TV Binge: Sugar Rush (Season 2, 2019)

Check out the 1st Season of Sugar Rush review HERE.

Sugar Rush (Season 2, 2019)

sugar rush

Host: Hunter March
Judges: Candace Nelson & Adriano Zumbo

A baking competition with 4 teams, 3 rounds, 2 cakes and 1 winner of $10,000. – IMDB

Season 2 of Sugar Rush is here. With a quick 50 mins episode length and 6 episodes for the whole season, Sugar Rush is the perfect type of TV binge. It can be done in a day if you don’t have any other things planned or to do . Just like the previous season and the very on point synopsis on IMDB for the show, this is a professional baking competition which starts with 4 teams who compete in elimination format in 3 rounds to become the final winner of $10,000. Who makes the decision is between the two judges and the guest judge who may or may not be baking saavy but they are eating saavy (meaning they know how to eat and that’s really what is important here since baked goods isn’t only for expert tasting but for normal people too). Some examples of guests this season are Nick and Vanessa Lachey as well as Jacques Torres.

For those who haven’t seen Season 1, here’s a quick little rundown of how the competition is structured. There are 3 rounds to the competition. The first 2 rounds is cupcakes and confections respectively to be completed within 3 hours. Whatever time you save from those three hours adds on to the final cake round which also has 3 hours. The topics for each round is announced as you complete the previous round after the judges taste. The only trick here is that elimination of one team happens after each round as well. What changes in season 2 is two elements. The first is more relevant to the competition structure and that is all round 3 keep going. When Round 2 finishes, the final round topic is given as well as 3 additional hours. In that sense, the clock never stops making it embrace that time element much better and gives less down time where the other team doesn’t stand around waiting for their time to start like in Season 1. The second element is that the judges now all stay in the room while the competition is going on and does commentating which is great compared to the first season where they would leave and come back at the tail end. These little things keeps the process of the competition more engaging.

Other than one or two odd guest choices, Sugar Rush really does a good job in keeping up with the hype of the first season and polishing the structure and concept behind it which works better this time around. It had 2 less episodes from the previous season so its a quick one to binge through. The themes here also are pretty fun from starting with current popular baking trends to more thematic ones like science and love, they choose guests that match their theme while also having focus on both technique and visual appeal. Hopefully, Sugar Rush gets a Season 3 because I’d be down for it.

 

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TV Binge: Love O2O (微微一笑很倾城, 2016)

Moving on from Rush of the Dead Summer (review), I really liked Zheng Shuang as the female lead and went to look for her other TV series. Luckily, there was one on Netflix called Love O2O. The other title is One Smile Is Very Alluring, which is the title of the movie that was released which is also available on Netflix that I hadn’t seen yet. Love O2O opened up a ton of talented young actors and actresses that will lead to some of my future TV series choices (as you will soon find out).

Love O2O (微微一笑很倾城, 2016)

LOVE O2O

Director: Liu Yu Fen

Cast: Shuang Zheng, Yang Yang, Xiao Tong Miao, Jun Feng Niu, Ye Cheng Zheng, He Zhang, Bai Yu, Vin Zhang

Xiao Nai is a gaming expert who, courtesy of his basketball skills, academic excellence, swimming talent and game company presidency, also happens to be the most popular student on campus. When he first comes across the gorgeous computer science major Bei Wei Wei, the infinitely talented wunderkind immediately falls in love. But it’s not Bei’s looks that he notices; it’s the ridiculous mastery with which she is commanding her guild and owning everyone in an online multiplayer game that makes her impossible to forget. Now, Xiao Nai must use his skills both in real life and online to capture the adorable but dorky Bei’s heart. But does their love have the XP to succeed, or will this relationship never level up? – MyDramalist

If you want to check out Love O2O, you can find it with English subtitles on Youtube or its also on Netflix.

