Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: Fall in Love with Me (Ep. 1)

After the dramatic tearjerker that was Goblin, I needed something light and fun to watch so I decided to delve back into Taiwanese dramas and give Fall in Love with Me (爱上两个我) a chance. I only put this drama on my to-watch list because of Aaron Yan–otherwise it seemed a bit too cliché for me–but it’s off to a surprisingly good start. We’ll see if it keeps it up…

Recap

The show opens with Lu Tian Xing (Aaron Yan) standing on a mountain playing with a baseball with the brand OZ emblazoned on it while ignoring 36 missed calls on his phone. He’s late for something, but doesn’t seem to care much about it.

On his way down the mountain, he gets stuck in traffic, and an impatient Tao Zi (Tia Li) driving a yellow pick-up tries to pass him on the road. Tian Xing doesn’t pay attention and accidentally bumps into the pick-up as it cuts him off, sending a container of chalk flying from the truck bed and right through Tian Xing’s open sunroof. Furious, he leaves his car to confront the driver of the pick-up, who starts laughing at him. He proceeds to dump the remaining chalk on her and stalks off.

As luck would have it, both Tian Xing and Tao Zi end up at the same motel looking for a room to clean up in. There is only one room available, and it has no door to the bathroom and a glass shower door. Tao Zi creates a curtain out of tarp, but it falls while Tian Xing is showering, and of course, a little bit of chaos ensues. Tao Zi recognizes Tian Xing as the Lu Tian Xing, advertising genius. He insists that he isn’t and leaves.

Relatively unscathed, Tian Xing makes it to his publicity event an hour late. It turns out that he’s the CEO of Tian Ji Advertising, and recognized as a creative genius by all. But rather than talking about his partnership with the client the event for, he announces his immediate hiatus from the advertising world and leaves. After a chase through the building, Tian Xing escapes by donning a disguise and wanders into a park where a commercial shoot for dog food is going on with a big, fluffy, black chow chow named Mi Bao. Tian Xing gets mistaken as a member of the crew and gets roped into helping with the shoot, where he runs into Tao Zi again. But this time, with his flat hair, glasses, and casual clothing, he manages to pass himself off as a guy named Xiao Lu, though the crew comments on his resemblance to Lu Tian Xing.

They welcome him and thank him for helping them out with the shoot, and Tao Zi hands him her business card while apologizing that she can’t hire him full-time because the company can’t afford it. The name on the business card is OZ Advertising, and it’s clear that this name means something to Tian Xing (the brand is emblazoned on the baseball from the opening scene), although he claims that he’s just seen their commercials before. But in a flashback, we see the connection: a young Tian Xing walks by a commercial shoot happening in the park. The friendly young director, Le Yuan, immediately takes him under his wing and explains his vision to Tian Xing, saying that advertising wasn’t just about selling a product, but about creating a dream. He then gives his OZ-emblazoned baseball to Tian Xing.

Later at home, Tian Xing muses over the business card while flashing back again to a time from his childhood when he encountered the director’s younger sister, Tao Le Si, at another commercial shoot. He immediately connects Tao Le Si to Tao Zi, the woman he met earlier in the day, and mentions this to his butler. His butler says that OZ Advertising has history with his family.

Meanwhile, Tao Zi is going over the OZ budget and sighs in frustration as she realizes that they’re deep in debt. The only way to save the company would be to land an upcoming real estate advertising deal. Her friend and coworker Xu Miao Miao promises to get right on it, and convinces Tao Zi to go home to see her father after he calls saying that he’s not feeling well. She goes home only to find out that her chiropractor father had gotten a paper cut while writing a prescription for a patient–hardly something to get worked up about. She’s about to leave when someone knocks at the door–it’s Lu Tian Xing. She thinks that he’s here to get revenge for their encounter earlier in the day, but it turns out he has something else in mind: he has a 30% stake in the company and wants to acquire OZ Advertising as a way of saving the company. Tao Zi’s mother immediately refuses and chases him out of the house while attacking him with some ancient weapons they have lying around the house, saying, “I will never sell my son’s company to a bastard like you!”

Tao Zi is confused as to why Lu Tian Xing would have a 30% stake in the company, and her parents explain that they gave that 30% to his father in exchange for his father’s help in saving the company right after Le Yuan passed away. The Taos are old friends of Tian Xing’s butler, which was how they had made the connection in the first place.

The next day, Tian Xing gets called into the company, much to his annoyance. His executive team tells him that they are aiming to get a contract with Galaxy Realty. He doesn’t want to be a part of it, but he agrees to be there for the presentation to the client since he is the brand and face of the company, and promptly skips out. Back at home, his butler eagerly presents him with a new wardrobe full of clothes that Tian Xing would never wear. The idea is that these clothes are part of a disguise that Tian Xing could wear during his vacation. In other words, he could more fully assume his Xiao Lu persona.

