Review: I Hear You (2019)

I Hear You 2019

I Hear You (最动听的事) is a 24-episode Chinese drama that aired in January-February 2019 and is available on Netflix with English subtitles.

TLDR; version of this post: I thought I Hear You was boring and not memorable, but also not terrible in comparison to all the frustrating modern C-dramas out there.

Riley Wang plays the male lead, Ye Shu Wei, a talented and successful violin maker. This is the first drama I’ve seen him in. Zhao Lusi plays the female lead, Bei Er Duo (lol yes her name translates to ‘ear’, why do they do this), an aspiring voice actress. I’d seen her play a supporting character in last year’s Untouchable Lovers and I watched a few episodes of the webdrama she starred in, Oh! My Emperor. She has a rather distinctive raspy voice.

I enjoyed I Hear You up until episode 17 as a lighthearted drama without any elements that made me angry or annoyed (which feels pretty rare with Chinese modern dramas). I personally enjoy the ‘pretend couple becomes real’ trope a lot, and the premise here is that Ye Shu Wei’s nephew and Bei Er Duo’s best friend convince them to appear on a couples competition show they are producing. At one point, to keep the act up, they have to move in together. At around episode 17, I felt like the plot lost momentum, there was only a vague semblance of a storyline at all, and then finally, several elements of the final two episodes really bothered me. (I will expand upon my thoughts on the final episodes with spoilers at the end, clearly marked.)

Ye Shu Wei is the classic stony-faced, emotionless, solitary, serious and smart male lead and to be honest I’m bored of it (it doesn’t help that I’m simultaneously watching Le Coup de Foudre, sigh). I did enjoy seeing him gradually grow to care for Bei Er Duo and trying to support her with genuine consideration, as opposed to trying to offer his connections.

Ok fine, he does smile on occasion. I think it’s unleashing that dimple that gets Riley Wang these roles.

I Hear You 2019

Bei Er Duo is kind and determined; she has a dream of becoming a voice actress and her goal is to study abroad in Japan. I loved that she was always studying, working hard to improve herself, and wanted to rely on her talent not connections. In some dramas, I feel like the female lead initially has goals but then those goals are forgotten or we barely see any progress made in that direction, but Bei Er Duo’s storyline is very goal-focused and I love it.

Since Ye Shu Wei and Bei Er Duo are both inexperienced in love, they feel like an even-leveled match despite him being rich and successful. But, their relationship is pretty boring. There were some cute moments and some cringey moments but nothing memorable. I actually felt like Shu Wei put much more effort and heart into their relationship, in trying to understand her, encourage her, and prepare surprises for her. (But I can only take so much of Riley Wang’s stony-faced acting.) Ultimately, I don’t particularly hold any positive memories of them, as a couple or individually.

The supporting characters Yu Sheng and Tang Li, the aforementioned nephew and best friend, help make the premise believable since initially they are the middlemen making arrangements for the fake couple. Tang Li’s character arc is fantastic and is the one great thing in this show. I loved that she faced her feelings head on, stuck to her principles, and worked hard to find her own happiness. Her storyline wasn’t what I expected, but she articulated it well when she explained her decisions to Er Duo. The maturity of her character was a sharp contrast to Er Duo’s childish demeanor.

SPOILER WARNING: Continue reading for my thoughts on the final two episodes.

In the last two episodes, it made no sense that those two women both got ahold of Er Duo’s phone number. The teacher’s daughter I can try to believe but the colleague’s girlfriend?!?!?! That made no sense. Why did other people feel like they had the right to blame Er Duo for Shu Wei’s choices? I liked that Er Duo sat down with him at the beach and talked about it honestly but why did Shu Wei not respond? Even though Er Duo returned the ring, it felt so inconclusive. (Also, if he really wanted to give up violin making/didn’t care about that major violin order, I can respect his choice.)

The last straw for me was how Er Duo chose to separate from Shu Wei. They had checked in their luggage and he was being paged for the flight so it just made no sense on so many levels. At the very least she could have sent him a text message after clearing security. For her to leave him behind like that felt so disrespectful to their relationship and to him.

The last scene was so strange and inconclusive. I wish that instead she had said at the beach, hey don’t come to Japan with me, don’t give up your work and let’s date long distance for now and see how it goes… The options aren’t just go to Japan together or break up! So unfortunate when the ending ruins a drama like this.

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