You guys know how I sometimes question my judgment for continuing to watch a show that – despite all mental gymnastics to rationalize Show’s merit – is just plain bad?
Sigh. This is one of those times, y’all. I really thought there was something to hang on for, with this show.
But now that I’ve seen this show (yes, in its entirety), I regretfully conclude with 20/20 hindsight, that I would’ve been far better off dropping this one right at the beginning. Darn.
I guess I’ve still got a lot to learn about picking my dramas. But at least you guys can learn from my mistake?
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Su Mang (Wang Li Kun) is a successful career woman who finds herself divorced, pregnant, and back in China after having lived her married life in England.
Zheng Chu (Zhu Ya Wen) is a travel connoisseur who finds himself suddenly single again when his long-time girlfriend Shan Shan (Ma Qiu Zi) dumps him for not being successful enough.
Sparks fly and hijinks ensue when Su Mang becomes Zheng Chu’s new boss – and his new neighbor as well.
STUFF THAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME
Fair warning: there’s quite a bit of stuff that didn’t work for me with this show. I’ll try to be concise though.
1. Show is long-winded
To be brutally honest, there isn’t a lot of meat to go on this story’s bones, and I found that Show cycled in place a lot, like it was just doing something – anything – to fill up screen time, until The Powers That Be deemed that it was time to nudge the main romance to its next milestone.
Considering that this show has 44(!!) episodes, this meant that there were numerous tangents that felt like meaningless filler, sprinkled on our path to true love.
For example, suddenly, for not much reason at all, we’d get an episode or two, with the office team out on a team-building exercise of some sort.
I get that this kind of thing is to be expected with fluffy shows as a general rule, but this show served it up way too often for my taste. I found myself zoning out quite often, with the side arcs and filler stuff.
2. Show’s idea of funny isn’t my idea of funny
Show’s got an OTT, rather slapsticky sense of humor, and that’s generally not my thing, unless it’s done just so.
Unfortunately for me, this wasn’t done just so, and I didn’t find myself laughing at the Intended Funny very much at all.
It did help somewhat, to think of Show as having something akin to the Taiwanese drama sort of sensibility, with its slightly exaggerated acting and its idea of funny.
3. Certain characters drove me batty
There were several characters that I found more annoying than the average annoying drama character, which didn’t help matters. In the interest of brevity, I’m just going to put the spotlight on the character that I found most annoying.
Secondary female character Shan Shan is a strong contender for most annoying character in this drama world, with her scheming, clingy ways, but y’know, I kind of expect it, of her character type.
So my pick for most annoying character in this drama world, is second male lead Tang Ming.
I found that I came to really dislike Tang Ming (Denny Huang) as a character, even though Show pitches him as one of the nice guys, who’s even supposed to be a really good catch, apparently, since there are two women vying for his affections.
For one thing, I didn’t like how wishy-washy he was, with both ladies in his love triangle.
Even when he realizes that he actually liked Xiao Qiu (Gao Yang) instead of clingy Shan Shan, he drags his feet in terms of actually doing anything to make his position clear with either woman.
In fact, I found him so insipid as a character, that I wondered why both women were so into him.
To be frank, I didn’t even find Tang Ming that nice, in terms of his treatment of Xiao Qiu, who’s the girl that he actually likes.
In episode 18, Guo Guo drags Xiao Qiu home to meet her mom, and when Tang Ming sees Xiao Qiu there, he immediately leaps to the conclusion that Xiao Qiu had been scheming to get close to him.
How cocky and presumptuous of him. Worse, when he realizes that he had wronged Xiao Qiu, he feels bad about it, and angsts over it, but doesn’t actually seek her out to apologize. What an ass.
The fact that he didn’t immediately seek her out to apologize, makes him look like such a weak-minded jerk.
The thing that annoyed me the most about Tang Ming, though, is what a lousy friend he is.
There are two occasions in our story, where his bestie Zheng Chu is entangled in something that affects him, and he doesn’t even pause to give Zheng Chu the benefit of the doubt, both times.
