Instead of studying for finals, I decided to binge watch Moon River, starring Pets Tseng and Sam Lin. It is a bizarre sort of drama–ridiculous and melodramatic and full of pettiness and your usual dramatic tropes. A total Meteor Garden fanfiction that has a similar, strangely addicting quality, and very catchy opening and ending songs.
The ending theme song, 雨季 (Season of Rain) by Pets Tseng tugs on my heartstrings so much. It’s all about heartbreak, and I’m a bit heartbroken after watching this show.
From start to finish, Moon River feels like a Meteor Garden fanfiction, but perhaps with a bit more realism and development to its characters and relationships. So Meteor Garden with a sprinkle of Go, Single Lady and In a Good Way. We have our usual cast of characters: poor, oddball lead female, Xiao Xi; band of rich boys (F4, except there’s only three of them) consisting of cold head boy Liu Bing, the soft-hearted, nice guy violinist Che, and the other one; and mean rich girl Sha Sha.
Pets Tseng really steals the show as leading lady Xiao Xi. She captures the quirks, weirdness, and charisma of Xiao Xi with her performance and dynamism, and carries the cast. Xiao Xi was just a generally refreshing character. A physically strong female hero with an incredibly positive outlook on life and who doesn’t let anything get her down, but also occasionally feels vulnerable as well. Our pretty boy idol actors bring more stony-faced, stiff performances to the screen, but that is to be expected.
It’s hard to pinpoint why Moon River is so addicting. I actually really enjoyed it, perhaps because the show never takes itself too seriously. The pacing is well-done, the drama melodramatic as expected, but never too dragged out or ridiculous. One of the saving graces of the show is just the personality and quirks that the characters show, and the way that the relationships develop in a natural way. I could connect so much to the struggles of these college students, from trying to fit in, to falling in love and that honeymoon phase, to struggling to find the balance between life and love, and jealousy. Perhaps I’m just in an empathetic mood, and that’s why the show touched me so much, but I connected to every moment of Xiao Xi and Liu Bing’s relationships, through every up and down. I think the show did a great job of showing human pettiness and the ugly side of human nature, but also the redeeming side of every person.
Toward the end, the drama really ramps up in a somewhat unnecessary manner, as is typical of these dramas. (Go, Single Lady, why?) And Moon River ends in a very unsatisfactory, anticlimactic manner, but I don’t really care because I just wanted to be along for the ride. The beginning and end are more difficult to enjoy, but it’s that middle full of silly antics and romantic ups and downs–in a realistic way–that made it all worth the watching.