Ramble: Autumn’s Concerto [下一站 幸福]

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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.

Plotsy Stuff

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!”
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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???
  10. 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.
  11. 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.)
  12. 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.

 

Ramble: The Princess Weiyoung [锦绣未央]

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Yeah, so this happened. I saw a clip on Facebook, decided that perhaps trying out this cute-looking period drama wouldn’t hurt, and promptly destroyed my life.

This is not a cute drama. Not at all. It rips your soul to shreds, is what this little monster does.

After absorbing the fifty-four episodes in just a couple weeks, I’m now suffering from withdrawal, so now I’m writing down my feelings to get over myself. Watching this drama was a poor life decision.

So, yeah, let’s begin. This will honestly just be a long-winded ramble about my feelings. Feel free to skip.

A Basic Summary

Feng Xin Er’s family is pretty brutally murdered. Through a series of complicated events, she sneaks into the household of her family’s murderers and proceeds to irritate the hell out of them. Once that’s accomplished, she moves on to help her dear Tuoba Jun kick his uncles’ asses so that he can ascend the throne and save the kingdom from having a disgusting and calculating dick as their emperor.

Characters That I Deem Important Enough to Mention

Li Wei Young / Feng Xin Er. A magical human being, introduced to us dressed as an unconvincing man. She loses just about everything by the time the drama is over. It’s something of a miracle that she hasn’t gone on a rampaging murder spree to avenge everyone that she’s lost. Beautiful, intelligent, adorable. 10/10 would date.

Tuoba Jun. A lovestruck idiot. Like, seriously. His entire life revolves around Li Wei Young after he meets her. He’s one of the people who’s fighting for the throne, though he really doesn’t take it seriously until he realizes that his uncle, who’s also fighting for the throne, is a despicable human being.

Li Chang Le. A vicious, petty, jealous girl with eyebrows that, for some unfathomable reason, flick up at the end. An amazing antagonist. Originally seemed not entirely Chinese, then the discovery was made that the actress is a quarter Russian. Makes sense.

Tuoba Yu. A fucking bastard. Prime example of Jerk, a rare species only found stuck up pretentious fuckers’ assholes. The product of an awful, awful design decision, with the unfortunate implication that cornrows are equivalent to evil. Why does a Chinese man from the historical period have cornrows, you may ask? Who the fuck knows. It was a dumbass idea to take a hairstyle from black people and hand it over to an ancient Chinese dude.

Li Chang Ru. A ruthless monster. Not as bad as Tuoba Yu, but very close. Also an amazing antagonist. She would generally be considered an awful human being by most decent people.

Chiyun Rou. A lady whose goal in life is to grab as much power for her family as humanly possible. Human lives are mere fleas in her way. She’s one of those ladies that just seems to transcend the act of taking shits. Has one of those Evil Stepmother voices.

