After the harrowing few weeks leading up to the Game of Thrones finale, I was in the mood to watch something light and funny so when I was surfing through the new titles on Netflix, I was immediately drawn to “I Hear You,” a pretty standard 24-episode Chinese drama with a young cast headlined by Chinese idol Riley Wang and Zhao Lu Si. My verdict: Perfect palette cleanser.
Synopsis: Renowned violin maker Ye Shuwei (Riley Wang) is roped into participating in an online reality show by his nephew Yu Sheng (Yuan Hao) where he is forced to pretend to be in a relationship with aspiring voice actress Bei Erduo (Zhao Lu Si), who does the stint as a favor to her best friend Tang Lizi (Gratitude Dai). The pair don’t get along at first due to a prior encounter before the show but as they grow closer, they begin to fall in love with each other.
As I said, its pretty standard. This plot has been cycled and recycled countless times — a tsundere who gradually but surely falls for a cute and optimistic down on her luck heroine. However, when audiences knowingly choose to watch this tried and tested formula, its a given that the show will find a receptive audience.
Personally, I binged through the show for three days and finished it last night. There were tons of issues of course.
First off, there was rough transitioning and awkward editing that messed with the consistency of the mood. Case in point, Shuwei, and Erduo would part with a semblance of understanding but in the next scene, they would be cold toward each other, and vice versa. Erduo’s mom was firmly against her daughter dating Shuwei but when they meet again for the show’s second season, she was very warm towards him (even before she found out he was rich).
Riley Wang also needs to work on his acting because even as a tsundere or a cold character, he was a bit too stiff like the violin Shuwei makes in the series. Good thing he has great chemistry with his leading lady which balances it out.
The show also sets up for big conflicts but these are quickly swept under the rug. Losing a huge amount of people’s money to a scam should have been a bigger issue but it seemed as if the neighbors quickly forgave Erduo’s mom as if not only two minutes ago, they were ready to burn her at the stakes. It would have made more sense if the victims asked their family to compensate for the lost money, which would put Erduo in a bigger financial pickle than simply losing their own savings. The villains were a joke and the third part Le Tian (Zhang Jiong Min) was super annoying and rude, always popping up where he wasn’t even invited and expecting to be treated politely. I’m Team Shuwei all the way.
For a drama that is entitled “I Hear You” and a lead character that was involved in music, I would have expected that Erduo’s talent in finding the perfect pitch would have played more significance to their story and connected them on a deeper level. But then, they simply used it as a title for Shuwei’s song and made it into a backdrop for a lengthy montage of their love story. The final two episodes had reams of dialogue too mainly because they ran out of conflict to resolve. As a fan, I would have inserted more sweet scenes and kisses instead of focusing on the LDR issues that were technically a non-issue.
I felt too that the resolutions to the relationship issues were rushed, Lizi rushing to marry Mars because he was the opposite of her first love — Shuwei deciding to drop everything to go to Japan with Erduo. He doesn’t have to be there full time. He could just as well fly in and out and manage his business from both ends. He makes violins and that can very well be done in a different location. Duh. That was a bit of a stretch, I admit.
So after all of these problems, why did I still spend roughly 1080 minutes of my life (that’s 18 hours) to watch this show? Simple. Shuwei and Erduo were cute. Even their height difference was adorable. Their love story oftentimes made no sense but it brought a smile to my face seeing these two innocents pussyfoot around each other and fail repeatedly to convey their true feelings for each other. I particularly liked that Shuwei was the first to fall, but because he was clueless when it came to relationships, he resorted to childish tactics like blackmailing his employees to invite his “girlfriend” to their party, inventing reasons to drop by her house, only to cement his good standing with her mom, impress her with musical pedigree and buy her, and only her coconut milk in a workshop dominated by coffee drinking men. It was sweet and romantic. He is also super jealous and often expresses it in a pathetic way. This is all of the show’s promises delivered in a snap. It is true that Riley Wang may need to work on his acting but his smile is priceless, so is Zhao Lu Shi’s laughter and charm. And I was charmed.
Sometimes, timing is everything and I watched “I Hear You” at a time I only wanted to feel love and happiness. This is all that this show promises so if you don’t mind the issues that I have presented, go ahead and follow my lead. Numb your brain for 18 hours and enjoy this show. It’s still worth a watch in my book.
PS. The entire series is available on youtube with closed caption English subs. It is also on Netflix.