All Is Well, which aired in March this year, is not the type of Chinese drama I typically watch. As you can tell from past posts, I gravitate towards idol dramas and historical dramas, even crime dramas, with a romance-focused storyline. Meanwhile, All Is Well is a family-themed drama centering around the relationship between three adult siblings and their elderly father after their mother passes away.
All Is Well is on YouTube with English subs and I definitely recommend it if you are interested in complicated family dynamics and learning about Chinese culture. The cast is stellar, and this drama was produced by Daylight Entertainment, the same company that made Nirvana in Fire, Ode to Joy, The Story of Minglan, When a Snail Falls in Love.
Note: This post is spoiler-free!
All Is Well begins with the death of the Su siblings’ mother, which brings the three siblings together for the first time in years. Throughout the series, they are continuously pulled together as issues arise with their father, from who will take care of him to concerns about his health.
Chen Yao does a fantastic job playing the main character, Su Mingyu, the youngest of the three Su siblings who is estranged from her family. I admit, prior to this drama I had never heard of Chen Yao but she even made Time‘s 100 Most Influential People list in 2014 so my bad.
Mingyu is very successful in a high-level position at a company, and there are several major corporate storylines. The story of her childhood is heartbreaking, and throughout the drama you see how it has affected her life. Despite everything, she still can’t cut ties with her family. I loved how fierce and confident she was, but she definitely made some rash decisions and was on occasion too unyielding.
Guo Jingfei is the one of the only cast members I recognized, because his villainous role in Nirvana in Fire 2 was so memorable (pictured on the right, in case you didn’t recognize him!). His acting really impresses me, but I think I need to find one of his more pleasant roles to watch… His character, Su Mingcheng is the middle child, and he and his sister have fought since they were children. Mingcheng has always been their mother’s favorite, and since their older brother, Mingzhe, went abroad to study and hadn’t been back in years, Mingcheng was closest with their mother.
Since Mingzhe was always studying and then went abroad, he doesn’t understand the depth of the animosity between Mingcheng and Mingyu. He’s also the kind of person who really cares about ‘face’ (like, saving face) and this made him a very frustrating character to watch.
Mingcheng and Mingzhe are both married, and their wives were both really rational, pleasant people. Mingzhe and his wife have a child and live in the US, and as his family issues arise, she really seems a different side of him and financial concerns drive a wedge between them. As for Mingcheng, he and his wife don’t have children but are very happy together, but Mingyu’s reappearance in his life brings out the worst side of him.
Don’t worry, Mingyu does get a romance storyline, and how can you not love Tony Yang‘s Shi Tian Dong, a chef and owner of a small restaurant that Mingyu frequents. He is deeply caring and soft-spoken (and easy on the eyes), and doesn’t hesitate to defend the people he cares about. I do have to say, Mingyu’s treatment of him initially is a little off-putting, but given her history, it’s understandable that he had to break down her walls slowly.
I did recognize Morning Chang/Zhang Chen Guang as President Meng, Mingyu’s boss and mentor, from his role in Love’s Lies (as a gangster, lol). The backstory of why Mingyu is so loyal to him is very moving, and he is a very cunning businessman. Pictured on the right is his son in the drama, Xiao Meng, played by Peng Yu Chang. Xiao Meng’s storyline is towards the end of the drama, and I loved him! He brought a more playful storyline to the mix. He’s 24 and I’m keeping an eye on his future dramas.
Although it felt like there was a little too much redemption towards the end, I enjoyed this drama about family, adulthood, marriage, and taking care of an older parent. It was an emotional story, with a lot of painful moments, but felt very realistic. If you have any recommendations for similar dramas, let me know, and I will definitely give other similar dramas a chance.