A Look at 2011: Tw-drama Edition
Taiwanese dramas really made a comeback this year. Suddenly there was a tw-drama craze with the return of Mike He, Rainie Yang, AND Ariel Lin. It’s a great start for an improvement in quality and plot in tw-dramas. While I can’t say they were perfect, what really drew most people in was their cuteness and heart.
Drunken to Love You
Drunken to Love You started out strong, but slowly lost its steam as it dragged on and on with the Ai Wei-Jie Xiu-Xiao Ru love triangle. I was completely addicted to the first half, but ended up losing patience with Ai Wei’s wishy washy attitude, Xiao Ru’s attempt to sacrifice herself for the sake of Ai Wei/Jie Xiu, etc. etc. I commend DTLY for having the most memorable couple and the best hero–Jie Xiu is by far my favorite lead guy out of all the tw-dramas I’ve seen this year. DTLY abounds with enough sweetness and cuteness to make it worth watching.
And of course, what can we saw about Rainie Yang’s great return? Rainie definitely chose just the right role to showcase her maturity and spunk, along with her great new hairstyle. She’s no longer the young girl we remember from Devil Beside You, and I love it! Of course Lin Xiao Ru is an amazing character. Thankfully we get a pragmatic, independent heroine, not a cutesy clingy one. Pair Xiao Ru with Jie Xiu and we get the cutest OTP ever!
In Time With You
Similar to Rainie Yang, Ariel Lin also returned to play the part of a spunky, independent woman. ITWY had much more substance than DTLY, obviously because it’s not just a rom com–it’s more of a slice-of-life drama. ITWY takes on a much more realistic tone, as You Qing is not your perfect heroine at all. In fact, many viewers hated her with a passion. You Qing is portrayed as an indecisive, self-centered woman who can’t realize something as plain as the nose on her face–HER BFF IS IN LOVE WITH HER. I think most people simply disliked her self-centeredness and got fed up with her passing by the ever-so-perfect Li Da Ren. Actually, I didn’t have a problem with You Qing at all. I appreciated that they dared to give us an imperfect heroine. Yes it took a long time to finally get Li Da Ren and You Qing together and ended up lagging big time. But isn’t that part of the point they’re trying to get across? Sometimes people are completely blind to something, and only later on after they’ve realized it do they see that it was as plain as the nose on their faces.
Unfortunately ITWY didn’t avoid the vice of dragging on and on, but out of the other tw-dramas, I’d say ITWY is one of the strongest. It offered a bit of life advice to all the viewers and showed that there’s hope for love, even for the most ordinary people.
Whenever I think of Material Queen, I fight the urge to facepalm. How in the world did MQ go wrong? Well first off, let’s mention what MQ did right–Lin Chu Man is one of my favorite heroines of the year. Real love? NEVER! She wants money! What they could’ve done is turn Chu Man into a selfish gold digger that only values material things because she loves loves loves money and uses people and blah blah blah. I’m glad they dared to turn her into a more 3D character–She was abandoned as a child, never felt truly loved in her life, and so she came to the logical conclusion that since humans can’t give her happiness (as she’s never experienced it before), then only material things can. Chu Man is a great heroine, full of heart and dignity and, surprisingly, selflessness.
The quality of the clothes, set, and cinematography can’t be denied either. MQ paid attention to detail and quality, especially with all the high fashion worn by Chu Man and the other models. And Chu Man’s hairstyles and outfits are always gorgeous.
Now for the bad. Unfortunately our hero, played by Vanness Wu, simply could not match up to our heroine. Vanness, as talented as he is musically, wasn’t on par in terms of acting with Lynn Hung. Secondly, the plot. It was alright with Yan Kai Ming, but after that arc, it went off into la-la land. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? *sigh* Unfortunately the quality and the fantastic character Chu Man couldn’t save this drama from going off into the deep end.
Yay! Another drama with a contract marriage and a down-to-earth poor girl who strikes the jackpot with a rich guy! To top it off, that contract marriage is with MIKE HE!!! Who wouldn’t watch?
I LOVED Janine Chang in Sunny Happiness. She was amazing with her beautiful, quiet assertiveness and managed not to go over-the-top with her kindheartedness. Unfortunately Sunny Happiness dragged a lot in the middle, but somehow I was STILL addicted and finished it off all the way through unlike DTLY and ITWY. Some parts were painfully slow, but I still enjoyed the drama all the same. For me, none of the characters really stood out. (in comparison to the previous dramas I mentioned, all of which had some very strong characters) Sunny Happiness is a drama of fluff, angst, and scenarios that are only found in dramaland. And I loved it.
Who’s the One
This was a great drama, but for some reason went relatively unnoticed by most tw-drama fans. The cast is completely unknown to me, and the characters are in their 30’s rather than being youthful 20 year olds, which might be partly why not many people watched it. But the OTP is to die for with its cuteness. Shen Ruo Wei is one of the top plastic surgeons at her clinic. She’s ANOTHER awesome, independent, strong woman. She ends up transforming her childhood crush into a hot guy so that he can get the girl of his dreams. Little does she know, the two of them become besties and fall in love. D’AWWW.
The hero is super sweet, the dragging is minimal compared to other tw-dramas I mentioned, and I love the OTP. The role reversals are amusing, with Yan Tie Nan (her new BFF) being the housekeeper and cook, and Ruo Wei bringing home the bacon and sitting around while Tie Nan does all the housework.
2011 was a great year for tw-dramas. I love all the girl power with all the strong, independent heroines. Pretty much none of the tw-dramas avoided dragging. What really made up for it is all the great OTP’s and strong characters. I hope Japan takes a hint from Taiwan and adds in more girl power in next year’s jdramas.
While tw-dramas did great with the romance genre, they still have yet to tap into their potential for other genres. I’d like to see more variety coming from Taiwan next year. It’ll really be refreshing to see something unique and new coming out of Taiwan.