There’s a few dramas premiering lately and I’ve caught on a few. I’ve pretty much recovered from my drama slump as I’ve been watching more Korean dramas and a few Taiwanese dramas lately. Even to those mediocre dramas, I’m pretty lenient to them. It must be the power of boredom as it makes me check out everything. Since I’m lazy to do a recap on Boysitter and Aim High, I’ll just compile my thoughts on one post.
Note: I will be using the actors/actresses’ names in replace of the characters’ names as it will be less confusing for those who haven’t watch the show. This review is filled with spoilers, proceed with care!
Unfortunately, the first episode didn’t really grab my attention but I’ll give it a couple of more episodes before deciding whether I will continue or not. The story, acting and cameraworks are pretty decent (and Annie Chen looks gorgeous here!) but I think the editing is very choppy, especially when they keep on giving me disjointed and awkward timing of flashbacks to their past. That’s the reason I don’t feel anything yet for their past.
The flashbacks are pretty important when it’s a story about an ex-couple because it will give us a stronger emotional foundation connecting us to the couple’s past. But sadly, in this drama’s case, I feel that the reason for their separation was not convincing enough or at least I felt that Annie Chen’s character could have brought herself better in the separation. I’m not saying that River Huang’s character is not in any wrong but Annie Chen’s revenge at him just because he doesn’t want to get married is immature. Even though she kept on emphasizing about how immature he is to not want to settle down, I’ll say she’s about at the same maturity level as him. Instead of disappearing without any explanation, she should at least tell him clearly that she wants to break up if she really couldn’t stand him.
I think the problem between this couple really boils down to the difference in values and perspective, I don’t think either both of them is right or wrong because they both have their own valid points. It’s understandable that Annie Chen’s character wants to get married because they’ve been together for quite some time but River Huang’s point-of-view is also valid. Even without marriage, he still could love her forever. In the end, marriage is just a piece of paper and what’s most important is their love for each other.
Thus, in this case, I feel that Mr. Right Wanted (征婚啟事) is doing a better job handling a couple with different perspective about marriage as both parties handled it maturely. River Huang’s strong resistance against marriage may stem from his past but nothing is being explained for now so I hope the reasoning behind it will be convincing enough. Despite my dissatisfaction about some parts of the execution, good news is Annie Chen has great chemistry with River Huang and that may be able to cover up some of the flaws.
Aim High (Ep1~6)
Aim High or you can call it “Aimed Too High”… le sigh…….. it really could have been better. With such a nice cast, they ought to do better but instead, they just fell into the mediocre idol drama category, which is what SETTV have been serving us for many years. In A Good Way (我的自由年代) was a miracle coming from SETTV as it had more substance than their usual idol drama offerings. When I heard about the premise is about a bunch of young people working hard for their dreams and the struggles they find in real workplace, I was expecting them to give me a more in-depth view about the workplace but what they did was only dabble on the surface of it and that was disappointing. I’m not expecting SETTV to give me Kdrama Misaeng which totally focuses on the workplace scenes but at least, they could have made the workplace scenes much more realistic. So far, I think only Lego Lee and Yao Yao’s characters are the ones that are pretty realistic in their work scenes.
Initially, I was half-expecting the friendship between the girls to be tighter and more mature like the women in Fabulous 30 (女人30情定水舞間) but I couldn’t feel the tight bond between the girls or at least, it wasn’t enough. The drama actually has a good story setting and a group of talented cast so I think the main problem lies with the writer who doesn’t know how to grab the audience attention and it’s reflected on the TV rating.
Despite my earlier rants, I’ll say the series is pretty serviceable, at least a lot better than those Sunday Makjang (cliché with unnecessary angst) dramas that SETTV have been putting out for the past 2 years. I’m also slowly warming up to most of the main characters, especially Chris Wang and Summer Meng as a couple which I wasn’t expecting to as when I first watched the first set of trailer, I had higher expectations for Lego Lee and Yao Yao as a couple but the writers made them spend so many episodes playing hide and seek that it started to annoy me a little.
On the other hand, Chris Wang and Summer Meng’s chemistry is improving, just like how I warmed up to their characters, it also seem that they are warming up to each other as time goes by. I’ve never thought there will be a day I’ll say this since I’ve always been pretty indifferent about Chris Wang but he is sooooo cute once he starts to discover his own feelings for Summer Meng as he’s so inexperienced and clumsy in love.
Summer Meng has been doing a great job as the earnest rookie even though some of her workplace scenes are pretty unrealistic but that’s the writer’s problem, she’s been very natural without much overreacting and I find it easy to root for her. Yao Yao’s character can be grating at times as she keeps on pushing Lego Lee away but I could understand her logic behind it and I think Yao Yao is doing a pretty great job in acting department.
