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indie fox

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indie fox

hell
The Way We Were chinese drama review
Completed
The Way We Were
6 people found this review helpful
by indie fox
Jun 12, 2018
50 of 50 episodes seen
Completed
The Way We Were chinese drama review
Overall 5.0
Story 5.0
Acting/Cast 6.0
Music 4.0
Rewatch Value 2.0
This review may contain spoilers
Miraculously, I made it through all 50 episodes (albeit with a lot of skimming.) Let me preface this review with some hopefully helpful info first.

1) If you are a Tiffany Tang/Luo Jin enthusiast, you should note that although Tiffany Tang is listed as the lead role, Director Liu Jiang stated in several interviews that this is NOT a show with a clear female lead, and this is not one of those romances where two female leads fight over some guy. It is also not a show with romance as its key.

2) I've seen people comparing the title of this show to the Taiwanese show "The Way We Were" and the classic film "The Way We Were." Both of these comparisons are wrong, because the show's title is lost in translation. Its Chinese title is a line in a classical poem by Tao Yuanming. The poem talks about the poet's own experience as a government official, and all the corruption and nepotism he witnessed that ended up angering him and leaving him to give up his title and "return" home -- which is the true meaning of this show's title, and the concept this show is based upon.

"To get out of this and go back home! [This line here is the show's title.]
My fields and garden will be overgrown with weeds--I must go back. [Because corruption rots you from the inside.]
It was my own doing that made my mind my body's slave
Why should I go on in melancholy and lonely grief?
I realize that there's no remedying the past
But I know that there's hope in the future.
After all I have not gone far on the wrong road
And I am aware that what I do today is right, yesterday wrong."

Now that I've got that out of the way, let's get on with the review.

The Acting: All right, so, I have never been a fan of Luo Jin or Tiffany Tang (that's not to say I don't like them, I'm just ambivalent and don't go out of my way to watch their shows) and to be honest, I was not floored by their acting in here. On the contrary, I was pleasantly surprised by the acting of Female 2. I think her name is Amelie Xu... a quick search on Baidu tells me that she's a newbie in the ent. circle, this might be her first major TV role. Extremely impressive, imo. In fact, I think it would have been better to name this girl as the female lead, but obviously for marketing reasons they wouldn't have since as a newbie, she wouldn't bring in ratings. The actors of the parental units are all very well-known "old" actors with impressive careers -- I wish I had seen more of them, especially the two corrupt fathers. It would've made the show more bearable for me. Another actor that surprised me was that of Shu Che's father's mistress. Also, obligatory: The English in here sucks. I know it's not their native language, but you'd think these actors would've put more effort into comprehensible English pronunciation considering they're acting as graduate students who are good enough to get into fake-Stanford University. There's a difference between speaking English with an extreme accent and just vocalizing the sounds of English cus you have no idea wtf you're saying and you're just bs'ing your way through your lines.

The Story: It's hard for me to review the story without going into specifics that may or may not be considered spoilers, so I'll just say that the concept of this story could have, and should have, been great. (If I took a shot for every time I thought this about a cdrama, I'd be dead, honestly.) I thought the title was clever, and it even amazed me that they drew from a classical Chinese poem lol. You don't get a lot of cdramas these days where the creators put *that* much thought behind their stories. I could even have handled the extremely slow pace, if only it had used the slow pacing to flesh out important things that contributed to the story somehow. Think about it, this could have been a really deep show using Tao Yuanming's poem as its linchpin, discussing the issues of nepotism and corruption by those in power. I actually think the writers and the director genuinely tried, otherwise they would not have included the poem in the first place, but for lack of skill or whatever reason, they didn't succeed. Ultimately, this is (or rather, is supposed to be) a story about morality and ethics.

Should you watch this?: Listen, if you're a *die-hard* fan of Tiffany or Luo Jin, or both of them, as I am assuming the vast majority of those who have this show on their list are, skim for their scenes. If you're the average c-drama viewer, I'd suggest not wasting your time. Unless you're like me and like to drown in the sorrows of lost potential. However, I do recommend watching Female Lead 2. I see great things in her future and I hope better scripts are coming her way, given the positive attitude Chinese netizens have towards her acting in this show.
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