Ode to Jiang Xin (Ode to Joy Eps 13-35)
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!
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!
^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.
“Good friends are like a hot spring. You can lay stiffly in it. Every nerve in your body will wake up slowly in happiness.”
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!”
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.
^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!
- Ode to Joy by mookie
- Ode to Joy: Pros and Cons, but Mostly the Cons by Samsoon Down the Rabbit Hole
- C-Drama Devotee 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