Unfortunately, I feel that Lego Lee’s character has less room for developments and to be interesting because the moment he meets Yao Yao again, I felt like his world just revolve around her and he begins his endless chase after her. As a character, he became very flat. I prefer his character in the beginning where he was that confident, workaholic team leader of the customer service department. Watching Lego Lee’s character in Aim High, I’m starting to miss him as Liu Chuan in In A Good Way.
I’ll say this is pretty alright to watch to ease boredom as long as you lower down your expectations and just treat this as an SETTV idol drama. Good news is that the story starts picking up recently as the loveline is about to get started and we get more interactions between the two main couples.
Valid Love (Ep1~4)
Unexpectedly, I like Valid Love a lot more than I thought I would. The adultery theme premise was honestly a turn off for me but I still managed to check out the episodes and the tone is livelier than what I expected. I also managed to like Jdrama, Hirugao which also have adultery theme so that may be why I’m more accepting and tolerant when it comes to adultery themed dramas.
For a drama with an adultery topic… I don’t think we should judge the characters with our moral standards but instead, we should focus more on the journey itself and not on the outcome. What are the reasons behind it? What led them to commit adultery? Humans are complicated beings. There are always grey areas when it comes to them committing sinful acts. Not saying that I condone adultery but since this is a drama, I just thought of the ways to enjoy a “fiction”.
Coming from the director of Alone in Love, the cameraworks are intricate and unique, the director pays a lot of attention to details and create a unique atmospheric ambient. Truthfully I couldn’t 100% relate to the theme or these characters, especially the heroine because she’s such an oddball (this writer (Me Too, Flower & My Lovely Kim Sam Soon) always write interesting heroines). The writing to me is a little bit hard to grasp, not saying it’s bad but I’m saying that I can’t really find the correct words to describe and summarize the story. For example, when you’re expecting a romantic moment, they suddenly add in an unexpected humor and for a serious adultery theme, the tone is more skewed to rom-com instead of melodrama. There’s a lot of quirky imaginary sequence which makes me feel like the drama is a fantasy. Even if the drama is such a mixed bag, it’s still strangely engaging.
The leads are doing a great job in the acting department. Lee Shi-Young really brought her quirky oddball character to life. I think her character is even more exciting to watch than her teacher-husband played by Uhm Tae-Woong who is the main narrator of the story. Lee Soo-Hyuk’s narrations overlapped with Uhm Tae-Woong’s narration in ep4. However because of that, I find the heroine hard to read because we’re seeing everything from the guys’ perspective. Even though she does express her feelings and voice out her thoughts to her sister-in-law, Choi Yeo-Jin who have become a vegetable, I still think it’s not enough. Interestingly, even though Choi Yeo-Jin is the character who knows about everything, she won’t affect anyone because she’s in a vegetable state where she can’t even talk or move. She is very dependent on Lee Shi-Young and I feel like their bond is even stronger than what Lee Shi-Young has with her husband.
Another interesting point is that Lee Shi-Young was the one who first fell in love with her husband and chase after him back when she was still a high school student and he was a substitute temporary teacher. She was willing to do anything for him, even to the point where she was willing to sacrifice her life for him. She was also willing to take care of his sister who became a vegetable for 7 years without any complains. With so much passion and love towards her teacher, it’s pretty unimaginable that she would fall in love with another man but it still happened.
It made me think that the ardent love she had for her husband was just an infatuation, she was at a teenage phase where she confused idolization for love. She likes his warmth and she likes how he is so different from her. As an adult, Uhm Tae-Woong was the one who should be responsible to push her away but even though he tried, he still lacks the assertiveness to push her away.
Her infatuation towards him was reckless and I think their so-called “love” became more unforgettable because of the accident that made her sacrificed for him. So, the moment they meet again 7 years later when she’s an adult and he’s not a teacher anymore, they both think it’s fate and got married. But if that accident didn’t happen, I’m sure that he will have left the country without guilt and forgets about her totally. Their bond was dependent on circumstances and happenings that made them closer and they mistook those circumstances as love. Maybe it’s really their fate but it’s definitely not the right fate.
If Lee Shi-Young’s character fell in love with her husband pretty quickly then I’ll say she got into the wrong foot with Lee Soo-Hyuk’s character pretty quickly too. He’s the exact opposite of her husband, he’s cold, arrogant and definitely not the most pleasant person to hang out with. However, they have more things in common than Lee Shi-Young have with her husband. Their love for their crafts and somehow, I feel that they have a deeper connection than what she has with her husband.