THE SHORT VERDICT:
A show that’s light, breezy and really rather slurpable, with a nice handful of thoughtful nuggets thrown in for good measure, Find Yourself might not be the kind of Amazing Drama that shifts the world under your feet, but it just might be the comfort food marathon that you need.
With a rather charming noona romance at its center, and endearing friends and family to round it out, this drama world feels a little bit like a family drama with romcom leanings. Our noona romance starts off pretty heady and cracky, but eventually gives way to an emphasis on soul-searching and finding your own truth. In the end, this gives us a story that feels nicely balanced, I think.
Even though the fangirl in me would’ve loved to have stayed in heady, cracky territory, the comparatively more muted later stretch, allowing our characters space to figure themselves out, is what makes this story and our characters feel more real than fairytale. And, who doesn’t need a down-to-earth fairytale right now, right?
PS: Did I mention there are cute pups in this show? And that they make repeated appearances? <3
THE LONG VERDICT:
In terms of tone and vibe, Find Yourself reminds me a lot of My ID is Gangnam Beauty, in the best way.
Here’s what I mean, in a nutshell.
Both shows are a little rough around the edges. Both dramas feature lead actors whose acting ranges lean a touch limited, but who both manage to deliver the smolder, and share more than decent chemistry with their respective leading ladies. Both shows are romance-centric, and are slurpably cracky in their first half, and then become comparatively more muted in their second halves. Both shows serve up angst in their second halves, but in both cases, the angst is more bark than actual bite. Both are heartfelt stories at their core, and despite their light, romantic leanings, manage to also be thoughtful and make philosophical statements, in the course of telling their stories.
I’d venture to say that if you like one show, you’re quite likely to enjoy the other, provided you’re ok with noona romances (in the case of Find Yourself) &/or campus romances (in the case of My ID is Gangnam Beauty).
OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
There are only a small handful of tracks on the breezy OST, so if you’d like to listen to them through the whole review, you can right click on this YouTube video, and select the “Loop” option. Dontcha love technology? 😉
STUFF I LIKED
Victoria Song / Song Qian as Fanxing
To be honest, when I first realized that Victoria Song was this show’s female lead, I was.. hm, neutral-tending-meh about it, because the only other thing I’d seen her in, was 2018’s Moonshine and Valentine, which I’d failed to love, despite the general positive buzz that that show had enjoyed. I thought Victoria was decent in it, but her performance hadn’t been anything to write home about, I thought, and the writing around her character, and the writing of the drama overall, just didn’t help.
In a happy turnaround, I’m pleased to report that I found Victoria very likable as our protagonist Fanxing, and easy to root for as well. Because a great deal of this story is from Fanxing’s point of view, I think it’s pretty key that we find Fanxing sympathetic and understandable, even if we might not always relate to her struggles. To that end, I thought Show did an excellent job, because I felt like I generally had a good idea of how Fanxing felt and why she might choose to make certain decisions, even if I didn’t exactly support a particular decision.
Victoria delivers Fanxing with heart, and so I found it very easy to look past any rough edges in her performance. I found that I enjoyed Fanxing very well as a character, and a good chunk of that is due to Victoria’s personal charm. I do think that it’s because of Victoria’s delivery, that I was able to buy into the almost childlike innocence that is at the core of Fanxing’s characterization. I was also pleased that I immediately found Fanxing to be kind, understanding, patient, helpful and loyal. There’s also a gracefulness about her that I really like.
E1. Even though Fanxing’s just had her romantic hopes crushed by her clueless longtime friend-tending-potential-love-interest, she agrees to be the bridesmaid at his wedding. That’s very generous and loyal. And then, I love that she pep talks herself that never mind what other people say, it’s ok for her to dream of a wonderful love and not settle for less, even at age 32. A woman who isn’t easy to get down, and who doesn’t need someone else to lift her spirits coz she’s capable of lifting her own spirits. I like that.
E2. I like Fanxing as a character; she’s principled and tries her best to be upright. Even when she doesn’t remember the drunken promise she made to Yuan Song (Song Wei Long), she agrees to keep the promise. And, even though she’s really embarrassed about her drunken behavior when she’d had drinks with him, she pep talks herself, sucks it up, and tells him that it shouldn’t be a big deal. Girl has a steely quality about her, even though she’s soft-spoken and pleasant to a fault. And she won’t let Director Ye (David Wang / Wang Yao Qing) intimidate her whether it’s at work, or about his lost dog. I like her.
E3. I like Fanxing’s rationale. Everyone else thinks that at age 32, she should think more practically, and not bother so much with things like feelings and whether her heart races. But from her point of view, at age 32, she’s financially independent, and doesn’t need to depend on a man to take care of her, and therefore doesn’t have to choose “bread” over love. She can afford to take care of herself, and therefore, she can afford to prioritize things like feelings and whether she likes someone, and whether he makes her heart race. Really nicely put!
Also, I like the way she shuts down Li Haomiao’s (Mao Yi) attempt to set her up with his wife’s cousin. She’s blunt and firm, but reasonable and not unkind. “No one can criticize you for how you love your wife, but you can’t expect us all to love your wife the same way, since she’s not everyone’s wife, right?” You tell him, girl.
E7. I like the way Fanxing handles the disciplinary conversation with her pregnant co-worker with a firm hand, but speaks with objectivity mixed with compassion and empathy. She manages to discipline the co-worker using only facts, draws the line between speaking about the issue at hand, and giving advice to her on how to solve it – she leaves it to the discretion of the co-worker. And, she exercises grace, by giving the co-worker a second chance to prove her mettle and attitude. I like that.
E10. I like that Fanxing doesn’t let Cong Xiao (Katherine Yang / Yang Zhi Ying) continue in her cold shoulder ways, and grabs her for lunch, sits her down, and has it out with her in a frank conversation. That’s so much healthier than letting things fester.
E19. I rather enjoy the fact that Fanxing just happens to be really, really good at badminton and pool; enough to make Luming’s jaw drop to the floor. She’s not just her work, nor just a pretty face. She can cream you if she wanted to, both on the badminton court, and at the pool table.
E29. Again, we see what Fanxing’s made of. When Yuan Song apologizes for not telling her about his family background earlier, she is understanding and extremely reasonable, and gentle too, while she’s at it. How gracious, that she recognizes she didn’t keep it from her on purpose, and that it just never came up, and that now he feels awkward about revealing it to the office gang. She even tells him that it’s ok, and that he doesn’t have to tell the office gang about it. How sweet is she?
E34. Fanxing leaving her job so that the single place at Aijia can be given to Xiao Bai (Peng Na Qi), is so typical of her. She’d rather take care of a friend, than put herself first.
E34. Yuan Song’s upset reaction at the news that Fanxing is leaving is understandable, since her departure will mean that he’ll hardly see her anymore. Plus, Fanxing putting on a brave, genial smile and telling him that he’ll meet someone more suitable, is totally what he wouldn’t want to hear right now.
In this way, Fanxing often seems very disconnected from how the men in her life feel. She seems to downplay Yuan Song’s angst over her departure, though I can rationalize that she feels it’s what’s best for him in the long run. And, she seems oblivious to Luming’s growing unease at the distance in their relationship. She cheerfully promises to work hard to fall deeply in love with him, while he winces at the her brightly proclaimed “work hard,” since it’s just deflating for the person you like to have to work hard to like you back – and not even seem to succeed at all, really.
Song Wei Long as Yuan Song
This was my introduction to Song Wei Long, and overall, I do think that he did a decently solid job of the role of Yuan Song.
Here’s what I think of Song Wei Long, in a nutshell. In the more difficult emotional scenes, his acting limitations become more noticeable, but he’s handsome, does the swoony, melty gaze very well, AND, importantly – since this is a romance-centric story after all – he kisses like he means it. Which, ahem, works out very well, I say. He really brings it, when the swoony-smoldery quotient is required, and so in my head, the pluses more than made up for the rough edges.
Because Fanxing is our true protagonist, and much of the story is told from her perspective, I find that I have fewer observations about Yuan Song. There’s a whole bunch more in the OTP section, because he often shows up more, and has more of a presence, when viewed in relation to Fanxing. For now, here’re just a few thoughts I had about Yuan Song, during the course of my watch.
