When Geng Geng enters Zhen Hua High School, she is seated next to top student Yu Huai. While she's struggling with homework and exams, she suddenly also gets a new mom and younger brother. After entering Zhen Hua High School, however, her lonely life comes to an end. With new friends on her side, especially Yu Huai, she lives through the three years till graduation. Suddenly after graduation, the boy she came to like disappears. When she meets Yu Huai again, will she choose the love she could never forget or will she choose Lu Xing He who pursued her all these years?
~~ Adapted from Ba Yue Chang An's novel of the same title.
Cast & Credits
With the popularity of "A Love So Beautiful", I see a lot of people hoping to find a similar drama to fill the void now that it has ended. There are similarities in the two dramas in the sense that they are set in high school for a majority of the run time and take place during the same time period. However, outside of those similarities, the two dramas set out to fulfill different purposes. With "A Love So Beautiful," I feel that it is a love story first and foremost and the life of a student is given secondary focus but "With You" focuses more on a student's life and how those formative years in high school set the foundation on who we become as we grow older. Of course, love is one of the things that students first start to experience in high school but that is just one of the many items that preoccupy a student's time.
For instance, this drama also looked at how students are tasked with huge responsibility at a young age to make a choice that can very well affect the rest of their lives, deciding to focus on liberal arts or STEM. However, instead of leaning one way, it is implied that one should do their best to be well versed in both in order to be a well rounded individual. We come across many different characters (students, teachers and parents) throughout this drama, each with their own hopes, desires, fears and dreams. And just like in real life, they will come and go but there will be those that leave an impression on you or impact you in some way.
What I also liked about this drama is how helpful and supportive everyone was to one another whether they were friends or "only" classmates. There was a real sense that high school is just one of many stops in your life and how it prepares you to learn and grow throughout life.
Next, I will speak about the Romance portion of this drama which is what I think most people are curious about. And once again I will speak on this in relation to ALSB. In ALSB there are more displays of physical affection and because in that drama they have known each other since childhood they are more comfortable with one another right from the start of the drama. However, in "With You," I enjoyed seeing Yu Hai and Geng Geng's relationship develop over time especially with the way they got off on the wrong foot in their initial encounter. It's not to say one drama is better than the other in the way they portray love but that they portray different forms of love. In "With You," I feel that the writer wanted to portray how blissful it is to simply be together with the person you like/love. Whether that means being "desk buddies" and helping each other with math/physics problems or playing video games together. No matter what the activity/event was, as long as they were able to do it together, made it all worthwhile. Similarly, both characters had their own strengths and weaknesses and complemented each other well and were each other's pillar of support when they needed it. This drama is not really about the grand gestures (at least in Yu Hai's case) but about the little ones. For instance, risking the chance of incurring a strict teacher's wrath by asking him to repeat his explanation of a problem that you already understand because you notice that the person you like is having a difficult time catching up but is too afraid to ask.
Ultimately, if you're looking for a drama replacement for ALSB, I suggest you look elsewhere. However, if you're looking for a drama that primarily focuses on youth/school and the growing pains associated with that time period of our lives, I think you would be hard pressed to find a better one than this one.
This series follows Geng Geng, a slightly awkward but adorable first year high schooler who feels like she's not smart enough to be at the prestigious Zhen Hua High School. The first day she happens to meet her future deskmate, the brilliant Yu Huai, and although they bicker at first, they soon form a strong friendship. They all become good friends with their classmates and have a strong bond with their teacher, Zhang Ping. Geng Geng also attracts the attention of the school's resident rebel, Lu Xing He, who quickly falls in love with her and isn't shy about announcing his crush to the world. The show follows Geng Geng, her friends, and even their teacher, through their struggles in both school and life. The show mostly focuses on their first year in high school, but toward the end also looks at the rest of their high school life and a little bit of the future 10 years later.
Like other similar shows, I love how With You develops really deep and complex characters who feel real. No one is flawless and everyone behaves in a very realistic way. I like that the main conflict comes not from villainous characters, but from challenges in life, such as struggling in school, controlling parents, unrequited crushes, and the like.
I LOVED Geng Geng's rapport with both her primary love interest, Yu Huai, and secondary love interest, Lu Xing He. Yu Huai and Geng Geng clearly like each other from day 1, but neither of them admit it. But what makes the show so beautiful is their friendship and the ways in which they support each other and look out for each other. Their relationship doesn't have grand gestures of romance, but has a solid foundation of friendship. On the other hand, Lu Xing He makes it clear from day 1 that he is in love with Geng Geng and his relationship with Geng Geng is full of shameless declarations of love. He is similarly supportive of her, and so selfless in trying to make sure she's happy.
The only reason I wouldn't rate With You a full 10/10 is because I felt like the ending escalated a bit too much in drama and got a bit too convoluted with misunderstandings, tears, and people hurting each other. It felt too much like a traditional romance drama rather than the slice-of-life type drama it had been all along. But overall, With You is definitely a good watch for warm and fuzzy feelings and adorable friendships.