Taiwanese drama A Good Wife (親愛的，我愛上別人了 / literal transation: Dear, I’ve fallen in love with someone else) had crept up on me quite unexpectedly. I followed the first four episodes live and then put it on hold to watch Dragon Gate / continue Just You. Big mistake that was since A Good Wife is miles ahead of those other dramas. The beginning is quite slow but it gradually builds up – I think I started to really love this drama around episode 7.
Kappy at A Virtual Voyage has a great post here with the synopsis, character profiles and trailers. Head over if you’re looking to find some information on what this drama is about.
When you think about it, the whole set up is rather unrealistic. What are the chances of the guy Shen Yi Zhen (Tian Xin) *might* have an affair with (Zhou Shang En / Sean – Darren Qiu) has an ex-girlfriend (Han Xiang Qi – Shara Lin) who ends up working her husband (Li Shao Wen – Christopher Lee) and *might* seduce him? Only in dramaland perhaps? Maybe. There’re a few ‘coincidences’ to move the plot along but I LOVE THIS DRAMA because it’s thought provoking. The emotions are real. Both sides of the coin (Husband & Wife) have their weaknesses I cannot find myself completely supporting one side or another. (I thought I was done supporting Shao Wen somewhere along the way but in episode 11, I’m wavering again!) I still have four episodes to go and I’m not sure how the story will end. (I’m trying very hard to avoid spoilers!) Come to think of it, I’m not sure how I *want* the story will end either. There are no straightforward answers in this story.
ARGH. I knew this would happen. As I was looking for some stills to go with this post I saw some spoiler-y pics. >< OKOK, it’s about the journey, not the destination right????
I wasn’t going to write a post about A Good Wife until the very end but there was one scene in episode 11 that totally captured my heart. This isn’t like your typical ‘idol drama’ moment where the leads would declare their love in a dramatic way, but rather, it was when Yi Zhen goes back home and read her own diary from 20 years ago. At age 15, she asked her classmates what they will be doing in 20 years time. While all of them said they want to be happily married with children, Yi Zhen wanted to be a successful architect. But somewhere along the way, she lost sight of what she truly wanted.
What will I be like in 20 years time? Shen Yi Zhen, I know you’ll be different to others because you have to work hard to achieve your dreams.
I think a huge of part of ‘growing up’ / maturity is learning to take responsibility and respect others. You’d expect children to whine if they don’t get their own way. I guess part of this respect for others includes being considerate. My point is, people will not always agree and compromising becomes a fact of life. Life is not perfect and whether it’s in our studies or our working lives, you’ll probably end up doing something you might not 100% agree with or 100% enjoy. Whether you still do it because that’s what others expect of you or you expect for yourself, hopefully there’s a compelling reason there for you to do it. At the end of the day, there’s still some kind of compromising or trade off.
How does relate to our lead character Shen Yi Zhen? She’s 35, married for 7 years in a seemingly blissful marriage. Her husband is a successful architect and fairly wealthy so she doesn’t have to work. This is usually how idol dramas end. Even though her mother died when she was 15, her father never had to worry about her because she’s smart, she can look after herself and graduated at the top of her architecture class. But even in today’s society, her family expects her to marry and settle down. That’s what Yi Zhen expects for herself too. Shao Wen is the type of man that we’re taught to be ‘perfect’. They love each other, it’s the natural thing for them to get married right? So why is this seemingly perfect marriage hiding so many cracks in their relationship? Doesn’t love conquer all?
“If you love someone, you accept everything about them, flaws and all?” This is something we hear a lot whether it’s in dramas or real life. In their marriage, both Yi Zhen and Shao Wen made compromises in order to be together. To become the dutiful wife her husband’s family expects of her, Yi Zhen gave up her career and became a housewife. To be a good husband, Shao Wen fought hard with his family and moved out with Yi Zhen. There had been comments by his parents here and there that they are still displeased with the fact Shao Wen and Yi Zhen don’t live with them. I know the drama focuses a lot on Yi Zhen’s struggles and the sacrifices she had to make but let’s not forget as the person trying to please both sides, Shao Wen also had to deal with a lot of pressure.