The first time is when Tang Ming’s sister Guo Guo (Ye Qing) shows up at Su Mang’s office and throws a fit at her because she thinks the object of her affections Zheng Chu might be the father of Su Mang’s baby. In the midst of her belligerent behavior, she causes Su Mang to fall down.
Zheng Chu rushes to Su Mang’s aid, and Guo Guo tries to drag him off Su Mang, which is when Zheng Chu wrests his arm away – which then results in him inadvertently hitting Guo Guo.
A flabbergasted Guo Guo bawls to her brother Tang Ming that Zheng Chu hit her, which is when Tang Ming proceeds to beat up his best friend, without even asking said best friend for an explanation.
Following that, Tang Ming doesn’t even apologize, when he realizes that he’d been wrong about Zheng Chu hitting his sister. Ugh.
On the second occasion, Tang Ming drinks himself into a stupor, and Zheng Chu answers Tang Ming’s phone when Shan Shan calls.
Shan Shan pretends to be Xiao Qiu, and tipsy Zheng Chu falls for her act and tells her where to pick up passed out Tang Ming. Shan Shan takes Tang Ming back to her apartment and proceeds to set the stage so that it will look like she and Tang Ming had, well, relations.
Tang Ming wakes up and falls for the ruse, and promises Shan Shan that he will marry her to take responsibility for his actions.
Tang Ming then seeks out Zheng Chu to punch him out, again, because he sees it as all Zheng Chu’s fault that his life is now ruined because he has to marry a woman he doesn’t love.
Some friend he is, eh? Talk about not manning up and taking ownership of your mistakes. I was so mad at Tang Ming on Zheng Chu’s behalf.
I was convinced that Tang Ming didn’t deserve Zheng Chu’s loyalty and friendship, and I also consistently felt that all of Tang Ming’s misfortune was his own doing, and that he deserved it all. I know, I sound really mean right now, heh.
As you can probably tell by now, I really didn’t care for Tang Ming much at all.
4. The writing is not great
Generally speaking, I didn’t have high expectations for the writing in this show, but even then, I found the storytelling far from tight or cohesive.
Here are just a random handful of examples of what I mean when I say the writing in this show’s not great.
E8-9. The growing connection between Tang Ming and Xiao Qiu feels kind of weird. I mean, do doctors really ask patients’ relatives to address them by their first name?
It feels kind of contrived and forced, to me. Especially the part where she finds the evidence that his other patient hadn’t died because of the surgery, and barges in on that patient’s family members making a scene.
E11. It seems like each episode, there’s some kind of random-feeling challenge that puts Zheng Chu and Su Mang together. This episode, it’s the escape room.
I like the idea that these two bond more closely through a series of events, but in execution, it feels like a randomly patched together connect-the-dots sort of thing, which is not great.
E12. Su Mang gets all upset at Zheng Chu because she assumes he’d knocked up a girl and was giving her money for an abortion. That makes no sense, really, and I thought she’d be smarter in terms of thinking of other reasons he might be giving money to someone.
E20. Zheng Chu’s aunt (Irene Wan), who also happens to be a highly educated, very successful businesswoman, thinks Guo Guo is a better match for Zheng Chu than Su Mang, which is fine.
But the way she goes about furthering her cause is really out there. Basically, she wants to drug Zheng Chu so that Guo Guo can spend the night with him and thereafter force him to be with her, because he has to take responsibility.
She’s not even kidding either, and takes actual steps to carry out this hare-brained plan. What the heck? This aunt character is supremely strange.
THE ONE THING I STAYED FOR
Our leading man Zheng Chu
Despite all the downsides to this show, I was very much taken with our male lead Zheng Chu.
For one thing, Zhu Ya Wen’s got a very masculine sort of screen presence, with his deep voice, good height, and strong frame.
Yet, Zheng Chu is set up to be a beta male in the OTP dynamic, so it’s somewhat dissonant yet quite charming, when those very masculine traits are employed in service of beta male type behavior. It’s kinda almost like putting Joo Jin Mo in a beta male role, if you know what I mean.
The other thing is, Zheng Chu is such a good, decent, kind person, that I just really wanted him to be happy. As quickly as episode 1, I found Zheng Chu endearing.
