Thanks for enjoying my episode 1-2 notes on Crash Course in Romance! Today, I thought I’d share my episode 1-2 & 3-4 notes on Meet Yourself [China], because I’m liking it quite a lot too, and I was wondering if you’d like to join me? 🤗
These are my episode 1-2 & 3-4 notes, exactly as they appear on Patreon, ie, without screenshots (I’m saving those for the actual review).
I hope you all enjoy, and I hope you’ll consider joining us over on Patreon, for the rest of the discussions! ❤️
E1-2. Ok, I like this one right away, just two episodes in. As some of you have said, this really does have Hometown Cha Cha Cha vibes, even though it is very much its own creature.
It’s that whole healing experience for a female protagonist in a rural small town vibe.
The main difference that I’m spotting so far, is that Meet Yourself leans more laidback and slice-of-life, while Hometown Cha Cha Cha had a more obviously structured rom-com narrative.
I’m also getting Reply 1988 vibes, which is a big compliment where I’m concerned, because I loved Reply 1988 a whole lot, and consider it to be the Reply series that stole my heart the most, out of the various Reply dramas.
The reason I’m getting Reply 1988 vibes, is the small neighborhood sort of culture, where everyone knows everyone, and the entire neighborhood more or less functions like one big extended family.
I’m getting that sense here as well, and altogether, that’s adding up to something pretty special, at least from my limited perspective at this point of my watch.
Backing up to episode 1, I have to say, Show does a very efficient yet effective job of setting up our premise, and making it pop enough, so that I understand and care enough, and so that it properly colors in the context that forms the foundation of Hongdou’s journey to Yunnan.
Even though we only spend a single 40-minute episode on the context of her decision to quit her job at the hotel, I found it all very well managed and teased out.
The closeness between Hongdou and her best friend Nanxing, with whom she’s been friends with practically her entire life; the busy, intrusive nature of her work; the long hours that she keeps.
The fact that she and Nanxing only see each other twice a year for their medical checkups, even though they live in the same city; the fact that Nanxing’s been asking her to go to Yunnan with her, for several years now, and Hongdou’s put it off, each time.
Despite us having just met Nanxing, when she finds out that she is terminally ill, and despite the fact that we don’t actually spend a lot of time with her, while she is ill, I still felt the loss for Hongdou, when she did pass.
I could feel how sudden and world-tilting this whole thing is, for Hongdou, even though Nanxing hasn’t really been a big part of her daily life, for some time.
I could also very easily imagine the regrets that Hongdou would feel, in losing Nanxing.
The missed opportunities of meeting more often, since they both lived in the same city; the missed opportunities of taking that holiday to Yunnan, when it had been an option.
I’m sure that Hongdou also feels a measure of guilt, that it was because of her, that Nanxing never did make it to Yunnan, to have that holiday, and experience new sights, sounds and food.
On top of that, I can see how Nanxing’s passing would give Hongdou a new perspective on life; that it’s more precious and more fleeting than she had first imagined, and that she should do something differently, while she can.
I can also understand the sentiment, of going to Yunnan for the both of them, and eating delicious foods and seeing beautiful sights, for the both of them.
And, from another angle, there’s that thing as well, where Hongdou finally sees with clarity, that she is but a cog in a machine, and that when she’s worn out and less useful, she’d be easily replaced with a new cog; someone with more energy, value and life to offer.
Putting that all together, I felt like I could fully understand, by the end of episode 1, why Hongdou would quit her job at the hotel, and head to Yunnan.
Once we get to Yunnan, there’s a distinct shift in tone, vibe and pacing in our drama world, and that feels perfectly right, since that’s exactly what Hongdou is there for, after all.
It literally feels like she’s stepping into a whole new world, away from the big city and the demands of the hotel job, into this beautiful place where the only thing she needs to do, is relax and enjoy the experience.
I must pause here to say that Yunnan is indeed beautiful, from what Show shows us.
