How long has it been since I last loved a heroine this much? I think it’s been ages, especially from Taiwanese dramaland. There were some good Taiwanese dramas in the past 2 years but It’s suffice to say that almost no heroine is as cool as the heroine in Mr. Right Wanted (徵婚啟事). If you’re like me, didn’t like Sonia Sui’s character in her previous drama, The Pursuit of Happiness (愛的生存之道) because of how she was so persistent with her ex, then chances are Mr. Right Wanted may be the right drama for you.Mr. Right Wanted OST: Karen Mok (莫文蔚) – Suddenly (忽然之間)
Originally I wanted to write a mini-summary on ep1-4 since I already watched it and the drama airs two episodes per week but I decided to write a full detailed recap of the first episode as I realized that I’m unable to condense the things I want to write as there’s so many things to be covered about. As usual, my first impression post is usually my last recap post as I don’t have much time on my hands to do a weekly detailed recap but I won’t totally say it off, I may still write about the drama in the future if I have enough time and love for this drama.
When I first heard of the premise, I was was expecting a far more whimsical tone or more emphasis on the comedy as the heroine goes on a marriage-hunting quest but instead, the series delivers a surprisingly modern, sensible and pragmatic story with witty dialogues. I also like how they create fantasy sequence to introduce the characters and express their inner-thoughts in such a refreshing way.
Plus, we get a confident and level-headed heroine without marriage intention, that’s like an almost extinct type of character in our usual dramaland as we always get the typical stock type of heroines – overreacting, dumb, cute but endearing even though they can become annoying at times. Even those so-called workaholic heroines secretly longed for their Mr. Right and a marriage.
Mr. Right Wanted is very well-produced and I can see that the producers pay a lot of attention to details. The cinematography makes it look like an extended movie instead of a weekly drama. It’s also very well-received by the Taiwanese audience as the rating is on a continuous rise, 0.96 for the latest episode and it’s leading the Friday idol drama competition. I’m not sure whether this series can pull me out of my recent Taiwanese drama slump but so far, it’s been a keeper.
Meet Li Hai-Ning (Sonia Sui), a 32 years old talented editor-in-chief of a small publishing company, Da Guo Min (DGM). She’s not only successful in her career but also in her love life as she’s in a 9-years stable long relationship with her boyfriend, Fang Cheng-Hao (Jerry Huang) who’s a famous author of relationship guide books and also her co-worker. Hai-Ning is very professional about her work and also mature, calm and practical when it comes to her relationship.
Originally, Hai-Ning worked in a huge publishing company but years later, she decided to take up of the offer to be editor-in-chief in DGM. Thus, Cheng-Hao also left their previous company to follow her out of loyalty. Despite their talents, they have been facing creativity and writer’s block recently and they frets about their next book.
Her younger cousin, Tian Xin (Yao Yao) is an owner of a small boutique shop, relatively successful in her career too. She believes that a relationship needs to be romantic but at the same time, it needs to have a solid financial foundation. She can always come up with a lot of theories when it comes to love. She’s in a stable relationship with Zhang Jia-Qiang (Emerson Tsai), nicknamed Xiao-Qiang, he’s a low-waged animal tamer who works in the zoo.
The story starts with Hai-Ning and her long-time boyfriend, Cheng-Hao attending a wedding party of an ex-colleague of their publishing company, Pei Pei (Patty Wu). Cheng-Hao delivers his congratulatory speech which a script written by Hai-Ning. The script says that it’s a miracle if you meet someone you love and that person loves you back, thus dating is a miracle and marriage is a way to keep this miracle eternally.
Even though Hai-Ning was the one who wrote the speech, she doesn’t believe in marriage as she thinks it’s unnecessary and in fact, she had rejected Cheng-Hao’s marriage proposal a few times and in the wedding party, under their table, she struggles to take out her hand out of Cheng-Hao’s grasp who tries to forcibly put on a ring on her fingers but failed.
