When I was in a very dark point in my life, I discovered the joys of Asian dramas. I made this mistake of watching one show and immediately I fell down the ‘rabbit hole’. It certainly wasn’t a bad thing for me because like I said at that point in time I wasn’t doing very well. For some reason, the only comfort I could find at that time was in Asian dramas. So I began searching through Netflix for a plethora of shows to add to my list so I could binge watch them. Among the many dramas I found, A Love So Beautiful, a Chinese drama immediately caught my attention. If I remember correctly, I was drawn to it because the female lead also starred in Meteor Garden.
A Love So Beautiful begins it’s story in high school. Chen Xiaoxi, one of the classes worst students, has a crush on her neighbor and classmate, Jiang Chen who also happens to be the top student in their class. All throughout high school, Xiaoxi follows Jiang Chen around like a puppy and always shows her feelings. On the other hand, Jiang Chen is uninterested and is always bulling her. Meanwhile, Wu Bosong, another classmate and Olympic swimmer in training, has interest in Xiaoxi. I don’t want to give too many details as to what happens because I don’t want to give spoilers, but the first half of the series follows their three years in high school. They experience everything you would expect in high school as well as some surprises such as, controlled substances going missing from the infirmary to one of their best friends having a heart attack and having to be revived in front of them. Really it is just your typical high school love story.
They second half of the series takes place in the university days. After failing her entrance exam, Xiaoxi must find another way to get into school. She then decides to become an art major and uses her talent as well as the help of Jiang Chen to pass the exam after a second time. This become important as it ends up putting Jiang Chen’s graduation ahead of Xiaoxi’s. At university they begin to experience first’s with each other. Their first date, kiss, fight, etc. As time goes on, the loneliness begins to build up in Xiaoxi’s heart. She never says it, but you can just tell by her actions and the look on her face. Eventually, after some traumatic events on both Xiaoxi and Jiang Chen’s side, a misunderstanding breaks them apart. The final two episodes take place three years after university. In these episodes, an emotional roller coaster takes place. We get to see the aftermath of the decisions Xiaoxi and Jiang Chen have made over the past three years as well as where the feelings of our beloved characters take them.
Now there are a ton of things that just don’t sit right with me about this drama. First of all, I will start with characters. Really there are only two characters that bother me. Those characters are Jiang Chen and Li Wei (she is a classmate of Xiaoxi and also has a crush on Jiang Chen). Starting off with Jiang Chen, his personality just sucks. I understand having the uninterested character that ends up falling for the girl anyway. It is super cliche and totally expected. However, his character is completely overboard with that personality. He is always being mean to Xiaoxi in one way or another, whether it is telling her she’s stupid or hiding things of her’s. He is one of the most inconsiderate characters I have met on these dramas. What bothers me the most, he is very much possessive. Xiaoxi mentions getting her ears pierced, he tells her she can’t do it. He tries to tell her who she can and can’t talk to. Then on the other hand, we have Li Wei. She is also one of the top students in the class. She is always being paired with Jiang Chen because of their grades. I think the real reason her character bothers me is because she in a snake in the grass. She is always so quiet and reserved. Then she gets caught cheating and other event unravel. She is just the kind of person I can’t stand. Maybe I don’t have an actual problem with her character, maybe it is just that kind of person gets under my skin.
Aside from characters, another complaint I have is the relationship between Wu Bosong and Xiaoxi. From the time they are in high school, Wu Bosong is always at Xiaoxi’s side. It didn’t matter what the reason was or if it got him into trouble. If Xiaoxi was sick he would buy her medicine. If Xiaoxi was sad, he would take her somewhere to cheer her up. If Xiaoxi was lonely or scared, he was there to give his support. He always mentioned her at every swimming event. He loved her unconditionally. When Jiang Chen left after university, Xiaoxi was left alone at the airport without the chance to say goodbye. Wu Bosong was there to pick up the pieces of the shattered girl. The problem is that although he was there through everything, (SPOILER ALERT) they don’t end up together. Jiang Chen is gone for three years, while Wu Bosong is constantly at Xiaoxi’s side, and nothing happens. It’s disappointing and more than that I feel it is very unrealistic.
What is even more unrealistic is that Jiang Chen magically reappears after those three long years, and Xiaoxi takes him back ALMOST instantaneously. I don’t care how much you love a person, under the circumstances and the way everything was left, there is no way that forgiveness comes that easily.
My next problem with the show, the crappy proposal from Jiang Chen. At first, he asks Xioaxi when she is very much intoxicated if it would make him a bad person if he proposed in her current state. She obviously says no. Then with his sly way of twisting words, he makes it seem like she is proposing to him. The next morning, when he reminds her of what was said the night before, she gets very upset. In my opinion, she had a very good reason. Noticing she is upset, he makes a genuine proposal. This is where my complaint lies. He proposes at the hospital. Of all the ways and places, he uses the hospital where he works, and uses hospital supplies. Is it really that difficult to put in a little extra effort and time for someone who is supposedly special to you?
Now that I have went on for days about things that bother me about A Love So Beautiful, let’s get into the things that make this show special. First of all, the opening song is catchy. I love some catchy theme songs.
Second of all, Wu Bosong and Xiaoxi’s relationship kept me watching. From the first time they met, I was secretly hoping he would win her over in the end. He would go to the ends of the Earth for Xiaoxi and I think in my heart that is what made it all that more special. Everything that Wu Bosong is represents a healthy relationship, meanwhile Jiang Chen is quite the opposite. Everything he does screams toxic relationship.
Finally, I think more than anything I can find similarities between A Love So Beautiful and my actual life. While the circumstances aren’t the same, (obviously I don’t know an Olympic in training) I have people who I have been able to have in my life that are like the characters in the show. I knew a Wu Bosong. I had a friend like Xiaoxi’s. Even more importantly, I had a love like Jiang Chen. Not only the characters, but some of the experiences. They are so relatable to me that I feel this drama is closer to my heart because of its relatability. I also think that was one of the main focal points when creating this drama in particular.
Overall, I would have to say A Love So Beautiful is mediocre at best. I really enjoyed it until I started writing this review. That is when I realized maybe it was more just the characters I was attached to. I would more than likely pick another drama over this one. The love story itself wasn’t bad, but that is all the story had going for it. There were no other side plots or any kind of driving factor other than love. Now with that being said, I also believe that is exactly the purpose of the show. It was created solely as a light hearted love story. I could only give this three stars because looking at the pros and cons of the story, I found the con list was far longer. This made me feel that if I would have scored it any higher it just wouldn’t be the right thing to do. However, if you are looking for the kind of story based solely on love, this one might be one to check out on Netflix.