Put Your Head On My Shoulder is a 24-episode Chinese drama that aired in April-May 2019 and is available on YouTube with English subtitles.
The story centers around two college students pursuing very different fields, who find themselves living together due to their mothers being friends. As graduation approaches, they make decisions about their futures and fall in love with each other. This is a light and fluffy series with very little drama. If anything, the leads’ biggest obstacles are themselves, learning what they want and how to communicate it. It’s very much about navigating a relationship for the first time.
I really loved the first half of the series and found it charming and funny, but in the latter half I lost interest (a mix of it being slow, frustrating, and boring). While it was enjoyable, I don’t think this drama will make any of my best-of-2019 lists nor do I think I’d watch it again.
Goodbye My Princess (东宫) is a 52-episode historical drama based on the novel by Fei Wo Si Cun. It’s available on Viki with English subtitles, but worth noting that an uncut version without subtitles is on YouTube.
I watched the Viki version (what I assume to be the TV version) but skimmed through the first few episodes of the uncut version to see what the difference is. The uncut version totals 55 episodes and there’s more character development and context in the beginning.
This is a story of ill-fated lovers, a prince who ruthlessly seeks revenge and a princess who is torn between love and hate, duty and emotion. I really enjoyed the first 15-20 episodes, but soon after that this drama started to drag. I didn’t care about the political storyline at all, and only finished it out of curiosity about how exactly it’d end. It’s possible that I would have enjoyed the uncut version more.
Le Coup de Foudre (我只喜欢你) is a 2019 Chinese drama that really surprised me! Adapted from a novel based on the author’s life, Le Coup de Foudre is the sweet story of two high school classmates who grow close only to be separated for several years, and meet again as adults. You can watch it with English subtitles on Viki or on YouTube.
This is a lighthearted series with little drama and a likable group of characters. There are plenty of fun, humorous moments, as well as a lot of emotional depth when it comes to family and relationships. Note: There are no spoilers in my review.
In interview-style scenes throughout the drama, the main characters reflect and reminisce about the events of their past with the wisdom of hindsight. The story initially alternates between various time periods in their lives but soon stops bouncing around, and the high school portion does not dominate the drama.
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.
Fight for My Way is from 2017 but I want to post about it because I LOVED IT. If you liked Park Seo Joon in What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?, I think you’ll love him more in Fight for My Way. And if you loved Kim Ji Won in Descendants of the Sun, then seriously what are you waiting for? Fight for My Way is on Viki with English subtitles.
Fight for My Way is a friends-to-lovers rom-com with a great cast, a lot of laughs, and so many heartfelt moments. One of its strengths is how relatable it is. Our main characters, Dong Man (Park Seo Joon), Ae Ra (Kim Ji Won), Joo Man (Ahn Jae Hong), and Baek Seol Hee (Song Ha Yoon) are close friends and neighbors. Dong Man and Ae Ra have been friends since childhood, and both have big dreams buried in their hearts but are making it through each day with jobs they don’t love. Meanwhile, Joo Man and Seol Hee have dated for six years and work at the same company, where they’ve kept their relationship a secret.
All Is Well, which aired in March this year, is not the type of Chinese drama I typically watch. As you can tell from past posts, I gravitate towards idol dramas and historical dramas, even crime dramas, with a romance-focused storyline. Meanwhile, All Is Well is a family-themed drama centering around the relationship between three adult siblings and their elderly father after their mother passes away.
All Is Well is on YouTube with English subs and I definitely recommend it if you are interested in complicated family dynamics and learning about Chinese culture. The cast is stellar, and this drama was produced by Daylight Entertainment, the same company that made Nirvana in Fire, Ode to Joy, The Story of Minglan, When a Snail Falls in Love.
I’m so disappointed – I was really looking forward to the Summer’s Desire remake, since I recall enjoying the angsty 2010 drama version. However, while initially the storyline changes/additions seemed promising initially, the drama overall was too problematic. (Also, why is this poster/promotional image so sweet looking… so misleading!!)
Here’s a quick spoiler-free run-through of my issues with the Summer’s Desire remake:
The two male lead characters, Ou Chen and Luo Xi, are both appallingly controlling and manipulative, while the female lead character Xia Mo’s feelings never seem clear.
The story takes a turn in the last ~5 episodes that seems way too rushed and sudden, and spends too much time on certain storylines in the beginning.
Some of the conflicts with side characters weren’t adequately developed or resolved.