QUOTE/SCENE

love o2o

STORY

Love O2O is probably one of the more light-hearted and positive Chinese dramas that I’ve seen so far. While there is some drama between friendship, work and relationships, it never over dramatizes and drags out a situation for too long. Perhaps this gives it less depth but the story itself knows how to focus on the positives of each relationship and give its a positive way to solve some of the issues here. There are conflicts that show up especially when dealing with the MMORPG world where the online relationships also result to the expectations and rumors and bullying that happens as well. At the same time, the story is set in the second half on the game development world and the hurdles that they end up facing.

Love O2O

While the story lies mostly in the real world, a portion of it is still in the fantasy world, more the in-game world where they have a lot of computer graphics. They have fighting bits together and has a whole relationships that comes out of there as well as giving it a lot of fantastical elements of online dating via the in-game elements. Its pretty charming to say the least but also has a side warning of how sometimes there can be cases of mistaken identity or lack of communication or misunderstandings and the fragility of building your friendships online rather in-person. The story itself does blend itself well together and as the series moves along, less and less is hidden in-game and more in reality.

LENGTH/PACING

Love O2O has the fantastic length of 30 episodes which borders on my personal belief of the upper limit of where an idol drama usually should be.

The execution and pacing here is very good. 30 episodes with the amount of characters and story arc gives the story a sufficient amount of character development while also giving the story a chance to focus not only on the romantic angles but also touch of friendship, bromance, family, etc. The majority of the story is set over the happenings of a budding relationship that starts at the end of a university semester and the summer time and then jumps forward at the end to push forward the timeline and give it a proper ending. That is a good way to do it because life is always full of crazy events but sometimes its those first moments when its goes from ultra sweet to building a solid foundation. Its why Love O2O doesn’t drag at all and stays fun from beginning to end.

CHARACTERS/CHEMISTRY

love o2o

If we look at characters and chemistry, our main leads and couple is Wei Wei, played by Zheng Shuang and Xiao Nai, played by Yang Yang. They are fantastic today and probably one of the best TV ships that could happen (in my short Chinese drama time). What works for them is that their characters are almost perfect from the outside and we soon find out that they each have their similarities and balance between them. Its in their actions and their pure intentions for each other that makes them so charming to watch. Plus, their relationship sprouts of Wei Wei adoration of Xiao Nai and idolization as he is the good-looking and smart senior student in school who all the girls swoon over, while as the show goes on, you can see that Xiao Nai doesn’t care of those things but rather its love at first sight on his side that he knows that she’s the right one and doesn’t know how to be a good boyfriend and just tries his best to protect her and support her.

love o2o

On the other hand, the second leads are Er Xi (Mao Xiao Tong) and Cao Guang (Bai Yu) who are the opposite of the main leads couple because they start off disliking each other, which is the more typical way of how most romantic leads start out in these dramas. However, these two are very fun characters while both of their story arcs have a slight frustrating moments, both regarding each other as well as in terms of friendship and crushes.

love o2o

Finally, relationships can be bromances and Love O2O thrives in that department, whether its the bromance between Xiaonai and his roommates, which turn out to be his work team as the series moves forward after their graduation or the girl friends (who really do have less part here) of Weiwei. However, the bromance here is fantastic especially as the friendship expands to a fifth member of the group as they get into the work space area. They add the fun and comedy also which rounds out the story a lot to keep it very light-hearted.

Finally, we take a look at the “enemies”. Be it the love rivals or the schoolyard internet bullies or the competing companies for the projects, it falls into the tone here because as frustrating as they can be, they never feel that harmful especially when they always find some positive outcome or enlightenment for the characters, which is nice to see because it keeps the series in a very positive light and gives hope especially to the younger characters who find their way. Its in the details of the script and the writer for this series manages to keep a good balance and remember the tone that its going for.

