Review: Ode to Joy Season I

As Ode to Joy II  欢乐颂 2 is geared up for release, here’s a review of season 1 of the hit series from 2016.

Witty dialogue and a cast of memorable characters make Ode to Joy one of the most fun sit-coms in a while.  Unfortunately, the  series is often dogged down by attempts to shift to a melodrama that makes the ff button a necessary friend.

The series focuses around the unlikely friendship between five women who share a floor in an apartment complex in Shanghai. There’s Andi (An Di?), the business professional with a fear of human touch, Qu Xiaoxiao, the heiress fighting  for the family inheritance,  Fan Shengmei, the gold-digger with an entitled family, Qiu Yingying, the happy-go-lucky college grad,  and Guan Ju’er, the ordinary white-collared girl who has never said no in her life.

Coming from a misogynistic rural  family, Fan Shengmei (Jiang Xin) is vain, self-centered, but also righteous and protective. She would lie to help out a friend, but also to save face. The first lets her befriend the women in the apartment complex, but the second gets her in trouble  as she falls for men who use her vanity to play her.  When she falls in love with a  man faked his own wealth to date her, she is caught between love and vanity.  Imperfect, complex, and sharp-tongued, Fan’s characterization is perfect.

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Couple stills for Ode to Joy 2

Season 2 of Ode to Joy has released stills of the five ladies Liu TaoJiang Xin, Wang Ziwen, Yang Zi and Qiao Xin and their respective pairings. I’m still interested in checking out the premiere, though I’ve been keeping hopes low after season 1 fell short of expectations.

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Fools of love trailer for Ode to Joy

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Get used to seeing this pair, because they’re going to be collaborating for two more seasons of Ode to Joy and at least one of detective series When a Snail Falls in Love 如果蜗牛有爱情.

First of all, I’m kind of impressed by their use of English songs in the two trailers so far. Hopefully this bodes well for their rather large OST (all the girls and maybe Wang Kai have their own song). Second, can everyone but maybe Jiang Xin please get a new stylist? There is absolutely nothing young and hip about any of Wang Kai’s outfits.

I still think Ode to Joy 欢乐颂  could be ground-breaking in being a female-centric modern drama that isn’t solely-focused on romance (despite this trailer),  so I have high hopes for this series. I like the end message of the trailer, if anything else.  All the leads have signed up for season 2 and 3 for this drama, so that should indicate the script is really good (or they were emotionally blackmailed).

The series has been pushed back for an April 18th release, and still stars Liu Tao, Jiang Xin, Yang Zi,  Wang Ziwen, Qiao Xin, Zu Feng, Yang Shuo, Zhang Lu,  Wang Kai, Jin Dongand Zhang Xiaoqian,

Sisterhood of Ode to Joy looking fabulous in trailer

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So much talent, looks, and personality in one trailer!

This trailer is actually so much better than I expected it to be! Everyone’s on point with their characters, and the trailer looks both fun and dramatic.

So here’s our Ode to Joy  欢乐颂, set to air on April 17, introducing the adorable  residents  of 2201 and the males in their lives,  Liu Tao, Jiang XinYang Zi,  Wang Ziwen, Qiao Xin, Zu Feng,  Yang Shuo, Zhang Lu,  Wang Kai, Jin Dongand Zhang Xiaoqian,

P.S. Wang Ziwen said that for all of her scenes with Wang Kai, pretty much if the two can’t come up a way to make their scene cute, they’ll just make out, so expect lots of cuteness from the pair.

Jiang Xin, Wang Kai save the village in “Half the Sky”

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After 5 years of not airing, Jiang Xin probably can’t even remember she filmed this.

As you know, I’m a bigger supporter of depictions of urban, cosmopolitan China to promote the image of new China. Yet here I am, being beyond excited for, yes, a country drama.

 Half the Sky 女人的天空 stars Jiang Xin and Wang Kai and is directed by Zhang Xinjian, who is the one Shandong director with an excellent track of portraying women of all types.The series should mostly use on-site recording, and all actors speak with a Dongbei accent. Can I hear a round of applause for the cast?

Jiang Xin plays a city girl who becomes a village official ( think of it as China’s version of Teach for America, with all the same pros and cons) and marries a local man (Cheng Haofeng, who played Jingrui in Nirvana in Fire)  who then deserts her for the allure of city life.   She works with her aunt-in-law, another village official, to  revive the village economy while insuring local sustainability.

Wang Kai plays the aunt-in-law’s son who goes to the city to make his fortune, little did he know that his boss is his birth father. Somehow the two fall in love.     In the one news article about the drama released back when filming had just begun in 2011, Wang Kai said he felt the romance seemed too sudden so he’s working on building a new romantic plot with the director. He also mentioned depicting the relationship to more of an admiration. I hope you mentally applauded for the last two lines, because my baby deserves all the praise  for even recognizing a forced relationship and trying to fix it.

The series finished productions in 2012, but probably because it involves rural government, did not get approved for airing until last May.  It’s set to air on March 21st on CCTV-8.  Also, Jiang Xin and Wang Kai’s Ode To Joy is set for an April 16th release date.

The Legend of Miyue nears end

There are a number of problems for me in this drama, including plot holes, exaggerations that make me question realism, stereotypes about “nomadic” life that contradict what I am reading here (seems like the Yiqu were a bit more settled than depicted although surprisingly, the love affair seems to have actually happened so I can’t argue with that), and characters bent on short-term gratification that again make me question realism.

The Legend of Miyue has a couple more antique stills as it nears the end of its broadcast.  Starring Sun Li, Liu Tao, Huang Xuan, Jiang Xin, Ma Su, Gao Yunxiang, and Alex Fong, the drama has picked up pace near the end but I still feel there are problems with this drama that keep it from being what it could be.

More stills below the cut.

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Compulsive Legend of Miyue post

Probably something close to what my face looked like after watching the clip below.

The Legend of Miyue has certainly been the next “it” drama, despite my worries about another scheming-heavy drama following Nirvana in Fire.  Starring Sun Li, Liu Tao, Huang Xuan, Jiang Xin, Ma Su, Gao Yunxiang, Alex Fong, etc., I was also beginning to worry about how this drama seems too similar to The Legend of Zhen Huan with the three males interested in the female lead, being about the harem, having repeat cast members, etc. but I feel that the story development and characters have developed in such a different way as to make such comparisons a bit unreasonable.  Here’s to the developments thus far… and this gem I found in what seems to be the beginnings of another series of memes and parodies of this drama.

More stills below the cut.
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Antique stills for The Legend of Miyue

We haven’t seen much of this costume in released materials so it goes on top. :)

The Legend of Miyue has released antique stills for Sun Li.  Starring Liu Tao, Huang Xuan, Jiang Xin, Ma Su, Gao Yunxiang, Alex Fong, etc., more eye-candy for those who are keeping up with this new hot commodity (also because they are pretty and I lack self-control).

More stills below the cut.
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Obligatory Legend of Miyue release post

Character overload… and stills… stills overload… stills diarrhea…

The Legend of Miyue will be releasing on November 30th.  Starring Sun Li, Liu Tao, Huang Xuan, Jiang Xin, Ma Su, Gao Yunxiang, Alex Fong, etc., more intrigue coming to you soon while we debate how female protagonists seem to be so lucky with men despite having to survive in the confines of the palace… but Liu Tao has wicked stills looking evil.

More stills and goodies below the cut.
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