I was on the hunt for a good sismance when one of our Patreons recommended the Chinese drama Be Yourself. Are you looking for a feel-good drama centered around four college roommates who love each other through growth and changes? What about some great romances? Then this is the drama for you!
Synopsis courtesy of our friends at MyDramaList.com: “Four young women begin life at university. Although they are firm friends, they are very different in almost every regard. Xia Lang Lang is tomboyish, obstinate, and supremely logical. But as she begins her tertiary educational journey, she discovers that she also has a softer side – and that romance might also play a role in her life. Meanwhile, Huang Fu Shu Min is always the heroine of her own story. Acting cute and dependent is her strong suit, and independence is not something she has ever been familiar with. But she soon understands that her university journey could well lead her on the path to independence.
Then there’s Fan Xiao Yu, an intelligent young woman and a renowned beauty from a wealthy family. But she has always toed the line, respecting her family’s wishes, despite the fact that deep down, she wants to break free. When she begins to explore the world of business with a fellow student, she realizes that she might yet attain freedom – and maybe romance, too. Rounding off the quartet is Yang Jia Qian, who always gives off the impression of being mature beyond her years. But she has a range of hidden thoughts and feelings that are now ready to come to the fore now she is no longer under the watchful eye of her family.”
Drama Geek: I stopped at this one because it had all four girls on the thumbnail. I do like a good sismance so I wanted to give it a try and the synopsis gave me hope that we’d get a lot of fun college bonding.
Karie the Maknae: One of our Patreons on our Discord server wanted someone to watch this with her, and after reading the description, I happily complied! I love coming-of-age dramas and sismances and romances, and this drama had it ALL.
Shen Yue plays Xia Lang Lang, who follows her high school crush to college against her mother’s wishes and comes to regret it in a matter of days. The child of a single mother, Lang Lang is used to handling things for herself, and it takes a little time to warm up to her roommates.
Zhang Ruo Nan plays HuangFu Shu Min, a pampered child from Shanghai whose Princess Syndrome is nearly incurable. Thanks to her roommates, she learns how to do things for herself.
Vivienne Tien plays Fan Xiao Yu, a brash and confident girl who’s determined to make it on her own, even though she could be living off of her wealthy father.
Zhang Xin Yi plays Yang Jia Qian, also known as Eldest Sister to her roommates. She’s lived life as the responsible, logical one, but as college tends to do, her hidden side is brought out and encouraged.
Drama Geek: Shu Min almost made me quit after the first 2 episodes. She whines A LOT and in a way that I just can’t handle. I loved Xiao Yu and her interactions with her geeky new friend so I stuck it out. Thankfully, Shu Min’s Princess Syndrome is addressed early on. When the four roommates come together it is a lot of fun to watch them encourage and support one another.
Karie the Maknae: I was with Drama Geek. Huang Fu (as her roommates call her), got downright obnoxious at times, but then I got her backstory and I understood a little better. Watching her roommates work together to eliminate her Princess Syndrome made me laugh a LOT. I really like Xiao Yu’s boldness, Jia Qian’s steadiness, and Lang Lang’s determination to forge her own path.
Leon Leong plays Fan Qing Zhou, a second-year senior who’s extending his time at college as much as possible, stretching his resources while he and his best friend, Lu Xu Wen, develop a dating app. He’s calm and reasonable, loves tai chi and calligraphy, and is the yang to Xiao Yu’s yin.
Zhai Zi Lu plays Zhou Yu, photographer and cafe manager extraordinaire. He’s charismatic and playful, but never fails to treat everyone around him with respect, and is quick to show his loyalty and devotion when it’s called for. He’s exceptionally good at nudging HuangFu out of her shell and into the activities she really wants to pursue.
Jean Li plays Mai Meng, the associate professor in charge of mentoring our four roommates. He’s a listening ear, a defender, and a disciplinarian when the need arises, and the way he quietly supports Lang Lang steals our hearts.
There’s a guy for Jia Qian, whose romantic journey is the rockiest, but he doesn’t really show up in this drama. The Chinese name for this drama is The Witty First Half, so cross your fingers for The Witty Second Half!
Drama Geek: Here is where I admit that I haven’t finished the drama. I haven’t officially dropped it yet, but because I am in a weird mood, I was spending too much time worrying about the love lines and I need to just focus on the girls’ relationship. Qing Zhou and Zhou Yu are the two I liked the most. They are both very down to earth and not the perfect it boy that most Cdramas have as the leading man. When I’m in the right mindset I hope that just seeing the guys grow along with the girls will be sufficient for me.
Karie the Maknae: I was hooked from the moment that Zhou Yu stood his ground against Huang Fu’s obnoxiousness, then later encouraged her to do something she was scared to do. I loved how Xiao Yu kept turning to Qing Zhou when she needed to figure things out, and the easy camaraderie between Lang Lang and Mai Meng was fun to watch.
College is for Growing
Our roommates aren’t sure what to make of each other at first, as their differences set them at odds. But as they make small concessions, like sharing tissues or bathroom space, they start to grow together. I love how their support shows up in different ways, like going to a cheerleading competition for HuangFu or buying a body pillow with a picture of her favorite idol on it for Jia Qian. They do their best to protect each other from overly controlling mothers and terrible boys and horrible decisions, like breaking up with your boyfriend for the millionth time or hiding your relationship. The girls get so close that by the time the drama wrapped up at college graduation, four years after they met, I might have shed a tear or two as they had to go their separate ways.
Drama Geek: And this is what will have me coming back. I do love when a drama shows women supporting women and helping each other through life.
Karie the Maknae: I love that the girls weren’t limited to supporting each other, either. In the picture above, they’ve convinced their classmates to all wear the same shirts so that the reputation of one of their other classmates will be protected from online threats. Watching them all come together like that made me tear up a bit, honestly, and the journey just kept getting better from there.
Karie the Maknae: Be Yourself was exactly what I wanted, and I ended up bingeing my way through the whole series rather quickly. From side-eyeing Lang Lang’s loveline and cringing a little at HuangFu and Xiao Yu’s brashness, I went to loving them for their personalities and the growth they went through. I’ve heard rumors that there miiiiiiiiiiiiiight be a second series, and I really, really want it to happen!
Drama Geek: I look forward to binging the rest of this in the future.
What do you think, drama fans? Is Be Yourself the drama you’ve been looking for? You can watch it on Viki anytime — it’s fully subbed!
Until the last key leaves the hook, we remain —
Karie the Maknae & Drama Geek
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi