School has officially kicked into full gear for this semester. Now, drama watching has been put on the backburner replaced by readings, assignments, and mountains of stress! But that does not mean that I have stopped watching completely. And thank goodness, because I have found a hidden gem that I cannot get out of my head! Its butterfly inducing chemistry, addicting soundtrack, and best friends turned to lovers storyline has me swooning.
The drama I would like to tell you about today is Love & π, also known as Love and 3.14159. You probably have not heard much about it (there are currently less than 25 ratings for it on MDL). You might even traditionally steer clear of Taiwanese dramas in favour of Kdramas, Cdramas, or Jdramas. (I know they do not tend to be my favourites either, apart from Autumn’s Concerto). But today, I would like you to consider making an exception for this drama. True, it does NOT have an original premise: friends to lovers. However, reminiscent of the freshness of the Kdrama Something about 1%, there is an amazing quality about the acting, chemistry and writing in this drama that makes you so invested in the story that you can ignore the clichéd plot and wholeheartedly want to watch these characters’ relationships grow.
Zhao Wu Xian (Ben Wu), Zhao Yuan Man (Ivy Shao), Hou Zi Cheng (Daniel Chen), and Lin Mei Xin (Candy Yang) are close friends who grew up together in an orphanage in Yun Lin, a small Taiwanese town. In 2009, Wu Xian, Yuan Man, and Zi Cheng travel to Taipei to pursue their dreams in the big city, as Lin Mei Xin marries and starts to work on a pig farm.
However, Wu Xian, Yuan Man, and Zi Cheng realize quickly that their city of dreams might not be all they imagined it to be. This trio finds themselves facing new challenges that make them question who they are and what they want from life. And as Wu Xian's feelings for Yuan Man grow, Yuan Man must decide if her feelings for Wu Xian are that of a sibling or something much deeper.
Reasons to Watch
First and foremost, you should watch this drama for the chemistry. Ben Wu’s chemistry with Ivy Shao sizzles. The subtle looks, the awkward, nervous tension, the slight touches, and embraces that last a little longer than they should. The slow burn romance and the gradual buildup of these characters' relationship are the ones that will keep you anxiously awaiting the next episode. It is rare for me to feel as though the chemistry on screen is almost tangible. I literally feel as though I am watching two people slowly realize the person that they were meant to be with was there all along.
Friends to Lovers
Some people may hate this common drama storyline, but for me, I have a definite soft spot for a "friends to lovers" story. There is something about witnessing the slow growth of caring and friendship turn into something more. However, this genre can also be a hit or miss for me. I love the concept, but often the reality is that the show is paced too slow or is boring and forgettable, such as the cases of The Time We Were Not in Love and Evolution of Our Love. Both started off strong, but after a few episodes, the story begins to drag and there is a lack of character development. I have not found that to be the case in this drama! I am officially halfway through and it actually started off a bit weak, but grows more interesting with each episode. I am hooked and now must sit anxiously awaiting the upcoming episodes.
Interesting Side Characters/Plotlines
Another aspect of this drama I am enjoying is its side characters and plotlines. Often, in Taiwanese dramas, I find no connection to anyone outside the main leads. However, this drama’s focus on the 4 orphans and their adoptive parents/orphanage owners and how they grow up, change and adapt, there are such interesting stories! I love how it ties the things from their childhoods, from past trauma to missing home, familial traditions, etc. It makes for a warm atmosphere that makes you care for these characters.
Often in Taiwanese romantic comedies and dramas, there is a tendency to overact. This is, of course, a generalization, and in no way true of all the dramas, but from most of the ones I have watched this tends to be true. However, there is something subtler about this drama. The acting is generally low-key and realistic (disregarding ep. 1). I was surprised to find that many of the actors and actresses are not highly experienced as I feel their acting skills appear much more natural than in a lot dramas. There are of course some common clichés in this drama that might not be as realistic, but as a whole, I like how they did not make every character sugar sweet or downright evil. People are shades of grey, people make mistakes, they fall in the love with the wrong people, they are scared to admit their feelings will change their relationships, they fear abandonment. Some of the situations are, of course, unrealistic as it is a drama, but something about the way in which they portray them seems less artificial. I don't know, there is just something about this drama that truly resonates with me.
For me this will probably be my hidden gem of the year.
Under the radar, but absolutely addicting, I hope you will check it out.
What is your favourite hidden gem drama?
Do you like friends to lovers dramas?
Have you started watching this, and if not, do you plan to?
Let me know in the comments below!!!