The Pursuit of Happiness: Ep 1

Drama ReviewsTaiwanese Dramas

I was really excited to watch the first episode of The Pursuit of Happiness because I have been hyped up over the cast for weeks.  But I was also a bit apprehensive because I was trying not to get my hopes up too much.  I didn’t want to go into it expecting a lot and then end up having my hopes CRUSHED.  (*cough* Happy 300 Days, Dragon Gate *cough*) But OMGAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWD.  EPISODE 1 IS SO GOOD!!  REJOICE!!!!!!!!!!!!  EVERYONE REJOICE!!!!!!!!!

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“I constantly think how everyone works so hard to survive in this world, most of the time, there will be a hidden strength that supports you, motivates you, and protects you. As for mine…what is it?”

Perhaps the first name you may recognize from the cast is Sonia Sui’s.  Yep, Sonia is back and kicking after her amazing performance in the human tw-drama “The Fierce Wife” and her most recent mainland c-drama, “Woman on the Breadfruit Tree”.  Sonia plays the role of An Lei, also known as Lei Lei.  Right off the bat we see that Lei Lei is still questioning what her future holds for her and is not completely satisfied with who she is.  We find out later that part of this is because she is 34-years old, successful in her work, but is also lonely since she is not in a relationship.

“But no matter what, in every person’s heart, there should be a force that pushes you forward, to bring you forward to the happy place you want to be.”

The big source of Lei Lei’s unhappiness is that she is single and also that she is separated from her ex-boyfriend whom she’s still dwelling on.  In the beginning of the episode there are already hints at how Lei Lei is pressured by her family to get a husband and also indirectly by her younger niece who is getting married before her.  But don’t worry, this drama is not another Kekkon Shinai or Kekkon Dekinai Riyuu where every other word that comes out of each character’s mouth is “MARRIAGE blah blah blah MARRIAGE blah blah MARRIAGE”.   It’s not the drama where all the heroine does is mope around crying “forever alone”.  (Thank goodness!)

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^Get used to this big yellow bird being everywhere, I think it’s gonna be a common occurrence in this drama. O___O

Actually we see Lei Lei for who she really is, not just as the label of the “single successful career woman who wants to get married”.  Her character is very well fleshed out so that we can see past the stereotype straight through to the person. We see that she is confident in who she is, especially as a leader (read: manager) at her work and as an older sister figure to her subordinates/younger friends, but she’s also burdened by her worries and insecurities.  She’s hopeful for her success in her job and possibly getting back together with her ex but her hope is also dampened by her more realistic worldview and the knowledge of her limitations.

As you can see in the screenshot above, there is this random YELLOW BIRD that just follows Lei Lei around at random moments. O___________O  NO CLUE why they thought of putting in this random yellow bird but I think the bird is meant to represent her worries and insecurities.  She can’t get rid of it, it’s always there and reminding her of the very things she wishes she could forget.  I think of the bird as a little rain cloud that is floating above Lei Lei’s head, LOL.  Except..a yellow bird form……

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^No idea why they had Tony have such a bad looking beard…….until I got to the shaving scene. 😛

Of course I can’t forget the male lead–TONY YANG!!!!!  In case you didn’t know, Tony Yang is one of my favorite Taiwanese actors ever since I saw him in Love Forward.  Tony plays the role of Yi Kang, a guy who used to work overseas but has now returned to Taiwan to chase the girl he loves.  We haven’t seen much of Yi Kang yet but from what I’ve seen so far, he is a funny guy, a bit awkward and also very idealistic and persistent in love.  Like Lei Lei, Yi Kang still can’t forget the person he loves and is willing to go great lengths just to be with her.

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^Tony’s smile!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can’t really say much about Sonia & Tony’s chemistry yet since they haven’t had many scenes together so far.  However their exchanges are pretty funny and I can’t help but laugh whenever they’re talking together.  Hopefully we will get to see more of them together in ep2 when they have to become housemates!

