How nice is it to actually have a female lead not fixed on romances? Despite a love triangle and the inability to learn, the female lead of Above the Clouds 云巅之上 was surprisingly unwavering in her acting dreams, something rare in recent dramas that makes even the most powerful women motivated solely by love. The series tells of a romance between accidental actress by day and maid by night Jian Xi (Yuan Shanshan), her boss and the least-paparazzi-conscious actor Tang Fei ( Chen Xiao), his rumored girlfriend and her acting rival Ji Qing (Jiang Menjie), and a pop star with terrible hair ( Zhang Zhehan).
The contrast between the two male love interests is also super refreshing. Tang Fei supported Jian Xi while she fought for her dreams, even if she’s wounded in the process. Zhang Zhehan’s tried to protect Jian Xi from the dangers of pursuing her dreams, shielding her like one would a doll. The rivalry between the female leads was also one of the best in a long time, where both were competitors in career and in love, but respected each other and wanted to win fair and square.
Unfortunately, the ups to the script ends there. The female lead never really develops in the series, and spent most of the drama more or less manipulated by both her boyfriend and her teacher. Everyone in the series seem to have an one-episode memory as she gets framed, everyone believes she’s horrible, and then she gets her name cleared again over and over again. With exception of the leads, the cast of young actors are worse actors than the characters they portray. Oh, and some of the outfits in the series look bad even for Yu Zheng dramas.
Fortunately, there’s always Chen Xiao. I had given up on Chen Xiao for a bit after watching him getting progressively worse in dramas opposite Zheng Shuang and Zhou Dongyu, but it seems like he still has it in him. With a unique ability among his generation to play a lovable asshole, Chen Xiao is clearly heads and shoulders above all other young performers in the series. He’s probably the only actor who benefited from the series’ multiple drama-within-a-dramas, where he was able to show off his versatility as an actor in all types of roles.
While there are many flaws in the series and Yuan Shanshan isn’t nearly as charming with an increasingly annoying character, it’s definitely a promising first run for the first-time scriptwriter. Looking forward to see more from the scriptwriter and Chen Xiao.