The ladies in their table started discussing about marriage topic as they ask one of the girl in their table when she’s getting married. The girl replies that she’s too busy with her career and has no time to date. The ladies tell her that no matter how busy she is, marriage is still important and only getting married means she’s a good girl. Listening to them, Hai-Ning disagrees and the screen cuts to an imaginary sequence where all of the other guests freeze except for her. She gets up and starts to introduce herself and Cheng-Hao and thinks about how to start telling their about their story. Her subordinate Ah-Fa (Gao Ming Jie) suddenly appears on the wedding stage and presents the short clip which contains the story of Hai-Ning and Cheng Hao from their first meeting in college until where they are now.
Hai-Ning’s previous employer, the manager from the major publishing company happens to see Cheng-Hao holding a mini book-signing event outside the wedding reception. She mockingly questions why they end up putting a stall outside a wedding reception. Hai-Ning smiles and replies that it’s an add-on service, putting her advice to work, making books like they’re delivered to the readers. The manager tells her that she’s welcomed to come back to her company whenever she wants to and tells her that next time, she hopes to be present in her wedding.
Hai-Ning meets her cousin, Tian-Xin in a café and she tells her that her brother is going for a marriage meeting, forced by her parents. Knowing her brother’s reserved and quiet personality, Hai-Ning questions Tian-Xin of what methods did they use to force him to accept the marriage meeting. She rebukes and says that she’s also the victim as it’s her parents’ idea. Tian-Xin says that in the marriage market, her brother can only be considered as an unsocial man instead of piano prodigy.
While Hai-Ning is looking through the pictures of the potential candidates who will go onto the marriage meeting, Tian-Xin asks for her advice as her mom thinks very highly of her, always comparing Tian-Xin to her so her opinion is very important. Tian-Xin imitates her mom’s tone to tell her what her mom said about her, that she scores 100% in almost everything but if she gets married, she can score 120%. Hai-Ning playfully replies that she only wants to score 80%.
Hai-Ning laughs that it’s impossible to find true love through the marriage applicant pictures as they haven’t even met or talk to each other. Speaking of true love, Tian-Xin remembers that she have something to give to Hai-Ning and wish for her to find true love. Hai-Ning opens the gift box and finds sexy lingerie lying inside and questions what it have got to do with true love. She replies that it’s true love when a woman is willing to wear it for the man and the man is willing to buy it for her. In return, Hai-Ning exchange a gift with her, a souvenir she got from the wedding she attended.
Back at Hai-Ning’s home, Cheng-Hao tries to persuade her that marriage is a good decision but she tries to switch the topic and open a wedding souvenir she got from the party. She mentioned about how Pei-Pei is so detailed to even write different messages for every wedding guests. Listening to this, it seems that Cheng-Hao is reminded of something and asks where his wedding souvenir is. Hai-Ning replies that she already given it to her cousin, Tian-Xin as what they agreed on earlier.
Hai-Ning offers to give Tian-Xin a call so that she can know what Pei-Pei wrote for him but he switched the topic, requesting to have sex with her since it’s been so long since they last have it and he jokes that it might clear his writer’s block. She rejects him as she needs to conduct an interview for editors tomorrow and she hopes to get a male editor as most female editors will resign to get married. Hai-Ning gets up to get a shower after their talks and when she sees the sexy lingerie given by Tian-Xin, she tries on it as she changes her mind to accept his request for sex. However, after she returns from the shower, she finds him asleep on the sofa, holding a box of wedding ring held tightly in his hands. She takes it the box out of his hand and opens it, giving it a meaningful stare before she returns the box back into his hands.
The next morning, Hai-Ning starts to conduct job interviews for applicants who want to be an editor in their publishing company but she didn’t find any interesting applicants and all the applicants are female. Soon after the end of her job interviews, a young man) hastily barges into her office, out of breath and apologizes for being late to the job interview as he was too focused on reading a book in a used bookstore. Hai-Ning asks for his name, the young man replies that he’s He Zhong-Wen (Hans Chung). Searching through the job applicant list, she can’t find his name but she decides to still give him a chance despite him being late on the interview.