E1. I do have to say that I’m not very impressed with how Yuan Song takes advantage of the fact that he’s a family friend, to sass Fanxing at work. That doesn’t seem very professional at all.
E18. I like what Yuan Song says to Minmin (Esther Yu / Yu Shu Xin), when he realizes that she sees herself as his spare tire. “Don’t be a spare tire or god-sister. If you compromise because the other person has other choices, you’ll hate yourself when you look back from the future.” Such wise and freeing words, so kindly spoken. Yes girl, don’t settle. And, nicely done, Yuan Song.
E27. Yuan Song’s digs at Luming make him appear very childish, but when I think about it, his petty attempts at unsettling Luming are no more childish than Luming’s own petty behavior. I guess it’s because Yuan Song is young, so the childish behavior makes him appear even younger? Unfortunately, this is something I have to actively remind myself about.
E29. Knowing that Yuan Song’s the son of Aijia’s bosses, makes him suddenly appear even younger to my eyes, because now Fanxing doesn’t just like her brother’s student, she likes a peer’s son. Eep.
David Wang / Wang Yao Qing as Luming
I feel like I experienced a whole spectrum of feelings towards Luming as a character. Kudos to David Wang for making all the facets of Luming pop, which is no small task.
At first glance, I found Luming intriguing, because he appeared like he might be a good match for Fanxing, being more age appropriate, and quite distinguished looking. But, with Show having Luming misunderstand Fanxing so much in our initial episodes, and being so aggressively brusque about it, I hastily changed my mind and decided that he was quite unpleasant after all.
BUT THEN. David Wang totally hams it up as Luming, making him weirdly theatrical rather than actually evil, with his scheme to mis-counsel Fanxing into ruining things with her younger man, that I found him funny and ridiculous and impossible to hate, even though I still found him annoying.
Also, shout-out to Luming’s imagined meeting in episode 12, of Fanxing and Yuan Song as aunt and nephew-in-law; it’s so OTT makjang, it’s hilarious. Bonus points for him stabbing everyone in the scene with a fork too, lol.
As we get deeper into our story, and as Luming starts to show a little more of his serious side, he says things that are plaintive and poignant, and I can’t help feeling for him. For example, in episode 30, when he reminisces about the past and why he’d wanted to get married, even as a high school senior, he does come across as quite poignant and thoughtful, and much more relatable and likable as well.
To David Wang’s credit, he delivers on all of these varied fronts with aplomb. My favorite bits, though, are when he hams it up for the camera. Like that sequence of Luming in episode 26, living it up, dancing while vacuuming and getting ready for his date at the same time, full of glee and anticipation as he preens in front of the mirror, which is just gold.
Zhang Yu Jian as Canyang
I just wanted to say that I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying Zhang Yu Jian as Canyang. I was immediately amused to find his character here so different from the one he plays in Le Coup de Foudre (which I’m currently stalled on, but have vague good intentions of going back to). In Le Coup de Foudre, Zhang Yu Jian plays such a reserved, proper, stiff sort of character, that it was funny just seeing him be Fanxing’s uninhibited layabout younger twin brother, who just happens to be gainfully employed as an art professor.
For all of Canyang’s cheeky, annoying ways, he does have a good heart, and cares a lot for the people who are near and dear to him. I was pleasantly surprised by how fond I’d grown of him, by the time I got to the end of our story.
Esther Yu / Yu Shu Xin as Minmin
Similar to how Canyang as a character kind of crept up on me, I was also pleasantly surprised by how endearing I found Minmin, in the end.
At first glance, Minmin is just a flighty airhead who thinks nothing is more important in life than pursuing romance in her life, but Show does a nice job demonstrating that Minmin has a lot more heart and substance than she first lets on.
[SPOILER ALERT] For example, my heart couldn’t help but go out to Minmin in episode 7, when she holds it in and puts up a chipper, brave front when Yuan Song rejects her, and then starts crying on the bus, the moment he’s out of sight and can’t see her tears. Aw. I feel you, girl.
And then in episode 33, when Minmin finally gets a taste of hard work and the value of money, credit to her, that she apologizes to Luming and asks for punishment. And then when he gruffly dismisses her, she gives him the money that she’d earned, sincerely promising to buy him something nice when she’s able to earn more. Sweet. [END SPOILER]
Also, it occurs to me that Esther Yu kinda-sorta has a similar vibe to Yoo In Na, in this role, which I mean in the best way.
The OTP relationship
This OTP relationship makes up the bulk of our story and focus, and I’m happy to say that this pairing worked for me very well.
First of all, I feel that Song Wei Long and Victoria Song share a chemistry that feels believable and sparky. This is most apparent when our OTP gets up-close-and-personal and smoochy, which is pretty key, when the central narrative in your drama world is a romantic one. Song Wei Long might show more acting weaknesses than I prefer to see, but like I mentioned earlier, boy kisses like he means it, and the way he handles his leading lady is gentle, yet deft and unabashed. This contributed a big chunk of this OTP’s crack factor, and I need to give credit where credit’s due: Song Wei Long knows how to bring the swoon. 😉 As a bonus, Show wastes no time at all, in getting us to the giddy, swoony bits.
Secondly, I feel that the OTP relationship is handled in a way that makes this connection believable. If you’ve seen a couple of noona romances, you’d likely have noticed that typically, it all starts with heady crackiness, before reality hits, and our main couple needs to actually navigate the real world and what their relationship means, in the midst of it all. How a show manages this can make or break how I feel about it, as a whole. If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you probably already know how I felt that went down in Something in the Rain: ie, not well. The initial heady stretch was great, but I didn’t think Show did a good job of helping our characters navigate their real-world context.
However, I’m pleased to report that this show does a nice job of it. Beyond the initial giddy romance, our lead couple does a fair amount of learning and growing, and by the time they get their happy ever after – which is not a spoiler, since this is a rom-com and you know that this just isn’t the kind of show to not give them a happy ending – I felt more confident in their relationship and their future together.
Here’s a map of this OTP’s journey, with my thoughts and reactions along the way.
E1. Show is pretty efficient, and we get the context quite quickly, which I appreciate. I can see why Yuan Song would feel more daring in talking to his boss Fanxing, because he’s a family friend, and not just a random intern. And so whenever the boundaries between boss and employee are blurred, I find it easy to look past it, by categorizing it in my head as something that they’re relating to each other on a personal level. Like the massage scene, where Yuan Song is massaging Fanxing’s waist. It looks very cozy and suggestive, and I would frown on any boss and employee getting that up close and personal, but because he’s a family friend, I find it much easier to accept, like, ah, right now he’s not being her intern, he’s being her friend.
E2. I like that Yuan Song is the one crushing on Fanxing. I feel like the hyperawareness and hyperproximity are well done. I can believe that in those situations, he’d feel.. things, and his efforts to stay calm are played nicely too. A slight swallow; his hand grasping at his own thigh to steady himself; it works without being too much. It’s not too exaggerated; just enough to let me know that he’s definitely feeling something out of the ordinary for her in the moment, and is blindsided by it. And I like that beyond those moments of physical nearness, he does seem to be very interested in her as a whole, all of a sudden. He wants to spend time with her, and beelines after her when she leaves the office. This unabashed demonstration of interest makes me quite happy, even though he’s couching it as a fake relationship where they just walk their dogs together to throw off an admirer that he has. The way he looks at Fanxing can be quite sensuous at times. Nice.
E3. Yuan Song is starting to look at Fanxing with hearts in his eyes, and I dig it. He does do the smitten gaze quite nicely, and I’m eager to see more.
E3. I loved the scene when Yuan Song interrupts Fanxing’s conversation with Li Haomiao, where he’s pressuring her to go on a blind date with his wife’s cousin, and swings right into boyfriend mode. His ease around Fanxing comes in handy, because he really does come across quite convincingly as a slightly disapproving, jealous boyfriend. Li Haomiao’s shocked reaction is quite satisfying to watch, and I love how Fanxing slips into role quite easily, and plays along.
