Alright, I will give recapping a try! Love & Life & Lie is a 2017 Chinese drama starring Zhen Dong Yu (Sparrow) and Chen Xiao (Romance of the Condor Heroes). We’ll see if I can make it through all 41 episodes.
Love & Life & Lie begins with our female lead, Xin Tong, taking on three students at a taekwando class. It turns out, she’s not a student here but a delivery person who makes regular deliveries to this class. She gave up going to college to support her mother by working part-time jobs, but sneaks in to classes when she can.
Xin Tong stops by to see her mother, and we see that she is kind and caring. Her mother feels guilty that Xin Tong has given up college, but Xin Tong is positive and cheerful. She seems like a character we can root for.
Chinese Name: 遇见爱情的利先生
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
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
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?
Chinese Name: 狐狸的夏天
Brief Summary: Gu Cheng Ze (Jiang Chao) is the adopted son of the Gu family and president of the family’s company. In order to motivate Gu Jin Yun, the lazy, partying Gu family heir, he hires the girl who broke his heart seven years ago, Li Yan Shu (Tan Song Yun).
Stream It: YouTube
I’m really enjoying The Fox’s Summer! Li Yan Shu is hotheaded and sly, but also talented and hardworking, and the more you learn about her past, the more you like her. Gu Cheng Ze is your classic smart and motivated but unfeeling CEO. I’m sure you can tell where this is going. And yet, even as I’m about 11 or 12 episodes into this drama (I’ve been watching episode after episode so I’ve lost track of which one I’m on), I can’t help but think I would have also loved this drama if it had gone in the other direction. My next thoughts are spoiler-ey though so…
Chinese Name: 漂亮的李慧珍
Brief Summary: Bai Hao Yu (Peter Sheng) returns to China to reconnect with his childhood friend Li Hui Zhen (Dilmurat Dilraba), but mistakes her best friend Xia Qiao (Sierra Li) for her. Embarrassed that she is no longer as pretty as Bai Hao Yu remembers, Li Hui Zhen begs her friend to pretend to be her and meet with him once to give their friendship closure. However, after struggling to find a job, Li Hui Zhen receives a coveted internship only to discover that her boss is Bai Hao Yu.
Stream It: Viki
Recommendation: Skip It and Watch the Korean Version
I really liked the original Korean version, She Was Pretty, so I was really excited to watch the Chinese remake. However, at 40 episodes, Pretty Li Hui Zhen was just not worth it. Maybe if it had been 20 episodes I would have recommended it.
Dilmurat Dilraba‘s Li Hui Zhen is very, very quirky but rather than being annoying, actually grew on me. She has a kind heart and tends to be pretty meek, but the moments in which she speaks up for herself are glorious. It’s Peter Sheng as Bai Hao Yu that I felt was the most lacking. He’s stone cold with no emotions for almost the entire drama. I never felt a connection between him and Li Hui Zhen and instead it felt like he was simply clinging to his memories. The flashbacks of them as children were the highlights of their relationship. I only knew what he was feeling because of his phone calls with his friend.
Also, can I just say that I have been seeing Zhang Bin Bin (aka Vin Zhang) a lot recently?! He was charming and funny in Pretty Li Hui Zhen and I thought he was well-cast. I was just thinking that he was overdue for a leading role and I see that he’s starring in a period drama with Dilmurat Dilraba!! Perhaps I’ll write a post dedicated to him soon.
Chinese Name: 微微一笑很倾城
Quick Summary: Bei Wei Wei (Zheng Shuang) is the beauty of the computer science department whose skillful online gaming abilities catch the attention of Xiao Nai (Yang Yang), who is not only smart and athletic but also the most popular guy on campus.
Stream It: DramaFever
Recommendation: Give It A Try
I know this drama was extremely popular and people rave about it, and I did watch it all, but I’m sorry to say I did not love it. I still recommend that it be given a try since so many people did love it.
I liked the uniqueness of the drama centering around an online game, that the female lead was not just beautiful but also smart, and that there wasn’t any ridiculously drama plotlines. Both characters were also surrounded by a strong group of friends and I enjoyed these characters a lot.
However, there are just so many times when we hear a lot of thoughts that in Wei Wei’s head but she doesn’t say them out loud. So in reality, she’s said like three words. But that’s nothing compared to Xiao Nai, who sometimes doesn’t even say anything at all! This just drove me crazy. But I guess it’s better than two main characters who never stop talking about dumb things.