Flash Review: In Time With You [Taiwan]

Sometimes an oldie really is a goodie, my friends.

In Time With You had been recommended to me by several of you, and I’d dutifully put it on my list with the best of intentions, but as you might have guessed, I kept putting off actually checking it out, because there was always something newer and shinier to watch.

So what was the catalyst that finally drew me into watching this 2011 modern classic?

Well. My interest was first kindled not too ago, when my friend DDee started spazzing about this show on Twitter, as she embarked on her personal first watch of it. That made me bump this show up my list by a lot, in my head. But THEN, she finished the show, and promptly announced on Twitter that this show had officially unseated Coffee Prince from the #1 drama spot in her heart. Woah. That’s a BIG statement, coz DDee loves Coffee Prince, and so do I. I just couldn’t not watch it now, could I?

And now that I’ve finished my watch, let me just say, THANK YOU, dear DDee.. this truly was a gem of a drama. If not for your wholehearted, enthusiastic spazzing, I might’ve never gotten around to checking this out, and that would’ve been such a pity. <3


Listen. Show has its faults, for sure. For example, it took me a little while to get into this one, because the first episode felt kind of slow and meandering, and also kind of random, with the multiple flashbacks and toggling of several timelines. The jumping across timelines between the present and the past also felt a bit confusing, and I lost track of some details in the present timeline because of this.

BUT. My favorite thing about this drama, is that once I settled into it, I found that Show just knew how to get a reaction outta me. I mean, I’m usually a pretty calm and collected viewer, but as early as episode 3, I found myself making all kinds of aggravated sounds at my screen and banging my hand on the table, in frustrated response to various plot developments. It was a good kind of frustration, though, coz I found myself very much engaged, and I continued to feel fully engaged all the way through to the end.

How very refreshing, to find myself giggling, squeeing, moaning, and yelling at my screen in turn, when I usually am able to take everything in dignified stride, heh.

Another of my favorite things about this show, is that writer Mag Hsu obviously understands people and emotions. These are all brought out so well and in such a relatable manner, from so many angles, and definitely added a great deal to how real and organic our characters and their journeys feel, beyond any dramatic tropes in our narrative.

Here’s the quickish spotlight on some of my favorite characters and relationships.

Chen Bolin as Li Da Ren

Augh. You guys. Over the years, I’ve watched probably a lot more than my fair share of dramas, and I hafta say, Chen Bolin as Li Da Ren has established himself wayyy up high on my mental list of appealing male leads.

I freaking love Da Ren as a character, and Chen Bolin brings him to life in such a lovable, endearing, down-to-earth, relatable and just-a-touch goofy way that I can’t help but want to serve my heart up on him on a plate, and squish him into my pocket, all at the same time. <3

The more I got to know Da Ren, the more I saw what a good and decent guy he is. He’s kind, reliable, capable, sweet, and thoughtful to a fault – and he’s deeply, madly, sincerely, secretly in love with his best friend. The way Da Ren looks at You Qing (Ariel Lin) is just heart-wobblingly melty. There’s an affection and intensity in his gaze, as if he really sees her for all that she is, flaws and all, and finds what he sees both amusing and likable. Melt.

I really enjoyed how loyal and smitten Da Ren is, even if he refuses to admit it.

Plus, Chen Bolin has the most endearing smile. His broad smiles are a touch goofy in the cutest way, and his stifled smiles make me want to smile. His adorable dimples are just icing on the cake. This lovable, slight goofball quality about him gives me some Gong Yoo vibes, circa Coffee Prince, which I count a Very Good Thing indeed.

Even though I also enjoyed You Qing very much, I have to admit that far and away, Da Ren was my favorite character in this drama world, and I was firmly rooting for him, all the way to the end.

Sweetie. <3


Here’s a slightly sprawling collection of Da Ren moments, both the good and the not so good, which I collected over the course of my watch:

E1. How sweet, that Da Ren waits for You Qing at the restaurant until it closes, and then gets all the food to go, and then waits outside the closed restaurant, until You Qing arrives. He’s so patient and good-natured about this!

E3. I can rationalize that Da Ren is rationalizing himself into accepting this relationship with Maggie (Andrea Chen). He’s basically too nice to tell her when she’s crossed a line and made him feel uncomfortable, and then later, he feels that he’s let it go too long and too far, to actually tell her to stop and that he doesn’t actually like her that way. Since he wants to be in a relationship, and since she appears pretty and sweet and totally into him, it falls into place in an unobjectionable way for him.

E5. Da Ren is honest. He doesn’t omit the fact that he’s with You Qing at the mall, when Maggie calls. But his fatal flaw is that he’s just too passive. That’s how he ended up with an accidental girlfriend. He always looks so bewildered with Maggie, like he’s wondering how he ended up there. His passiveness is also why he’s never confessed his feelings to You Qing all these years. He needs to be galvanized into confessing, I think.

E5. Da Ren always looks so exhausted while talking to Maggie, while he always looks happy to be talking to You Qing. That already tells me that Maggie drains him of energy, while You Qing recharges him and gives him energy.

E7. Da Ren is so affected by seeing You Qing in the arms of her ex-boyfriend Ding Li Wei (Sunny Wang), that he sets down his little gift – and along with it, his desire to take responsibility for You Qing – and it literally makes him sick. Poor guy.

Sick Da Ren is very endearing though. There’s something very small-boi and vulnerable about him, even as he allows You Qing to fuss over him and rub oil on his temples. Poor sick baby.

E9. Ahh! Da Ren totally gave up his first choice university to go to You Qing! Oh my. All so that he could be near her. The dedicationnn.

E10. Poor Da Ren, it must hurt so much, for him to feel the urge to need to leave his family behind and move to Singapore.

E11. It’s hard to watch Da Ren in pain over his move and over You Qing. The silent moping, the bittersweet smiles when he’s reminded of her in conversation, the imagined sightings; there is so much love and wistfulness exuding out of him, it makes my heart squeeze up. I just wanna give him a hug and tell him it’s all going to be ok.

E11. The way Da Ren moves aside at You Qing’s reunion with Li Wei, and then can’t stop the tears from falling, right there in public, is so heart-wrenching to watch. Just as heart-wrenching, is the way his tears found their way down his cheeks even as he was singing with a smile on his face, with his friends at his farewell. I just really want Da Ren to stop hurting. He’s a pure-hearted, sweet, special cinnamon roll, and I don’t ever want him to be in pain.


Ariel Lin as You Qing

You Qing is a flawed female lead done right. She’s far from perfect, and her flaws can really rub you the wrong way, but there’s also a lot of good in her, and that good ends up outweighing the bad by a lot. Which means that her good points feel aspirational, while she’s still a very relatable character overall.

Ariel Lin is pitch perfect as You Qing, and she inhabits You Qing’s skin in a way that feels so real that I actually believe You Qing is a living, breathing person in all of her tough-talking, borderline aggressive glory, who’s hiding a plethora of inner vulnerabilities on the inside.

It very much helps that we get multiple voice-overs from You Qing over the course of our story, and we are often privy to how she thinks and feels about everything. We can see how she arrives at her various decisions, and so, even when I disagreed with a decision she made, I could understand how she ended up making the decision in the first place.

Even though my soft spot was greater for Da Ren, I genuinely liked You Qing as a character, and wanted her to be happy – even when I felt frustrated with her.


Here’s a collection of my various observations about You Qing, as a character:

E1. I do like the fact that You Qing is presented as a flawed character. She can be rather aggressive and in-yo-face, but she’s also got a good heart and she’s very loyal as well. It’s also clear to see that at least some of the tough talk is to cover her inner vulnerabilities and insecurities. This all makes her feel real. And, I like that she takes things to heart. The way she went home to hug her mother (Lin Mei-hsiu), after staying with her colleague through childbirth, and thanked her mother for giving birth to her, tells me a lot about how sincere she is.

E3. I think the thing with Nic (David Hsu) is such a blow to You Qing because the attention he paid her made her feel attractive and appealing and vital, in ways that she thought she wasn’t anymore. His attention validated her in her own eyes, and when that attention is shown to have all been fake, all of that validation crumbles away, and she’s hit hard, all over again, by how unlovable and undesirable she is, and how now she’s dumb, to boot, for having believed the lies of a trickster.

E4. You Qing is so relatable in her vulnerabilities. She’s strong and capable and professional, but underneath it all, she shows us her vulnerabilities, like when she calls her mom and cries about whether she’s lovable and whether anyone would ever love her.

E4. You Qing recommending Nic for the promotion, and then speaking to him in such a gracious manner after what he’d done to her, is admirable. She doesn’t do it like a doormat; she does it as a sign of strength and impartiality, and I have to admire her for that.

E7. You Qing keeps promising herself not to date Ding Li Wei, and yet she keeps breaking her promise to herself. For her, it seems to me that 1, skinship is her weakness, because she can’t seem to resist Ding Li Wei every time he touches her, and 2, she’s very concerned about the uptick in other people’s opinions and perceptions of her when she is viewed as someone with a significant other.

E8. Ugh. Just when I thought You Qing had kicked Ding Li Wei to the curb, she calls him because her mum had a fall, and she ends up back in his arms again. ARGH. I don’t even see why she felt she had to call someone. Just call the ambulance. It comes with people. People who are trained to handle the emergency. What can Ding Li Wei do for you, except offer you a shoulder to cry on? I’m not pleased with You Qing’s behavior here.

E9. You Qing doesn’t even look like she’s enjoying the relationship. She doesn’t look like she loves Li Wei, and she’s stressed about a potential proposal, and when it happens, she works to get out of it. That says a lot. She just seems to feel like she now has to play the role of a dutiful girlfriend.

E10. You Qing seems to possibly not trust her instincts right now. Her gut instinct has always been to speak up and stand up for herself, but because there’ve been enough remarks thrown her way to make her doubt if that’s the best way to go, she’s choosing change. She’s behaving unlike herself, believing that this will be better. The old You Qing would not have stood for anyone disallowing her to make a career move to Singapore. But here, with Ding Li Wei, she’s crying and apologizing, saying that she knows she’s bad. Ugh. So hard to watch that.

E11. I don’t quite understand You Qing’s intentions where Da Ren is concerned. She doesn’t want to love him back because it would mean losing her best friend. But.. then she proceeds to alienate herself from him by avoiding him at all costs. And her parting thought to Da Ren at the airport was “Farewell forever.” What is that supposed to mean? How is this protecting their friendship, if she’s going to say goodbye to him forever? That’s arguably even worse than not loving him back and then breaking up? Headdesk.

E11. You Qing’s quick to flare up, but she’s also quick to be kind. Once she realizes that Maggie has a point, she goes to apologize and even brings a peace offering pair of shoes. And once she realizes that Grace (Joelle Lu) is struggling with being a young widow with a young son, she moves to send Grace’s son a gift, to encourage Grace. You Qing’s a good person, underneath the so-called arrogance, and that’s probably a large part of why Da Ren loves her.

