Review: Love Designer (2020)

Love Designer (2020)

Shortly after watching Eternal Love of Dream (which I haven’t reviewed yet, sorry!), I found myself watching another Dilraba Dilmurat drama: Love Designer, a modern drama where Dilraba finally plays a character who isn’t naive, silly, and clumsy! (Aside from Eternal Love of Dream, I’m thinking of Sweet Dreams and Pretty Li Hui Zhen.)

Zhou Fang (Dilraba Dilmurat) is a motivated, ambitious fashion designer who speaks her mind. Refreshingly, she’s not a spectacularly talented designer, but someone who is learning and recognizes how far she has to grow. Song Lin (Johnny Huang) is a workaholic CEO of an e-commerce company who is, for the most part, straightforward and realistic.

This drama had so much potential, with interesting characters and an avoidance of many annoying cliches I’ve repeatedly encountered in modern dramas lately. However, it was ultimately very disappointing, with a lot of storylines that lacked depth and an extremely rushed ending.

Love Designer finished its 45-episode run on June 21 and is available with English subtitles on Viki and YouTube.

First of all, I thoroughly enjoyed the first few episodes. While the initial meeting between Zhou Fang in a wedding dress and Song Lin on a motorcycle on an empty street/highway by the ocean was overly dramatic (and scenic), I love the there’s-only-one-room-left and guess what, there’s-only-one-bed trope. 😂 I like that they get off on the wrong foot due to this encounter and the lawsuit, but Zhou Fang sincerely and determinedly resolves the issue without wallowing in despair about the back-to-back misfortune she’s facing. The scene where she and Qin Qing exit their car in slow motion and approach Song Lin is iconic! (I thought I saw a GIF of this scene, but I can’t find it right now.)

Thankfully, there’s not a lot of will-they-or-won’t-they between Zhou Fang and Song Lin. The biggest conflict between them is that they are both ambitious and stubborn, and they encounter work-related problems including conflicts of interest and struggles with work-life balance. They have a lot of very sweet moments, which is a nice change from all those dramas where it takes 40 episodes for the leads to finally express their feelings for each other. (Although, it is somewhat off-putting that he barges into her apartment all the time before they’ve established a relationship.)

I also loved the storyline with Zhou Fang’s nephew and Song Lin’s younger sister. They brought so much humor and lightheartedness to the drama.

The other storylines were extremely weak. I loved Zhou Fang’s best friend Qin Qing (Zhang Xin Yu/Viann Zhang) in the beginning because she’s fiercely loyal and a confident, successful jewelry designer. Unfortunately, everything went downhill once her story centered around her relationship with Zuo Yu Lin (Yi Da Qian). Qin Qing is initially uncertain about dating Zuo Yu Lin because of their age gap. Her feelings were understandable since he’s so young and just beginning his career, but once they finally got past that, there was an intolerable storyline with his mother. While Zuo Yu Lin initially seemed like a genuine, caring boyfriend, it was when they encountered a real external conflict that he showed his true colors. He should’ve addressed the issues with his mother rather than repeatedly lying and then letting Qin Qing do the work to win his mother over. Also, they became increasingly cheesy and over-the-top when they were together and it made me cringe.

(Also, while I appreciate that Qin Qing re-wears her outfits, I could not stand that one outfit with the giant white bow.)

Although I said this drama didn’t succumb to most of the tropes of modern dramas, there is one of my least favorites. Lu Na (Zhang Dou Dou) is the classic second female lead who is in love with the male lead and refuses to give up even after being rejected. She’s a successful actress whose partnership with Song Lin’s company has been extremely helpful for him. Fortunately, her storyline is fairly brief.

The biggest missed opportunity was Su Yu Shan (Hu Bing), who was initially presented as the Bad Guy, a ruthless businessman who uses questionable methods and ignores his lonely wife. They should have developed his story more, and not just in the last episode. Things changed so quickly in the end! It seemed like he had a personal vendetta to take down Song Lin, but there wasn’t a corresponding backstory that supported his vehemence. I didn’t see Su Yu Shan as a romantic rival at any point, but I did think it was an awkward position for Zhou Fang to be in.

Two other supporting characters were Zhou Fang and Qin Qing’s friends, Huo Chen Dong and Shen Pei Pei, who totally disappear towards the end and receive an unsatisfying resolution in the final episode.

Zhou Fang’s mother was also had a significant storyline, and she was just too much, forcing Zhou Fang to go on all those awful blind dates and constantly checking up on her. Honestly, all three mothers in this drama were rather domineering—Zhou Fang’s, Qin Qing’s, Zuo Yu Lin’s. I don’t mind strong-willed mothers but in this case, the drama made them all seem so unreasonable.

Lastly, a note on product placement: I hope to never encounter that awful ringtone that multiple (every??) character used, but I am curious to try Hai Di Lao takeout (lol).

Anyhow, I’m sad that this was a disappointment but I will still not give up on modern dramas!

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