In episode 1, Zheng Chu is unceremoniously dumped by his girlfriend, on the very evening that he’d planned to propose to her. In the wake of his personal tragedy, I loved the heart that we see, when his eyes shine with tears as he looks upon loving couples cuddling on the street.
His eyes are sad, but he still wears a smile on his lips. He doesn’t curse at his ex-girlfriend; he says that he’s the loser. And even in all of his pain, he drunkenly kisses his friend the bar-owner lady on the cheek, for her help and advice. Such a sweet guy, seriously. <3
Given ALL of Show’s downsides, I questioned why I was stilling watching this show, on a regular basis. But then Zheng Chu would show up on my screen, and be all warm and kind, and then I would feel like I could hang on for him, just a little longer.
Plus, the footage in Show’s opening and closing songs indicate that Zheng Chu turns out to be a really sweet boyfriend, and I kinda really wanted to see that, too.
..Which is how I ended up watching all 44 episodes of this show.
WHY THAT ONE THING DIDN’T WORK OUT
Sadly for me, that decision to hang in there to see Zheng Chu get to be a sweet boyfriend didn’t pay off the way I wanted it to. Here’s why.
1. It takes forever
It literally takes forever and a day for the OTP arc to really get going. At the episode 30(!!) mark, we only get glimmers that we are finally almost at a point where the OTP will confront their feelings for each other. Hopefully.
It’s really slow, the road to OTP gratification.
2. The OTP Cute is short-lived
Our OTP gets to be cute together for all of about an episode, at around the episode 32-33 mark, before Angst sets in. Family objections form the bulk of the angst, and the Angst lasts alll the way to the finale episode. I.. wish I was kidding.
3. I didn’t like the eventual tone of the OTP relationship
Aside from the initial OTP Cute at around the episode 33 mark, I did not enjoy the tone of the OTP relationship that we eventually get in Show’s finale, when our OTP reconciles.
Basically, Su Mang is portrayed as being a domineering sort of wife, needlessly bullying Zheng Chu into submission. I didn’t like that.
I felt quite cheated, really, to have hung in there for 44 episodes to see Zheng Chu’s happy ever after, only to see that his happy ever after was marked by regular “oh well, just coz” bullying behavior by his wife. I didn’t think that was cool at all.
[END VAGUE SPOILERS]
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
You’d think that a show of this fluffy caliber would simply serve up happy bows all-around, but no. Show had to kill off literally the nicest girl in its drama world, just to make a point.
I was in such disbelief on that one, that even when Tang Ming is crying over Xiao Qiu’s dead body, I thought she would magically wake up for a happy ending. Which didn’t happen.
So Xiao Qiu dies, and Tang Ming is shattered. He gives up everything to travel the world, believing that Xiao Qiu continues to be at his side. Which, okayy, I guess.
Shan Shan is also galvanized into realizing that she’s been wrong about her sister all this time, and turns over a completely new leaf, giving up her job and going home to be with her heretofore estranged dad.
Guo Guo makes good in her singing career all over again, Su Chang (Wang Yan Lin) wins a prize for his magician stuff, and these two bicker and giggle happily ever after. Aunt also gets to see her first love one last time, and gets closure for the Big Love of her life.
And of course, Zheng Chu and Su Mang make it to the altar for a happy ending, except, like I mentioned, I don’t actually like the tone of their interactions.
Su Mang basically bullies Zheng Chu every chance she gets in this finale, and won’t even kiss her groom during the wedding, without first grinding her foot into his and forcing him to yelp out “Sun Wu Kong” – just for funsies. Did not like.
I mean, if she won’t be good to Zheng Chu and appreciate him for the sweet, loyal man that he is, I’ll happily do it, y’know?
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Illogical, pointlessly protracted, and far from satisfying.
FINAL GRADE: C-
WHERE TO WATCH:
You can check out this show on Viki here. It’s also available on YouTube here.
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Hi there Ashley, welcome to the blog! Congrats on starting your blog – it looks like you’re off to a good start. 🙂 Enjoy your blogging journey!