E3. Yuan Song has a habit of patting Fanxing on the head which could be seen as annoying and overstepping his boundaries, but he does it so affectionately, that I actually find it more endearing than annoying. The affection in his gaze helps too, on that point.
E3. Yuan Song’s expression darkens with disappointment, when he hears that his co-worker is trying to matchmake Fanxing with someone. He’s really falling for her, isn’t he?
E3. There’s something about Yuan Song’s manner with Fanxing when they’re alone together, that makes their interactions vibe with cozy intimacy, even though that’s the farthest thing from her intention. When they are in the apartment alone together, and she gets all flustered about him entering her bedroom without permission, he’s perfectly reasonable and apologizes, but his tone is so deep and gentle, that I feel like he’s saying something rather more intimate. I think I might be getting feels..? How unexpected.
E4. The way Yuan Song asks Fanxing, “Won’t I do?” when she confirms that yes, she’d like to date someone and it’s a priority in her life, is quite melty. He’s tentative about it, like he’s uncertain of himself, but his words are tinged with hope and gentleness. I like.
E5. The ragged way Yuan Song breathes the words to Fanxing, “You’ve blown your cover,” combined with the intensity of his gaze, before moving in to kiss her, is quite swoony, I have to admit. I need to watch that again. Ahem. Also, I was a bit thrown off at first, when he squatted down in response to Fanxing’s outburst, but on hindsight, I feel like he was just that overwhelmed at the realization that she has feelings for him too. How endearing, that he is so affected by the idea that she likes him back. And also, that’s how much anxiety, and also, how much relief, he feels, in relation to her, before and after her outburst. That’s pretty sweet.
E5. Ooh. A one night stand, and neither of them is drunk? I.. am surprised, but I can’t complain. Fanxing is clearly less freely into making out with Yuan Song than he is with her, but that makes narrative sense, because she’s still trying to convince herself – and him – that they shouldn’t be together because of their age difference. He, on the other hand, only has eyes for her, and is completely mesmerized by her and cannot fight the urge to kiss the cream off her lips. I gotta say, Song Wei Long has an unexpectedly sensuous vibe, from his intent meaningful gaze, to his throaty murmurs, to his sensuous kisses; it’s all quite seductive, and I’m quite shocked actually, because at first glance, I’d thought he was just a pretty boy.
E5. Although I have grown to dislike it when a male lead gets all up in his female lead’s space without her consent, I.. can’t say I hate it, when Yuan Song does it to Fanxing, in the storeroom. I think it’s because even though he’s entering her personal space and backing her into a wall, there’s still a distinct gentleness about him as he does so, and he doesn’t force skinship on her; he just informs her, in firm but gentle – and slightly teasing – tones, that he will give her till Sunday to tell him her official answer to his confession, and that he won’t accept no for an answer. I know that sounds bad, and it’s even worse given that he even threatens to report her for sexual harassment, but because he’s saying all this in a teasing tone, I believe that he doesn’t actually mean it. Also, from everything that we’ve seen of Yuan Song, I’m pretty convinced that he wouldn’t do that to Fanxing. He’s quick to step in to protect her, but he wouldn’t actually put her reputation in danger.
E5. I still like the way he tends to put his hand on her head. I wouldn’t say that he’s patting her on the head; that makes it seem a bit condescending, like she’s a dog or something. It’s an affectionate gesture, where he sorta cups the side of her head with his hand, just for a second, and it’s usually accompanied by a wink &/or a smile, and I find it endearing. It’s a gesture of affection, and I like that beyond the sexual attraction, which Show makes sure is clear to us, there’s also a warmth and fondness.
E7. I can’t deny it; Song Wei Long’s kisses are hawt. Yuan Song’s eyes are always on Fanxing, and there’s no stiffness about him when it comes to the skinship. He leans in on Fanxing like he doesn’t care about keeping a respectful distance; there’s no weird gapping between the OTP here, when they kiss. And he kisses like he means it, too. And the way he handles her is unabashed and confident as well. Altogether very swoony. Umph.
That’s probably what makes the scene. Even though he uses his body to prevent Fanxing from escaping anywhere, and basically imprisons her with his arms, it’s clear that he doesn’t actually mean to hurt her. I also like that he suddenly breaks into a grin, when she cutely asks if he actually wanted to be with her forever. I like that Yuan Song isn’t one to hold onto negative feelings for long. It hasn’t been more than a few short minutes since he was griping that there’s nowhere for him to hide from her, and yet, here he is, genuinely grinning at her cuteness, and grabbing her for unabashed, sexy, I-want-you kisses. I kinda love that he just seems to like grabbing her for kisses in general.
Also, the fact that he caves and compromises with Fanxing and agrees to a 3 month period of secrecy, even though he’s quite insulted by the whole secrecy thing, shows how much he really likes her and wants to be with her. I do like his condition though, that if things go well between them in the 3 months, that she has to take him public.
E7. Ah! The secret relationship is quite thrilling to watch right off the bat. The barely-concealed flirting, the stolen hand-hold, the secret note with an orange-flavored candy inside, requesting orange-flavored kisses that day. Eee! Fun!
E7. Aw! Yuan Song put a photo of their handhold on WeChat to announce his new relationship status? That’s so sweet. Like, he’s keeping it anonymous as promised, but he’s not going to stay quiet about his girl, even then.
E8. Yuan Song is very sweet. When Fanxing asks to see his phone, he even registers her fingerprint on his phone, so that she can access it anytime. Wow. Also, the way he answers, when Fanxing confronts him about his WeChat post, is so wholesome and endearing, that he doesn’t want to lead on the girl who likes him at school, and he won’t do it again. And his tone is so gentle too, without any trace of defensiveness. Is he the perfect boyfriend or something? I’m not sure, but this sure is a promising start.
Trouble in Paradise
E8. Aw. It’s clear to see that the secrecy stuff is wearing on Yuan Song. He’s putting up a sweet front, but he doesn’t like the secrecy and having to hold back and having to hide, and the way he looks at Fanxing’s retreating back as she says goodbye, is quite sad and wistful. Poor guy.
E9. Dang. Trouble in paradise already. Yuan Song getting all upset because he’s jealous that Fanxing went on the blind date, and insulted that she didn’t feel the need to tell him about it. Boo.
E10. Aw. I was getting worried that we were getting into angst territory already, with Yuan Song having a bit of a cold war with Fanxing over the blind date issue, and her making it worse by saying that he was being childish. But, Show turns it around quickly, when Yuan Song comes back and finds Fanxing crying by herself at the park. He’s gentle with her, she blurts out everything about the blind date that she hadn’t told him before, and apologizes, and he apologizes for being childish, and once again, they’re made up and he’s rubbing the side of her head affectionately, and he’s looking at her retreating back wistfully. If this is how quickly this couple gets over their conflicts, I’m thinking I’m going to really like having them together.
E11. I didn’t like the fact that Fanxing accepted the necklace from Luming and then didn’t feel the need to let Yuan Song know about it. It just feels like it’s something he might not like, so I’d prefer if Fanxing were upfront with him about it.
E11. I don’t like that there’s suspicion brewing between our lovebirds. Fanxing wonders about the sneakers and the phone call, but doesn’t ask Yuan Song. I can’t decide whether this is respecting boundaries, or whether it’s unhealthy suspicion.
Also, the younger girls gossiping about Fanxing and Yuan Song, and speculating whether they were a couple, feels like a cold splash of reality. They’re being judged, and this is probably just the beginning.
E12. I do love how much Yuan Song trusts Fanxing. He gives her free rein when it comes to his personal stuff. Not only his phone, but his apartment as well. When she tells him she’s outside his apartment when he’s still at work, he tells her the passcode without question. There’s something very melty about that.
E12. I thought Fanxing went to Yuan Song’s apartment to snoop and find out where he’s getting his money from, but instead, she’s cleaning the place, paying his cable bill, and restocking his food and other things, so that he’ll come home to an apartment that’s rich with supplies. That’s sweet. But also, I wonder whether Yuan Song will feel like she’s stepping into sugar momma territory.
E13. Aw man. Fanxing shouldn’t have returned the necklace without talking with Yuan Song first. He’s going to be so upset when he finds out. I know she means well, but that’s very inconsiderate, and disrespectful of Yuan Song’s feelings.
