TTV is on a roll. Its Friday night drama “A Good Wife” has recently finished airing and the last episode was at its highest rating of 2.41, beating popular fluff “Just You” on SETTV. Hoping to continue this run “The Pursuit of Happiness” starring Sonia Sui and Tony Yang has just aired its first episode last week and if it feels a lot like 2011’s hit “In Time with You”, that’s because it’s by the same producers! (Different writers though!)
Lately I’ve found myself in a drama rut of sorts. Some are getting unbearable (aka Dragon Gate but I shall persist until the END!), some are just okay to pass the time (aka Just You) while some have an interesting enough storyline (Loved in the Purple) but I don’t feel like I’m “emotionally connected” to any of them. But based on episode 1 of “The Pursuit of Happiness”, I already love how this drama makes me think, it provides enough incentive for me to go – hey, I want to go on this journey with the main characters and watch the story unfold!
A brief story outline (source) – Just when everything was seemingly going well for Ji An Lei (Sonia Sui), a series of unfortunate events occurred. Her promotion was stolen by an outside hire, her boyfriend cheated on her, and she got an unwanted roommate. But when she discovers her new roommate came all the way from
Japan(I think New Zealand right?) to win the love of his dream girl, (who happens to be her boss’ daughter and her ex’s new girlfriend) she joins forces with him in a “battle to rescue happiness.”
So the storyline is a tried and tested formula – two people trying to win their other halves back, work together, live together and end up falling for each other? But if “In Time with You” has taught us anything it doesn’t matter if the story has been done a million times, the most important is the execution. Last week I was just randomly re-watching parts of ITWY just because… I really love it too much. So I just can’t help myself but to compare these two dramas. Despite this, it doesn’t mean TPOH is a cheap, bootlegged copy. So far it’s like taking what the audience loved about ITWY and spinning it into something different, yet familiar.
The Story Outline actually mentions ITWY… it’s Li Da Ren with a twist?!
I was looking for a story outline / summary when I came across this page on TTV’s TPOH official website. The whole synopsis is rather long but the second paragraph!
When we were young, the ‘future’ was made up of countless pink coloured ‘dreams’. It seemed so far, yet full of possibilities. But the life of a 35 year old, the future turned from ‘far away’ to ‘reality’. Career, position in life, savings, husband, boyfriend become unavoidable topics. This is a reality every woman must face during their process of growing up. For example – every relationship is not about waiting / patience and the miracle of “In Time with You” will appear! Most people’s stories will actually be “I thought you still love me.” After 15 years, finally discovered you are not Li Da Ren, and I… am not Cheng You Qing. In such a brutal reality, how can we continue this unfinished story, and find our way to survive?
After reading this it becomes clear that TPOH aims to be even more brutal and ‘real’? Li Da Ren is a mythical creature? (In many ways, he is but also not. I shall refrain from going on about this. Let’s just say a Li Da Ren who looks like Bolin Chen is probably a unicorn.) BUT… I was reading through the character profile for Wang Yi Kang (Tony Yang) and he’s being described as:
Even though he’s over 30, he’s still like a romantic, naive young boy. His views on the future are overly romantic. Just like those around us who has a ‘sunshine’-type charisma, he seems easy going, a warm friend. But when it comes to love, he is persistent. He thought he will be satisfied just by watching and protecting someone from afar, but after this type of relationship had been damaged, he discovered that he has to fight for love!
He has secretly loved Helen (Aggie Hsieh) for years. If he never tried to be more than friends, then how can they be lovers? Afraid of losing, so he’s afraid of beginning. If they begin a relationship, he’s afraid the girl will be hurt. So can he even be more noble, keeping the pain for himself and let go so the person he loves find happiness?
Hrm. It’s contradictory right? Or is it? It seems like both of our leads An Lei and Yi Kang has been in a state of inaction. In some way, they’re both “Li Da Ren”s waiting, protecting… for the day that the person they love might love them back. But at the start of this drama this all falls apart. I’m curious now. Sometimes the character descriptions are not 100% accurate but I hope to find out more about Yi Kang in upcoming episodes.
Director Winnie’s influence in front and behind the camera
Although Director Winnie is only billed as an ‘advisor’ in TPOH, he still leaves some obvious ‘footprints’ in this drama. In episode 1, he makes a cameo as a wedding photographer. The scene is quite funny as An Lei’s mother keep asking him whether he has a girlfriend or not.
In the Behind the Scenes, you can also see him showing the actors how he wanted a particular scene to be played. Director Winnie is known for his ‘hands on’ approach, often demonstrating (especially to less experienced actors) how it should be done. I remember one of the BTS from ITWY was him showing Maggie (Andrea Chen) how she should hug Da Ren (Bolin Chen) from behind and Bolin got a complete shock / embarrassed when he was hugged by the director lol.