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Interestingly enough the second male lead, He Ting (Zhuang Kai Xun), is actually more well developed than Yi Kang’s character since he has way more screentime!  Of course most of his screentime is made up of flashbacks, but still!!   At this point I don’t really care about He Ting yet…his backstory with Lei Lei is sweet and all but I’m not sure what exactly Lei Lei sees in him yet.  Also Lei Lei is has already been totally friendzoned by He Ting because he is already going out with a different person!

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Sonia really shines in this episode.  My favorite moments though, are probably the scenes in which she hits the lowest parts of her life.  She loses her promotion to General Manager that she worked so hard for all because her boss decides to let his daughter, Hai Lun (the second female lead who is going out with He Ting & being pursued by Yi Kang) take the position instead.  Note that the daughter hasn’t even had any experience in the company and therefore has not been promoted based on merit.  Ouch!!!!!!  I felt so bad for Lei Lei when she was expectedly waiting to hear her name being called only to realize that she had been short-changed!!!  I probably would’ve burst into tears right then and there but instead Lei Lei holds strong.

The other sad moment is when she realizes that the very girl who took away her position as General Manager is also the one who’s taken He Ting’s heart!!!!!!! ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHH SO SAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!  AND THAT IS WHERE THE EPISODE ENDS, SUCH A CLIFFHANGER!!!!!!!!  I think that Lei Lei might break down after experiencing one blow after another.  Losing her promotion is one thing but seeing her ex-bf whom she still loves being all lovey dovey with another woman?  :((((

Overall

First of all I’m really glad that The Pursuit of Happiness is not just another spazzy shippy rom-com.  The synopsis sounds like the perfect cliched rom-com set-up but instead it is more of a slice-of-life drama.  Sure, the Pursuit of Happiness is about romance but so far it seems to be a human/slice-of-life drama first and foremost.  It is not just about romance but also about family, one’s purpose in life, and how one can really know oneself.   I really enjoyed the first episode because it made me laugh, tear up, and root for the main characters all in the first viewing.

This drama has been compared to the popular drama In Time With You because it has one of the same producers.  I do think it gives a more serious and mature vibe similar to ITWY but actually I’m already enjoying PoH much more than ITWY.  I think it’s probably because I like the casting more (sorry Ariel & Bolin fans… 😛 ) and I also like Lei Lei’s character more than You Qing’s character.   Also I enjoy the set-up more in that it is not about a woman who can’t see that her BFF loves her and the amazing guy who has been friend-zoned for life.  Instead the PoH is about two people who meet by chance because of their acquaintances and end up becoming friends/eventual lovers.

Really looking forward to the rest of the drama after such a solid first episode!!! *crosses fingers* Can’t wait for Friday to come for ep2!! 😀 Oh, and by the way, this drama is also really gorgeous to watch in HD!  HEHEHEHEHE!

Opening Theme Song: By Your Side by William Wei

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • Hello! I haven’t read this post yet, I skimmed through it and saw exclamation marks and didn’t want to ruin it in case I wanted to watch it. Can you tell me the genre of this series? Is it comedy at all? Or just plain romance?

    • Romance, slice-of-life, human genre. It’s not a super heavy drama but not straight up romance/rom-com either. So I guess the term slice-of-life would be more accurate. There are funny moments too, many times when I laughed in ep1! 😀

      • Ah, I see. Slice of life is depressing to watch, for me anyway lol. After I finished watching Honey & Clover (anime version) it left me feeling empty. Like “what happens to me now” sort of feeling lol. Because it’s slice of life I think I related to the characters and even though the series was over, the characters’ story really wasn’t, what was shown was only a part of their lives. Anyway, I’ve found myself rambling again

        • Oh no. 🙁 Actually when I am feeling depressed I watch Honey and Clover (either the anime or jdrama live action) so I can be all angsty and ask philosophical questions and stuff. T_______T”” It also makes me feel better because I can really relate to the characters in the anime.

          I guess I’m not really helping you want to watch the Pursuit of Happiness. =___= Sorry! Maybe you should check out the trailers first instead to get a feel for the drama. That might help you decide!

