How Meteor Garden Brought Me into the World of Chinese Entertainment
I remembered as a Filipino-Chinese, there wasn't really an abundance of Chinese shows for me to watch. I didn't really want to study Chinese that much. However one TV program changed my life. So I did watch it on ABIaS-CBN under stupid dubs but later, I found fan subs of the series called Meteor Garden. But let me talk about the first time I saw Meteor Garden on TV. And I had several impressions on Meteor Garden and the F4 boyband.
At first, I thought F4 was a Japanese boyband. I said, "Woohoo I'm going to see Japanese stuff at last!" I missed Tokusatsu on TV, there's always FLIPFAG entertainment to deal with. Meteor Garden was one show I thought was a Japanese TV show... I mistook the picture for Tokusatsu. Then I started hearing the song "Can't Lose You" and it was in MANDARIN. Yes, that's my very first Mandarin song I ever liked and I started to look for the lyrics and its translation. I really love the F4's song "Can't Lose You" and started to get into the F4 craze altogether. And I enjoyed the opening theme sang by Harlem Yu, that's basically how I got into Chinese entertainment.
At first, I thought it was going to be those boring weepy programs but I was wrong. It was fast paced, it had really great writing compared to Failipino drama. Everything started to amaze me about the series... and that time I didn't know it was based on Hana Yori Dango. So slowly I started to like Anime less, I started to lose interest with Tokusatsu in general (though today, i still have a soft spot for it). And I would admit I was magnetized by its unusual love story... and the anti-hero Dao Ming Si, the quiet guy Hua Tze Lei, the two playboys Xi Men and Mei Zuo (who reminds me of my former rival turned best friend)... and Shan Tsai who I considered hot that time. Which of course, I felt the series was a huge experimental season of various love teams. I mean later, you'll see Barbie Xu get paired with Vic Chou in Mars... but returning back to Meteor Garden.
Let me talk about Barbie Xu and Jerry Yan. As much as I thought Daoming Si reminded me of myself as a confused human being, I also thought he reminded me of me because I tend to fall for girls who oppose me. For the actors, I thought Jerry Yan had an appeal with older audiences and so did Barbie Xu. What I didn't expect is that my late father's oldest sister would also get absorbed into the craze until she died. She really became a fan of Jerry Yan. Then she started to mention a few names that I wasn't all that familiar with that time.
Well I wasn't at all familiar with a few names. But that late aunt of mine who died of pancreatic cancer had compared Jerry Yan's and Barbie Xu's chemistry on-screen to Qin Han and Liu Xuehua. That time, I wasn't really familiar with the two of them. It was only after that aunt of mine died... sniff sniff... that I started to know more about Qin Han and Liu Xuehua, checking out a few videos on them on Youtube.
Now I thought comparing Jerry Yan to Qin Han, I guess I figured out who my mom referred to as "Jerry Yan Sr." or why Jerry Yan was called as "Qin Han Jr." by another aunt who's still alive. A friend of my mom even compares the similarities between Jerry Yan and Qin Han appearance-wise and acting-wise. During that time, I mistook Zhen Xiuzhen for Liu Xuehua. I thought Liu Xuehua were Daoming Feng in Meteor Garden that time. So I just thought, what's really the harm of watching old Chinese cinema right? I started getting familiar with the names Qin Han and Liu Xuehua though I was more used to seeing the latter acting as mothers to important characters.
But Meteor Garden I and II was not the end. In fact, I followed the cast of Meteor Garden in other films after those two seasons. I started watching anything with F4 then anything that was Chinese. But F4 was where I started to follow their post-Meteor Garden trend. And it began... the post-Meteor Garden effect.
F4 was the very first group to bring me into the world of Chinese entertainment. After Meteor Garden II, I got interested into every project involved. I also remembered watching other shows by 5566 namely Westside Story and My MVP Valentine. But F4 for me had the most impact with how the show started to introduce me to several characters. It started to introduce me to oldie actors. I just couldn't get enough of anything F4 or any similar group. In short, these are the post-effects of the Meteor Fever.
So how did that happen? Vic Chou mentioned some of his favorites like Andy Lau. I saw Andy Lau in Magic Kitchen... and knowing he was a big time star made me want to see more Andy Lau movies. The effect was thanks to Jerry Yan... and it made me also want to see more Maggie Q action movies and more. Ken Chu had his first movie with pop star Gigi Leung. That's how I ended up knowing Gigi Leung and started to follow anything with Gigi Leung after that. I soon watched any action movie with Gigi Leung. Star Runner introduced me to some martial arts legends like Ti Lung, Ken Lo, Max Mok (his trainer) and Gordon Liu. Star Runner got me interested to look for more martial arts movies from Hong Kong both old school and new school.
I would admit after that, I would want to get any series with any cast of Meteor Garden in them. Mars was also a serious series involving Vic Chou and Barbie Xu, I guess directors noticed they had a chemistry in Meteor Garden. Then my mother started watching more Jerry Yan and related stuff. Later, I was surprised to find Vic Chou starring in more serious roles after the disaster known as Love Storm. The disaster itself didn't drag him down for long. In fact, Vic Chou has become the most popular F4 member right after their band ended. Jerry Yan also took more serious roles. Later Barbie Xu got married... but still it was fun remembering the earlier days.
Indeed, I cannot help but say if it wasn't for Meteor Garden, I don't think I'd be pursuing Chinese entertainment. I wonder if I can ever be considered a Chinese entertainment snob knowing how I really choose mostly Chinese entertainment over Japanese or Korean. So here's me still admitting that Chinese entertainment indeed the stuff that I want to promote. Again, it's all thanks to Meteor Garden!