Lost Romance (浪漫輸給你) is a currently-airing Taiwanese drama starring Marcus Chang and Vivian Sung. The synopsis and lead pairing drew me in, but I’m not sold on this show yet. I’ll probably have to give it another few episodes before I really make a decision though…
A woman (Vivian Sung) narrates what sounds like the steamy opening of a romance novel while the camera pans over a shirtless He Tian Xing (Marcus Chang) in a steamy shower scene. The narration continues, introducing a female character, while the camera switches to a woman, He Ming Li (Kelly Liao), putting on her makeup and getting ready for the day.
When Ming Li arrives at her office building, her employees are lined up on both sides of the entrance and bow, greeting her in unison. Two employees, Su Shan Na (Kiki Chen) and Jie Sen (Sean Lin), are late to join the line, and Ming Li gives them some side eye.
Su Shan Na and Jie Sen go outside just in time to greet Tian Xing as he drives up and coolly tosses his keys to Jie Sen. Su Shan Na follows him into the building. He crosses paths with a shy-looking employee (Snowbaby) and they trade small smiles.
We finally meet our narrator, Zheng Xiao En, who is editing a romance novel as part of her day job at Ru Ge Publishing. This one is called CEO, You Nasty. Xiao En’s coworker, Lin Chun Tian (Pii), finds the title a bit on-the-nose, but it’s the only way to attract readers these days in a waning publishing market. Chun Tian thinks that in 2020, no one wants to read about arrogant CEOs anymore, but Xiao En disagrees. She adores and is a fierce defendant of the arrogant CEO trope and points out that every blockbuster hit has an arrogant CEO: Christian Grey, Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark.
This particular novel’s arrogant CEO is Si Tu Ao Ran, the billionaire head of a venture capital firm. Chun Tian rolls her eyes. Even the character’s name is obvious, meaning “proud” or “unyielding.”
Xiao En laments that the last three romance novels their company has published have had similar names and similar plots. The only difference has been the names of the characters. Where is the creativity? The publishing industry as a whole is not doing well. Two rental bookstores recently closed. The outlook isn’t good for small publishing companies like theirs.
Xiao En declares that there must be a new way forward for the novel industry, but she doesn’t know what. For now, she and Chun Tian will be satisfied if this CEO, You Nasty book nets them a bonus this month. They pray to the arrogant CEO that they’ll get their bonus, but they’re caught by their editor-in-chief, Yao Gu Ping (Xu Yuan Kang), who tells them that praying is useless.
He Ming Li who is Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) at Tian Liang Group, settles into her office while her assistant, Qiao Zhi (Deyn Li), reports that Fu Gui Bank has called again.
He Tian Xing, who is CEO, hears the same report about Fu Gui Bank from Su Shan Na. Ming Li’s Tian Liang Hospitality subsidiary has not been doing well and is behind on loan payments.
Yao pulls Xiao En and Chun Tian into his office to ask them about how plans for their novels are doing. He heard about the closure of the book rental stores. Xiao En and Chun Tian quickly reassure him that they were able to snag a partnership with Night Dreams, an online bookstore, and add that they’re optimistic about selling publishing rights to manga publishers, movie production companies, and other media. Yao is unamused.
Yao asks to see the cover concept art for the novel Xiao En is editing. He doesn’t like any of the covers and tells Xiao En to come back to him with revisions in three days.
Xiao En is unhappy with the tight deadline and his lack of clear requirements, but has to comply. She sighs at her desk and wishes that she could find her own arrogant CEO to fall in love with.
She and Chun Tian take a break and go outside, where they fly a drone to a neighboring office building and spy on their own handsome, arrogant CEO: He Tian Xing. They watch as Su Shan Na brings him some documents and role play a conversation between them, imagining that they have a classic employee-boss romance.
Xiao En wishes that they had a boss like He Tian Xing, but Chun Tian points out that they probably wouldn’t find him attractive anymore if he really were their boss. Xiao En thinks otherwise. She bets that his secretary secretly has a crush on him.