          • Lol, when I’m depressed I only watch the BEGINNING of Honey & Clover, I don’t wish to part with the characters! But everytime I watch Honey & Clover it’s like I’m watching it for the first time, don’t know why… I only liked Ikuta Toma in the jdrama I found the others’ acting was not very good. Ah… I think I’m gonna watch Hanazakari no kimitachi e again, Nakatsu!!!! I want that in full HD!

            Haha it’s alright, I’ll see how the reviews go in the next few eps, I’ll try to skim without spoiling for myself.

            • Ikuta Toma was the best in the jdrama H&C and it mattered since he was the main character after all. Hmm I think the rest of the cast was fine (I thought Yamada was perfectly cast) but they could’ve been better.

              Ooo yeah Hana Kimi will be a good rewatch! I don’t even know how long it has been since I’ve seen it. Love Nakatsu!!!!!!!!

  • I *think* that yellow bird is about the fortune teller who gave her that horrible reading right? The little bird predicted her life will be forever alone and working so hard but career going nowhere also. OUCH!! Even if you’re not superstitious it’s hard to get that sort of predictino out of your mind. ><

    Second lead Helen is quite cute but An Lei's ex… hrm. Agree with no idea what she sees in him! Hopefully we'll see more about Tony next ep, want to find out more about him!

    • OHHHHH. IT ALL MAKES SENSE! LOL. Because the bird appears after she gets the fortune, huh! So maybe the bird is like the fortune teller’s prediction looming over her because Lei Lei is secretly scared that it could come true?

      Oh I don’t know if I should call the 2nd female lead Helen or Hai Lun. O_O It might be easier to call her Helen, huh? I don’t know if I like Helen or not. Helen seems to be really nice with good intentions but at the same time I’m not sure that is all there is to her. I mean, I can see from Lei Lei’s perspective..Helen did not deserve the General Manager position and then she tried to be all nice by offering Lei Lei the big office but that only made it seem like she was rubbing it in. Ok maybe I’m just being really skeptical, haha. Anyways one of the lines that sticks in my mind from Helen is when she says that General Manager is ‘just a title’ (she was trying to be humble) and I can just imagine how that must’ve echoed in Lei Lei’s head………because it wasn’t JUST a title, it was everything she worked for!

    • I just love the creativity of this drama! I especially love the bird. Oh, and now that you mention it, it is more of a bird than it is of a chicken! Like I mentioned in my recap, there isn’t one specific answer as to what the bird is supposed to represent and I love that the drama doesn’t tell you that allowing you to interpret it however you think. But I think we can all agree that the bird represents the direction of her current life.

      Ahahaha, yes, Tony Yang! <3

  • This is my first time commenting after lutking around for a while, so here goes…

    Ok, so after seeing episode 1, I was very satisfied. I am totally going to continue watching this drama! The leads are very interesting, the dilemnas were presented in a fleshed out way so as not to be overwhelmning, the cinematography is gorgeous and dreamy, and TONY YANG, oof!!! Can someone please remind me how handsome he is?!

    P. S. Heisui, you didn’t like his mustache?! I really liked it, I thought it made him look very mature and sexy.

    • Hey so happy to hear from you! 😀 I’m glad you enjoyed ep1 too, it was definitely a solid start to the dram! *W* I WILL REMIND YOU HOW HANDSOME TONY IS, EVERY SINGLE TIME. 😛 And yeah I was not liking his beard, I don’t think it looked very good on him. >___>

  • I’m going to give this a try. I liked Sonia Siu in The Fierce Wife and her character here seems easy to relate to… ahem. Lol. I hope this turns out well coz I haven’t watched a good Taiwan drama for some time?

    • Yay! I hope you like it! 😀 Yup Sonia was great in the Fierce Wife. Love her here too. I think a lot of tw-drama fans are waiting for a good tw-drama to come around since a lot of the recent popular tw-dramas have flopped.

  • I love how Sonia Sui is killing it with her drama roles. She’s one of those models who can act quite well depending on the material she gets, and I really like the OTP in this one too! Kind of looking forward to following another Tw-drama since Love Around was such a huge letdown for me.

  • omg the Wei Li Ann song gives me feels! It reminds me so much of all the awesomeness that was ITWY, I loved his OST for that. The cinematography looks so pretty!!