Glad I dropped this early on.
You definitely made the right choice in my books! 😉 Wish I could’ve dropped this early too! 😝
I think you should check out “The Great Seducer” next! It’s an engaging revenge / love story, and I couldn’t help but think you would like it a lot… you should try it, if you have any free time!
Hi Laura, thanks for the recommendation 🙂 I’ve watched 10 eps of The Great Seducer, and while I liked it quite well at first, I find that I’m losing interest in the last couple of eps that I watched. I don’t know if I will keep going, tbh 😛 How far along the show are you, and what do you like about it? I’m curious to see if a change in focus or viewing lens might help, and I’m also curious to know if I’ve just hit a narrative bump and it gets better later.
I’m very tentative with the C-dramas because of the filler. I can handle some or maybe one storyline that doesn’t do it for me but the other stories are fine, but C-dramas have to push the filler to the extreme. I’ll stay away from this one. I’m watching Old Boy right now and about halfway through. I don’t know if it is anything spectacular but it has such good production value, no dubbing and I’ve missed Ariel Lin so I’m sticking with it. I just have the last episode of The Flame’s Daughter to finish up. It gets mixed reviews, but I’ve actually really liked it because it is a bit different – just throws us in the story from the get go, whimsical male character and very fleshed out cast of characters. Of course, like any drama, it could be ruined in the last 5 minutes. Ha!
Anyway, Seige of Fog has been licensed by a site so that is the only C-drama in my sights right now, and I like how you’ve ventured into them for the selfish reason that you suffer through all those episodes instead of me. Sorry for throwing you under the bus. Look forward to hearing about My Huckleberry Friends.
Aw, you aren’t throwing me under the bus – to be fair, I could’ve dropped this (and any other) show if I’d felt like it. I just didn’t get out while the going was good, heh.
Thanks for the info about Old Boy, I’ve got it on my list now, but am not super intrigued by the premise. It does sound like a potentially solid watch, from your description, so thanks for that! I’m curious to know how you find Flame’s Daughter, after you reach the end. Ha. Now it sounds like I’m throwing you under the bus! 😂😂 But I’m not, I promise! 😉 And yes, I’ll let you know how My Huckleberry Friends goes! 😘
I thank you so much! You just saved me 44 hours of my life. This was on my TBW list – now it is not. Speaking of C-drama I am loving Old Boy BTW and not just because of my undying love for Ariel Lin.
You’re super welcome! Knowing what I know about how our tastes in shows align, I’m pretty sure this one wouldn’t have been your cup of tea, Amy! 😀 That said, I guess I should qualify that there seems to be a whole lotta love out there, for this show. Lots of viewers seem to love it, which is why I decided to give it a try. But, it just didn’t work for me. :/
Thanks for the tip on Old Boy – I’ve added it to my list. I’m currently watching Chinese youth drama My Huckleberry Friends. I’m just 3 eps in right now, but so far it seems pretty promising. I will keep you posted! 🙂
Lol! I dropped this one I think 10 eps in or something? Zhu Ya Wen is very charismatic and definitely very talented though. I’d suggest watching 聲臨其境 which I don’t remember the english title of, but is a IMO very well done show on voice acting and they have a lot of talented guests, both professional voice actors and just talented actors, wow us with the awesomeness of voice acting ~ Zhu Ya Wen definitely gets to show true skill and talent there.
ALSO I don’t have much to say about this drama, but if you liked Zhu Ya Wen, you should watch Red Sorghum the 2014 vr. which was basically his hit show that no one had anything bad to say about; he co stars with Zhou Xun and that one and it’s supposed to be pretty much phenomenal and heart wrenching. I’m personally not as much of a fan of the time period so I didn’t watch it, but it won a lot of awards and stuff…
Yes to Zhu Yawen, and kind of yes to Red Sorghum! It’s definitely solid, but as with most cdramas gets too long for its own good (if I remember correctly, like 70-ish epis o.O, though I am that person who has (not! regretted!) sitting through 90+ ep shows) and goes off to an interesting tangent, whereas the apparently super classic original novel is very short.