OVERALL

Love O2O definitely is one of my faves because of its positivity. There are more tears of joy and happiness and swooning over cute and endearing moments as well as being touched over the perfection of Xiaonai as a boyfriend who thrives in communication and trust over Weiwei no matter what other people say and believes his own eyes and experiences. Its span of touching different modern day themes and issues especially as we navigate the online landscape whether in gaming or blogging. It manages to focus on the love here but also give it a good dose of friendships as well as the reality of school, work and the challenges in life overall. Its charming and fun, romantic and cute, inspiring and positive: all the things I like about TV series.

Montreal Comiccon 2019 – Day 2 Recap: Lana Parilla, The 100, Umbrella Academy & Elijah Wood

Montreal Comiccon 2019

Day 2 of Montreal Comiccon 2019 is behind us now. Saturday is always the big day of the event. Not only is it the day with the most visitors at the event and its an obvious change from the first day, but its also the day where most of the guest of honors and a lot of Q&A panels take place. With a line-up of Lana Parilla, The 100, The Umbrella Academy, Lindsay Seidel, Georges St-Pierre, Elijah Wood, Tom Felton, Ray Park, and Michael Madsen appearing in Q&A panels throughout the day, it is going to be a huge run around to try to catch a portion of these.

Q&A Panel: Lana Parilla

Lana Parilla Montreal Comiccon 2019

The first big panel to start the day was Lana Parilla, most popular known for her role in Once Upon A Time as Regina/The Evil Queen. She also had smaller roles in Lost and 24. Lana Parilla talks about her different experiences on Once Upon A Time as well as some memorable scenes. She shares about working with the green screen room in the first season as well as the first time directing an episode in Season 7. Suffice to say that Lana Parilla’s roles in Once Upon A Time, because its had so many variations, has been one that has been both inspiring and conflicting for fans of the show.

Q&A Panel: The 100

The 100 Montreal Comiccon 2019

The 100 panel featured three main characters from the series, Bob Morley who plays Bellamy, Eliza Taylor who plays Clarke and Tasya Teles who plays Echo. After a surprise wedding announcement for Bob Morley and Eliza Taylor earlier this year, possibly fulfilling the ship between their characters on the show, the three are relaxed and fun at the panel as the fans praise the show on its gender equality and LGBT relationships and how the characters are defined by their talents and not these more personal attributes of race, gender, etc. Bob Morley and Eliza Taylor talk about the difference between filming in Australia versus USA. A lot of what are their favorite scenes and favorite things were asked. Due to the pure Q&A session format and no general questions with the moderator, the questions were very fan-based. However, if the excitement in the room was reflective for everywhere else, The 100 still has maintained a lot of its hype (which is great because I also love it a ton).

Q&A Panel: The Umbrella Academy

Umbrella Academy Montreal Comiccon 2019

The Umbrella Academy is one of the newer shows to have a panel at this year’s Comiccon. Bringing in Cameron Brodeur who plays young Luther and Robert Sheehan who plays the conflicted yet flamboyant Klaus, the panel was vibrant to say the least. Cameron Brodeur steps up on his first panel which is very exciting as he shares his love for Spider-Man and superheroes in general. As young Luther had relatively less roles, Robert Sheehan had a lot more questions about his roles from his favorite aspects of the character to the show. They were asked about working with Mary J. Blige as well as the weird and embarassing filming moments. With The Umbrella Academy having a second season greenlit, it probably will be just the beginning of panels for this Netflix Original series.

Q&A Panel: Elijah Wood

Elijah Wood Montreal Comiccon 2019

At this point, Elijah Wood has surpassed his Lord of the Rings trilogy days especially as that is 20 years old already since its start. He has gone on to be involved in TV and indie horror as well as video games. On his IMDB page, he has over a hundred credits over his 30 years of being involved in the entertainment business. The normal questions of favorites and inspiration came up however, what stood out the most the genuine reactions to all the questions as well as his gratitude for still thriving in the business after so many years. He addresses also his project choices which rely on his gut and finding roles that vary from the previous ones as well. A fun panel to say the least even if the majority of the questions still remain very Lord of the Rings oriented or more on his younger projects and (not so) surprisingly not about his newer projects especially in indie films. Talking about newer projects, he has a film premiering at Fantasia called Come to Daddy.

