A Good Wife: Eps 11-15 (Final Review)

Drama ReviewsTaiwanese Dramas

A Good Wife.  It’s been over a year since I finished this drama, and yet still, I lack the words to adequately describe what an experience this drama was.  All in all, I’d say that AGW is excruciating yet meaningful.  It totally gutted me.

“We only last until here, we no longer have a future.
A gust of wind upturns our memories.

Forget that you once belonged to my heart.
Forget everything that I’ve given to you.
Forget that I used to be your entire world, don’t hold onto any grudges.
Forget how difficult & impossible it is for me to accept.
Forget that I’ll be content as long as you live well.
Forget me and our dreams.
When you think of me, I’ll no longer be me.”

-Forget Me by Aska Yang (A Good Wife OST)

(Yes..I still listen to this song from the OST!)

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AGW is a story about separation, the psychological stages of divorce, a broken family, conflicting gender roles…and on and on and on.  It’s no wonder that the story is depressing, especially since it tries not to sugar coat these issues.  The big difference between AGW and melodramas is that it doesn’t use angst just for the sake of being angsty.  It doesn’t make things go wrong to frustrate the viewer or make the viewer sob uncontrollably.  The story hurts not because of noble idiots, evil second lead characters or a sudden tragedy…but rather, because it feels real.  Even though not everyone may personally relate to divorce, I think most everyone can relate to separation, going out into the unknown, and trying to forge one’s own path.

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“I don’t know if Yi Zhen is too courageous, or too weak.” -Xiang Qi

The quote above touches on how perspectives matter.  If Yi Zhen gets a divorce, is it courage for seeking a better life or is it weakness for not resolving her marital issues with Shao Wen?  If Yi Zhen stays in the marriage, is it courage for doing what she thinks is best for her child, or is it weakness for not following her heart’s voice?  For me, the answer is clear: Yi Zhen is incredibly courageous.  She faces one of the toughest decisions of her life head-on: whether to choose Shao Wen or Sheng En.  This part of the drama is extremely conflicting because 1) Yi Zhen cares about both men 2) no matter what choice Yi Zhen makes, someone will get hurt.  Just because Yi Zhen wants a divorce doesn’t mean she hates Shao Wen and wants him to suffer.  The two of them have a 7 year long marriage behind them and thus understandably still have deep feelings for each other.  There’s this one episode when Shao Wen “accidentally” overdoses on sleeping pills.  Whether he was suicidal when he took the sleeping pills is unclear.  But obviously, Yi Zhen feels hesitant to go through with the divorce when she fears that it might push Shao Wen over the edge.   There’s a lot of uncertainty during this part of the drama.  Much like Yi Zhen, I kept on oscillating back and forth between wanting her to be with Shao Wen or Sheng En.  At times things got so painful between her and Shao Wen that I thought they should just end things ASAP.  But other times, I thought “What if they could actually work this out?  What if they could start anew?”.

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“Yi Zhen, if separating on good terms is a kind of love, then this is the best kind of ending.” – Shao Wen

I have to hand it to Shao Wen.  He really put his best foot forward and significantly changed his mindset throughout the course of this drama.  Shao Wen went through the whole gamut of emotions and reactions to his marital distress–starting with possessiveness and not accepting the divorce at all, ending in total acceptance, unconditional love and a genuine desire for Yi Zhen’s well-being.  His last gesture in his marriage is perhaps one of his most loving and selfless actions of all–letting go of the marriage even when Yi Zhen says that she’s willing to continue it. (Note: The two of them had agreed on the divorce before this, but then Yi Zhen discovered that she was pregnant with Shao Wen’s child.  So she decided to stay with him)  We’ve seen Shao Wen at his worst, and now in the ending, we see him at his best.

“No matter the happy or sad times in the past, all the time we shared together taught me many things.  It helped me realize the kind of person I really am, and what I really want.  That’s why I want to thank you.  Even though I can’t walk with you to the end, let us carry this regret and love the next person well.”

– Yi Zhen

The final scene is really bittersweet.  Shao Wen wishes his & Yi Zhen’s daughter happy birthday (but she doesn’t know he’s his biological father) and then gazes at Yi Zhen’s new family from afar.  (Not in a creepy way, ok!)  GUHH!  Both Shao Wen and Yi Zhen have moved on–Yi Zhen starting a family with Sheng En, and Shao Wen remarrying.  Yet they still linger on in each other’s life…as a memory, as a regret, as a lesson that they learned.

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Props to both Tian Xin and Christopher Lee for their raw portrayals of their characters.  These two really made the drama a worthwhile watch, especially when paired together!  I also give props to Xi Man Ning, the actress who played the role of Shao Wen’s mom.  Previously I had seen her in another mom role but it didn’t give her the room to show her acting chops.  The main drawbacks of the drama are the weak second leads and the super slow pacing.  Even though Sheng En is an important character, Darren Qiu doesn’t flesh him out very well, nor does he have good enough chemistry with Tian Xin to make me believe that their characters are meant to be together.  This may also have to do with the writing, which doesn’t give Sheng En much complexity.  Shara Lin (as Han Xiang Qi) is also an acting newbie and singer like Darren Qiu, so her acting is limited here.  Her character felt out of place with the story and unnecessary.  As for the slow pacing, I can get why they decided to make the story go slowly rather than rushing it.  After all, the divorce was a long and painful process.  The characters weren’t rushing it, so why should the drama rush it?  On the other hand, this also made AGW harder to watch.  15 episodes of suffering is hard to stomach.  >_<

All in all, A Good Wife is an immensely heavy drama with real emotions and relevant themes.  Would I watch it again?  Nope, that would be too painful for sure.  Do I regret watching it?  Nope, because it was unlike other tw-dramas on the same subject (for instance, The Fierce Wife and To the Dearest Intruder) and really made me reflect more on divorce & marriage.

