Got to give a drama ALL the brownie points with a cute justification of why our guy need the fugly perm pompadour fungus infesting his head these days.
我爱男闺蜜 is literally I Love My GuyBFF. for once I think the English title is quite creative. 闺蜜 is a short for 闺中密友/our girlfriends/bffs where 密(close) is cutely replaced by the homophone 蜜 (honey) upping the sweetness of the nick. We ladies do add another list of chores for GuyBFF to work harder to earn that intimacy, coining them honey bees seems even more fantastic.
Of all the new fads, I still think Jane Zhang has the perfect control and balance of expressiveness and technique out of all the powerful songstress.
Cdrama has finally evolved a watchably entertaining no headhurt niche of their own: 熟龄偶像剧/’ripe’ idol fluff. C modern idoldramas are never watchable by any standard of mine, unless a bulldozer ran over my head several times and I suddenly need to escape to a deserted island of questionable taste swamped by buggy fugly silly toads only capable of doing bizarre headdesky deeds unimaginable. Then there are all the contemporary human dramas,主旋律/leitmotif they call it, to SARFT’s contentment, carefully written/directed/acted, 80% of the time preachy, dense, dour, formularic, and where is the escapism?!?!?!? And lately there are few little tweaks and fusions making up a new brand of ‘idol’dramas for the nitpicking aunties who can not handle all the braindead glorified empty calorie junk on their TV screens. These few ‘gems’ have negligible warts. It started a few years ago, when there is a lighter brand of CN style ‘slice of life’ romantic drama popping up here and there, having a delightful moment in the midst of diffident writing, cautious under SARFT’s ironfist I bet, not yet hitting my sweet fluffy kink but decent attempts: 婚姻保卫战 Marriage Battle (2010), 男人帮 Men (2011), 大男当婚 The Bachelor (2011), 夫妻那些事 Husband and Wife (2012), 咱们结婚吧 We Get Married (2013) are all watchable, entertaining enough.
Just this year alone we have 大丈夫/May-December Love and more fine tuning in 一仆二主/One Servant of Two Masters which I thoroughly enjoyed the 10 or so episodes I checked out, just not as rabidly as to gobble it down in a few sittings as 我爱男闺蜜. This takes ‘idol’drama to a new level because not filled to the hilt with the sugarcoated dandies of other dramalands, these are true movie thespians with formidable chops, perhaps lack of that young wrappings. 王志文 of May-December Love has the face of a character actor you may not be gushing hearing his name, but you must’ve seen him multiple times on screen in arthouse and big budget popcorns alike. He is our Lu Xun in my most anticipated thing Golden Era and poised to steal the show. One Servant of Two Masters has 张嘉译, ie I LOVE him against all my shallowness! face of an ordinary uncle and all. As asdfghasdfljkggall as myhoneybbloverboy’s 平凡的世界/Ordinary World is looking, and I should shut up and count my blessings, I am very bumped Mr 张嘉译 is unable to join the fantastic cast. He has become my utmost litmus, the quality stamp in everything he touches. I have yet to see him not good to amazing in works good to fantastic, and the latter part makes him literally a dramagod to me.
我爱男闺蜜 has 黄磊/Huang Lei, whom I have a very very tender spot for. He was in my earliest Cdrama lush moody romantic loves 人间四月天 , 橘子红了,似水年华, his eyes have a pureness, the honest man sparkle in it that is all his own charm to bottle.
And like all the romantic leading men 10+ years ago, he sings and has MVs of his ballads on utube:
In this drama, he is now a Chapman To lookalike with a cute tummy:
And yes, that sorry perm. His 方骏/Fang Jun has a way explaining it: it is essential for his living. His character has a way with words 24/7 especially on the job as the matchmaking consultant, the best at his agency. He got my interest piqued saying: it is because he can’t be in any way attractive, yet he has to come across as he has put in effort in his appearance but never too chic and unapproachable. What is better than an ahjumma perm?!?! Just that very miniscule chance of a client falling for him instead of his matchmaking is job hazard. Valid. Very. He is warm, caring, kind, pudgy, harmless, only vice is he won’t shut it, gets me misty eye everytime he is sooo insanely loving a big bro to his little sis, just nothing crucial in the typical cold prince charming without the tall (and skinny), rich, handsome, huh!?
陈数/Chen Shu has long been the gold standard of how to rock a QiPao, she has the face of Manguo era classical beauty. She has that goddess glow down in that golden sepia tone with delicate makeup in all the gentile confinement.
