A Good Wife: Eps 11-15 (Final Review)
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!)
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.
“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?”.
“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.
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.