She asks what his ideal romance guide book is and he seems to be taken aback by her question. Amused, she questions him that didn’t he know this is their standard question for job interview? He hesitates for a while and asks why people need to read a book for dating? Again, she’s amused by his question and tells him that it should be her interviewing him.
Understanding what she means, he immediately replies that it’s 征婚啟事 (The Notice from a bachelorette), a book about a woman puts up a notice on newspaper to request for marriage applicants and she wrote down the stories from all of the men she met. He says that he prefer such a book as it neither gives judgement nor gives guidance to people. She falls into deep thought after she heard his answers, seemingly to thought of something and started to search for the book in her bookshelf. He offers his copy of the book to her as he have just bought it from the used bookstore but she rejects his offer as she also have a copy of her own and prefers to read her own book.
While she’s still searching for the book, he questions her why does she ask such a question for a deliveryman job interview. Hearing that, she immediately realize that he had entered the wrong building as the delivery company is located right behind her publishing company and tells him to go quickly. He apologizes for his mistake and heads off hastily.
Hai-Ning still can’t find her copy of The Notice from a bachelorette and gives her cousin, Tian-Xin a call as she’s in charge of making a table list for her library. She replies that her call is so on-time as Cheng-Hao has just left her boutique shop earlier on. He came to ask about where his wedding souvenir is, which she already given her customer who bought many things from her. Hai-Ning tells her to not mind about that first and ask her to find her copy of book as she needs it urgently. Tian-Xin looks through the table list and replies that she already sold it off to a used bookstore 3 years ago. Dejected, Hai-Ning asks one of her subordinate, Ah-Fa (Gao Ming Jie) to buy a few copies of the book. She goes back to her office and finds The Notice from a bachelorette that Zhong-Wen left lying on her table. She opens it and finds her handwriting on the last page of the book. She smiles as she realizes that it’s the exact book she sold to the used bookstore 3 years ago.
She holds a meeting with her subordinates and Cheng-Hao, telling them that she already thought of an idea for their next book – to adapt the story of The Notice from a bachelorette with a modern twist. Using the internet as a medium, they will post a marriage request notice on facebook and Cheng-Hao will meet these marriage applicants, have a chat with them and write down their stories. The stories will then be compiled together in a book and it’s scheduled to be published 3 months later.
In the middle of their meeting, the receptionist, Zhang Mei-Feng (Dai Ruo-Mei) receives a call from a reporter and tells Hai-Ning that it’s an urgent private matter that she needs to handle. As Hai-Ning is still very busy, she asks Mei-Feng to just tell her in front of everyone. Even though Mei-Feng is hesitant at first, she decides to go ahead and tell the message to everyone. It turns out that the reporter received a polaroid picture of Cheng-Hao and a blonde hair beauty in the hotel room. Cheng-Hao sighs as he listens to the message as he already knows that it must the picture Pei-Pei put into his wedding souvenir box which Tian-Xin had passed on to her customer.
The meeting room becomes very quiet in all of a sudden. After a moment of silence, Hai-Ning asks Mei-Feng to ask the reporters to send in the polaroid picture first. Ah-Fa asks whether they need to give her and Cheng-Hao some space to talk it out first but Hai-Ning calmly denies his offer as Cheng-Hao is their company’s asset so his image is very important. Therefore, when they encounter a problem, they should solve it together. The polaroid picture is projected on the screen and the staffs are surprised by the picture as they recognizes that the woman is Pei-Pei, their co-worker who just gotten married lately. They recall that it’s a picture taken from the company’s year-end party last year.
Cheng-Hao who have been keeping quiet all this time says that he can explain it to Hai-Ning and swears that it’s the only time he cheated on her as Pei-Pei said that after 20 years of being a good girl, she wants to try to be a bad girl before her wedding. Hai-Ning cuts his explanation and asks which hotel they had sex at. Taken aback by her unexpected question, Cheng-Hao asks her to repeat the question again. Growing impatient, Hai-Ning slightly raises her voice and repeats her question.