Here she is showing a bit of wear, a bit of botox, but it doesn’t get in the way of authenticity of her character: an all work no play gold-collar management. We met her scorned, embarrassingly crashing the wedding of her ex and his bun-in-oven new wife a bit frayed and fizzled losing most of her cool (we are not too sure about whether she is cool to begin with haha).
First few episodes have her fallen in the usual bracket of the aloof, brittle 30 sth divorced single career woman, but then Chen Shu starts to chuckle, and her laugh is so infectious and adorable you have to hear it to believe it. So there, a softening and a layer that makes the story of her falling for her honey bee man more natural a progression without apparent physical attraction. All the ladies in this drama have their vices, none of them the perfect embodiment of an unattainable cliche. I would say they fit into the stereotypes of a Beijinger too squarely: no girly pettiness, and fussiness has no place in their lives. They are all bold and generous, living their lives on broader strokes than sensitive to intricacies.
They have a comfortable chemistry that only actors of matching caliber can permeate their characters. None of that fan-serving sizzling that would be out of place in the beginning when they are adversaries almost, steadily progressing to true lovely friendship and beyond. It takes seasoned, careful control to make it convincing bringing us along the journey that accounts for ALL the swooniness in any fluffy romance, never the draw by numbers skinship for me. And that is where it is a give or take, you either take those glossy young things who can’t emote but are popular, who got stuck in crap written by morons so dumb but inserting all the piggybacks, wristgrabs and manufactured intimacy that even though they can’t act, they do not deserve the lazy treatment; and these steady veterans who are no spring chicken, but elevating a romance to life convincingly.
Predictable, plots are at time too fantasized to be anywhere gritty but nothing headdesky nonsensical, even when plot device has to be employed, it is addressed and snarked by a character face-on, talked through swiftly, not pompously inserted as some very important genius creative spin (go away yuma). Characters speak logically as they should facing every twist, turn and obstacle, that is my bone bare necessity, decency in character building so lacking in Cdrama fluff.
What the list of dramas I lumped together prior lacked is a secondary young fluffy OTP that is knocking EVERYTHING I have seen offering in Asian dramalands for a longtime. First off, they meet my aesthetics, I find both of them looking the right age for their parts, cute and good looking in their own fresh face and like a unicorn these days, not a whiff of plastic. Bonus, they both are good actors who can instill heart in weaker spots of writing. It borrows bits of shoujo, mix with a lot of harsher RL yet dealt with an escapism bend, conjuring up a lethal potion for me. It is almost like a PSA minidrama for safe sex through shoujo manga lens. It grounded it with a splash of realism, not losing all senses, nor the core of fluffy goodness essential in getting my heart swell up a few sizes. And they look even more adorable together on screen and in bts:
Pic spam (warning one is spoilerish):
I am so impressed with 王晓晨/ Wang Xiaochen, playing Huang Lei’s young very feisty little sis. Most of us met her for the first time as Ariel’s Huang Rong’s mommy, she was barely in minutes of it, memorable to pull it off as a teenager then playing a couple with Anthony Wong:
And here her character has a whole how to make the aunties cringe list of attributes: Eloped and divorced all in a few months when we met her 方依依 Fang Yiyi, quite spoiled rotten by her doting nice guy big bro Fang Jun, wearing very fugly clothes barely covering her lady bits and even more horrible wigs all the time and lots more. She plays her YiYi with seamless unapologetic verve, and get this, NO OTT, as always good acting is not in how much I can see effort (sorry ShiShi, TangYan, Wallace, Nicky, the likes, you are the opposite) but how effortless an actor is breathing, thinking, talking, eating, sleeping as THE character and no one else, none of her RL star!self of course. Being able to hold her own complimenting scene after scene with all the veterans is such a feat none of the bigger names of her generation is able to, it is really an entire veteran cast of theater actors long in the industry doing their fine jobs for decades, Mr. PD 汪俊 himself is a very very solid director AND actor, playing the painter in the story. ( I am going to watch his The Firmament of the Pleiades/ 苍穹之昴 next for some insanely gorgeous period porn said to be knocking Zhen Huan Zhuan off in the shallow pretty alone.)
