I have been meaning to write up this review a while back now but school got the better of me. But at least it’s here now, right? Hehehe!
Despite the inundated amount of dramas currently out there for viewers’ pleasure, it is still a very rare find to find a drama that ticks all the boxes while telling a very down-to-earth and hearty story. I went into In A Good Way almost blind-eyed, not really knowing what the central plot was about and who the cast were but it blew me away right from the very first moment in some very unexpected ways. Not only did it turn out in a very good way, but it also stood out in creating a story that was realistic and being something that all viewers can relate in one way or another. IAGW was a drama that really connected with the audience and that’s something really important that all dramas should strive to achieve. It’s one thing for a drama to execute actors playing a character onscreen but it is another to collate that all together along with bringing in the audience to feel a part of the drama. I absolutely adored IAGW right from the beginning. It was all sorts of goodness that managed to attain a really smooth-sailing journey right from the opener. To say that IAGW was good is an understatement. You won’t understand the full goodness of this stellar of a drama until you set eyes on it and once you do, you won’t ever want to take your eyes off the screen!
The storyline of IAGW was very solid and definitely very strong. It never really swayed during the course which is such a rarity nowadays. It knew where it wanted to head and worked towards heading on that path. What IAGW did was that it had a central storyline for touching the basis of freedom and growing up that it wanted to push forth and did so by shaping the characters’ journey around that central storyline. It occurred in a really well-crafted way such that the characters’ development did not feel compromised for the storyline. Instead, it worked together with the storyline allowing the storyline development and character development to growth in a parallel line. That’s something that was absolutely fundamental to the drama and it was executed in a fabulous way that really accentuated the hearty, down-to-earth nature of the drama.
Although IAGW is a drama, I don’t really like calling it that. It is more like a story than it is a drama. The events all unfold in a very natural sense that although is scripted, doesn’t feel such a way. Regardless of which way you look at it, IAGW is a journey, a journey full of little surprises. Every ep made me reeling for more and it continually delivered while building on the foundation that it laid. The writing was phenomenal here, really creating a story that all can relate to. It’s a story about uni life but it was so much more than that. It intertwined character relationships in various levels that allowed it give the story dimension and volume. Not only that, but it also really pulled viewers in to feel that they are walking alongside the characters through every step that they take. I know I definitely felt that way across the course of the 26 eps and I am so glad that it was able to do that because it made the watching experience all the more merrier.
IAGW was great in delivering underlying meanings. I love the way it was spread throughout the drama relating to each of the characters. I quite enjoyed how the theme of freedom was shown in the drama. Different issues arose showing that freedom comes at a price. It is nothing something that can be easily obtained without putting up sacrifices. It is also through jumping these turns that the characters realises what it truly means to be free. Liu Chuan is the all-round perfect guy but he comes from a rich background that holds him back from freedom. Namely, it is his relationship surrounding his father that really holds him back. He and his father have different ideologies and they clash on that just like Ren Wei does with his father. Although Jia En might retain a better relationship with her parents than the two lads but that does not mean it does not come with its own obstacles. Her parents have a hard time setting her free and she has to learn to set herself free under her parents’ care. Each of the leads have their own burden that weighs them down in the pursuit of freedom but in order to reach that freedom, they have to learn to make the burden a treasure.
Even though IAGW lingers on the light and fluffy side, it does venture out to the darker side dealing with heavier themes not usually dealt with in TW-dramas. And it did so really well. This darker side is very realistic and it made our characters all the more relatable. I loved that we got to see that there are other events which play a big role to our characters’ lives and I especially loved that we got to see back stories with each of the characters! It was something that was very nicely developed through the 26 eps and I loved watching it all unfold.
The casting here is one of the most perfect, or near-perfect, casting probably since forever. They have a tonne of chemistry together and all of them are really comfortable with one another which really transferred on-screen. IAGW is about uni and much of uni life is centred on friendship, something which IAGW definitely delivered. With the time calls for it, the friends will bond together, providing a helping hand to lift each other back to their feet. They will be there to support one another and they will help in whatever ways possible. I love that the drama really showcases this element despite the romance and fight for freedom overshadows this. It’s the intricate and dynamic writing along with the chemistry that makes their friendship appear so realistic and interesting to watch.
I absolutely adored Liu Chuan and Jia En as a couple. They had amazing chemistry together and their relationship arc was very beautifully and well-written. I just love how natural and smooth it all came to be. There relationship did not ever feel forced but rather it was written in such a way that it made Lin Chuan and Jia En fated to be together. And they are. They fit each other perfectly and it is only when they are together that they are complete. They complement each other to perfection and always know best how to lift up the spirits of one another. I love how they mutually support each other in little ways that makes an impact. As much as I disliked it, I do think that the break-up is necessary for them both. They need some time apart to sort out their priorities and set forth their careers. However, despite the break-up and being countries apart, their hearts will forever be with each other. Nothing can break the strong and firm that their love comprises of because they have started a fire that will always be burning. There relationship is something special that speaks a lot of words. They will love each other forever regardless of whatever distance separates them because this is what their love is about.
