C-DRAMA: A Love So Beautiful (致我们单纯的小美好) In-Depth Review

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So I jumped on the C-Drama train and boy it was a ride. I renewed my Viki subscription a few weeks ago and while exploring the endless titles of Asian dramas, I stumbled upon this rom-com. I saw a few trailers of this show ages ago and made a mental note to watch it, but never did. So with a newly renewed Viki account in hand, I said “hey, why not?” So here are my thoughts ( and since I loved this drama so much, a very, very long retelling of the story). Spoilers ahead so READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

In a nutshell:

A bright and cheerful high school girl chases her male classmate, professing her love for him whenever she gets the chance. The kicker? He’s distant, cold, and indifferent. The story gets interesting when the two form an unexpected friendship with three other classmates.

In-depth synopsis:

In the first half of this drama, the audience is introduced to a bright and slightly ditzy high school girl, Chen Xiaoxi (Shen Yue). Xiaoxi is cheerful and always looks on the bright side, but she lags in school and can be very clumsy at times. Her shortcomings, however, don’t stop her from boldly professing her love for her neighbor and classmate Jiang Chen (Hu Yitian), one of the most popular boys in her class known for his stellar grades and good looks. Xiaoxi and Jiang Chen have known each other since grade school, but despite this connection, Jiang Chen is distant and very indifferent to Xiaoxi. As the two enter their last years of high school together, Xiaoxi makes it her goal to get Jiang Chen to fall in love with her. Her desperate attempts begin early. She waits outside their apartment every morning so they can bike to school together. She buys him breakfast, gives him gifts, and sits close to him in class. All to no avail. No matter how hard Xiaoxi tires, Jiang Chen rejects her advances over and over and over and over again. The story is shaken up when the happy-go-lucky and energetic swimmer WuBosong begins to attend their school.

WuBosong is immediately drawn to Xiaoxi. Not having many friends due to his rigorous swim training schedule, WuBosong is happy to have someone he can talk to and connect with. After Xiaoxi cheers WuBosong on during one of his swim meets, he slowly starts to develop feelings for the lovely leading lady. The kicker is that Jiang Chen actually likes Xiaoxi (as we get to see early on in the drama), so WuBosong’s sudden display of affection begins to make Jiang Chen jealous, sparking a battle between the two over who will win Xiaoxi’s heart.

In the middle of this trio are Xiaoxi’s best friend Lin Jingxiao (Wang Ziwei) and their spunky classmate Lu Yang (Sun Ning), who also has a life-threatening heart disease. These two, along with Chen Xiaoxi, Jiang Chen and WuBosong form an unlikely friendship, sticking together through high school and adulthood.

As the battle for Xiaoxi’s heart rages on, we begin to see Jiang Chen soften, revealing that he actually does care about Xiaoxi. He begins to show his jealously quite openly and begins to secretly do nice things for her. Besides WuBosong’s growing love for Xioaxi, another obstacle stands in the way: their class leader Li Wei. Li Wei also has a huge crush on Jiang Chen and uses every moment she can to try to get close to him. Many times Jiang Chen agrees to her requests to sit by him, help her with school work, etc., making Xiaoxi jealous in the process.

After an exciting attempt to try to share a romantic night under the stars with Jiang Chen blows up in her face, the tables turn, and Xiaoxi begins to avoid Jiang Chen. WuBosong capitalizes on this situation and begins to start spending more time with Xiaoxi, much to Jiang Chen’s horror. Unsure of how to get Xiaoxi to give him attention again, Jiang Chen turns to Lu Yang for help, who gives him small tidbits of advice here and there.

However, Lu Yang has his own love war going on as he tries to gain the affection of Lin Jingxiao. Jingxiao is a tough-skinned, energetic girl, who doesn’t back down from conflict and fearlessly defends her friends. Jingxiao, however, has a crush on the kind-hearted and very handsome school doctor Li Shu (Zhang He Hao Zhen). Lu Yang uses every ounce of his ability to show Jingxiao he loves her. She’s cordial and tolerates him (in a platonic way), but deep down her heart is set on winning the good doctor’s heart. Unaware of her crush, Lu Yang’s world comes crashing in when he finds out she doesn’t care for him like he thought. Furious at his love being rejected, Lu Yang displays his anger quite publicly. When confronted by Jingxiao about his aggressive behavior, he runs from her and she chases after him. Jiang Chen, WuBosong and Xiaoxi are nearby and join the pursuit. Due to his weak heart, Lu Yang goes into cardiac arrest after a few minutes of running. Fortunately, thanks to Li Shu’s quick thinking, Lu Yang survives the ordeal and recovers. After this incident and Lu Yang’s sweet confession of love, Jinxgxiao softens toward him. However, Lu Yang’s mother pulls him from school and hires a tutor for him after his close encounter with death. Fortunately, we see these two love birds become a couple.

