So I have no idea what they were thinking when they came up with “Autumn’s Concerto” for the English title. “Next Stop, Happiness” (which is the direct translation of the Chinese title) works perfectly fine, and it fits with the general bus theme of the drama, so why would they do this?
Clearly, they should fire everyone and put me in charge. I would do a much better job.
This drama left me an emotional wreck, but in a very bad way, I would say. On one hand, I was simultaneously pissed off and relieved at the ending. On the other, I felt that surge of disgust and self-hatred that comes after finishing a pretty meh drama I’d originally had very high hopes for, so. Let’s sort out my feelings here, because I’m apparently incapable of doing this without writing a full-blown blog post.
Liang Mu Cheng, our lovely protagonist, is raised by her stepmother and a creep of a man who continually tries to peep on her. Ren Guang Xi, a man who is approximately twenty-three percent Jerk, through a series of events, gains her trust and becomes her lawyer in a case against her stepfather, who tried to rape her. The two bond and all that lovely sap, and boom, Ren Guang Xi has a tumor. The only way for him to be treated is for Liang Mu Cheng to leave (makes absolutely no sense out of context, doesn’t it), so she does, and she has his kid in a faraway village.
Fast forward six years, and the kid, who looks like he has the squishiest cheeks gifted upon this planet, is named Xiao Le. Guang Xi, who’s lost all his pre-surgery memory, is sent to the village for community service because he punched his client, a rapist, right in the sucker. Bonding time happens! So some more stuff happens, and on the day of Guang Xi’s wedding to another girl, he remembers everything and throws a fit. Then he basically blackmails Liang Mu Cheng into marrying him, stuff happens, and happily ever after.
Things I Definitely Did Not, I Repeat, Did NOT Like
There were some glaringly obvious awful moments in this drama that played a part in my gross feelings at the end. Eugh. Every time I think about these moments, I fall out of bed in disgust.
- Our main dude! Hello, Guang Xi. He’s made plenty of mistakes, hasn’t he? Let’s start with the first one. In one of the first few episodes, he catches Mu Cheng playing on the piano in his favorite hall, and as punishment, he tells her to take off her clothes. Guang Xi, you prick, that’s sexual harassment. It’s an awful thing that you did. I don’t care that you’re a “bad boy,” or whatever. Normal “bad boys” do not sexually harass people until they cry.
- There was an odd statement he made that Mu Cheng is apparently the only woman who can cry? Um, what? In all of Guang Xi’s dating exploits, he’s never once met a girl who felt hurt and used upon discovering his bets? What a load of bullshit.
- Guang Xi, after he discovers that everyone in his family has lied to him about his life pre-surgery. I just don’t like him at all after that. It was a poor decision to make him react the way he did. Yes, after discovering that the love of your life has been hiding your child from you and that your family chose to pretend that the love of your life never existed, of course you have all rights to a temper tantrum. By all means, kick and scream and shout. Punch a wall. Get drunk. But if your temper tantrum consists of becoming an exponentially worse person and mistreating people in ways that are far, far, far worse than what they’ve done to you? Get fucked.
- Let’s think about this for a second. He’s pissed off that Mu Cheng abandoned him in his time of need and kept a child from him for six years. Literally with next to no knowledge on any of the reasons Mu Cheng did this, he tries to sue her to steal his child from her in order make her feel his pain. Does he think that Mu Cheng purposefully had a child to keep it from him or something? Does he think that she goes to bed every night, cackling, “That fool! He will never thwart my evil, evil plans!”
- And then after that, he tells Mu Cheng that the only way she could keep her child is if she marries him. He’s blackmailing her into marriage. Isn’t that just disgusting? And the show tries to put a romantic spin on it, like, “Oh, Guang Xi, you must still love her if you’re trying to get her to marry you.” No. Fuck off. Despite the fact that she does still love him (though I don’t know how she still loves this monster, to be honest), he doesn’t know that. Yet he still did the despicable deeds that he did.
- THEN IT GETS WORSE. I THOUGHT IT COULDN’T, BUT IT DOES. So after the two get legally married by signing a contract, Guang Xi, in a very rapist-like manner, says, “Well, we’re married, so now I want you to have sex with me.” He throws her onto the bed, smothers her neck with kisses, and completely ignores her efforts to break away until she literally can’t breathe because she’s crying so hard. God, it’s so disgusting. I couldn’t watch it. He doesn’t actually rape her, thankfully, but it’s still a disgusting sexual assault scene. He also ends the scene by making a jab towards Hua Tuo Ye, Mu Cheng’s male friend who helped her the past six years, saying that the reason Mu Cheng was refusing him was because of this male friend. Fucking despicable.
- That entire section where Tuo Ye is going to find his adopted sister, Hua Ci Xin, who’s been kidnapped by a gangster man and is suffering from daily abuse. It was so out of place. The show’s tone went from “yikes yikes yikes yikes yikes” to “YIKES YIKES YIKES YIKES YIKES,” if you know what I mean. I’m not saying it was a badly written scene, just that this wasn’t the drama for it.
