C-Dramas: Love O2O

Screenshot from ‘Love O2O’ (2016) starring Zheng Shuang and Yang Yang. Copyright of Gcoo Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Just like everyone else, I am incredibly bored in quarantine. One of my life-lines has been catching up on as much K-dramas and C-dramas as I possibly can, which eventually brought me to this pick partly because of the convenience of it being on Netflix. I just have a lot of thoughts on this particular drama. This drama follows Weiwei, a girl who plays an online game where marriage is one of the central elements. After falling in love with someone in the game, the two decide to meet only for her to find out the guy she married in the game is the most popular guy on her college campus, Xiao Nai. It’s over-all a cute story, and if you are familiar with online RPGs at all, you’re bound to find something familiar. But more so than that I found it so weird, in both pleasant and unpleasant ways, that I just had to talk about it.

LIGHT SPOILER WARNING: If you have not watched this show and plan to, maybe don’t read the rest of this erm… review. If you are on the fence about whether or not to watch it, I say watch it. It’s just cute and weird enough to keep you entertained. If you don’t care at all; read as much as you want.

The Pleasant:

  • The Main Female Protagonist: I find myself often disappointed in many romcom dramas in general when it comes to the main female character. For a lot of dramas, the female character is entirely not the focus. Because of the demographic of people watching being mostly female, the drama focuses more on developing a hot boyfriend than it does on developing their female protagonist. I was really happy to see that this wasn’t the case here. Weiwei is opinionated, sassy, and incredibly capable. What’s more, she’s also a Computer Programming major, which is a very male dominated field. When she feels someone has done something wrong, she confronts them about it. She actually communicates instead of running away all the time. I do feel this drama had a little trouble with her personality as it got deeper into the romantic relationship aspects of it. She had a case of being inconsistently sassy. But I’m glad to say that, for the most part, she was a realistic female character and very fun to watch.
  • The Trust: This was so important for me! Most romcom dramas depict their couples breaking up several times over, often due to a lack of communication over something involving one of the characters getting jealous after seeing their partner with someone else. Every time I thought they were going to do that in this, they completely side-stepped it. There was a moment where one of the antagonists called up Xiao Nai to show him “proof” that Weiwei was cheating on him and he completely refused to see it. When she tracked him down and showed it to him, he told her that he didn’t want a third party interfering in his relationship. Later he hacked into her phone and deleted it, and when Weiwei asked him what he was doing he said “Deleting trash” and then showed Weiwei the video so they could plan their next steps. When he was asked later why he immediately didn’t believe the video, he simply stated that she’s his girlfriend and he trusts her. I will admit that they go slightly too far on this point when the two characters talk about cheating, but the thought is there. It is so rare for trust to be present in a relationship in so many romance dramas and I’m so glad that they emphasized the trust in this relationship.
  • The Friendships: I have not seen many dramas where the friendships are this realistic. There is a scene where Xiao Nai is treating Weiwei and all her friends to dinner and after she tells them not to order too much food, they promptly tell him that the last time they went out Weiwei downed an entire plate of chicken wings. I laughed because this is definitely something I could see a friend doing to me or something I would do to a friend. The friendships here are not depicted as fake and they actually do depict people going through struggles in their relationships with each other. They tease each other, they talk about people they find attractive in a teasing way rather than in that fake serious way, they’re constantly snacking, and they also get into disagreements and fight. There is definitely a friendship focus here for both the guys and the girls and it’s just so fun to watch because it reminds you of your favorite moments with your friends.
  • One of the Sub-Plot Romances: There is a gay couple in this show and it completely caught me off guard. I shipped it from the beginning, but I was sure that they were going to explain it away as a strong friendship or a brotherly bond. That is not what happened. It is not super explicit due to Chinese censorship, but it is not as subtle as you might think either. There are hints sprinkled throughout the show that these characters are gay and eventually they hit you with this giant revelation about something that happened between them in the past that confirms it. Their faces when they figure it out are worth watching the entire show to see. The two characters move in together by the time it ends and the line “We all look hungry for the food, but you look hungry for the chef”, also shockingly made it past the censors. This relationship is my favorite in the entire show, you just can’t help but love it.

The Unpleasant (Or Just Weird):

  • The Main Male Protagonist: Before anyone who likes this show or just really likes Yang Yang gets mad at me, I just want to say that I didn’t completely dislike his character in the least. Firstly, I want to say that Yang Yang is an incredible actor and, yes, also incredibly attractive. I just think he suffers from what a lot of romcom boyfriends suffer from, which is perfect boyfriend syndrome. The narrative refuses to believe that he has many flaws, and definitely not big flaws, so he doesn’t really make mistakes and learn from them or do a whole lot of developing. This show really wants his only flaw to be that he’s anti-social, but I’m not sure that’s necessarily a flaw without other things on top of it and he doesn’t really overcome it. Not only that, but I personally believe he had flaws in other instances where the narrative was telling you that he’s perfect. Don’t get me wrong, he’s charming and some of this could be personal preference, but I do have some issues. He’s constantly telling the main character that she shouldn’t do certain things or he may not be able to “control himself”. I’m immediately skeptical when the consent of another character comes into question. There’s also the fact that he’s always one step ahead of the relationship without telling her or getting her permission. He thinks they’re dating when they meet because of their status in the game. He then begins introducing her as his fiancee before he ever proposes to her. If you can picture someone who you wouldn’t at all be interested in doing something like that and find it creepy, than it is automatically creepy when a hot guy does it too.
  • The Game: The entire marriage and dating aspect of this game was really just weird to me. They reminded me a lot of when I used to play online RPGs when I was in my tweens and people would start “dating” on those websites. It was always really awkward when you walked into a room in the game and you saw that people were asking each other out or breaking up in the web-chat. But most of the people playing those games were either in their early teens or about to be in their early teens. It was so weird to watch this with the knowledge that it was actual adults in college doing that. I’m not saying that it’s an inherently bad thing, but it was definitely a weird part of the story for me. Especially because of the aspect of the story where people, not just the main male character, thought that dating in the game automatically translated into dating in real life even thought they really didn’t know anything about the other person. That just didn’t sit right with me. The game also pretty much disappears about half way through the show, so the consistency when it came to the game was a little off.
  • The Other Sub-Plot Romance: The romance plot between Weiwei’s best friend and the Foreign Languages major was not at all good. Mostly because, even when the best friend character got kind of annoying, she was still way better than the guy in this relationship was. This guy first goes after Weiwei and won’t take no for an answer. He then makes several other bad decisions and is just a cocky douchebag for the rest of the show and never apologizes for it. He is told time and time again to apologize for his actions, which he never does to the point where you start to wonder whether or not the writers forgot. Weiwei straight up tells him in one of the final episodes that she doesn’t like him. There is really no getting behind this romance.
  • The Relatability: You would think that this romance would have several relatable factors when it comes to the main character. She’s a gamer, a computer major, and she has a close knit group of friends. But this romance takes place between the runner up for prettiest girl in the school who gets a lot of money from babysitting a rich kid and the rich CEO of his own company. Both of these characters are extremely privileged. They also do try to pull some of the “not-like-other-girls” scenarios with the main character, meaning that they do demonize and push down many other females in the show. Especially female gamers. If you want to find a main character to relate to, you’re probably not going to find it here.
  • The Kissing: I just have to add this here. Why is it seen as attractive for the woman in the relationship to know so little about romance that she doesn’t do anything? She doesn’t instigate anything and, worse, the kissing looks like some sort of hostage situation. Her eyes are open and she’s standing stiff as a board. At that point you aren’t watching anything romantic; you just feel concerned that this was something she didn’t want or consent to.

Over-all, I actually liked this show for the most part. It was an entertaining watch while I’m bored in quarantine. Is it the best show ever? No. Am I going to watch it again? Probably not. Would I recommend it? Maybe to some people. But, if anything, this drama is entertaining and not super long either. It’s an easy watch when you’re feeling bored and it’s fun to watch and sometimes poke fun at too. Do I wish it was better? Yes; but sometimes you’re just in the mood to watch something lighthearted and a little bit stupid. It’s a nice distraction.

Se you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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