The Romance of Tiger and Rose 传闻中的陈芊芊 is an absolutely hilarious rom-com starring the cute and bubbly Zhao Lusi (Love of Thousand Years) as screenwriter Chen Xiaoqian who gets stuck in her own script. Up-and-coming actor Ding Yuxi (Intense Love) plays Han Shuo, the hero of her story.
Chen Xiaoqian (Zhao Lusi) is the hardworking screenwriter of an upcoming female-centric drama, which happens to have a plot that sounds a lot like Goodbye My Princess (that’s what you get when you have Feiwo Sicun as a producer). In the original story, the male lead was raised in a patriarchal society, and is sent as hostage to the matriarchal Huayuan City. He develops affections for the second princess Chen Chuchu, yet prioritises his political ambitions over romance, and ends up attacking the city and killing all her family members. The plot is frowned upon by actor Han Shuo (Ding Yuxi), who doesn’t see the logic behind the two characters’ romance. To persuade him to star in the drama, Chen Xiaoqian goes on an editing frenzy, and is teleported into her own story after blacking out.
Chen Xiaoqian finds herself in the body of Chen Qianqian, the impulsive third princess of Huayuan City. She’s basically an evil extra, and is supposed to be poisoned to death by Han Shuo on her wedding day. Desperate to return to the real world alive, Chen Qianqian decides to walk through the entire story by trying to get the original hero and heroine to fall in love with each other.
There are times when I’m frustrated by how reckless and irresponsible Chen Qianqian is, though I do remind myself that the heroine is just an ordinary screenwriter who thinks she knows the characters inside out, so it’s fair that Chen Qianqian sees everyone around her as just characters from a storybook instead of real humans with feelings. I’m actually quite glad the drama moved the love line along in a gradual manner, rather than getting Chen Qianqian to fall head over heels in love with a fictional character who doesn’t exactly sound like the best romantic partner on paper.
Other than the leads, I also want to give a shout out to Baiji and Zirui, the lovable “xiangsheng partners” of the show. They had the quirkiest lines, and provided much of the comedy – my number one scene is when Baiji paid off a stage troupe to speak Pei Heng and Han Shuo’s lines so it matched perfectly with what he thought was their inner monologue:
Another supporting character that stood out was second princess Chen Chuchu (Zhou Zixin). Deprived of motherly affection, she became jealous of Chen Qianqian, who ended up taking everything that “ought” to have been hers – including the heart of male lead Han Shuo. Though she was tacked nicely into the mould of the evil second female lead, her journey to the dark side was actually pretty well-developed, which is just a rare feat in general these days.
Overall the show is breezy brainless fun, and worth the watch even for non-rom-com watchers like me – although I do have to admit I used the fast-foward button generously in the second half. Find the series English subbed on Youtube.