I was a little bummed when I started noticing some of the people I discuss k-dramas with started watching them less, but began to watch more shows from other counties such as Japan, Thailand and Mainland China. I missed the substance many of them brought to the discussions. Sometimes it’s fun to ooh and ahh over a handsome leading man, but it’s more fun to delve into character growth and plot points.
At a certain point in the year, I couldn’t find a Korean drama that interested me. I wanted something light and fluffy…easy. One viewer suggested I try the Chinese drama Shan Shan Comes to Eat (also known as Boss & Me). I’d only tried to watch one other Mainland China show prior to this only because a familiar Korean boy band member was starring in it. After two episodes I dumped it because the Korean actor’s voice was dubbed and that annoyed me too much.
Shan Shan Comes to Eat
Everybody kept raving about this show. And it lived up to the hype. Somehow it managed to be a nice romance where the OTP worked through all the crap thrown at them without doing the usual stupid breaking up or marrying someone else tropes. The friend characters were also entertaining without stealing the spotlight. This show managed to remain melodrama-free but interesting enough to keep you watching.
Love Me if You Dare
I don’t remember why I started this one, but right away I was drawn in by the combination of mystery, horror and a leading lady who was not afraid to jump in the mix. Throw in elements of Sherlock Holmes, Knight Rider, an unusual pet, a serial killer and romance…sold. Wang Kai is an adorable second lead, but didn’t lure me into second lead syndrome. Simon’s best friend is a hoot. Just overlook the horrible acting by the native English speakers if you can. It’s painful how they deliver their lines.
Back In Time: Long Time No See
I may not have been looking for a melodrama, but I found one. This one was a total miss for me. The plot dragged. The one-sided love was pitiful. I was a fool for watching 13 episodes when I didn’t even like any of the main ensemble of friends. But I pushed on thinking maybe something would click. It didn’t and I never went back to finish it. And there were only 16 episodes. I thought watching the original would help, but nope, I didn’t make it to episode 2.
One caution about getting started on Chinese dramas. While they’re easier to find with English subtitles on legal sites now, they’re often more slowly subbed than Korean dramas. They’re also typically much longer than the 16-20 episode arc of a K-drama or the 10 to 11 episode arc of a J-drama. And if you live watch them be prepared to pack your patience. Much like American TV, only one episode air per week.