I’m feeling rather disappointed that Love Around is not doing anything for me. I neither feel this elusive feeling of excitement nor anticipation whenever a new episode rolls around. I often wonder if it’s just me, since I have been following DF’s Blog and on their main site (plus browsing through the tags on Tumblr) where the reviews are rather positive. Its ratings are miles ahead of everyone else and keeps increasing (episode 6 was at 2.53). But Dramanut and A Fairytale World are also recapping and their thoughts are of the opposite. Love Around has been rather… well, dull. It lacks *something*, a sense of direction perhaps.
First, the positive. There is one thing I am rather excited about in Love Around – and people will look at me strangely when I say this – Gao Zhe Xuan is an ACCOUNTANT! Represent! (Can you guess what I do in real life?) In dramaland, main characters are normally in glamourous occupations like… rich heirs to a corporate empire, radio DJs, gangsters, police officers, actors, musicians, writers and even for professionals it’s normally doctors or lawyers but never accountants. Even better when Gao Zhe Xuan is well, normal. At least normal enough in terms of accountants – exhibiting a mix of nerdiness and cute. I cannot speak for everyone in the profession but hey, accountants can be a bit neurotic with regards to details. At least he’s not evil, you know, the kind who cook the books to commit fraud. That is a win.
I like his storyline so far, probably more with regards to his developing love/hate with Ying Ying rather than his pining for Xiao Shu. I find his ‘love’ for Xiao Shu quite abstract, it’s all based on a past we have not seen much of. With Ying Ying however, the scene in episode four where Fei Li bashes him was funny and possibly the first time Ying Ying ever felt empathy for anyone. Then in episode 5 when Zhe Xuan confronts Ying Ying about what a princess she is and how she is living in such a sheltered life… I think he just spoke for all of the audience. Interesting to see how Zhou Zhen and Ying Ying grew up in the same household but they turned out quite different.
Now, onto the not so good stuff. I thought I was content slowly ploughing along, admiring the view that is George Hu, singing along to Bii’s opening and ending songs, chuckle a little at the Zhou Zhen / Fei Li bromance… but then, episode 6 happened. The episode so draggy I fell asleep towards the end. Yes, it was 1am, on a weekday, and I was tired. But I have stayed up (much much) later than that marathoning a drama. After every viewing of Love Around, it has become a habit to wonder – so what just happened in the last hour or so?
The core issue here is the lack of chemistry and development between the main characters. Apart from just being a nice guy in general, I never really understood why Zhou Zhen went to all that trouble helping Xiao Shu. With both of them supposedly ‘heartbroken’ at the start of the drama, suddenly by episode 5 there were serious hints that Zhou Zhen likes Xiao Shu. Xiao Shu was initially completely freaked out by this very idea, (that scene when they were both stuck in the elevator) but suddenly by the next episode, she just accepts whatever her colleagues were saying and decides to avoid Zhou Zhen altogether. I thought that means she doesn’t like him, doesn’t want to be in a relationship now or don’t want to lead him on or whatever. But when she mistakes Ying Ying as Zhou Zhen’s new girlfriend, she’s all mopey and sad.
If Love Around is going to be around 15 episodes, we are almost at the half way mark. All the possibly interesting aspects of this drama are still very undeveloped. I’m talking about that seed they planted about Xiao Shu’s brother / her family’s hate for the mafia. Shouldn’t Xiao Shu’s parents reappear by now? Yes, we finally get some screentime for Xiao Shu to understand father Zhou in episode 6 but instead of making things *interesting* by giving this information in bits and pieces, we were treated to a very long scene involving a lot of lecturing from father Zhou. It’s not helped by the fact that Love Around has a habit of lingering on shots – as if the editors are having trouble finding enough content to fill each episode so we see the camera stays on a particular person just a tad longer than usual.
Speaking of ‘fill ins’, the Bii cameo in episode 6 was just… I have no words for this. Sure, Bii is pretty but the whole racing thing seems like another huge time filler.
One of the things I love about Taiwanese dramas (compared to Hong Kong dramas) are the ‘Behind the scenes’. I suspect ‘Miss No Good’ is one of my favourite dramas purely because of the ridiculously funny BTS. The first couple of BTS for Love Around were good, it probably showcased more of Annie and George’s chemistry than their on screen persona. But in recent episodes, they haven’t been as interesting. I really am trying to find some reasons to continue watching but with Dragon Gate (July 26) and King of Lan Ling (!!!! August 14) starting in the next few weeks, I’m tempted to just drop it altogether. But George… he is sucking me in every week. Just look at how the sun glistens on his hair, and his Mandarin has an accent, it sounds like English sometimes?
(From the episode 4 BTS – George and Annie drew ‘portraits’ of each other… I think Annie wins right? LOL)
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