Featuring two female leads with character flaws and character growth, The Legends has one of the best written female friendships of late.
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!
Zhaoyao: Who would be so shameless as to want to care for the most wicked person alive? Zhiyan: I’m that shameless.
I didn’t actually watch Secret of the Three Kingdoms, but Wan Qian‘s Fu Shou is so pretty I just had to include her in my post.
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?
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.
Akin to a Hershey’s bar, Happiness Chocolate follows a familiar but still sweet formula for this drama drought season.
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.
Potentially the weirdest drama I’ve seen in a while, but also one of the cutest.
Let’s Shake It颤抖吧，阿部！ is so strange that it works. The female lead is an alien slave trader, the male lead trains people to smash their heads with bricks, the other male lead is a cat half of the time, and the director interjects the drama with random scenes of little kids poking fun at the plot.
When alien human traders Abu (An Yuexi) and Meow (Wang Yanyang) crash on Earth, they take over the body of the recently murdered Tang Qingye and a cat to survive. As they try to get rescued from Earth, they slowly uncover the real reason their spaceship was attacked and a plot to harvest humans for world domination. Watch as Abu gains sympathy for those she once thought sub-alien and even falls for her human adopted brother (Zheng Yecheng), who it turns out may be the heir to the throne.
Before leaving prom, the boys poses for a photo to remember the night.
Love the costumes and the chemistry, not so much the plot.
With the perfect amount of bright colors and modern silhouettes without looking tacky, The King’s Woman 秦时丽人明月心 first caught my eyes because of its look (and Dilraba). The series is adapted from the prequel to animation Qin’s Moon and retells the attempted assassination of Ying Zheng (Zhang Binbin), the king who’ll eventually become China’s first emperor, by Jing Ke (Liu Chang), modified to become a huge love triangle featuring Gongsun Li (Dilraba).
The series opens with some classic clichés that they work in with mixed ability, including but not limited to having a long-lost childhood true love that you’ve only met once, no one recognizing the female lead is female, accidentally sharing a bed, the rich guy pretending his underling is his superior because we all know relationships that start with lies end well, and one or more lead’s guardian dying, but not before reminding them to hate their romantic interest for their parents’ sins.
Zhang Binbin is surprisingly (to me) the best actor of the bunch, and nails all the romance scenes, be it awkward first meetings, head over heels in love, or possessive creep. Continue reading →
Cao Pi: Here’s your sword back. Guo Zhao: This isn’t mine. Cao Pi: It was mine. Now it’s yours. #HowToGift101
Episode 3, scene X: Yang Xiu , the ambitious antagonist in the first few episodes, had just kicked off a dying Sima Yi into the river. He is relieved, proud of what he has accomplished.
When he is left alone , he turns to see his hands in the dimming night. There’s blood on his hands. He realizes what he has done, betraying his father’s trust and hope for a Han alliance, murdering at least two men. He screams into the night.
The scene is representative of howThe Advisors Alliance 军师联盟 has so far treated its characters – as complex and contradicting human beings.
With a rich set of characters, a fast-paced plot, thoughtful but colloquial dialogue, and just the right amount of romance and humor mixed in, The Advisors Alliance is probably the best scripted ancient drama in the past couple of years. Continue reading →
As Ode to Joy II 欢乐颂 2 is geared up for release, here’s a review of season 1 of the hit series from 2016.
Witty dialogue and a cast of memorable characters make Ode to Joy one of the most fun sit-coms in a while. Unfortunately, the series is often dogged down by attempts to shift to a melodrama that makes the ff button a necessary friend.
The series focuses around the unlikely friendship between five women who share a floor in an apartment complex in Shanghai. There’s Andi (An Di?), the business professional with a fear of human touch, Qu Xiaoxiao, the heiress fighting for the family inheritance, Fan Shengmei, the gold-digger with an entitled family, Qiu Yingying, the happy-go-lucky college grad, and Guan Ju’er, the ordinary white-collared girl who has never said no in her life.
Coming from a misogynistic rural family, Fan Shengmei (Jiang Xin) is vain, self-centered, but also righteous and protective. She would lie to help out a friend, but also to save face. The first lets her befriend the women in the apartment complex, but the second gets her in trouble as she falls for men who use her vanity to play her. When she falls in love with a man faked his own wealth to date her, she is caught between love and vanity. Imperfect, complex, and sharp-tongued, Fan’s characterization is perfect.