What’s extraordinary about Extraordinary Attorney Woo? Is it the script? Is it the protagonist’s autism spectrum disorder? Is it her being an attorney despite that? Is it the performance? Or is it the direction?
The Korean drama, Extraordinary Attorney Woo is extraordinary because all of the above have come together for the team. The writing is extraordinary only because the writer, Moon Ji-won, managed to bring in humour without looking or sounding insensitive to the protagonist’s developmental disability. He has not let the story slip on to the depressing side even for a single moment. Yet, he has very well put forth the issues individuals with autism face in the society – their fight with themselves and also, the people around them has not been neglected.
You know when I started watching Attorney Woo, for some reason, I couldn’t stop comparing Woo Young-woo with Jhilmil, that is, Priyanka Chopra from Barfi. That is what Autism was for me before I watched this series. With limited knowledge of the disability, I always thought that such individuals cannot live a life that we consider normal. Hence, I was a little sceptical about the presentation of facts about the disorder in the series.
The smartest thing the writer did here was introduced two more characters with intellectual disabilities in the series and showed us how autism has a spectrum. The disabilities can hence range from severe to mild. Even Woo Young-woo is shown to be on the severe side during childhood but she develops as she grows. From not communicating or being completely ignorant of other people’s presence and emotions to growing up, becoming an extraordinary attorney (thanks to her unusually sharp autistic brain), and then also, falling in love and getting totally independent. Her mental and emotional development in a journey in the series. That changes the way you perceive autism and intellectual disabilities.
Apart from that, the way she finds her tribe in the office is cute to watch, especially her bonding with her colleague-cum-friend-cum-shield, Choi Su-yeon and Dong Geurami. Their support in her life is so relatable as all of us have met such friends at different stages of our life – a friend that protects us from politics at work, a friend who becomes our bodyguard when someone bullies us in college, a friend who helps us stay sane, a friend who we go to for relationship tips – these two are all of these for Woo Young-woo.
Then comes my favourite, Attorney Jung, attorney woo and the team’s mentor and boss. He is a sweetheart. Trust me, this character is so well-written that you can’t help but fall in love with such a sweet and ideal mentor. Kang Ki-young has performed it so well that he actually becomes Attorney Jung for you. His decency, elegance, passion for work, sensibility, and leadership skills, all of it is so damn believable. When he is diagnosed with stomach cancer and the other attorney comes into the picture, you understand the importance of a good leader. I will try to write another article on the life-lessons to be learnt from this web series. Everything cannot be mentioned in the review.
Moving on to Kwon Min-woo, he is another rookie that Attorney Jung is training. Choi Su-yeon, Kwon Min-woo, Woo Young-woo are rookie attorneys that have just joined the firm under the leadership of Attorney Jung. This is their story. Being a team, where Young-woo gets a friend in Choi Seu-yeon and a mentor in Jung Myung-seok, Kwon Min-woo is the only team member who envies her as he believes that she steals the limelight and gets away with everything, thanks to her autism. He does try to create problems for her in the show but all ends well. They end up as a team who fights together against all odds and also, supports each other, as and when needed. Their equation is fun to watch.
Next comes our hero, Joon-ho. I had only heard that romance in Korean dramas is all lovey-dovey and dreamy. This is the first time I watched it. But honestly, it was too good to be true but not at all lovey-dovey and unrealistic. The writer has again made sure that he focuses on the challenges of falling in love with an autistic person as her responses will never be what you expect from your partner. This can lead to frustration, depression, and loneliness at times. Experiencing all of it in a short span of time, how Joon-ho convinces that all will turn out good in the future as all that matters is he feels happy with her. And that he will be alright feeling lonely in her company. The way Woo Young-woo confesses her love to him and the way he protects her keeping the boundaries in mind is beautiful to watch. To give you a glimpse of their unusual love, I am sharing my favourite scene of the two here..
And then comes our Attorney Woo. She is adorable and when she cries, trust me, it breaks your heart. Park Eun-bin has played attorney woo so well that you can’t help but fall head over heels in love with her. In no time, you get protective about her and want to see her get independent yet protect her from monsters like Jang Seung-jun. When someone yells at her or when she has anxiety attacks and cannot handle all the loud noise, you want to get into the TV and quickly escort her to a safe place. She keeps you involved and glued.
When it comes to the story, the bigger picture, there is nothing extraordinary in it. The subplots are also okayish – nothing to worry about a lot. At places, it gives you the ‘kahani poori filmy hai’ vibes. For example, Woo young-woo’s mother’s sudden change of heart in the last episode and Woo Young-woo overhearing Joo-ho’s sister are common and predictable twists. On the other hand, taking attorney woo’s friends on a business trip with the boss’ approval is just the writer taking too much liberty.
Overall, Extraordinary Attorney Woo is a heartwarming tale of an autistic girl who makes it big in her field with nothing but her extraordinary skills and brain power. Her constant efforts to develop, both intellectually and emotionally are praise-worthy. The series is a treat to watch and highly recommended.
P.S: Extraordinary Attorney Woo has 16 episodes, each is slightly longer than an hour. So, approximately 16 hours, it is!
Available in: English and Hindi
Streaming On: Netflix