OVERALL…

Its been a panel heavy day running non-stop between line-ups and wait times from late morning to middle of the afternoon. However, the star studded panels definitely were a lot of fun and gave us a look at some of the different experiences of these TV and movie icons that has gained quite a bit of popularity and love.

Thats it for Day 2 recap!

Other parts for gaming wrap-up and cosplay will be over on the Game Warp Blog shortly, if that interests you.

Also, audio of these panels, once I find time to listen back and see what is usable or not will be posted later on my channel. I will be sure to share it one place or another, when it happens.

TV Binge: Nailed It! (Season 3, 2019)

You can find previous Nailed It reviews below:

Season 1
Season 2
Holidays
Mexico

Nailed It! (Season 3, 2019)

nailed it 3

Host: Nicole Byers, Jacques Torres

Home bakers with a terrible track record take a crack at re- creating edible masterpieces for a $10,000 prize. It’s part reality contest, part hot mess. – IMDB

Nailed It has been doing really good. While the series itself really follows one simple formula and stays in the fairly small season batches of only about 6 episodes and a special here and there, it seems to work very well especially in small doses. This TV binge is going to be fairly short because there isn’t a whole lot of different to say about the show. That isn’t a criticism in any way because why fix what isn’t broken, right? To me, that applies very well in this situation.

Nailed It 3

For those following Nailed It, the mistakes that people make among the contestants do sometimes feel like they generally get repeated. However, the show still manages to offer tips in both cake decoration as well as the actually baking method and how to approach these intricate cakes. Let’s be fair that some of these cakes look like they probably take longer than the time allotted to them in these situations (but then what do I know, my baking is much less design and more simple practicality). However, it is the accidents and the silliness and in turn, the final results that make Nailed It so much fun to watch. It definitely feels like one of the few that focus on amateur baking. I had some criticisms about the season 2 breaking away from its formula and adding in other elements less baking and more fruit carving and such, however, season 3 finds itself back to its roots and I’m very happy to see it do that. While I think those other things have its potential to be fun to watch, just like its hinting at the DIY Nailed It idea, its a nice spinoff to do but just not as part of an amateur baking show.

Nailed it 3

However, the heart of Nailed It still lies in its hosts. Nicole Byers, especially in Season 3, has truly found her place in it. Her humor hits all the time at the right places. Her pairing with Jacques Torres is starting to really also find its rhythm as well. At the same time, over these few seasons, they have also made a true character out of Wes and giving more screen time and having more creative ways of making an appearance with the trophy and whatnot. Its all in the name of fun and entertainment and its only 6 episodes but packed with a lot of it.

Are you a fan of Nailed it?

TV Binge: Rush to the Dead Summer (夏至未至, 2017)

After the massive love for A Love So Beautiful (review), I went backwards to check out Hu Yitian’s previous role, which is a fairly smaller supporting role which was probably only about half of the series in very small doses in Rush to the Dead Summer, adapted from a 2006 romance novel originally called 1995-2005 Rush to the Dead Summer written by Guo Jingming . The ending was changed in the version. I haven’t read the story but after the ending felt the need to hunt down the actual ending to draw some comparisons and I will touch on that as well.

RUSH TO THE DEAD SUMMER (夏至未至, 2017)

rush to the dead summer

Cast: Cheney Chen, Shuang Zheng, Jingting Bai, Biyun Chai, Zitong Xia, Hehuizi Zheng, Hanchen Pang, Uvin Wang, Jingyang Ni

The love and growth of a group of young people from the same high school. – IMDB

QUOTE

People say we meet seven versions of ourselves during our youth. One bright and beautiful, one laden with grief, one is gorgeous, one that takes risks, one that is stubborn, one that is soft, and the last one is in the middle of maturing. On the road to maturity, we would experience rain and wind, encounter thistles and thorns. We will swallow our anger and we would also strongly retaliate. Of course, we hadn’t anticipated that there is a price to pay for this so-called maturity. Sometimes, even if we know that we’ll be punished, we’ll still bravely step forward because these are our true selves. Before we are polished to shine, we carry sharp edges and thorns all over, and fearless confidence and determination so we can be dashing heroes for a brief moment. – Li Xia, Rush to the Dead Summer, Episode 5.

