C-Drama: Parallel Love (1st impression)

Parallel Love is a time travel drama, and I really love time travel dramas, so I decided to give it a try. It’s about a woman who is a company director that out of the blue goes back in time when she opens a door. Then she gets a message saying that she has to help a guy become president of his company or she will disappear forever.

The first episode is a little wonky. The door time travel happens really fast and did not make a whole lot of sense. And there was no explanation for why she had to help a random guy get a promotion at his families company.

Also, the female lead did not make a great first impression, on me, or on the male lead. She ran into him during the doorscapade, since he was going through it at the same time that she was. She knocked him over and he told her she should apologize for it. She didn’t. She told him she was late for something, but her speech about being late was longer than any apology I’ve heard so far, so it sure seems like she could have said she was sorry.

The female lead continued to annoy me – and the second lead when she came across him again as he was about to give an important speech at an important event. She bumped into him again, ruining his shirt right before he had to go on stage. And again, she didn’t apologize. The male lead was forced to improvise, but his efforts were ruined.

Of course, he turns out to be the guy the female lead is supposed to help make company president. That was predictable.

When the female lead goes to his company looking to work with him she doesn’t know he is the same guy she bumped into multiple times. But when she finds out and hears that she ruined his important event she continues to be rude to him and still doesn’t apologize. I am a strong supporter of manners so it made it really hard to like her all that much.

The female lead also seemed oblivious to common sense on more than one occasion. She spent a long time opening and closing the door that she time-traveled through, trying to go back to 2020, which she came from. But when the staff approached her asking her to stop she couldn’t make up a good story for why she was doing it and was kicked out so she couldn’t keep trying in the future.

The male lead is actually likeable. He has a dry humor that is pretty great. His only major fault is really the fault of the shows stylist(s) who gave him godawful clothes and very dated hair. The hair I could deal with. The clothes, not so much. His main flaw was being in a career position he might not have been ready for.

There is also a twist to the story where the female lead who went back in time ten years is living at the same time as her ten years younger self. I think this is the most interesting part of the story. My favorite scene was with her ten years younger self and her ex-boyfriend who had apparently dumped her ten years later. Both characters seem like they will remain constant in the story since the ex-boyfriend works at the same company as the ten years older version of the female lead who I assume will have to avoid him.

If the whole drama was about that I would really enjoy watching it, but the show is mostly about the romance between the leads and the first two episodes more than set that up. There were interesting scenes between them about a wedding they had to plan, which involved some petty theft by the leads. It was fun(ish) to watch. But the rest of the lead up to romance involved throwing every single drama trope at the wall. This included the leads falling on each other, pressing up against each other, the female lead having to stay with the male lead at his house, him carrying her, covering her with a blanket and seeing her with new eyes.

This is the reason I paused watching the drama for now – or forever because I couldn’t take it anymore. There were so many ridiculous, corny moments that I can’t even count them all. If I was given a dollar for every time I rolled my eyes during the first couple episodes I would be a thousandaire by now.

This show could get better. It’s pretty highly rated so far. I do think it will probably have an interesting business plot with a female lead who does some cool problem-solving. And the leads might even be good together, although I don’t know how that will work with the whole time travel problem. I am also interested to see what happens with the ten years younger version of the female lead. But is it worth watching the stupid uber predictable cheeseball moments that happen every few minutes to see the rest of it? That it is what I am going to have to decide and honestly, I am not sure that it is.

Th-Drama: 2gether (8.4/10)

If you haven’t watched a Boy Love (BL) drama but love dramas, you are missing out. Honestly, throw you pre-conceptions out the window. They are truly some of the greatest dramas out there.

I love them because a lot of them remind me of 90’s American high school and college movies like She’s All That, 10 Things I Hate About You and Never Been Kissed. The kind that are so fun to watch and always have happy endings, but have mostly disappeared. Thai Bl’s are helping fill this void.

2Gether is about a freshman college boy who is basically being stalked by a guy that has a crush on him. At this point the lead is sure he is straight and can’t seem to get the guy to leave him alone. He tries a fake girlfriend and when that didn’t work, he and his friends decided he needed a fake boyfriend instead. It is a little unclear why they went this route or why they picked the guy did, but it was a plot point they had to forward, so I guess it’s ok.

The guy the lead picks to be his fake boyfriend is a school heartthrob who plays in a band but is otherwise quiet, cold and introverted. The heart throb repeatedly turns the lead down until eventually giving in.