If Yi Zhen is unhappy and wants a divorce, does that mean she doesn’t love Shao Wen enough? I can’t answer that question. If both sides had to make compromises, at what point do you draw the line and say, that’s enough! I can’t answer that one either. There’s a flashback scene in episode 11 where it reveals a lot of the history between Yi Zhen and Shao Wen. As a woman, Yi Zhen struggled to be taken seriously as architecture is a male dominated industry. After some conflicts with her boss, Shao Wen proposed to her.
Shao Wen: How about… I recommend you for this really great job. The boss won’t give you a hard time, he won’t let you sacrifice your hard work for money, and most importantly… you can do whatever you like. Complete freedom.
Yi Zhen: Crazy! What kind of job is this? It’s so good!
Shao Wen: Li Shao Wen Architectural Firm’s lady boss.
Yi Zhen: You’re opening your own firm? It’s so great. All the dreams you had at school are coming true.
Shao Wen: Yi Zhen. Quit your job and help me. Let’s get married, shall we?
It appears their marriage started off quite well. They were working together on a project (Galileo’s home) Yi Zhen dreams to build one day. But after her first miscarriage, Shao Wen decides it’s better for her to stay home because he thought she was working too hard and wasn’t looking after herself. I can’t say his ego had nothing to do this development. Was the miscarriage just an excuse for him to put in place what he wanted in the beginning? I don’t know. Judging from his actions later on, it’s very possible but I can’t say for sure. From this point onwards, their relationship had deteriorated to what it is now. Watching this scene reminded me how I felt during the beginning episodes. For the first four or five episodes I really felt that despite their miscommunications, their difficulties, Shao Wen and Yi Zhen had a strong bond between them. That deep down, they truly loved each other so they would find a way to stay together. As the story progressed, I would’ve leaned towards their separation because there’s no middle ground to bridge their differences but in episode 11, as Shao Wen tries even harder to save his marriage, I’m not so sure anymore.
Oh Li Shao Wen, every time I think I can’t support you anymore you do something that’s actually quite touching, but VERY misguided. Way back in episode 1 (I remember so little of it now, since it’s like six months ago!), I remember totally supporting Yi Zhen if she decides to end this marriage. From her point of view, the marriage and her very traditional in-laws are very suffocating and I completely empathise with her when she wanted to ‘run away’. And then came episode 2. After Yi Zhen had a second miscarriage, Shao Wen did a seemingly selfish, uncaring thing by trying to convince Yi Zhen to act like nothing happened so the fancy party his parents threw can continue. Just when I thought – how can he! Argh. Doesn’t he care about Yi Zhen at all? There was one scene where he sits in his office, quietly shredding a tear looking at the ultrasound of his baby. Suddenly, the cold hearted guy became real. And it laid the foundations of my inability to truly despise him.
What about the borderline crazy, possessive, creepy stalker side of him? Once he found out Yi Zhen met another guy (Sean), he was rather scary – following her, and especially when he DEMANDS her to agree (or say) that he’s the only man she thinks of, he’s the number 1 person in her heart etc. His huge ego also blinded him from seeing what Yi Zhen actually wants. He keeps saying he’s the one who loves her the most in the entire world, he’s the only one who can give her happiness… but how can he not see that Yi Zhen wants a divorce for a reason? She’s not happy for a reason? He just assumes Sean ‘blinded’ her by his charm or sweet talking etc and too arrogant to see his own problems. “How can anyone NOT want to be Mrs Li Shao Wen?” He declares. *sigh* Maybe at the end of the day, both of their personalities are too strong and ultimately incompatible. Like in physics, two positive charges will always repel each other.
So why am I still on the fence about Shao Wen? Heisui makes a good point here that when he physically threatened Yi Zhen, that should’ve been the end of my sympathy for him. But really, Shao Wen is most persuasive when he’s actually not saying or doing anything. Example: Episode 11 – he lies in bed, shedding a tear, missing Yi Zhen. Oh and they just *had* to play that song. (I keep thinking that song – Aska Yang’s Di Hui / 低迴 is the same as the ending song! I got so confused!) That song owns me at the moment. I get so emo everytime I listen to it.