E12. You Qing not telling Da Ren that she’s getting married, and asking Da Ren’s mom (Zhou Dan Wei) to tell him for her, is really poor behavior. That’s so cowardly. Surely Da Ren deserves more courage from her than this? I’m upset.

E12. You Qing’s new habit of leaving messages for Da Ren on his Taiwan phone number is also a cowardly move. She doesn’t want to call him, but she wants the comfort of talking to him. I hate that she leaves messages like “I can’t wait to see your wife” – what is that supposed to mean, especially given that she knows he loves her? Greargh.

At this point, I’m rather disappointed with You Qing, and all I want is for Da Ren to be happy. My rooting for You Qing and Da Ren to have a happy ending is more skewed towards Da Ren than You Qing. He’s been self-sacrificial and giving for so long, always putting You Qing before himself. Now I want her to confess her love to him. It’s time for him to be on the receiving end.


Da Ren & You Qing together

All the times Da Ren and You Qing are together basically made up the bulk of my personal highlights during my watch of this show. These two fit together so perfectly, that it didn’t take me very long at all, to start rooting for them to be together.

Chen Bolin and Ariel Lin share an easy, comfortable, sparky chemistry that made it super easy for me to believe that Da Ren and You Qing have known each other for a long time, and have spent many years of their lives as besties who hang out with each other often, call each other regularly, and have lengthy, uninhibited conversations with each other, so much so that they know each other like the backs of their own hands.

This whole story hinges on Da Ren’s one reflex remark when he was 16 years old, declaring that he could never love You Qing, still haunting them both, 14 years later. It’s clear to see that they both do have feelings for each other – Da Ren more cognizantly than You Qing – but won’t entertain the possibility, so the whole crack factor of this watch is whether or not each of them will finally acknowledge &/or act on their feelings for the other. Sounds basic and simple, yes, but this is teased out in such a wonderfully organic fashion, that I was very firmly along for the ride.


Here’s a collection of OTP highlights:

E2. My favorite thing this hour, is Da Ren and You Qing going supermarketing together, then washing the dishes together, then having coffee and conversation in the semi-darkness of the living room. So much easy, comfortable, cozy domesticity. These two belong together so seamlessly and perfectly; they’re clearly already soulmates.

E3. I do love that Da Ren goes to You Qing when she’s in a moment of need, even though he had just met up with Maggie, fresh on the resolution of making things work with her. His priorities are clear; You Qing is more important to him and he would literally drop Maggie for her, if it came down to it. And the way he talks to her, when he gets to her hotel room, is so gentle, so patient, and also, so empathetic, and so encouraging.

“You’re right… The mirror simply can’t reflect your beautiful side. Because that side only I know. Even if she’s so busy that she’s in terrible shape she will still put down everything and comfort her friend first. Even if her brother, sister, sister-in-law, always take advantage of her. Yet, she feels that being needed is a kind of happiness. Even if someone hurt her she would still praise his strong points.

In this whole world, I can’t find another Cheng You Qing like this who’s worthy of the one and a half hours I spent to get here now. But, Cheng You Qing also have many weak points. Among them, her weakest point is… She doesn’t like to trouble others even though she always put herself in trouble. Because of other’s evil intentions, why do you… hate yourself, and see yourself negatively? You definitely have to drop this weak point. You have to believe that you are someone who’s worthy of family, friends, colleagues, as well as that good man who hasn’t shown up yet. Cheng You Qing, who need to be treasured well, and loved dearly.”


E4. Da Ren and You Qing are so natural and organic together. They are so comfortable together and can talk about anything, and even comfortably lounge on the same bed together. Not only that, they think of each other first, as a reflex. Whenever she’s upset, she reaches for him first, not someone else. And he always runs to her first, not someone else. They belong together, and just haven’t admitted it yet.

E4. Da Ren always looks visibly uncomfortable around Maggie, like he doesn’t quite know how he got into this relationship. Basically Maggie invaded his space and then adopted him when he wasn’t looking, and now he feels obligated to fulfill the role of the good boyfriend that he’s been given.

E4. The multiple missed messages from Da Ren to You Qing are so plaintive and heart-tugging. You can totally feel his tentative uncertainty, and his deep desire to reconnect with You Qing, and how much he misses her. And, as expected, hearing from Da Ren makes You Qing smile in a huge, genuine way.

E5. Show is really doing a great job of showing us how special the bond is, between Da Ren and You Qing, and why it would be such a risk for Da Ren to confess his feelings. I can feel the emotional stakes; there’s something very special here, and if You Qing doesn’t reciprocate, then there’s a lot that might never be the same again.

E5. I do like seeing that Da Ren and You Qing are constantly thinking of each other. Even in You Qing’s philosophical musings about passwords, she phrases it in relation to Da Ren, “Da Ren, will you ever find someone whom you want to share your passwords with?” They are always keeping each other top of mind, and I like seeing all the signs of that.

E6. Da Ren and You Qing are so lost without each other, when they’re estranged this episode. You can see that they each feel it very deeply.

E6. Da Ren’s make-up message to You Qing is the sweetest: “That day, actually, you weren’t ugly; you weren’t pathetic either. In my eyes, you’re the most precious rose in the desert. I only wish for you to be happy. Then I will have no regrets.”

That’s such a loving message, it’s remarkable that You Qing is still convinced that Da Ren is unable to love her romantically. But she does acknowledge in her voiceover that it’s his unconditional acceptance and presence that keeps her going; that he will always be there for her, and that’s enough for her. Augh. If she only knew how hopelessly Da Ren is head over heels for her.

E6. Every time Da Ren is on the verge of confessing his feelings for You Qing, he’s thwarted. It’s such a journey for him to actually be galvanized into wanting to tell her how he feels, and then, to have that come to a screeching halt as he’s opening his mouth to say the words, because You Qing is excited that her ex-boyfriend called, is just so deflating. Oof. I feel for him.

E7. This episode, both You Qing and Da Ren are shown to be cognizant of their feelings for the other person. Both of them regard the other and think, what a pity.. if only.. And instead of bringing us progress, this just brings us more angst.

E8. I love that when Ding Li Wei throws You Qing a hypothetical ultimatum, she doesn’t hesitate to choose Da Ren. YES.

E8. The imagined scene of Da Ren removing her makeup is so sensual and so lovely. The way he looks at her is just so affectionate and gentle and loving. Melt. Swoon. I want Da Ren to remove my makeup too.

E9. You Qing feels most relaxed and comfortable with Da Ren. When she’s uncomfortable at the party, she leaves the room to call him.

E11. What a fake-out, having You Qing’s confrontation with Da Ren at the airport and the sweet, wordless hug he gives her, turn out to all be in You Qing’s imagination. But she does know him well; that’s the exact way I’d imagine him responding. Wordless, tender, comforting; just grateful to be holding her, in the moment. Augh.


Special shout-outs:

You Qing’s parents

You Qing’s parents really are an adorable pair, and even though they don’t get a great deal of screen time, I found them amusing and entertaining in their adorkable, naggy ways. More than that, they had me by the heart for how loving they are towards You Qing, underneath the sometimes gruff, nonchalant surface.

Dad (Luo Bei An) always looks like he’s only interested in watching TV, but he really does love his family, in his own dorky way. My favorite thing, though, is Earnest Mom trying to encourage a romance between Da Ren and You Qing, despite You Qing’s protests. Her enthusiasm to have Da Ren as her son-in-law is really cute, and she’s so not subtle, that I couldn’t help but giggle at the funny.

[SPOILER] My biggest takeaway from this show is Mom’s words of wisdom in episode 12, about what it means to think carefully before marrying someone. That it’s not about whether you love the person, but about what your life will look like, with the other person. So very wise. [END SPOILER]

Uncle Bai

My other favorite parent figure in this drama world is Uncle Bai (Chin Shih-chieh), who’s best friends with Da Ren’s mom, a friendship that is clearly Show’s effort to give the friendship between Da Ren and You Qing a more mature parallel.

I found Uncle Bai consistently very sweet, cute and endearing. He cares so much for Da Ren’s mom and their family. And he’s such a cheerleader too, encouraging Da Ren, and also, cheering on his sister Tao Tao (Summer Meng) at her band competition.

To my eyes, Da Ren is Cinnamon Roll #1 in this show, and Uncle Bai is firmly Cinnamon Roll #2. <3


As much as I enjoyed my watch, I didn’t love everything about Show, so here’s the stuff that I didn’t like so much.

Show’s fantastical flourishes can feel random & weird

Show’s got a rather fantastical bent, thanks to us having access to You Qing’s thoughts, her flights of fancy and imagination, and her dreamscape. Often, these are introduced without warning, and because – for a while at least – we’re assuming that the weird stuff onscreen might be real, Show can feel rather random and strange.

Case in point, this gorilla-esque figure in episode 1’s opening scene, which I found very odd, until it became clear that this was all part of You Qing’s dreamscape, and the hairy figure was a quirky representation of Time.

I didn’t dislike this about Show, but the regular dips into the not-real sometimes confused me.

Sunny Wang as Ding Li Wei

Ding Li Wei (Sunny Wang) is the kind of guy that your parents would likely warn you about. Charming and smooth, with all sorts of moves to charm the ladies, he’s slick to the point of being oily.

A very effective counter-point to warmhearted Da Ren, Ding Li Wei was the epitome of everything that You Qing shouldn’t settle for, in a romantic partner or husband. I never felt like I could trust him, even when he was saying sweet words to You Qing, and I suppose to that end, Sunny Wang did a solid job of portraying him.

With Ding Li Wei, everything was always more about him and his reputation, rather than about wanting to actually nurture a healthy relationship with You Qing, and the deeper I got into my watch, the clearer this became, to me.

Here’s a quickish unpacking of my impressions of him.


E7. Ding Li Wei is so stalkery and he constantly invades You Qing’s personal space. The thing is, though, You Qing doesn’t quite protest enough. She protests, but she doesn’t go the full extent of kicking him out. She gives him room to be there, because a part of her is weak to what he represents, and he senses that and takes full advantage.

I do think Ding Li Wei is there more for the thrill of the chase, than for actual strong feelings for You Qing. He comes across as very aggressive and predatory.

E8. I sort of wonder whether Ding Li Wei’s being sincere. He doesn’t come across as being sincere, but I do wonder whether that’s an actor limitation, or a deliberate acting choice.

E8. Lots of sexytimes between Ding Li Wei and You Qing, and I can’t deny that Ding Li Wei can turn on the sex appeal. He does have a bit of bad boy schmexy Imma-kiss-you-now sort of draw. But the moment things don’t go his way, Ding Li Wei’s self-centeredness and his temper come flaring out. Red flag!