The months pass and Jiang Chen and Xiaoxi become closer. WuBosong, realizing that Xiaoxi is still very set on being with Jiang Chen, sweetly confesses his love to her before he transfers out of school and begins training for a spot on the national swim team. Finally becoming a couple, Jiang Chen and Xiaoxi start dating right before graduation and into their college years. While in college, Jiang Chen studies to become a doctor while Xiaoxi studies art.

Their romance blooms, and we learn that Jiang Chen’s feelings for his quirky classmate were stronger than he let on. However, Jiang Chen’s demanding schedule as a practicing doctor keeps him from seeing Xiaoxi, making their relationship a little strained. The two press on with a sweet romance until Jiang Chen is offered a chance to further his study at a prestigious medical program in Beijing. At first he turns it down, but after a constant nudge from his hospital director, he reconsiders it.

Meanwhile, Xiaoxi is working on completing her art degree and begins to look for a job. To add more pressure, she has to move out of her dorm once the year is over. With the clock ticking, Xiaoxi decides to go apartment hunting on her own. She’s met, unfortunately, with a perverted realtor who tries to make a move on her. Frightened, she tries to get a hold of Jiang Chen to no avail. While looking for him at the hospital where he works, she’s told that Jiang Chen will be going to Beijing to study medicine. Shocked by the news, she confronts him, but Jiang Chen tells her he hasn’t decided yet. Xiaoxi is hurt that he never told her, and in a moment of anger and disappointment she breaks up with him.

Later that day, Jiang Chen is working an operation alongside doctors on a severely ill patient when the patient dies during surgery. Devastated by the loss, Jiang Chen goes to find Xiaoxi, who brushes him off, deepening his annoyance at her cold attitude. The next day things haven’t cooled down yet, and the two quarrel again, prompting Jiang Chen to agree to study medicine in Beijing. Before he leaves, he tries to see Xiaoxi one last time, but she refuses. She eventually runs to the airport to see Jiang Chen before he leaves, but she’s too late and ends up a crying mess right there in the middle of the airport. There she runs into WuBosong once again who has come back home after competing in national swimming championships. Jiang Chen studies in Beijing for three years, leaving behind Xiaoxi.

Three years later we see a more mature yet still spunky Xiaoxi navigating through life. Now back home, Jiang Chen runs into Xiaoxi after not seeing her for all that time. Still deeply in love with Xiaoxi, Jiang Chen makes it his mission to get back together with her. He goes to great lengths and even temporarily flaunts a fake girlfriend, but Xiaoxi still keeps her distance. WoBosong still has his hat in the ring for Xiaoxi and continues to try to win her heart, but Jiang Chen doesn’t give up and continues to chase after Xiaoxi as well. In the meantime, LuYang and Jingxiao marry. WoBosong speeds up his pursuit of Xiaoxi and proposes to her, but she turns him down. As the show nears an end, for the first time, Jiang Chen explains why he loves Xiaoxi so much. He confesses that he always loved her and says he can’t live without her. After hearing his confession of love and Jiang Chen asking for forgiveness, Xiaoxi decides to give him a second chance, and the two resume their relationship with a renewed passion. The show climaxes as Jiang Chen proposes to Xiaoxi (which she accepts), and Xiaoxi releases her first comic book novel about her love with Jiang Chen and the friends she met along the way. The show ends full circle as it reflects on the moments the two shared as teenagers all the way into adulthood.

My Thoughts:

What I liked:

The storyline

You will here me say this every time I write a review. A good storyline is paramount. In “A Love So Beautiful,” it was well-written and made sense. You actually got to see a journey of the characters lives and the character development was present in many of the main and side characters.