After he tells her which hotel it is, she immediately asks her colleagues to find the room pictures of that hotel and the pictures they took together in last year’s company year-end party and tells the graphic designer, Bei-Bei (Fang Jing) to photoshop these settings into the background of the polaroid picture. When the reporters come to the office, Hai-Ning shows them the photoshopped picture and tell them that it’s a picture taken from last year’s company year-end party and they were holding a bachelorette party for her so all the staffs were present and the picture is just a misunderstanding.
The reporters buy her story and left the company. When she returns back to her office, she finds Cheng-Hao sitting on her chair and calmly tells him that he can leave since the reporters went off already. As he can’t take her cold reaction any longer, he tells her that even though he’s at fault, she should have stronger reaction than that and not be so cold to him. He recalls the times when she’ve been cold to him – when he asks how is his book selling, she tells him to not worry; when he asks how is her mother doing, she just says everything is well and even in bed, when he asks whether she’s feeling good, she just tells him that she’s having stomach ache.
Hai-Ning questions whether he’s trying to get her attention by cheating on her. She continues to question him why did all of her editors leave the company as they get married even when Mei-Feng who is married and have two kids can still stay at the company. She questions him of how many of her editors, beside Pei-Pei he has slept with. He tells her that he needs her love and he needs to know that she cares about him. He needs to be in love in order to write his relationship guide books and he wrote all of his books for her. She sarcastically replies that his employment contract did not write about having editors to sleep with the author.
Cheng-Hao tells Hai-Ning that if she would have been willing to get married to him, things like these won’t happen. She retorts that it’s just his excuse and not getting married is her life choice. Cheng-Hao points out that it’s not that she doesn’t want to get married but instead, she’s afraid of marriage, she doesn’t believe in love, she doesn’t believe that the miracle she mentioned in her script can be kept eternally. Hurt by his truthful words, she’s unable to find words to reply him so she keeps quiet and turn her back from him. Cheng-Hao apologizes as he stares at her back and heads to the door.
As he almost reaches the door, Hai-Ning recites a phrase from his relationship guide book, “during a fight, make sure to be the one to apologize first no matter whose fault it is”. She sarcastically remarks that he’s an author that is very true to his words. He turns to face her and tells her that he truly loves her and he believes that marriage is a kind of promise. He also guarantees that he won’t mess around once he gets married. Hai-Ning remarks that true love can even be used to describe sexy lingerie so his words do not have much weight. Before he leaves, she reminds him of the photoshoot work tonight and asks him not to be late for work.
Cut to Hai-Ning at the marriage meeting of Tian-Xin’s brother with the family members of both parties being present. As Tian-Xin’s brother plays the piano on the other side of the room, the familes happily chit chats. Once Tian-Xin’s brother finish playing the piano, he announces to all the people that he can’t get married as he already got married to his piano so he can’t be disloyal to it. Listening to him, Hai-Ning tries to contain her laughter.
The girl and her family hangs out outside their house as Tian-Xin’s family are in discussion about how to solve this problem. Tian-Xin suggests two ways to solve it. First is to cancel the marriage meeting and second is to go outside and apologize to them and continue with the meeting. They decide to go by voting, Tian-Xin and her brother vote for the second choice, while their parents vote for the first choice. They are all left with Hai-Ning’s vote to decide which choice it is. All of the people in the room throw her anticipating stares as she slowly raises her hand to vote but is interrupted by her sudden sneezing.
Tian-Xin is at Hai-Ning’s home preparing dinner, Hai-Ning asks her whether her brother will really get married. Tian-Xin replies that thanks to her vote, they will. Hai-Ning suddenly feels bad about it. Tian-Xin says that she was just joking. The girl’s family said that they have to get some time to consider about it so she thinks that it means that they won’t get married.
Hai-Ning asks didn’t she tell her that marriage and feelings are two different things so does it really matter that her brother get married to a person he doesn’t have feelings for. Tian-Xin replies that her brother is not like her so he needs someone that’s able to take care of him. She also adds on that everyone is different, for example, Hai-Ning is not suitable for marriage. Hai-Ning questions why she said that. Tian-Xin replies that she look like the type of people that can’t live with other people as even though she’s been in a relationship with Cheng-Hao for 9 years, they still live separately.