You can watch the series with English subtitles on Youtube below:

STORY

Rush to the Dead Summer focuses on 5 different characters over the course of 10 years of their life from their senior high years to their adult life. There are a few supporting characters that also get a voice however, those primary five are the main focal points where these other characters pop up for whichever duration. While not as defined as the source material structure, there is a very accurate focus on various characters. It focuses on friendships and romantic relationships as well as each characters hurdles from family, school and their career choices.

The series can be split into various acts. The first building the foundation of the characters and relationships set during the senior high years that has a much longer focus of over 20 episodes. The second act is the post secondary education phase which looks at seeking career dreams, university and finding their path into setting into the real world which could be considered the shorter act because it sets up for the third act which is the real world. Because of this shift in different stages of their life, the story ends up having a decent pacing and also brings up a very real draw in these characters where different primary characters will fall to the background accordingly when some other characters will have their own moments and their stories, just as in real life when friends will each have their own moments to celebrate or experience and the others become their support and audience.

The story tone also has those shifts because of these different stages accordingly. The first act is more innocent high school moments with a focus on Li Xia (Shuang Zheng) and Xiaosi Fu (Cheney Chen) and their romance while also focusing on the bromance between Xiaosi Fu and Zhi-ang Lu (Jingting Bai) and the friendships between Li Xia and Qiqi Cheng (Biyun Chai) as well as Li Xia and Yu Jian (Zitong Xia). Its a building of new friends, maintaining of old friendships and learning about romances and the coming of age of embracing the things that we truly desire and knowing when to fight for them. In the second act, it becomes fairly shorter as everyone splits up into their own segments. The romance between Li Xia and Xiaosi become more developed while the pursuing of their own dreams become a big focal point for both Qiqi and Yu Jian in their own ways defined by their own values while Zhi-ang chooses a new path completely that takes him into a new environment. In the last act, its the final bits as a lot of secrets get revealed, different personalities and motives get revealed and the adult world proves to be one with much more serious consequences for their actions bring dilemmas and challenges and all kinds of conflicts at every turn.

Rush of the Dead Summer’s story sounds like a very familiar teen coming of age kind of drama. In many ways, its hard to argue that it isn’t. The uniqueness of it is how it executes its through changing the different voices and giving the story a moment to move around flexibly while making sure that each of these five characters are ones that we care about to a certain degree.

LENGTH/PACING

Rush to the Dead Summer clocks in at 46 episodes. Odd number? I know it is. With these series, they fall into the borderline of having pacing issues because it can very well go into the pacing a little too different. However, this series uses different characters and point of views, experiences and perpetual stories  that it makes it never feel like it drags on for too long. The only issue here is that some characters fall into the background and the main issues do lie with accepting when the characters we love more may flip around in the end and fall behind the scenes more or the story loses that focus and it gets more dramatic as these characters get older. In terms of length and pacing, Rush of the Dead Summer does a relatively good job. If anything drags along, it can very well be because the character story that its focusing on is getting too much screen time and the other character in preference doesn’t, but there is a good amount of care in executing it so that the different characters or different pairs all get their due time whether the audience agrees with it or not.

CHARACTER/CHEMISTRY

Rush of the Dead Summer focuses on these 5 characters: Li Xia, Xiaosi Fu, Zhi-ang Lu, Yu Jian  and Cici Cheng. In the previous sections, I’ve already mentioned some of the romance relationships here and some of the friendships in focus. Before we look at the effectiveness of these relationships, lets take a quick look at the characters.

