Ode to Jiang Xin (Ode to Joy Eps 13-35)

Chinese DramasDrama Reviews

Jiang Xin is the main reason why I’m still sticking around Ode to Joy.  Because she is GLORIOUS in this drama.  I’ve known that she’s an acting powerhouse ever since I first saw her in Legend of Zhen Huan, and subsequently in Hua Xu Yin.  I thought I was already as big of a Jiang Xin fan as I could be.  But, I could only feel my love for her increase infinitely more in Ode to Joy.  Every scene of hers is gold, even though her character is beset with tons of suffering and tears.  Jiang Xin nails every moment.  Brace yourselves for the Jiang Xin pic-spamming coming up!

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In these episodes Fan Sheng Mei’s life goes into a downward spiral as several consecutive problems and unfortunate events hit her one after another.  It all starts with a family crisis: her irresponsible brother gets himself into trouble, aka debt.  Sheng Mei’s brother and parents pressure her to pay the debt while continuing to provide living expenses for all of them.  On top of that, Sheng Mei has no say in family matters even though she is the sole financial provider for the whole family.  Many emotional breakdowns and family conflicts ensue.  I don’t usually like tons of crying scenes in dramas, but it never gets old in Sheng Mei’s scenes because her crying is totally understandable given the situation.

There are tons of watch-worthy scenes that I’ve already watched at least twice:

  • When Sheng Mei breaks down crying during a classical concert–Sheng Mei goes to the concert to take her mind off of things.  She ends up breaking down crying during the concert because she is so moved by the music and has the weight of the world on her shoulders.  The sad part is that Dr. Zhao sends a picture of Sheng Mei crying to Xiao Xiao, and Xiao Xiao just laughs.  T_T”
  • When Andy sees drunken Sheng Mei at her lowest moment for the first time–It’s almost eerie seeing Sheng Mei as though the life was sucked out of her.  Every word Jiang Xin utters is so perfectly said in this scene omg.
  • “Mom, you’ve treated me like toilet paper.  You keep using me to clean up my brother’s a**.”
  • When Sheng Mei blows up at the debt collectors on the phone.
  • When Sheng Mei sits on the floor crying to herself and overhears Ying Ying & Guan Guan talking about how worried they are about her health.  She then smiles to herself through her tears.
  • & MORE!

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^I could really feel Sheng Mei’s desperation and inner conflict in this scene.  She wants to draw the line and not pay for her brother’s mistakes anymore.  But when push comes to shove, she can’t just ignore her parents when they are in danger.  I think she realizes in this scene that she’s not alone though, because she does have Guan Guan & Ying Ying by her side.

I realized in these episodes that Sheng Mei’s whole story is basically a double bind, lose-lose situation.  There are many conflicting messages surrounding her character, and ultimately she will lose something no matter what decision she makes.

In terms of her family situation, Sheng Mei faces the dilemma of paying for her family’s expenses/debt and conforming to her gendered family role.  If she pays, she can maintain the peace with her parents, but she won’t have any savings/financial security won’t be able to set boundaries.  If she doesn’t pay, she saves herself from paying for her brother’s wrongdoings but will likely be estranged from her mother who would view her as an unfaithful daughter.  As for Sheng Mei’s finances and romantic relationships, there is also no way to win.  If she doesn’t accept a loan from someone, she’s viewed as prideful.  If she gets gifts or money from a suitor, she’s viewed as a gold digger with no sense of shame.   If Sheng Mei marries up or goes out with a rich guy, she is judged as immoral.  But if she doesn’t, she can’t survive financially. (according to the drama)  The drama automatically makes wanting to marry rich a moral flaw but downplays the rich guys’ inappropriate behavior with the “they’re rich, what did you expect?” rationale.  According to the drama, to be a lady gold digger deserves censure but to objectify women does not.

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“Good friends are like a hot spring.  You can lay stiffly in it.  Every nerve in your body will wake up slowly in happiness.”

