So many mixed feelings about this drama. There has been a lot of hype about how it’s so good, but I didn’t feel it. It didn’t have an immediate addictive hook, and I couldn’t get emotionally invested in any of the characters, but both Shan Shan and the show have a charming, cute quality that grew on me.
The premise of Boss & Me (aka Shan Shan Comes to Eat) is pretty simple: you have cute, peppy, innocent employee Xue Shan Shan, and cold, successful, intelligent CEO Feng Teng. The two meet and eventually fall in love. With such a cliché premise, we naturally get a lot of cliché plot elements and your usual drama tropes. This drama does have a rather palatable quality, in the sense that it is a bit more toned down and realistic than other manga-based dramas.
Objectively, Boss & Me does a lot of things well. I appreciate that the drama addresses a lot of realistic issues of a boss-employee relationship, and while the plot twists and misunderstandings are pretty infuriating and annoying because of how the characters react, they are always resolved in a very thoughtful, realistic way. There is also so much character growth and relationship growth that happens across the 33 episodes of the drama.
Zhang Han and Zanilia Zhao do a great job of giving their characters dimensionality. It is particularly easy for a cold CEO character like Feng Teng to become very stony and wooden, but I think Zhang Han’s portrayal shows nuance while keeping him mysterious. Zanilia Zhao as Xue Shan Shan can be overwhelmingly peppy and cutesy at times, but I love seeing her growth and maturity, and while these types of characters tend to annoy me a lot, Zhao has an endearing quality that never makes Shan Shan too unbearable.
My main issue with Boss & Me was just a lack of interest. I never got attached to the characters, and quite frankly got very annoyed by the annoying ones (Shan Shan’s aunt, her love rival Li Shu, despite Li Shu’s redemptive turn at the end.) I actually quite liked the last three episodes and wish the rest of the show could’ve been a bit more like them.
Overall Boss & Me was objectively quite good, bringing a more realistic spin to the overused trope of a Cinderella-esque CEO-low level employee romance, but it definitely did not live up to my expectations of how good it should have been.