Li Xia plays a focal character. She is a mild-tempered, hard working and shy girl who has a specific set of values and makes sure that everyone she cares about will be taken care of and respected. Because of this, she is good friends with every one of the other characters. Her junior high friend is Qiqi, her love interesting in senior high is Xiaosi, Zhi-ang has a crush on her but also enjoys being her good friend, and Yu Jian became her friend because she did little things in senior high that made her feel warm. Li Xia is a likable character even if at times, her indecisiveness and her meek personality will make it hard to not feel bad or feel frustrated with her not learning more to protect herself.

With that said, her main relationship chemistry is with Xiaosi Fu. Xiaosi is a more introvert and perfectionist character. He is the first in their grade, he has incredible artistic skills and doesn’t know how to express himself a lot and is very straight-forward with his words. However, his care is in his actions and its because of these things that Li Xia and him has quite a good bit of chemistry. Every series has a guy that is like this and they always end up having this awkward moments that make for some cute and sweet moments.

While it seems like Zhi-ang Lu is the best friend of Xiaosi and has this love triangle, it never quite goes into fruition because he never really pursues her but chooses to be the happy character in the series that goes from the positive and social outgoing personality who flirts with other girls and has one of the biggest changes where he becomes more focused on his dreams and finding a different path while also in the final act, the story suddenly shifts its voice into having a heavier focus on him and a new girl character that enters the picture called Yan Mo (He Hui Zhi Zheng). I’m not going to talk about Yan Mo’s character but its one that brings on a lot of changes and also delivers a lot of sweeter moments in the final act especially when the relationship and career of the first primary couple enters a much of dramatic turn of events affected by a lot of outside factors that this new relationship and pursuit gives off a new comedic angle.

At the same time, its at this time that we can talk about Yu Jian, Qiqi and the different friendships because as great as the chemistry of the relationships here. Perhaps some of the better moments are how the different friendships develop. Yu Jian has a more set goals and has the opposite personality of Li Xia and stands up for her constantly which makes their friendship solid in their own way in a more reliable way where we soon learn, some friendships will change because of the change in perspective and that happens with Qiqi and Li Xia where they may know each other longer but their friendship slowly also has its cracks. Qiqi also is designed to be a more “bad” sort of character and while I never found her good. Her parts and self-destruction and other bits usually prove be more frustrating to watch and probably one of the not so well written characters. While Yu Jian remains one of the better written ones.

OVERALL

Rush of the Dead Summer is unique because it takes on the different voices of five characters and creates a tree of stories for each of them throughout 10 years of their life. There are a lot of quotable moments and share a lot of different sides of life between all of them as they encounter different happy, sad, frustrating and angry moments. Its one very much worth watching. Some people complain about the fact that the main male lead is very rigid in his role but to be fair, his role is meant to be that way and his character because of the initial way changes over the time as a development angle and probably was done deliberately. There are little details in the series that I caught on the second viewing which actually makes these characters and gives them signs on how their character and nature will develop over the course of the series. My only issue is how it chooses to end the series which is hard to decide whether its a better ending or a worse one that the original one in the source material. Its a whole end game issue of which version and type of viewer you are. For myself, it felt a bit rushed and a bit lazy to not have expanded at least a little further on it. The ending few episodes could have definitely used a little more symmetry to the beginning act to give it a more well-rounded feeling.

Main Theme

TV Binge: A Love So Beautiful (致我们单纯的小美好, 2017)

The first to show up is one accessible to most because on Netflix. International stuff, yay! I probably should have written the Meteor Garden one up first since that was how I landed on watching this one. Oh well, that one is coming up just it is a whole lot more work for that one so here we are at A Love So Beautiful. Its also perfectly timed because another story from the same author was also adapted called Put Your Head On My Shoulder (致我们暖暖的小时光) is currently playing on WeTV channel on Youtube.

While I’ve been reviewing a lot of Chinese variety shows, this is the first drama that I’ll be talking about and after some thought, I’m going to work on a few points that I think should be discussed as a general outline for future TV binge posts to make it easier to write up, especially for the Chinese series.