- After a while, watching Mu Cheng continually lie to Guang Xi about his past was exhausting. I was emotionally drained. Every time a new lie was brought up, or every time the truth was withheld, it brought me to a new level of “goddammit.” Every time Mu Cheng refrained from justifying herself against his accusations, I wanted to hang myself with my sheets. Watching was just fucking exhausting.
- The lack of trust between the two leads was just awful. I wanted to grasp them both by the ear and knock their heads together repeatedly, all while shouting, “YOU TWO DO NOT HAVE A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP. YOU CANNOT PRETEND THIS IS ROMANTIC. THIS IS NOT HEALTHY. THIS IS NOT HEALTHY. ABORT RELATIONSHIP, ABORT, ABORT, ABORT.” The worst part was, the show continued to make the lack of trust between Mu Cheng and Guang Xi romantic, despite the fact that the drama constantly stressed the idea that keeping information from someone for their protection was an awful thing to do? I mean?? What???
- Sometimes, the acting made me want to fling myself off a building. Especially Vanness Wu. I’m sorry, buddy, as hilarious as you are in real life, your acting is mediocre in some areas. Especially when you’re trying to act angry. Why do you do the weird jaw thing. It looks weird. Stop it.
- Someone please tell me what happened to the ending. Even though I was relieved that there wasn’t more tortuous stupidity to sit through, the happiness was so abrupt and so out-of-the-blue. Mu Cheng and Guang Xi definitely do not trust each other enough to just walk out of the church holding hands. They don’t get to just pretend that fifteen or so episodes of constant lies never existed just for the sake of a happy ending. A real relationship would at least acknowledge the distrust before merrily holding hands and running into the sunset. (That last bit didn’t actually happen, don’t worry. If it did, I would’ve dropped my computer down the toilet.)
- Overbearing parents suck. I hated the businessman father dude. Guang Xi’s mother was slightly more bearable.
My Favorite Parts
Since this would be a rather scrawny list, I’ve decided to keep this in paragraph form.
Liang Xiao Le is hands-down the best part about this show. Not only is Bin Xiaoxiao an amazing child actor, he’s also adorable and pudgy-faced and squishy-cheeked and tiny and sweet and perfect and a beautiful little human being. His interactions with Guang Xi’s mother had me smiling for days, because if anyone could break the ice around Guang Xi’s mother’s heart, of course it would be Liang Xiao Le!
That one scene where Liang Mu Cheng left the note for her stepmother. I cried. Anytime family is done well in a show, I tear up. I can’t help it.
When Mu Cheng was taking care of Guang Xi in the hospital, I felt my heartstrings tug. It was a beautiful series of episodes. These episodes were what gave me rays of hope for the rest of the drama, but honestly, if it weren’t for Liang Xiao Le, I wouldn’t have been able to bear sitting through the rest of the episodes.
A Few Out-of-Context Comments
I WANT TO ADOPT YOU, XIAO LE.
Post-surgery Guang Xi looks really good, with the dark short hair. Pre-surgery Guang Xi looks like he’s wearing an dead rat on his head. (I realize this makes it sound as though it’s a good thing he needed a surgery. I would like to clarify that it’s not good.)
Poor Liang Mu Cheng… Constantly getting hit on by creepy men she doesn’t like. I’d hate to have that life. It sounds stressful. And scary.
Fuck you, Guang Xi.
Xiao Le is the light and joy of my life.
You know, I really wanted to like you, drama, but this sexual assault scene was so awful to watch. I was willing to give you a chance, but this killed it. You sank into the negatives with this scene.
XIAO LE, I LOVE YOU.
Aww, Xiao Le. ❤
I can’t believe Xiao Le kidnapped himself to make his parents get together. What a cool kid thing to do. Honestly, my goal in life right now is to have a kid like Xiao Le. What an amazing kid.
I want to squish his cheeks forever.
Guang Xi, you can rot in hell for the disgusting things you did post-surgery. Mu Cheng, you’re a fucking liar. But Xiao Le! You perfect little angel, you. You kept this drama from sinking. Thank you.
If only the entire drama could have had the quality of the scenes where Mu Cheng was taking care of Guang Xi, it would have been amazing. Absolutely amazing. Can we please have a modern drama where the couple works through obstacles together? Please? I mean, this drama was fucking painful, and not in the good way.
Just. Better luck next time.
I realize this is one of the more popular Taiwanese dramas out there, and I can understand that, sort of. It had common tropes (amnesia, unplanned pregnancy, controlling parents, love triangle) and managed to turn those on their heads. There are two fairly attractive leads, and the actors/actresses have pretty attractive personalities off-screen. It’s a pretty large-scale production.
What I don’t understand is how many fans can so easily overlook how the drama excuses Guang Xi’s revolting behavior. If people have mistreated you, it doesn’t excuse you for making their lives ten times worse than they made yours. Just. No. Especially in modern times.
So, yeah, that’s my opinion on this drama. Had a huge potential to be decent, was positively brilliant for, like, two seconds, and then sank rapidly. Like a rock. In the ocean.