That Real Challenge of Me Sitting Through Heartbreaking, Tearjerking Chinese Series!

I remembered an old article that called Meteor Garden as, "Having a plot that's older than your grandmother's dentures." Now I thought of that statement to how it also applies to heartbreaking, tearjerking Chinese series and it's a real challenge to sit through them and battle my emotions.

After watching Meteor Garden, there was Meteor Garden II that was pretty much a tearjerker with badly timed comedy (ex. Shan Tsai's parents) that either piss you off or make you laugh. Meteor Garden II still made me cry to a certain extent especially when Lei reveals all his repressed feelings or Shantsai plays what I call the "Liu Xuehua card" so well, I feel Barbie Xu Wang is the only actress so far I felt could cry as beautifully as Liu Xueha could, a comparison I made only years later after I saw the series. When I think of how Jerry and Barbie were as a couple, I simply thought they were five stars for chemistry.

The second season of Meteor Garden actually felt more like a Qiong Yao series. If anything, Barbie Xu Wang was playing a porcupine left bloody and defenseless after plucking her spines out. She's not the same feisty character. Jerry plays a Daoming Si who has lost his identity and struggles to find it back, he falls in love with another woman in Yesha and later finds himself confused. I always felt Vic Chou's rather improved acting of Lei made me feel sorry for the other guy. After the series was over, I thought I have seen the most tears yet but boy I was so wrong.

After Meteor Garden II, there were other Chinese series that shared a sad atmosphere like Lavender or Dolphin Bay. Dolphin Bay had me ready to tear off my heart more than Lavender did. Perhaps I want to give credit to Ambrose Xu's acting or two, Angela Zhang and Penny Lin knew how to act their parts. I know Lavender ends in an inevitable tragedy but Dolphin Bay had a lot of twists and turns. Even the beginning scene made me cry so much such as the infidelity part, Tianbian who is unaware of her true lineage and the time she meets Xerya. The whole orphanage scene made me cry and later, Xiaogang's feelings (the guy who I was rooting for) were unrequited though he does remind me of myself at times. But the bigger, sadder part had to be Xerya who still can't forget Tianbian and how will he deal with his foster sister's feelings for him?

Romance in the Rain (2001) would be the first one that made me weep so much and it was written by Qiong Yao, though later on, I still facedesk whenever I think of Leo Ku is hardly a good Shuhuan. His version of Shuhuan is nowhere near the performance Qin Han had in playing the character. Good thing that we never got to see Leo Ku play any more characters previously played by Qin Han or more facedesks! Vicki Zhao Huang may not be as good with Barbie Xu Wang but she could still act. The whole Romance in the Rain (2001) series was really mostly weepy especially with how Yiping is frequently mistreated especially by that idiotic, philandering father of hers who's been divorced for eight times and Yiping's mother happens to be the eighth in rank of that dysfunctional family.

After watching the 1986 version of Romance in the Rain, I really saw worse. Granted that my Mandarin isn't very good, I just had to rely on a translator or my limited knowledge to understand. I'd agree that the version had a better version of Shuhuan and Yiping with Qin Han and Liu Xuehuaas an on-screen couple. The love team they had was much better even if their age gap was pretty big because of the quality acting. The only couple I thought had that kind of chemistry was Jerry Yan and Barbie Xu Wang. Liu Xuehua cried more beautifully than Vicki Zhao Huang or we have all the tragic elements such as Ruping really killing herself, I mean she's the only one tolerable from Xueqin's children, the rest were really that annoying.

If there were anything I discovered about their series in the past is that, you might as well prepare to cry lots of tears. Even if I haven't seen much of Ting Yuan Shen Shen and I only saw the episodes online, it's obvious that it's a tearjerker. Bo Peiwen is a man who is saddened and miserable, he still thinks about his wife Hanye who he believed had died when she hasn't. One day, Hanye who is now a teacher and she is called Miss Fang, discovers that Peiwen had supposedly remarried (but it can be contested) to his unstable fiance Ailin. I always thought poor Tingting has to endure her supposed stepmother's nasty temper. Whenever Peiwen makes a narration, there's always tears especially to when it talks about how he met Hanye and how he really could not get over her at all.

After that, I thought about the Qiong Yao-style series called "Last Night of Madame Chin" which was written by Pai Hsuen Yung was also pretty hard to sit through. I couldn't help but go weepy, crying and even if I wouldn't be happy with my son dating a bar hostess, I still felt sorry for a lot of characters. Zhaoli belongs to a screwed up family and she suffers psychologically for the sake of love. Yueru has no life of his own but he slowly finds freedom when he falls in love with a bar hostess of all types of girls. There is a rich, complex plot that however makes me cry buckets of tears. I'll confess that this TV series really made me cry what I'll exaggerate as buckets of tears. When I look at the situation of how women back in 1930s or 40s China were not well-treated as they are today (hence leading to gender imbalance in many areas), they were easily sold or used to pay off family debts. Zhaoli is not even happy with her job as a hostess. Hidden beneath her warm smile was a miserable woman looking for love as summarized in its opening themewhich was also sung by Tsai Chin so beautifully, it makes you feel the sad theme.

For some other comparisons, I also felt like comparing Next Stop Happiness to its rather sadder version in Loving Never Forgetting. I don't deny that Next Stop Happiness really made me cry in a lot of scenes but it was milder than Loving Never Forgetting. In Loving Never Forgetting, there's a lot more than just the heroine Wu Tong (which I assume that the novel must have been written in third person, at Wu Tong's viewpoint) with her one night stand with Li Zhongmou. Worse, Li Zhongmou has a rather nasty mother and not to mention, a paternal half-brother Xiang Jun who he's been at odds with resulting to them sabotaging each other. It's been all about family feuds and I'll admit, I would probably rewatch Next Stop Happiness over Loving Never Forgetting.

If there's any characteristics of Qiong Yao series or any of these series which follow her style is the fact, "Be ready to get buckets of tears folks because a sad scene is coming up!" sign is up and ready. Be ready for the fact that the feisty heroine may soon pluck off her spines and leave herself defenseless or get ready for the martyr flag. You might see the hero and/or the heroine who may psychologically suffer even for years for the sake of romantic love. Whether it was Yiping suffering over Shuhuan or Zhaoli over Yueru, I always felt like my heart was about to be torn out. Other stuff that I tend to find as oh-so tearjerking no matter how much the writer is praised to be a good writer are stuff like family feuds, stupid reasons to commit suicide (ex. Ruping wanted to kill herself because of Shuhuan), love triangles that tend to make people do a lot of stupid actions, swearing revenge and the karmic circle of what goes around comes around are also good reasons to why you should get buckets of tears.

Whenever I think about picking up any sad drama series, I always ask if I am ready to watch all the tropes happen all over again. Am I all that ready to sit down, get packs of tissue paper, get a mop and get buckets to fill my tears in as a hyperbolic expression that it's going to be a sad series? I always consider it a real challenge no matter how I invert it. Am I really ready to do all the stuff I just mentioned? To watch or not to watch them heartbreaking, tearjerking series... that is the question!


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