One of the most depressing dramas ever yet captured different elements of life so vividly. And for the record, I didn’t watch this because it got nominated for the Golden Bell Awards and then eventually won some. I was trying to watch it for Esther yet had to put aside because of my busy schedule.
- Jade Chou (周幼婷) as Liu Li Ping (劉立平). Mixed feelings. Not because she was at times too passive. I understood why she was so passive at times versus others. She kept having to take care of everyone and not get any appreciation and it seemed like it was her duty to do it or something, such as taking care of her brother’s family too. (Like she had said at various points in here.) But the actual reason for mixed feelings was how she didn’t confront some parties and gave in too easily to them. Or maybe I was missing the point. She did eventually had some meltdown, like the part with confronting her ex. Yet I guess it made sense because it was how she was. What I felt really disturbing though was the part where she didn’t react to her brother-in-law’s advances right away BUT waited longer. What she said made me feel unease as well, like how good her sister treated her so she shouldn’t do that to her sister. (Was she implying if her sister was cruel to her, she was willing to help her bro-in-law cheat? OY, I’m missing the point again but I just felt it was too creepy with that dude.) Anyway, what I felt really sad was how the parents thought Li Ping was a guy SO despite possible death, the mother still wanted Li Ping, and it wasn’t until they realized she was a girl that hope failed. Like really? If they had known she was a girl at the beginning, would they still have her? Just saying.
- Esther Liu as Ji Er (吉兒). A totally different character for Esther. Probably a breakout role for her even. The reason why I say ‘breakout role’ was because it completely veered from her typically cutesy roles or the klutzy ones that she often portrayed with the usual idol dramas. She portrayed an independent, career woman who really knew what she wanted and how to enjoy life. A surprise performance from Esther and it showed she had gone a long way. I’m not saying that because she won ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for the role since I actually finished watching this before the ‘Golden Bell Awards’ took place. It was just that I haven’t gotten a chance to finish the review until now.
- Jag Huang (黃健瑋) as Xu Hao Yuan (徐浩遠). At first, I was really annoyed with him in thinking that Ji Er must have met someone else hence her change of attitude with him, etc. However, I soon understood why his mind was sooo one-tracked. Because he was so busy spying on Ji Er and trying to get through her by interacting with Li Ping online, he learned a lot about Ji Er and even about himself. Not only that but also to appreciate what his mother did for him, not just the typical because she was his mother but he actually understood and sympathize with her by seeing it through someone else’s eyes, considering how he realized all the women in Li Ping’s lives were suffering through different trials and events. Jag was actually quite impressive in this role. He really brought out the character well with the uncertainties and weaknesses, and then eventually not so lost anymore in the end.
- Fan Li Li (潘麗麗) as Liao Jin Gui (廖金貴). Li Ping’s mother. I’m not a fan of tough love BECAUSE the more people yell, it would make me even more depressed. SO when the mother opened her mouth with her cruel words or yelling, I just wanted to plain fast-forward BUT didn’t. I don’t know. I swear, there are times for being honest/straight-forward about things (like giving feedbacks so people improve) BUT if you care, please act like it! She just made me feel even more discouraged and wonder why Li Ping was still taking it all in. It felt like it was just because she was the mother so Li Ping had to fulfill her filial duties and that was it. I couldn’t feel the bond though I guess I was missing the point again. Though I complained like insane about this, indeed it portrayed real-life situations versus how we see more supportive family members in those fun/comedic idol dramas.
- Tong Xiu Juan (童秀娟) as Lin Fu Zhen (林富珍). Li Ping’s sister-in-law. I swore I just wanted to smack her at one point or another whenever she appeared. Her family was supposedly taking care of themselves yet they always complain about being neglected? Seriously? Indeed, another realistic portrayal of a typical ‘family’ situation but still…
- Chen Ying Jie (陳盈潔) as Hao Yuan’s mother (浩遠媽媽). Mixed feelings. What I felt was weird was how she approached Ji Er’s parents and talked about super intimate situations with Ji Er’s mother. That seemed WAY off. Seriously, do people talk about that in real life? At least I have never seen strangers talk about such delicate situations before, only close friends.