The Friendship

I have so many feelings about this drama it’s not even real. But let’s start with our the friendship theme. Most dramas that focus on a couple don’t really focus on much more than that. Yeah, there’s a few side stories there, but the story revolves around the lead couple and second male lead. But I what I really liked about this drama is that while Jiang Chen and Chen Xiaoxi were the focus, the friendship theme was strong and written into the story very well. While the four had their disagreements, they actually grew to be quite close and maintained that relationship throughout the entire show. The beauty of it, I think, is that both Jiang Chen and Wu Bosong didn’t really have a strong friend group until they all came together. A quiet kid who kept to himself, Jiang Chen slowly began to show more of a personality when he was with the group. Wu Bosong finally had people who he could connect with and actually helped him live the life of a normal teenager. Even the quirky Lu Yang, who we later find out to have been bullied as a child, finds solace in his unique group of friends. Also, I love how they all defend Xiaoxi.

WuBosong’s sincere pursuit of Xiaoxi

OMG this drama gave me serious second-male lead syndrome. I’m a sucker for that sweet, sappy kind of romance so the fact that WuBosong was the most thoughtful character throughout this entire drama had me melting. From the beginning, he was always thinking of how he could make Xiaoxi’s life a little better. He wanted to make her happy, and he hated it when she was sad. Even when she was desperately chasing after Jiang Chen, WuBosong did what he could to help her in her love schemes. Why? Because he knew it would make her happy. Boy fought for her affection tooth and nail, and I couldn’t really help but root for him. A real keeper. He’s was the sweetest, and all I’m saying is you really want to keep a guy like him around. Oh yeah and when he confessed his love to her, I almost cried.

Jian Chen and Xiaoxi’s relationship

Although it was the slowest blooming relationship of all time, when it did take off, I could help saying “awww” several times. Jiang Chen’s cold attitude virtually disappeared as he showed a sweet affection to Xiaoxi. They had quite a few super cutesy, lovey dovey moments which was a nice surprise. I won’t go into too much detail because I think these moments were the gems in the drama so I’ll let you discover them on your own.

What I disliked

The high school version of Jiang Chen

Jiang Chen’s cold attitude wasn’t forgivable. From the beginning he wasn’t sweet or kind or thoughtful toward the woman he said he loved. Yeah I get that his father passed away and his mother was absent but that doesn’t give him a pass. He needed to just come out and say he like Xiaoxi if that’s how he really felt. The games he played were childish. What person would constantly have you reject them in public and still have feelings? (Apparently Xiaoxi but even she got fed up at some point). And THEN he wants to be jealous when WuBosong joins the picture. Bruh he have no right! I know what the masses might say: “But he really liked her!” “But he was sweet in his own way!” “But he did nice things for her in secret!” Nah toward the end yes, but the earlier version of Jiang Chen was just a mean jerk. This is a drama but in real life don’t pursue a guy like Jiang Chen.

Xiaoxi’s lack of self-respect

This is small but I began to get really annoyed at how Xiaoxi’s life revolved around a guy who had no apparent interest in her. Yeah it’s a drama, but I like to look at dramas through the lense of real life. Like I said before, in real life, Xiaoxi was a naive, teenage girl who couldn’t respect herself enough to let go of a guy who just wasn’t that into her that’s how it appeared) “But she didn’t give up on a the guy she liked!” No, no and no. If you have made it blatantly obvious that you like someone and their response is I don’t, move on. Please. She had a life to live and she just wasn’t living it because she was pining hard core over Jiang Chen.

Lost in translation?

Some of these translations were just wrong, lol but I digress. (I watched this on Viki.)

That’s it loves! Overall the drama was great and well written. A sweet love story between two teenagers as they go into adulthood, “A Love So Beautiful” embodies more than just love. It shares the tale of high school friendships and life, infused with hardship, disappointment, trouble, bad choices, sweet moments and creating unbreakable bonds.

Final Judgement:

Four and half out of five stars.

Other Details:

Release date: 2017

Episodes: 23 (+ one bonus episode)

Episode length: About 45 minutes

*Platform: Netflix, Kiss Asian (English subtitles available)

*For some reason, this drama is no longer available to US audiences on Viki. If you watch with subtitles, just be aware that some of the translations did not come out well, so some things might not make sense.

Have you watched this drama? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment!

Until Next Time!

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