From the gorgeous bodies of water, to the scenic skyline, to the quirky quaintness of the small town that Hongdou is going to call home for the next 3 months, it’s all very, very pretty. My eyes feel like they’re being treated to a feast, no lie.
It’s still early days yet, so we’re still getting to know the various characters that make up this little neighborhood in Yunnan, but it does feel like folks are generally nice, even if some of them can be quirkier than average.
And, I’m pretty sure (or rather, hopeful?) that Show will give us some insight into the quirkier characters, as we go, so that we can understand them better, instead of always giving them weird looks, so to speak.
I’m pretty happy that we’re getting a better sense of Hongdou as a character, as we go.
I find it really very poignant, that she would bring a bulletin board with her on her trip, and then decorate it with the heading “Our promise,” and the sub-categories, “Delicious stuff,” “Fun stuff,” and “Pretty stuff.”
These are exactly the things that Nanxing had wanted to do, and see and experience, on their holiday to Yunnan, and it feels so poignant, that Hongdou would now make it her mission to fulfill all of it, in Nanxing’s honor.
It’s still early days, but I’m already getting the sense that Show is interested in showing us the struggles of craftsmen in rural areas, competing to stay relevant in a landscape where automation is becoming more popular.
And, we’re also seeing some early sparks of connection between Hongdou and Zhiyao, which I’m digging quite well.
It’s not the kind of sparks you’d expect in a rom-com; it’s more tamped down and earthy, but I do feel like there’s definitely a measure of interest and attraction on Zhiyao’s part, at least, and who can blame him, right?
It’s Liu Yifei, gracefully and casually appearing in his world and making it that much more interesting, just by being in it. 😁
I actually really enjoy this easy, down-to-earth connection that’s forming, like in the way they are able to chat quite easily, while Zhiyao brings her back to town on his horse Lil Cute, after she’s accidentally buried her shoe in horse dung.
It doesn’t feel like either of them are trying too hard to make a connection, but it’s also clear that Zhiyao’s being extra nice to Hongdou, and that just adds up to a warm, cozy sort of vibe that I find that I rather like.
I am definitely up for more of this connection, please and thank you. 🥰
E3-4. We spend this set of episodes getting to know Hongdou and her new neighbors better, and it’s all very low-key and pleasant.
This is definitely a slice-of-life drama, but it’s slice-of-life done right, if these initial episodes are anything to do by.
I mean, yes, it feels like not a whole lot happens in this drama world, especially when you compare it to the dramatic intensity of episode 1, but it doesn’t feel stagnant, which is very important, I feel.
I think that that’s one of the dangers of slice-of-life dramas; that they forget to move things forward in a way that feels meaningful, and then viewers ultimately get bored and impatient.
This set of episodes, I feel like Show is definitely going to be spending some time on exploring the struggles of the traditional craftsmen to not only stay relevant, but to make a living, as the world surges towards automation and machine-crafted goods.
It’s pretty enlightening and interesting, to see Zhiyao and his team working to help these traditional masters gain visibility and therefore increased support, in the form of more apprentices and more business.
I’ve bought things online, from small farms (dried persimmons for my mom) and crafts shops (hand carved wooden spoons for our kitchen) in China, but until this show, I hadn’t had any insight or understanding as to how they’d gotten online, and how they’re managing their business.
I feel like I’m getting to see the workings of all that, through this show. What an unexpected bonus!
It’s a dilemma that I’ve heard talked about many times before; young people can’t help but look for better job opportunities in the big cities, because of the lack of opportunities in their hometowns, leaving only the very young and old, back at home.
It feels like a natural and unfortunate evolution of things, in a way, but with the efforts by Zhiyao and his team, it’s also becoming clear that things don’t have to be this way; that there can be a new and different way of doing things, so that these traditional crafts and skills don’t have to die.
It’s meaningful work, for sure, and I’m already curious to know more about how Zhiyao got into this, and why.
I also really liked watching Hongdou make friends with the various people around her.