E13. Yuan Song’s texts to Fanxing being read by Song Xue (Zhou Qi Qi) was – eep – secondhand embarrassing to watch. “Please let me give myself to you again” – how politely frank yet seductive. Blush.
E13. Oops. Fanxing is basically forced by circumstances to deny that Yuan Song is her boyfriend, but I don’t think it’s a good idea for her to then make her pretend boyfriend Luming. This is going to come back to bite her, I’m sure.
E14. The closer Fanxing is to Luming, the more uncomfortable I am, that Yuan Song basically doesn’t know anything about this friendship. Even though they’re in an internship sort of romance for 3 months, I think he deserves to know.
E14. I wish Fanxing and Yuan Song would have a proper heart-to-heart conversation about finances and limits.. at this moment, it seems that Fanxing has no clue that Yuan Song has any other source of income other than his internship. That’s why she’s doing silly things like returning the necklace then regretting it. But I do like the gentle, tactful way she broached the subject of gift-giving within his means. That went down quite well, and I like that Yuan Song assured her that he was absolutely giving her gifts within his means.
E15. That sucks, that Minmin and her friends mistake Fanxing for Yuan Song’s maid, and address her as “Auntie” to boot. That’s gotta sting.
E15. Lately, it just seems that everything’s just getting in the way of Fanxing and Yuan Song spending time together. I feel like they’re not really getting much time at all, to figure out how to be a couple, or get to know each other better. That’s a downer. Also, this means a lot less OTP swoon, which is also a downer.
E16. The way Yuan Song hones in on Fanxing to kiss her is quite heady, though I struggle a bit with how forceful it looks, at first. But, it soon vibes much more tender and ardent, and I do love how intently he looks at her, as he tells her that he wants to quit the internship and announce their relationship right away, because they have nothing to be ashamed of, and he just really likes her. Swoon.
Bummer for Yuan Song that Fanxing runs away though, the moment he lets go.
E16. I find tipsy Fanxing cute and endearing. She can’t think straight, her inhibitions are dampened, and she’s ready to go public with her relationship. The way she grabs Yuan Song for a kiss is pretty great, and when he pulls away in surprise, she dives in again, and this time, his arms encircle her and he cradles her waist. Squee!
E17. I’m quite touched by Fanxing’s statement, that she doesn’t mind being his stepping stone, but won’t ever allow herself to be his stumbling block. That’s very selfless of her, I feel, to only think of him.
E18. Ha. Pottery-making, a la Ghost the movie? Pfft. Ok, that’s so cliched, but I do like that they seem to be having fun with it.
E19. I know it’s to drive the story forward, but the lack of communication between Fanxing and Yuan Song is really starting to bug me. So many things could be avoided, if they’d just communicate more.
E19. I understand what Yuan Song is saying about Fanxing; she definitely won’t stand in his way if he were to tell her that he was thinking of going overseas to study, and he doesn’t want her to step aside as if she doesn’t care that much about the relationship. It’s just, he should still talk to her about it, and they should figure it out together.
E19. Fanxing also shouldn’t let snide Amy (Wang Chun Yan) get to her. It just feels wrong for her to ask Luming to take her to the birthday thing, so that people would assume he was her boyfriend. And now, Luming wants in on the ruse, and gets in there role-playing her boyfriend to the hilt, since that’s what he really wants to be. But this is so going to come back and bite Fanxing, and it’s going to hurt Yuan Song too. Ugh.
E19. I do find Fanxing’s analogy of her relationship with Yuan Song very poignant; that they are on two different trains headed in opposite directions, and are just meeting for a while, on the platform; they don’t talk about the past because they don’t have time for it, and they don’t talk about the future because they don’t know what it holds; they simply focus on enjoying the present, together, for the short time that they have, on that platform. That’s.. quite heart-pinching, to be honest. There’s a lot of truth in there. Fanxing is right; no matter what, she will always be ten years ahead of Yuan Song in terms of life experiences. He’s about to start out in the world, and she’s already established herself in her career. They like each other, but honestly, do they really have a chance for happy ever after?
E20. Ok, to Show’s credit, Yuan Song instinctively knows that Fanxing didn’t cheat on him, and only brought a fake boyfriend to the birthday gathering. At least he knows her well enough.
E20. It’s really poignant and bittersweet, how Fanxing is preparing herself to face a breakup with Yuan Song, and still wears a smile, determined to enjoy the present time as much as she can. That’s quite sad, really. Reminds me of spending your last moments with a loved one before they pass on. 🙁
E21. ..And the angst has hit. I suppose as with most things, the anticipation of it was worse than the actual event.
I like that Show at least attempts to explain why Yuan Song and Fanxing haven’t been telling each other important details regarding their lives. This has been niggling at me, but when Show asserts that the reason they didn’t tell each other those things, is because they both felt insecure in the relationship, I feel inclined to buy it. I can buy that things felt so tentative, and they both wanted to show the other person their good side so much, that they never seriously considered telling the other person the very details that I’ve been chafing about.
E21. I thought it was strange that Yuan Song didn’t even attempt to talk things through properly with Fanxing before giving her the ultimatum that he did, but I suppose that’s Show’s way of asserting how desperate he is, to have her commitment.
E22. The fallout shows how different Fanxing and Yuan Song are. He’s able to act natural in front of other people but she isn’t. She’s able to approach him when it’s just the two of them, but he’d rather not. I’m trying to decide if this is purely a difference in personality, or whether a difference in maturity is feeding into it. In their own way, they’re being true to their discomfort around the other person, but it does strike me as a little childish, for Yuan Song to request that when it’s just the two of them, that they pretend they’re strangers. But then again, it’s true that many men tend to let their childish sides dominate when they’re angry with their significant others.
E23. The distance between Fanxing and Yuan Song, combined with interactions that slip and slide between aloofness and yearning and mixed signals, feels true to life. Their feelings for each other are understandably complicated, and even though they’ve broken up and say that they’re moving on, they clearly still care about each other, and want to feel like the other person still cares. During the conversation where Fanxing tells Yuan Song that the company would like to offer him a permanent position, it’s clear that he wants to hear that she wants him to stay, but she won’t say it, and she muses that in the end, she’s the one who hurts the most, because she’d lashed out at the one who hurt her. Very poignant and relatable.
E24. Meiyin (Zeng Li) does have a point; studying abroad and having a relationship doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, which is something that neither Yuan Song nor Fanxing were able to see.
E24. The fact that Yuan Song pushed Fanxing into the car to join the car ride, in order to protect Fanxing’s pride (well, and also to annoy Luming), despite his desire to avoid Fanxing, means that his desire to protect Fanxing is greater than his pride. I find that oddly endearing.
E25. Although I felt bad for Yuan Song when he tries to talk nicely to Fanxing and patch things up, and he instead gets dumped with the sudden news that Luming is Fanxing’s boyfriend, I have to admit that I find it slightly satisfying on Fanxing’s behalf, even though I’m on Team Yuan Song. The fact of the matter is, he’s been very cold to her, and has said some unpleasant things, not only to her, but to other people as well, about his ex-girlfriend. I feel like he shouldn’t get to change his mind and go back to being nice, without suffering any consequences for his petty judgment before. Admittedly, I guess I’m being rather petty about this too, hur.
E26. It’s quite predictable that Yuan Song is the new employee coming to the office, but I’ll take it. I’d like to see how he intends to turn things around with Fanxing.
E27. The lovers’ toast between Yuan Song and Fanxing is suitably charged with simmering emotion, and Chang Huan’s (Wei Zhe Ming) look of awkward helplessness completes the scene.
E27. Yuan Song suddenly being so gentle and agreeable with Fanxing is taking me a while to get used to. It wasn’t so long ago that he was cold and distant, and before that, he was more cheeky than anything else, when with her at work. This new gentle, helpful Yuan Song who apparently doesn’t hold a grudge is new.
