Ship a bunch of single, easy-on-the-eyes idol stars off to a romantic island for three nights and four days, and they’re bound to fall madly in love, right?
At least, that’s our hope for the idols on tvN’s new dating program The Romantic & Idol, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.
You can’t have a romantic fling without a first encounter, and that’s where we begin on the first episode of the show.
There is nothing as exhilarating or nerve-wracking (not to mention, awkward) as the first date, and there were plenty of heart pounding, at times, toe curling moments to spare (and revel in) in the first episode. So without further ado, let’s jump right into it!
We first get acquainted with the idol stars and get to know a little bit about their relationship backgrounds as well as their ideal types.
We meet the girls first, where 4minute’s Nam Ji Hyun and Fiestar’s Jei shoot off names like Rain and Big Bang’s G-Dragon as their ideal types during their respective individual interviews. (Life Lesson #1: Shoot for the stars, settle for the moon).
Meanwhile, Rainbow’s Oh Seung Ah says confidently during her interview, “I think I’m going to fall in love.”
In addition to the idol stars’ individual interviews, the girls meet for the first time, separately from the boys, to talk about their expectations for the show (and, of course, to scope out the competition).
2PM’s Jun.K is up first for the boys, and while opening up about how he hasn’t dated in an “unimaginably” long time, he slips in that one of the 2PM members is dating.
Wait, what? Rewind. Yes, we heard right the first time.
And we’re off to a great start.
ZE:A’s Hyung Sik then takes the hot seat and says, “I’m shaking. Seriously, there aren’t opportunities like this.”
Meanwhile, MBLAQ’s Mir name drops Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon as his ideal type (See Life Lesson #1) before going on to say, “If [she’s in] a girl group, I’m going to go crazy.”
Cut to JJ Project’s JB, who says during his interview, “I get lonely a lot...I think there’s always a part of my heart that’s lonely.”
Okay, at this point, we think it’s safe to say these guys are ready to date.
We shift back to the girls, who learn they’ll be jetting off to the beautiful island of Jeju for the romantic getaway. Cue the scenes of clear blue waters, sandy shores, grassy plains and a huge sigh from yours truly.
The girls are then told that their first partner will be determined based on their particular tastes.
But Nam Ji Hyun appears to be thinking further ahead, when she asks, “What happens after the three nights, four days? Are we a couple?”
Oh Seung Ah, who seems to have been wondering the same thing, jumps in and asks, “Do we exchange numbers on our own?”
The girls aren’t the only ones jumping the gun, however, as we shift to the boys’ room, where Mir is also already wondering what happens after the show.
“You get married at the end,” jokes Jun.K.
Mir then asks, “Do we meet the girls and just break up or do we at least kiss then break up...” Whoa there, slow down cowboy.
We then cut to dramatic clips (cue the violins) hinting at what’s to come on the show, from couples taking romantic strolls on the beach to hand holding and even a teary Oh Seung Ah.
We’re brought back to the present (reality TV time), where the idols are told that the first set of couples will be matched based on each person’s preference for what he or she considers to be an ideal setting for a first date.
Setting 1: The movies. The idols are shown a clip from Full House, where Song Hye Gyo meets Rain at the movie theater.
Here we see that even cool and collected idol stars revert to giddy pre-teens at the thought of a first date.
Mir says, “I think the movies will be embarrassing because you’re sitting right next to the person.”
Jun.K seems to be on the same wavelength as he says, “Let’s go to number 2.”
Setting 2: The subway. Next, the idols are shown the music video to Jo Sung Mo’s To Heaven, where Lee Byung Hun encounters his love interest on the subway.
Jun.K’s eyes light up at this option. We know who’s headed underground.
Setting 3: The cafe. A scene from tvN’s Reply 1997, where Seo In Guk’s character runs into Jung Eun Ji’s character at a cafe, then flashes onto the screen.
Setting 4: The crosswalk. For those seeking a little danger, next up is the crosswalk, and the idols are shown a scene from drama Pasta, where Gong Hyo Jin and Lee Sun Gyun lock lips in the middle of a busy intersection.
Sorry boys, but we don’t think the kiss is included in this option.
It’s time for the stars to choose their ideal first date location, and Nam Ji Hyun chooses the movies, while Jei follows suit with the subway and Hye Jeong chooses the crosswalk, leaving Seung Ah with the cafe option.
