Fated to Love You 命中注定我愛你 (2008)
It had moments of total Romance-Land clichés, but I felt they had a very realistic approach to most of the storyline. Even under all the jokes and laughter, they tackled some real issues that I think often get glossed over. I appreciated the approach they had to a lot of these issues and all the while making it fun to watch. It's almost like a modern take of Cinderella, but with modern issues as well. Lol.
Basic story: Wealthy powerful guy already in a relationship with a beautiful successful ballerina going on a cruise to propose. Non-descriptive "post-it" girl (easy to come by, use and toss) on her first overnight vacation cruise with very crappy boyfriend. Guy gets stood up and drugged (by someone else to use the opportunity to take indecent photos for blackmail), girl took some cold medicine and walks into wrong room. Well, one night stand - resulting in unplanned pregnancy.
They end up getting married for the baby's sake and the story was about how the two of them were fated to be together. There were many misunderstandings, problems and confusions. It's mostly portrayed in very hilarious ways, but the underlying story was actually very touching.
Ji Cun Xi - our very wealthy owner, CEO, etc. of a soap company was probably our weakest character, but he also had one of the greater character growths. He sincerely and truly loved his girlfriend, Anna, but in Chinese, their Yuen Fen was very weak and both want different things. From the beginning, he wants to settle down and start having kids (although he never pressured her to), all the while he gets put into a back seat to Anna's career. He's a very nice guy, but very confused and conflicted between his responsibilities and whom he starts to care for.
Chen Xin Yi - our heroine has been continually described and accepted her role as a "post-it girl" as mentioned above. She's very plain, simple and always gets the short end of the stick. She doesn't have any close friends and gets used by everyone around her. Not because she's a super nice girl, but because she doesn't believe in herself and never stands up for herself. She has the greatest character arch.
Anna - the actual girlfriend was our typical smart, beautiful and career-minded woman. She also has character growth, mostly in the sense that she never really knew what she wanted. Her background comes out and we actually learn why she was so driven in her career as to abandon her boyfriend in pursuit of her career.
Dylan - the other guy that equally supports and ends up falling for Xin Yi. He's also very talented and a good guy in general, but I sometimes felt he was there just to make things happen. Lol. He ended up being more important later on with his own storyline.
What I found fascinating was that there were no real villains. Even the supposed "villains" were more for laughs and the problems so easily resolved within an episode. The main conflicts were the characters themselves. Their wants, desires, and characters were what was being tested. Each must overcome their own inner problems.
On the surface, this was just a romantic comedy about some mix-ups and such. Unlike the last series I reviewed (Sealed with a Kiss), this series actually should be analyzed and looked at. Everyone has their own backstory with their own meanings. I especially like the fact they tackled a lot of issues and problems. One of the topics I found was abortion.
After their one night stand, Xin Yi ended up pregnant. One of the options that was discussed was abortion, which they almost undertook. It was done without any moral preaching and approached realistically. Cun Xi himself said something very realistic: two people that don't really know each other shouldn't bring a child they cannot take care of into the world. Although they ended up taking the usual Asian drama route (they kept the baby and wanted it, but miscarried), it was a very honest thing to say. Given that they did marry because they felt it was more important to take responsibility for their actions, it was also an important point to make on all counts.
One thing I would like to point out just because: medically speaking, the picture they showed during the ultra sound for the abortion was a fetus that was much older than the 4 weeks they claimed it was. It's just used for effects.
The core of the story, I felt, was about people being honest with themselves and each other. More than anything, I think part of the story was about the idealized romance vs the realities. As Cun Xi and Xin Yi spent more and more time together, they begin to fall in love with each other. Cun Xi started to fall in love with Xin Yi's earnestness and kindness, whereas Xin Yi started to grow into a stronger person with Cun Xi's support and his kindness as well. All the while, each continued to held onto their idealized version of love. Problem was, it always fell short. Cun Xi loved the idealized Anna and the reality of Xin Yi would never match up. Xin Yi continued to idealized Cun Xi and often caved to whatever he asked, thinking that if she did what was expected then it would all turn out well. Even Anna with her idealized version of her life let other chances slipped by. The weakest part to this whole thing would be Cun Xi being a complete idiot and not being forthcoming about the whole situation with Anna.
Granted, it was sort of like Anna dumping Cun Xi when she picked to go to New York after telling him she was going to meet him on the boat, it still felt wrong. Even though Anna picked her career (which she ended up getting sabotaged and lost anyways), she was kept in the dark for the most part. Her actions really couldn't be blamed (not fully anyways since she unintentionally caused the miscarriage), but her selfishness did bring herself to the situation. Cun Xi was weakest because he was really the one hiding from his feelings the whole time. Xin Yi's lack of self-esteem in herself allowed a lot of the outside forces to control her life. Dylan was pretty perfect, but I think he had some unresolved guilt issues in there and sometimes really felt out of place in the whole story at times. It also didn't help that no matter how well they portrayed him, Dylan's character was more underhandedly selfish. Example was his treatment of Anna. Not a bad person, but probably more realistic than the other three. Lol. Fun to watch though.
I loved how they even fast-forwarded the time and we saw how this experienced changed all of these characters. They all grew and it was great. I liked seeing how each character changed and how it took time and effort. Their experiences shaped them to become better people. It was the growths that finally were able to resolve their inner problems. Romance at it's best, I tell you. To this day, when I re-watch it, there were points where I'd still sniffle because the show was really good at it's portrayal. I could keep digging the layers of the various social commentaries about this show. It's really great. It also helped they goofed around all the time, and the fact everyone's hit Cun Xi over various reasons. Hahahaha.
On a side note, my favorite character has got to be the Grandmother Pearl (Ji Wang Zhen Zu). She's hilarious throughout the series. I loved how she also had a backstory as well. Xin Yi's family was also hilarious. It's very sweet in it's own way to show how their family held together, so the mom Chen Lin Xi Shi, was probably my second favorite character, hahaha. The side romance between Anson was also very cute.
Let me just say this, I absolutely loved watching the actress Joe Chen. Her Chen Xin Yi was so endearing and sincere. Her character could have been annoying, but honestly, she played this character so well, you cannot help but love and want to encourage Xin Yi. Maybe another actress might have made Chen Xin Yi annoying, stupid, or weak, but not with in Joe Chen's capable hands. Instead, in most cases, I felt very sympathetic and close to her character. Xin Yi was instead a great character that carried on the show (more so than any other character). Her changes, growth, and ability to overcome all the adversity made her all the more endearing...*happy sigh*. If you actually watch her interviews or any of her other films, you'd also realize just how good an actress she was. I loved a lot of her other shows before, but it was this series that made me a big fan. Joe Chen was incredible and so pretty.
To tell you the truth, the story could've gone terrible and there were so many things that could've gone wrong. So so wrong. Luckily, the writing, the story, the actresses/actors were all great. It came together extremely well. All I can say was that this story has been fun and touching to watch after all these years and really exemplified how a lot of romance stories hold true even now. Ah happiness. Ignore me while I watch this series another time. So good.
Ratings: I'm just going to be bias and go for a 9 overall. I meant to analyze more, but when I went to rewatch so I could write more, I just got sucked backed in watching. So, I give up trying to write anything. Lol.
Also, I don't know why but every time I watch this series, I'm transported back to when I first met and started going out with Old Man. ;)
Going to end with two videos. The happier MV someone made and then the piano of the song that I adore.