The fake relationship turns into real love, as it should since this is what dramas are all about. BUT this evolution isn’t formulaic, which is something I really liked about this show. The person doing the running after the other is unique, and the story behind it and the responses they get are mostly unexpected. There is also some time spent on the lead character trying to work through whether they really like their fake boyfriend or if they are just infatuated with having someone so hot and sought after next to them,

I should mention that the fake boyfriend is PRETTY. Every episode he got more and more attractive to me. Some study found that the humans that people find universally attractive are the ones with symmetrical features and this guys are pretty perfect. The character also turns out to be adorably shy versus conceited so it is too easy to ship this couple.

There are reviewers out there who didn’t love this drama, but I think that it depends on what a viewer is looking to get out of one. I loved it. It was light-hearted, sweet and romantic, I didn’t get too invested in the second lead love triangles, and I ended the drama feeling even happier as a person than when I started it. THAT is what I watch dramas for.

I highly recommend giving this show or other BL’s a try because they really can be adorable and sweet and funny – basically the perfect pick me up. Love by Chance, 2 Moons and Scotus 2 are my fav, and 2gether just got added to that list.

A-Movie: PS I Still Love You (7.7/10)

This is the sequel to the movie To All the Boy’s I’ve loved before. They are both books by Jenny Han and are now movies on Netflix. The lead character is Koraen American, as is the author so this isn’t straying that far from my regular reviews.

I did not do a review of the first one so here is a very brief review and synopsis of it: It’s a high school movie. The lead female, Lara Jean wrote love letters to all the guys she had crushes on, but wasn’t planning to send them. Then her sister sent them out 😲. One of the guys Lara Jean liked was a Lacrosse player named Peter who got one of the letters which lead to them talking which led to then pretend dating so he could make his ex, Lara Jean’s former friend jealous and keep her crush from realizing she was crushing on him. And of course they start liking each other. The end.

I liked it since I am a sucker for exactly this type of movie. I liked the lead girl and the plot, although it was slightly formulaic. I did not like that the lead “boy” Peter who was supposed to be in high school was played by an actor who looks like he is 30. It was weird.

On to the second movie

In this one Peter and Lara Jean are now in a new relationship and having to figure it out as they go. Lara Jean has never had a boyfriend before and is insecure about Peter’s ex who eggs her insecurity on a little since they have become pretty solid frenemies. Lara Jean also heard back from one of the boys she sent a letter to, possibly her favorite of the bunch who seems to like her back. In the first movie, the boy was a Caucasian brunette yet somehow in this one he is African-American. The wonders of movie magic.

Lara Jean finds herself in a love triangle while still worrying about the ex and this is the major challenge the couple faces.

I like the fact that the movie looks at the start of a new relationship and its challenges,. But I felt that Lara Jean basically fed the love triangle and led both guys on a bit, which I did not like. She even did the same thing to one of them that had hurt them in the past- something they had previously confided to her. Peter was also kind of dumb at reading signals.

There were good parts to the movie, but it didn’t end on a high note for me since I felt that both leads were not the kindest people they could be and didn’t seem all that compatible to me. And Peter still looked 30 :/. That said, when the next installment comes out I will probably watch it and hopes that it is a little bit better than part two.

C-Drama: Ghost Bride (7.8/10)

I recently watched the show Ghost Bride, which is airing on Netflix. The preview was interesting enough to make me want to watch it.

Summary:

A young woman in 1890’s China is in love with one man from a very rich family, but his cousin who is dead forces her to marry him by threatening the life of her father. Her dad was especially dear to her because she had already lost her mother. The woman comes in contact with a policeman from Heaven who is after the ghost and they work together to try and stop him. During that time the woman ends up in some sort of afterworld purgatory and will die if she doesn’t stop the wedding from happening.

The best parts:

  • The actors were good
  • The special effects were great
  • There were some funny moments
  • There is a mystery whodunnit that wasn’t easily solvable
  • It’s a short drama (thankfully)

Things that were’t great:

  • The young woman had no empathy for the guy she was in love with or his cousin. I get that being forced into a ghost marriage will make you hate your fiance, but they guy, as bad as he was, actually liked her and clearly had a messed up upbringing. I felt a little sorry for him and thought he could change his perspective given some effort, but she clearly didn’t and preferred to see him rot in hell (not a figure of speech).
  • She was also forgiven for doing something that I thought wasn’t easily forgivable and she also jerked someone around in a way I didn’t like.

My recommendation

If you like fantasy and ghost dramas and good special effects than it’s probably worth watching, just don’t expect perfection.

K-Drama: Just Dance

I held off on watching this drama for YEARS because there is nothing I love more than a dance competition story. For instance, Dirty Dancing is my favorite movie of all time I also adore stories about kids who accomplish more than most adults expected of them. Especially when they are based on true stories. My very favorite is Stand and Deliver. Just Dance combines both so I was basically saving the best for last, or at least for a moment when I could reward myself.

Now if only I had known it would be a darker look at the human condition… I still would have watched it, but maybe I wouldn’t have been expecting lighthearted montages of dance practice and memorable lines a la Bring It On like “It’s already been broughtin.”

Instead, I think I went through a whole box of tissues while watching Just Dance. And that’s because it focuses on life in a small town full of what people in Seoul consider “hicks” where shipbuilding is the major industry. The lead, Kim Shi Eun is a girl with good grades and big dreams, constrained by her upbringing. She is the daughter of a widow whose husband died under dubious circumstances. Her mom continually tells her not to strive for too much, pushing her to graduate from her technical high school and get a job on the island.

I could relate so much to the lead. I was born to parents who have little in the way of ambition and though they love me, they have not been interested in assisting me in meeting my goals, which have always been loftier than their own.

My experience is also laid out in this show which lays out its theme very clearly in the last four or so episodes. The theme is happiness and whether it is tied to achieving dreams or simpler than that. Basically what does it mean to be happy, is it attainable and will it be lasting.

This is told through the stories of Kim Shi Eun who wants to get out of her small town and direct films and the ragtag group of girls who ended up on their schools Dance Sport team. Girls who were the children of people with big ambitions for them, no ambitions, alcoholics, grandparent guardians and parents who were worried that their kids would leave for the big city and never be back.

It was also about Mr. Lee the dance sport teacher whose purpose was to help as many girls as possible in whatever ways he could, although he was a supporting character throughout.

There was also a love story between the lead and a boy whose dad was her moms superior at work whose families had drama between them (because it wouldn’t be a k-drama if that wasn’t in it lol). In my opinion the lead boy was adorable. He was sweet and kind and loved the lead as much as any teenager could love someone. Kim Shi Eun, on the other hand was awful to him a lot of time. It is something I loved and hated about this show.

I really appreciate that Kim Shi Eun was not a typical character in a drama. She wasn’t particularly nice or fun to be around. She was sometimes depressed, an elitist, a bad communicator and made some really stupid decisions. I think this was a unique approach and welcome it for its uniqueness and its tru-to-life’ness. It was definitely better than having a lead character who the plot says is amazing but in actuality is not.

On the other hand I was basically yelling at the screen when she was at her worst. Even though I knew it was a show I was so mad at her for the way she would treat her friends and a boy who so clearly loved her despite all of her flaws.

Overall I really liked this show. The theme really resonated with me since I think we all struggle with what happiness is and whether we are truly happy, and if so how happy. I also liked the underlying themes around class and the issues facing people who are just trying to get by since as a single parent that has absolutely been me. It is also the vast majority of the worlds population.

The dance practice and competition parts were nice, but it really was more the glue that held the story together rather than the main theme. As a result, I enjoyed it but it wasn’t the thing that kept me watching. I watched to see what would happen next with the characters, especially Kim Shi Eun, her mom, the boy who loved her and the outcast rebel Park Hye Jin who I would watch a whole show about on its own.

Overall, Just Dance was pretty depressing, definitely not the Christmas cheer I was expecting, but it was because it was so realistic. This show was also interesting, sometimes funny, unique, thoughtful, and very, very smart. If you don’t mind that it’s not sally sunshine than I wholly recommend it. Sometime soon I will be watching the original documentary the show is based on, assuming I can find it with eng subs.

K-Dramas Have Me Nostalgic for My Most Romantic Date

Since most of the dramas I watch have some sort of romance in them it got me thinking about some of my past romances.

My very best date was with my former fiance before we were engaged (I dated him after too but that’s a story for a different day). We were living in California and I was living in a small town filled with apple orchards and berry fields while I saved up to go to Europe.

It looked like this only it was eggplant and claret and the top was ruched.

That day we dressed up. Him in a suit and skinny tie. I wore a purple dress reminiscent of a ballerina costume, backless with a strap that went around my neck and a floaty skirt. We made a really gourmet dinner (my ex loved to cook and bake and had hoped to open a bakery). We packed it in a basket, along with a bottle of wine and headed to a really cozy park nearby where people rarely went on weekends since there were only picnic benches, trees and a small art center, which was closed for the day. We spread out a blanket on the picnic table and ate there.