Meanwhile, the only information we’re given about the boys’ preferences are that Mir is against meeting at the movies, while Hyung Sik, who couldn’t make the boys’ meeting, says the movies or the cafe suits his taste.
At the movies.
It’s D-Day, and a visibly nervous Nam Ji Hyun arrives at the movies first, saying “This is my first time doing anything like this. I’m so nervous.” She then orders two drinks and asks “Where is he?” before entering the theater alone. (Life Lesson #2: Don’t make the girl wait).
We finally get a glimpse at her date’s...feet. But as soon as the camera gets into focus, we see it’s Hyung Sik!
Meanwhile, Nam Ji Hyun sits in the theater alone.
Hyung Sik finally makes his way into the theater (in slow mo, of course) and down the stairs to his seat next to Nam Ji Hyun. The two stare blankly ahead, before Hyung Sik says hello.
Nam Ji Hyun peeks over to look at his face. Her expression is hard to read. She leans in to say something as we hold our breath.
“I’m sorry, but...”
We hang on to every word.
“What’s your name?”
“Hyung Sik. Park Hyung Sik.”
“Ah, ZE:A.” And she redeems herself.
“Do you know who I am?” asks Nam Ji Hyun.
“You’re MIss Nam, right? Miss Nam?”
Really??? Miss Nam???
The two break into laughter and hide their faces in embarrassment...as we promise to ourselves never to have a first date at the movies.
Meanwhile, over on the crosswalk...
We cut to AOA’s Hyejeong, who is waiting for her date on the sidewalk of a busy intersection.
Then we shift to a shot of a bouquet of roses (Life Lesson #3: Come bearing gifts) as a voice says from inside a taxi, “We made our debut as the opening act for Rain in front of 10,000 people.”
Oh, hello Mir.
“It’s that same nervousness,” says Mir.
Just as he gets out of the taxi, however, we shift to Oh Seung Ah, who says, “If it [the relationship] evolves into something good, then I wonder if dating publicly would be more comfortable, since we have to meet each other’s parents, right?” before adding with a laugh, “Did things get too serious? Did I go too much towards marriage?”
Oh Seung Ah arrives at the cafe first for her date and grabs a seat on the second floor.
Her date makes his way over to the cafe, and when he orders drinks, we see that it’s JJ Project’s JB. He orders two drinks and waits nervously for his order.
The drinks come out and he makes his way upstairs, but just as Oh Seung Ah glances over her shoulder....
We shift back to Mir, who gets out of the cab and prepares to cross the street. He catches a glimpse of his date and peers closer to get a better look before bowing. Hyejeong bows in response from across the street and the two wait for the light to turn green.
And, of course, if you’re going to meet at a crosswalk, you might as well meet in the middle of the busy intersection, and that’s where Mir presents Hyejeong with the bouquet of roses.
Back over at the cafe, JB and Oh Seung Ah finally meet and burst into nervous laughter.
“Are those warm?” asks Oh Seung Ah, referring to the drinks.
“Yeah, I got warm drinks because it’s cold outside,” says JB.
“It’s hot,” jokes Oh Seung Ah. That's right. Keep him on his toes, Oh Seung Ah.
On to the subway...
Jei hops onto a subway, as Jun.K waits for his subway to arrive.
Jei checks the mirror one last time as her subway approaches Jun.K’s stop. Cue the beating heart sound effect as the subway doors slide open, and Jun.K steps onto the subway car to see Jei, as a smile sweeps across her face.
Jun.K later says of that moment, “Someone was looking at me and smiling. There was something really innocent about that image.”
The two introduce themselves and as the awkwardness creeps up, we shift to Mir and Hye Jeong sitting at a cafe, where we’re overcome by more awkwardness, then onto JB and Oh Seung Ah, where, you guessed it, more awkwardness ensues.
We then learn that JB and Hyung Sik are both younger than their respective dates Oh Seung Ah and Nam Ji Hyun.
We shift back to Hyung Sik and Nam Ji Hyun, who are now sitting at a restaurant, and Hyung Sik says, “I think I made the right choice,” referring to the four first date locations. Is he marking his territory already?
The other couples appear to be warming up to each other as well. Over on the subway, Jun.K and Jei bond over their love for animals as they show each other photos of their pets.
