Alas another show I stumbled onto by accident. But honestly it’s the shows that I’m not even looking for that turn out to be an ABSOLUTE GEM. 😍 “Use For My Talent” is a remake of the Korean drama “Clean With a Passion for Now,” which is the main reason I decided to start a new journey with this show. I watched the Korean adaptation and I’ve gotten into the habit of watching remakes so I said “why not?”
The drama tells the story of well-admired CEO with a serious mysophobia condition who falls for a not-so-neat girl of a humble background. Let’s dive in a little bit more and explore the excellence that is this drama. This is an in-depth review so THERE ARE MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
In a Nutshell:
Gu Ren Qi (Jasper Liu) is the owner of his own cleaning company and he is suffering from mysophobia, the irrational fear of bacteria and germs. Shi Shuang Jiao (Shen Yue) is an energetic and bright woman from a humble background who lives life a little on the messy side. When Shi Shuang Jiao becomes an employee of Gu Ren Qi’s, the two meet and begin to find healing from their troubled pasts as they work together. The two become closer through daily interactions and eventually develop a blooming romance.
In the beginning, the audience is introduced to Shi Shuang Jiao, a happy-go-lucky girl who is living peacefully with her dad and younger brother. Her mother died a few years ago in an accident so it’s just the three of them. The Shi family doesn’t have a lot of money, so Shuang Jiao works various part-time jobs to support them.
On the other side of the spectrum, we meet the handsome Gu Ren Qi, who is extremely neat and tidy. He’s the CEO of the cleaning company Clean First, a company he founded himself. Although successful, young, and blessed with charming good looks, Ren Qi is struggling with a condition known as mysophobia, which leads him to go to great lengths to avoid germs and bacteria. In addition, he doesn’t have a good relationship with his grandfather, who has been extremely hard on him since he was young.
The relationship between Shuang Jiao and Ren Qi begins when Shung Jiao accepts a position at Clean First with the manual cleaning department. Ren Qi, who encounters Shuang Jiao a few times before her first day, is less than thrilled with the news and is wondering why he keeps bumping into this girl who is constantly making him uncomfortable and just always seems to be around.
In an effort to foster more dependence on cleaning machines, Ren Qi has plans to dismantle the manual cleaning department, but the department leader convinces him to give the team a chance to prove that they are a valuable asset to the company. Ren Qi agrees to give them a few months to increase their performance.
Every day Shuang Jiao and Ren Qi have some sort of encounter at work, much to Ren Qi’s chagrin (at first). Suspicious of her intentions at the company, Ren Qi begins to make things difficult for Shuang Jiao and tries to catch her making mistakes so he can have a reason to fire her. She quickly catches on to Ren Qi’s plans and starts to play hard ball herself. But as the show progresses, Ren Qi slowly gets used to her presence and sees how much of a hard worker she really is. He even begins to make excuses to try to talk to her each day, but many times his advances backfire and appear cold and inconsiderate.
Work isn’t all bad for Shuang Jiao though. She forms a close friendship with Hu Yu (Xiao Ran) and Wu Yan (Tan Quan), who also work at Clean First in different departments, as well as Li Dong Xian (Charles Lin), Ren Qi’s assistant and close friend.
At home, Shuang Jiao’s forms a friendly relationship with her dependable neighbor Lu Xian (Dai Yun Fan). Lu Xian really likes Shuang Jiao and tries to win her heart. He begins looking after her and doing sweet things for her, hoping that one day she might look his way.
At the same time, the pretty and highly successful program host Wang Qian Qian who likes Ren Qi tries to get close with him even though he has made every desperate attempt to avoid her.
At work, Ren Qi is softening toward Shuang Jiao and even comes to her aide when she’s harassed by Ma Ke Liu (Zhu Xin Zong), her former crush and university senior, but a small incident during the rescue causes Shuang Jiao to accidentally lock lips with Ren Qi. Shocked by the sudden contact, he faints and is rushed to the hospital.