E8. Argh!!! Da Ren finally plucks up the courage to tell You Qing how he feels, and his text is intercepted and deleted by Ding Li Wei! I literally yelled at my screen. At the same time, I can understand why Ding Li Wei would want to do that. He doesn’t want anything to rock the boat, now that he’s got You Qing dating him again.

E9. This episode feels like a study on how Ding Li Wei is a lousy, self-centered boyfriend.

When Da Ren looks him up and shares with him how to best love and support You Qing even though it’s clearly killing him on the inside, Ding Li Wei gets all defensive and demands to know who Da Ren thinks he is, to be teaching him how to love his girlfriend. Granted, I can see why he would be suspicious and jealous of Da Ren.

The way Ding Li Wei calls You Qing and says he wants to eat beef noodles and also wants to see her, and basically tells her to come to him with beef noodles, is so annoying. It’s even more annoying that she drops everything – and blows off Da Ren, whom she really did want to spend time with – in order to be that delivery girl. All she gets to do is deliver the noodles and tuck in a sleeping Ding Li Wei. Free noodles, free delivery, and a free tuck-in. That’s what Ding Li Wei wanted. Ugh.

Ding Li Wei proposing to a toilet door was the most tasteless thing in the history of all the dramas I’ve ever watched. Who even dreams up this stuff?? His idea of being romantic is so off the mark. Essentially, the proposal and party was all about him. He drags her to a party without telling her ahead of time, and then leaves her to her own devices while he mingles, and when she texts to tell him that she’s tired and would like to leave, he pleads with her to stay by mouthing it across the room, then sends his secretary on an assignment to talk to her? Ugh. And he doesn’t even get his own flowers for the proposal either. Hmph.

And then Ding Li Wei yells at poor Da Ren when he finds You Qing on the phone with him instead of on the other side of the toilet door, receiving his tasteless proposal.

E10. Ding Li Wei is so self-centered. Everything always has to be about his own reputation and comfort. He is unhappy with You Qing for cutting her hair without consulting him, even after she informs him that it’s her hair. And when You Qing asks him to give her 2 years to focus on her career in Singapore, he flatly refuses. It’s only when You Qing sheds tears that he gives in – and allows her 3 months. Wow. Magnanimous much?

E10. Ding Li Wei not wanting You Qing to drink with the boys. On the one hand, I get that he’s thrown by how familiar You Qing is with Da Ren’s colleagues, thus indicating that they are even closer than he’d imagined. At the same time, I feel that his act of stepping in to drink on You Qing’s behalf, speaks of the kind of woman he wants to be with: a docile, ladylike, deferential 小女人 (literally, small woman). He’s not thrilled to see You Qing knocking back her drinks like one of the boys. He wants a damsel to save.

E11. I do think that Li Wei loves You Qing – in the limited understanding that he has, of love. He doesn’t know how to love selflessly and unconditionally the way Da Ren loves You Qing, but in his own limited way, he does care for You Qing and want to do his best for her. Of course, that best does involve imposing his opinions and decisions on her, but I sincerely think that he’s not actually capable of more than that.

E12. The wedding preparation is bringing out the reality for You Qing, of what it would be like to live with Ding Li Wei, in a crash course sort of way. There’s way more compromise than seems healthy. This sort of continual quashing of herself is just the thing to kill You Qing over time.

E12. Fundamentally, Li Wei’s approach to the wedding is the same as his approach to the proposal. It’s all for show, and not about what makes You Qing happy. Not cool at all.


Andrea Chen as Maggie

Narratively speaking, Maggie (Andrea Chen) is the female equivalent of Ding Li Wei; a romantic interest paired with Da Ren, to spice things up and also, to make You Qing jealous.

On the one hand, I found Maggie less toxic than Ding Li Wei, and Show does take steps to redeem her character in its later episodes. On the other hand, for the period of time where Maggie is shown angling for Da Ren’s affections, I found her very aggravating to watch indeed. In that sense, it all sort of works out to neutral in the end, but the fact remains that Maggie is still not one of my favorite things in this show, and I just wanted to highlight some of the more frustrating aspects of her as a character.


E3. It’s aggravating to see Maggie succeed at every attempt to push herself onto Da Ren, or have Da Ren enter her space. I yelled at my screen when she put her head on Da Ren’s shoulder, and then again, when she tried to seduce Da Ren, and also, when Da Ren hugged her because she was acting distraught over her sick mom. I actually wondered whether she is being truthful about her mom, or if it was just a ploy to make Da Ren feel sorry for her.

E4. Maggie trying to force things with Da Ren is her trying to force love. She’s very insecure, and she thinks that forcing all the signs of a healthy relationship – cooking in, couple t-shirts, kisses goodnight, access to house keys – will give her the security that she’s looking for. It’s flawed, but it’s also relatable. Many women would identify with having tried to make a relationship look healthier than it really is, by looking for &/or forcing similar signs, whether in a new relationship that you really want to work, or an older relationship that’s starting to show signs of breaking down.

E5. Maggie always looks unhappy &/or injured, like she’s fighting a losing battle. She knows that Da Ren’s heart isn’t with her, and the more she tries to secure his heart, the more she feels like she’s losing any hold on it. Having said that, I have to admit, I would be jealous in Maggie’s shoes. She’s got a boyfriend who feels distant from her, and at the same time, she sees that he’s so comfortable and in sync with another woman.

E5. Maggie likes to play games. When Da Ren tells her to consult with You Qing about where to go the next day, she remarks that Da Ren seems scared of You Qing. I do love Da Ren’s clarification on this, that it’s about respect (yes, it absolutely is). But then Maggie twists the phrasing of the question the next time she sees You Qing, so that it sounds like she and Da Ren have already made plans, and is it ok with You Qing? That’s sneaky and manipulative. Ugh.


Other characters’ general lack of boundaries

So I don’t know if this is a cultural thing, or just a thing in Taiwanese dramas; I found myself rather weirded out by the lack of social boundaries by a good number of characters.

[SPOILERS] For example, I found it really bizarre how both La La and Henry (Yu Han Mi and Jerry Huang) keep dragging You Qing into their affairs, when You Qing is Henry’s ex-girlfriend. Have they no sense of decorum or shame? Henry insisting in episode 2, that You Qing help him pick out a bag for La La, because she has the best taste among his girlfriends, is just so insensitive and crass, I thought.

I also thought the way Da Ren and You Qing’s ex-classmates crashed their entire wedding night was in very poor taste. [END SPOILER]

The thing is, though, the other characters don’t seem to mind, and everyone seems to think that this is all very normal behavior. So maybe it’s just me?


Thanks to You Qing’s regular voice-overs exploring her thoughts, as she grapples with the various so-called signs of aging, we get pretty clear themes each episode. The themes are managed with a bit of a heavy hand, but I do find them meaningful and organic to our story. Here’s a broad overview:

E1. The idea of time and how it’s always hot on your heels chasing you down; the idea of aging; the idea of liking and accepting yourself.

E2. The idea that possession is the beginning of loss. Da Ren and You Qing are both so afraid of losing each other, that they’d rather not risk losing each other by entertaining romantic possibilities between them.

E2. I do like You Qing’s statement at the end of the episode, that she’ll use her own money to buy her own bag, to create her own future. Such a statement of independence. She doesn’t need someone to buy her a bag or give her a future. She’s plenty self-sufficient and will create a future for herself, thank you very much. I like that.

E4. The idea of love validating your self-worth. Maggie looking for a good boyfriend so that she doesn’t end up like her mother. The need for some people to always have a significant other, like Henry. You Qing’s embarrassment at still being single, and wondering if anyone would ever love her.

E6. The idea of misplacing something important because you put it in an important place and then forget where that was. We see it as a sign of aging, with You Qing misplacing her boss’s ring. But at the same time, it’s about misplacing her self-confidence and rationality. I do like that this episode indicates that You Qing finds her self-confidence and rationality with Da Ren.

E6. The idea that a diamond is a diamond; even after it’s soaked in coffee overnight, it’s still a diamond. The idea that people can still shine brightly even after having been through adversity. Also, the idea that there is beauty born of adversity, in You Qing’s voiceover that the beauty of a mature woman is in her eyes, after the tears.

E7. Today’s theme is about expiry dates. Also, the idea of self-worth that comes from being loved.

E8. The idea that the do-over relationship is one that you can’t back out of, because failing twice at the same relationship would be too humiliating.


Ahh.. this was one of those finales that I really looked forward to, because of the happy ending that I knew was coming, but that I also kinda dreaded – because I just didn’t feel ready to say goodbye to these characters, least of all Da Ren, whom I found the most endearing of all.

Now that I’ve emerged on the other side, I have to say that this was a very emotionally satisfying conclusion to our story.

There’s a requisite amount of angst before we start to see a happy ending at the end of the tunnel, but importantly, the angst feels real and organic. You Qing, sufficiently rattled from hearing Da Ren’s confession in song, realizes she can’t marry Li Wei, and sobs to Mom and Dad about it. I love that Mom and Dad are all ready to do whatever it takes to ensure You Qing’s happiness, and even offer to go with her, to kneel in front of Li Wei to seek his forgiveness. So much love in here. <3

Of course, a leopard can’t change its spots – or a cheating lying dog can’t change his habits – coz You Qing finds Li Wei and his secretary in a rather.. compromising situation. To think that even when she’s caught Li Wei with another woman, he still tries to lie his way out of it. Ugh. So glad You Qing didn’t end up marrying him; that would’ve been a huge mistake, and not just because of Da Ren either.

I very much appreciate that You Qing doesn’t jump right into a romantic relationship with Da Ren, after breaking up with Li Wei. Instead, she quits her job and goes traveling to clear her mind and do some soul-searching, sending Da Ren regular postcards with various thoughts and musings, the comfort in their relationship fully restored.

In the meantime, Uncle Bai finally gets Da Ren’s mom to agree to marry him, and they have the sweetest, most sheepish little wedding.

When You Qing’s wanderlust is satisfied, she lands a job at IKEA, and on her birthday, in the mock-up that has an uncanny resemblance to the perfect little apartment home she’d seen in her dream, Da Ren makes a surprise appearance.

I think it’s on purpose that Show presents the scene in such a way that we’re kept guessing for some time, about whether this scene is for real, or is another one of You Qing’s flights of imagination. We find out soon enough that this scene is, happily, for real, and after bantering a bit about what to have for dinner, You Qing sighs contentedly that sitting in a living room like this, thinking about what to have for dinner, is so pleasant and comfortable.

Smooth as butter, Da Ren moves to casually ask the big question, “Then.. do you want to sit like this for the rest of our lives?” Squee!

You Qing evades the question a little bit, instead quoting the price of the living room set to Da Ren, which, pfft. But Da Ren, good man that he is, persists, and asks if the price includes her in the package. You Qing hedges, saying she needs to consult her best friend, and calls Da Ren, right there on the couch, ha.