Unfortunately for Xiao En and Chun Tian, Tian Xing soon leaves his office and they lose their eye candy.
Tian Xing and Ming Li both head out for an emergency family meeting held by their father. Ming Li is annoyed that she’s suddenly being summoned. Qiao Zhi suggests that it might be because of Fu Gui Bank — perhaps they called him when they couldn’t reach her. Ming Li immediately pushes the blame onto him, saying he should’ve taken care of it.
Tian Xing is already with their father, He Zhao Nan (Don Wong), and Hu Chao Qin (Tang Zhi Wei), a senior board member and their father’s confidant, but Ming Li only gives him a glare and otherwise ignores him. Their father immediately asks her about Tian Liang Hospitality and why there’s a problem with it.
Ming Li acts like there is no problem and says that the company is just in its early stages and thus not profitable yet, but her father doesn’t accept it as an excuse. He tells Tian Xing to take a look at the company’s business report.
Tian Xing quickly analyzes the numbers and decides that Ming Li’s company can’t continue. It is operating at a loss and can potentially affect the rest of Tian Liang’s holdings.
Ming Li accuses Tian Xing of trying to ruin her company, but Tian Xing evenly responds that she’s the one who ruined it. She throws more accusations at Tian Xing, but their father interrupts and tells her to stop.
Their brother, He Tian Jian (Jason Hsu), arrives late and looking ruffled. There’s a hickey on his neck and some lipstick on his shirt collar, which Tian Xing tries to discreetly point out, while Ming Li rolls her eyes in disgust and their father frowns.
Uncle Hu updates Tian Jian on the situation at hand. He agrees with whatever Tian Xing thinks best. Ming Li hisses at him to stop helping outsiders at his own expense. Their father admonishes them for talking about outsiders and insiders. They are all his children. He’s not dead yet; they dare to try and split the family in front of him?
He stands up and says that they’ll follow Tian Xing’s decision, then leaves, ignoring Ming Li’s protests. She glares at Tian Xing, who returns her gaze evenly, then leaves as well. Tian Jian pats him on the shoulder before heading out.
In the elevator, the elder He laments to Hu that Ming Li is too impulsive and cares too much about her image. If not for Tian Xing, she would probably cause a disaster. Hu reminds him that he once said Tian Xing was the most like himself out of all of his children. As long as Tian Xing is at the company, it will be fine. He asks Hu to take care of Tian Xing in the future. Hu reassures him that he’s duty-bound to do so.
He Zhao Nan suddenly staggers and then falls unconscious as he exits the elevator.
At the hospital, Tian Xing waits outside of his father’s hospital room, like a stranger, while his siblings, their mother, and Uncle Hu attend at his father’s bedside. The outlook doesn’t look good for He Zhao Nan. He’s unconscious and on a ventilator.
The elder He suddenly gains consciousness for a moment and struggles to say some words. Uncle Hu interprets and guesses that he wants Tian Xing. He tells Tian Xing, who rushes inside and roughly brushes past Ming Li to grasp his father’s hand. Ming Li and her mother both glare at Tian Xing, but he ignores them.
Xiao En is on her last 800 NTD (~27 USD) and laments how she’s always living from paycheck to paycheck. She mooches a bite of a snack from Chun Tian, then raises her hands to the skies and begs for God to send an arrogant CEO into her life, but nearly gets hit by a car in her exuberance. She flinches and shudders dramatically — does she have to give up her life in order to get her wish?
She turns to yell at the retreating car, then spots a newsstand plastered with photos huge photos of He Tian Xing. “Is it really that hard to find a CEO?” she asks out loud.
She sighs and turns, not noticing that He Tian Xing is in the car that drives past her.
Ming Li is furious when she returns home. How could her father only care about Tian Xing? Are they not his family as well? Her mother turns to a framed family portrait on the wall — just the four of them, no Tian Xing — and continues to sob, begging for her husband to be okay.
