Shin-won) and Han Jin-won (Uee) have found each other in the dating app using the aliases Leonardo and Giselle. On the day of their first kiss, however, Love Virtually goes down and the two have to decide if they want to meet in person. The episode then looks at the tension between online and offline personas, romantic expectations and the quest to find someone who loves you for you.
Loving the ‘Real’ You
Everyone knows that romance is fraught with an inextricable tension between the physical and the emotional. Does someone like you for your looks or for the ‘real’ you? Of course the average person doesn’t look like either Choi Shi-won or Uee so the question becomes more, “How can I find someone who likes me despite my looks” or even “Maybe I would have more luck if I looked better”.
One of the more interesting parts of Love Virtually (or possibly the only interesting part of Love Virtually) is the way in which the show deals with this tension. Both Min-joon and Jin-won had an AI give them plastic surgery. Designed to make them pretty rather than the ugly they believed themselves to be, the program instead made them both gorgeous. But it did it in an off-the-shelf way that meant there are now 10,000 other people with the same gorgeous faces.
I got some amusement from the idea that these two people were sold a mass-produced Choi Shi-won or Uee look and the two actors were off somewhere having second thoughts about their commodified faces. And that, frankly, would have been a far more interesting story to tell.
Still, given unlimited choice of how they can look in Love Virtually both Min-joon and Jin-won choose their old ugly selves. The two have belatedly realised that being loved for who you are is easier when you’re being yourself.
Did I mention it was cute?
As an episode of television, Love Virtually is a pretty simple romcom. The show’s appeal comes entirely from its two heavy-weight leads: the always hilarious Choi Shi-won and the Queen of Weekenders herself, Uee.
The piece has any number of cute moments as the two soulmates banter with their friends about their embarrassingly gorgeous faces while fending off real-world suitors attracted to their stunning good looks. I don’t know why men keep giving Uee bananas but it’s the kind of randomness that generally works for me.
The problem is that this is the entirety of the episode. Love Virtually is a standard romcom with an unoriginal technological twist. And that’s all it is.
It’s cute though. Super cute.