Forget Me by Aska Yang

Previous A Good Wife Reviews:

Translation credit / Where to Watch: A Good Wife is English subbed by Viki.

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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  • I’d always put off this drama because of the subject matter, even though I love Christopher Lee’s acting. Now, I may plan to watch this over the holidays when I can really concentrate on it.

    • I’d say wait until you’re in the right mood to watch it. It took me a long time to finish the drama because I wasn’t always in the mood to watch such a heavy story.

    • Christopher Lee impressed me so much in AGW I went on to watch he and Ruby Lin’s “Forgotten” (a tear jerker that I fell in love with). In AGW, I sympathize Shao wen the most because he is SO clueless. He thinks he is doing everything right: Bring home the bacon, being faithful, eating his wife’s cooking, living away from his parents. (Hell, I’ll marry him.) Except he is utterly oblivious to the fact that his wife has no friends, no job, no support system to distract her from the oppressive loneliness and helplessness with being married to a workaholic and overbearing in-laws. It’s really sad to see him going through all that emotional pain to learn to empower his wife. All I can say is marriage is not for the faint of heart.

  • My interest in Taiwanese dramas gradually faded after Autumn’s Concerto, because I couldn’t find a drama that interested me as much as AC did. I actually checked out AGW due to all the rave reviews it was getting on douban (similar to imdb), and I did not regret it at all. I would say that this is the first T-drama that really gave me food for thought, without losing the entertainment factor. That scene on the bridge was really heartbreaking T_T

  • Completely agree with everything you said! Heart-wrenching but such an emotionally touching drama! Tian Xin and Christopher Lee did an amazing job fleshing out their characters, taking the drama from good to amazing.

  • Great review! Everytime I listen that song I still remember this drama, what a painful experience it was but you’re completely right, it’s not one for rewatching but it was an unforgettable drama. It scarily felt so real, and goes against what dramas normally stands for – that love conquers all. In here, it feels like Shao Wen’s love was so strong he sacrificed himself… usually that’s mega annoying but here it made sense. (Although I can’t help but think what if something happens to his crazy Dad and that major ‘obstacle’ is gone?!? Wouldn’t that be a waste?)

    • The song brings back a lot of memories! Hmm good point about Shao Wen’s parents. I think SW/YZ’s ending would’ve been way different if the parents weren’t an obstacle. I’m not surprised that Shao Wen’s dad didn’t change his views, but I was hoping that his mom would.

  • Ohh. Thank you for covering this drama. I planned on starting this after I finish Marry or Not which also stars Tian Xin. MOR is lighthearted but a solid T drama. I saw the good ratings for a good wife and based off your posts, it sounds like I have to buckle down before hand. Since I am watching the two eps daily for NIF and also doing Marry or Not; I’ll have to wrap something up before a good wife. Mmhmm. Hope I can sit though the heaviness.

  • Thank you so much for your blog. I just finished watching A Good Wife and couldn’t sleep for all the thoughts running through my head. I was so happy to find your blog because it felt like your review expressed many of the thoughts and emotions I had and felt while I was watching the drama. I wish could have rewritten the ending though. Shao Wen had come so far in trying to save his marriage…I wish he could have stood up to his parents instead. He ended up giving up his daughter and wife (I know her heart had moved on to Sheng En) but I hoped that they could have worked something out, rebuilt his firm together, allowing both their dreams to come true. I know…I’m always one for a happy ending.
    I loved your review of the drama and your excellent writing. I’ll be coming back to your blog! Thank you!

    • Hi, thanks for your comment. I’m glad that AGW continues to get new viewers who enjoy it just as much as I did. It seemed like both Shao Wen and Yi Zhen acknowledged that they weren’t the right fit for each other, and they couldn’t give each other what they needed at the time. I wish they had at least remained friends, or built the dream house.

  • Thank you for this review, which closely mirrors how I felt after just finishing AGW a couple of days ago (on Netflix). Though I’ve watched many Taiwanese movies over the years, this was the first TV drama I followed through to the end. I wholeheartedly agree that the performance of the leads, combined with the methodical and sensitive development of the characters by the writers, really made this an enjoyable (though gut-wrenching) experience to watch. As a man, the “drifting apart” of the main characters reminds me that good intentions are meaningless without good communication (especially listening). Neglect is as much of a threat to a marriage/relationship as conflict is. Both Tian Tsin and Christopher Lee are very convincing in illustrating this, along with the frustration of reconciling your partner’s needs with your own. I wish more shows would portray the sensitivity and complexity of marriage as the writers of AGW did!

    • Hi, thanks for your comment. So glad you finished AGW and that it’s getting more exposure via Netflix. The impact of AGW lingers on, long after it finished airing! It’s good to hear a guy’s perspective on the drama. I agree with you about good communication. It’s not just talking, it’s receiving and understanding the other person’s message. There were many moments when YZ expressed her feelings to SW, but he simply could not comprehend what she was trying to tell him. By the end it was too late.

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-There are plenty of upcoming period c-dramas to keep an eye out for. Check them out here. Includes Lost Time In Love, Win the World, Nirvana in Fire 2, and more.

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-On an indefinite hiatus.

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