I remember the rosy beginning of my Korean fixation. Everything was new, with a mountain of dramas I could start and finish in two days flat. The sad thing about catching up with all the classic K-shows is that now I’m stuck watching the new stuff a week at a time. Ready to hit the fast forward when it feels like nothing is happening. (I’m looking at you Heirs.) But there’s no fast forward!
Therefore, I decided to give a Taiwanese story a try. Usually, I don’t care for T-drama. The few I’ve seen had an unbelievable, over-the-top quality mixed with the oh-so-convenient-wrap-up of their melodramatic problems at the end. And the language is soooooo different from Korean, grating against my ears like a linguistic Brillo pad. But somehow I found myself sitting down with Just You this past weekend. I think it was one of those sappy Youtube music videos that sucked me in. (I don’t understand why studios make users take them down. It’s free advertising! Who knows how many shows I’ve started watching because of them.)
So what’s the verdict? Is Just You unbelievable? Yep. Over the top? Oh yeah. What about the Oh-so-conveniently-wrapped-up ending? Guilty as charged. Did I like it? *Clears throat and whispers guiltily* I kinda loved it.
Meet Mr. Tighty-whities-in-a-twist
The plot involves Qi Yi, an OCD, neat freak who buys a company and immediately hangs up a NO DATING office policy. The fact that he posts it in the middle of two co-workers getting engaged just shows what a Love Scrooge he is. The employees decide something must be done, and recruit their cohort Liang-Liang to make him fall for her and cancel his ridiculous rule.
Meet Ms. Drama Doppelganger
Liang-Liang embodies the formulaic drama heroine. Cute. Clumsy. (In that fortuitous, oops-I-didn't-mean-to-land-right-on-top-of-you way.) And not too bright. She even falls for the evil ex-girlfriend’s typical argument “I-loved-him-first-so-if-you-just-go-away-we-can-be-happy-together-again.” Despite all of these eye-rolling clichés, I still like her. She’s spunky, resilient, and tends to fall for things because she has such a tender heart. She’s the type of girl that will sympathize with her kidnapper, talk him into taking her home, and make him buy her breakfast first. (I’m not making this up. I warned you this drama was unbelievable.) But her sunny personality is just the antidote for Qi Yi’s frostbitten heart.
Oh, didn’t I mention these two have to live together. That’s right. Co-ed hijinks ensue when Qi Yi buys the foreclosed house where Liang Liang still has three months rent paid. Their first meeting involves him walking in on her wrapped in nothing but a towel, which, of course, gets caught in a drawer and falls off. This all happens before she finds out he’s her boss, but she still refuses to move and they’re stuck together for the duration of her lease. This leads to all sorts of fun like her accidentally poisoning him by seasoning his dinner with seafood, not realizing he’s allergic. Or when he slips on the toothpaste she didn’t clean up from the bathroom floor and smashes his arm against the sink. How is a poor guy supposed to wash his hair or shave himself with only one arm? She just HAS to step in and help. We should all have such problems.
It’s the little things that make a family
What other drama boasts a goldfish as a major player? One of the sweetest parts of the story comes when Qi Yi accidentally kills Shan Shan, Liang Liang’s pet of over ten years. This isn’t just any goldfish. Liang Liang talks to her, dances with her, and even takes her for a walk. This part is equal parts sad and hilarious. Qi Yi panics and even tries to give the fish CPR. Then he buys a replacement so she won’t be heartbroken, but Liang Liang notices right away it’s not her Shan Shan and he has to work long and hard to get her to forgive him. She finally accepts the new boy fish, Ming Ming, and they start referring to each other as his parents, taking him for walks together, in matching couple shoes no less.
The real reason you should watch this drama
CHEMISTRY. Qi Yi and Liang Liang spark like crazy. Enough to make you forget all the corny clichés, overwraught misunderstandings, and eleventh hour angst in the last few episodes. It’s not just the kisses, although there are several of those, I’m happy to say. One of my favorite scenes is near the end when the two are walking off together. They join hands and she plays with his fingers. He pulls her close then playfully pushes her head away. She keeps walking by his side. And their fingers link back together without their even looking. It’s difficult to describe, so I'm including a short clip and you can see for yourself. Simple moments like that really emphasize how cheesy the 360-degree camera swooping embraces are.
I still prefer Korean dramas, although I could probably get used to the T-versions pretty quickly if I tried. I’m thinking about it after Just You. As long as I can skip ahead whenever I like. That’s the great thing about marathoning. When you get to those annoying parts where the ex-girlfriend is wreaking havoc on the romance, you just fast forward to the next totally-ungrounded-in-reality, smexy situation, sit back, and enjoy.