Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Drama Review: In Time with You

It has been a seriously long while (I totally missed out on June!) and I have no excuses. But let's not spend too much time dwelling in the negatives because this is We eat lemon's 200th post! Wow, it's been a really long time. Why did I skip 100, you ask? No idea. Probably just forgot (this is the 100th post, by the way. Super random). Since this time I remembered, let's have a moment to celebrate. And what better way than talking about something I've never talked about on this blog which are Taiwanese dramas. Specifically, a particularly well-made one named In Time with You.

The reasons I want to watch this drama is many. One of them does not include following blindly in the footsteps of a favorite actor, which I tend to do. I actually don't know anyone in the cast, mostly because I've never actually watched a Taiwanese drama before! To some of you it may seem crazy, but I've only been watching Korean dramas about at least 70% of the time, the other 25-ish% being American sitcoms. I’m not very adventurous with my drama choices in general, especially with regards of crossing countries.

Why I decided to watch In Time with You is mostly fueled by the current Korean adaptation The Time I've Loved You starring the gorgeous Ha Ji-won and equally handsome Lee Jin-wook. I'm not a huge fan of either, although I do like Ha Ji-won more than Lee Jin-wook. There was just a lot of buzz (and strong opinions) surrounding this drama, I needed to see the original material so I can say things. I also wanted to watch because so many people loved the original series and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I'm a sucker for good slice of life stories and In Time with You seems to fall in that spot perfectly.

Chen You-qing (Ariel Lin) recently hit her 30th birthday and she felt an overwhelming obligation to settle down and get married. She's the very definition of a career woman, often putting work over other aspects of her life, making her unsuitable for the traditional role of housewife. On top of that, she also has a strong personality; she doesn't hesitate to say what needs to be said and is fiercely loyal, to a point that may invite misunderstandings from other people. One of those people who she's loyal to is her best friend of 13 years Li Da-ren (Bolin Chen). He's the ice to her fire and may be the only one, outside of her loving parents, who truly understands her. He himself has trouble finding love like many busy 20/30-somethings but mostly because of one reason: he's secretly in love with You-qing.

When I was describing the drama to my friend, it sounded so cheesy. Two friends turn into lovers in the end is such a cliche trope. And to be honest, if I read the synopsis without knowing the rave reviews it has, I wouldn't even bat an eye. While the initial premise does make the plot slightly predictable, I don't think this is what the drama is all about.

The highlight of the drama, in my opinion, is Chen You-qing, portrayed perfectly by Taiwanese darling actress Ariel Lin. You-qing is what I would consider one of the best female characters I've seen in general, but especially career women roles. She's determined and ambitious but deeply loyal and caring. She's also selfish, self-concious and fears of not receiving love, despite what her confident exterior tries to fool the rest. She's a perfectly flawed character, which I love. I also enjoyed her journey throughout the drama, whether in professional and personal life. Ariel Lin does such an amazing job portraying her. She's tough when she needs to be, but falls apart when the moment calls for it. She doesn't seem overly conscious with all the ups and downs You-qing faces throughout the drama, and it's why I love her (both Ariel and You-qing) so much.

Of course, we can't forget about the dreamy Li Da-ren. Just an FYI, I’m pretty sure I've heard of the name Li Da-ren before even knowing this drama. That's how popular he is! And man, Bolin Chen just turns on the charm with each and every second. Doesn't help that he’s easy on the eyes. I'm a bit bummed Da-ren has the worst timing with You-qing, but appreciate that every missed confession would result in them deepening their friendship, which is so much more important. Another reason why he's a notch below You-qing is because he's simply too good to be true. Maybe there are people out there like Da-ren, as I'm pretty sure there are many caring and calm and many times selfless individuals out there. But let's be real here. This drama is totally about You-qing (her being the center of her own story isn't exactly wrong!).

That's another aspect of the drama I love, the beautiful friendship. Not only are the characters charismatic and lovable, they also have such an amazing relationship. Ariel and Bolin has wonderful chemistry, both as friends and eventual lovers. I love how they're supportive of each other but don't hesitate to point out each others' flaws. This is true friendship, and sadly they don't come by on screen that often.

Moreover, I loved the little stories within the drama. Whilst the show is all about You-qing and Da-ren, there's also a lot of focus on the different types of love outside of these two. From the flirtatious affair You-qing had with Nic, the almost childish love of Lala and Henry, to Ma and Pa's simple yet everlasting love. This is probably the director/writer's biggest accomplishment in the fact that they were able to tell meaty sub-plots without compromising the main story, or the other way around which is what usually happens to most dramas. I’m looking at you, Reply 1994.

The only part of the drama I wasn't too fond of was Maggie (Andrea Chen), especially when she was dating Da-ren. It was a combination of her voice and her actions that was driving me a little insane. I'm just not too fond of aegyo or clingy-ness. I even thought she was more annoying than that scumbag Ding Li-wei (Sunny Wang), although I don't necessarily like him either. Basically, these two second leads are only there to highlight how good of a relationship Da-ren and You-qing have. They're not necessarily bad additions, as they too have stories of their own, but when they're on screen you just know things aren't going to be all that good.

Really, I think this series is fantastic. At the moment I couldn't find any faults to it. I watched each episode with excitement and left feeling like someone gave me a big hug. It ticks all the boxes for me, from the beautiful friendships and loves to meaningful life lessons and simple everyday stories. It's funny and heartwarming and touching. I couldn't recommend it more.

I'm currently watching the Korean version, which I think will mark my return to my First Takes series. Just a spoiler, I don't think it's as good as the Taiwanese version. But I'll talk about it when the time comes.

No comments:

Post a Comment