Sometimes our readers are inspired to share their thoughts about a drama they have discovered. Hello Again from Taiwan is delightful romantic comedy with a twist. Join Mehitable, a reader turned guest-blogger, as she shares four reasons to watch Hello Again.
Back a few years I joked to my friends that the RomCom had left America and landed in Taiwan.
Taiwanese rom-coms embrace the un-seriousness of the rom-com, and the (let’s be honest) simplistic idea that all problems can be solved with a generous application of love.
As cheesy as that can be, there are times when you absolutely do not want to think about the things that are weighing on you. When you need pure escapism with a little bit of hopeful pep, a true rom-com can be great, and Taiwan gets that.
It is true, though, that Taiwan shows often drag in the third quarter, and the production values can be low compared to what we’ve become used to, which puts a lot of people off. With thinner worlds, the genre and plot tropes can feel a lot more tired as well.
Hello Again is definitely a Taiwanese drama in this sense. But don’t let that put you off: there’s a lot to enjoy in this cute drama! (Especially if you laugh out loud at perfectly-timed eyebrow sound effects like I do…)
Reason 1: The Double Reversal of Fortunes we’ve been waiting for.
Whether or not you liked “She Was Pretty” or hated it, most people felt uncomfortable with the body shaming aspect, not to mention that the second lead was a cute funny guy who liked the FL as she was and the ML was, how should we say…. a doodoohead.
Hello Again uses the same sort of reversal, except one is the successful student and the other is the class clown.
The story begins with a bet between the two high school seniors. If Yang Zi Hao, the clown, makes it to the same class in the same university as the Chang Ke Ai, the top student, she will carry his bag for a year.
He knuckles down with a hundred days to get into a top university, leaving no doubt in the audience’s mind about what kind of feelings are driving him.
He is accepted on a waiting list, and on the first day is bitterly disappointed to find that he got in because Chsng Ke Ai gave up her spot.
10 years pass before they bump into each other again. Their looks and fortunes have completely changed: he’s now the General Manager at his family’s department store, and she’s a hawker at a traditional market with loan sharks on her back.
Yang Zi Hao immediately recognizes Chang Ke Ai, and convinces himself that this is the chance to get back at her for skipping out on their bet (mmmm hmmmm…. nobody’s fooled about his motives except the two dense leads themselves). He sets things up so she “has” to take a well-paying job in his department store and pay him “interest” on a loan by eating breakfast with him.
That takes us to:
Reason 2: Yang Zi Hao aka Bruce Hung’s dimples and general adorableness
If you had second lead syndrome in She Was Pretty, rest assured Yang Zi Hao is the opposite of a cold CEO. He’s still the class clown, although he mostly keeps it in check at work. His intense urge to tease Chang Ke Ai keeps poking through his professional demeanour, though, and even the staff are starting to see a new side of him.
Oh, and dimples. Dimples that stab you in the heart every time he smiles. Omo, the dimples. Ahem.
Many shows use “teasing” as a way to get the leads to interact, but here the writers give us a rare treat: teasing that doesn’t look like emotional abuse. We see Yang Zi Hao doing things like leading the band to play too loud when she’s giving a speech, pulling up his sweater and sticking out his tongue at her, and packing an extra-heavy bag when she lost their bet.
These antics are set against a compassion and respect that drives the Yang Zi Hao’s more significant actions. He gives her a job… yes, to help her out and get close to her, but also because he is a successful manager who sees her as the exact right person to solve a business problem.
When she hesitates or is unsure, he always supports her by building up her confidence. Many of his “mean” actions on the job actually help her with her co-workers much more than if he had treated her specially. Throughout all of his actions, we can see that he thinks she’s something special. Eventually, she starts to see that too.
Reason 3: Friendships and fun side characters
There are a number of fun side characters, and we get to enjoy them because they mostly like each other.
One particular favorite of mine is Liang Zi Jie, Yan Zi Hao’s cousin who also works as a manager at the department store. The tired trope is that Zi Jie would be Zi Hao’s rival, for Chan Ke Ai or the business or both. The writers play with that in the scene where the two are introduced and immediately dispel it, giving us a fresh twist on a pretty standard set up.
Reason 4: A Gay Love Rival
Lately I’ve been noticing romances playing around with the tropes of meet cutes and OTP signals to suggest that there’s a same-sex love rival in the picture, but they almost never follow through. Hello Again, on the other hand, charges forward where other dramas fear to tread.
Not only does Hello Again give us a trip-and-catch meeting between Chang Ke Ai and the woman that our Yang Zi Hau’s family wants him to marry, they follow through by revealing that she is a lesbian and making it absolutely clear that she’s an active love rival in the story.
And while she’s destined to fail, as are all second leads, they treat the story line with tremendous respect for her feelings, while mining the situation (and the actress’s charming portrayal of being smitten) for comedy gold. As of episode 12, I really couldn’t ask for more from this storyline.
Kdrama Jen: I am watching and enjoying it! It is definitely a rom-com, and it has all the usual tropes, but it has some fun twists that are keeping me engaged! Thank you to Mehitable for this awesome guest post!
What are your thoughts, readers? Will you be checking out Hello Again? Let us know in the comments!