Pros

  1. Literally my first thought upon seeing this drama was, “Holy shit.” Because, everything was honestly gorgeous. The colors were edited so beautifully in a way that didn’t desaturate everything (which appears to be an unfortunate trend in gifsets these days). I just wanted to crawl through the screen and steal everything, it was so pretty. So many colors. My eyes were incredibly excited to be used to their full potential.
  2. It gave me feelings. Every time the world dumped more disgustingness over Li Wei Young, it was like a knife was stabbed into my heart. Every time one of the antagonists did something cunning enough to hurt Li Wei Young, I wanted to poke them. Viciously. Every time Li Wei Young and Tuoba Jun had a cute moment together, I was grinning like a lunatic. There were so many feelings.
  3. There was a lot of emphasis placed on what a good relationship should be. For example, a big no-no is attempting to completely destroy your unrequited crush both emotionally and physically just because “What I can’t have, I won’t let anyone have.” That’s a big no. Another big no-no is assuming that obsession is love. A generally useful trick to differentiate between obsession and love is, if you’re willing to stab your crush’s mother in order to get him, you’re probably obsessed.
  4. Hugs between Li Wei Young and Tuoba Jun, once they actually got their relationship going. They’re both adorable human beings who poke each other’s noses and pinch each other’s cheeks and hug each other. I love hugs. Hugs are nice. Hugs are the best displays of affection, in my opinion, though I’m pretty sure that, back in the day, it was the equivalent of sex. Not sure if it’s historically accurate to let them hug each other, but who cares. It gave me warm fuzzies inside.
  5. Bai Zhi. She was honestly the cutest character ever, with her dopey little smiles and her playful teasing and her wailing sobs, just. Bai Zhi. I love you. I want to marry you. Thank you for bringing your light and general awesomeness into the drama. I wanted to fucking rip Li Chang Ru apart for murdering my favorite character, but thankfully, I restrained myself. It’s not as though Li Chang Ru doesn’t actually exist or anything, of course.
  6. Jun Tao. My second favorite character! Who also happens to return from the dead, like, eleventeen times. Pierced right through with a sword? No problem, just toss her into the river and she’ll waltz out a few months later as good as new.
  7. Li Wei Young’s little monologue in jail, when she was furiously telling Tuoba Jun exactly what she wanted from him. “No evidence, no witnesses. Just trust me for the person I am.” That delivery, though. Perfect. Beautiful.
  8. Tang Yan (Li Wei Young) and Luo Jin (Tuoba Jun) are actually dating in real life. It sort of makes you stop and consider all the little moments you see in the show, and how much of it is actually acted.
  9. I love how hateful the villains are. I hate them and love them at the same time. I love hating them.
  10. The two leads are honestly the most beautiful people I have ever seen. Though, if I’m being entirely honest, the first time I saw Luo Jin with short hair, I nearly had a heart attack. It was a scarring experience. It looked like he was missing a limb. That was how jarring his short hair was. But I’ve gotten used to it. He’s good-looking. And we’ve already established that I would date Li Wei Young, if I were a few years older.
  11. The way Tuoba Jun peeled the tangerine for his dead mother was really cool. It was very mesmerizing.
  12. Watching Li Wei Young and her trusted friends slowly hack away at the people who killed her family is a good brain workout, especially if you’re generally bad at remembering stuff like I am. They’re so intelligent. I’m so unintelligent. I had to stop and think for a good five minutes at one point to wrap my brain around the enormity of what just happened. It’s very good exercise.
  13. The entire episode where Li Wei Young took care of the sick and injured Tuoba Jun, much to the chagrin of Li Chang Le and Tuoba Jun’s mother, who hated Wei Young. And then because Wei Young is such a lovely person, his mother was slowly won over! And Li Wei Young gave his mother a piggyback ride! It was so cute.
  14. The actors were filming in freezing weather for some episodes. It was cold enough that every time they spoke, the white puffs of condensation came out of their mouths. I can’t even begin to imagine how frozen their faces were, wow.
  15. The personalized lantern date. Oh, my heart.
  16. After everything that happened, the ending was an amazing ending. Even though my heart was like, “FCKU NO, I DARE YOU TO TOUCH TUOBA JUN, YOU BASTARDS,” my head was like, “This ending fits. It’s depressing as hell, but it fits. If they’d made it happy, I wouldn’t be going through this emotional torment right now, but hey, my emotions come second to a good ending.”
  17. Everyone really knows how to cry. That’s not to say everyone was a great actor/actress because there were some god-awful moments (only a few, but they were still pretty bad), but every time someone cried, especially Tang Yan and Luo Jin, it felt real. Which really makes you consider the questions… Do they cry every single take? How do their faces not get puffy? How many takes do they do of each scene? Who knows.
  18. Speaking of crying, I appreciate the existence of ugly crying in this drama. Generally when you’re upset to the ends of the world and back, you cry and you don’t look pretty doing it. Especially when Li Wei Young is silently listening to Tuoba Jun’s physician tell him his time is up… That was the most beautiful ugly sobbing I’ve ever seen in my life.
  19. I loved the concept of the plot. Revenge is amazing material to work with.
  20. All the actors/actresses are so hilarious. I watched the behind-the-scenes, aghast at how they could be so silly in between filming scenes that left me agonizing with worry. Like, how dare they have fun while I’m wallowing in misery. No, just joking, but the actors/actresses are amazing people. They know when to be sad and when to be happy.
  21. Honestly, amazingly intelligent leading women were the highlight for me. Watching Li Chang Ru, Li Chang Le, and Chiyun Rou take turns stabbing at Wei Young using their mental prowess gave me so much glee, because they’re all so smart. Thank the heavens. If the drama had made any of them stupid in order for us to hate them more, I would have thrown my laptop down a cliff.
  22. I love how after Wei Young’s revenge plot was pretty much carried out, they shift the attention over to the battle for the throne. It gives the show a continuous sense of purpose.
  23. Tuoba Jun’s insanity bit. So well acted.
  24. ALSO. ALSO ALSO ALSO ALSO. I have to mention how amazing it was that Tuoba Di, the young princess of Great Wei, despite her jealousy for Li Wei Young, took care of her anyway because that’s what Li Min De wanted her to do. There is nothing worse than watching people attempt to murder their crush’s crush out of jealousy (ahem, Chang Ru, Chang Le, you fucking dicks). So let this be a lesson to you, kids. If you like a crush, and they don’t like you, and then you attempt to murder their crush, and they still don’t like you, don’t be surprised. You’re an embarrassment to humanity.

