“Now when you’re falling down, I’ll take you high. Come back around, just you and I.” – Theme song by Aila Gato & Philip Halloun

Helmed by three masterful directors, A Murderous Affair in Horizon Tower is one of only a handful of dramas in recent years that is truly female-centric and brave enough to tackle sensitive subject matter such as gender discrimination, domestic violence, rape, PUA and victim blaming.

The story begins with the death of coffee barista Zhong Meibao (Angelababy) in her apartment, and the brilliant opening sequence below introduces pretty much all the suspects.

The show devotes 2 episodes to fleshing out each of the character’s backstories, and I’ve singled out two that really stood out to me:

Episode 5 & 6: Zhong Meibao x Novelist Wu Mingyue
Zhong Meibao and Wu Mingyue (Kong Yan) both have their own nightmares from the past, so the scenes where they helped to heal each other’s emotional wounds and rebuild self-confidence was especially poignant. Wu Mingyue’s segment was driven by an animated feature of her popular novel, which is in fact a retelling of Zhong Meibao’s own story. The animation already paints Yan Yongyuan (Jiao Gang) to be a despicable monster without a shred of humanity, yet the details revealed in the later episodes actually made me sick. The character definitely takes the cake for most repulsive villain of 2020.

Li Guilan & Zhong Jie

Episode 9 & 10: Li Guilan & Zhong Jie
Li Guilan (played wonderfully by Liu Dan) is an emergency department doctor who first meets Zhong Jie (Ni Hongjie) in hospital. She realises the latter is a victim of domestic violence, and slowly becomes involved in Zhong Jie and her children Meibao and Ah-jun’s lives. Zhong Jie was completely broken inside after suffering years of abuse at the hands of her rotten husband Yan Yongyuan, but works hard to break the cycle of violence and become a responsible mother for her children with the help of Li Guilan. Unfortunately, everything ends when she is just one step away from freedom.

The drama is pretty flawed in the whodunit mystery-solving department, what with incompetent police and careless autopsies. However, I do think the show did well in the development of the female characters and the strength of their friendships, and for that I give the show an 8/10.

English subs on WeTV / Youtube.

Source novel: Horizon Tower by Chen Xue
Directors: Leste Chen, Wu Zhongtian, Xu Zhaoren (the team behind Moonshine and Valentine)
Screenwriters: Shu Qiao, Shen Yang, Ren Peng, Yi Shuaijie

Special shout out to Zhang Yuwen, who was great as teenage Meibao.
Detective Yang: “Are you saying that all the good people will be pronounced guilty, while the bad people will walk free?”

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6 thoughts on “Drama Review: A Murderous Affair in Horizon Tower”

  1. There was a plot point about the age of the girl in the photo didn’t match Zhong Meibao so it couldn’t be her, did that ever get explained?

  2. What are some other good female-centric dramas/movies/books? I’m looking for more, doesn’t have to be a recent work, older ones are fine too.

    1. There honestly aren’t that many drama/movies that pass my test (not sure about books since I don’t read as often as I should). Off the top of my head Soulmates w/ Zhou Dongyu + Ma Sichun, and The Story of Yanxi Palace? There are a couple of other dramas that have good female ensembles but most still feel like their minds are still focused on the males in their life.

      Honestly, if you want to watch a recent show with good female characters and relationships, Youth With You 2 is your best bet.

      1. Thanks for the recs, I’ve had Soulmates and Yanxi Palace on my backlog for awhile now, guess now’s a good time to finally watch them.

  3. There were a lot of female-centric dramas this year, and this is definitely my favorite yet. I loved its portrayal of the variety of female-female relationships, and how the leads used societal expectations of women (pretty women are seductive) and female relationships (fighting over a man) to trick the investigators and the audience.

    There were a lot of logical flaws in the series, but the stories and the characters were compelling enough to overlook them.

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