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The World of the Married vs. Doctor Foster

The World of the Married vs. Dr. Foster
Who will emerge victorious?

East of Eden. Shining Inheritance. King of Baking Kim Tak Goo. Ghost and Bridal Mask.

All of these dramas have one thing in common: they raised my blood pressure.

The characters, the decisions being made, and the way the plot unfolded made me so mad it threatened my health! I haven’t felt my throat tighten with rage since the injustice I witnessed in Bridal Mask, but now another drama has joined the Rage Ranks.

And it’s The World of the Married. The drama about marriage and infidelity starring Kim Hee-ae premiered a few weeks ago, and became a fan favorite. The quick pacing and suspense gave it high ratings that dethroned Sky Castle, making it the most watched drama on Korean cable TV.

The World of the Married was adapted from a British show called Doctor Foster that aired in 2017. I happen to also love British dramas, so I watched it on Netflix a few years ago. It was entertaining and infuriating just like its Korean counterpart.

In fact, both shows are great in their own right. That’s why I thought it’d be fun to explore their similarities and differences.

The Plot

Plot-wise, The World of the Married stayed faithful to its source material— which is more than I can say for Tae-oh or Simon Foster.

Both shows explore the devastating effects of infidelity in a marriage, and the family unit as a whole. They also paint grim portraits of what happens when a person has a vengeful heart.

The Korean adaptation kept all the infamous scenes; from Gemma Foster (aka Sun-woo) imagining stabbing her husband at his own birthday party to the dinner that revealed every shred of dirty laundry.

Where I thought the The World of the Married excelled was highlighting the double standard society still has for men and women, workplace discrimination, and how hard it is to get out of abusive relationships. The depiction of mental and physical abuse in Hyun-seo and In-gyu’s relationship was horrific. So was the emotional abuse in Ye-rim and Je-hyuk’s marriage.

The World of the Married was also a bit more realistic to me. Some of the dialogue in Doctor Foster seemed outlandish. It could just be a cultural thing though. It’s said that the British tend to be straightforward.

The World of the Married vs. Doctor Foster

The Characters

Sun-woo & Gemma: They began their respective dramas as admirable women and ended them as empty shells. However, I felt that Sun-woo was more likable. She was also more calculating when it came to her revenge. Sure, she had her “crazy” moments (Who didn’t?) but Gemma was plain volatile. She even tried to help Simon commit suicide at the end of season 2, which is something I can’t see Sun-woo doing. Sun-woo started out as a better mom too.

Tae-oh & Simon: I hate Tae-oh with a passion that burns hotter than a thousand suns, but somehow he still felt more sympathetic than Simon Foster. The World of the Married did a better job with his characterization, and Park Hae-joon brought out a vulnerability that was missing in Bertie Carvel’s performance. Both characters were disgustingly selfish, but Simon’s coldness bordered on sociopathic.

Da-kyung & Kate: Siri, play “Man-eater” by Hall & Oates! I wanted to slap Kate, but I wanted to have a WWE cage match with Da-kyung. She was way more aggressive, and looked for ways to antagonize Sun-woo. Kate never planted her lipstick on Simon so Gemma could find it or threw tantrums every chance she got.

Joon-young & Tom: These poor babies! They didn’t start out well-liked, because they seemed to be siding with their cheating fathers, but their descent into “troubled teen” was eye-opening. Joon-young came across angrier though.

Ye-rim & Anna: Ye-rim and Je-hyuk had bigger roles than their British counterparts, so I don’t even know if character comparisons would be fair. But Ye-rim’s situation felt more tragic, because she loved Je-hyuk whereas I didn’t see that with Anna and Neil. Ye-rim also ended up being a better friend (You know, after the whole not telling Sun-woo her hubby was cheating thing…)

Je-hyuk & Neil: Both were disgusting cheaters. And cocky to boot. But Neil was sleazier and less remorseful about everything.

The World of the Married vs. Doctor Foster

The Ending/Final Thoughts

In both versions, Joon-young and Tom run away after witnessing their fathers trying to kill themselves, and realizing they will always be in the middle of their parent’s toxic relationship. The scenes don’t happen in the same sequence (Simon tries to kill himself before their last family dinner, and then again alone), but they’re still hard to watch no matter the language. What kind of parent wants to make sure their child sees them die?

Doctor Foster ends with Gemma staring out at a garden. She says in a voiceover, “I’m here. Tom, I’m your mum. I’m sorry and I’m here. I’ll always be here waiting. When you want to come back. Whenever you want to come back.”

Ouch. The kid stays in the wind, whereas in The World of the Married, it’s implied that Joon-young comes back home to Sun-woo.

I prefer that hopeful ending.

The World of the Married vs. Doctor Foster
Run, Forrest, run!

So which show did I enjoy more?

The World of the Married! The characters were more fleshed out, the dialogue was better, and it delved deeper into social issues.

It was a stressful, unforgettable ride, but I’d gladly get on it again.