I liked the OST though – the songs are still stuck in my head. I liked Sophie Zhang as Xia Mo and Qin Jun Jie as Ou Chen. Huang Sheng Chi seemed a little too young for Luo Xi though and just can’t compare to Huang Xiao Ming from the original drama version.
Chinese Name: 遇见爱情的利先生 Episodes: 41 Quick Summary: Liu Xin Tong (Zhou Dong Yu) is a kind-hearted, hardworking girl who foregoes college to help support her mother. When her life intersects with the family of wealthy businessman Ji Bai Jun by chance, her mother gets a job at their home and they move in. She meets Li Yao Nan (Chen Xiao), and they fall in love, but he happens to be the fiance of Ji Bai Jun’s daughter, the spoiled Ji Zhi Zhen (Ye Qing), who hates Xin Tong and her mother. Ji Zhi Zhen’s adopted brother, Ji Zhen Yu, also falls for Xin Tong, while Yao Nan’s younger half-brother has been secretly plotting… Stream It:Viki Recommendation: Watch it if you’re into melodrama?
Ok, Love & Life & Lie seemed promising in the beginning – the cast was appealing and Xin Tong is a very likable character. She’s the classic selfless, hardworking girl, but also knows how to stand up for herself. I loved her cousin Shan Shan, who was a true friend to her. I confess, I skimmed through the first half of the drama and watched all of the last half. There were a lot of villains in this drama, which made this a very tumultuous watch. I can’t 100% recommend it because I was SO frustrated constantly, but you could do a lot worse.
Zhou Dong Yu (Xin Tong, the female lead) was fantastic, while Chen Xiao (Yao Nan, the male lead) was cute but had questionable acting skills. Ye Qing was Guo Guo in Across the Ocean to See You, so clearly she can play spoiled, bratty characters, but I’d love to see her as the lead sometime soon!
Chinese Name: 杉杉来了 Episodes: 34 Quick Summary: Xue Shan Shan’s (Zhao Li Ying) rare blood type brings her into the life of her boss, Feng Teng (Zhang Han), whose sister also has the same blood type. (I’d rather not give any other details away!) Recommendation: Watch it!
I read a review of Boss & Me that said it was really cute, and it was right! Boss & Me was so sweet that I don’t know how it’s taken me so long to discover it. The greatest strength of Boss & Me is that it won’t piss you off. After Royal Sister Returns, I was not about any ridiculous, overdramatic storylines, and Boss & Me delivered. I loved all the main characters. Even the “villainous” characters were not entirely awful.
I loved that Shan Shan wasn’t the brightest, but she worked hard, had a positive attitude, and stayed true to herself. Even in the crucial plot moments, I found her very reasonable and not over-the-top in her reactions. Zhao Li Ying is seriously adorable. Zhang Han is just okay, and I didn’t particularly love Feng Teng, but he was acceptable.
Chinese Name: 御姐归来 Episodes: 36 Quick Summary: Ai Mi Er (Ady An) is the sole heir to EMT Group. When her father tries to force her to marry as a business alliance, Ai Mi Er runs away to search for the ex-boyfriend who disappeared without a word several years ago and unknowingly ends up working for the younger brother (Zhu Yi Long) of her intended fiance. Stream It: haven’t seen this with English subs anywhere Recommendation: Watch it until episode 27
**Don’t worry, spoilers will be clearly marked.**
The 2009 Taiwanese drama Autumn’s Concerto starring Ady An and Van Ness Wu is one of my all-time favorites. Ady An was fantastic in that drama, and I’ve always hoped that she would do another modern drama so I was really excited when I heard about Royal Sister Returns. I couldn’t find it with English subtitles anywhere so I gave up and just watched it without subs.
Royal Sister Returns starts off very promisingly – sure, you have some over-the-top dramatic elements (for example, Ai Mi Er’s security detail) and some terribly annoying characters (the villains), but it’s a Chinese drama. That’s to be expected. The great thing was that both lead characters, Ai Mi Er and He Kai Xin (does anyone really name their child this?!), are both likable and funny, especially together. He Kai Xin’s friends are also absolutely hilarious. Even though I found He Yi Kun and Qing Qing’s storyline boring, I still appreciated it. However, ultimately Royal Sister Returns is ruined by a series of utterly ridiculous and cliched plot lines. I wish the drama had resolved and ended after episode 27. The final episode was especially awful.
Also, I just realized that the actress who plays Qing Qing was Su Jin in Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms (aka Eternal Love). And the actor who plays Fang Ge was Manager Bai from Ode to Joy?