A Love So Beautiful (2017)

A Love So Beautiful

Creator: Yang Long

Cast: Shen Yue, Hu Yi Tian, Gao Zhi Ting, Sun Ning, Wang Zi Wei, Monica Lv

It starts off with high school classmates Chen Xiao Xi and Jiang Chen who are also neighbors. Xiao Xi, a cheerful girl who doesn’t study much, is expressive about her admiration towards Jiang Chen, the popular guy known for his looks and high grades. Together with their fellow classmates the funny Lu Yang, athletic but loyal Jingjing, and cool swimming team member Wu Bo Song, they embark on high school life to university until their adult life. – MyDramaList

STORY

A Love So Beautiful is adapted from To Our Pure Little Beauty by Qianqian Zhao. The story revolves around the very outwardly Chen Xiao Xi (Shen Yue) who professes her love directly to Jiang Chen (Hu Yitian) at the beginning of her senior high year, which kicks off the ton of the film. She tries to impress him and in turn be a better version of herself to match up to him. The story itself is cute and hilarious because she does a lot of little things that most of the time backfire or becomes very awkward. However, there is this heartwarming element of coming to age and finding herself especially as she grows up. Its this lightheartedness of the story and how its delivered that makes the few years in high school and their step into university and then adulthood become such a fun experience (most of the time, because this is still a drama). The tone of the series sets itself up right at the beginning and it maintains it. At the same time, what helps it in the storytelling is filling in those little moments at the end of every episode to give a hidden moment or just the inner thoughts of a character (mostly used by Jiang Chen since he talks less). At the same time, the story focuses on the friendship of five friends that also gets sparked from the first episode onwards.

LENGTH/PACING

A Love So Beautiful clocks in at 23 episodes with shorter 20 minutes special to make total 24 episodes. Each episode is about 40 minutes long. Those are one of the most fun to watch as the episode lengths are very reasonable and episode count is also very restricted giving it the space to be paced fairly quickly with enough development to give all the characters space to grow but never linger on anything too long.

CHARACTERS/CHEMISTRY

A LOVE SO BEAUTIFUL

The main focus of A Love So Beautiful is on five characters. Billed as the main leads is Shen Yue playing Chen Xiao Xi and Hu Yi Tian playing Jiang Chen who both star in their first main roles here. Fighting for Shen Yue’s love and attention is Wu Bosong, played by Gao Zhi Ting. On the other hand is Chen Xiao Xi’s good friends, Lu Yang played by Wang Zi Wei and Lin Jingxiao played by Sun Ning who also have a love tangent as Lu admires Lin and sets out to chase her also. Looking at the characters, each of these five have their differences in their personality and make them mesh together really well. Chen Xiao Xi works with her cute and silly personality but not as invested in school and the more serious things at school, while her best friend Lin, is more of a strong and smart character. Their friendship starts at the beginning of the series and sees it become very strong to almost being sisters. While at the same time, the boys in the series are held together by Lu, who is not so much invested in school who plays almost a male version of Chen Xiao Xi and explains how they always share the same general interests but also argue with each other a lot and its these friendly bickering moments that make for a lot of comedic moments. However, the love triangle is presented as a very skewed one because we know that Chen Xiao Xi likes Jiang Chen and Wu Bosong likes her while we eventually know that Jiang Chen, while always acts cold and indifferent actually can see in his small movements that he does care about Chen Xiao Xi also.

One of the strengths of A Love So Beautiful is in its characters. The way that they focus on the friendships here and the strength of it no matter what happens between them. At the same time, the love triangle is also not frustrating but rather one that its easy to get wrapped up in who is better for Xiao Xi, despite the fact that there is no doubt that she does like Jiang the most from the beginning and her perseverance is one that is admirable to say the least. However, as she gets over and gives more than she gets back (from what she knows), its hard to not feel bad for her when Jiang’s resistance to sharing his feelings eventually becomes to get in his way. Its the moments that we see them together that we also learn a little more about a lot of actions is stronger than talk and their chemistry works because of that. However, a lot of praise has to go to Wu because he really is a great person here as he is the role of ultimate unrequited love but is so great because despite everything he is not only loyal to everyone in the friends group, he also is one of the more simple characters as he has big dreams. What works here is that whether who it is, the differences in each of the characters here give each of their interactions something different and depth and it works in the show’s favor so much.