Jia En is probably the character who had the most physical growth. We got to watch her as she retook her final year, stepping into uni life as a shy, vulnerable girl and then evolving into a brave and courageous woman. She who once clung behind Ren Wei was able to stand up and chase after justice. She took big steps in her life and meeting Liu Chuan has helped her to take further steps. He pushes her to new potentials, providing her with the basis to become an even better person. Jia En’s transformation was something that I really appreciated. While out of the four leads I don’t think she is the best written, I do like that her character has lots of great depths with lots of maturity. The way she handled her relationship really shows how far she has come since the very first ep. Her relationship with Liu Chuan really consumed her as it became her everything but once she learnt to let herself breath, she truly understood what it meant to be free.
I absolutely love Liu Chuan. He is just the perfect man out there and Jia En is just so lucky to have met him! He is so sweet and knows how to achieve the things he wants. He thinks ahead of himself, thinking ahead for the consequences and the effect that his actions will have. He understands how to plan and he does so for perfection. However, life is not perfect so despite his perfect plan, there are things that catches him off guard. Such includes Jia En who is an encounter that he never knew he would have had. She has brought a lot out of him, including his flaws. As Liu Chuan is so perfect, his flaws easily stand out. Given the “perfectness” of him, to see him work through these flaws really helped to show who he is as a perfect. We get to see that although he might have the qualities of a “perfect guy”, he is still like everyone of us out with a rich background that shapes who he is. He has setbacks in his life but he learns to deal with them in ways that makes a difference to him. There was a lot of emotional investment with Liu Chuan and we got to see some of the rawest and barest parts of him in some very heavy ways.
Bai Xue easily tops the list of being the best second female lead out there. She is different from the stereotypical jealous, sly and cunning second female leads out there. She is warm, kind, sweet and a very supportive friend. She gives really genuine advice and is always there to support her friends when they need it. She will be there to be as punching bag, a shoulder to lean on and as a silent listener. She is willing to help them to the best of her abilities and she will even go out of her way to do so. When things doesn’t go her way, she doesn’t take it to heart but rather she accepts it as it is and moves one. She sees the positive light in things and continually pushes herself to chase after her happiness. I love her optimistic personality and just her very sweet intentions. She just wants her friends to be happy and puts on a happy face despite herself feeling otherwise. She is not one to push her problems onto others but rather she will make her problems become the solution to something else. She is that type of rare second female lead who would rather stand in the background than in the foreground. I loved that the writing allowed a character such as a Bai Xue to foster because she is truly a rare shining gem.
It’s quite amazing to see the path that a character takes and realise the turnaround of feelings that you have towards that person. I had a topsy-turvy loving for Ren Wei but ultimately at the second half he emerged as one of my favourite characters, in ways that was stronger than the idealistic perfect Liu Chuan. Initially I thought he was selfish guy for leaving behind his best friend and alienating her from his new life in Taipei with his only goal in mind to get a girlfriend. It wasn’t until he started to realise that he was falling for Jia En that I completely changed my opinion of him. The usually rash and impulsive him took a backseat with his feelings and actually remained seated giving careful consideration into every move that he made regarding his feelings. It was during this time that his goals and aspirations started to fall in place. He started to realise what it means to be in love and by taking a backseat regarding his feelings to Jia En, he showed a real growth in maturity. He had a friendship with her that he couldn’t afford to break. It was too much for him to gamble because if he lost it, there was no way for him to gain back that friendship which he spent numerous years to foster. Though, more than that, he wanted to see her happy and he knows that if he confessed, he will be complicating her life, something which she doesn’t need. The Ren Wei from ep 1 and 26 couldn’t be any more different from one another.
Bai Xue and Ren Wei have a very interesting relationship. Initially, Ren Wei tried all ways possible to win her heart but it never worked because she had her heart on Liu Chuan. Then it was Ren Wei who realised that it was actually Jia En who he had his heart towards. However, he couldn’t make a move on it as it would come at the expense of his friendship with Jia En. Working through their relationship woes, Bai Xue and Ren Wei were able to see various vulnerable sides to one another and the similarities that they share. They are now able to sit and spill their hearts out to each other and there may or may not be some feelings involved. Only time will tell if there will be any further progress in their relationship and I am excited to see this unfold.
The run of IAGW is not over yet with a movie still to follow along, something which I am super-duper excited about. I really enjoyed IAGW for everything that it was worth and so much more. It was such a beautiful and picturesque story with lots of oomph and depth with every scene that it delivered. Choosing IAGW is probably one of the best drama decisions that I have every made because I don’t have any regrets whatsoever! It’s the great writing, directing and chemistry all in combination with one another that really binded IAGW together. I can’t wait to see it IAGW in action on the big screen! Thanks for the beauty that has graced our screens!