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Good Morning Julia & Tania,
My name is Jesse, and I came across your blog while looking for “The Perfect Match” episode recaps. I don’t know why, but I seem to have recently developed a taste for Asian dramas after discovering “When I See You Again” and “When A Snail Falls in Love” on Netflix. It took me a bit to get into “TPM”, mostly because of the heavy emphasis on cooking (I think it’s an amazing art, but I lack a deep appreciation of culinary intricacies) and how fiercely unlikeable Huo Ting En is at the outset. It’s great for developing a rich character arch…but good gravy! I found him to be thoroughly unpalatable (pun intended) for the first episode or two before the show developed him a bit more.
Anywho, I enjoyed the first twelve episodes, but a combination of waning interest and a scarcity of free time compelled me to seek out recaps. I found your site and pretty much read my way through the rest of the series, pausing on occasion to go back and watch particularly interesting moments you highlighted. I felt kinda crummy not giving the show my full attention, but it just seemed like it started to lose momentum. Between that and your exceptionally thorough-yet-concise reviews, I found it easier to read than watch. Your opinions on the later episodes, and ultimately on the show as a whole, gave me some comfort; it was good to know I wasn’t the only one who lost connection with the story and characters (even if it started to happen earlier for me). It was almost as if unnecessary complications were added just to get the series to 22 episodes–much like many American shows rehash the same plot gimmicks and character flaws to increase the number of seasons. I can’t handle that, particularly if I’m watching episodes back-to-back.
But I digress!
My primary purpose in writing is simply to thank you for the stellar recaps accented by your own perspectives; it’s as close to a shared viewing experience that one can hope for when not actually watching a show. Alone. (–That’s an awkward thought, but perhaps you can work it out.)
I do have a secondary purpose in writing, which is to ask you what your cultural background is. I have no reason to doubt that you’re a couple of gals from the US who just enjoy Asian culture a heckuva lot. But there’s also a chance that you’re from one of the countries where these dramas originate, and if that’s the case, I have a few questions about Asian culture as it’s presented in shows like “The Perfect Match”. Not that you would necessarily be experts just because you live there of course, but I figured it was worth a shot.
I think one of the reasons these shows have appealed to me is because of their approach to love. First of all, unrequited love is a big theme, and as that has been a plot line in my own life, it resonates. Second, there’s a gentle, innocent, sometimes awkward approach to relationships that I find refreshing. In typical American RomComs and/or series, the leads will have slept with each other long before any real relational crisis occurs. Lots of kissing, lots of physical intimacy, lots of boundaries crossed within a very short span of time. I understand that’s how many relationships are, but they don’t make a lot of sense to me. I like the fact that a first kiss is a big deal, that just holding hands can be portrayed as an incredibly moving experience, and that just telling someone you like them is a done with a great deal of care an vulnerability. These moments tend to get a little more saccharine than I’d like at times (lots of slow-motion and multiple angles), but the underlying tenderness is something I appreciate.
All that to say, I’m curious about the cultures that produce these types of shows. I know many of them are based on novels, so they may very well just represent the whimsical views of a few writers, but they are still different from the overall whimsical views of American writers. I wonder how much of it is considered ideal, how much of it is actually idealized, and how closely the courting/pursuing process reflects actual practices in Asian countries. By that I do not mean to imply that all Asian countries are the same! Most assuredly not! There just seem to be many similarities in terms of the general perspective on relational progression in the dramas I’ve seen, and I don’t have the immersion or awareness to detect nuances (or even glaring differences) between them.
Of course your opinions and/or observations about any of these topics are welcome whether you live in a flat in Taiwan, a town home in Manchester, or a trailer in Kentucky. I just thought it would be nifty if you had some insight or experience in any of the countries these dramas have come from.
In any case, thank you again for providing reviews and screen caps of “TPM”. I may very well browse other shows on your site to see if anything else catches my attention. If you have any recommendations, I’d be happy to hear them. I noticed “Back to 1989” earned very high praise, and as I seem to have developed an appreciation of Ivy Shao’s work, I may very well look into it when time allows.
I wish you both the best as you continue to pursue your passion for writing and expression.
Thank you for reading our The Perfect Match recap and leaving us a comment, too! The Perfect Match stars one of our favourite Taiwanese actors, Wu Kang Ren. Wu Kang Ren is actually an amazing actor (many of the awards he won are for dramas which online streaming sites haven’t picked up, though). But, not even Wu Kang Ren could keep us excited for The Perfect Match. The writing and developments were much too forced. Such writing makes us see puppet strings from the writer, which isn’t good. We become disinterested in watching when the story doesn’t move naturally.
It feels like Taiwanese do love their cooking/cuisine-themed dramas. It’s a common setting. We covered another one called Love Cuisine two years ago. The story for this one we think was more enjoyable, greatly because we loved the second-lead pairing.
You mentioned American shows rehashing. Asian dramas do have their patterns and trends. We remember years ago, gender-benders were quite popular mainstream stories to produce. Stories focusing on rich male heirs and girl from a poor background as well. Like American dramas, Asian dramas also have their character and story tropes. As you start watching more, you’ll start picking up on them. Certain genres progress a certain way and end a certain way.
Having said that, the type of Asian dramas being picked up by Netflix and other Asian drama streaming sites for international audiences are romance-comedy, romance-drama and some thriller/suspense. But a lot of the thriller/suspense dramas feature quite a big chunk of romance in the story. For example, the dramas online streaming sites pick up for Wu Kang Ren (the one who plays Huo Ting En in The Perfect Match) are romance-comedy idol dramas. His range of work is beyond romance-comedy idol dramas. But, it doesn’t get picked up because it doesn’t appeal to mainstream audiences. So, we’re thinking what we see online is probably not a good representation of the range of Asian dramas out there.
With your questions about the Asian culture, we are Chinese, but unfortunately, we live far from the land which these dramas are produced. And so, we can’t comment on the Asian culture and its differences. We’re blogging from New Zealand. : o) : o).
As for a recommendation, definitely Back to 1989 (Taiwanese drama). If you like fantasy, we recommend Ice Fantasy (Chinese drama). Both these dramas are available on Viki. We’re not sure if these are on Netflix. We also really like The Fox’s Summer (Chinese drama). The Fox’s Summer is available on YouTube if you search, 狐狸的夏天, on Google. The Fox’s Summer is on the YouTube channel, TencentVideo. All 44 episodes are available to watch. However, it is only partially English-subbed. (We actually went and translated the first three episodes of Season 2 for The Fox’s Summer on the channel. So, the first three episodes of season 2 of The Fox’s Summer is definitely fully English-subbed.) We think The Fox’s Summer can also be found on unofficial sites as well. But, you may come across missing episodes.
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