And when he does try to do something, I want to slap some sense into him. Like when he gets the idea that by building Galileo’s Home, he would be fulfilling Yi Zhen’s dream FOR HER and she would run back to him. I wonder what happens if he finds her first diary. The entry 15 year old Yi Zhen wrote to herself is very telling. It was because of this entry Yi Zhen finally decided to end the marriage. Going back her roots, facing what she truly desires – it wasn’t being a happy housewife raising children, it was to be a successful architect. I wonder if Shao Wen can ever put his ego aside and understand that he is not exactly the ‘dream husband’ he thinks he is.
Enough about Shao Wen, what about Sean? I think this type of ‘warmth’ guy is the hype right now? Tall, dark, handsome, mysterious, rich <- this type of idol drama hero is considered ‘outdated’. Now we have guys who quietly listens to your problems, give you a warm hug when you feeling down… think Li Da Ren (Bolin Chen from In Time with You) and Wang Yi Kang (Tony Yang from The Pursuit of Happiness). I mean, I have nothing bad to say about him. But out of the four leads, he’s probably the one who got the least development. Although I understand Sean and Yi Zhen share an emotional connection, I don’t really see them as a couple? The companionship aspect, I totally get, but love? I’m not completely convinced. But then, whether it’s “love” between Sean and Yi Zhen doesn’t really affect the outcome for Yi Zhen / Shao Wen though. Sure, meeting Sean allowed Yi Zhen to explore a part of herself she thought it had been buried, but leaving Shao Wen doesn’t mean she has to jump into anything with Sean.
In a relationship, whoever cares more will always end up the loser.– Sean (to Yi Zhen’s mother-in-law!)
I LOVE THIS SCENE! Within a few minutes, Mrs Li (aka Shao Wen’s mum / Yi Zhen’s scary mother-in-law) can understand why Yi Zhen would be attracted to Sean. She can see that he’s not the ‘playboy’ type. He genuinely listens and it’s easy for her to talk to him. She even makes the off-hand comment that she has talked more with him than with her husband in a whole month. If there’s anyone in the world who TRULY understands what Yi Zhen is going through, that person is Mrs Li. She has a Master’s degree and wanted to continue studying. But because of her marriage and children, she became a housewife – ‘The shadow behind the husband.’ Time and again she tells herself – being the ‘good wife’ is her duty, her fate. But after she meets Sean, she tried to make changes, just small ones like cooking a different kind of meal but her husband (Shao Wen’s dad) is even more chauvinistic, sexist and will probably never change. Will she end up supporting Yi Zhen? I’m not sure. In a way, she has already accepted her fate and will probably do what she can to hold her family together?
OK, I think this post is long enough already but what about Han Xiang Qi. Simple – she is evil! She didn’t start out that way though. I admired her ambition to become successful in this industry but does it mean she has to break up with Sean? Well, I guess they had different goals in life so I don’t blame her. HOWEVER, when she sucks up to Mrs Li so she can screw over her colleague? When she hits on Shao Wen? She’s making it very easy for the audience to hate her. Part of it has to do with jealousy. Her ex-boyfriend and her boss (Shao Wen – who she considers an ‘idol’ in the architecture world) both love the same woman. Come to think of it, if Xiang Qi is fangirling Shao Wen (I know! That sounds weird!) – she’s putting him on a pedestal and probably feels disgusted that Yi Zhen would think about cheating on him. Even worse, the guy who used to love her (Sean) is also entangled with the same woman. But at the end of the day, none of this justify her actions. She’s the type of person who can step over anyone to get what she wants. I doubt this is going to change in the last few episodes?
I’ve concentrated so much on Yi Zhen / Shao Wen in this post there’s actually a lot of other things I would love to write about as well. eg. Shao Wen’s sister – Shao Fen who is a minor character but she does give a lot of context into the Li family. Shao Wen’s secretary – who is even a more minor character but I get the feeling she might have a few interesting stores of her own. (Although we will never explore them because it’ll deviate too much from the main story?) More on Sean x Yi Zhen? But the preview for episode 12 is very intriguing. I want to go and watch it now!!!!
Every episode I have to watch the ending MV as well. I love it how they have stills from the episode itself rather than the same scenes each time. It serves as a reminder of the journey we went through in the last hour or so? I must confess I didn’t know much about Aska Yang’s music beforehand but now I want to find more of it! His voice is so haunting and really suits this drama.