Finally, after affirming that her taste in men has improved (hur, and so true!), and promising to be with her always, whether they break up or not, Da Ren finally moves in for the kiss. It’s a little awkward and embarrassing, but nothing a little good-natured joking and goofing around can’t solve, and our lovebirds finally drown in feels and kisses. Eee!

Cue more fanservice: You Qing going to Singapore to visit Da Ren, to find that while he’s too busy to spend a lot of time with her, he’s put a lot of care into all the thoughtful post-it notes that greet her in every nook and cranny of the apartment. Sweetness.

We then get a highlight reel of Da Ren and You Qing working to visit each other and keep in contact while in a long-distance relationship. There’s lots of cuteness and kisses, but what stands out to me, is the urgent need they have to talk to each other, every time they see each other. Da Ren’s right; they really are never going to run out of things to talk about, and I love it.

Da Ren tells You Qing that he’s requested for a transfer back to Taiwan, citing marriage as his reason, and along with this very lame proposal, whips out an equally lame paper ring, which had me howling with laughter. It’s so perfectly off-the-wall and humorous, and such a great reflection for how comfortable and casual these two are with each other.

After the wedding, they survive the rowdy wedding night, which is thoroughly crashed by their over-enthusiastic classmates, and I do rather love that they just shrug it off like it’s no big deal. Da Ren sings his song to You Qing on their honeymoon flight to Singapore, off-key but with lots of heart, and amid more goofy awkwardness, our couple finally has their wedding night. Rawr.

We even get an epilogue of sorts, where we see that Da Ren and You Qing have settled into married life and adopted a french bulldog (such a cutie! And, such a great nod to You Qing giving in to Da Ren on something; a great throwback to their high school opposing campaigns), and how they navigate the ups and downs of married life, sticking it out through the disagreements and squabbles, and then kissing happily ever after.

I actually really love that nothing with these two is picture-perfect and pitch-perfect romantic. Everything’s a little awkward and a lot down-to-earth, all peppered with bantering, bickering, smiles and lots of laughter. It makes me feel like that’s exactly how these two will manage to weather the storms of life together, for a long, long time to come, and I really like the thought of that. <3


Raw, real, heartfelt, and just so very engaging, despite a few rough edges.




78 thoughts on “Flash Review: In Time With You [Taiwan]

  1. CarpControl

    Hello KFG!😊
    This is going to be one of those rarer moments when my inner fangirl gets the better out of me, and I end up commenting BEFORE even finishing a show, just based on your final rating of it (and based on HOW much I am already in love with this)…. I’ll make it quick—-

    A.) If you have a huge Han-Ji Pyeong– shaped void in your heart, because you know where ‘Start-Up’ is headed, and find yourself crushing a teeny bit on Kim Seon Ho & his dimpled smile😍
    B.) Since you absolutely LOVED In Time With You (the drama & the concept)— [hence, my comment here….]
    C.) And your appreciation of dramas that follow similar thread, tones, themes, & vibes (such as Go Back Spouses & the much recent 18 Again)….😎

    Then I’d highly recommend a 4-episode mini-series (35 mins per episode or kind of like a 2-hour movie binge) called ‘You Drive Me Crazy’ (2018). It feels like an Asian-take on a western concept like Friends With Benefits/ No Strings Attached (kind of like how ITWY executed it)…
    with all the heartwarming feels, the conflict, the emotions, the sweetness, the frustrations & aspirations of a career-woman, the struggle to not succumb to attraction…. all done with the charm we have come to associate with Asian dramas.💕

    The acting is top-notch & the characters are as FLAWED as real-humans can be. The ML (played by Kim Seon Ho) is a sweetheart (albeit grudgingly). I know you are not a fan of multiple franchise-like remakes, and it isn’t one, yet there are distinct moments that pay homage to ITWY (with the heartfelt convos between friends over alcohol)…..😊

    I hope you give it a try, because the above 3 points (if I have deduced correctly), are definitely reasons why you’ll like (maybe even love) it. ❤ I was initially waiting for your review on Start-Up to go live, to post it there, but seeing HOW MUCH you love ITWY, I had to post it here 🙈

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  5. Cindy

    Love your recap. I just finished watching this drama and felt in love with the characters, especially Li Da Ren. I totally agreed with you. I tried to rewatch this couple times, but every time I felt I wanted to skip the middle part and get to the happy ending.

    1. kfangurl

      Tee hee, I can completely understand the urge to skip to the happier, more satisfying bits, Cindy! 😆😆 And OMG yes, Da Ren is such a sweetheart! 😍😍😍 I will always have a big ol’ soft spot for him, I think! For rewatches, I like to leave a show for a long enough period that the details become hazy to me, before going back to it. This way, it maximizes the freshness of the rewatch experience, I think. So I’m keeping this one aside for a while, before I go back in, to melt at Da Ren, all over again. 😉

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  8. MC

    Hey KFG I have finally finished this show and what a show. I think the best compliment I can give is one you would appreciate – it feels like Coffee Prince, and not because they are older shows. Although the storylines differ, they feel so… real, raw, they both don’t feel like a story with actors playing characters but they feel like my friends, whose stories I am vicariously living out. So at times I loved it, but at times (the middle to end) was sooo hard to watch cos it was so painful and angsty, and the cute couply bits (how can they only give me half an episode?!?!) was adorable and super squee worthy. It’s just as you said – this show manages to engage ALL of your emotions that it gets difficult to watch, at times. But so beautifully done. I watched quite a fair bit of it travelling on the train and I’m sure people thought I was crazy, laughing/ smiling/ frowning at my phone because of all the feelzzzz!

    Chen Brolin and Ariel Lin were flat-out amazing in this, Da Ren and You Qing felt like real people not characters from a script. Though I felt sorry for their livers, especially Chen Brolin. So much drinking!! Agree that I love them both. I didn’t love Da Ren as much as you did – was quite annoyed at him being so passive about Maggie, felt sorry for her. And he didn’t admit to You Qing was so arghhhhh-tear-hair-out-worthy but can I blame him? If it were me I would probably have done the same too. I quite liked You Qing (probably liked both equally) because I love her mix of feisty yet vulnerable woman who is so relatable. They are both so flawed and real and relable. They have the best friendship. Makes me want to have a best guy friend like LDR too! (though LDR is… so perfect no guy could live up to him). Their relationship and character growth was just so beautifully written and portrayed.

    And can I talk about Papa and Mama Qing?!?!? I LOVE LOVE LOVE them to bits. They (alongside the parents in Reply series) could be my favourite screen parents EVER. They feel like my parents especially Mama Qing’s kaypoh-ness and never-stop-talking-ness, hahaha. One of my favourite scenes from this series is probably the one where Mama Qing was hospitalised and Papa Qing was describing to You Qing about how Mama Qing just wanted someone to accompany her, how she would carry a small umbrella when its raining so he would walk closer to her, or hold her tighter when she speeded on a bicycle – that is probably one of the best descriptions of love that I’ve watched in shows. It’s not the earth shaking passionate moments, but the real moments of love are the small ones. Soooo moving. <3 and the way Tao Tao and Mama Li kept fighting yet loved so fiercely felt so real too. Loved how Mama Li transited from complaining about Tao Tao's song to accusing the judges of having no taste in music, and Tao Tao and Mama Li's tentative video chat conversation has probably played out in every girl's relationship with their mother. So much love for the families in this show.

    The script had many beautiful themes (though I agree that they were rather heavy handedly applied at times), and the soundtrack – some of the songs I recognise from about 5 years back – was so lovely. And the nostalgia – blackberry phones! Fashion and hairstyles! MSN MESSENGER! put a smile on my face. And so lovely to see our country in the show!

    My only bugbears are – the angst was too long-drawn and there was too little adorable couple moments! And I felt their transition to becoming a couple was a little too quick – how did DR suddenly have the courage to ask her to be in his life forever, as part of the IKEA sofa scene? But once the adorable couple moments started all was forgiven. I missed the french bulldog significance – that is lovely! And I liked how they showed that they didn't have a perfect life but I know that their marriage will remain strong no matter how much they fight because they have such a strong, unbreakable friendship.

    Aww. I'm gonna miss this show! THANK YOU, for such a wonderful recommendation!

    1. kfangurl

      YESSSS. I’m SO PLEASED that you loved In Time With You, MC!!! 😄😄😄 You are SO RIGHT, this does fall into a similar category as Coffee Prince, for how real everyone feels, and how raw the emotions portrayed are. Da Ren and You Qing are so human and flawed, and yet, Show helps us to see and firmly believe that they are perfect together, and no other relationship could come close. That’s skillz, not falling back on some Fated Childhood Connection trope, and still achieving the conviction of the Perfect Pairing. Yes, I was frustrated that Da Ren was so passive with Maggie, but I guess he won me over with his general devotion and selflessness with You Qing. He always put her first, and always understood her so well. <3 And yes, the supporting characters and general sense of nostalgia was just icing on the cake. <3

      I agree re the IKEA scene. That felt quite sudden to me too, and at first, I thought she was hallucinating or dreaming again. But it was such a happy turn of events that I couldn't find it in my heart to quibble too much, lol. 😆

  9. mkLols (@TaeAmo_Bts)

    Hello Fangirl!
    Thank you for this review. I’ve loved watching Taiwanese dramas since there is a form of maturity in the romantic aspect and it feels very realistic which sometimes is not displayed in Korean dramas. I’ll surely check this one out. Recently I binge-watched a coming-of-age Chinese drama, ‘Go Go Squid’ and the 41 episodes were really worth it. It’s a sweet Rom-com. You should definitely check it out.!

    1. kfangurl

      Glad you enjoyed this review, mk! Yes, do give this one a try, it felt very real and organic to me, despite the presence of some drama tropes. And OMG Chen Bolin as Li Da Ren is just 😍😍😍. I hope you’ll enjoy your watch as much as I did!

      I am currently watching Go Go Squid, as a matter of fact. I’m enjoying it in quite a moderate fashion, though, even though most folks love it to bits. I guess this is one of those times where I buck the trend – at least a little bit. 😅

  10. drawde2000

    It’s been awhile since I watch this show. But it is one of my favorite romantic dramas. It captured the bestfriend turn to lovers so organically.

    The scenes I remember the most are:
    Ep1 or 2. They were at a park with the dinner he brought. No big plot development occured. It was simply just two friends having a conversation in the park. I think they asked each other how their day went. I thought, why have I not seen this before in a drama, when it was so natural. It was satisfying to watch.

    The drunk scene (Ep 5 or 8). She was drunk. She accidentally called him while somewhere else. Next thing I know, he’s in the front door with something. And again during the night, these two friends just having some casual conversation. It lasted the whole night. They were casually drinking, talking, and he even had the chance to take off her makeup (or masks). Thar was so such a pleasure to watch.