Feeling responsible for Ren Qi’s hospitalization, Shuang Jiao learns how make Bone Broth soup (with the help of Lu Xian) which she delivers to Ren Qi in hopes that he will recover soon. Ren Qi is touched by the gesture and actually enjoys the soup. When Shuang Jiao visits him, he can’t help but stare at her pretty pink lips and reminiscence about his first kiss. He also begins to realize that it doesn’t bother him to be in close contact with Shuang Jiao, making him think that he might be immune to her. He calls his therapist (who unbeknownst to him is Lu Xian) to ask what this new feeling is, but to his surprise, his therapist suggests he limits contact with Shuang Jiao. (I Wonder why? 🤔)
Shortly after being released from the hospital, Shuang Jiao brings Ren Qi over to have dinner with her family. There he runs into Lu Xian, who informs him that he is his therapist. Lu Xian then questions Ren Qi’s growing feelings for Shuang Jiao and asks him to evaluate why he’s really developing feelings for her. Does he truly like her or is he fascinated by the fact that she seems to be the first person he’s immune to? Lu Xian warns Ren Qi to learn the truth because if his feelings aren’t true, he will end up hurting Shuang Jiao.
Despite Lu Xian’s confrontation, Ren Qi starts to look for ways to see Shuang Jiao everyday. He starts going to great lengths to do nice things for her such as buying her favorite strawberry milk and (unsuccessfully) helping her secure public transportation for her commute to work. He even tries to impress her by dressing differently after she mentions that he looks good in blue. The feelings appear to be mutual as Shuang Jiao does thoughtful things for Ren Qi as well, such as sharing her food with him when they both end up stuck in the office late one night.
When an incident involving Shuang Jiao and Ren Qi surfaces online putting Ren Qi in a bad light, she goes to his defense and tries to clear up the situation. As she’s filming a video late one night at the office explaining what happened, Ren Qi sees her and suddenly kisses her without warning – and without explanation.
Confused by this, Shuang Jiao gains the courage to ask him why he kissed her, but he leaves her with a vague answer that doesn’t help ease her feelings. She can tell she’s falling for him, but she has no idea where they stand. It’s a complicated situation for them both as it seems to Shuang Jiao that Ren Qi may have some type of attraction to Qian Qian. Not to mention, Ren Qi believes that Shuang Jiao is in a relationship with Lu Xian.
As the manual cleaning department’s time to prove themselves comes to an end, Clean First’s board decides to dismantle the department. Ren Qi reluctantly lets the team along with Shuang Jiao go. He offers to move Shuang Jiao to a different department so she can keep her job, but she refuses, saying she and her team need to face this storm together. Ren Qi wishes her well and apologizes for being such a difficult boss. Shuang Jiao tells him that he wasn’t a bad boss at all and she likes him-as a boss.
A Love Blossoms
Now without a full-time job, Shuang Jiao is back to doing part-time jobs. While working at a cafe, she meets Gu Mei Hua, Ren Qi’s mother. Madam Gu realizes that her son’s condition is improving and finds out that Shuang Jiao may have something to do with it. She offers to hire Shuang Jiao to be Ren Qi’s live-in housekeeper, and with an offer she can’t refuse, Shuang Jiao takes the job.
Telling her family that she’s taking a business trip to Beijing for a while, Shuang Jiao heads for Ren Qi’s house to start her new job. With his feelings still burning strong, Ren Qi tries to put out a hard exterior by giving Shuang Jiao a long list of rules to abide by, but he still secretly looks for ways to get close to her and to do sweet things for her as she works for him.
Lu Xian discovers that Shuang Jiao is not in Bejing but is working for Ren Qi. Desperate to turn Shuang Jiao’s attention toward him and to block Ren Qi’s advances, Lu Xian coerces Ren Qi into letting him also live with him to treat his mysophobia. The two were already butting heads before this, but now they begin to enter a subtle but tough battle for who will win Shuang Jiao’s heart.
One day Shuang Jiao is reminded of her mother as discovers a flyer advertising chestnut cake, the flavor of cake she used to share with her mother before she passed. Seeing her sadness, Lu Xian buys a chestnut cake for Shuang Jiao. Lu Xian leaves her alone with the cake, hoping that she will see the card he attached confessing his love. She’s touched by the gesture and begins to eat the cake (totally missing the attached card). As she eats, her emotions gets the best of her and she begins to cry in her room. Around this time Ren Qi comes home and hears Shuang Jiao crying. He immediately runs to her, embraces, and comforts her as she cries even harder. Ren Qi asks what’s wrong and Shuang Jiao explains that she misses her mom, but her mom has died.