Cons

  1. I can’t forgive those fucking cornrows. What an awful case of cultural appropriation. It very nearly ruined the drama for me at the beginning, especially since I’m well aware of the general distaste Chinese people have for black people. It really makes me uncomfortable to think that the hairstyle black people wear was put on an evil character to make him look “more evil.” Despicable. Whoever made the decision ought to slap themselves.
  2. The motivations behind the villainous females made me angry. The only vaguely acceptable one was Chiyun Rou, who wanted her daughter to become empress, and so she wanted Li Wei Young out of the way. But everyone else did what they did with the sole purpose of getting a man. Even though Chang Le wanted to become empress, that was very clearly unimportant compared to getting Tuoba Jun, considering the fact that she completely forgets about empress by the end of the drama. Chang Ru wants Tuoba Yu, and only Tuoba Yu, and she will murder you if you get in her way. Hong Luo, the Chiyun family’s killer warrior, only did what she did because of General Chiyun Nan. I’m serious when I say there’s nothing wrong with having a character who only wants a partner, but when almost all your major female villains are like that… Yikes. This makes me especially sad because these are such good female villains.
  3. There is a lot of male saving female action going on, but this didn’t bother me as much as it usually would. There’s no need to have a lady be good at fighting, as long as you give her other attributes. Not to mention Li Wei Young saves Tuoba Jun a couple of times.
  4. That romance between Li Wei Young and Tuoba Jun was kinda cheesy at the beginning. And by kinda, I mean very. As in, I was cringing so hard my face broke. It was that typical “girl loves butterflies” and “man falls in love nearly immediately” and “let’s give our wedding vows now!” sort of thing. I never understood exactly what they liked about each other, just that they did, for some odd reason. But never fear! Later on, they start taking care of each other so well that you can’t help but accept the fact that, clearly, they’re in love with each other. And that it’s very sweet.
  5. Are people in this time period blind or something? Do girls suddenly look like guys if they dress up in guys’ clothing? They’re still wearing a full face of makeup, for fuck’s sake!
  6. Can someone tell me how, if someone has their guts spilling onto the floor from a sword wound, they can possibly live? This was back when medicine wasn’t exactly the best, right? If doctors today would likely be unable to heal the wound, HOW THE FUCK CAN THEY??
  7. This is my first Chinese period drama, and, apparently, people can fly. This isn’t so much an actual con point as a serious declaration of my confusion.
  8. The plot, while I really enjoyed the concept, was a little slow-going. This was partially because Li Wei Young never actually took the initiative until things were going drastically badly for her. She just sort of stood there and defended against the accusations Chiyun Rou threw at her, waiting patiently for the day Chiyun Rou stupidly made the decision to poison herself to frame Wei Young.
  9. The show kinda…leaps straight into relationships without any basis. I mean, once the relationship is happily rolling, then it’s honestly amazing, but it seriously throws you off when two strangers suddenly excitedly declare themselves sisters for life. Like. What.
  10. Li Wei Young and Tuoba Jun found the evidence for Tuoba Yu’s involvement the original Crown Prince’s death really easily. But this can be forgiven because then the world decides to throw a temper tantrum and stomp them into the ground.
  11. The whole time Tuoba Jun is tormenting Li Wei Young by pretending he doesn’t love her… Would it have killed him to tell her secretly so that she didn’t have to feel his loss so strongly? Like, I know he wanted to convince the people around him he didn’t love her, but why would he do that to her. I mean. What an idiot.
  12. This show is stupid. For breaking my heart entirely and then scattering the remains. Hmph.

General Conclusion, Random Statements, Etc.

Tuoba Yu is the creepiest fucker I’ve ever seen displayed on television. Not only does he ask Wei Young to thank him for not sexually assaulting her (yeah, wow, such an accomplishment, you power-hungry swine), but he dares to hurt Tuoba Jun.

(Watching Tuoba Jun go insane was simultaneously one of the worst and best parts of the show. That was amazing, beautiful, heartbreaking.)

I can’t believe the show had the guts to use that ending. What a ballsy move.

Seriously, Li Wei Young lost nearly everything. I think by the end of the show, she only had Jun Tao left from her loved ones. Oh, and Li Min De, but I wasn’t overly fond of him or his weird little side plot. When she lost Bai Zhi, I broke down crying, because watching Li Wei Young sit there in misery was heartbreaking. When she lost Tuoba Jun, I lost all feeling in my body.

Goddammit.

FUCK.

This show was good. It was really good. Despite the fact that if I had to rate it then I would only give it a 7.87/10, I still absolutely adored watching this. Something about it is so incredibly charming, though I can’t exactly put my finger on what it is.

Just. I enjoyed this, despite all its flaws.

Okay, I feel better now. 2500 words later, haha.