I was really hoping that this one would work out for me, because I found the premise cute, and the initial episodes promising, but.. it just wasn’t meant to be, I guess. 😅
12 episodes in, I’m calling it quits on this one, and I’m gonna attempt to lay it all out here in this post, so that you can hopefully figure out whether this one’s for you, even though it’s not for me.
For reference, I do think that Sean and phl1rxd liked this one a lot, so if your drama taste vibes fairly similarly with theirs, then, maybe..?
WHY I PICKED THIS SHOW IN THE FIRST PLACE
Mainly, I thought the trailer (below) was very cute, and I felt like this could be the perfect compact serving of silly-fluffy to buoy me through pre-surgery nerves.
Lookie, doesn’t it look quite promising?
THE MAIN HOOK, FOR ME
If I had to sum it up, I’d have to say that it really was Xu Kai Cheng as our male lead Jingzhao, who carried me as far as I got, with this show.
Basically, I like that our male lead Jingzhao is quick to fall for our female lead Chuyue (Xing Fei), and is unabashed about how he feels about her.
Very importantly, Xu Kai Cheng injects enough feeling and smolder into interpreting those feelings, that I can believe that Jingzhao really is smitten with Chuyue, even though we may not understand why.
The unflinching, blatant expression of Jingzhao’s affection for Chuyue definitely anchored every episode of this show that I watched.
Secondarily – and on a very, very shallow note – I just thought that Xu Kai Cheng looked rather cool with the loose manbun that Jingzhao sports when he time-travels to the modern world, which is where and when Chuyue’s from (see below).
LENS ADJUSTMENTS THAT I MADE
Broadly, here are the lens adjustments that I made, coming into this show.
1. The production values are cheap and cheerful
The production values in this kinda jump out at you with how basic, and well, cheap they are, especially if you’re used to more polished, more sumptuous looking shows like My Journey To You, or Lost You Forever.
So think budget web drama trying to create sets for two timelines, rather than big budget extravaganza that has dollars to blow.
The tighter budget is very obvious in this, particularly in the flimsy-ish-looking sets and the cheap gauzy fabric.
Exhibit A: see-through gauzy sleeves:
2. Show isn’t actually trying to be realistic.
The costumes and wigs are one thing; the lack of historical context is another.
Show isn’t trying to pretend to be a part of actual history, so thinking about this story world being completely fictional, without any historical connections, works just fine.
Ah, and also, Show’s not super fussed about general logic either. 😅
3. The acting is kinda patchy
What I mean is, most of the acting is just serviceable.
As I mentioned, Xu Kai Cheng does a nice job injecting intent smolder into our male lead.
On the downside, I have definitely seen better from our female lead Xing Fei.
I thought this wouldn’t be a dealbreaker for me, but spoiler alert: it kinda turned out to be, despite my making efforts to adjust my viewing lens for this. 😅
I’ll talk more about that later.
HIGHLIGHTS [MODERATE SPOILERS]
Here’s a quick rundown of some of my personal highlights from the episodes that I watched:
1. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m quite taken with the idea that Jingzhao’s quickly falling for Chuyue, and every time Chuyue talks about wanting to go home, he has all these secret wistful-tending-crestfallen looks, and I enjoyed those a lot. 😁
This means that all the so-called fake couple stuff, where they get kinda skinshippy and close, is not just play-acting, for him, and I find that idea of him secretly pouring his feelings into this pretend engagement, quite delicious. 😁
2. I like how Jingzhao’s grandmother (Zhu Huai Xu) is onto him, with the way she teases him with vague remarks about how someone is hoping that the engagement is real and not pretend.
Hahaha. I kind love Gran for how feisty she is, and how she clearly wants to be Jingzhao’s wingwoman, in finding love.
3. A plot point that I found particularly amusing, from our early episodes, is the faded Pikachu temporary tattoo on Chuyue’s forearm, that Gran spots – and then later turns it into “evidence” for how Chuyue is really Jingzhao’s long-lost fiancee, Wanqing, who’d gone missing years ago.
The way Gran describes Chuyue’s “birthmark,” saying that it’s yellow, and a little plump, and is the special spiritual animal that’s unique to the Hanshui Sect, where Wanqing is from, is hilarious to me.
Hahahaha. I was extremely tickled by this, because Gran is obviously describing the Pikachu on Chuyue’s forearm. 😂
Aside from the various things that I was already actively adjusting my viewing lens for (which could totally count as lowlights too), here are some things that I didn’t particularly care for, but which weren’t dealbreakers per se.