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6 Comments

  1. Jcresha
    May 21, 2020 / 1:28 am

    👍I didn’t watch the British show but I love article and I agree. The Kdrama would definitely be a favorite.

    • Jcresha
      May 21, 2020 / 1:29 am

      *love this article

    • Adri
      Author
      May 21, 2020 / 1:34 pm

      I feel empty now that the show’s over. What am I supposed to do with my life?

  2. No ma'am
    May 24, 2020 / 1:01 am

    I like the original better. The world of husband and wife was even more cartoonish than Doctor Foster. Who cares about workplace discrimination and excetera? Workplace discrimination was not the point of the drama. That repelled me from the drama. They took the source material and made it worse than the source. And yes we Americans and Brits tend to be more blunt. Deal with it!

  3. K K
    May 28, 2020 / 9:52 am

    Oooh thanks for this! Glad you took the time for this comparison. Doctor Foster drove me crazier than The World of the Married did, to be honest. I started watching after the first part (the assault and TO and DK leaving), and I sincerely feel that the original series was crazier than anything the Korean counterpart ever offer/ed.

    I agree, SW was definitely more likeable. Suranne Jones is such a good actress, I really felt like hitting her myself at times. To the point that even her face/facial expression (omg remember that hotel scene with Kate and fam? URGH) annoyed me at times. Gemma was also all up in Simon and Kate’s business throughout, I mean, by S2, clearly Simon is that psycho, but Kate really seemed like she just wanted to live happily with her family.

    Both parents are incredibly selfish and Tom and JY did what they had to do, tbh. But I feel like TO drove SW to that point, and by the near end, actually had a mini omg what have I done moment. Simon on the other hand… Dear god.. sincerely feel that Simon and Gemma are just psychopaths. Simon, especially.. he kept lying, with no remorse or even thought (really appreciated the flashback TO had when DK confronted him), he deliberately kept trying to hurt Gemma (and ended up hurting Tom) emotionally AND he kept on shamelessly acting like Kate was going paranoid-psycho for even questioning him and kept gaslighting her. Omg S2 Simon had me almost punching my laptop lol

    I feel that with what actually happened between Tom and Izzy, he had to do what he did anyway. And I really, really feel that he would be better off without those two. JY was just a victim of his parents’ crazy and he had a hard time coping with it all, poor child.

    Personally, actually enjoyed Chris and Susie, they honestly handled it so well and still put up with Gemma and Simon’s brand of crazy and they were honestly likeable. Unlike Chairman Yeo and ew, the DK Mom. They were just totally horrible people imo, when I actually compared the parents and see how logical it seemed for Kate’s parents to support her but DK’s were just enabling her and her spoiledbitchiness plus the stalking and trying to kick SW out and shht, smh. Kate and DK were both annoying in the first part, but Kate became kinda, acceptable(?) while DK honestly, stayed that annoying husband stealing side chick kinda character to me till the very end *clap2*

    I sincerely feel that with all the supposed drama of TWOTM, the ending was very anticlimactic and the hopeful end they gave was just disappointing, sorry to say. JY didn’t even have a Tom-moment to narrate his feelings, why he had to do it, and for us to feel enough to understand why he gave that hope at that very end. I’ve rewatched ep 16 twice since, and still feel.. Honestly.. what..?

    Aaaanyway, sorry again for another rant. Love all your TWOTM recaps and again, truly appreciate them! Glad I found this site. Stay safe always~! ^^

    PS: i remember watching the end of DF and wondering if Kate’s karma for taking someone’s husband came early and ended up actually being the fact she got the batshit craziest guy to fall in love with who happened to also have the batshit craziest ex-wife to deal with lol

    • Adri
      Author
      May 28, 2020 / 8:19 pm

      Loved your comment! A serious deep dive haha.

      I think the reason Doctor Foster didn’t drive me as crazy as World of the Married was because I had less sympathy for both Gemma and Simon for the reasons you stated. So even though the show riled me up, I guess I didn’t take Gemma and Simon as seriously? I thought they both needed padded cells. The only people I felt sorry for were Tom, and every once in a while Kate.

      Simon didn’t even feel human, so unless Doctor Foster was going for that, it would’ve been nice to see a more three-dimensional cheating husband with regrets and vulnerabilities. As much as I hated Tae-oh, I felt slightly bad for him once or twice lol.

      Yes, omg! Kate and her family were much more reasonable than DK and hers. The whole family deserved a cage match.

      I can see what you mean about the ending of the World of the Married being a little anti-climatic. But even though JY didn’t narrate at the end, I think the drama did a good job of showing us his suffering and showing us why he had to leave. Sometimes I’d rather be shown something than told it by the character.

      All in all, I really enjoyed (aka was stressed out by) both shows. I love discussing TV, so I didn’t view your comment as a rant at all. It was a great analysis. Looking forward to a similar one about The King: Eternal Monarch if you’re watching 🙂

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