Ming Li yells at her mother for not being able to do anything except cry. Her brother tries to comfort their mother, and says that Ming Li shouldn’t be upset at her. But Ming Li blames their mother for being useless. If she were stronger, Tian Xing would never be in his current position.
Now that their father is likely on his deathbed, Ming Li is certain that Tian Xing’s next move will be to kick the three of them out of Tian Liang Group. Tian Jian seems unconvinced, but Ming Li reminds him, “Don’t you remember what we did to him?” Tian Jian might be a pacifist, but Tian Xing is not. He’s a vulture. A vampire. He’s been biding his time, waiting for an opportunity.
Tian Jian still doesn’t think Tian Xing is that kind of person, but Ming Li tells him that their father’s will has already named Tian Xing as the sole inheritor of Tian Liang Group. If their father really dies, then no one will be able to stop Tian Xing. Ming Li refuses to sit around and do nothing.
Su Shan Na calls Tian Xing on his way home, reporting that Ming Li is holding an emergency board meeting the next day to select a new chairman. Tian Xing isn’t too surprised, but is disappointed that his sister would do such a thing when their father is still in the hospital. Su Shan Na reminds him that he should start thinking about how much support he has from the board. There are nine members and he needs at least five votes. Tian Xing is fairly confident that he can get five votes: himself, Uncle Hu, and three directors he’s familiar with.
Xiao En can’t sleep well at night, so she decides to text Lucas, the designer in charge of the cover art, to check on his progress, despite it being 4 AM. He responds almost immediately, saying it’s almost done.
Tian Jian and Ming Li run into each other before the board meeting. Tian Jian is reluctant to oust Tian Xing, because he’s doing an excellent job running the company. Why remove him? But Ming Li doesn’t want to hear any of it. She warns Tian Jian that he doesn’t have to vote for her, but he better not vote for Tian Xing either.
Tian Xing and Ming Li stare at each other during the board meeting. Uncle Hu asks non-board members to vacate the room. When Qiao Zhi goes outside, he makes a phone call to someone, asking, “Are you ready?”
Xiao En is in a bad mood. Lucas was far from being “almost done” when she texted him. She only just received three new designs and none of them are up to par, but the designer says that these are the final designs he’ll make. She hopes to at least cheer herself up by spying on their favorite CEO, but Chun Tian tells her that he isn’t in the office yet.
Xiao En pulls out her phone and chuckles, reading the initial meeting scene between the hero and heroine in CEO, You Nasty. She narrates it out loud for Chun Tian, and acts it out with her as a partner for good measure. The heroine climbs a tree to release an injured bird back into the wild, but then falls and manages to land right in the hero’s arms, and they stare into each other’s eyes…
Xiao En points out how ridiculous this scene is. How did the heroine fall into the hero’s arms without crushing him to the ground? And how did she fall perfectly so that she’d land in his arms bridal style?
Chun Tian runs off to receive a package, leaving Xiao En outside by herself with the drone.
After the board votes on some matters regarding a new business plan — likely Ming Li’s excuse for holding the meeting — Ming Li proposes electing a new chairman. Tian Xing makes eye contact with three of the male directors, who gives him small nods in return. Uncle Hu proposes giving everyone a ten minute break, since this chairman election is so sudden and important.
One of the male directors heads outside for a smoke break, while Tian Jian stands up to go use the restroom. When he tries to leave the restroom, he finds that the door is jammed from the outside. Qiao Zhi apologizes through the door, saying that he’ll let him out in ten minutes. Tian Jian tries calling his sister, but she ignores his call.
Ming Li starts the meeting without Tian Jian and Director Xu, the man who went outside for a smoke. They need only 7 board members in order to hold a vote, and now Ming Li needs only 4 votes to win.
