I watched Go Ahead (以家人之名) back in August/September as it was airing and I loved it so much. Even though the year’s not over yet, it’s absolutely one of my favorites of 2020.
More than anything, Go Ahead is a story about healing, and how important family and friends are. This show is so emotional, and frequently had me laughing out loud and tearing up in the same episode. The pacing was great until the very last episode, which offered a rushed and tidy conclusion. Normally I’d side-eye that 46-episode count, but I would’ve watched additional episodes of Go Ahead. It’s available on YouTube and Viki with English subtitles.
Go Ahead begins with the start of Li Jianjian, Ling Xiao, and He Ziqiu’s bond as kids before jumping to them in high school. Normally I’m eager for the characters to age up, but the childhood and high school episodes are so impactful and well-paced. Li Jianjian is played by Tan Songyun (aka Seven Tan), who I’ve been a fan of since The Fox’s Summer. She excels here at both the humor and the emotional moments, and really pulled off both the high school and young adult look so believably. I love Jianjian’s silliness, her love of sweets, and her career as an artist! It’s so rare to see a main character who is happily living as an artist. Despite her silliness she’s not naive, she’s used to diffusing tension and easing pain with humor, and she’s a loyal friend who stands up to bullies.
Everyone’s favorite character is Jianjian’s dad, Li Haichao, who is a big-hearted softie, possibly the most patient, supportive, and understanding parent I’ve ever seen in a c-drama. Ling Xiao and Ziqiu both suffer from emotional trauma (it’ll break your heart), but are able to find joy and love from growing up with Jianjian and her dad. Song Weilong and Steven Zhang both played their roles so well. This year I’ve watched Song Weilong in Find Yourself and Steven Zhang in Skate Into Love, but they had me totally absorbed in their characters here. I completely forgot their former characters.
I loved the supporting characters, too: Jianjian’s friends, Ziqiu’s friend, Jianjian’s colleague. Jianjian’s friends Qi Mingyue and Tang Can are the most developed supporting characters, and I loved seeing the start of their friendship and their individual struggles as adults in love, family, and career. Their scenes together were filled with so much humor and warmth, and Tang Can had some of the best lines in the show. (I’ve got my eye on the actress who plays Tang Can, He Rui Xian, now. I’d love to see her in a leading role!)
Before I started this drama, I was worried about a love triangle, but I was relieved—although there are some unrequited feelings and some misplaced feelings, there’s nothing truly frustrating here. The characters are human, so of course there are some emotional outbursts and awkwardness, but everyone reflects over their feelings and actions and faces them maturely. (Definitely no annoying I-won’t-give-up/evil-schemer second leads here!) There isn’t a strong focus on the romance, but I appreciate that they talked about mental health. I actually would’ve liked to see more of that storyline, to dig deeper into their relationship. (I am being intentionally vague so as not to spoil who the relationship is between.)
The most frustrating aspect of this show? The mothers. It’s the mothers either abandon their children or are too controlling or are never satisfied. This is such a stark contrast to Li Haichao, who, like I said before, is so kind and supportive. Ling Xiao’s dad is a workaholic who isn’t around but he’s upbeat when he’s around, so it gets downplayed. (I am skeptical about him unable to take ANY time off during those nine years.) Fortunately, I did feel like some nuance with the mothers was explored towards the end. One of the mothers has a really heartbreaking character arc and I would’ve loved to see more of her scenes at the end. There’s also a storyline towards the end about another mother that offers a layered, thoughtful reflection. But there’s one mother who is truly self-centered and emotionally manipulative, and she was allowed to continue with her behavior for far too long. I can absolutely believe that there are people like her in the world, but it’s tough to watch and I dreaded her scenes.
Although this drama is more slice-of-life and relatable, the pivotal moments are really dramatic. A lot occurs in rapid succession and it truly felt like an emotional rollercoaster during those episodes—but Jianjian, Ziqiu, and Ling Xiao are so likable and relatable that I felt invested in their lives. Despite some flaws and missed opportunities (if only there were MORE episodes), I truly loved this show, the cast, characters, and the melancholy but soothing OST.
A Selection of Favorite Moments
If, like me, you’re still not over this drama, here are some of my favorite moments! (SPOILER WARNING! There will be spoilers!)
I love how Jianjian and Mingyue become friends, and the bond between the trio. The way that Jianjian comes running with the brick in her bag is epic. 😂
The part beginning at 1:25 is so precious, and that’s when you ~knew~. ❤️
Yes, Tang Can’s “joke” is terrible and 0% funny, but Tang Songyun really does a great job in this scene with Jianjian’s wailing, her realization that she’d be devastated if anything happened to Ziqiu.
This moment is teased in the intro sequence so of course I was so curious about when it’d happen! I think its inclusion in the intro makes it seem like he’s a suitor for Jianjian (or maybe that was just me) but this moment was so much better!
This scene is SO CUTE! It really shows how well Ling Xiao understands Jianjian.
I love seeing Jianjian take what Ling Xiao said to heart and making an effort to show that she cares. It’s kind of heartbreaking to see Ling Xiao so suspicious that she has some kind of reason for coming to see him; he’s so used to people not caring about him.
I love that even though they’re adults, Jianjian is still dragging Ziqiu along with her troublemaker ways. Tang Songyun’s face is so expressive, with that devious smile, the glint in her eyes. And then He Mei steals the scene!!!
I know, this is a weird scene to end on, but this scene is SO SATISFYING, because that guy was so annoying and we were all waiting for Jianjian’s friend/coworker to finally end things!!
Anyways, if your favorite moments weren’t included here, let me know what they are in the comments so that I can go re-watch them, too!