Unrequited Love was featured on my Netflix homepage (here’s the direct link) so I decided to give it a try. With a title like ‘Unrequited Love’ I had previously been hesitant to watch this because I thought it’d be too sad or angsty. However, this has turned out to be my favorite modern c-drama of 2019 so far! I loved it from start to finish, and enjoyed not only the central storyline but the wide cast of characters. Set in college, the drama features several different relationships, exploring unrequited love, the choices we make, second chances, and feelings not being black & white. There are a lot of moments of reflection and self-aware, relatable characters, and many moments that made me laugh out loud.
This drama is 24 episodes that are ~35 minutes each so it does not drag on, and is super easy to watch multiple episodes at once. I watched this right after Put Your Head On My Shoulder, and while they’re both set in college, they are so different—Unrequited Love is so thoughtful and mature, while Put Your Head On My Shoulder is light and fluffy.
It’s worth noting that this drama is based on a novel by Ba Yue Chang An (I’d like to read it), who also wrote the novels that the dramas My Huckleberry Friends (2017) and With You (2018) were based on. I haven’t watched either of those because they’re set in high school. There’s also a second adaptation of this novel that’s supposed to come out in 2020 starring Yi Tian and Hu Bing Qing and I plan to watch it as well.
Continue reading for my full review—there are no spoilers (aside from references to the promotional summary).
As I mentioned before, I was initially hesitant to watch this drama but this is the scene in the first episode that won me over. I laughed out loud. There’s a lot of humor in this drama in a relatable, ordinary way thanks to the charms of many characters.
Let’s start with Luo Zhi, the main character who finally meets her high school crush in college. Zhu Yan Man Zi did such a great job playing Luo Zhi that I will definitely be keeping an eye out for her future dramas!
Luo Zhi is thoughtful and self-aware, and admits that her biggest weakness is being so rational that she misses opportunities to seize the moment. She’s smart and very well-spoken, and I absolutely loved her.
Luo Zhi’s roommate is Jiang Baili, played by Shen Yu. I love an unlikely friendship! Their personalities are so different but Jiang Baili is a character that you can’t help but like as she learns and grows as a person. Her character arc is fantastic, sometimes painful, but she’s a person who really stays true to herself. It’s a testament to Shen Yu’s acting skills that I think she could also play a phenomenal villainous character.
Ge Bi (played by Zhang Zhe Hao, whom you may recognize from Le Coup de Foudre as Wu Yi’s awful high school ex-boyfriend) is Jiang Baili’s boyfriend and his storyline is predictable but not necessarily in a bad way. That’s all I’ll say to prevent any spoilers!
You’ve probably been waiting for me to get to the male lead, Sheng Huainan (played by Zhao Shunran). Sheng Huainan is a good guy but he’s the kind of guy whose gotten everything he’s ever wanted and things have come easily for him. His family is well-off, he’s smart, and generally liked and admired.
Sheng Huainan’s relationship with Luo Zhi is complicated by the fact that while he’s just met her, she’s liked him for years. It’s not like she was creepily obsessed with him for years—it’s more that they missed an opportunity. That makes it easy to root for them and hope that this time the timing is right.
Ok, I said I love unlikely friendships but I also just love friendships in general and I loved that Sheng Huainan has a close-knit group of roommates. Not all of them get full storylines but I enjoyed their moments together.
The friend of Sheng Huainan who has a significant part in the drama is Zhang Mingrui, played by Zhang Yichi. He’s easygoing and funny in a goofy way, with his constant smirking and witty banter. He actually befriends Luo Zhi first and I loved their scenes in the cafeteria with the bread. Zhang Mingrui experiences more than his fair share of unrequited love.
Xu Riqing played by Yuan Bai Zi Hui is a character that (despite her initial storyline) I really liked. I liked that her story arc is one of growth and she’s not an unreasonable person who won’t let go.
As for the storyline of Ding Shuijing, played by Meng Qin, I really can’t really say I enjoyed it… but I appreciated its value in terms of adding to the theme of unrequited love. It showed how sometimes people choose different types of love, and love isn’t always enough. There were a lot of emotions in this storyline from the various characters involved and a lot to think about.
Yes, this drama is absolutely bittersweet, but only because life is bittersweet. There are so many memorable, powerful moments and the stories are told beautifully. It breaks your heart because of how relatable it is, not because of a dramatic storyline or devastating event. The last couple episodes were a bit rushed, but I’ll take that over a 40-episode drama that drags on unnecessarily. I would 100% recommend this drama AND I would watch it again.