E30. Fanxing and Yuan Song are showing each other more of their real selves, now that they’re supposedly friends. She doesn’t shy away from being slightly violent with him, and he doesn’t hesitate to sass her and tease her. I like the conversations that they’re starting to have; they feel honest and healthy, like the conversation about Yuan Song’s relationship with his family. I like this new dynamic between them because they’re finally sharing things that they never shared while they were dating, and really getting to know each other. But, it still niggles at me that Yuan Song’s in this mainly to get her back, and she doesn’t know it.
E31. Fanxing’s conversations with Yuan Song are much freer now, and she seems much happier around Yuan Song. But then again, there is no relationship context to affect them right now, so this isn’t a true representation of what it’d be like for them to date again, either.
E32. At first, I thought that Fanxing beating Canyang was simply played for laughs, but on further thought, I like the thought that Fanxing isn’t self-conscious at all about being her usual boisterous self with her brother, even with Yuan Song present. And, I also like the thought that instead of being put off by her rather violent outburst, he’s more in awe than anything, and even aspires to be beaten by Fanxing one day. It sounds bizarre, but I can sort of understand where he’s coming from. He desires to be so close to Fanxing, that they would have that kind of uninhibited relationship, and I actually rather like that thought.
E33. Meiyin makes a good point in her conversation with Fanxing; Fanxing really did not commit herself fully to her relationship with Yuan Song. In holding herself back, she didn’t give the relationship – nor Yuan Song – a true chance.
E33. We finally get some honest confrontation between Fanxing and Yuan Song, with Fanxing admitting her awareness of Yuan Song’s feelings for her, as well as her awareness of her own feelings for him – and yet, how she can’t risk being with him. I’m a little surprised that despite Yuan Song’s suitably aggrieved reaction, that he still chooses to love her, and declares that he’s decided to be in a one-sided love, even if she ignores him. Aw. That’s quite sweet. I rationalize that he’s lost her once because of his pride getting in the way, and he’s learned to be true to his feelings for her because of it.
I really liked Fanxing’s family; I found the family dynamic warm and caring, and even though her parents, like other Chinese parents, are concerned for her future because she’s 32 and single, I love that they genuinely care about her happiness. And, I love that the care flows every which way, in this family. It’s demonstrated in ways that are often small and everyday, but I came away feeling convinced that these people love one another with loyalty and fierceness, and that each member would literally lay down their life for the others. <3
Here are just 2 family moments that stood out to me extra, during my watch.
E26. Aw. That scene where Fanxing’s dad (Fu Jia) reminds her of Mom’s (Ma Li) love, patience and selflessness over the years, is so touching. What he points out is so true; parents baby us and take care of us when we’re little, but in time to come, they need us to take care of them and be patient with them, and not judge them when they can’t keep up with our ways of thinking, just like they didn’t judge us for our mistakes when we were little. The sight of Fanxing apologizing to Mom, who in turn gently tells her that she’s already forgotten about their fight, and then hugging Mom close, is really poignant and sweet.
E37. Canyang’s relationship with Minmin is discovered, and Mom and Dad are unhappy. At least Minmin isn’t getting the blame for this. What’s amusing to me, is how Mom and Dad drown their feelings in fried chicken and beer, and then cheerfully claim that they only have one daughter.
Fanxing and Canyang
I’m so pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy the twin relationship between Fanxing and Canyang. At first glance, they just appear to be siblings who are as different as night and day, who therefore end up squabbling a lot. But, over the course of my watch, as I learned how much these two truly care about each other, it just warmed my heart so much, that I just want them to glory in their boisterous twinship, forever and ever.
E3. Dang. Canyang was a terror of a brother, scaring off all of Fanxing’s potential suitors when she was in school. It’s a wonder that she doesn’t hold it against him more.
E17. It’s so refreshing to me, how Canyang doesn’t even hesitate to say that he’ll take care of Fanxing, if she were to really lose her job. He’s usually such an annoying, troublesome brother, but when push comes to shove, he’s first in line to protect and take care of his sister. Aw. I also like the little detail, that he carries Fanxing’s handbag around his neck, as they make their way home. He’s such a dorky knight, heh.
E22. Ha. Canyang thinks he can confront Fanxing about the card, but gets schooled big time, for going through her things, and ends up on his knees in contrition. It’s quite funny. Also, it’s quite sweet that despite their scuffle and him getting roughed up, he is quick to offer advice to Fanxing when she asks for it. These two really don’t hold grudges against each other, and I like that a lot.
E31. Hahaha. I do enjoy Fanxing’s relationship with Canyang. They really are close. They’ll hang out together, and if one of them mopes, the other one gets concerned and they have a break from their normal bickering, to have a healthy, brutally honest conversation. This episode, I find it hilarious that when Canyang rips the blanket away from Fanxing so that she can’t huddle in it and keep hiding from the world, she leaps on him and pulls his t-shirt over her head so that she can keep huddling. I find this very endearing, of their relationship.
Fanxing and her girlfriends
Maybe it’s because I and the girlfriends I have in real life don’t manage to stay in constant close touch due to busy personal lives (we’re still good friends, we just don’t chat all the time); it always warms my heart extra, when I see girlfriends in dramaland who manage to maintain consistent, close contact despite their hectic schedules, different lifestyles, and life stations.
Fanxing and her friends Song Xue and Xiaoyu (Cai Yatong) are exactly that. I loved how these ladies manage to share the minutiae of their lives on an almost daily basis, and support one another in very real and practical ways, despite their very different personalities and lifestyles.
I also appreciate that Show allows us to get to know both Song Xue and Xiaoyu as individuals, rather than just painting them with bare details.
The girls together
E8. I like the way Fanxing responds to the group chat, when Xiaoyu expresses doubt at her decision to quit and be a full-time homemaker. She tells Xiaoyu that there’s no true right or wrong decision; what’s important is that even if the decision turns out to be the wrong one, that Xiaoyu has the capacity to bear the consequences of her decision, and that they’d all be there to support her. That’s so empowering and supportive, at the same time.
E31. I love that Song Xue is clearly genuinely concerned for Fanxing’s happiness, and that alone. She doesn’t seem to care whether Fanxing chooses to be alone, with Yuan Song, or with Luming. She’s most concerned with whether Fanxing feels she is being true to herself, and I feel quite touched by that, honestly. Song Xue never does the judgey thing and tell Fanxing what she should do or not do. She just expresses concern, adds her voice of reason to season the words of support and concern that she’s saying to Fanxing, and listening to that, I feel vicariously comforted and in some ways, newly enlightened as well.
E28. Xiaoyu knows about the affair and is pretending not to, for the sake of not rocking the boat. Aw. That must suck so much. She can’t even cry to her friends and seek consolation from them.
E32. Fanfan is frustratingly incorrigible. He’d begged so earnestly to be given a second chance, when Song Xue and Canyang had confronted him about his affair before, but this episode, he’s caught again, and this time, it’s all on Weibo for everyone to see. I am so mad at him.
E34. It’s kinda sad for the kids that Xiaoyu is planning to divorce Fanfan, but I can understand why she would. He’s cheated on her repeatedly, even after swearing that he’s done with the other woman. I’m just glad that Fanxing’s planned to open a flower shop and have Xiaoyu work with her.
E26. Xiaoyu’s husband deserves to be burned with the heat of a thousand suns for his selfish, childish attitude. I love how fierce Song Xue is, in dealing with him. And yet, she doesn’t lose control for a second. She remains articulate, level-headed, just and extremely focused, during the entire confrontation, and cuts through his whining with such well-chosen choice words that I’m completely impressed. What a hero.
E30. I feel like Song Xue is possibly the most sensible character in this drama world. She’s got her life and her relationship figured out, is often the voice of reason in conversations, and she’s the one dealing with cheating husbands and now, Canyang’s scandalous relationship with a student. I like her. She’s pretty badass.
E35. Sigh. Song Xue didn’t tell her boyfriend Dongyang (Han Miao) that she was pregnant, and just broke up with him like that? She’d been so sensible before, with other people’s problems. But I guess it’s easier to be objective when you’re not in the midst of the situation yourself.
Canyang’s loveline with Minmin [SPOILERS]
The loveline between Canyang and Minmin is something that I didn’t immediately see coming, which is pretty unusual, because in rom-coms it’s often easy to spot a potential loveline a mile away. I guess I’d figured that one age gap romance was enough for this story. But as you can see, Show had other ideas, and I hafta admit, it all added up quite nicely.