It’s also NOT PG–the content is more out there than PG-13 stuff, even. I just remember the OTP having lots of sex in the cornfields XD
OMG WHAT. 😳 Zhu Ya Wen, having lots of sex in the cornfields?! My mind is blown. And also, that show has been suitably bumped up the list, at least a little bit! 😂😂
Hi Julianne, great to see you! 😀 You were right to drop this one early; it really wasn’t worth 44 episodes. I think it would’ve been much better at half the length – or even shorter. And, they shouldn’t have gone with the bullying wife angle at the end either. Boo. I looked up 聲臨其境 and according to Google, the English title is The Sound. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to locate the show at my usual sources. Would you have any tips on where I can find it. Zhu Ya Wen getting to show true skill and talent sounds like a win to me! 🙂
I found Red Sorghum, but without English subs. My Chinese has improved a lot since I started watching Chinese dramas regularly, but.. I don’t know if I can handle a whole (long) series with a period setting, without English subs. I’m putting it on my list tho! Thanks! <3
If you don’t want to handle a long series, try the film version of Red Sorghum. 1998 work by Zhang Yimou, with Gong Li and Jiang Wen. Excellent stuff.
Actually, now that you mention it, I have vague memories of watching this film, long ago.. but I can’t remember a thing about it! 😝 Maybe I ought to rewatch it sometime, to refresh my memory! Thanks junny <3
Sorry ’bout the late reply. The show isn’t subbed, but the raw playlist is on youtube from the official channel so won’t get taken down anytime soon: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUM8x224JrX8t-zTjyZ-lyADZ5H2SFYFD
Ah, thanks for that Julianne! I’m somewhat bummed that there aren’t subs for it, since I’m not super confident of understanding everything, especially if there’s technical jargon used.. but! I’m really happy to have a chance to check out the show, it really does sound interesting! Thank you for the link, m’dear! You rock <3
I guess I’ve been watching enough cdramas now to know how to proceed with them. 😉 See what they are about, who’s in them, watch a fiew scenes from the first 2 epis. If things look promising at this point I then check the epi count. Which is when I mostly go “40 (or any number past 20) epis! That’ll surely be about one third filler. Nope.” 😁 Sadly even most of those I do give a go end up dropped after a while as they start dragging, plot goes into a direction I’m not happy about etc. Or I just generally loose interest.
Heh. As always, I have much to learn from your Drama Prowess, Timescout! 😆 After this experience, I do find that my Filler Senses start tingling at the sight of a 40+ episode count. But then again, I loved Peach to the moon and back, and that has 58 eps! 😅 Methinks I need to refine my Dropping Technique. 😂
I have no time for filler these days and I’m pretty sure most dramas don’t need more than 16-20 epis to tell the story. Anything more than that makes me very cautious. 😃
Peaches was pleasant fluff but imho it was too long as well. I FFed quite a bit. Big part of why I stuck with it was the lead couple and their interactions.
Your cautiousness is totally justified! I too find that most shows with high episode counts are littered with filler. But because I’ve loved long shows before, I kinda don’t want to be too quick at the dropping, just in case I miss out on a show I would actually like. FOMO is real, heh. 😛 And I didn’t actually FF through Peaches despite its length, even though I wasn’t into the secondary loveline. I guess I was just that entranced by the OTP – and by Mark Chao. 😍😍😍😆
Mark has lot to answer for. 😉
PWAHAHA!!! He sure does. I guess it’s ALLL his fault then. 😍😍😍
Interesting! This show wasn’t on my list or anything, but I remember seeing mostly praise about this. o.O
Yes, there’s mostly praise for this show, with lots of comments around the interwebs saying that this drama did rom-com right. Those comments were a big part of the reason I decided to give this one a try. But once again, I don’t see what the fuss is about, coz this one didn’t really work for me personally. Which I’m sad about, coz I really wanted to love it. 😥
I started watching this right after 1st Half Of My Life, hoping to be pleasantly surprised as I was with that one… but nope. I don’t think I made it past the 2nd episode. Something about the dynamic of domineering female with the beta male like you said just didn’t jibe with me. You’ve got a lot more staying power than I do! Even if I were interested in the OTP (and I wasn’t really hooked yet with this one), I can’t sit through 40+ episodes of filler. I’d usually just end up fast forwarding through most of it. Too bad it seems like most C-dramas are flops lately… I’m actually hoping that you find a good one so I can watch too!