Tian-Xin questions whether she’s able to endure her husband’s having affairs everywhere when she get married. Hai-Ning replies that Cheng-Hao said that he promised to not mess around anymore after marriage as he believes that marriage is a promise. Tian-Xin asks whether she really believes his words and she replies that she doesn’t believe him.
As they prepare to eat dinner, Hai-Ning receives a picture message from Cheng-Hao who is at the scheduled photoshoot. Tian-Xin couldn’t stand her generosity and ask her to not care about Cheng-Hao and stop working for him anymore since she’s now heart-broken. Hai-Ning retorts that he’s the one who cheated and it’s not her who’s heart-broken. Furthermore, they still work with each other so she can’t do that and she feels that once their work-relationship ends, their relationship will end too. Tian-Xin suggests her to cheat on him too to get back at him so he can feel the feeling of being betrayed. Hai-Ning says that by doing that, she’s actually betraying herself so she won’t do it.
The doorbell rings as they start to eat, Tian-Xin thinks it’s Cheng-Hao but Hai-Ning says it’s impossible as Cheng-Hao knows to not disturb her during their fights, which is one of the guide from his relationship book. Hai-Ning gets up to open the door and find a deliveryman with flowers in his hands. It turns out that he’s Zhong-Wen, the delivery guy who mistakenly entered her company for job interview. She congratulates him for being accepted for the job.
Before he leaves, she shows him The Notice from a bachelorette book he left in her office and tells him that it’s the same book she sold to the used bookstore and marvel about the coincidence. She asks him how much he bought it for and says that she wants to buy it back from him. He tells her to not mind it and treat it as a gift from him.
As Hai-Ning returns to the dining table, Tian-Xin asks who is the delivery guy and show her a table of comparison she drew just now and tells her that the delivery guy wins over Cheng-Hao in terms of looks. Tian-Xin asks her who is the flower sender and she replies that it’s from Cheng-Hao as he still remembers that she cries after receiving her very first flower when she turned 25. Ever since that incident, no matter what happens, he will always send her a flower.
Uninterested by it, Tian-Xin puts the flower aside and points out that the biggest problem in their relationship is that she hasn’t meet enough people and ask her to meet more people since he already meet so many people behind her back. She also comments that even a delivery guy outside is so hot, doesn’t she think that life is full of hope.
Hai-Ning who was intently flipping through The Notice from a bachelorette book suddenly says that she should post to search for marriage candidates. Surprised by her sudden announcement, Tian-Xin tells her to not jump too far as she only told her to meet more people and not get married. Hai-Ning replies that she’s not getting married and she just want to know why so many people want to get married and whether marriage is truly a form of promise. Although she doesn’t believe that marriage is a promise, there are so many other people who believe in it and she wonders whether they truly believe in it.
Back in her company, Hai-Ning holds a meeting with her colleague and asks her staff to post a marriage application on facebook. She will be the one to meet the marriage candidates they choose together and write it as a book. She tells her staff to conceal her true identity by not showing her profile picture and revealing her job.
At night, Zhong-Wen goes to the used bookstore to buy a copy of The Notice from a bachelorette and just as he leaves, Cheng-Hao enters the store to request a copy too but the owner says that he just sold away the last copy.
Meanwhile, back in the office, Hai-Ning is typing the copy for her marriage application, “Female, 32 years old. Looking for men who are upright, kind and willing to communicate. Hoping to be friends first before marriage.”
Thoughts on Ep1
So far, I like how the series is unfolding, the men are not really the focus as the story solely focuses on Hai-Ning love life alone and a little bit on her witty and endearing cousin, Tian-Xin. As I’ve actually watched 6 episodes, I’ll just spoil on a little bit and say that I’m in love with how the writers make her grow as a character by understanding the different motives of various marriage candidates. To add frosting on the cake, the marriage candidates are all interesting in their own ways and the marriage meetings are the potential stock for humor. By meeting different marriage candidates, there’s only two routes to go from here, one is Hai-Ning starts to believe in marriage, and two is to hold an even stronger resistance in marriage.
