It’s time for me to catch up on writing some reviews! Skate into Love aired in March-April of this year and is available with English subtitles on YouTube and Viki. This is based on a novel but I haven’t read it so I can’t make any comparisons.
This drama had a great mix of romance, humor, and characters who pursued their dreams. Wu Qian (Janice Wu) plays the female lead, who gave up on her speed skating career after an injury but regrets it. At university, she encounters her childhood friend, played by Zhang Xin Cheng (Steven Zhang), who is the star of the hockey team. There are realistic obstacles relating to both their dreams and relationships, and for the most part, no prolonged misunderstandings. However, some supporting characters were too one-dimensional and with a total of 40 episodes, I lost interest as the series went on.
As you may know, I really like Wu Qian. I loved last year’s Le Coup de Foudre, but dropped The Brightest Star in the Sky due to awful writing. Her character in Skate into Love, Tang Xue, is close to the character I wanted her to be in The Brightest Star in the Sky: someone who speaks her mind unapologetically and stands up for herself. So many Chinese dramas in this genre have female leads who are naive and sweet, who keep their heads down. Tang Xue is the opposite, but she is still fiercely loyal and kindhearted. I liked her friendships and her determined efforts to regain her speed skating skills, and she genuinely reflected about herself when faced with the realization that she may have been perceived as a bully.
I have never seen Steven Zhang in anything before, but I thought he did a great job with his character Li Yu Bing’s humor. The enemies-to-lovers dynamic between Tang Xue and Li Yu Bing was fun to watch, but when they got sappy, I’m sorry but it was too much for me. 😂Their misunderstandings were due to poor communication, but due to their youth, I guess it was realistic!
As for the supporting characters, it felt like most of the screentime went to Tang Xue’s friends Xia Meng Huan and Liao Zhen Yu, and while I liked that they were two genuine and kind people who fell in love, I was bored. I did like that they encountered the issue of sacrificing their own dreams for the other person.
Tang Xue and Li Yu Bing both have other admirers, but it felt low-stress because it was clear that no one else ever stood a chance. I liked Tang Xue’s friendship with figure skater Yu Yan, and that the drama addresses mental health struggles that young athletes can face. Sorry, but Bian Cheng was so clearly never in the running as a romantic rival, and his growing obsession felt unrealistic and escalated to extremes! Tang Xue’s cousin Zhou Ran was never a serious contender for Li Yu Bing’s heart either, but at least they fleshed her character out a little and gave her a reason for always trying to compete with Tang Xue. As for Tang Xue’s other roommate, I liked her quirkiness but it felt like her character was purely for humor and not as a layered, smart, loyal human being.
Zhang Yue Wei, Li Yu Bing’s (female) friend and speed skating champion, was my favorite supporting character. It’s understandable that she was initially skeptical about what seemed like special treatment for Tang Xue, but she grudgingly came to respect her and even become her friend. She also never turned to pettiness or sabotage when it came to her romantic feelings. Li Yu Bing’s two roommates were fun, but also seemed like tools for comedic moments without character depth. I won’t even say anything about the coaches and the manager because I had zero interest in their scenes.
Overall, this wouldn’t be at the top of my recommendation list, but I will definitely keep an eye out for Steven Zhang’s next drama!