Once Minmin falls for Canyang, this loveline is not only harmlessly amusing, it also provides a nice foil for our main age gap loveline, and even a point of reference for the second lead’s wannabe loveline.
Generally, I feel that Show handled this loveline quite well, in working out the power imbalance between the lovebirds, and making this teacher-student connection sweet and cute rather than icky and wrong.
E22. The irony, of Canyang getting accused of sleeping with his student, when it’s actually Fanxing who’s slept with his student, ha.
E26. Canyang’s growing amusement with Minmin is cute. It’s quite nice actually, that Song Xue finds her endearing too, in her childlike frame of mind.
E27. Hur. The way Canyang and Minmin start dating is so characteristic of both of them. Her agonized wailing is so typically dramatic and emotional of her, and his idea to date secretly is also just the kind of thing he’d think of.
E32. I was deeply uncomfortable at how Minmin ceded everything to Canyang the moment he got angry, because the power imbalance was so strong, and she seemed willing to say or do anything just to make him not angry anymore. Happily, though, Show addresses this soon enough, and I appreciate that it’s Canyang himself who tells her that it shouldn’t be this way, and he also apologizes for telling her to get out of the car. This made me feel much better.
E34. Canyang is getting serious about Minmin, if he’s testing the waters with Mom about how she’d feel if he had a girlfriend who’s 12 years younger than he.
E35. Canyang making a career shift to the Art Institute because of his relationship with Minmin, is definitive proof that he’s taking his relationship with Minmin seriously, and is considerate of her position and reputation at school. Aw.
Fanxing’s connection with Luming [SPOILERS]
I feel like I had an unexpected trajectory with this particular pairing, during my watch.
I think it has a lot to do with my evolving perception of Luming over the course of our story. At first I found him utterly obnoxious when he was mean and presumptuous with Fanxing, but then I got satisfaction out of seeing him be smitten with her, only to find that she has a boyfriend.
And then, I felt increasingly upset with him, because of his deception, pretending to be Fanxing’s friend while actively trying to nudge her towards singlehood. And then, I got even more upset with him, when he takes advantage of Fanxing’s heartbreak to get her to agree to a trial relationship, and then amps up the pressure on her to be a proper girlfriend.
But, Luming becomes so disillusioned and discouraged from failing so hard at trying to win Fanxing’s heart, and is so affected by it, that I found that I couldn’t hold a grudge against him for all his questionable behavior prior. That’s quite an impressive turnaround, I’d say.
Also, I’m pleased that Fanxing and Luming come out of this with their friendship intact. For all of the lies and deception that went on, it seems that the friendship bit that grew between them was genuine, and for that, I’m rather glad.
E2. Luming has such a poor impression of Fanxing right now; I can’t wait for him to eat his words and start appreciating her.
E4. I’m pleased the Luming is done with misunderstanding Fanxing, and it’s rather gratifying, to see him do an about-turn and start sending her flowers.
E5. Pfft. Luming is so presumptuous, thinking that Fanxing will be easy to “conquer” because she’s never had a boyfriend. I am quickly changing my mind about whether he’s more suited to Fanxing.
E6. So, Luming is going to pretend that he likes someone else, so that he can get close to Fanxing in the meantime, and wait for an opportunity to court her? I don’t know how I feel about this. On the one hand, I like that he’s not being pushy about things, and it is true that biding your time could be wise. But, I don’t like that he’s being deceitful and manipulative about it, essentially.
E9. Luming is so much trouble, calling Fanxing to take care of his dog at the vet’s. I feel like their friendship went from -20 to 100 real quick, and it feels quite unnatural to me.
E10. I am getting tired of Luming’s scheme to win Fanxing over. He’s being dishonest, and he’s manipulating her, and feeding her advice which he hopes will mess with her relationship. I am not so amused anymore. Also, he’s very presumptuous, in assuming he’ll be successful. He spies Fanxing’s dad and refers to him as Father-in-law. He asks Fanxing to help pick out a gift for the girl he likes, which is her, and refers to her as his future girlfriend. Argh. I need someone to take him down a peg or ten.
E12. Luming turning the situation around and making Fanxing feel guilty for even asking if she’s his spare tire, and then making her apologize, and then leaving her stranded on the side of the road after tricking her out of his car, when he’d been on the way to take her to see a physician for her neck pain, is just so low and hypocritical. He isn’t technically treating her as his spare tire, but he’s doing exactly what she’s asking, and what he’s getting mad at her for, which is to be her friend first, and saving the romantic stuff for later. He’s literally punishing Fanxing for even possibly thinking of doing something to him that he’s actually doing to her.
E13. Luming getting close to Fanxing’s dad as part of his grand plan to make himself the family’s son-in-law feels like such a manipulative move. I hope he fails spectacularly.
E14. Ha. The irony. Fanxing is turning Luming’s previous accusation of creating coincidences to approach him, back on him, and it’s actually true this time. He’s doing all sorts of things to create excuses to appear in her orbit.
E16. I kinda hate that Luming gives Fanxing such a hard time about not being upfront with him. He’s doing so much worse than her, infiltrating her family even, and he’s lording it over her. Not cool.
E21. Credit to Luming; at least he didn’t come across as opportunistic when he stepped forward to comfort and take care of Fanxing in the wake of her breakup. The vibe I get from him, is just one that’s caring and a bit wistful.
E25. I’m not against the idea of Fanxing testing the waters with Luming, and even when Luming suggested it, I found him quite reasonable, but the moment Fanxing agrees to it, he’s so aggressive in staking his claim as a boyfriend. He demands to drive her to and from work, and to have his calls picked up, and to go on dates on weekends, and then proceeds to tell Cong Xiao about their relationship, so that Fanxing’s new boyfriend is announced to everyone. That’s just too much, and doesn’t take into account Fanxing’s comfort level. I find it presumptuous, especially since this was all positioned as something they’re trying out – trying out seriously, yes – but still, just trying out.
E26. How telling, that no matter how Luming fishes for it, Fanxing simply has no feelings of jealousy, even though Luming was set up on a blind date. That already tells you a lot, and I hope Luming gets the message. Another telling tidbit? The way Fanxing isn’t at all enthusiastic about Luming buying dinner, and celebrating her newfound taken status with her colleagues.
E28. Luming is starting to show his petulant, petty side to Fanxing, and I don’t like that much. She’s being perfectly reasonable in feeling uncomfortable that she’s being trotted out and shown off as his girlfriend just a few days after they’ve decided to try getting to know each other in a romantic context. And yet, he gets all pissy with her and makes her apologize. I kinda hate that she goes along with his tantrum and apologizes even though it’s not her fault, and she even goes so far as to say that she must be in the wrong if he’s upset. That is not how it’s supposed to work, girl.
E30. It doesn’t escape Luming’s notice – nor mine – that Fanxing brings him supper not because she missed him or felt sorry for him having to work late, but because she feels that this is something a girlfriend should do. Luming lets it pass for now, but I do think that this isn’t the last we’ll see of this phenomenon.
E31. It’s true that Luming’s either directly putting a lot of pressure on Fanxing in terms of their relationship, or allowing a lot of pressure on it. For example, he gave in to his sister about buying a house, even though it’s obviously too early in their relationship for Fanxing to be at all comfortable with this. But Luming seems to have completely forgotten that they are in the early stages and just now trying to get used to dating each other. He doesn’t show consideration for Fanxing at all, on this point, and doesn’t hold back at all. Instead, he pressures her to do committed girlfriend things and pouts and makes a fuss when she doesn’t. Show treats it quite lightly for comedy, but this does not endear Luming to me as a potential mate for Fanxing.
E37. I have a feeling Luming will be the one to break off with Fanxing. And it’s completely in his character to do so, too. He’d held out for so long without getting married to any of his blind dates because he’s the romantic sort who believes in destiny. This.. surely doesn’t feel like destiny, and he knows it.
