After “With You”, My Huckleberry Friends is the next adaptation of a Ba Yue Chang An novel. On her first day of primary school, Yu Zhou Zhou falls down and thus gets to know a guy named Lin Yang. Lin Yang helps her adapt to school and the two become friends. Later, rumors spread and Lin Yang’s parents request of their son to stay away from Zhou Zhou. Having to deal with Lin Yang drifting apart from her, Zhou Zhou learns how to feign indifference. When entering high school, Zhou Zhou escapes from Lin Yang and her other former classmates and can finally breathe again. In the end, she manages to get into Zhen Hua senior high school. However, at Zhen Hua Zhou Zhou meets Lin Yang again. Zhou Zhou doesn’t know whether to be happy or sad. Several hardships await Zhou Zhou and Lin Yang during their high school time, which leads them to grow up. Will the two be able to find back to each other in the process?
Cast & Credits
Growing up in a Chinese family, there were so many points of the show that really resonated with me. This show really brings a lot of Chinese culture to the table. I truly, truly enjoyed that aspect.
The depiction of parent, children, and teacher interactions were quite well done. So many different angles of parenting were covered and so many different resulting children personalities. The clashing of these personalities is portrayed very well. There's a lot of insight in the show about how students are brought up in China and how the system shapes them into who they will become.
The depictions of high school students facing things like relationship issues, academic accomplishment, and their futures, the show really does a great job with fleshing out the students' progression from the beginning to the end of their days as a student. This show goes into some really heavy material as well. I found myself helplessly crying as it was so moving.
Rather important for me, I'm so grateful that this show dedicates time to life after all their struggles in high school. It gives us closure and doesn't just end with some happily ever after, after high school is over. Life's not over after high school.
I'd have to say, there was nothing notably bad for me. I really liked the actors. Their acting was often very moving so I'd have to say it was very well done.
Arguably, no song felt memorable from the show. None. However, I believe they do the music very well in this show because each scene that needed to hit home hard, is backed by music that seemingly perfectly pairs with the emotions the scene is trying to convey. The music was definitely excellently done.
I'm not really much of a person who ever rewatches anything so my rating for this is rather arbitrary. I think there are a lot of takeaways in this movie. Lots of cultural stuff to be learned, lots of moral lessons, and lots of motivational stuff in this movie. I highly doubt I would watch the entirety of it again, but there are definitely scenes in the show that hit home. There are scenes worth watching again. The movie also links the beginning all the way to the end really well. Often times I found myself thinking, I needed to go back to watch some scene again that had some foreshadowing that I didn't quite remember but it was prominent enough that it left a mark in my mind. It's really a good show. I'm certain many would rewatch it again.
I come from the background of being a Chinese American millennial. This show truly did resonate a lot with me. I might not have been born in China and gone through the exact same system as theirs, but I was brought up with similar cultural aspects and similar parenting aspects. If you're someone in this demographic, this show is pretty much a must watch.
From the beginning till the end, this show was amazing.
~~~~Sort of Spoiler-ish Review Stuff~~~~~
When they show the characters in the end during the last 2 episodes, the time after the Gaokao, It's almost like they didn't even try to make the actors look their appropriate age which is about... 31? Maybe it was symbolism to show that they, despite all the years, are still like themselves from their best time. Their days of the past. But it was just kind of like... hmmm...
Another thing about the ending is that Chinese women age 27+ are called leftover women. The women as depicted in the show are already 4 years-ish older than this age and they're still not married. To me, this was the show kind of fighting against that notion that women who don't marry early are leftover unwanted goods. I really liked that. Times are changing in China.
I was eager to see what the other classes at Zhen Hua High School were up to. At the beginning of the drama, we are introduced to a large roster of new characters and I have to admit initially I was a bit worried that they bit off more than they could chew. However, I should have known better than to doubt this production team.
What I love most about both "With You" and "My Huckleberry Friends" is the attention and time they afford to each character whether main or supporting. As the drama says, every person is the main lead of their own story. That means all the characters will experience highs and lows. No matter how "big" or "small" the issue, all of their problems were treated with the respect they deserved. As a result, even when characters that weren't featured heavily throughout the drama had a moment of success/triumph, I couldn't help but be moved as well. Similarly, some characters also experienced setbacks and failures and I was able to sympathize with them. But these hardships/struggles also serve as learning experiences so that we can better ourselves. No one can predict if our past struggles will net us the result we want in the end. However, in the process, we will become better versions of ourselves with fond memories that we can look back on. As a result, we should cherish our past not mourn it.
I also like how Zhen Hua feels like a community made up of individuals that genuinely care about one another. Even though Zhen Hua is an elite school, students go out of their way to help each other if they see someone is struggling even if that means a student might surpass them in ranking. The students try to be inclusive and take notice of each other's strengths in order to help each other achieve their dreams. Sometimes we forget that school isn't just about learning different subjects/earning grades but also learning how to socialize/interact with people who may have different personalities, interests, dreams and so on. Ideally, you shouldn't have to choose a major/university only because you think you'll get a good job from it and your job/career shouldn't solely define who you are as a person. Instead, you should be able to pursue something that genuinely interests you so that you'll be more invested in what you're learning. Unfortunately, this isn't a realistic option for most people. But there will be a courageous (and lucky) few who will buck the trend and go after their dreams however impossible they may seem because when you're young, the possibilities of what you can be seem endless.
One of the main messages that both "With You" and "My Huckleberry Friends" promotes is being yourself. This also means discovering who you are in the process. For some people, high school is the time when you start to think about your place in society and how you'll contribute to it. Some of the characters in both dramas, select their majors because their friends/crush have chosen that major or have been pushed into choosing it by their parents. It's important to explore a variety of options to find what suits you the most. That is how you'll contribute to society but your interactions with other students/teachers/parents and how you conduct yourselves will determine who you are as a person. If you want other students to be more kind, to be more understanding/empathetic, you should lead by example. Be the change you want to see. I think it's great that the teachers are portrayed encouraging this type of behavior and that they understand the youth are the future.
One of the main differences between "With You" and "My Huckleberry Friends" is the greater emphasis placed on the students life outside of the school's walls in MHF and how those factors inform what kind of student they are at school. Social status, high expectations from parents, personal trauma are just some of the issues that are examined in this drama. We also see the students bond over shared interests such as Anime/manga, basketball, music, movies as a way for them to relieve their stress and temporarily escape the harshness of their current realities. Those interests will bring them together but their shared experiences will bond them for a lifetime.
Honestly, if I had to choose between "With You" and "My Huckleberry Friends", I wouldn't be able to. I feel that they both complement one another so well and together should be counted as one of the definitive representations of youth and the growing pains associated with it.