    I will forever love this drama for how organic and real the characters were in this drama.

    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Drawde! 😀 Yay that this one is among your favorites! I agree, it felt so real and so organic; I can’t even imagine Chen Bolin as anyone but Da Ren now! 😆 Oh yes, I LOVED that long conversation that they had in the semi-darkness, just meandering around various topics, relaxing in each other’s company. I found that so cozy and natural. <3 We don't see that kind of scene often enough in dramas, I think!

  11. Sarah

    So glad to have found your website. I took a long break away from dramas but after a friend fervently recommended Nirvana in Fire, I fell down the drama rabbit hole and never looked back. I shortly after discovered ITWY and have been trying to find dramas that live up to the same level of quality and feels!

    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Sarah! A belated welcome to the blog! <3 What a way to come back to dramas with a bang, NIF is SUCH a masterpiece! If you're fairly new back in dramaland, might I suggest Romance is a Bonus Book (review here)? It’s got the kdrama romcom sort of sheen, but manages to feel thoughtful and heartfelt, and there are healthy relationship dynamics on display too. 😀 Of course, another favorite of mine is Healer, which is one of my top picks. Lotsa feels there, and I wrote a monster review to prove it! You can take a peep at that here.

  12. babybackbooks

    Hi fangirl,

    Thanks for all your hard work! And just wondering how you would rate it on a ‘cracky’ scale compared to ‘Bromance’? (It had some big flaws, but I forgave it everything for the chemistry, skinship (and supportive female roles – the sis and mum 😍).)

    1. kfangurl

      Hi there, thanks for enjoying the reviews! 🙂 I would say that Bromance has more of a crack factor compared to In Time With You, but ITWY more than makes up for it with characters that feel real and relatable, and a main relationship that feels organically grown. <3

  13. seankfletcher

    After your review kfangurl, I took the plunge and watched In Time With You. The verdict: it certainly is one of the better Taiwanese dramas out there. Not only that, I am comfortable that I don’t have to have a look at the other four remakes out there, including the current Japanese version. So, phew – saved myself some viewing time there.

    You Qing is definitely one of the finest female characters out there. However, I found it a tad annoying that she didn’t seem to know Da Ren as well as she thought – perhaps that is one of the story’s themes. By contrast, Da Ren, knew You Qing inside and out. Underneath it all, because Da Ren is such a nice guy he gets trapped in the headlights re Maggie and You Qing. By the time he turns away and has time to think, a lot of damage has been done on all fronts.

    I liked Maggie, although I didn’t like where her character ended up. Then as for Mr Snake, how more obvious can a character be. He should have been wearing snake skin everything.

    I liked the Singapore storylines. More should have been made of them. Yes, loved the parents. You Qing’s dad saying to her mum, let her grow up. Most mum and dads have had that conversation.

    I found the final episode a bit out of kilter with the rest of the show. It was almost convenient, but it did have little gems here and there. The story did fade out on a number of things, but I guess you can’t cram it all in. A deeply loving and devoted married couple are best friends, which in itself is very different from the best friends we have. It’s a different kind of best friendship – I think we see this with the elder couples and it’s something our younger couple needed to find out.

    So, in hand with the other delightful comments by others below my final thought are this: all in all, some of my favourite actors are in this show and the early scenes re the play with Uncle Bai in the Story of Shufeng was mesmerising. When you see a play acted like this, that is when you know the true quality of an actor. In Time With You is not my highest rating drama by any means, but I’m glad I watched it and I won’t forget anyone in a hurry 😊

    1. kfangurl

      Ah, I’m sorry to be coming to this comment so late, Sean, but thanks for giving ITWY a try!! 😀 Nothing says trust like investing a chunk of hours of your life based on someone else’s recommendation! 😅 I do think you’re right about You Qing not knowing Da Ren as well as he knew her.. I guess that also speaks of her self-centeredness. I mean, she’s loyal and selfless when push comes to shove, but there’s a preoccupation with self that is more apparent with her, than with Da Ren. He’s always focused on her, and I think that’s one of the reasons so many of us find him to be quite the perfect boyfriend – but for his inability to say no to aggressive types like Maggie! 😆

      I love your thoughts on the parents, and how parents have to decide to let their children grow up by experiencing things for themselves. I’m not a parent myself, so this was a lovely bit of insight, for me. 🙂

      Yes, the last episode felt a bit all over the place, like they were trying to cram too much into too little time. But because everything leaned happy, I felt able to look past it and forgive Show. And yes, Uncle Bai was excellent! 🤩

  14. nneess

    Could I recommend All is well? Enjoyed the show, had mixed feelings about the drama’s ending, would love to read the book it is based on..

    1. kfangurl

      Hi there nneess! Thanks for the recommendation.. I’ve heard good things about All Is Well.. I’ve got it vaguely on my list, but because the list is really long, I might not get around to it so soon, I’m afraid. It’s good to know that you really liked it tho – I might bump it up the list a bit, thanks to you. 😉

  15. jcaraetlegaspi

    This is such a timely review as I am now watching the Jdrama remake version. It would be nice if you can also watch this Jdrama version so you can compare. The Japanese version of Daren is also adorable!! Its ongoing series though and on its 14th episode and i am so frustrated with their timing issue that i want to pull my hair out hahaha!!!

    I have not watched this version though and because of your review i will definitely do so!!

    1. kfangurl

      Aw, that’s great that you’re enjoying the J-version and also planning to give this original version some love! <3 I have to admit, I don't have immediate plans to check out the J-version. Not because of the show itself; I find that I often don't have the interest or patience to check out multiple versions of the same story. Maybe after a long break from this version, I might consider it, but for right now, I <3 Chen Bolin as Da Ren too much, and can't see myself accepting anyone else playing the character's equivalent. 😅

  16. joonminfan

    Love your review of this fabulous drama! I’ve watched it at least five times and Da Ren’s angst and heartbreak over You Qing never fails to make me cry. Anyway, during the proposal, Da Ren’s ring was actually the pop tab from the beer can of the Taiwanese beer that both of them are so fond of, and have shared so many of during their countless conversations. So sweet and apt!

    1. kfangurl

      Aw, thanks for enjoying this review, joonminfan! 🙂 This really is a drama that is worth the rewatch.. Da Ren just grabs my heart with his sincerity and selfless care. <3 Oh, thanks for clarifying that detail about the ring! I hadn't realized it was a beer can pop tab! That does add a very personal touch! 😀

  17. Carey Poon

    So glad you watched ITWY, I also found You Qing super relatable, and maybe even more so bc the leads’ relationship reminds me a lot of an actual relationship in my own life. I honestly stop watching TW dramas past the 2000’s, but there’s only 3 that are absolute classics in my books, and I’ve re-watched all of them numerous times and they still haven’t lost their magic.

    The other 2 TW dramas I recommend (2nd/3rd-ing above haha):
    – The Fierce Wife (super realistic – kinda feels like watching a train wreck in slow motion, but guts you in the best way)
    – Autumn’s Concerto (this is a VERY typical 2000’s romance drama, but still one of my faves bc of the leads’ chemistry & cute kid actor)

    Also second some 2019 Chinese dramas:
    – The Untamed (I’ve fallen in an absolute hole with this and can’t get out…. I’m not into BL so the censorship worked fine for me, but seriously, the leads’ chemistry is absolutely unreal, whether as a bromance or “bromance”)
    – Le Coupe de Foudre (definitely worth watching, if you can read Chinese, the original book is great too, it’s the authors memoirs of her marriage)
    – All Is Well (Very poignant and an interesting reflection of some deep-seated issues in Chinese society/families, definitely makes you think. Also produced by Daylight Entertainment who did the NIF series – would highly recommend literally every drama they make, they’re all insanely high quality. )
    – Longest Day in ChangAn (as someone mentioned above, unanimously agreed to be an amazing drama – technical, acting, plot, pacing)

    1. Owl Star

      I’m in the same Untamed hole with you. 😆

      I second Le Coup De Foudre and All Is Well, both very good.

      Longest Day in Chang An is high up there on my watch list, just waiting for subs to be all done.

    2. kfangurl

      Aw, thanks for enjoying the review Carey, I’m so pleased to know that ITWY is one of your favorites! It really is a gem of a drama, and I’m so glad that I finally got galvanized into checking it out. It really is such a relatable drama, and I can only imagine how much more it would have resonated with you, if you felt like you personally identify with the situation and relationship. Imma be so jealous of you, if you have a Li Da Ren of your own, lol. 😉

      Looks like I need to bump Fierce Wife and Autumn’s Concerto up my list, everyone seems unanimous in agreeing that these are the other two that are TW classics that are worth making time for! I’ve been overwhelmed with recommendations for The Untamed, so I think I will need to dip a toe in, just to see if it’s a show that works for me. Le Coupe de Foudre and Chang’an are higher up my list than All Is Well, but I’ve heard positive things about all 3. So many positive recommendations, so little time! 😄 I must count my blessings though.. this is a happy problem for a drama fan. Much better than the opposite scenario of a drama drought, with no good dramas to watch! 😆

    3. rainmakermelody

      Another vote for Le Coup de Foudre! I liked how comfortable it felt going with the characters through life, and I cried many times.

      Longest Day in Chang’An is on my watchlist also!

      1. kfangurl

        Wow. Seems like just about everyone is speaking well of Le Coup de Foudre! Looks like I need to bump it up the list now 😀 So many dramas bumped up, I don’t know what to do with ’em all! 😆

  18. Kate

    This is one of my favorites too. I’m so happy to read your review of this drama.

    Has anyone recommended you the Chinese drama Le Coup de Foudre yet?

    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Kate, thanks for enjoying this review! So pleased to hear that this is one of your favorites too! <3 I'm so glad to finally be on this train, even though I'm very, very late! 😅 And yes, Le Coup de Foudre's been suggested to me quite a few times, come to think of it. I need to bump it up my list, it does sound like something I'd enjoy! 🙂

  19. Usi

    Well, I never was a fan of this show. Watched it mostly FFW. It was too dragging and too much evenrything for me. I’m not romantic enough to understand the entire concept of this show. Go after what you want and when you can’t have it, search for a new love/dream. You surely will find it.

    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Usi, sounds like this isn’t your kind of show! 😉 I do agree with you, that sometimes you do need to search for a new dream. But this show did manage to make me feel that sometimes two people are just perfect for each other too. <3

  20. Dorotka

    I watched it when it aired!! Time flies…
    I don’t remember details anymore… but I do remember my love for Li Da Ren… and the frustrations as well 😆. I also remember how Maggie was annoying… and how I didn’t like the acting of the second male lead (also the cheating was a bit too easy way out?). Loved the soundtrack (Revolving Doors?).
    Japan is currently airing a remake, btw.

