The drama that not a few thought would fail exceeded minimum expectations. I say “minimum” because Drunken To Love You, often referred to wrongly as the spin-off of Fated To Love You, was expected to do as good as FTLY. It did not. But considering that many doubted how Rainie Yang’s team-up with Joseph Chang will fare, breaking 5% by the eighth episode, was good enough. It could have been better though.
So tonight, we say goodbye to Jie Xiu and Xiao Ru, the drunkards who got married, tried to undo their mistake and in the process fell in love.
When I first heard of the Rainie Yang-Joseph Chang pairing, I found it weird. First of all, they played siblings in The Legend of Speed (2004) already, wouldn’t it be strange? Of course actors should not be limited by roles they have previously played but what made the team-up even weirder is that, Joseph Chang is not exactly an idol in the same ranks as Mike He, Wilber Pan, Jiro Wang and Wu Chun, all previous leading men of Rainie. And I thought, doesn’t he look old? He’s even balding already!
Trivia: It’s surprising to know indeed that Joseph shares the same birthday as Mike, down to the year: Dec 28, 1983. Rainie had told Mike about this and when asked about Joseph, Mike even said that Joseph looks older than him and his body bigger (naughty boy).
And so, Drunken To Love You–now known as Love You–first aired on April 17 and right away took first spot in the Sunday ratings. I watched the first episode out of curiosity and was surprised to find myself enjoying it. This Joseph Chang is some actor and he has chemistry with Rainie.
Or perhaps, Rainie is just the type of performer who develops chemistry with her leading men? Maybe. But it must be said that much of the fun in watching Jie Xiu onscreen is because of how Joseph portrayed him. Had it been an idol playing the role, I’m sure it would have been different.
This is Rainie’s first drama to be shown after she won best actress in last year’s Golden Bell for
the overrated Hi My Sweetheart. She technically filmed Sunshine Angel with Wu Chun first, but it encountered problems as are wont to happen when it’s a co-production with China, so Love You was shown first. And in this drama, Rainie proves that there is no such thing as the Golden Bell curse if one only works hard and focus.
Of course much of the credit goes to Love You’s director, Chen Ming Zhang, who took on the job soon after the explosion incident on the set of his Date With Spring drama in Shanghai that burned Selina Jen. Chen was severely criticised for taking on work soon after the incident happened with Selina’s fans accusing him of not even bothering to apologise properly and taking responsibility. Because of the controversy surrounding the director, even Rainie herself was criticised for choosing to work with him, not that she had a choice. And so they filmed the drama low-key and there were sparse news about it, perhaps to deflect the criticisms that came out.
But then, you have to hand it to Chen. He’s really a very capable director with a quirky style that glues audiences to his work. When I watched FTLY before, I watched it out of curiosity. I knew Ethan Ruan but I didn’t know who Qiao En was, and yet, I was hooked to it until the end.
The same thing with Love You. I had doubts on whether a Rainie-Joseph pairing would work, but they all disappeared from the first episode alone. Chen Ming Zhan has a way with the camera that I haven’t seen in other Taiwanese dramas. And it’s not just the quirkiness, he has very lovely, well-compositioned shots too.
Of course, like any dramas, this one has its flaws. The story dragged on the angle with Kingone Wang as the ex-boyfriend that it became tiring looking at his haggard face onscreen. Then when they finally kicked out his story arch, in came Alien Huang and ruined everything. (Perhaps they thought that bringing in Rainie’s real-life ex-boyfriend into the cast even if he does not have any acting cred would help the ratings. Unfortunately, it did not.)
The rest of the cast in Love You fares better. Tiffany Hsu is OK though watching her makes me realise she will never be leading lady material; she will always be the second female lead not because she is trapped in being Ethan’s real-life girlfriend but because she is just too pretty. That is both a good and bad thing, you need to be pretty to make it in the entertainment business, but it’s not enough. You need acting chops, and unfortunately, Tiffany’s pretty face distracts from her acting.
The other support cast provide additional entertainment, particularly Samantha–Jie Xiu’s overbearing mother, Meng Jun–Xiao Ru’s pregnant side kick and Paparazzi Jack. Jie Xiu’s boss and assistant also provided some comic relief, as if there was not enough from Jie Xiu himself.
The credit though goes to the director and the main leads. Rainie proves that she indeed deserves her Golden Bell award. She is given enough highlights in the drama that showcase her new-found growth as an actress. And it’s not only in the dramatic scenes that she shines, it’s in the comic ones too.
But really, it’s Joseph who carried this drama, much to most everyone’s surprise I guess. Before stepping into “idol territory”, Joseph has been appearing in independent, low-key productions, playing either lead or support roles. He’s the kind of actor who seem to choose his roles, not based on the billing or the paycheck, but on the impact. If he has been impressing the likes of Brigitte Lin, then he must be on the right track. And what’s good about him is, he does the dramatic scenes very well, but he also does not have any inhibitions in losing himself in the comedy. Imagine if it were an idol playing Jie Xiu, the image would have been a prime consideration before anything else.
Jie Xiu has been such a breakthrough role for Joseph that he has earned more fans and has leveled-up to being an idol. I don’t know if this will be good or bad for him, but in the long run, his longevity in the industry will depend on his marketability too, so it could only be good, hopefully. On one hand, I hope he does not stop doing the roles that he has been good at.
So tonight, we take one last look at where Jie Xiu and Xiao Ru would end up after a drunken romp onscreen. Will they end up sober?
Proofs that this team-up works are the rumors that have been cooked up and the fans that have sprung up for them. Offscreen is of course another matter, but onscreen, everyone is hoping for a happy ending for Jie Xiu and Xiao Ru.
Rainie has posted this photo in her QQ account (Tencent, another Chinese version of Twitter) with a reminder to her fans to watch the finale (apparently, she won’t be able to watch it since she’s in China): 今天是”醉後”的大結局！很可惜我無法守在電視機前，看著宋杰修和林曉如擁有happy ending！戲的完結也許是新的開始！期待宋氏夫婦的未來！先賣個關子嘿嘿嘿…