Don't be thrown off by the cute title logo and the side-tickling sight of Kim Hee Sun striking a sassy pose in a schoolgirl uniform and running pants. Angry Mom
may look like a riotous comedy but it goes to some very dark places.
MBC's 2015 series does provide many laughs and mishaps through its narrative gimmick of a concerned mother going back to high school undercover to protect her bullied daughter. Though suspension of disbelief is needed to believe that Kim Hee Sun could pass for a teenager, the nineties drama queen is never less than awesome as the titular angry mom Kang Ja, who channels her former teen delinquent self into staring down authorities, putting bullies in their place and stealing the hearts of rebellious boys. The comedic elements only get you so far in Angry Mom, however, because its main conflicts are persistently dark and harrowing.
Kang Ja takes the extreme step of posing as a high school student after her teenage daughter Ah Ran (Kim Yoo Jung) gets threatened and injured for mysterious reasons. With her hospitalized daughter refusing to talk and the authorities proving to be of no help, she decides to find out for herself what's wrong at school. What she'll gradually discover is that everything is wrong at school. Besides a mean queen bee and an apathetic, ineffectual school bureaucracy, Kang Ja, Ah Ran and their well-meaning homeroom teacher (Ji Hyun Woo) face sinister forces far beyond the scope of classroom bullying. Students are victims and agents of violence and abuse that circle back to corrupt authorities with links to the mob. School violence may show up often in Korean dramas, but Angry Mom really takes things a step further with the chilling misdeeds and orchestrations of Kim Tae Hoon's terrifying principal.
As the murky wrongdoings and shocking abuses accumulate and take shape, the drama evolves from a family and school series into a high-stakes crime mystery that doesn't shirk from death and blood. It wasn't what I expected when I started watching, but Angry Mom turned out to be one of Korean television's best thrillers of 2015.