She has a natural grace about her that translates into pitch-perfect conversation, where she’s polite enough, but also, warm and approachable enough, that people tend to feel comfortable with her.
It’s probably something that she’s honed while in the hospitality industry, but it definitely feels natural, coming from her, and I find myself warming to her very well.
I love that even the quirky meditation dude is waking up during the day and offering her tea and conversation, when others have told Hongdou that he’s basically deaf and mute during the day.
And, I also love that Hongdou seems to be making a pretty easy connection with Damai, whom the other tenants have more or less labeled as being not very social, because she doesn’t join them for supper and drinks, when invited.
ALSO. This might be a small thing, but I love that there are cats in their courtyard, and the cats are such a natural, matter-of-fact presence on our screens. 🥰
As for the connection between Zhiyao and Hongdou, I know it’s still early days, but I can’t help but squee a little, that he’s obviously feeling hyper-aware of Hongdou, while Xiaochun’s trying to set him up with that blind date. 😁
His sheepish expression, while trying to be polite, while also trying to observe what Hongdou’s reaction is, to his blind date, is very cute.
As for the thing with Xiaxia wanting to go to Shanghai, I have to admit that when we find out that his friend in Shanghai is an online friend who’d been the only one to give him support in his livestreaming efforts, my brain immediately went to, “It’s got to be a scam!” 😅
I guess I’ve received too many spam messages, and read too many articles about people getting scammed online, that I’m immediately suspicious.
But.. Zhiyao appears to think that Xiaxia’s online friend is legit, so.. let’s see?
I did find the scene, where Xiaxia’s mother, Aunt Baoping, more or less gives him her blessings, and tells him not to worry about things back home, because her salary from the warehouse will be enough.
This scene leans so poignant to me, because even though Xiaxia is positioning his trip to Shanghai as purely exploratory, Aunt Baoping is keenly aware that this could very well be a permanent move.
This reminds me so much, of when one of my close friends decided to quit his job and go to the UK for further studies. It had felt like a final goodbye to me then, and I’d cried a lot, because so many people whom I knew, had left for further studies somewhere else, and then settled down there.
He eventually came back to Singapore, so I definitely cried over nothing after all, but that conviction, that this might be the goodbye that changes everything, is something that I’ve felt before, and so, the pathos in Aunt Baoping’s and Xiaxia’s tamped down, hidden tears, is not lost on me.
And yet, this is the common experience of those who live in small towns and villages. The fact that these goodbyes are quite a norm, for rural folk, is quite heartbreaking, to me.
It feels horribly unfair, really, that they would have to deal with goodbyes and separations like this, all because of their location. 💔
On top of this, there’s also that almost throwaway bit of conversation, where Zhiyao remarks that Uncle Zeqing could have been saved, if the hospital hadn’t been so far away, that they’d gotten him help too late.
That’s another heartbreaking thought, that many rural lives have been lost, because of their lack of proximity to good medical care. 💔
This all just makes me all the more invested in the efforts that we see Zhiyao and his team make, to help make things better, for our rural craftsmen.
At the same time, I have to admit that my primary interest here, is Hongdou’s journey of self-discovery, as well as her potential loveline with Zhiyao.
It does feel like Show plans to deliver on all these points, so I think I’m in for an enjoyable, if low-key, sort of ride.
An idyllic onscreen vacation with gorgeous scenery, and a bit of self-discovery, romance and education thrown in, with very lovely music to score it all?
Why, I don’t mind if I do, Show. I don’t mind if I do. 🥰😁
*This show is being covered on the VIP Early Access (US$15) Tier on Patreon*
To view episode 1-2 & 3-4 notes in Patreon, along with everyone’s comments, you can go here!
Episodes 13-14 & 15-16 notes will be out on Thursday, 9 February 2023! I hope you’ll consider joining us!
It’ll be a way to have fun, and support me at the same time? ❤️
PS: For more information on what the Patreon experience is like, you might like to check out my Patreon update post for February, which you can find here!