At the cafe, Oh Seung Ah and JB learn that they share the same blood type (A) and dislike for potatoes. Match made in heaven?
Meanwhile, Mir and Hyejeong take turns revealing who the other idol stars are on the show. Upon learning Nam Ji Hyun is one of the female idols, however, we cut to Mir’s interview, where he says “Nam Ji Hyun is really cold. She passes by without acknowledging us. I want to meet her.”
We also get a glimpse into what the other idols are thinking at this point, and Nam Ji Hyun says of Hyung Sik, “Hyung Sik was really comfortable. Because I met a dongseng in the beginning, I felt comfortable. I got to talking to him more as a dongseng than as a man.”
Uh oh, has Hyung Sik been friend-zoned already?
Meanwhile, Hyung Sik says of Nam Ji Hyun, “I was nervous the whole time. I don’t think I’ve felt that way in a really long time. That feeling.”
The couples are then each given a mission for their first date: Hold hands.
Nam Ji Hyun and Hyung Sik make their way over to a park, where we continue to see more evidence of Nam Ji Hyun friend zoning Hyung Sik, making comments like “You’re still growing” in between the standard “You’re cute.”
However, when the couple finally gets around to the mission, Nam Ji Hyun says, “We held hands within an hour [of meeting each other], and he felt like an oppa. It was really weird. He felt like an oppa.”
And we’ve narrowly escaped the friend zone. For now, at least.
Oh Seung Ah and JB continue their date outside, where the producer tells the couple that the mission has to be completed before they leave for Jeju Island.
Oh Seung Ah barely gets out an “Excuse me” before JB grabs her hand. Oh Seung Ah squeals. And we die. (Life Lesson #4: Take initiative).
Over on the subway, Jun.K and Jei have moved on to the topic of music, and Jun.K offers Jei his earphones, which, of course, he has to help her put on. Smooth, Jun.K, smooth.
All of the couples are soon jetting off to Jeju Island, where they will all finally meet for the first time. All of the couples appear to be more comfortable with each other, as we see the couples enjoying their time on the island before heading off to regroup with the other idols.
Mir and Hyejeong are the first couple to arrive at the designated location, before Jun.K and Jei walk in holding hands. When Mir points this out, Jun.K says coolly, “The mission.” Sure, Jun.K.
Oh Seung Ah and JB follow soon after, while Nam Ji Hyun and Hyung Sik are the last couple to arrive.
We then cut to Mir’s interview, where he drops a bomb, saying, “Honestly, I wanted to have my first date with Nam Ji Hyun” before adding, “Nam Ji Hyun and I are destiny.”
A little dramatic, are we? But we’re taking the bait, and hoping this will make for some interesting mixing and matching later on.
But back to the couples. The couples are told that there are two ways of getting to the guest house, where they will be staying for the duration of the trip: Stay or Change.
Each idol must decide if he or she wants to stay with his or her current partner or change.
The idols immediately protest, saying it’s too cruel, but rules are rules and the idols must text their decision to the producer. If four or more people say “Change,” then everyone goes to the guest house together.
After all of the texts have been sent, the producer announces that he has the results, revealing (after a painfully long commercial break, naturally) that all of the couples will be going to the guest house together.
It is later revealed that the odds broke even, as four idols chose stay, while the other half chose change.
The idols begin pointing fingers at who chose to change, but no one 'fesses up. So who's lying?
The couples may not be set in stone, but the idols appear to have warmed up to their current partners. Except for Mir, that is, who apparently has his eyes set on Nam Ji Hyun for some mysterious reason. We're definitely depending on Mir, however, to stir up a little trouble.
Nam Ji Hyun definitely comes off as the 'cold city girl' as Koreans like to call that standoffish chick all the boys fall for. And the boys are certainly falling for it, as the teaser for next week's episode reveals she has the boys sprung.
But Nam Ji Hyun and Oh Seung Ah both mentioned they preferred older men, so, in the meantime, we're interested in seeing how their relationships with their current younger partners pan out.
There's also something about Jei that is quite charming, and we can't wait to see more of her personality shine, while Hyejeong may need to step up her game.
At this point, anything goes, and we're not particularly attached to any one couple. So with that said, let the couple shuffling begin!