OVERALL

a love so beautiful

A Love So Beautiful is a fun little TV series in the landscape of Chinese TV dramas. In its high school crushes to romances and friendship, it highlights the emphasizes a lot of positive themes other than its cute romance but it embodies a coming of age for all these characters in each of their own ways, having the courage to step forward to follow their own dreams as well as the importance of family and friends. It takes a more lighthearted, well-paced and cute/fun and heartwarming angle and it works so very well. Its one of my favorite TV dramas so far. One that I willingly rewatch. While I do like all the characters, this series really fortified my love for Shen Yue and her acting and looking at the different role she takes in Meteor Garden (will be discussed soon) and her upcoming roles which also go in different characters, it’ll be interesting to see where she takes her career especially since she keeps a down to earth attitude when in variety shows which gives her a uniqueness to her as an actress. My only real criticism for A Love So Beautiful is how it ends because it feels so random to end that way. In its way, it seems to go full circle but then it felt a little awkward to cut it off where it did.

That’s it for this TV binge!
The first Chinese TV drama binge finally crossed off the list!

A Love So Beautiful is available on Netflix with all kinds of subtitles so its one to check out if this type of series if up your alley.

TV Binge: Ugly Delicious (Season 1, 2018)

Ugly Delicious (Season 1, 2018)

Ugly Delicious

Cast: David Chang, Peter Meehan, Aziz Ansari, David Choe, Jonathan  Gold

Chef David Chang travels around the world tasting food from different cultures. – IMDB

Ugly Delicious is an eight episode documentary series that follows David Chang and company as he explores a different type of food and hunts down for the best ones while at the same time, using the different views and approaches to make food to look at the narrow or open mindedness and the cultural prejudices and views that are linked with it. It pulls in a social commentary about how different societal themes like politics and such can also be pulled into the various discussions.

Ugly Delicious requires its audience to have an open mind because a lot of this refers to food brought over by immigrants and how its changed as its traversed the world into different cultures, challenging sometimes what you might think of certain things one way but how they may be viewed a completely different way. Its not only seeing great food that is a draw but also the depth that the series brings.  It manages to talk about the origins of that sort of food and the meaning behind it and then look at how different countries have their own interpretations.

Over the eight episodes, they take the audience through pizza, tacos, homecooking, shrimp & crawfish, BBQ, Fried Chicken, Fried Rice and finally a battle of the stuffed pasta vs. dumplings. There’s much to learn throughout the series while seeing some wonderful takes on food. That was the initial draw for me before I started it but to be honest, the whole history and origins and the extension of how food in America and how its viewed by the world actually became something that make it a very thought-provoking experience. Its not in whether you agree or not but sometimes to see a certain way of how food can bring together the world to understand each other better and see other cultures through a different way. For that, I love a lot of the episodes: BBQ had one of the most hilarious bits while the first and final episode made me think a lot about the similarities and seeing things in a different way while obviously, the dive into Fried Rice and Chinese cuisine as well as the homecooking one hit home a little more for myself and I connected with that a lot whereas some of the most creative episodes went to Fried Chicken but turned around to see the value of traditional cooking versus the more modern twists on Shrimp and Crawfish and BBQ.

Ugly Delicious is a thought-provoking docuseries that is done very well. A lot of it has to do with the food and culture that they dive into and the guests invited there. While David Chang might seem a little pretentious in some thoughts, I really liked how in his own ways, he managed to keep things very honest and still show his passion for different cuisines. Its going to be great to see what they do in Season 2, (which has been confirmed but no date announced yet).