First Impressions: The Centimeter of Love (Episodes 1-16)

The Centimeter of Love (2020)

I haven’t been writing first impression posts anymore because I frequently enjoy the first fourth or third of a drama, only to find myself losing interest during the remainder and dropping it. 😅 However, I’m watching the currently-airing Chinese drama The Centimeter of Love (爱的厘米), and it’s impossible to watch without discussing it. It’s available on YouTube, and it looks like they’ve added English subtitles!

The main characters, Guan Yu Qing (Tong Liya) and Xu Qing Feng (Tong Dawei), are both multi-layered, likable, and mature, and have great chemistry. Yu Qing is a skilled pilot, while Qing Feng is a talented surgeon. It’s refreshing to see older characters who are successful; I’ve been a little tired of watching CEOs in every single drama. It’s over time that Yu Qing and Qing Feng begin to develop feelings for each other. I really appreciate the pacing here, and that it’s not love at first sight or some dramatic set-up.

BUT, almost every supporting character is almost unbearable to watch. 😬 It’s truly a battle of which character is the absolute worst, and there are moments in every single episode that will probably enrage you.

I’ve watched 16 episodes, but there are 44 in total, so it’s too soon for me to determine whether I’d recommend it or not. So far, I’d say: yes, despite some extremely frustrating side characters, the main characters are fantastic.

(Also: I really liked Tong Liya’s supporting role in Nirvana in Fire 2 and wanted to watch more of her dramas, but couldn’t get into Perfect Partner from earlier this year. I haven’t seen Tong Dawei since 2017’s Love Actually; I caught a few episodes of If I Can Love You So last year but it seemed too melodramatic. I didn’t really have any thoughts on their pairing before watching, but now I love them together!)

SPOILERS AFTER THIS POINT! I will rant about and rank the worst characters.

5. Chen Zhi Jun (Yu Qing’s older sister’s husband)
It wasn’t too long ago that I watched Tu Songyan in Go Ahead as a soft-hearted single father, but it didn’t take much time for me to see that his character here, as Yu Qing’s older sister’s husband, is garbage. While I understand that Yu Qing’s parents have never liked him despite how long he’s been married to their daughter, Zhi Jun doesn’t offer his wife emotional support and deliberately lies and schemes to avoid having his in-laws move in with them. I care about him so little that if I were to fast forward through anyone’s scenes it would be his. His new (female) secretary is clearly very shrewd and ambitious, so I’m wondering if this storyline is going in the direction I think it is, or if the writer(s) will surprise me…

4. Bei Bei’s parents (Yu Qing’s younger brother’s girlfriend’s parents)
These two are such a manipulative pair. They are extremely perceptive and fully aware that Guan Zhen Lei (Yu Qing’s younger brother) isn’t good enough for their daughter. I guess it’s a point in their favor that they are willing to accept him at all, but they lose a thousand points for their selfish scheming. It isn’t enough that they tricked Zhen Lei’s parents out of their house, but also concoct a shady plan to force them to sell it?!

3. Xu Xiu Lan (Qing Feng’s mother)
Oh boy, Qing Feng’s mother has some serious issues. She is an overbearing, controlling mother who has centered her life around her son. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to take care of your son, but to constantly stop by unannounced, force him to date whoever you choose, and then deliberately break them up when they get a tiny bit closer?! Initially I really disliked Lin Jie, a fellow doctor who has had a crush on Qing Feng for a long time. It annoyed me that she knowingly became close with Qing Feng’s mother to pressure him into dating her, even though Qing Feng showed no interest in her. It’s especially uncomfortable because they’re colleagues! But it’s ok because Xiu Lan completely turned on Lin Jie as soon as it appeared that her role in her son’s life would be reduced. I actually applauded Lin Jie for politely fighting back for a while. Anyhow, Xiu Lan is emotionally manipulative, wearing her son down with her tears and playing the ‘broken marriage’ card. It’s especially unfortunate because it appears that the reason behind the divorce was a misunderstanding, in part due to her own stubbornness.

2. Guan Yong Nian (Yu Qing’s father)
Yu Qing’s father is so biased towards his son, spoiling him to the point where he doesn’t take any responsibility and plays the victim. I’m frustrated every time he doesn’t take Yu Qing’s side when she’s trying to help him, and continues to let Zhen Lei get away with his abhorrent actions.

1. Guan Zhen Lei (Yu Qing’s younger brother)
Yes, if I have to pick one character as the absolutely worst, it’s Zhen Lei. He takes advantage of his father’s favoritism and manipulates him! When he finally gets a job, he gets tired after one day and complains about how difficult working is! Does he think everyone else has it easy?! His animosity towards his sister is so difficult to watch. He constantly believes that she owes him and that she is undeserving of any praise. He’s so jealous and instead of working harder and working on himself, he takes it out on her. I’m really hoping that Bei Bei breaks up with him. I can understand that Bei Bei’s feelings about him haven’t changed yet because they met in school, a completely differently environment, and he is genuinely good to her. I’m relieved that she’s started to speak up about his behavior (and her parents’ behavior) and I’m hoping that she will finally leave him. She works hard at her own job so why can’t he?!

Lastly, there are multiple occasions where Zhen Lei has used physical violence on his sister and that’s absolutely inexcusable. It actually gave me flashbacks to last year’s All is Well, which was similarly family-centric, with a more successful daughter but favoritism towards the son. There was one scene of violence in it that was so terrible I’ll never forget it, and I hope Zhen Lei isn’t going down that path. I wish Yu Qing would cut off her family, at least temporarily, but I understand that her hope is to work things out and not exacerbate things, especially due to her father’s health. Although I would like Zhen Lei to change for the better, I don’t want a cheesy redemption arc. I want him to honestly reflect on his behavior, apologize for it, and work quietly on making amends.

The only thing making Zhen Lei’s awfulness bearable right now is that Qing Feng has been there for Yu Qing. I’m really rooting for Qing Feng and Yu Qing to overcome all their obstacles and be together!

If you were wondering which characters are actually likable, Yu Qing’s older sister Yu Yun is really kind to her, as well as Yu Qing’s friends and colleagues Wang Can and Xiao Bai. I have a soft spot for Xiao Bai (played by Run Chen) and his crush on her, even though I know they’ll never happen. I hope that he can get over her without ruining their friendship. By the way, Wang Can is played by Zhang Dou Dou, and if you’re wondering why she looks familiar, did you watch Love Designer earlier this year? She played Lu Na, the actress who was in love with Johnny Huang’s character. Don’t worry, she’s so likable here and a great friend to Yu Qing! I actually hope to see more of her because it’s good for Yu Qing to have some support and happiness in her life.

Fingers crossed for some good, happy things happening in this drama! I hope my next post about it won’t be a rant.

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