International Dramas: Use For My Talent

Screenshot of (left) Shen Yue and (right) Jasper Liu in ‘Use For My Talent’. Copyright goes to Mango TV and Guoyun Culture.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I know I said that it would probably be a bit before I posted another drama review and that my next one would most likely be the K-Drama ‘It’s Ok to Not Be Ok’. That is hopefully next on the list for when I get around to it! But I ended up watching this C-Drama recently when a friend came over and highly recommended it, so we just ended up watching about half of it together. And of course, by that point it only made sense to finish the other half as soon as possible afterwards. The first half of this drama was amazing; and not just to watch with a friend. It was a cute and you couldn’t help but swoon over certain moments with the main couple. And then that last half happened. I didn’t hate it, but I can honestly say that the drama stepped on its own foot in the latter half. So, I’m just going to get into it from there. As always, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

The Good:

Male Lead- Gu Renqi is definitely one of the sweetest leads I’ve ever seen as well as one of the most shy. But this takes the boss who is afraid of people trope to an entirely different level. He has mysophobia, basically an extreme fear of germs, due to childhood trauma of not thinking he was good enough for his grandfather. And this is definitely an extreme illness. As he develops a crush Shuangjiao, he begins to realize that his mysophobia doesn’t act up around her and begins to feel a bit better, though not completely. One thing that I like about this drama is that it doesn’t credit the relationship for his mental healing in any way. The boss-employee dynamic can often feel a bit odd to me, just because it is a power dynamic I’m not usually comfortable with. But Gu has a knack for treating all of his employees the same in the work place (for the most part) and for not acting much like he’s in charge. So that makes it a bit better. Over-all he’s just a shy sweet guy. He doesn’t ever act overly brooding and definitely is not over-protective in the relationship. Though he can be really oblivious at times, it’s a great character flaw because he doesn’t know exactly how to act around people. I will say that his character began to lack agency as the plot went on when it comes to choosing what to do about his own illness, but it definitely didn’t have anything to do with this character as a whole. That’s all writing.

Second Lead- Half way through this show, I thought there was no way in hell that I would suffer from second lead syndrome. I’ll talk more about that below. But this character makes a direct turn around that actually made me like him by the end of it. And it’s purely because he becomes one of the only smart characters with agency by the end of the show. Lu Xian is revealed a few episodes in to actually be Renqi’s therapist, though this initially does not come off as healthy at all. But, even though he gets seriously and stupidly jealous, his caring nature towards all of the characters never wavers. And that includes Renqi. By the end, despite the fact that Renqi used to be his rival, Xian is the only person in the entire show who is even attempting to understand his mysophobia. He also gives excellent relationship advice that I think everyone should take. Such as, a relationship can’t completely heal your mental health because you have to want to heal for yourself as well as wanting to heal for another person. And that being yourself is the only way to go about trying to get into a relationship. Also that jealousy is not a healthy form of seeing whether or not someone is interested in you. By the end he’s quite possibly the most reliable character in the show. So while this character was far from perfect, in the end I definitely suffered from second lead syndrome.

Sub-Plot Romance One- This happens between a social media influencer who initially has a crush on Renqi, Qianqian, and the bodyguard/assistant/best friend of Renqi, Dongxian. Dongxian is another one of the best characters in the show. And I have to say that this was, to me, by far the cutest romance in the entire show. Dongxian is revealed to be an ex-convict though the show never really goes in depth into what he was convicted for. We can assume it is probably assault related based off of what other characters say. Despite this, Renqi saw his good heart and decided to hire him anyways. And Dongxian is definitely the softest of all the characters on the show. His complete failure to not fall in love with Qianqian is adorable, and though he pushes her away, he always comes running when she needs him. Qianqian is also very independent and strong willed and will never let him believe his own negative thoughts. The fact that they care so much about each other that they were always willing to run to each other no matter what’s happened is adorable. There is a part of the show where Dongxian is temporarily arrested for assault just as he’s about to go and confess to Qianqian who’s waiting for him. In any other show Qianqian might have been angry at him, but instead she is told what happened and is there to hug him right after he’s released. Their boxing date is also top tier.