    And… I recommend Before We Get Married, a Taiwanese drama which after a long time I follow while it airs (well, currently two episodes behind). The first episodes are a bit questionable, but the dialogues are great (and so is the chemistry between Jasper Liu and Puff Kao 😊).

    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Dorotka! Time does fly indeed! I can totally understand why the details might be hazy, but I do so love that your love for Li Da Ren is still clear as day! 😀 I feel like my affection for Da Ren is going to haunt me for a long time to come, he’s such a sweetheart. <3 I heard about the Japan remake during my watch of the original.. I haven’t checked it out, but have heard mixed reactions. I’m unlikely to check it out myself – at least, anytime soon – coz I just generally don’t do super well watching multiple iterations of the same story. Also.. I can’t see anyone else in Da Ren’s role but Chen Bolin now! 😉

      I’ve had a few recommendations on Before We Get Married.. I actually watched E1 when it first premiered, but I found everything so dysfunctional in E1 that I didn’t go back to it. Now that I’m hearing that it settles after a few eps, I might give it another try. 🙂

  21. humbledaisy1

    I totally agree with the above recommendation of The Fierce Wife. It has a more dated feel to it but it just breaks me every time I re-watch it. Real feelings and real situations – including those inexplicable moments where someone’s actions break their own perfect life – and real consequences. Also – a fantastic soundtrack just like ITWY! Unlike the draggy Japanese remake of ITWY, The Fierce Wife has a great spot on Thai remake – Mia 2018 (Wife 2018) – that needs more people watching it. Have fun checking these all out!

    1. kfangurl

      Thanks for the endorsement of The Fierce Wife, humbledaisy! I’ve put it on my list. It does sound like the kind of story that I could potentially get into. 🙂

      The interesting thing about the J-remake of ITWY is, I keep hearing just varying reactions to it. Some find it draggy and lacking in emotional oomph, while others seem to be quite delighted by it. I’m intrigued.. but I doubt I’ll check it out anytime soon. Da Ren is irreplaceable for me, right now! <3

  22. Julianne Lin

    On another note, another slice-of-life very real oldie TW drama you might be interested in is A Good Wife. It’s also sometimes so real it’s a little frustrating because of character flaws, but OMG the feels are real and I love how empowering it is through the end. Roughly it’s about a failing marriage for numerous reasons. Yes part of it is cheating (i don’t think it’s a spoiler cuz it’s in the general synopsis I think) but more it’s about a woman who’s lost her self-identity and confidence while in this relationship and she finds that back for herself.

    Lmao also been watching Love and Destiny, Eagle Flag, and Go Go Squid btw. All good dramas in their own right but not spectacular? (For all that apparently the world thinks the main guy of L&D is “ugly and old” I’m legit thirsting so hard. The first time I’m attracted to an actor PURELY based on skill and charisma. He’s just so good in motion, ugh! Both leads a very good actors). Love and Destiny is good and imo worth watching for the acting of the leads AND because almost allll the supporting romances are incredibly rootable too, but it’s also not unanimously amazing and if your watching-momentum get cutoff it’s not so good that the obsession nags at you to continue (currently stuck 2/3 thru for the last month). Novaland Eagle Flag is something ive been anticipating for so long, but it has its flaws. Definitely not a flop per se like Tribes and Empires was, but while not unbearable draggy, it does have some pacing issues (almost too fast and abrupt in the beginning – possibly due to cutting eps for censorship, and on the draggier side 1/2 way thru). But I personally still find it engaging, the storyline isn’t as centered and focused as I’d like, a little messy, but I’m not overly bothered. Apparently a lot of the audience hate how weak and passive our main character is, but weird as it is I find him so amazing. He’s just so believably good (maybe a little to idealistic, but I truly believe he’s someone who believes his morals and will hold steadfast even as another might eventually grow jaded), there are times when I truly look at his sometimes idiotic actions in exasperation but at the end of the day look at this character and find his soul to be so incredibly beautiful. The second main lead is perhaps a more compelling hero for story purposes but I’m partial to our main hero’s soul. (I also hate how the international audience is pure-cruelty hating on the female just because it’s not your standard she-gets-with-the-main-guy just bc he likes her. Like guys, not reciprocating your friend’s crush doesn’t make you a b*tch and a slag, ok. Stop attacking her for dumb reasons.) but anyways, for all my love, it’s still a fairly flawed production that sadly isn’t doing as well as I’d hoped.
    Go Go Squid makes me squeal and that’s that. I was really meh about Ashes of Love, but Yang Zi freaking kills it as Tong Nian and for me she holds top spot EVER as female lead of a romantic idol drama. I also find male lead satisfyingly swoon-worthy. IMO very very very nice, but nothing incredibly groundbreaking hit-of-the-century.

    On another note…lmao surprise surprise I’m watching a kdrama Hotel Del Luna. I’ve decided after Mr. Ahjussi that I realy love IU as an actor. Very very much. And she’s SO COOL and slick and elegant in Hotel Del Luna! Sometimes I look at kdramas and lament the lack of variety in genres and plots and scripts in China. I just find the kdrama spectrum so so much broader and sometimes so much more creative, as much as I’m deeply marinating in the cdramaworld.

    1. Julianne Lin

      For drama rec tho, despite not having watched it myself, it is on my watch list, is Longest Day in Chang’an. Requires considerable concentration no matter the level of Chinese, but also unanimously agreed as amazing. Super high quality visuals, directing, camera work, lighting etc. Story is insanely compelling (it’s basically an anti-terrorist against the clock action mystery…set in Tang Dynasty lmao). Literally other than the comparatively weaker but very much improved acting and voicing of the youngest cast member, idol YiYang QianXi, literally no one has anything bad to say about it.

      Another drama rec would be Young Blood which is on the other end of the spectrum. Super low budget with a range of newbies and some veteran but daily unknown actors, but plot is very fast paced and engaging, and the cast chemistry between ALL six is so good you can literally choose at random and pair any 2 characters from the ensemble main cast and it will work.

      1. kfangurl

        Thanks for the recommendations, Julianne! Chang’an is firmly on my list, it sounds quite breathtaking and absolutely worth checking out. My mum started watching this then dropped out after a few eps because there was too much action for her taste, and in her view, not as much character development as she would’ve liked. I’ll be giving it a go myself soonish (I hope!), so let’s see where I land with this one! 😉

        As for Young Blood, I’m not usually one to seek out a show that’s known for being low-rent and full of newbie actors, but your endorsement on the cast chemistry has stirred my curiosity. It’s now on my list – not super high up, coz Chang’an needs to be checked out first (heh), but now I won’t forget! (Yes I have a literal list!)

    2. kfangurl

      Thanks for the recommendation on A Good Wife, I really like the sound of it. The fact that it’s about a mature woman’s search for self reminds me of how much I loved The First Half Of My Life, which kinda-sorta plays in the same pond. At the time, there were a number of people who asked me for more good dramas in a similar vein, and now I feel like maybe A Good Wife might fit the bill. I’ve dutifully put it on my list! 🙂

      Thanks for the input on Love and Destiny and Eagle Flag, I’ve got both on my list, and I’m so glad to hear that you very much approve the skill and charisma of Love and Destiny’s male lead! I’ve heard some of the comments about him being too old and not being handsome, but was going to give it a try anyway. It’s great to know that maybe he’s quite compelling after all! 😉 Dang, sorry to hear that Eagle Flag isn’t doing as well as hoped, and that people have been critical of the female lead’s actions. I’m also slightly dismayed to hear that it drags in the second half (why do so many C-dramas suffer from this!), but NIF2 made me hungry for more Liu Haoran on my screen, so I’ll be checking it out nonetheless! I just hope I like it enough to stick with it..! 😛

      I’m also surprisingly enjoying Go Go Squid, which I didn’t think I would. I’ve not done super well with many of China’s non-youthy rom-coms (I hated Well Intended Love, which so many loved), and this did take a while to settle for me, but I’m pleasantly surprised by how well I’m enjoying it now that I’m about 10 eps in. Like you said, it’s not earth-shakingly good, but, it’s way better than I expected, and it’s made me laugh out loud, and I’m a happy camper right now. 🙂

      Wow, I really am rather surprised that you’re loving Hotel Del Luna, especially since you rarely watch kdramas! I’ve been hesitating to check it out even though I did love IU in My Mister, and Yeo Jin Goo in Crowned Clown. I just have a patchy track record with the Hong sisters, and it’s been a while since I really strongly enjoyed any of their shows. Also, I’ve found that I like Yeo Jin Goo a lot more when he’s not playing a romantic love interest, so that adds to my hesitation. I’ve heard IU’s wardrobe is out of this world, so that and your enjoyment of the show might just be the thing to entice me to dip a toe in, at least! 😉

  23. Julianne Lin

    Yas! I loved this drama so much. It is probably the ONLY romance drama I will continue to come back to and rewatch from time to time. It’s so real and relatable yet still holds onto that dream and belief in “true love” whatever that may mean to different people. For all the cuteness and fluff of many a good romance idol drama these days, I’ve literally never seen another I like more or another that makes me believe in finding love more. I literally have nothing to add to what I think of this drama because you phrased all the gems of this drama so well.
    Honestly every time I feel like I need a good cathartic cry I watch ep 3 when DaRen’s comforting YouQing over Nic. It literally doesnt fail to make me bawl, every single time.

    1. kfangurl

      Ah, I’m so glad that you loved this one too, Julianne!! I’m super late to the party, but I loved this one for how true the emotional notes rang. And you’re so right, the magic really is in the fact that while this feels so real and relatable, it also make you believe in an almost magical true love, where two people are just made for each other. <3 And OMG I LOVED that scene where Da Ren rushes to You Qing to comfort her over Nic. So much tenderness and affirmation, mixed with the heart-to-heart ramblings. Da Ren’s words to You Qing about being her mirror made me tear up too. On the other end of the spectrum, that bit where You Qing almost kissed him – I nearly screamed, he was so ready to lean into it. Eee!!! 😍😍😍

  24. Timescout

    Ah, I remember checking this one out while it was airing but didn’t get far. I seem to recall I found the leading lady too frustrating, amongst other things. My fave romantic TW drama is still The Pursuit of Happines. It was rather slice-of-lifeish and has a great trio of girlfriends. The male lead is a sweety. 🙂

    1. kfangurl

      I can understand what you mean about the female lead coming across as rather frustrating.. I did find her frustrating too at times, but overall, I think Show did a nice job of balancing her out, so that her good points overshadowed the not-so-good. I wonder if you’d feel differently about it now, if you gave it another try.. 🤔 I thought this was really nicely done, in that both leads were flawed in their own ways (as wonderful as I find Da Ren, he did have his shortcomings too), and Show did a great job demonstrating why these two belonged together so much. <3

      I've still got The Pursuit of Happiness on my list! I guess that I'm now on a TW drama kick, I ought to bump it up the list! 😉

  25. haart

    Umm, it has been raining at my place for a few days; watching an oldie will be perfect. And I miss Taiwan so I will give it a try tonight. Thank you!