The hairy creature (ITWY) vs Yellow Angry Bird (TPOH)
The first scene in ITWY was Cheng You Qing (Ariel Lin) getting chased by a hairy creature, representing time as she thinks about turning 30 and how time is catching up to her. In TPOH, the yellow bird (which I must say looks a lot like one of the angry birds!) follows An Lei around as she contemplates her life.
Early on in episode 1 of TPOH, An Lei’s mother drags her to see a fortune teller (who strangely speaks Cantonese which I thought was hilarious). This fortune teller uses a bird to pick out different cards from a whole stack, and the card the bird picked out for An Lei says:
You will be alone forever. Work so hard for your career but in the end will also be fruitless.
OUCH. That is quite a bleak future and even if you’re not superstitious, if you receive this reading you would be quite depressed too! But the fortune teller also said there is an opportunity this year she can find her true happiness. So An Lei starts wondering whether there really is a chance to get back with her ex, even though they had been through a cycle of make up / break ups (three times!).
Familiar faces & Familiar voices
Having Lin Mei Xiu play the heroine’s mother is not exclusively an ITWY thing but it does seem like a prerequisite because she does it so well! She can play this type of role in her sleep right? The type of mother who is always hurrying her daughter to get married, but inside she also loves An Lei? (We haven’t had a lot of mother/daughter interactions so far but that’s where we’re going right?)
Another familiar face – he plays An Lei’s boss here but remember him as You Qing’s brother in law?
The theme song is also sung by William Wei. I need to listen to it a few more times but judging by my past record I’ll probably fall in love with it like all the other drama songs I love.
Strangely enough Aggie Hsieh, who sang one of the insert songs from ITWY (Revolving Door) is now the second lead in TPOH. I have never seen her act before but she’s okay so far.
All the quotes / observations x graphics they post on Facebook!
Whilst TPOH’s life observations aren’t as obvious as ITWY’s “signs of aging” or “charms of a mature woman”, it starts to ask some open questions about life / love / relationships. They used some of these quotes with stills from the drama and the result?
Did you notice? So many memories in our lives didn’t disappear with the passing of time. They just… become clearer.
Subconsciously follow his footsteps, thinking of him at any time…
Their Facebook page has a lot more but they just remind me so much of ITWY because they’re by the same artist!
MY ACTUAL FIRST IMPRESSIONS / THOUGHTS / MINI-CAP
So it wasn’t my intention to write so much on the ‘comparisons’ part but as I find various tadbits I just keep adding to it! Bottom line is, if the drama isn’t interesting enough I wouldn’t want to look through its Facebook page, pick out all the quotes and start reflecting upon them?
Within the first 15 minutes, we get to know Ji An Lei – almost 35 with a pretty good career but still single. Then she asks the question:
There’re some things no matter how hard you try, you might not reap the rewards. Is acceptance and compromise really my only choice now?
As we find out more about her current life, living with her young niece who is about to get married, a job with a promising future where everyone in the company thinks she will be promoted to General Manager… and even the ex-boyfriend (Wei Ting) who has already broke up / made up with her three times, suddenly he decided to come back. Maybe subconsciously, An Lei is waiting for him… who doesn’t want to credit themselves with ‘the woman who can tie down a bird with no legs?’ <– does that make sense? In his youth, Wei Ting was the type who likes to travel around while An Lei just wants to settle down. When they broke up the third time, Wei Ting says if they’re both still single at the age of 35, they should marry each other. An Lei still remembers this pact… does he?
When she gets the phone call from Wei Ting saying he’ll come back, she can’t help but rejoicing a little already…
When the long wait finally have the chance to fruition, at that moment you will suddenly realise – this so called love – the most important is persistence. To survive in love, I believe in persistence.
But what happens with her persistence? She devoted the last ten years of her life to her job, just when she thinks her persistence will be rewarded the company owner decided his daughter Helen will become the new General Manager. I commend An Lei for being so calm. If that was me I would probably be looking for another job. The company is sending the message that merit means nothing. Sure, as a father I can understand why the owner did this but how about the morale of the rest of the staff? Even if An Lei can take this like nothing happened but if you were working there would you want to stay?
I keep reading loyalty means nothing these days to ‘Generation Y’ employees. All I can say is loyalty is not a one way street. The fundamental link between employer and employee is monetary. Would anyone go to work the next day if they know they’re not getting paid? I digress but if An Lei walked away from it nobody will blame her. If she is competent in her field then there’s no reason why she can’t use her skills elsewhere.
As if one setback is not enough, An Lei goes to dinner with Wei Ting. You know something bad will happen when you see Master Angry (Bird) around the corner.
Her besties are already congratulating her, saying even if she didn’t get the promotion, Wei Ting will propose. But things don’t go so smoothly for An Lei, because he announces the person he wants to settle down with, just happens to be An Lei’s new boss – Helen.
Persistence? Patiently waiting? To survive in love: Don’t have too much expectations.
I started this post mentioning how my drama viewing had been expectation = disappointment recently. With the quote above, I hope TPOH is not hinting to me that I shouldn’t expect too much because I’m already looking forward to the next episode!