What’s it about? On the surface, Yume and Mizuto are just two teenage high school students whose parents plan on marrying each other. Too bad they’re also exes who broke up upon graduating and now have to hide their former relationship and figure out how to go from not-so-amicable exes to sister and brother.
Now, here’s some good food, perhaps: a romcom wherein a former couple comes to be stepsister and stepbrother. It’s got all the trappings of a tsundere-led slice of life full of kiss, kiss, slap. Simple fare, but solid: let me tell you why.
Episode 1, “The Former Couple Refuses to Say…” follows Yume and Mizuto, two characters that are stuck in the definitely discomforting situation of being former-exes-to-siblings. It’s the most cursed AO3 premise, yet it plays out with a bit of seriousness to level out the over the top notion that you’d somehow end up sharing a home with your middle-school girlfriend.
I’ll give it this: My Stepmom’s Daughter is My Ex doesn’t do a lot of exposition for its setup. We learn pretty immediately that Yume and Mizuto were a couple and that now, they’re struggling with that history and how to keep it between themselves and wholly away from their unknowing parents. While the show does fall into some pitfalls and potholes –that is, it doesn’t avoid the awkward sexual tension so often threaded into these sibling relationship series– there’s a genuine underpinning of tension that feels authentic.
You can, in many ways, imagine the myriad of complex feelings one would feel in this situation: after all, how do you go from friends to a couple to broken up to living in the same home within a different relationship? There’s an incredibly human handling of this tale, especially when it comes to Yume and Mizuto supporting their parent’s desires and happiness. The same can easily be said when it comes to how the premiere handles their own mixed feelings towards establishing a new normal.
My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex is a happy marriage of a lot of the pretty good things that make rom-coms enjoyable. That said, it’s still just okay. I’d watch this in a thinner season, but right now, there’s other shows I’m more interested in. The dialogue is perfectly fine for a light novel adaptation, but… there’s something missing. I can’t tell if it’s a lack of emotionality from both of the leads, or if it’s just how middling the premise is. I know that the little bit of “will they, won’t they?” that occurs near the end certainly didn’t endear me to the premiere.
Much like a lot of the more middling rom-coms of Spring 2022 (I’m thinking of you, A Couple of Cuckoos, which ironically also deals with family, albeit in the form of being switched at birth), Stepmom is good popcorn watching, but doesn’t seem like it’s going to do anything bigger than potentially giving us yet another (step)sibling couple. Then again, there’s parts of the premiere that feel like it’s going to prove me wrong and make this a story about family. Hopefully it won’t make it weird and sexual in the end: maybe they’ll both find other folks they like and lean on their previous relationship to support new ones. Yume is certainly self-aware enough to know that there’s a line they can’t cross. Hopefully, the series has her awareness as well and will avoid more weird sex chicken shenanigans.
Time will tell where My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex goes. Hopefully the “twist” will play out as genuinely endearing rather than getting these brand new siblings back together. Maybe I’ll watch this story play out just for the heck of it.