      1. haart

        Gosh, let me write this when the feelings from the show is still fresh after my weekend watching it.

        I love the show just as I expected because my taste is quite similar to you. There are a number of things to feel relatable about, most of them are quite personal. I hope you don’t mind.

        1. The romance. I love pure romance story! Haha sorry to all the recent shows that are trying to blend romance-action-thriller-etc all together. But I know that I only watch a show for the romance. With “In time with you”, I don’t need to fast forward many minutes which are about characters I don’t care about and corporate stuff. Almost any minute is about our main characters or a moment that will affect their decisions later. I found myself fast forwarding, but then I did’t understand something and had to rewind.

        2. The angst. I love a show with organic and relatable angst. So much from this show that I wished I could pat Da Ren’s hairs sometimes and tell him “You have worked hard”. But but but I still wish show could do better with plot development. The middle episodes feel a bit dragged. So much pain and tears, over and over again. And I also wish Da Ren would be brave enough to really tell You Qing face to face that he loves her. The airport farewell scene in around ep10 would be perfect if it’s real.

        3. The fanservice in final episode. So satisfying. They don’t really meet a lot during last episodes, and poor my soul, there is very limited skinship throughout the show. So the final episode makes up for us.

        4. The view about marriage. Gosh, I’m around the same age with main leads, so I understand the stress of trying to get marriage. My single girl friends are having the exact same thoughts about life and love as You Qing in the early episodes. Later in the show, it makes me look back at my own marriage. So many relateble thoughts and lessons.

        Thank you, @kfangurl and show for a wonderful ride. The story is good so I will forgive the 2011 fashion kk

        1. kfangurl

          Ahhh, I’m so glad that you enjoyed your watch so much, haart! 😀 ITWY is really good at bringing out the nuances of relationships between characters, and even during the middle episodes where you wished Da Ren was brave enough to just tell You Qing already, I could understand why he didn’t, and so I didn’t feel the drag as much as you did. And yes, Show really went all-out with the fanservice in the final episode – very likely to reward audiences after all the angst prior! 😉 So glad you enjoyed your weekend getaway with these two made-for-each-other lovebirds, in spite of the 2011 fashionnn. That did bring back some memories! 😉

          1. haart

            Someone counted that we are rewarded with 14 kisses in the final episode. Nothing to complain, really 🙂

            1. kfangurl

              OMG that’s hilarious that someone actually counted, and WOW that there were actually 14 kisses in a single episode! That must be some kind of drama record! 😆

              1. haart

                This show (maybe because it’s an oldie) reminds me a lot of Reply 1997. R1997 is currently somewhere among my Top 3 favorite K-dramas. And I have to say that ITWY is ranked somewhere very near to that. Maybe it’s the same story of best friends falling in love. But mostly I think because the storytelling method and metaphors were used wisely and beautifully, with past and present seamlessly blent together.

                And I just can’t escape that “I won’t love you” theme song, got it replayed so many times.

                1. kfangurl

                  I didn’t realize the similarity between ITWY and R97 – thanks for pointing that out, haart! 😀 Yes, it does have a similar besties falling in love narrative, and the blending of past and present was well done too. 🙂 Also, I’m sorry this reply comes so late – I’ve been lost in a maze of comments after getting busy, then answering in random spurts. I promptly got lost and had to find my way back to ya! <3

  26. Owl Star

    An oldie but goodie! I watched this ages ago, honestly don’t remember too much except that it was pretty good. I’m glad it has aged well and is still watchable. I tried re-watching Autumn’s Concerto which is another old TW drama I remembered liking but couldn’t even get through the first few eps.

    Off topic but I just recently finished watching The Untamed and it was really really good! I only started watching out of curiosity due to the high ratings and ended up binge-watching the whole thing in a few days. I’m not really a fan of xianxia as a genre (have not truly liked any of them except for 3L3W), and have never seen a BL drama (still not 100% sure what it stands for 😝). But give me a cold male lead coupled with Ye Hua’s voice actor and I knew this was going to click for me. 😍 There was almost zero skinship due to censorship but omg the chemistry was sizzling! The leads were pretty perfect for their roles, and also pretty enough to distract me from the usual bad CGI. 😆 I honestly can’t watch Chinese dramas without fast-fowarding these days, but barely touched the FF button with this one. I love reading your insights and kind of want you to watch so I can see what you think of it!

    1. Timescout

      Another vote for The Untamed here. 🙂 I really, really liked the drama and enjoyed the story even though I basically knew the plot already as I’d seen the S1 of the donghua and read most of the novel. I’m glad the drama turned out to be a pretty faithful adaptation, bar the BL (= boys love) part of it, which wasn’t a big loss for me anyways. I’m not generally too hot on xianxia either (I prefer wuxia, with or without fantasy elements) and hardly ever manage to finish those I try. 3L3W was a notable exception for me too. 😀

      1. Owl Star

        I’m kind of in withdrawal right now so actually started reading the novel. So far it seems the drama really stuck pretty close to the novel, just like 3L3W (or so I heard)… probably one of the reasons why they both turned out so good. Eye candy can only take you so far (although in same cases *ahem* Mark Chao *ahem* quite far 😍).

        1. kfangurl

          Butting in to say: aw, hey now, Mark Chao wasn’t just coasting the pretty (tho he IS so very lovely to look at!).. I thought he did a great job in 3L3W! 😀

      2. kfangurl

        I’d like to ask, do you think that being an existing fan of the story helped you enjoy the drama more? I’m asking because my sister tried watching The Untamed but couldn’t get into it. She also felt that the two leads paled in comparison to Bai Yu and Zhu Yilong in Guardian. I’m on the fence about whether to check it out, because the reactions I’m hearing are quite divided.. You and Owl Star really like it, and my sister cannot stop panning it! 😆

        1. Timescout

          Hmmm… I’m pretty sure I would have liked The Untamed even without knowing the story. What it did do though, was help me navigate the first fiew episodes withouth getting bogged down with all the character introductions and then the shift of timeline from drama’s ‘present’ to past at the end of ep 2. I already knew we were going to spend some time getting the skinny on what happened 16 years earlier and how everyone got to the point where they are now. The past is very important going forward with the story.

          What I’ve garnered from reading other people’s thoughts on the drama, is that once you do get past the hurdle of the first few episodes, you are more than likely to keep going. 🙂

          The leads are very new to acting so it’s no wonder your sister thought Bai Yu and Zhu Yilong are much better, because they are. At this point anyway. But as it is, I couldn’t imagine anyone else palying the leads now. Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo ARE Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji. As the episode passed and the boys got more comfortable in their roles, their acting got markedly better. And the chemistry is undeniable. The boys truly are BFF and boyond. 😀 AvenueX did a very good (non spoilery) breakdown of the drama in terms of what it lacks and what is good about it, in her final review of Untamed @ YT. It pretty much explains why I throughly enjoyed the drama despite of it’s obvious flaws.

          1. kfangurl

            Thanks Timescout! I’m not into reading the novels, but just that awareness of where to expect the story to go, especially delving into the past in the beginning, and that it settles several eps in, does help. I do love me a good bromance, though I’m not familiar with or into the BL realm. I will take your advice and check out Avenue X’s review of the show. Thanks! <3

        2. Julianne Lin

          On Untamed, me having read the originals actually counts against the adaptation for me. Not because it’s a bad adaptation, but purely because of my own bias. I was aware of the fandom a long time ago, and have listened to the audiobook, radiodrama, watched the animation, read the Chinese raws of the novel. Honestly I’ve grown incredibly weary of new media forms getting pushed out for this same story every single year, plus the fact that as an avid Chinese bl reader, I personally find the story and author a bit overrated for its corresponding fame and love from fans.

          So me not getting past ep 1 of Untamed comes from a place of personal bias, and also feeling like the characters and actors were on the tad awkward side for me. Yeah, in the beginning of ep1 I found the Untamed to be a bit awkward, with one lead overacting a bit and one lead very stiff.
          I’ve also heard unanimously that the Untamed gets REALLY good between ep 10-15 ish (13 for my own sister), because the leads fall into their roles very very well and the chemistry spikes considerably.

          So I still want to give this story and fandom a little break for myself, but I still have it on my list to give it a second chance and at least push past ep 13.

          1. kfangurl

            It does sound like a break from the story and fandom would be the better way to approach this one, for you.. I personally don’t have a lot of interest in franchises that redo the same story over and over, like the Mischievous Kiss franchise. So I can imagine how you might feel rather burned out from this story being done so many times in so many various media forms. 😅 Thanks for the tip about E10-15, it’s good to know that that’s what I’m aiming for. Once again, the curious cat in me wants to know why everyone loves The Untamed as much as they do, it looks like I will be checking this one out at some point! 😆

            1. Julianne

              🙂 Based on what I’ve heard from reactions and even my sister who really doesn’t watch much bromance stuff, Untamed is just pretty all around good. The plot and pacing are good and follow very closely to the novel, the visuals are very on point, the script preserved the most iconic quotes from the novel. The chemistry is supposed to be off the charts (past ep 10, once the actors really got into it), and while I wouldn’t necessarily say either of them are the best actors, for such inexperienced actors they’re VERY good and most importantly, fit the role incredibly well. I’ve heard from multiple people, that the romance (bromance) is very very tastefully done. The subtext and scripting, what the crew slides in there, is very very clear and good that yes they’re a couple and they like each other, no wondering needed by the audience. YET it’s never never explicitly stated anywhere and if you want to be very much in denial you can totally convince a lot of people they’re just very good friends. It’s a lot more elegant and understated than the novel (that honestly sometimes went a little campy and overboard with the fan-service), which fits the more somber and ancient setting a lot better actually. The script toes the line very well between bromance and “bromance” and didn’t get like, censored lmao. All this from my sister, also echoed by a AvenueX and many online friends LMAO.

              Randomly, on another note on BL censorship in China, I’d like to point out that it’s not about “progressive sexual identity and relationships”. Nowhere in Chinese cultural history is there anything really condemning about gay relationships beyond, “I want my family name to be continued so have babies everyone”. China is freaking out about BL censorship not for the same “doom and gloom, fire and brimstone if you marry your own sex” that plagues western civilization, but because it opens the doors for uncontrolled social opinions and voicing. Which, is kinda textbook for a communist government to freak out about. Open gay entertainment and media is going to happen in China eventually, they’re honestly just trying to control the people and the public opinions. Which is the why China isn’t just censoring BL but also themes that “may influence the public” and basically “give people ideas” (lmao) like time travel, transmigration, etc. It’s about politics and control, not “traditional views against progressive social identity”. Just wanted to say that somewhere bc sometimes I read really ridiculous comments and proclamations online and today was just one of those frustrating days. And this isn’t just a personal opinion, it’s academic.