The two female directors vote for Ming Li, as expected, and Ming Li votes for herself. Uncle Hu also raises his hand, and Tian Xing stares at him, betrayed, asking why. Uncle Hu apologizes to him but doesn’t give him a reason.
Tian Xing stands up and congratulates Ming Li, saying he hopes she will work in the company’s best interests. He extends his hand for a handshake, but she smirks at him before turning away, pointedly ignoring him.
Several more of Ming Li burst into the room, blocking the way out. Ming Li knows that Tian Xing has their father’s will, and she wants it. Her men advance toward Tian Xing, so he parkours over the tables and escapes. He nearly gets trapped in a stairwell, but manages to escape onto a floor, where Tian Jian finds him.
Tian Jian helps get him to the roof, where he says someone will come to pick him up. He tells Tian Xing to take care of himself; his life from here on out won’t be easy, with Ming Li constantly after him. But before his escape ride arrives, Ming Li finds them on the rooftop, backed up by her henchmen.
Tian Jian wants his sister to let Tian Xing go, but Ming Li isn’t so merciful. She tells Tian Xing that he might think himself noble, but his life is cheap. He’s free to withhold the will from her, but then he won’t survive. If Tian Jian refuses to come to her side, then she’ll make him go down with Tian Xing.
Tian Xing tells Tian Jian to go join their sister. He’s done enough already. Tian Jian is reluctant, but when Ming Li tells her men to advance, Tian Xing throws his brother at them. Then he pulls a brown envelope out of his suit jacket: the will. He moves toward the edge of the rooftop and holds the envelope out over the empty space. He says that Ming Li can look at it, but only if she personally comes over by herself.
After a brief stare-down, Ming Li slowly walks over to Tian Xing. She moves to grab the envelope, but Tian Xing deftly dodges her, then uses his momentum to grab her neck and hold her out over the edge of the roof. Tian Jian begs him to let her go, but Tian Xing angrily responds that she’s the one who won’t let him go.
Ming Li tells Tian Jian not to beg for her. No matter what, she refuses to bow down to Tian Xing. She can see through him and knows he’s more than what he presents himself to be. She yells for Qiao Zhi. Dramatic staring. Dramatic music. Dramatic flashing.
Next thing we know, Tian Xing is falling.
Xiao En huddles in the stairwell, trembling. How did this happen? She scrambles to remove her phone from the drone’s controller, intending to call the police, but then she realizes that if the killer knows she called the police, then she’s dead too. She pulls her arm back to smash the drone controller, trying to destroy the evidence, but Chun Tian shows up in time to stop her. She asks where the drone is. Xiao En lies and says an eagle caught it.
Tian Xing’s fall from the building is all over the news reports, but Ming Li is dismayed to hear that Tian Xing has somehow survived. She orders Qiao Zhi to keep an eye on him at the hospital and to find out where the drone came from. Every possible recording device must be dealt with. Tian Jian and Uncle Hu are also in the room, complicit.
Ming Li doesn’t seem too concerned about Tian Xing having survived so far. There’s no way he’ll be able to recover from such a long fall. She smirks, telling Uncle Hu he picked the right side this time. She reminds Tian Jian to join her for a celebration. He seems fed up with her. There’s nothing to celebrate right now.
Tian Jian leaves her office and spots someone waiting outside in the hallway. It’s the shy employee from the beginning of the episode, who introduces herself as Ling Chu Chu, then starts sobbing. She asks if the CEO will be okay.
Tian Jian responds that Tian Xing is in critical condition, but he believes that Tian Xing will be okay. He believes Tian Xing will make it through this.
Xiao En watches a news report on Tian Xing’s condition. He’s still alive, for now, but no one knows why he fell from the building. The best guess is that it was an accident. She turns off the TV, confused. She clearly saw what happened on the rooftop; why is everyone reporting it as an accident?
She prays to a higher power, promising to give offerings at a shrine and do all the right worship rituals as long as Tian Xing is saved.