- Huang Lian Yu (黃連煜) as Liu Tian Fa (劉添發). Li Ping’s father. SO NOT a fan of him since he was the typical old-fashioned person who thought of stomping down on others to prove himself as the head of the household or something. Well, okay, it seemed extreme of my words since, after all, it seemed he did care for Li Ping (or so the plot tried to show at some point), but some of his words and ordering others around made me feel like he was just trying to stomp on others. Or maybe it was another one of those ‘tough love’ situations that will always be lost on me. Seriously, if you mean something, act like it, NOT do the opposite and expect others to understand.
- Shen Chang Hong (沈昶宏) as Liu Zhen Bao (劉振寶). Spoiled brat! Typical since he was the only boy of the house.
- Ma Nian Xian (馬念先) as Liu Li Zhi (劉立智). Li Ping’s brother. I swear he was so annoying. Okay, I got it that they were family and I felt it was kind of touching that Li Ping was covering for him at the beginning. Yet later, it seemed really stupid that he expected Li Ping to return home so they could have peace AND others could get off his back and that he and his wife could have peace, etc. It was really dumb. Like Li Ping said, why did it seem like it was her duty to be their slaves? (Not in those exact words but along those lines.)
- Zhou Heng Yin (周姮吟) as Liu Xu Fang (劉旭芳). Li Ping’s sister. I don’t even know what to say about her anymore, even though I did have a lot to think about when I was watching. The only thing I want to say is I was glad she was able to start over at the end. She was finally able to let go. It was hard not to.
- Wang Dao Nan (王道南) as Li Ping’s brother-in-law. I just wanted to throw up (NOT in my mouth since I couldn’t even get that expression because it’s just too gross to even imagine) when he appeared. A typical fake person whom others think of him as the ‘good’ person yet there was so much more underneath. Even Li Ping’s parents think that he was the ‘model’ person while Li Ping’s sister was in the wrong.
- Zhou Qun Da (周群達) as Zhang Lu Huai (張鹿淮). A teacher, Li Ping’s crush at one point. Too bad it didn’t happen. But I guess that was how life was. Can’t force it since it was not a typical fairytale story but more like showing different people you meet in life and sometimes there were misunderstandings through actions or words used.
- Long Chen Han (隆宸翰) as Qu Cheng Min (曲成民). Li Ping’s ex-boyfriend. I don’t know what to say about him except too bad. Whatever. He was there to show a painful past that Li Ping had.
- Michael Chang (張少懷) as Li Ping’s arranged marriage candidate. At first, I felt he was a dork. Yeah, mean but maybe it was because of the bias filter with the parents forcing Li Ping to go meet the candidates, etc. Yet later when the pressure was off, I was able to see him in a different light. He really had his own views and was brave to pursue his goals. Even if he didn’t know how at first, with only being exposed to those books, he kept trying and finally succeeded. Michael is indeed a very good actor, very convincing in the clueless moments as well as the confident one later on. I really enjoyed his random friendship with Li Ping throughout.
- Wang Mon Ling (王夢麟) as Ji Er’s father. At first, I thought he was weird with his lurking in the distance at times. But later, I realized he was quite enlightened with his words. He was actually the key to Hao Yuan’s decision to break it off and let go of Ji Er at the end (ironically). He made Hao Yuan realized what was wrong right from the start. (Like how Hao Yuan said he wanted to please both sides–his mother and Ji Er–and kept fearing that they would be unhappy hence, in the end, he was the one suffering with so many uncertainties.)
- Bao Zheng Fang (鮑正芳) as Ji Er’s mother. Enjoyed watching some of her moments. Just some scenes here and there but enough.
I was surprised that this drama received so much attention from the GBA and earned 8 nominations–with 4 wins. Because honestly, after what happened for a while, it seemed that the popular dramas usually snatch up awards. This year was indeed a big year for PTS. Well deserved too. Anyway, back to this drama, it’s NOT for everyone since there are a disclaimer and parental guidance/caution sign at the beginning. It’s also not a typical fairytale drama but it’s more based on real life situations and how people deal with it. There are even more delicate issues being addressed. Whether we like it or not, these things exist. It was well crafted and portrayed throughout. Even if it was disturbing at one point or another but it sure hit the nail on the head with some of the stories, major or minor.