Dressed as Xiao Lu, Tian Xing heads out, testing his disguise by smiling creepily at some fellow commuters at a bus stop. Both the bus stop and the newspapers they’re reading feature big pictures of his face, but no one seems to recognize him. He ends up at the OZ Advertising office, where Gai Xian invites him in. The crew seems happy to see him, and Mi Bao immediately recognizes and goes to him. Tian Xing proposes that he freelance for them, and he’s willing to work even if they can’t pay him. They welcome him to the team and he gets formally introduced to the crew: Leo, the film director, Miao Miao, head of costume and design, and Gai Xian, assistant everything. Tian Xing immediately gets to work–he has ideas for how they can acquire the Galaxy Realty advertising deal that they’re working on.

The day of the Galaxy Realty presentations dawns and Tian Xing dresses as himself, preparing to go in to present with his company. Both Tian Ji and OZ arrive at the same time, making for an awkward encounter between Leo and Lance, who seem to know each other. OZ doesn’t seem to recognize Tian Xing as Xiao Lu, but Miao Miao whispers to Tao Zi that they really do look similar. Tao Zi loudly responds that their personalities are totally different, which escalates tensions between the two groups, but they quickly go separate ways before a real fight can start.

The two companies present to the Galaxy Realty execs, with OZ’s skit (complete with Gai Xian portraying a very convincing grandmother) receiving loud applause that makes the Tian Ji execs look nervous. OZ ends up getting the deal. Lance tries to talk to Tian Xing about their failed bid, but Tian Xing waves him off and skips out to “go on vacation”. He receives a call from the OZ crew inviting him to celebrate with them, and the astute butler already has a Xiao Lu outfit prepped and waiting for him in the car.

The OZ crew parties hard, with everyone insisting on having a drink with Tian Xing. At a later point in the night, once almost everyone else has passed out, Leo asks Tian Xing if he ever met Tao Le Yuan. Tian Xing lies and says no, but stares off sadly and flashes back to the day he first met Tao Le Si. That day, he let Le Si play with the OZ baseball, and she accidentally dropped it. It started rolling away out of the park and he ran after it as it rolled onto the road. Unbeknownst to him, a car was coming down the road at the exact same time. Le Yuan saw it coming and ran to knock Tian Xing out of the way, getting hit in the head in the process.

Back in the present, Tian Xing and Leo chat a little more about their respective pasts. We find out that Tian Xing’s parents were never around when he was a child, and the best part of his day was watching commercials on television. Leo was Le Yuan’s junior in college, and “practically watched Tao Zi grow up.” Leo thanks Tian Xing, presumably for helping the company, which seems to make Tian Xing uncomfortable, probably because of the role he played in Le Yuan’s death. He responds, “Don’t thank me, I just really want to see OZ succeed.”

Tian Xing and Leo start to try to help Miao Miao, Gai Xian, and Tao Zi home, but Tian Xing feels more and more ill and he and Tao Zi end up collapsing on a couch at the office. Tao Zi drunkenly insists that Tian Xing is Lu Tian Xing, while Tian Xing admirably clings onto his fake identity in his drunken state, insisting that he’s Xiao Lu. The two pass out in each other’s arms and are discovered the next morning by their coworkers. Tian Xing is the first to wake up, immediately extricates himself, and goes home. Tao Zi wakes up shortly afterward with Tian Xing nowhere in sight, but with everyone looking at her. No one tells her what happened, but they all smile secretively.

Mission of helping OZ Advertising land the Galaxy Realty deal accomplished, Tian Xing drives out to White House Beach Resort for his real vacation. But it’s not quite as restful as he would have hoped, because the OZ crew is in the room next door, and they are loud. Finally unable to take it, Tian Xing goes over to tell them to tone it down, and gets a less-than-warm reception. After he leaves, Tao Zi receives a call that they lost the Galaxy Realty deal. At the same time, Tian Xing gets a call from Lance, who proudly reports that he utilized his network to get the Galaxy Realty deal. Tao Zi storms over to Tian Xing’s room and wrestles him to the wall, asking him why he would steal such a small project away from her company.

Thoughts

Wow, this episode was long, but the show is off to a pretty solid start. Despite the length, the plot moved along at a good pace so the episode never felt long (which I cannot say for Goblin!) I stayed interested throughout the episode, am not yet annoyed with the characters, and really like the light, fun tone as well as the camaraderie between the OZ crew.

The show does seem to be rather formulaic and follow the traditional idol work drama format. We have the classic corporate set-up of small underdog vs big, famous name brand, the band of supportive coworkers who provide comic relief, and the secret history between our romantic interests. There’s nothing wrong with formula as long as the writers can keep the plot and the characters level-headed and reasonable and not dive too far into crazy land. Shows like these shine the brightest when they maintain the fun tone and comedic elements.

My biggest concern is that despite this cheery start, it won’t be long before we dive into the melodrama. With a tragic backstory like this one, there’s no way we won’t have melodrama. After all, Tian Xing basically caused Le Yuan’s death, and there’s bound to be a lot of hard feelings in the Tao family about that, and that’s not even taking into consideration the fact that Tian Xing has been a complete asshole to Tao Zi so far (when he’s not pretending to be someone else.)

Aaron Yan plays the same character he’s played many times before: the wealthy, arrogant, and accomplished corporate leader. It’s a role that doesn’t ask much of him. He does spoiled arrogance very well, and who can resist that puppy-dog smile when he’s being more human?

Fingers crossed we get to see more smiles, cuteness, and fun camaraderie.

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