Hai-Ning’s strong resistance in marriage actually reflects of how strongly she distrusts marriage and love. I’m not sure where does her root of distrust comes from, is it her family background or is it just the way she is generally. But no matter what reason, she’s definitely an unconventional heroine, the way she reacts to Cheng-Hao’s affair was done so calmly and practical, almost to the point where I wonder whether she ever truly loved him or is it just a 9-years habit of being together. Because even after 9 years, he still wasn’t able to persuade her into marriage and that really says something, maybe he’s just not the right man for her? Maybe she haven’t met the right man that she really feels like getting married to and thus, the English title is actually pretty fitting to her character, even though at first I thought their original English title, The Notice from a Bachelorette was much more catchy.
Hai-Ning acts like a realistic mature adult and she’s such a workaholic as even at such a circumstance, she was able to keep her cool and take the necessary steps to solve the problem professionally. I’m totally in love with Hai-Ning as a character as I can relate to her reactions and how she handles things, it just feels so realistic. For some reason, the calmer she is, the more I ache for her as I feel that she finds it difficult to express her real emotions and she just keeps a lot of things to herself. Sonia Sui is really doing a good job. Well, to be fair, she was always a pretty decent actress and she picks good projects (ever since her departure from SETTV, HA!).
Besides Hai-Ning, I gotta say the writer is doing a great job in writing the side characters. Tian-Xin is such a contrast next to Hai-Ning, she’s definitely those kind of fun cousin to be with. She got her own unique theories about love and she’s just so witty. I love her interactions with Hai-Ning, she totally livens up the series. I feel that to a certain extent, Tian-Xin and Hai-Ning portray different types of modern-days female pretty accurately, they both are successful in their career and even though they have a stable boyfriend, romance is not the only focus in their life. They’re very independent and intelligent.
Even though Tian-Xin is younger than Hai-Ning by 7 years, I think she is as mature as Hai-Ning and she understands what she wants in her life even more than Hai-Ning who led a stagnant life with Cheng-Hao for the past 9-years. As like what Tian-Xin pointed out, Hai-Ning hasn’t have the chance to try and meet other people besides Cheng-Hao so I feel that she hasn’t enough to know whether Cheng-Hao is suitable for her. Tian-Xin is always on point with her speech and she have a clear outline of what she wants in her life, just like how she’s such a table freak, she likes to see her life organized. I really like Yao Yao as Tian-Xin, she’s quite a scene stealer actually. She’s also pretty good in the current drama she’s leading, Aim High (22K夢想高飛) so I’m quite happy to see that she’ve improved so much from her earlier debut days where she was one of those otaku-killer that constantly sells on her sexy charms (boobs). She’s much better as an actress and she’s cute.
The best part about this drama is how all of the characters are interesting as despite their flaws, they feel very realistic. Even the upcoming marriage candidates are interesting (not trying to spoil on anything). Even though Cheng-Hao is the cheating boyfriend, I can still somehow understand where he is coming from. I feel that he truly love Hai-Ning as he’s able to stand such a cold girlfriend for 9 years and withstand so many rejections from her, it definitely shows that he cares for her a lot despite his affairs. Reality is some men separate love and physical needs so even if he slept with other girls, it doesn’t mean that he don’t love her. In reality, love is much more complex than those one-dimensional kinds of love we’ve been getting from many dramas. There are many sides to it and there’s no right or wrong, it’s just a matter of love or not. I love that the writer are showing him in this manner as sometimes there’s a lot of grey areas in real life.
The pilot episode may be a little bit slow for some people but good news is, things really start to be livelier in the upcoming episodes when she starts meeting marriage candidates and I’m in love with the large cast of this series, the supporting cast is all sorts of great and the producers fully utilise their potential.