As the sunset filled the sky my ex put on music in his truck which was parked close to the table and asked me to dance. We danced for the next hour until the sky was dark and a chill was in the air. Then we drove home full, drowsy and completely contented.

That was my best date so far. Here’s to hoping I get more like that in the future.

C-Drama T-Drama Hello Again is So Cute!

This show gets pretty high marks from me because it is ADORABLE. It meets all the criteria of a standard drama, but flips some tropes on their head in the very best way. The actors are great, especially lead actor Bruce Hung who makes this show shine.

Hello Again! is about a male and female who went to high school together but weren’t friends. The female, Chang Ke Ai was the top student in their grade, and the male, Yang Zi Hao was good at extracurriculars, but not a great student. He also rubbed Chang Ke Ai the wrong way for interrupting her speech to the school and study hall with his antics. During an argument between the two they make a bet that if Yang gets into the same school as Chang she will have to carry his bag there everyday.

This motivates Yang to study hard and get accepted. So he wins the bet, except it gets foiled. Watch to find out how 😉

The story centers around their time together 10 years later when they meet back up under very different conditions and end up working together.

What makes this drama different in a way I find refreshing is that instead of a long drawn out hate to love relationship between the two, Yang is very clear that he likes Chang and most of his actions involve helping her and keeping her in his orbit.

He finds tons of cute and ridiculous reasons to get her to spend time with him, like making a business bet where she wins a steak dinner with him as the prize or giving her a loan where the interest is having breakfast with him. In most cases, his secretary, played by Sean Lee is rolling his eyes at Yang’s nutty and immature antics, which is pretty funny. And Bruce Hung acts all this out so charmingly

Hung is another one of those actors that I probably wouldn’t look at twice if I saw him in the grocery store, especially in his earlier days like in A Good Day, but he has officially grown up, and away from the days when he dabbled in the ladies bikini pond 😂😂😂.

OMG LOL

Now when he’s on screen showing off his insanely adorable dimple and washboard abs, and being so sincere while in character, it’s a whole other story. The Chinese idol judges are always talking about auras as a determinant for idolhood and Hung definitely has one.

In the show, Chang has no idea that Yang likes her and never even considered him as a love interest, which is why she is immune to his charm and cant see why he repeatedly takes actions on her behalf. I would not have that problem. In fact this is an open invitation to Hung and his aura to come to the U.S. and have dinner with me anytime 😉

I’m only halfway through this drama, but so far it’s only gotten better, so I can’t wait to see the rest. And I waited soo long to see it. I have had it on my to watch list for awhile now, but it just, and I mean just got English subtitled episodes that are available to see in America up to episode 13 out of 16. For weeks only the first episode had subs and I was dying to know what happened next.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I am learning Mandarin, and c-dramas are a perfect way to practice (note: I met a guy in Spain who learned English through a Netflix marathon of an American show which influenced this decision), but my proficiency isn’t high enough to understand entire dialogs – yet. And it’s not always easy to find a c-drama that I love, but this one, I love. At least so far.

My only major critique is that although actress Amber An does a really great job in the role, and is pretty as pie in real life, in this drama she looks like a fairly unattractive mess who dresses herself in the dark. It makes it hard to see why her character, although very smart and spunky, is so attractive to the males (and females 😉 around her, or how she has a job in fashion. Her outfits are atrocious and do nothing to flatter her. Same with her hair. The girl wears banana clips, which went out in the 1980’s last I checked! Her pants are floodwaters, she wears frayed denim on denim and grandma sweaters. There is one scene where the guy is supposed to be wowed by her in a dress he picked out, except that dress is a 1990’s knock off with no shape to it. If Hung or his character actually finds that look attractive I will start wearing mumu’s which they must find equally seductive 😂. My 2 cents: An’s costume designer and hairdresser for this show need to find a new line of work – pronto.

Amber An in real life

Hello Again! is not a work of art (I dont want to mislead you) and some situations are completely improbable, but it is quirky in the best way! It’s lighthearted with some very sweet and funny moments. It has a business storyline where they actually do business (so rare lol). The actors do a great job and hopefully the show continues to grow on me for the 7 episodes I have left.

Note: Just You is still my favorite Taiwanese Drama of all time (and one my fav dramas period) and I hope directors and producers will magically find this post and take note that we need more dramas like Just You and Hello Again! – maybe one starring Puff Kuo and Bruce Hung.