Mental Health- This show does not shy away from talking about the mental health aspect of Renqi’s phobias. It never treats therapy as something unneeded and it doesn’t over stigmatize it. It treats mental issues and therapy as perfectly normal things, which I was honestly surprised about. I also liked that one of the main characters was a therapist, because you don’t see enough of that in television or film either. This drama addresses everything from panic attacks to triggers and I’m definitely here for that.

The Bad:

Female Lead- Don’t get me wrong, I really started out liking her. And I’ve definitely liked this actress in other projects, such as ‘Meteor Garden’. But the last few episodes of the drama completely ruined her for me. This is one of those dramas that has a super dramatic break up due to a really weird plot twist. But the issue was, the plot twist was not Renqi’s fault. I know that there is a cultural difference here that I have much more to learn about. There’s this idea that when one person does something in a family, it often affects the entire family. But I really despise this line of thinking. I don’t think a person should be blamed for something that a family member did in the past or even present. And she breaks up with Renqi because she believes his grandfather might have been involved in the death of her mother. She only gets back with him when she realizes this is not the case. And she even insults his mental health and disabilities to get him to stay away from her, which was extremely low. I couldn’t forgive her after she attacked his mental health. And then she whined for a while about the fact that he hadn’t contacted her even though she made him think that she hated him. She also constantly exhibited a lack of understanding for his mental health and often tried to force him to do things despite his obvious triggers. By the end of the show, I didn’t want them together. I thought he needed to focus on his therapy and be with someone who understood that and she needed to become a much more understanding person.

Second Lead- Yes, he’s here too. Though I would still say he’s one of my favorites in the show. Why would you want a therapist who has an obvious conflict of interest? And I also didn’t appreciate that he was still determined to date Shuangjiao at the end of it. Just respect her decision! Still, his badassery and kindness truly made up for this in my eyes by the end.

Sub-Plot Romance Two- This occurs between Shuanjiao’s brother and her best friend. Though her brother was caring and the actor was amazing, I didn’t buy this romance. She did not seem interested him at the beginning and most of the things he did to try and capture her attention bordered on insulting. This is another situation where I think there was an immaturity that prevented me from liking this couple. Maybe they should mature a little more before they get together. And I guess it ended with them apart, because he did move to America by the end of the series. But I just didn’t buy them. They spent too much of the series not connecting or communicating properly.

Plot Twists- We really didn’t need the random plot twist about Shuangjiao’s Mom. And I’m never a big fan of plot twist weird break ups. It didn’t last long, but it was such a sudden and awful break up that I didn’t really feel that the relationship was recoverable.

Mental Health- One of the major things that the show suggests about Renqi, is that in order to get over his mental issues he must make peace with his abuser. While this can be true in making peace with what happened to you, I don’t think anyone should be required to become ok with being around someone who was responsible for their serious trauma.

The Romance- This was a serious case of the writers having no idea what to do with the main couple once they got together. It was cute up until then, and then it all went downhill when they became an item. The writers tried, but they just couldn’t figure it out. That aquarium date with the matching shirts was so awkward and the amusement park date was way too out of the comfort zone of Renqi. It just felt like Shuangjiao was still not completely understanding his mental state. You have to ease someone into that, not try and “cure” them altogether. They also had a really bad habit of acting very unprofessional in the workplace after they got together. Their proposal was also one of the worst I’ve ever seen in a drama. I cringed so hard. And then the writers really didn’t know what to do so they added in all the trope-y breakups and plot twists. The only reason to watch the rest of this show for me was that second lead and the one sub-plot romance.

I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about this drama. There were some really good moments and really bad moments. Over-all I think I have to place my stance on this drama someplace in the ‘ok’ area. It’s not one that I would return to, but it was cute to watch once. And the first half of this drama was extremely cute. I think if I returned to anything it would be the sub-plot romance. And there’s also a hidden couple in this drama that’s totally gay that I loved, plus a scene where the main male lead and his best friend are watching and criticizing a drama that made me laugh really hard. It’s basically how my sister and I watch dramas. But if you are looking for a really cute drama with a really cute centered romance from beginning to end, I’m not sure this would be my recommendation. But it does have some really good moments and I’m glad I watched it. I want to apologize once again that we’ll be gone for a few days. Just the weekend this time! Hopefully during that time you can go back to some of our past posts and we’ll be back on Monday!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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