1. I didn’t find the various narrative arcs particularly interesting
This is true of the story in the past timeline, which focuses on the tussle for power, and it’s also true of the story in the present timeline, which focuses on Chuyue’s desire to become a fashion designer.
2. The present-day hijinks are lacking
I’d actually looked forward to Jingzhao traveling to the present, because the potential for fish-out-of-water hijinks was pretty great.
But, Show doesn’t lean into that a whole lot (he mostly just.. picks up fast), and instead, leans into a petty love triangle sort of situation, with Jingzhao getting jealous over Chuyue’s modern-day crush, Gu Qingfeng (Chen Zheng Yang).
Overall, I found all the silly hijinks to do with jealousy and fish-out-of-water stuff rather lacking, in terms of entertainment and engagement value.
I think that’s because Jingzhao’s wistful heart-on-his-sleeve gazes are overshadowed by the petty jealousy stuff, which has him going much more ham with expressing his feelings for Chuyue.
I was low-key entertained by that, but I have to admit that it did get old for me pretty fast.
I have to confess that even with Xu Kai Cheng’s delivery of Jingzhao’s unabashed feelings for Chuyue, I still found Show lacking.
Mainly, there were two main things that weren’t working for me, but I kept watching, because I was hopeful that these two things would improve as our story moved forward – and as feeeelings come more into play.
1. Xing Fei as Chuyue
For the record, I really enjoyed Xing Fei in Put Your Head On My Shoulder (review here!), where I found her bright and charming.
However, weirdly, I find that she comes across as rather perfunctory, in this role.
For example, when Chuyue cries, with fear &/or sadness, it’s very clearly pretend; like, there are literally no tears. She just bawls like it’s just for pretend, like she’s in a school play or something, and then we’re moving on.
I felt pretty perplexed at the acting approach Xing Fei’s taking to her role here, which lands as more skit-like than anything, to my eyes.
Whether she’s laughing, crying or reacting to her surroundings, I find Chuyue oddly devoid of real emotion; it feels like Chuyue’s playing along indulgently, while Jingzhao’s feeling real things.
I was hoping that this would settle into something better, once Chuyue starts developing feelings for Jingzhao, because I know Xing Fei is capable of more and better, but that was not to be.
The way Chuyue is written is just.. really weird, to me.
Not only is she casually unfeeling towards Jingzhao, like when she tries to dump him and leave him to flounder for himself once they come back to the present-day, I felt that she’s just oddly devoid of real feelings as a general rule.
Even when she starts developing feelings for Jingzhao, it doesn’t feel real or believable, and this was a big problem, for me.
I did my best to process this with a manhua lens, but this wasn’t enough to make it work for me, unfortunately.
2. The lack of OTP chemistry
I did notice from the get-go, that the OTP chemistry was pretty lacking, but I was hopeful that this was only because Chuyue hadn’t yet developed feelings for Jingzhao, and that this would change, as our OTP connection grew stronger.
This didn’t happen.
In fact, I found all the skinshippy OTP moments pretty perfunctory, with Jingzhao smoldering his best, while Chuyue seems to be, well, only pretend-feeling things, at best.
Even when Chuyue’s struggling to tamp down her growing feelings for Jingzhao, this came across as play-acting more than anything, and therefore did nothing to add to the tension between our OTP.
Not great at all.
All that said, I didn’t actively hate the 12 episodes that I watched of this show.
It’s just, when I got to the end of episode 12, it occurred to me that I could be watching SO MUCH BETTER, with my drama hours.
Also, a peek on Show’s MDL page tells me that Show doesn’t actually get better, after this point. In fact, there are quite a few viewers who feel that Show actually gets worse. 😅
That’s when I decided that I could and should invest my drama hours elsewhere.
There just wasn’t enough in this to persuade me to keep trying, y’know?
Goodbye, Show. It was fun for a little itty-bitty bit, but I do think that you and I just weren’t meant to be. 🥲
The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of Love is an Accident, is Twinkling Watermelon [Korea]. I’ve taken an initial look at Twinkling Watermelon and I’m happy to say that I really do like it, 2 episodes in.
You can check out my episode 1-2 notes on Twinkling Watermelon on Patreon here.
Here’s an overview of what I’m covering on Patreon right now (Tier benefits are cumulative)!
Foundation Tier (US$1): Entertainment tidbits + the first set notes of all shows covered on Patreon (that’s 2 episodes for kdramas and 4 episodes for cdramas)
Early Access (US$5): +A Time Called You [Korea]
Early Access Plus (US$10): +My Journey To You [China]
VIP (US$15): +Twinkling Watermelon [Korea]