China produces many epic TV dramas — think Nirvana in Fire, Empress in the Palace and Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms — which take a lot of energy to watch and time to enjoy the cinematography. When I want pure entertainment, I enjoy these types of light-hearted dramas. Stay home, stay safe, and laugh out loud at least once a day with these three romantic-comedy C-dramas.
Joy of Life
Joy of Life (pinyin: Qìng Yúnián) is a 2019 Chinese television series based on a popular web novel. The story centres around Fan Xian, a man with an incurable disease from our era waking up as a baby in an ancient world with knowledge of the modern world intact. Sent to live far away from the capital, the young actor playing adolescent Fan Xian is fun to watch as his little body dodges dangers while being protected and taught survival skills by his late mysterious mother’s amnesiac blind bodyguard and a poison master, a loyal colleague and friend of his mother's.
As an adult, after a failed assassination, he returned to the capital to find out who killed his mother and wants him dead. Though he tries to avoid being involved in politics and the fight for the throne, his impending political marriage with Princess Lin Wan’er and the inexplicable affection he receives from the emperor made him a target amongst the ambitious princes and a reluctant participant in the power struggle.
With tight editing, a kickass script team and a cast of talented young and veteran actors with excellent comedic timing, there is never a dull moment from our hero's time as a baby in the midst of an assassination attack which killed his mother to his journey into adulthood navigating through assassination attempts and plots against him — even finding time along the way to fall in love at first sight with a lovely girl he found hiding beneath a temple altar eating a chicken drumstick, and forming an unlikely bromance with his would-be assassin. The plot thickens as the story unfolds through 46 episodes when friends turn out to be foes and enemies are three-dimensional villains with their own back stories.
One reason to watch Find Yourself, a contemporary drama set in Shanghai: Song Weilong, the 21-year-old, 1.85m hottie who is perfectly cast as Yuan Song. The character is a 22-year-old intern ardently pursuing his direct supervisor, 32-year-old He Fan Xing played by Victoria Song. Audiences, myself included, were charmed by his puppy-dog devotion and how incredibly matured, sweet and attractive he came across; we can definitely understand why the female lead could not resist the temptation to enter into an inappropriate office romance with him.
Will there be a future in this noona relationship especially when the second male lead, Ye Luming played by Taiwanese David Wang, appears? He is 37 years old, confident, attractive and successful — a more suitable life partner for He Fan Xing.
Unlike many dramas, the supporting characters are so nicely fleshed out in this drama, their interactions with the main leads and with each other filled the 40 episodes with many laugh-out-loud moments. Even the props in the form of three dogs are super adorable.
Find Yourself is available with English subtitles on Netflix.
The Romance of Tiger and Rose
This currently airing series tells the story of an overworked scriptwriter from the contemporary period who woke up one day to find herself in the body of an unlikeable supporting character in her own script who is destined to die by the third episode.
Not to be taken seriously, this low budget web drama is hilarious as our heroine, the Third Princess played by 21-year-old Zhao Lu Si, tries to engineer her unwitting cast to behave according to her script with just the minor change that she gets to live. Plans go awry as every leading character has their own agenda and behaved contrary to the script.
The male lead whom she kidnapped to be her unwilling groom was supposed to kill her and marry her sister, the Second Princess, who with his help became the ruler of this matriarch country where women rule and men stay at home. When she started to be nice to him in order not to be killed, he started getting intrigued then attracted to her after discovering she is not quite the obnoxious, licentious person she is reputed to be.
I hope the scriptwriter will not fail me with this so far enjoyable Romance of Tiger and Rose and it will go into my gems list, which includes Go Princess Go, a period drama so low budget the actors wore outlandish costumes and sandals; The Eternal Love that was so popular it spawned a trilogy; and Meng Fei Comes Across, a spoof on the usual trope palace romances. The plots and dialogue could be downright silly like a Stephen Chow movie but the nonsense is just what one needs to add a spark to a daily groundhog day as we hunker down in the safety of our own home.
(Cover photo from: netflix.com)
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