After she calms down, Shuang Jiao tells Ren Qi about her mom and how much of a kind person she was. She says her mom was like a ray of sunshine for her family and Ren Qi says that Shuang Jiao is just like her because she also lights up everything around her. As they talk, Li Xian comes back and sees them together. In this moment, he realizes that he may never win Shuang Jiao’s heart.
After they’re done talking, Ren Qi confesses his love to Shuang Jiao. Not fully beliving his confession, Shuang Jiao questions it, since Ren Qi did make things difficult for her at the office and sometimes bullied her. Ren Qi explains he has never been in love before and he didn’t know how to act. He then explains the reason he kissed her that day was because he actually really likes her. Seeing that she’s still not convinced, he kisses her and once again tells her that he likes her. He then asks if she likes him back to which she responds “I don’t hate you,” which basically means yes. The two kiss again and start their official relationship as a couple.
Ren Qi and Shung Jiao aren’t the only one’s falling in love in this drama. A connection forms between Li Don Xian and Qian Qian after they have numerous encounters as Qian Qian was in full pursuit of Ren Qi. Qian Qian realizes that the mysterious and tough-exterior Don Xian is actually very sweet while Don Xian falls for Qian Qian’s kind heart and lovely persona. The two have their obstacles along the way due to their social status differences, but they eventually build a strong relationship they proudly share to the world.
Shuang Jiao’s cute, fun, and outgoing younger brother Shi Junjie (Yan An) has eyes for his older sister’s best friend Zhu Yan (Su Meng Di). Shi Junjie is younger and still maturing, but he’s serious about pursing Zhu Yan. Zhu Yan finds Junjie attractive and starts to enjoy his company, but she’s reluctant to express any romantic feelings since she practically watched him grow up and he’s like a brother to her. After a few arguments and moments of jealousy, the two accept their feelings for each other and develop a sweet romance.
Shuang Jiao and Ren Qi don’t make their relationship public right away so the two date in secret. As they go on more dates and spend time together, the two fall deeply in love and their romance becomes sweeter.
Shung Jiao helps Ren Qi manage his mysophobia and cares for him tenderly. On the flip side, Ren Qi supports Shuang Jiao’s ambitions at work and sweetly supports her.
Eventually word gets out that the two are dating. While Ren Qi’s mother is supportive of their relationship, his grandfather is not happy with the news. He confronts Ren Qi and demands he breaks up with Shuang Jiao, suggesting that she could be a gold digger after his money and company. Ren Qi doesn’t back down, however. When his grandfather sees that Ren Qi is not giving up, he takes a different approach and confronts Shuang Jiao’s father to inform him that Ren Qi and Shung Jiao are dating behind their backs. He express his anger at the situation and also suggests that Shuang Jiao is only pursuing Ren Qi to get his money. Angered at this assumption about his daughter, Shuang Jiao’s father tells Ren Qi’s grandfather off and then forbids Shuang Jiao from seeing Ren Qi, feeling that the Gu family doesn’t respect her.
The two don’t see each other for a while, but they still try to communicate through thoughtful gestures with the help of Junji and Zhu Yan. Eventually Shuang Jiao’s father sees that Ren Qi truly cares for Shung Jiao and allows the two to meet again.
Their romance continues and Ren Qi makes plans to propose. With the help Don Xian, Zhu Yan and Junjie, he comes up with the perfect proposal plan.
Shuang Jiao agrees to go to what she thinks is a company party with Zhu Yan and is surprised to see that the “party” was all Ren Qi’s doing.
With friends watching on, Ren Qi asks Shuang Jiao to marry him, but before they could make it official, Ren Qi’s arch nemesis (who has been trying to take him down the entire drama) crashes the party and reveals that Ren Qi’s grandfather is the man who killed Shuang Jiao’s mother in a hit-and-run accident a year ago. To make matters worse, he claims that the Gu’s framed the family driver to take the blame and then paid them to keep quiet about what really happened. Shocked to hear this, Shuang Jiao abruptly leaves the party and returns home in disbelieve and in tears. Equally shocked, confused, and desperate to find the truth, Ren Qi confronts his grandfather that same night, but his grandfather refuses to talk to him about the accident.
