An ordinary girl is admitted to the most prestigious school in the country where she encounters F4, an exclusive group comprised of the four wealthiest and handsomest boys in the school - Dao Ming Si, Hua Ze Lei, Xi Men and Mei Zuo.
Shan Cai is an 18-year-old girl from a family that's barely able to make ends meet. Due to a turn of events, she gets accepted into a school that only accepts the upper class elites. She immediately clashes with her classmates especially Dao Ming Si who is spoiled, arrogant and a bully. She remains defiant even after becoming a target of a series of pranks intended to torment her and just when she's about to give up, Hua Ze Lei always seems to show up to lend her a helping hand.
Eventually, the four boys begin to acknowledge Shan Cai's unyielding personality that is like her namesake which is that of a weed that can never be brought down. She also begins to see the good in the boys, which paves the way for friendship and an eventual romance.
Where to Watch Meteor Garden
Cast & Credits
1. I have watched all licensed live versions of this story (Taiwan, Japan, Korea and now this China remake).
2. I grew up watching the original Meteor Garden.
3. Japanese Hana Dango became my ultimate favorite adaptation.
4. I had no idea the original producer of Meteor Garden was doing a remake. In fact, I stumbled on the first episode by accident on Netflix.
Here’s my review.
It was clear from the very first episode that there were going to be many changes made to the origin story in this new remake. One being the iconic F4 banner in the locker symbolizing F4's desire to challenge you to a poker match. Two being the noticeable absence of bullying and flaunting of wealth (due to China censorship)... which left me asking, whether this was truly Hana Dango. Why does it look so different? Third being DMS is actually quite the gentleman in this version. He is still arrogant and hot tempered but not really a bully per say. His rocky start with Shan Cai is very "Pride and Prejudice-ques" in that, it stemmed from misunderstanding and poor communication on both sides rather than bullying. Despite all of the noticeable changes, I was addicted by the first episode. The acting wasn’t very good. The story line was familiar but not at the same time. Yet, curiosity and awe at how this version looks and feels kept me going.
I compare the feeling of watching this version to falling in love when you are in your early teens. It is clear that this version of Meteor Garden is marketed towards that age group. The actors are all new people. Their youthful looks and clear inexperience with acting actually helps with the portrayal of these seemingly innocent and naive characters. These characters are not deep nor well developed at all. You can say they are one dimensional and kinda cartoony. So if you are expecting some well fleshed out story with deep characters and development... this show is definitely not for you. But, if you take this version for what it is meant to be, which is a highly entertaining, childish story of two characters falling in love despite ridiculous obstacles... then you will love this version. Hana Yori Dango is the king of all that is good and bad about cliche Asian Rom Coms and this version delivered the cheesiness in unapologetic style. Ultimately, it is silly to expect anything more from the king of all idol dramas.
Personally, I watched this version for Dylan Wang and Shen Yue. I grew to be very fond of the two actors and loved seeing their natural chemistry on screen. Despite being newbies, these two delivered strong performances in difficult scenes that really moved me. I didn’t care much for the other characters but didn’t mind them that much when they were on screen. I also grew to love the blatant product placement. It was so in your face that you couldn’t help but laugh. I also enjoyed the new scenes and the faithful adaptation to the original manga. This was the most faithful adaptation to the manga which is probably why the original author, Yoko Kamio, is also a fan. She drew Dylan as Tsukasa... so if that’s not a sign off, I don’t know what is...
As much as I loved this version, there were many moments in this drama that were so ridiculous that I wasn’t sure what the hell I was watching... it almost felt like the screen writers flat out gave up.
So, the jury is pretty split on the reception of this version. I think it’s best to watch and decide for yourself whether you enjoy it or not. I liked it and I had a good time watching.
Was I expecting a trainwreck when I first started watching? Perhaps. Actually, yes; unquestionably so. Thus, even if I call this show a trainwreck, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that Meteor Garden was "below expectations."
Meteor Garden was possibly one of the most anticipated Chinese dramas of the season, rousing the nostalgic instincts of those of us who have long been attached to this story. Of course, that’s a great burden on the cast and crew. This is especially true in China, where viewers tend to prefer the “original” version of everything—novels, dramas, movies; you name it. Any kind of remake or adaptation is asking for trouble; and Meteor Garden fared the worst that I've seen, with a whopping rating of 2.8/10 when the first episode aired.
We can say that viewers in China are being overly judgmental, but the one thing they’re right about is that choosing to remake this was a shaky decision to begin with. At its core, Meteor Garden overflows with cliche after cliche; all the ones that make us roll our eyes whenever we see them: the poor girl-rich guy combo, the trash male lead/nice second male lead dynamic, the meddling mother-in-law; the list just writes itself. This isn’t to say that cliche usage equates to a bad drama, but historically, Meteor Garden has never elevated these elements to anything past mediocrity.
This adaptation still uses all of these tropes: without improvement. We can argue all day about how the writers toned down the bullying that existed in the previous versions; how Dao Ming Si isn’t as bad of a guy as he used to be. That doesn’t change the fact that this story is incredibly weak.
The conflicts between the main couple start off making sense because they have a lot of moral disagreements. Meteor Garden intends to show the evolution of a relationship as it progresses between two enemies to two people in love. However, with 48 episodes worth of problem after problem solely for the sake of dramatics, the instability of their relationship quickly becomes less heartbreaking and more obnoxious. All the side plots involving the other characters are also either boring or mindnumblingly frustrating—or (if your goddess of luck has abandoned you) both!
How do the characters play into the plot? In a word, badly. The sheer level of bullcrapery that is injected into the script makes it impossible for anyone to truly develop or interact with each other like normal human beings. Each character does have their good and bad points, which I appreciate. But more often than not, we don’t get to see them act as people; they’re just used as paper dolls for the sake of toddling through whatever conflict the writers feel like putting into the episode. It’s a real shame, especially since the actors all have so much potential to do better.
In all honesty, I’m surprised that I finished this show. Well, I guess I could be more surprised; from the very beginning, I wanted to see this ordeal to the end so that I could be as thorough in my roasting as possible without any false pretenses. So here, I have to say that Meteor Garden is but a pile of burnt potatoes. And just like there're a lot of better things to eat than burnt potatoes, there’re a lot of better things to watch than this.