A few weeks after this drama had completed its broadcasting, I stumbled upon it. Since I wasn’t doing a whole lot of drama watching, I thought checking it out wouldn’t hurt (after all the publicity, who wouldn’t be a little curious?). So I did and boy, was the experience one of exquisite contradiction!
It felt as if I took the sommelier’s advice and ordered really good white wine. Because it was so great, I sped through the whites to get to the reds, thinking things’ll only get better. But when the reds came, I’ve already overshot my bliss point and was slowly heading towards aversion. It was all downhill from there.
Sounds confusing? Allow me to explain myself better.
To me, this re-making of the Hana Yori Dango story that we knew so well can be divided into two parts: 1) the beginning, before all the messy courtship began and 2) the entire middle to end portion, where all the meaty get togethers, breakups, and whatnot took place. As you may have guessed, the first part would be the white wine that hooked me to the drama, and the latter the red wine that turned me away.
The reason I liked the beginning so much chiefly had to do with how it deviated from Hana Yori Dango. Let’s face it, before this particular remake, there’s the manga, the anime, the TWdrama Meteor Garden, the dorama Hana Yori Dango, and later the kdrama Boys Before Flowers (which, completed its broadcasting not that long ago; with better cars, excellent taste in clothes — at least for the men –, and better acting on Lee Min Ho and Lee Hye Young‘s part). Even if I’ve only seen the drama versions, this would still be my fourth (!!) time. And no matter how helpless a romantic I may be inside this cynical shell, I don’t need to see the same plot unfold THAT many times, albeit with different people. So a little diversion became an eye opener and it suited me just fine.
Sadly, as soon as the initial girl against boys plot ended (I enjoyed that by the way), the drama entered its second phase and we were left to discuss who loves who, who should be with who for 20 or so episodes — when the answer was crystal clear from the start. There’s a certain choppiness with the way things were handled in this latter portion that it sometimes had an event-tossing quality to it. One moment this happened, suddenly another, all without the fluidity of masterful storytelling.
There were a few highly emotionally charged scenes but they felt flat because the actors didn’t have the chemistry and acting experiences to sustain the intensity required for the scenes. Not to mention the lines coming out of their mouths are often too over-the-top to keep my eyes from rolling.
There was a good deal of criticism on the actors (especially Yu Haoming) and the drama as a whole. I do want to point out that despite the complains (mostly about the hair and clothes), Yu Haoming’s acting did show marked improvement towards the end. Yes, he did dress like an unctuous waiter with the funky bow tie and the silly suspenders (see below) — don’t even get me started on the hair — but personal attacks are just mean! Blame the stylists, not the young singer/actor, people!
Whether this drama should be deemed a success or a failure, it depended on the perspective with which one viewed it. From a purely economic standpoint, this drama was a success. It aroused controversy, true. But controversy is a good thing. How many dramas were produced, shot, and aired without stirring a ripple? At the end of the day, didn’t the actors become famous? Didn’t hunan TV received higher ratings than it had in the past? (And by extension, cash flow from the commercials.) Didn’t the firms achieved their marketing goals by sponsoring the drama? (The pervasive logos, billboards, and products infested the drama. Even commercial lines were shamelessly fed to the viewers. *cough a certain notorious shampoo company cough*.) Finally, weren’t the viewers entertained and got themselves worked up for it whether they loved it or hated it?
And guess what? There’s no limit to eeMedia’s keen business sense (both derision and respect intended). Besides a second season for Let’s Watch Meteor Shower Together, they’re going to milk an over-milked cow by putting together a remake of the three installments of Princess Pearl (also known as Huan Zhu Ge Ge/还珠格格)! Try as they may, but a good business plan doesn’t always equate a good drama.