The next day, Ren Qi goes to Shuang Jiao’s house to talk with her, but Shuang Jiao says she can’t see him anymore. Ren Qi begs Shuang Jiao not to leave him, but she still breaks up with him. Devastated by this break up, Ren Qi spirals out of control and his condition worsens. As his therapist, Lu Xian steps in to help Ren Qi gain control over his condition and to find the truth about what really happened to Shuang Jiao’s mother.
Shuang Jiao and Ren Qi meet one last time and through tears and heartbreak, they say a final goodbye to each other. Ren Qi tells Shuang Jiao to take care of her self, follow her dreams and that he hopes she can always be happy while Shuang Jiao thanks Ren Qi for everything that he’s done for her.
After their last goodbye, Shuang Jiao continues to work at Clean First, but she can’t get her mind off of Ren Qi. Ren Qi is working on taking care of his condition, but he’s now instructed to take a myriad of different medications to cope.
Still desperate to find the truth about the accident that killed Shuang Jiao’s mother, Ren Qi, with the help Lu Xian, tracks down the wife of the former Gu family driver. The only problem is she works and lives at a landfill. Lu Xian and Ren Qi find her and confront her about the accident, but before they can get a conversation going, Ren Qi becomes overwhelmed with the dirty environment and bolts.
He regains his courage and visits her again, this time alone. Pushing through his mysophobia, he speaks with the wife again and she confesses that it was indeed her husband that caused the accident. Knowing the family would struggle once the driver went to jail, the Gu family paid them money to help them take care of expenses. The driver’s wife explains all of this in a video and says that the Gu family is innocent and had nothing to do with the accident. Ren Qi sends this video to Shuang Jiao and once she views it, she immediately goes to find Ren Qi. She finds him at the landfill and the two embrace. Exhausted and on a high dosage of medications, Ren Qi collapses and is taken to the hospital.
At the hospital, Shuang Jiao anxiously waits for Ren Qi to wake up. Once he does, she apologizes for leaving him so suddenly and Ren Qi apologizes for not keeping his promise to always protect her. He asks for another chance and the two share a sweet kiss together.
Even though their romance has been mended and things are better, Ren Qi is still struggling with his mysophobia. Ren Qi’s mother feels that her son’s condition is probably linked to the pressure he endured from his grandfather, and Lu Xian speculates that Ren Qi has always wanted acknowledgement from his grandfather. If he could mend that relationship, that could be the key to his cure.
To help Ren Qi improve his relationship with his grandfather, Shuang Jiao visits his grandfather and tells him that he could help Ren Qi’s condition if he puts aside his pride and show Ren Qi that he is proud of him.
Since Ren Qi’s birthday is coming up, Shuang Jiao suggests that they all have a family lunch at the Gu residence to celebrate. Ren Qi is a little reluctant, but since Shuang Jiao suggested it, he agrees.
While at the Gu residence, Ren Qi’s grandfather tells him that he’s proud of him and his accomplishments and also gives him a box of all his childhood toys that he kept, indicating that he always thought about Ren Qi’s happiness. The pressure he felt from his grandfather is lifted, and Ren Qi feely enjoys lunch with his family and Shuang Jiao.
Later that day, Ren Qi and Shuang Jiao have dinner at the Shi residence and Ren Qi asks Shuang Jiao’s father if he can freely date his daughter. He agrees.
Shuang Jiao continues to climb through the ranks at Clean First and Ren Qi begins to show signs that’s he almost nearly over his misophobia. Lu Xian decides to move back to the United States to continue his work as a therapist, but before he leaves, he wishes Shuang Jiao the best and tells Ren Qi that he better treat Shuang Jiao right or he will come after him. Ren Qi thanks Lu Xian for helping him get over his condition.
A while later, Don Xian tells Ren Qi that he’s retiring from the company and wants move on to other things. Disappointed but supportive, Ren Qi wishes him well.
