Zhao Liying has grown into such a versatile actress with a plethora of solid dramas under her belt, but she’ll always have a special place in my heart as the spritely Su Huan’er in The Lovebirds 错点鸳鸯/戏点鸳鸯. With a low-budget and almost no big names at the time, The Lovebirds is like a good web-production before they were a thing. The set is bare and the costumes are cheap, but the cast is adorable and the interactions are cute X 1000.
The two-part drama series is split into the two parts, each very loosely adapted from a separate book by Xi Juan (Wrong Carriage, Right Groom). The first half originally told of a timetraveller who accidentally becomes the newly-wed wife of a warlord of the Shi family while the second tells of a crossdressing inspector who seeks refuge under the Shi family while seeking revenge for her father.
Find Yourself took a pretty main cast in Song Qian x Song Weilong x Wang Yaoqing and stuffed them into a story that mixed the worst parts of a syrupy sweet romantic fantasy with a frustrating and unimaginative love triangle.
Song Qian and Song Weilong start off with immediate chemistry in the first few episodes ofFind Yourself. Even better, all the side-characters are also attractive, varied in personality, and fun. However, as soon as the main couple gets together, Find Yourself loses itself.
Goodbye My Princess is yet another example of the typical Chinese drama that starts off as a pretty engaging show, starts falling apart in the middle, and can barely hold itself together by the time it reaches the finish line.
The Legends招摇 might be the best wuxia-ish drama with a female lead out yet (I know, low bar), and the three leads might have my favorite drama lead dynamic since The Disguiser. The currently-airing drama is still a funny, cute rom-com at heart, but it’s one of the few wuxia that treats its female leads’ ambitions no different than a male lead. It reminds me of Wicked the musical with its polar-opposite female leads who share a room and who change each other for good. One of them is pushed into wickedness after being called so by the leader of the land, but the other believes in her even after the world has deemed her wicked. The romance plot reminds me of The Disguiser, with the male lead being in love with not just the female lead but her visions for the world.
update: You should stop watching the moment Zhaoyao explodes because that is when the series also explodes as they go into original content. Everyone becomes out of character and the plot is a mix of cringe+boring+??? after that.
Zhaoyao (Bai Lu) starts off as a young girl fed naive visions of helping her people “become good” by her mentor and first crush. Yet when he condemns to death an innocent youth prophecied for evil, she is horrified and rebels against him. Her mentor ends up killing her grandfather while she saves the youth. After being told repeatedly she’s wicked by everyone, Zhaoyao chooses to become wicked. She sets out to build a ruthless empire, killing both her mentor and her old dreams along the way.
Five years later, the “righteous” sects gang up on her and she is killed. The youth she saved, Li Chenlan (Xu Kai), takes over her sect and rebuilds it in her original vision. When she magically returns from death, she finds that her acres of traps and torture equipment have all been converted to pastures and tools for the villagers. Enraged by this sign of betrayal, she goes back to her sect undercover and spends every day trying to seduce and/or kill Li Chenlan. All this happens in the first five episodes!
It’s that time of year again, when I collect all my thoughts on the dramas I watched over the past year. I vowed to watch many of the shows in the discarded list because they starred my favourites, conveniently forgetting that good actors cannot always elevate the quality of a drama.
On the other hand, dramas that weren’t initially on my radar ended up becoming the shows I was most invested in, probably because I had zero expectations going in. What are your thoughts on this year’s drama offerings?
Collection of Cfensi’s past reviews can be found here.
A romance drama that takes “my world is gray without you” seriously.
I’m re-watching this, so I figured I should finally do a post on this little gem. An Yuexi is once more a ray of sunshine in You Color My World 路从今夜白, a cute romance with an unique premise and pretty colors. You can watch it English-subbed on YouTube here.
The female lead is literally the only color in the male lead’s eyes. Gu Yebai (Chen Ruoyun) is an artist who’s lost the ability to see color due to trauma until he met fellow student Lu Youran (An Yuexi). For some later explained reason, when she colors his paintings, he can briefly see color again. He soon hires her as a model and asks her to mix paint for him. As their relationship progresses, everything she does affects how he sees the world. When she is nice to him, his whole world is filled with vibrant colors. When he feels like she doesn’t like him, his world is gray again.
As a semi-Fu Xinbo stan, I must admit this is the only drama of his I’ve managed to half-way finish. The currently airing Happiness Chocolate 幸福巧克力 was a surprising fit for this drama drought. It’s far from revolutionary, but the leads are cute enough that it fits well in the category of established idol dramas full of chocolaty sweetness.
Happiness Chocolate is your standard idol drama featuring a happy-go-lucky poor girl and a rebellious rich boy (but super friendly instead of obnoxious). The story plays on a little twist in that at one point, no one liked the poor rich male lead.
2017 was a much better year for dramas in general (I’m actually more excited for 2018-2019, as all the movie actors are returning to the small screen), with several shows hitting it out of the park in terms of ratings and/or online popularity.
Web dramas really started to gain traction this year – in fact, I’m marathoning tworight now, and each one stands out for various reasons, whether it be high production values or tight storytelling. These online shows have become an outlet for creativity due to the strict censorship rules applied to television dramas, though SARPPFT has decided to nip it in the bud by making web dramas undergo the same rigorous process before premiering online. Hopefully the streaming sites continue to come up with quality fare in the future despite the roadblocks that are being put in place.