-Sheng Mei

I like how Sheng Mei’s friends (and even non-friends like Xiao Xiao) eventually banded together to support her during her crisis.  I agree that she could’ve relied on her friends sooner rather than taking on the world all by herself.  I especially like the scene when Ying Ying, Guan Guan, and Sheng Mei have a heart-to-heart talk while sitting together in bed.  At the end of the talk, Ying Ying assures Fan Jie that they’ll be there whenever she needs them.  She definitely comes through on her promise:

“Fan Jie.  We are not only your hot spring.  I remember when I met difficulties, you told me that Fan Jie is here…So in the future, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, as long as you need us, we will be by your side!”

-Ying Ying

On the other hand, the drama glosses over how a lot of the characters were talking behind Sheng Mei’s back.  Xiao Xiao, Andy and Wei Wei were already judging Sheng Mei even before her family issues started up.  Although Andy defends Sheng Mei, she still calls her character into question.  Xiao Xiao laughs at the picture of Sheng Mei crying at a concert.  I don’t think anyone would be eager to expose their family issues to people who were already questioning their morality, or to borrow money from someone who laughed at their crying.  Lastly, the entire solution to Sheng Mei’s situation is orchestrated without her knowledge, implying that she needs other people to intervene on her behalf to solve her problems.

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^This is a really powerful scene, when Sheng Mei loses it and blows up at the debt collectors over the phone.

ODE TO JIANG XIN!

Recommended Reviews

Cinderella (Ode to Joy OST) by Jiang Xin

Note: The drama ends at 42 episodes and has a second season planned.

Quote translation credit: 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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  • She is GLORIOUS. I have heard/ read nothing but raves even though the drama was considered an infuriating exercise on sexism/ bigotry for most (incl me) and folks halfjokingly sent Fan money, 520 (iloveyou) no less via weibo redpocket, 支付宝 etc. JX adorably screencap those and sincerely thank the fans.

    I see the concert scene as she purposefully dress up to cease the occasion crying her misery out ‘socially acceptably’

  • I could not agree more. I was also a fan of Jiang Xin after watching Zhen Huan, but watching her acting in Ode to Joy has been amazing. I found myself getting so irritated with her, because her pride made the bad situations worse, but that was how the part was meant to be played, and she conveyed that half-pride-half-helpless feeling perfectly. I just watched the episode where the crisis finally explodes last night, and it was really powerful. Jiang Xin is not only beautiful,but I think she is truly an actress, as good as any of the big-screen actresses, regardless of their country.

    • Yes somehow I feel like she shines even more here…even though I think I still liked her overall character better in ZH. I feel like LZH portrayed her character more consistently; OTJ doesn’t always feel consistent to me..

  • As much as I love seeing Jiang xin’s exquisite acting prowess on my screen, sometimes I just want to see her play a happy, plucky heroine having a big fat saccharine fairytale ending romance with some hot dreamboat haha

    • I know, I just wish I could see one of her characters be really happy for once. All of her roles I’ve seen (3 so far) have been sad ones. But I like how she chooses challenging roles.

  • havent watched anything with her. but thanks to OTJ, now i know, i just meet a really great actress.
    i literally watched this drama, at first becuz of Liu Tao. i really like that jie. but then… in this drama, i think, Fan Jie is the heroin. basically, almost everyone in this series is human being character. but, fan jie is typical of some people in real life. aaaaahh, salute to jiang xin for portraying fan jie’s character super duper well.

    fan jie is the first friend, andy hugs with all her heart. and all the girls are becoming one family bcuz of fan jie’s problem.

    i really love this drama. and i can’t wait for season 2. i hope, we will get a happy ending for fan jie. her problem has just not finished yet. ah can’t waiiiitt <3

    • Yup I just watched the hug scene! It was a big gesture on Andy’s part. I like how Fan Jie’s experience has helped put things into perspective for some of the other characters. For instance, Xiao Xiao realized how lucky she is to have such generous and loving parents.

  • Hi Heisui.. I haven’t started to watch this drama..
    But.. Kindly allow me to ask you a question related to Jiang Xin…
    Have you watched “Hua Xu Yin” until the end? Is it a good drama?

    Thank you

  • Hehe, I love how your review centers around the character of Fang Shengmei. She definitely shines in those episodes and was the only reason I continued watching Ode To Joy around those middle episodes :))

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