As the drama comes to a close, Shuang Jiao is given a big task at work and is asked to come clean a hot air ballon. When she arrives, she sees a mysterious person already cleaning and she joins them inside the balloon. To her surprise, the balloon takes off and she discovers the person with her is Ren Qi. The two enjoy the view before Ren Qi proposes once again, promising to love and care for Shuang Jiao for the rest of his life. She says yes and the two share a passionate kiss, solidifying their relationship and hinting at a long life together.
What I liked:
I absolutely LOVED this drama. First of all the chemistry between Jasper Liu and Shen Yue was electrifying. When they were together, I couldn’t help but swoon and cheer on their relationship. I’ve actually gone back and re-watched some of my favorite episodes, just so I can relive those tender moments once again. I love how Ren Qi loved Shuang Jiao deeply and truly cared for her well being. Shuang Jiao also showed a sweet affection toward Ren Qi, which we don’t always see. Sometimes, it’s the guy doing all the work while the girl accepts all the love, but Shuang Jiao was expressive of her love for Ren Qi. As it should be. ❤️
Normally I have major second-male lead syndrome and while I did feel bad that Lu Xian didn’t get the girl, I found Ren Qi to be a genuine, enduring, loving guy who actually deserved Shuang Jiao. Although he came off as cold and distant in the beginning, he was never a jerk by heart. He was always thoughtful of others, but he wasn’t always able to freely express that.
I’m sucker for super sweet romance stories, and this one is the best I’ve seen all year. The plot was well written and kept me wanting to find out what happens next. The pace was perfectly set too. In some dramas, the couple falls in love to quickly or it takes FOREVER for the leads to realize they love each other. I was concerned that this drama might not move at a good pace since it was only 24 episodes, but everything fit well I had no complaints. As a matter of fact, I was little sad when it was over because I wanted more.
I’m always amazed when a drama can effortlessly tell the story of the supporting characters without unnecessarily dragging out the story or detracting from the leads. The love story of the supporting characters were almost like the bonus levels of video game: a sweet addition to the story that’s full of surprises, fun, and humor. ( Another good example of this is the C-Drama, Sweet Combat.)
The bromance between Ren Qi and Don Xian was hilarious. When those two got together, you could expect some shenanigans to go down. But on serious note, I loved the dynamic between the two. Ren Qi depended on Don Xian’s guidance and advice while Don Xian respected Ren Qi as a leader and was grateful for Ren Qi’s thoughtfulness toward him.
I also enjoyed how Qian Qian wasn’t self-absorbed queen who expected the world to worship the ground she walks on. In a lot of dramas the woman trying to go after the rich and handsome male lead tend to have those quirks. Even though she appears that way at first, we discover that she’s actually very kind and thoughtful. I didn’t expect her to fall for Don Xian but when she did, she loved him wholly and that was so refreshing to see.
Redemption is something I don’t really see a lot in Korean dramas (at least the one’s I’ve watched), but in C-Dramas (in my experience) the evil character that everyone thought was a villain actually comes around in the end. We’re lead to believe that Ren Qi’s grandfather is an overbearing, prideful man who never cared about his grandson or his daughter (Ren Qi’s mom), but we learn that he really does loves Ren Qi and truly wanted the best for him. He may have been harsh and some of his actions were quite harmful to Ren Qi, but he’s not a terrible person. We also see that his grandfather is kind, as he paid his driver’s family money to make ends meet after the accident sent the driver to jail.
Also, the soundtrack for this drama was beautiful! My goodness, the songs were perfect and I have song “Pure Love” on REPEAT.
“Use for My Talent” had me wanting more and it was on my mind for days (even now, as I write this review). I highly recommend!
What I didn’t like
There wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like about this drama. Enough said.
Apparently there might be a second season?? I really really hope there is because we need more of this sweet couple. With good writing, superb acting, plenty of lovey-dovey scenes and fun humor, I highly recommend this show to anyone who’s looking for a cute drama to binge this summer.
Five out of five stars!
Release Date: 2021
Episode length: About 45 minutes
Have you seen this drama? What are you thoughts? Leave me a comment below!