I recently stumbled upon this new Taiwanese drama called The World Between Us which was aired in March 2019 and I finished it in just over a day. As far as I know, it is highly acclaimed locally but it seems that it hasn’t gained the attention of international audiences. That’s why I am writing this article to give the attention it deserves.
Its Chinese title 我們與惡的距離 can be translated into “The distance between us and evil”. So, as the title suggests, this drama deals with the very thin, blurred line between what’s good and what’s evil. It has a very realistic portrayal of characters and today’s society. This drama is really heavy, raw and emotional. Personally, as much as I like this type of drama, I usually hesitate to recommend them because it is really emotionally draining. So, be warned!
This drama takes place three years after a mass shooting when the perpetrator of the shooting has been sentenced to the death penalty. It follows the lives of all the parties involved - the perpetrator, the perpetrator’s family, the victim’s family, the media, the psychiatrists, and the legal defense team and how their lives become intertwined.
There are many characters, both main and supporting, in this drama - all more or less important to the plot and story. The first three below, I believe, are the most pivotal to the story and these three characters really touched my heart.
Song Qiao An (played by Alyssia Chia): She is a seemingly cold, workaholic, overachieving news director at a broadcasting station. She is a mother whose child died in the mass shooting event, who is trying to save her relationship with her other daughter, and a wife whose relationship with her husband is on the brink of divorce. She has been keeping a strong pretense under which is her vulnerable side as she feels guilty about her child's death.
Li Xiao Wen/Li Da Zhi (played by Chen Yu): This is the character that really made me emotional. She was just a young university student pursuing her dream of becoming a journalist. Because of that event, her dream collapsed as she was blamed and labelled by the world as the shooter’s sister. She and her parents were forced to disappear from the public’s judging eyes. After 3 years, Da Zhi got a job at the broadcasting station. And her life becomes intertwined with her boss Song Qiao An, her landlady Ying Si Yue, and her landlady’s brother Ying Si Cong.
Wang She (played by Chris Wu): As a criminal defense lawyer, he deals with criminals, those who are shunned by the world. He has a strong sense of justice and believes every human has equal rights. But, his strong beliefs are shaken when problems arise in his personal life - with his pregnant wife and with his rich father-in-law.
Liu Zhao Guo (played by James Wen): Song Qiao An’s husband. He is a newspaper journalist with different ideals and beliefs from Song Qiao An.
Ying Si Yue (played by Pets Tseng): She shows nothing but kindness to Li Da Zhi as a landlady and even as a friend. But her world collapses when her brother starts to show symptoms of mental illness.
Ying Si Cong (played by JC Lin): Once a very young promising film director, he became jobless and psychologically unstable when his girlfriend committed suicide.
Ding Mei Mei (played by Tracy Chou): Wang She’s pregnant wife. She was a rich protected princess in her family until she married Wang She who has nothing but his job.
Why should you watch this drama?
Now, I have introduced the plot and the main characters of the drama. If you have not yet been convinced already, I am going to state three main reasons why you should watch this drama.
(Caution: May contain some spoilers!)
I can proudly say this is one of the few dramas that I did not dislike any of the characters. All the characters feel real like you might actually meet them in your real life. And although there are a lot of characters, none of them feels unnecessary. Each character contributes to the story and the cast also plays his/her own role so well that you will care for each and every one of them. Even though you know it is not a fairy tale drama that guarantees a happy ending, you nonetheless wish for them to be able to move on from these darkest moments. For me personally, Li Da Zhi's character really hit me close to home.
The actors have been perfectly cast - especially Alyssia Chia, Chris Wu and Chen Yu. Alyssia Chia and Chris Wu are of course the big names of Taiwan entertainment industry; however, the one who really surprised me is Chen Yu, playing Li Da Zhi. It is my first time seeing her act and she did an incredible job portraying the vulnerable, weak, but youthful character.
The relationships between the characters are beautiful - the dynamics between the two couples (Song Qiao An and Liu Zhao Guo, Wang Zhe and Ding Mei Mei), the tension between Song Qiao An and Li Da Zhi, and the friendship between Ying Si Yue and Li Da Zhi - all these relationships create and drive the whole plot forward.
The story and the main message:
This drama deals with a lot of issues in today’s society - media influence, media professionalism, the Internet and cyberbullying, negative perceptions of mentally disabled people, and controversial death penalty sentences. Different beliefs, perceptions and ideologies are portrayed through different characters. The dialogues between the characters are thought-provoking. As they challenge each other and the common perceptions of good and evil, you will ask a lot of questions yourself while watching it.
One more reason:
Lastly, the production quality, pacing and execution are perfect as well. Since it is only a 10-episode drama, you don’t have to worry about wasting so much time with filler content. In fact, you will be drawn into this drama through the characters so much that you won’t even notice how many episodes have gone by. But, again, it is really emotionally draining, I cried several times while watching it, so prepare yourself some tissues!