I know, I know, why am I even bothering to dedicate a full post to Dear Designer? This 38-episode drama was total garbage and I recommend it to absolutely no one. I’m glad that I only watched up to episode 25, read (negative) comments by other viewers, and skipped to the last three episodes.
I’m going to summarize what I watched so this is a SPOILER ZONE!
Dear Designer stars Zhang Jia Ning (aka Karlina Zhang) as Shen Tian Tian. I saw Zhang Jia Ning’s previous drama, this year’s women-centric Love Yourself, and thought she was likable enough. Here, her character is the stereotypical overly-kind, self-sacrificing female lead. Shen Tian Tian grew up alongside Tang Guo Er, played by Jiang Fang Ting. (I felt like Jiang Fang Ting looked familiar but I haven’t seen her previous work so maybe she just has one of those faces…) They are best friends, and Tian Tian is a talented, passionate, hardworking fashion designer who secretly works as Tang Guo Guo’s “shadow designer” while by day she’s only a lowly janitor at the company.
Tang Guo Er’s mother, Li Man Li, is a shrewd businesswoman who took in Tian Tian and her mother and paid for Tian Tian’s education, so Tian Tian feels grateful towards her and doesn’t feel taken advantage of. Li Man Li schemes to have her daughter marry the son of her business rival, Zhao Ming Yuan, played by Steven Zhang. Having met a man by chance that she fell for at first sight, Tang Guo Er asks Tian Tian to go to the blind date instead and pretend to be her. Zhao Ming Yuan and Tian Tian develop feelings for each other, and when Li Man Li discovers what her daughter has done, goes along with pretending that Tian Tian is Guo Er—but it turns out that the man Guo Er fell in love with is Zhao Ming Yuan! Meanwhile, a young man named Wang Ye, who is played by Sheng Guan Sen, also grew up alongside Guo Er and Tian Tian, and he’s been in love with Guo Er for years.
At this point, the drama was okay! I was intrigued! And I was pleasantly surprised when Tang Guo Er’s initial reaction was to wish her best friend happiness and give up on her own feelings for Zhao Ming Yuan. Despite being spoiled and letting her mother use her best friend’s designs, I thought that this friendship did mean something to her. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long. Li Man Li manipulates Guo Er into feeling like Tian Tian has used her, even though Tian Tian was adamant that she would give up Zhao Ming Yuan for Guo Er. Guo Er ends up going along with getting engaged to Zhao Ming Zhe.
Zhao Ming Yuan’s actions seriously gave me whiplash; one moment he was taking engagement photos with Guo Er, the next he was asking Tian Tian to run away with him, and then he was coldly telling her he was marrying Guo Er. That’s a big NOPE for me. Even worse is how Tian Tian just accepts this? She just wants everyone else to be happy? She’s treated poorly at work, her designs and the person she loves are taken by her best friend. Please, Tian Tian, live your life for yourself!!!
It’s around this point that I started rooting for Wang Ye more. Although Wang Ye really loved Guo Er, he sees how she disregards his feelings over and over again, but then comes back to him when she’s seeking comfort. But, Zhao Ming Yuan isn’t the real son of Zhao Lan Ge—Wang Ye is! What a twist of fate. Li Man Li (Guo Er’s mother) betrayed Zhao Lan Ge’s wife and caused her death, so Zhao Lan Ge’s plan is to marry his adopted son to her daughter, and then reveal the true heir to his company. Once Wang Ye gets involved with this plot and starts telling Zhao Ming Yuan what to do, I stopped rooting for him as well.
There’s also a reveal that Guo Er and Tian Tian are half-sisters, and Guo Er is the one who finds out, but I can’t remember what the story was with their father…
At what point did I stop watching? When Tian Tian ends up in the hospital (honestly I can’t even remember what happened to cause her to end up in the hospital), the doctor tells Guo Er that Tian Tian is pregnant, and Guo Er asks him not to tell Tian Tian. First of all, there was no love scene between Tian Tian and Zhao Ming Yuan! They could’ve suggested it and then faded to black, or even shown some kind of morning-after scene, but there was no hint of it, so this reveal comes out of nowhere. Second, I read a spoiler that she loses the baby. So when I skipped to the last three episodes and discovered that Zhao Ming Yuan was by Guo Er’s amnesiac side? No, thanks! Zhao Ming Yuan feels guilty towards Guo Er… but what about Tian Tian? At some point, you have to choose and I think he made his choice clear.
THEN, after recovering her memories, Guo Er decides she wants a new beginning and pretends to still have amnesia for YEARS. There’s a time jump, maybe two years, and during that time Guo Er becomes a talented designer (when before she was practically allergic to scissors?) and wants to challenge Tian Tian, who is unable to find any inspiration to design anymore. I just can’t stand the injustice of Tian Tian’s fate! Then, once again, Zhao Ming Yuan and Wang Ye set up a situation to reveal the people who betrayed Tian Tian two years ago, and Tian Tian finally says something that I wanted to applaud. She is always the only person who doesn’t know what’s going on, while everyone is plotting and scheming, and using her as a pawn. I was relieved she finally called them out on it… and yet, she plans to proceed with marrying Wang Ye?
To top it all off, it’s Wang Ye who seeks out Zhao Ming Yuan on the day of the wedding and challenges him to see who makes it to Tian Tian first. So basically, if Wang Ye hadn’t sought him out, Ming Yuan wouldn’t have tried to stop the wedding? And Tian Tian turns and SMILES at the end when it’s implied that Ming Yuan is the one who arrives. Tian Tian, please, just leave both these garbage people and start a new life on your own.
I enjoy a revenge drama for its entertainment value, the twists and turns, but there was absolutely nothing to like here, and it was too frustrating to be called enjoyable.