[mild spoilers Ep 1 – Ep 9]
God, I love this show! Love. I didn’t expect this to happen. In fact, it started out rather lukewarm–the show was sweet, but fairly sleepy. And then, all the gentle slowburn of Lego Lee’s glances, all the surprising character-building turns, the quiet sweetness, has turned me into an In A Good Way junkie. Waiting for one measly episode each week is going to be the death of me!
I can’t get over how everyone is so utterly normal. Set in a Taiwan campus, the story revolves a loveable gang of friends, and although these are obvious types–the campus hottie, the wide-eyed country bumpkin, the player, the jock–these characters feel just like regular kids trying to make it through university, rather than stock tropes filling a plot purpose.
What I also love is how each character has surprised me by being so much more than what I expected them to be, and that even with 10 episodes behind us, we are still learning so much more about them. Bai Xue for instance, is the pretty, pining second-lead but she’s also kind, encouraging, and whips out awesome looks of horror at bumbling suitors like this:
She’s also been hiding the pain of how desperately alone longing for someone who will never return her love makes her. It’s the bitter irony of being the girl the entire campus envies, whom everyone thinks can get any boy she wants, except for the one boy she does want. Liu Chuan is now out of her reach, and watching her realise how he’s slowly slipping out of her fingers is utterly heartbreaking. And throughout it all, she’s never once been nasty to Jia Ern or treated her as a rival for Liu Chuan’s heart.
We all know that love triangles like these are a dime a dozen in dramaland, but what makes the difference is a drama that makes these well-worn tropes come alive without feeling contrived. This little show has somehow managed to make the mundanity of campus life –tests, basketball games, school clubs, dances–brim with tension (oh believe me there’s tension!) and conflict, with a quiet beating heart that’s a welcome relief after the noisy exploits of chaebols, movie stars, aliens, jerks, beauty queens and the like on offer right now.
But most of all, what I love about this show is Liu Chuan and Jia Ern. I adore them completely. Their ever-evolving relationship has gotten to me because we’ve seen them grow as people alongside their connection with each other. They communicate and support each other, and are slowly learning be open and vulnerable–you know, all that good growing up stuff.
Liu Chuan is in a word, DREAMY. This boy kills me, and it’s no wonder why he has amassed a boatload of fans. I’ll let Jomo tell you more, but what I like best about him is that he’s a man of few words. He’s a guy who has figured out who he is and who he wants to be far earlier than those around him and feels no need to shout about it. He’s also someone who seems to have tasted his fair share of disappointments and he knows his limited time in university isn’t to be squandered with things that don’t matter.
What is also cool is that he, the hotshot, the dreamboat, has fallen first for the wide-eyed, country girl Jia Ern. And the drama doesn’t make this into a big deal like many lesser shows probably would. It just simply makes sense that Liu Chuan as a character who is guarded and private, would be drawn to Jia Ern’s generous spirit and her openness to the possibilities that the world has to offer.
And what is even more cool is that Jia Ern has never once thought of herself unworthy of his company or attention. Although she understandably looks up to him as a senior and as someone who’s wiser and more worldly, you never get the sense that this is a relationship of unequals. And that is what really gets me.
And if that is not enough awesomeness, there’s the lingering glances, the meaningful pauses in dialogue, the shy awkwardness of a blossoming attraction. Boy does Lego Li (can I just call him Lee Guo Yi instead of Lego?) absolutely nail this. The way he looks at her, furtively, achingly, makes my heart thrum. I honestly don’t know how Kirsten Jen can bear it. I can hardly stand it and I’m looking at at computer screen!
They’ve made so many great strides already and they’re not even together yet! I could gush in a separate post about these two, but for now, let’s just say I’ve hopelessly fallen for this show just as sure as Liu Chuan has for Jia Ern.