The next day at work, she has dark circles under her eyes and is noticeably lethargic. When Chun Tian brings up Tian Xing’s accident, she pretends that she doesn’t know much.
A coworker comes by and has them pull scrolls of paper. Xiao En is the lucky winner, randomly chosen to represent their department at the hospital. Yao had to get emergency surgery the previous night, which is why he’s not in the office, and she’s responsible for visiting him and wishing him well.
Su Shan Na stands outside Tian Xing’s room in the ICU, watching worriedly as he lies in a coma, on a ventilator. She silently asks him who did this to him. She knows that his fall wasn’t an accident. She tells him to fight
Ming Li arrives, followed by Qiao Zhi and a medical team. Su Shan Na tries to block her way, but Ming Li says she’s here to transfer Tian Xing to a private hospital where he’ll get the best of care. Su Shan Na knows that it’s a trap, but she’s powerless to stop Ming Li, who is Tian Xing’s family on paper.
Xiao En hesitates outside the hospital. When she finally decides to go inside, she suddenly freezes, seeing Ming Li walking toward her. She ducks her head and tries to slide by Ming Li and the group of people rolling Tian Xing out in a hospital bed.
But she’s startled when Tian Xing suddenly reaches out and grabs her wrist.
Oh man. Where do I even start with this show?
Let’s start with the title, Lost Romance, or in Mandarin, 浪漫輸給你 (lang man shu gei ni). I love titles that involve wordplay, such as this one! In Mandarin it literally means something like, “[I] lost romance to you,” or “romantically lost to you,” or “lost” (shu) is a homophone for “book,” so it could also be something like, “[I] give the romance [book] to you.”
Marcus Chang is incredibly attractive and the main reason this show caught my eye (though the plot sounds interesting too!) but I also find his acting range incredibly flat. I’m hoping that his range has improved since Back to 1989, but this episode didn’t really give me a sense of whether it has. All it did was remind me that yes, he is very attractive.
Speaking of Back to 1989, the sound editing of this show feels very similar, as does the opening sequence.
But the drama! The acting! Ahhh! Everything about the He family and their drama is just TOO MUCH. He Ming Li? Too much. The scene on the rooftop cutting rapidly back and forth between Tian Xing and Ming Li’s faces, accompanied by dramatic, rapidly-increasing drumbeats? Too much! Also how does one fall from a 40+ story building and survive?! Can Tian Xing defy the laws of physics? Is Xiao En and Chun Tian’s drone supposed to have cushioned his fall a bit? I don’t think that’s physically possible though… but everything about this family is ridiculous so I shouldn’t even be surprised.
He Ming Li is getting such a clear-cut villain edit that I really hope she obtains some more dimensions as the show goes on because this is not going to be interesting if she’s just… evil. Which is a shame, because I do really like the fact that the power-hungry, ambitious sibling is an eldest sister. Her character concept can be interesting, but I’m not seeing it right now.
It seems like Tian Xing is a half-sibling? The product of an affair? I can’t tell if all of these dramatic tropes are intentionally parodic — I hope so? Because Xiao En seems to make fun of them in her romance novels, but also adores them.
So let’s get to Xiao En, who is the most interesting part of the drama so far and the only reason I want to keep watching (other than the fact that we’ve barely gotten into the main plot of her ending up in her novel’s story). I haven’t watched anything else of Vivian Sung’s, but I’m adoring her here. She’s cute, but not annoyingly so, and I like the classic working girl, bantering friendship she has with her coworker Lin Chun Tian. I like that she has very normal reactions to things, like not knowing what to do with the recording of Tian Xing’s fall. I think it’s pretty reasonable to be afraid of being silenced if she were to come forward with the recording!
But I think the fact that I’ve already spent so much time and energy writing so much about the first episode of this show means that… I will at least give the second episode a try. I can easily see this drama being one of those ridiculous ones that sucks me in despite the overdramatics and overacting.