K-Drama: My ID is Gangnam Beauty (7.3/10)

I know I am the last one to watch this drama. I don’t know why I was resistant to doing it, but now I know I wasn’t wrong.

I tried soooooo hard to like it. And there are parts of it I really like. The acting is good all around. I like the supporting characters. The production itself is high quality, the leading male is as attractive as the show keeps saying he is (he is very symmetrical), and the theme is unique and worthwhile to consider and discuss.

The first episode pulled me in and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. But at some point I feel like I was forcing myself to watch something I wasn’t that invested in.

It’s because I can’t stop thinking that the lead male is a giant jerk. I mean great that he likes this one girl and treats her well, but how special is that really when he is rude to almost everyone else. And the lead girl goes on about being treated badly as an ugly duckling, but pays no mind to the fact that he treats others girls feelings with insensitivity. Plus he is such a debbie downer.

I couldn’t stop thinking while watching it that if he wasn’t attractive he would be almost as unlikable as the glasses guy (aka the bad guy). If he were an unattractive guy it seems highly unlikely that the lead female would have put up with his coldness and unhealthy possessiveness. He showed up where he wasn’t invited t see her, always demanded to know what she was doing at places and why she hadn’t called him back. I mean, let’s get real, if he was ugly, she would have tired of his behavior with a quickness.

And the lead girl. Ahhh! Talk about a victim complex. I understand that she just wants to be normal, but full facial plastic surgery – that is obvious – is not exactly normal. How did she not realize that she may be subject to some looks, questions and ridicule?

I spent all 12 episodes that I watched wishing they would just dance more, which might’ve been the funnest part of this drama, the lead guy would take some happy pills, and the girl would just own her new face, walk with confidence and date whoever she wanted (even if he’s a jerk). Although she’d have to give up moralizing to keep from being a hypocrite, something that I luckily don’t have to do 😉

Maybe the last 4 episodes are the best and I am missing out big time. And maybe I’ll watch them one day, but I just can’t shake the feeling that I would spend most of it wanting to call the whaambulance on them, and end up less than excited about their predictable and eventual coupling. If that happens it’s hard to imagine that I could end the drama with the same level of joy I normally get from a happily ever after.

Sorry to be so negative about this. but I think that’s the mood the drama put me in 😦 Hopefully you all had a more positive viewing experience.

No More Love Triangles, Please!

When I started watching C-dramas and K-dramas I had a high patience quotient for love triangles, but those days have come and gone.

It’s very realistic that some people have unrequited love or go after someone who isn’t emotionally available to them. That’s what my teen years were about lol, so I can appreciate it being portrayed in dramas, BUT I am so tired of watching people get rejected. It doesn’t give me warm fuzzy feelings to watch a lead crush the heart of the second lead or humiliate them. Some are so villainous that I can bear it out, but a lot of times the punishment the second lead gets is worse than their crimes.

For instance I love Queen in Hyun’s Mans, how could I not, but I loved it less for the way it handled the second lead. Sure Choi Hee Jin’s ex was an egotistical ass and broke up with her for jerky reasons, and for that I was willing to see him fail at getting her back. But then, when Choi Hee Jin forgot the lead because time started over (I won’t explain because I can’t lol, just watch it if you haven’t yet 🙂 he got on his knees and begged her for forgiveness and they began a healthy happy relationship, then the main lead comes back and she not only drops the second lead, but humiliates him completely. Not only does he find a guy in her bedroom, the guy squirts him with water, tells him he is taking his woman, and locks him in a shower while his girlfriend laughs at him, leaves him there and goes to spend the night with the other man.  I mean, OUCH!

There are also second leads that go off their rockers, like in Something About the 1% where the seemingly rational woman shows up, goes after the guy and 10 seconds later she becomes a kidnapper. And it seems like these issues could be prevented, prior to abductions and violence, if the leads were just a tad bit firmer about their disinterest. Except writers seem to think this is what makes dramas interesting. Maybe they’re right. I am only one person, what do I know, but I disagree with them.

I want less of this. Especially since I really don’t think it furthers most plots in any good way. In C-dramas they make up the 10 episodes too many that turn a drama from a great one into something mediocre or fast forward worthy. And in K-dramas they’re distracting from what I really want to see which is a mushy love story, and some interesting plot lines about school, politics, law, family etc. I’ll even settle for mean moms, riches to rags, or amnesia over most love triangles.

If you know of any dramas WITHOUT immature love triangles, I would love to know about them because I am going on boycott until further notice.

Or trying to at least.