E38. Luming’s one-month ultimatum to Fanxing shows that he pretty much knows this relationship isn’t going where he wants it to go. And then Minmin’s heartfelt declaration of how she just can’t help but like Canyang, even though there are many more compatible guys around her age, really opens his eyes to see that even if he’s the most suitable match for Fanxing, that it doesn’t matter if she can’t give him her heart.
STUFF THAT WAS OK
I personally found Fanxing’s colleagues a mildly amusing, harmless lot. They didn’t exactly pop for me so much, but they provided useful and moderately entertaining context for our OTP, and I didn’t have a lot to complain about, about this office bunch.
Here are just a few of my personal highlights that involved Fanxing’s colleagues.
E6. While it sucks that Cong Xiao’s boyfriend is cheating on her, I find it refreshing that she puts the blame squarely on him, rather than the other girl, like many other drama characters I’ve come across. That’s exactly where the blame should be put, and I like that Cong Xiao navigates the situation without losing her cool or her dignity.
E17. That was a rather refreshing turn of events, that the anonymous request to meet turned out to be anything but threatening. Chang Huan asked to see Fanxing privately, to tell her what he saw, rather than use the information of her dating Yuan Song against her. Nicely done, Show.
E23. Well, at least Cong Xiao apologizes to Fanxing, after she gets a taste of what it’s like to be stuck between Chang Huan and Qingqing (Zheng Shu Huan).
E27. Ah. Chang Huan had cleared things up with Qingqing after the karaoke outing. That makes Qingqing’s behavior at the dinner much more understandable. I’m glad that Qingqing’s being written as a generous-spirited person who doesn’t hold grudges. She’s even giving Cong Xiao a pep talk about liking Chang Huan. That’s cool of her.
Chang Huan’s loveline with Cong Xiao
Chang Huan is written as having a longstanding crush on Cong Xiao, who essentially sees him as not being a good enough catch for her. Honestly, I didn’t like this set-up very much, because it involves Chang Huan, who’s really a decent good egg, getting continually put down and discouraged because Cong Xiao doesn’t acknowledge his feelings or her own.
To put it bluntly, I didn’t actually care about whether Chang Huan and Cong Xiao got together. I just wanted Chang Huan to be happy, and I would’ve been just as happy with the outcome, if Chang Huan had been written as getting over his longtime crush and finding happiness with someone who immediately sees his worth and isn’t afraid to admit it.
E27. Chang Huan’s penalty with Cong Xiao is nicely done; he really does hold her hands gently, and the way he looks right into her eyes and sings the songs so tenderly, makes me feel for him. I want Chang Huan to be happy, and not feel like he’s not good enough for Cong Xiao.
E31. Cong Xiao getting to know more about Chang Huan through his mom (Zheng Xiao Wan) is quite cliched, but of late, Chang Huan’s been looking at her with sincerity and hope in his gaze, and I’m ready enough for Chang Huan to get his girl, that I’ll accept this cliched writing too.
E39. Chang Huan and Cong Xiao finally get together officially, though I’d been under the impression that they’d already gotten together at the hospital. But ok, whatever, I’ll take it. The way he got all fired up to win at bowling because Cong Xiao promised to date him if he did, and then got all dejected when he failed, was endearing. And then the way he decided to throw it all to the wind and pulled Cong Xiao in for a hug, was uncharacteristically proactive of him. And now they’re a cute couple that bickers and teases and cares about each other, and I rather like it. More because I’m fond of Chang Huan, but whatever works.
STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH
There are a number of things I didn’t enjoy so much in this show, though none of them are dealbreakers. Here’s a quickish rundown, just for the record.
If you’re leery of spoilers, just scanning these section titles should give you a feel for what I didn’t like so much, during my watch.
The secondhand embarrassment can be rather strong
E8. I feel secondhand embarrassed that Fanxing’s getting all dolled up to go walk the dog with Yuan Song.. If you’re going to put on makeup for this, at least make it the no makeup makeup look? This looks so try-hard, I feel self-conscious on her behalf.
E8. Argh. The secondhand embarrassment, when Fanxing cries out in fear during the horror movie. Eep. Phew that it turns out to be her imagination. But, the multiple times she tries to time herself reacting in shock to a scary moment, and failing, is also rather secondhand embarrassing to watch. Ack.
Friends without boundaries
E15. What the heck, this is so inappropriate, for Canyang to insist on searching Yuan Song’s apartment to hunt for Yuan Song’s girlfriend whom he’s never met, and who might well be in a compromised position given Yuan Song’s dressed in a bathrobe? That’s an overstepping of boundaries, played for comedy, and I’m so uncomfortable watching this.
E16. Gosh, how rude, that Minmin and her friends just started eating the cake that Yuan Song brought home, without first checking with him if it was ok? I mean, that was so presumptuous, I’m aghast at their lack of manners. Is this a C-drama thing, where friends are written to have no respect for boundaries, for the sake of story progression? Coz the friends in Put Your Head On My Shoulder were really rude too.
E15. How ridiculous, that Minmin is locked inside Canyang’s car. A car can be easily unlocked from the inside, no?
E29. Tangtang’s birthday party is a really strange mix of a rich people live classical music with champagne thing, combined with kiddie things like bear mascots randomly swaying to the classical music. Very bizarre.
E29. Fanxing having that heart-to-heart talk with Yuan Song’s dad is rather weird, I feel. But I get that this is likely meant to improve Dad’s relationship with Yuan Song. And that might help later, if/when Yuan Song and Fanxing get back together and want his family’s approval. Still weird, though.
E32. Pfft at the scene of Luming “working out” in the living room while Minmin talks to her mother on the phone. Those are little 1kg baby weights, I reckon, and it’s hilarious that he’s huffing and puffing while doing bicep curls with those. Unless he’s done a thousand reps. HA.
E3. I don’t appreciate the portrayal of Canyang’s ex-girlfriend. Show makes her seem like a bit of a lunatic. And when she showed up drunk outside Canyang’s apartment, I was quite appalled at how he just kind of shoved her aside, while taking Fanxing home. I mean, he handled her like she was a pesky piece of furniture which got in his way. Not cool.
E7. This show has some very weird editing during key OTP moments. The sudden switching to black and white and then back again, I can take, but the sudden start-stop motion, combined with the multiple replays and the sudden weird fade-outs and fade-ins with no actual focal point are quite jarring to me. I find it distracting and I wish they wouldn’t do that.
E39. Show is taking a bit too long to get to our OTP resolution. We are running out of time, our OTP is still separated, and I am starting to feel impatient. This is going to feel rushed in the end, I’m pretty sure.
Like I mentioned at the start of this review, Show sprinkles quite a few thoughtful nuggets throughout its run, and I found it all quite varied, and yet, consistently thought-provoking as well.
Here’s a collection of said nuggets, though I didn’t capture them all.
E6. Fanxing is right. It’s true that the woman tends to get blamed, regardless of the situation. Whether a man dates a much younger woman, or an older woman dates a much younger man, it’s the woman who gets singled out as the one in the wrong. That sucks.
E6. The incident where Fanxing’s pregnant friend Xiaoyu quarreled with her husband rings quite poignant, to me. She talks about losing her sense of self, once she got married; she became someone else’s wife, daughter-in-law and mother, and lost herself. I feel like that is quite a universal female experience, and that is quite sad, put that way.
E6. The burgeoning romance between Fanxing and Yuan Song has been quite heady so far, but the remarks by her visiting neighbor make for a harsh reality check. Song Xue’s observation, that it wasn’t wrong of the older woman to love the younger man, but it was wrong of her to insist on getting everyone’s approval, also rings poignant. This makes the potential romance between Fanxing and Yuan Song feel quite futile, right from the start.
E7. The issue of the inconveniences of having a pregnant co-worker is handled quite well, I think. On the one hand, Show shines the light on how much other people typically need to go out of their way, to accommodate a pregnant co-worker. That reminds me of how hard it is on the pregnant woman, who has to deal with not only the challenges of pregnancy, but the demands of work, and not being a burden to others, during the pregnancy term. And then there’s the issue of maternity leave as well. All very real and sobering things that women struggle with.
E8. I don’t appreciate Luming’s dubious intentions, but I have to admit that he has a point about the success of relationships resting more on whether you can accept the other person’s shortcomings, rather than being attracted to the other person’s strengths.