I teared up in several perfect scenes of Huang Lei’s Fang Jun and her YiYi. They completely own my heart. They are orphans growing up, their dad abandoned them a new year’s eve, not able to handle the burden after their Mom died in childbirth giving birth to YiYi. So Fang Jun is the daddy and big brother who brought her up in tears and blood and sweat. All the love between them hit us full force that needs no convincing, we just have to be at the receiving end, ready to be moved every little scene they share. He would be the right mix of a stern dad hopelessly aligning her straight and a big brother who is a softie teddy bear without real brute against this young cat of his sister, the naivete in love and romance against the seasoned player of a young 20sth girl, but like water drops piercing stone he gets his point across to her every time, and she stands her stance and bicker, but respects her brother, the dearest of her life. They fight, make up, and be cute and annoying as loving siblings, a surrogate dad and the notty pesky dominating baby, and it is on every occasion that they do not miss a beat delivering all the elements making up the ball of dynamics of all the hats they carry. She is actually a hurt kitten under all that purring and clawing, so insecure, so sure and shameful she has been the burden dragging her brother down since the day she was born that is why she put up that spiky facade only showing vulnerability in his company alone. He does not deny the hardship she has put him through, but he never dwells on any woe. He makes sure to hammer in the point without her, he won’t make it to be a standing, contributing member of society, won’t be able to brave it in this world all alone. while pinching her cheeks, poking how they look so different when he is so handsome and she, not good looking at all. Not. :~)
When you are around, your brother’s little boat will never capsize.
Then YiYi’s own honey bee man. He does not fit into the the beta male cliche as obvious as Fang Jun, he is not unremarkable, just not egoistically full of himself, nor careful, we see him welding a baseball bat go around his business of a silly revenge, be the hotheaded child he is, but not entirely without a functional brain and ideas of his own. Yet he starts off submissive to YiYi like a puppy, out of fear for his own physical well being with her bullying, mix with appreciation of her helping him out from a fellow man to another fellow human being. It was never that fated love at first sight trope.
The cutie is 刘芮麟/Wayne Liu, typical 小鲜肉/Young Fresh Meat (the term C netizens call their wet behind ears cutiepies), with that patented hair of the 90ers (and sadly the older Meat, or as Miriam Young has wittily coined Sweet and Sour Pork for Louis Koo, all fried and sauced up but still yummy to many)
The pair is winning in their honesty with each other and their own emotions, none of the noble idiotic let me keep my feelings to myself because you deserve someone else (like who, duh?!) and misunderstanding festers so…I don’t really know tbvh, to be slow, silly and stupid?! He can be sensible, he can have game, he can dote on his very sassy buddy if he wants to, not simply the lame pushover. Stubborn, prone to lofty daydreaming, childish, child-like but not spoiled rotten …what makes a convincing early 20 year old manboy only-child raised pampered and very naive, normally, properly in an upper middle class divorced family. The pacing can be a bit rushed in their romance, a confession is done and a non-issue with no proper milking of fanservice, but I like it.
I also like the conversations very much. It feels lived in, and sprouting out of mouths exactly as the characters should. VERY SPOILERISH:
Can’t we all have timely confessions simple and straight forward from now on?!
Fang YiYi, are you really stupid, or faking ignorance? It is not a day or two I have been in love with you. Why Can’t you see it?!
-You love me?! Why do you love me for what it is worth?
Love is love, why the heck does it have to do with reasons?
You, and the baby in your tummy, I love you both.
I picked my brain for a few days and I can not remember the last time I find a young romance laid out so simple and effective, without the fanfare yet managed to swoon my socks off. It must be the acting, seriously.
Our OTP. GAh.
I love you.
I reread this post before clicking publish and it is 120% my gibberish, nothing too substantial a sell. The backbone of the story has been told before for a lot of us who dabbled in all dramalands, but ask yourself, have you seen any decent fluff lately, good old decent nothing hurts fluffy adult romance? I have my snark!cap perpetually on, I nitpick the daylight out of everything just to keep myself awake often watching a drama nowadays and suddenly something that moves me to a little chuckle, a tiny awww even just a hint of happy tear. That’s enough drama magic.
TBH, it took me by surprise how much I am smittened with it after 2000+ word count. It must be the decent quality in every aspect, and as I am watching along just how simple a predictable scene to not explode crap on me, for example a mother against her well-to-do daughter marrying a humble bee of a man a few social stratus below her, typical, easily go crazy preachy Mommy is the expectation to brace ourselves, but when not and Mom gets the usual point across with ample conversation skills that should come along with any sensible auntie in RL, just we can’t dream anymore in the usual mundane. It is what lazy traps this did not fall into, especially for the writing, that makes the overall picture so delectable, and precious.