This one was released last year, but I’ve heard great things about cdrama Burning Ice, of psychological crime shows on your thing. It’s subbed on Netflix, and it’s only 12 episodes AND only one season long.
Lol. You were smart to drop this one early, Owl Star!! I wish I’d been as quick to the draw as you were! 😆 I basically stayed for Zhu Ya Wen.. he somehow manages to make the beta male character type appealing, and I don’t usually find the beta male leads appealing. That intrigued me. Plus, those darn clips of him being swoony in the opening and closing songs baited me into staying to see how that all unfolded on my screen. 😝
I’m hoping to find a good C-drama to share with you guys soon too. Right now I’m 3 eps into My Huckleberry Friends, which seems to be a cute youth drama. Fingers crossed that it actually turns out to be good! 😅🤞🏻
I found myself smiling as I read your review, because I really liked this show. I guess it says something about my taste in dramas too (bear in my mind that I am not allowed to choose shows to watch at how anymore as my family consider my show selection to be very bad – lol). I thought Zhu Ya Wen was superb – a true acting talent. Yes, everyone out there, including me, appeared to be very upset at the time with the death of Xiao Qui. I did think the ending was a bit – meh, but you can’t have everything!
Haha! Sean, you are so funny – I am so amused that your family considers your show selection to be bad! 😆 I personally haven’t found this to be true, since you’ve offered some excellent advice with regards to whether I should drop certain dramas or keep going. I think you are possibly much more patient with the dramas yourself, but are fully cognizant of whether a show is truly good or not 😉 And I completely agree that Zhu Ya Wen is very talented. If anything at all, at least I came away from this show with an appreciation for his talent! <3
Well here goes re some others. Firstly: Grand Prince. After not enjoying the first episode, I decided to have another look. Well, it became very good. But then I started to have that sinking feeling around episode 11. I then managed to drag my way through until the end of episode 14 where I went, well enough is enough and I have walked away from Grand Prince leaving it to its fate.
My Mister. One word: Wow! At the end of episode 10 my thoughts are still the same as early on – this is one of the three best shows I have ever seen of any description, made by anyone, anyware.
Love Destiny. A truly remarkable Thai drama and that is saying something. The episodes are long and some would say very slow, but I am watching every second. The story in short concerns a young archaeologist (I studied to be an archaeologist originally, so I have other reasons to enjoy the show) whose soul goes back in time to inhabit the body of a not very nice young noble lady who has her heart set on the heir of the noble house in which she is staying. It’s just a sheer delight really.
That Man Oh Soo – just a mess. However, I am forcing myself to watch it. I don’t know why really.
Switch – Nicely done. Hopefully it stays strong.
Iron Ladies. Well the Taiwanese have done quite well here. There are some cringeworthy moments, but you get that with most shows.
Live. I only lasted one episode. I get what they were trying to do, but it just grated.
Shall We Live Together. I know it’s 50 episodes, but it’s knocking it out of the park for me.
The remake of Lost in Space! How does this fit into the above? It doesn’t. I have been a sci-fi fan forever. I really liked it. It’s relationship driven and Debbie the chicken has survived to make it through to season two 🐓
Giggle. You are so funny, Sean! I don’t even know Debbie the chicken, but I’m glad she survived! 😆😆
Bummer about Grand Prince, Live and That Man Oh Soo. :/ Tbh, I wasn’t sure I was going to check out My Mister because it sounds so dark and gloomy, but I’ve been hearing so much buzz around that show that now I feel like I really need to at least dip my toes in! I was also not very interested in Shall We Live Together, but maybe I need to put that on the list too, if it’s knocking it out of the park for you! 😉 Also, Iron Ladies is already on my list – I think you might’ve mentioned it in another comment, and I dutifully took notes 😉