E8. The way Luming talks about the state of most parent-child relationships in China sounds believable, and it’s rather sobering, to think that parents are so busy with work that they don’t spend time nurturing their relationships with their kids and end up feeling distant from them, once the kids grow up. I’m sure this isn’t something that’s limited to China, and is more akin to a modern parenting phenomenon, and I find it sad for both the kids and the parents.
E9. Canyang has a point. Falling in love does have a tendency to make you lose your rationality and personality. Dang. I feel like this writer has spent a lot of time thinking about things. Fanxing is a very reasonable and rational person normally, but when it comes to Yuan Song, she gets confused and lost very easily. Same with him. He jumps to jealousy and his mood is all darkened because he got upset at what she said.
E13. The idea of regrets. Fanxing’s mom tells Song Xue that young people shouldn’t put off marriage and kids, or they’ll regret it later, but Song Xue replies that they’ll just regret it then, because one can’t avoid having regrets in life and she doesn’t want to regret not pursuing her point of view and beliefs either.
E18. Chang Huan says such wise words. When Cong Xiao asks if they can still be good friends even though she now knows that he likes her, he tells her that once there are feelings between people, a hierarchy forms, unless the feelings are mutual. The one who likes the other person is left looking up to the other person, and the other person has the power to overlook the one who likes them. If he continues to be friends with her even though she knows that he likes her, it’s like giving her the knife back, so that she will not only have the power to overlook him, but also have the power to hurt him. Oh my. That cut so deep. It’s so true.
E20. A sense of belonging vs. a sense of security. “I am yours” vs. “You are mine.” How interesting, and now that I think about it, how true.
E20. “The older I get, the more things I find, to be afraid of.”
E32. I felt it deeply, when Xiaoyu blurts out that Song Xue and Fanxing can’t empathize with her because they aren’t married, don’t have kids, and both have stable jobs, while she has no income and has no way of bringing up her kids if she divorces her husband. When she says that she’s given up on love and just wants to be able to bring up her kids, that was sharply poignant. She is very hurt by the fact that her husband cheated on her, but because of her children and her situation, she’s choosing to stay with her cheating husband, for stability and security for her children. Oof. I’m sure lots of women do this, and this hit me pretty hard.
E33. Poor Xiaoyu. The messages that her husband sent to his mistress were particularly rude and cruel to her, and she’s pregnant with their baby. Ugh. One thing she says gives me pause for thought; that people who aren’t financially independent and have to live depending on others, tend to keep lowering their limits. Meaning, because she’s financially dependent on her husband and unable to fend for herself, she’s convinced herself that he’s really not that bad after all because he gives her his salary to manage, and is good to their daughter, never mind that he’s cheating on her. It’s a sad state of affairs, but Xiaoyu’s observation does ring with a pretty solid degree of truth.
E34. The big thing this episode is Fanxing and Canyang being confronted by their dad’s mortality, when Dad goes missing for a day and ends up diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s. It’s such a sobering, terrifying rite of passage, to realize that your parent has limited time left. Gulp.
E35. The idea that life is like an exam, and Time is the examiner, and students, under time pressure, sometimes copy others’ answers, or toss a coin to decide their answers, or submit a blank paper, or choose the worst answer despite thinking long and hard, or give their pen to someone else. And in the end, you are your own judge of whether you did well in the exam of life. A very apt analogy, I thought.
QUICK LOOK AT THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILERS]
To be honest, I have mixed-tending-meh feelings about this penultimate episode.
I like that Fanxing took up her courage and told her parents about not just the breakup with Luming, but also about her previous relationship with Yuan Song and how she still loves him. And I like that Mom and Dad don’t try to tell her what to do, even though they are blindsided. I don’t love that Mom was so harsh on Canyang but I do like that Canyang seemed to have possibly worked the situation such that Mom would automatically protect Fanxing instead of attacking her. The sibling love and concern is real and I like it. And I also appreciate that Mom offers Canyang an olive branch, asking him how he’d like his favorite fish done.
I am ambivalent about Fanxing running off to Suzhou to chase Yuan Song down, because if he truly loves her, he wouldn’t be so quick to get into anything with Wenyue. And if he did get into something with Wenyue, then maybe he wasn’t so worth chasing down after all.
I’m not too pleased about how Yuan Song is playing hard to get with Fanxing, because that comes across as rather mean and manipulative, rather than teasing. If he really knows her, he’d know that she hasn’t been having an easy or good time without him, especially of late, with her dad getting lost and then being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. And he can also see that she hasn’t been really emotionally invested in her dating relationship with Luming. I feel like him playing hard to get now, is him trying to teach her a lesson about not taking him for granted, and.. I don’t like that. It comes off as petty rather than loving, and I’m secondhand embarrassed for Fanxing for allowing him to lead her by the nose.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
In true comfort food fashion, this drama doesn’t end with explosions or fireworks. Everything’s resolved and tied up in a pretty mild fashion, and it’s gently uplifting and feel-good, which is true to its nature, I suppose.
Yuan Song and Fanxing finally reconcile, after Yuan Song holds Fanxing at arm’s length some more (not my favorite thing), teases her to hear just how important he is to her (well ok, fine, I’ll accept that), and extracts a thumb-printed promise to go public with their relationship and never easily talk about breaking up again (alright, I’ll support that one). We finally get a glimpse at their conversation the night Fanxing drunk dialed him, when Yuan Song fills Fanxing in on the details, and as Fanxing bashfully cringes in embarrassment, I remember all over again how taken and amused Yuan Song is, with Fanxing’s pure and innocent core nature.
I would’ve liked to have seen more cozy OTP moments, but time is of the essence because Show left the wrap-up to this late in the game, and there are other characters who need their resolutions. On this point, I’m a little disgruntled at Show. I mean, if we’d kicked into finale gear a little earlier, we could’ve had it all. After all, I’m sure no one actually believed Show’s bluff, that Yuan Song and Fanxing might not get their happy ever after, right?
Anyway. Song Xue and Dongyang finally reconcile and get married, after she ‘fesses up to being pregnant and he gets mad at her for assuming the worst of him. I’m rather underwhelmed by how rushed this arc resolution feels, but oh well, I’m glad that these two are reunited and committed to raising their baby together and being happy together.
Xiaoyu asks Fanfan for a divorce, and Fanfan begs Xiaoyu to give him another chance, which Xiaoyu declines. However, she keeps it classy and tells Fanfan to be a good father to their kids, and to remember how awful he feels right now, and use that to motivate himself to live a good life.
Steven and Luming reconcile over a toast made with tea, and make a promise to be friends forever, the friction between them over Luming stealing Yuan Song’s girlfriend now put behind them. It’s cheesy and goofy, and I’m slightly amused at how childlike these two Boss types can be.
Oh, and Canyang and Minmin continue to date, while bickering cutely and endlessly.
Although I’d had hopes that Show would manage to wrap up our story in a satisfying manner without a time skip, I concede that with a story like this where our OTP relationship needs to show its mettle, a test of time is the most efficient way to prove that this unconventional age-gap relationship is the real deal.
One and a half year time skip later, we see that our OTP relationship is still going strong, with Yuan Song studying abroad while Fanxing tends to her new flower shop. While on the phone with her, Yuan Song surprises Fanxing with an unexpected early return, teasingly extracting a promise from her that if he were to magically appear in front of her in an instant, she would go with him to register their marriage. Aw. It’s predictable but it’s sweet.
As our lovebirds happily embrace, and as the camera coyly pans away to give them a little space, we hear Fanxing in voiceover, “May your days be filled with sunshine. May there be roses in your embrace. May you have a shelter in the storm. May time be kind to you. May you always be a young girl at heart.”
It’s a sweet note on which to close our story, and ultimately, I’m pleased that even though Show’s second half felt a little slower than its first half, that in the end, our OTP was given the time and space not just to find each other, but themselves as well. And, it’s extra meaningful, that as they found themselves, that they realized that they were complete, with each other.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Light, breezy, and pretty easy on the drama palate. Pitch perfect drama comfort food.
FINAL GRADE: B+