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.
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.
Season 2 of Ode to Joyhas released stills of the five ladies Liu Tao, Jiang Xin, Wang Ziwen, Yang Zi and Qiao Xin and their respective pairings. I’m still interested in checking out the premiere, though I’ve been keeping hopes low after season 1 fell short of expectations.
Personally I feel 2016 has been a rather lackluster year for dramas, and there wasn’t a single show that had me completely invested. My standards have risen exponentially after a slew of good dramas in late 2015, and I’m hoping some of the shows from the 2017 lineup will make up for the disappointment this year. That being said, I probably have missed out on a couple of gems this year, so feel free to suggest your favourites below.
This is my first time reviewing anything, so do bear with my ramblings as I try and figure everything out. I also owe a huge thanks to the team at CFensi, especially 0kuo0 and idarklight, for patiently answering all my questions and making sure I settled in with minimal hiccups. All productions are listed in the order they aired, and I’ve also included some short commentary on dramas I dropped.
Get used to seeing this pair, because they’re going to be collaborating for two more seasons of Ode to Joy and at least one of detective series When a Snail Falls in Love 如果蜗牛有爱情.
First of all, I’m kind of impressed by their use of English songs in the two trailers so far. Hopefully this bodes well for their rather large OST (all the girls and maybe Wang Kai have their own song). Second, can everyone but maybe Jiang Xin please get a new stylist? There is absolutely nothing young and hip about any of Wang Kai’s outfits.
I still think Ode to Joy 欢乐颂 could be ground-breaking in being a female-centric modern drama that isn’t solely-focused on romance (despite this trailer), so I have high hopes for this series. I like the end message of the trailer, if anything else. All the leads have signed up for season 2 and 3 for this drama, so that should indicate the script is really good (or they were emotionally blackmailed).
The series has been pushed back for an April 18th release, and still stars Liu Tao, Jiang Xin, Yang Zi, Wang Ziwen, Qiao Xin, Zu Feng, Yang Shuo, Zhang Lu, Wang Kai, Jin Dong, and Zhang Xiaoqian,
So much talent, looks, and personality in one trailer!
This trailer is actually so much better than I expected it to be! Everyone’s on point with their characters, and the trailer looks both fun and dramatic.
So here’s our Ode to Joy 欢乐颂, set to air on April 17, introducing the adorable residents of 2201 and the males in their lives, Liu Tao, Jiang Xin, Yang Zi, Wang Ziwen, Qiao Xin, Zu Feng, Yang Shuo, Zhang Lu, Wang Kai,Jin Dong, and Zhang Xiaoqian,
P.S. Wang Ziwen said that for all of her scenes with Wang Kai, pretty much if the two can’t come up a way to make their scene cute, they’ll just make out, so expect lots of cuteness from the pair.
Who knew? Female bff’s who don’t cat-fight over some guy exists in Chinese dramas.
But you know who aren’t besties in this show? Jin Dong and Wang Kai. Having the two of them being in a show and not having a single scene together is almost as cruel as having Idina Menzel be in a musical and not have a song (I know, it’s been 8 years).
Known for producing dozens of amazing male leads in every show, Shandong TV and co. (The Disguiser, Nirvana in Fire, All Quiet in Peking) is unfortunately one of the worst in their ability to write good female roles. Usually if you’re a female character in one of their dramas, you’ll be lucky if your IQ is above 80 or if your life revolves around anything other than a male. If you’re both, then you are probably an antagonist. Ode To Joy 欢乐颂 is hoping to change that as their first drama with a predominantly female leading cast. Introducing the sisterhood that is Liu Tao, Jiang Xin, Yang Zi, Wang Ziwen, and Qiao Xin. Opposite them are Zu Feng, Jin Dong, Wang Kai,Zhang Lu, Zhang Xiaoqian and a mysterious male lead (rumored to be Luo Jin) who better be really amazing for anyone to pick him over Zu Feng and Jin Dong.
Going against the common trend of one strong woman, one girl-next-door, and one boyish friend, Ode to Joy features at least three independent women who all have their own love interests (that do not intersect).