  • I’ve watched the first ep and even before that this drama captivated me because of the fact that sonia and tony were in it. I can’t wait until friday until ep 2. I love the theme song and the ending song sang by william wei and aggie.

  • Hello Heisui!! 🙂

    I’m not too fond of taiwanese dramas usually (I liked some I watched like The Fierce Wife but most of the time it didn’t keep me invested enough) but this one intrigued me because it was compared to In Time With You and its mature vibe. So I gave it a try yesterday and I quite like what I saw. I think I still need time to be fully onboard but so far I find Lei Lei easy to relate to and I already like the male-lead a lot. Even if its storyline is nothing new, it is executed with a lot of charm. And, ok, I just love it when characters have to live together in sickness or in health…:P I can’t wait for episode 2! 🙂
    Thanks for your review!

    (also : where do you watch this? on viki? or did you find softsubs somewhere? Sorry for asking…)

    • Hi Kaa long time no see!!! 😀 Yay I’m so happy you watched ep1 of PoH! I also think Lei Lei is really easy to relate to and I’m not quite sure why. O_O There is just something about her that I like! And yeah I can’t wait for ep2 either so we can see more of Tony! :3 You can watch this on viki. 🙂

  • I really love the vibe that I’ve getting from this drama. It has some pretty insightful and thought-provoking dialogues and I love how it’s not trying too hard in a pretentious way. I suspect most of us are tuning in because of the ITWY resemblance, and I’m happy to report that although the vibes are similar, the OTP dynamic is actually pretty different and also like you, I actually prefer Sonia Sui’s Lei Lei over Ariel Lin’s You Qing (mostly because I was so frustrated that it took her so long to see her feelings for Li Da Ren) because I feel like I can relate to her dilemma. LOL this may sound super weird I know but honestly, I’m rooting for her already! I cannot wait to see sparks fly between Tony Yang and Sonia Sui, am rooting for the OTP already! 😀 I really really hope that this will be THE T-drama that puts all the less-than-stellar T-releases to shame, it’s been awhile since I last watched a really good drama so I really do have high hopes for this one. 🙂

  • I like Pursuit of Happiness more than the Good Wife, the latter was…a bit depressing for me -.- but I think I will refrain myself from further comments until you’ve watched it until the end ;). Pursuit of Happiness is more mature than most tw-drama I’ve watched but doesn’t go overboard with the serious and angsty stuff and manage to incorporate funny, light-hearted momets. I love Sonia’s character as well; she’s independant and harworking competent girl with a normal social life and has a normal loving relationship with all of her family members, I haven’t seen that a while in any dramaland :D. going to keep watching it. xD

  • Thank you so much for writing this review and introducing the drama to us! I saw this on Sugoideas but wasn’t sure if it was Sonia Siu in the poster. She’s so pretty! I absolutely loved her in The Fierce Wife so I’m looking forward to watching The Pursuit of Happiness (hopefully there will be subs available on Viki soon). =D

    • Yes, there is this one part in ep1 where all Sonia wears is a white T-shirt & jeans and she still looks like a supermodel. PoH is being subbed on viki btw. 🙂

  • First time posting…but I totally love the producers of this and ITWY. I really love the slice-of-life vibes. I suppose that’s why I loved ITWY so much. But I can tell this one will be a real hooker and I’m going to love it, especially since Sonia Sui is such a gorgeous actress (I haven’t watched too many of her dramas since I’ve either hated her character (P.S. Man), or just never got around to watching it (The Fierce Wife). If someone could just recommend somewhere I can watch it online…I’d be really grateful. 🙂

    • Actually I watched P.S. Man a long time ago (when it was airing) and at the time I didn’t know that it was Sonia Sui who was the lead actress. So when I saw the Fierce Wife I thought it was the first time I saw Sonia’s acting but actually it wasn’t! I have to say that I’m pretty sure her acting is way better in The Fierce Wife/Pursuit of Happiness than it was in P.S. Man. Plus her character is great here! 😀 I think The Fierce Wife might be on viki.

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