              1. kfangurl

                Thanks for the further insight into The Untamed, Julianne! It does sound like a very solid show, the way your sister describes it. I will go look for Avenue X’s video on the show, to understand more about it too. Also, thanks lots for that insight into BL censorship in China! That really is a key difference between the thinking behind this censorship in China, and the way the same issue is treated in the west. I feel like your sharing will help to enlighten and provide insight to other readers who visit this page. Thanks for that! <3

            2. drawde2000

              I wasn’t planning on watching The Untamed, but the glowing reviews were hard to resist.

              I saw Avenue X’s initial review firsr, and did say the story got interesting for her around Ep 10-15. So, I watch the drama begining with those episodes or maybe even ep 12. It turned out to be a great thing for me, as I had no idea what was about to happen in future episodes. Because Ep1 and 2 basically gave the spoilers already.

              After finishing Ep 12 thru middle of 33, I went back to Ep1 and 2. Then continue Ep 33 thru 50. To me, that’s how the story should have been told.

              For me, the strongest parts were between Ep 12 thru 33, because it was straightforward and concise. The other episodes just felt it was a different time and place for me. It wasn’t in sync.
              Still, I enjoyed the drama. The acting of the two leads were wonderful and fit their characters very well. Other characters also had their own complete arcs. But it was the the story of the two leads that kept me going for more.

    2. kfangurl

      Aw, glad you have fond memories of this one, Owl Star! 😀 Actually, I do wonder if I would have liked this show as much, if I’d watched it way back in 2011 when it first aired. 🤔 My drama taste has definitely evolved since then, and I’m much more appreciative now of shows that take the time to tease out the character development, and put care into showing faceted characters and relationships. I think back in 2011, I was still relatively newish to dramas (well, if you count 4 years newish), and I think I might not have managed to love this one quite so much, and would likely have had less patience with it, if I’d watched it back then. In this way, I’m actually pleased that I’m late to this party! 😉

      That’s really interesting that you loved The Untamed without having first been a fan of the novel. My sis attempted the show but didn’t like it and said that fans of the novel would be more likely to enjoy it. I usually don’t do well with xianxia either, and my last few attempts have mostly crashed and burned. Everyone LOVED Ashes of Love, but for me it was just meh. 😝 But.. Your experience makes me think that maybe it’s worth giving it a shot. 😅

      1. Owl Star

        Do temper your expectations, I think that’s the key. I went in knowing absolutely zero about it except that it was highly rated and based on a BL novel, and I was so pleasantly surprised. I agree with what’s been said before regarding the first episodes being pretty terrible, but I usually try to give each show a good number of episodes to find its footing before dropping, especially ones that requires world building (even my HG 3L3W took a bunch of episodes before I was hooked), and I’m so glad I did! I watched this on Viki and I think having the comments on during the first few episodes helped keep my interest, because honestly the first few episodes were not really my cup of tea (xianxia/zombies, bad CGI, green actors, etc). Please please try to make it to at least the end of ep 13 before you make a judgement, I think that was the turning point for me. Their “bromance” is one of the best and most convincing I’ve seen in recent history, and I’m still in awe of how the show/actors managed to pull it off and do it so well despite all the limitations of censorship.

        1. kfangurl

          That’s a great tip, Owl Star! Maybe I should watch the show on Viki – at least for a while. I do agree that some time is needed for world-building. It was only really hooked on 3L3W in the tween eps, and I ended up loving that one a lot. <3 Thanks dear 😘

  27. rainmakermelody

    So glad to see this review! It’s been on my watchlist for a while but never got around to it because the synopsis seemed.. meh? And TW dramas tend to me a hit or miss for me.
    On a related note, I noticed you put another TW drama on your watching list, Meet Me @ 1006. I want to say I really enjoyed that show, and the main leads’ chemistry especially (even made me watch Love at Seventeen, their prior collab). Another TW drama I’m hooked on right now (finale airs today I believe) is Before We Get Married. It reminds me a bit of slice of life and relationship issues like The First Half of My Life (which for the record was only on my watchlist partly because I like Jin Dong, but mostly because of your raving review, and I just finished bringing it and loved it), but I will say it does have more comedy in it imo.
    I only stumbled across your blog about a year ago, but I thoroughly enjoy reading all your reviews after watching a show because there might be small nuances I never pick up on. Or you articulate a re ason I just don’t like a show. Appreciate all the work! Sorry for the rambles, it’s a bit late now and I stayed up to finish up The First Half of My Life hehe.
    (Unrelated but also saw you dropped Guardian a while back. Tbh I didn’t even know about the whole cult fandom and novel but watched it for Bai Yu. I will admit, I fell asleep the first few eps because it seemed boring, but it was the only show I’d downloaded for my trip. I think it was after ep 7 or so that it stopped being like CSI with a case per episode and more of the overarching plotline. Not sure if you’d ever try watching again, but this show made me appreciate the two male leads).

    1. kfangurl

      Hi there rainmakermelody! Thanks for enjoying the blog, and thanks for your encouragement – it’s always lovely to feel appreciated. <3

      TW dramas tend to be hit or miss for me as well.. but this came so highly recommended that it gave me the confidence to jump in, and I ended up loving it, so I hope this review will do the same for you! 😀 Great to hear that you enjoyed Meet Me @ 1006! I'm just 3 eps in at the moment, but the story is starting to settle, I think, and I'm enjoying it reasonably well.

      I tried the first ep of Before We Got Married, and I'm so surprised to see you compare it to First Half Of My Life, since they look like such different shows to me! I'm intrigued. (Also, YAY that you loved First Half Of My Life, it's just SO GOOD, isn't it?? 😄) I think I'll give Before We Got Married another try. I wasn't feeling it after E1; everything just felt too dysfunctional for my taste, and I didn't appreciate the male lead detaining the female lead against her will. That unnerved me, I must say. 😛

      As for Guardian.. at the moment I highly doubt I'll give it another try. I watched a few eps of it, and it was just not grabbing me. I couldn't see the chemistry between the leads that everyone was raving about, which made me think that I possibly never would. But I have come to appreciate both Bai Yu and Zhu Yilong separately, in Suddenly This Summer and The Story of Ming Lan. 🙂

      1. rainmakermelody

        Ah sorry! My sleep-deprived brain did not edit well enough. I might request you erase that comment from your memory oops. I would say Before We Get Married forces viewers to examine relationships and whether people are together for the sake of being together. However, it delves more into the reasons why people may cheat. I will admit, I don’t think it’s THAT similar (it’s probably not even close LMAO forgive me), but it’s that underlying groundwork. It’s definitely a lot shorter and characters can be more irritating than those in First Half of My Life, which I guess makes it easier to see why people support the two main leads together? Yeah, the male is pretty forceful in the beginning and his attitude rubbed me at times, but I stuck through for Jasper. Side characters can be irritating. I don’t want to set expectations that high! I also think because it’s a lot shorter, you don’t see the slow building of romance or as many hints, but you do see SOME character development. It’s definitely there in BWGM but condensed in 13 eps. I usually wait until shows finish airing before I start a show, but I just had to figure out why a TWdrama had SUCH high ratings on Viki. But as something that’s a more mature topic that makes me think when I’m in a mood, both shows filled that void and made my heart HURT. However, we could have different outlooks, so you might not like it!

        For Guardian, I definitely saw the lead bromance in later episodes, but I really do enjoy the show’s OST!

        1. kfangurl

          Aw, no worries.. thanks for clarifying. 🙂 Thoughtful exploration is always a plus in my books. And it sounds like the male lead character becomes less forceful and domineering after the initial episodes. That did put me off quite a bit, in E1, I have to admit. 😛 I realize that over time, I’ve become much less tolerant of rude, unreasonable and forceful male leads in my dramas. So knowing that this eases up in later episodes does help, thanks. 🙂

          If I end up like The Untamed, I might give Guardian another try, since my sis tells me that the leads’ chemistry and delivery in Guardian is much stronger than in The Untamed. Knowing that you only saw the connection later helps as well. 🙂 I did hear that the final eps of Guardian were disappointing. Did you feel the same?

          1. rainmakermelody

            After seeing through my fair share of dramas and evolving my tastes, I can tolerate those domineering characters to a certain degree. I’m not overly picky, but I can understand how people interpret actions differently. I don’t know if I feel his behavior in the first… 4 eps were really explained well but it seemed to be that “I changed after meeting you” explanation imo. The ending did leave some points unexplained and some character actions/turnarounds were intense, but it did also bring some focus on improving yourself first to ask what you want/discover who you are.

            Oh gosh, I don’t know if they were disappointing, but I was frustrated at some parts (mainly villains, sometimes main character actions), and I was just so emotionally wrecked that I almost couldn’t deal Guardian in the end. I don’t think the eps leading up to the finale were bad, but I felt confused? I personally think that I needed more explanations, but maybe it was so close to the end that I just suspended all thinking and just watched. It almost felt like the writers had more episodes planned to flesh out explanations a bit more but suddenly they were cut down and then we get choppy, half-baked explanations for some actions (or you honestly just forget about it and leave it be). I watched for the bromance, and that’s what made me feel emotions. A bit of the ending eps also made me ask wtf is happening, like they were trying to give supporting characters some screentime too (I’m not making sense again am I). I can def say if you don’t like open endings, it won’t satisfy you, but apparently some people say it’s related to some sort of timeline loop thing from the book. I watched the last few minutes of the finale three times because I was sad to say goodbye to the characters :'( Basically I even watched some interviews of the two actors after I finished the show, and I rarely, if ever, do that. I would watch a compilation and timeline of the main leads.

            I’ve been switching back and forth between kdramas and cdramas on my watchlist, but I’m back to work now so I have less time for dramas 🙁 I have Longest Day in Chang’an and The Untamed on my watchlist. I actually saw a few eps of Love and Destiny with my mom, and the cinematography and production values look very good based on a few snippets. Even though I jumped in during random eps, I still was interested for that duration at least! Excited to watch for your updates 🙂

            1. kfangurl

              Hm.. Okayyy.. I’m less taken with the “I changed because of you” trope now compared to before, but I’ll take it if it means that he changes over the course of the show, coz I didn’t like him much at all from what I saw in E1. 😛 On Guardian, I guess if you’re very invested in the show then it’s easier to forgive any missteps Show might make towards the end. My sis did love Guardian herself, but she still heartily pans the last few episodes 😅 This, even though she did take pains to read the book. 😛 I guess I’ll find out for myself – if I ever get there! 😅

              I’ve got Chang’an high on my list, but am also now curious about Love and Destiny and The Untamed. I can’t promise I’ll get to watch all of those anytime soon coz my drama plate feels quite full, like, ALL the time. But when I get there, you’ll hear about it here! 😉


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