Let me apologize in advance to this show’s fans: I did not like Love Me If You Dare enough to finish it.
I’d heard good things about this show going in, so this turn of events does surprise me. I’m also surprised because for a nice stretch in the beginning, I’d actually found myself enjoying this show quite well. But, 20 episodes later (well, 19.3 episodes, if we’re being exact), I find myself without the inclination nor interest to press on to the finish line.
I guess you could say that ultimately, Wallace Huo just wasn’t enough to pull me through, despite The Handsome.
STUFF THAT WORKED FOR ME – AT LEAST AT FIRST
Here’s a quick rundown of the things that I liked in this show, at least in the beginning.
The storytelling felt solid and seemed assured. The pacing also felt good. The initial episodes where Jian Yao (Ma Si Chun) works with Jin Yan (Wallace Huo) to solve various cases felt pretty interesting.
Wallace Huo is handsome and suits the part of reticent, too-cool-for-school genius profiler extraordinaire. Jin Yan’s secretive character also adds a nice layer of mystery.
Wang Kai is handsome too, and suits the part of upright police officer (though it feels like he’s played a few too many police officers now).
Andy the car is amusing, and has just enough personality to make the show feel a touch quirky. I’ve even temporarily named the male voice in my Apple Maps app Andy, just for funsies, heh.
STUFF THAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME [SPOILERS]
I found Jian Yao’s character rather uneven, overall. In the beginning, she’s portrayed as rather outspoken and unusually gutsy. Very soon into the show, however, we see very little of that outspokenness. Instead, she seems reserved and withdrawn a lot of the time, and softly murmurs her lines, more often than not. I get that a person can have both of these facets to their personality, but this didn’t feel like an organic personality, to me.
I didn’t care for the romance angle, which felt kind of shoe-horned in. I totally didn’t feel it when Jin Yan prepared the fancy hotel suite date, and we’re given to understand that the new couple, who’d just shared their awkward first kiss, had promptly consummated their relationship.
I liked it less when the story moved cities (the whole office set-up felt kind of forced, to me). And then I liked it even less when the story moved countries to the US.
Not only did most of the western actors deliver with lack of depth, all the English-Mandarin communication started to wear thin on me, after a while. I mean, sure, maybe a highly trained FBI profiler would understand Mandarin too, but when random people also seemed to magically understand Mandarin as well, it just became too much for me. My eyeballs felt a little tired of rolling back in my head (snerk). All the conversations felt fake and stilted, and took me out of the scene rather than immersed me in it.
Once the episodic cases gave way to allow the focus to be on the one and only Big Bad, my interest started to wane significantly. I think it’s partly because it felt like there wasn’t enough narrative tension in the house, and partly because I didn’t find the actors’ delivery of deeply disturbed psychosis very believable at all. The Big Bad would recite lines where he’s supposed to be obsessing about Jin Yan, but, it just didn’t ring true to my ears. To put it bluntly, it all sounded kind of hollow to me.
Ultimately, when the main thing that was supposed to provide narrative tension – ie, the Big Bad – was falling flat for me instead of keeping me on the edge of my seat, I knew that I might not make it all the way through to the end of this show.
I mean, when everything else stopped working for me – to the point where neither of the handsome leading men were doing much to elevate the show for me anymore – I thought that I’d at least stay till the end to see how the Big Bad would finally be caught.
But, partway through episode 20, I realized that I didn’t care enough about how the Big Bad was going to be caught, to sit through 5 more episodes of this show – which is how I found myself writing this post.
The sense of relief and release I’m feeling, as I write this and put this show to rest, tells me that for me at least, this is the right decision. Alas, this means that yet again, I’ve failed to enjoy a Wallace Huo drama, despite almost everyone telling me that I will absolutely fall in love with him. Oh well. There’s always a next time, eh, Wallace?