Say what you will about 2017, but my drama game is off to a great start with Bromance!
The Gist: Bromance is about the kind-hearted kids of Taiwan's mafia bosses. Bromance is also about family and loyalty, sticking together and finding your happiness. It's also about love between friends, family, sworn brothers, and couples. It's about a girl with a secret, counting down to her birthday.
It's about all of those things, but really it's about Pi Yanuo (Megan Lai) finding Du Zifeng (Baron Chen). Yanuo's superstitious parents force her to live to as a boy until her 26th boyfriend after getting a bad fortune for their newborn daughter. She's done well until she runs into the mafia boss son turned clean, Zifeng, and the two become fast friends (literally). Her secret becomes harder to navigate as Zifeng's sister Zihan (Mandy Tao) falls for Yanuo as Yanuo starts to fall for Zifeng. Simultaneously, Zifeng's childhood friend, quiet Qingyang (Bii) finds a connection with a energetic coffee-enthusiast, Nana (Katie Chen).
1. The Characters
Seriously, the amazing, lovable characters are the soul of this show. When I started thinking about how to summarize these characters, I started making lists... so, sorry for how long this post is going to be!
1. Genuinely Good Person (seriously, done with the guys treating girls like garbage!)
2. Loyal and Honest. He takes his friends and family very seriously - no fear of commitment here.
3. Eyes that bore into your heart.
4. Protective, but not scary.
5. So supportive it kills me.
7. Open-minded x 2,000.
1. Sweet and kind.
2. Always trying her best for the people she cares about.
3. Rarely negative, despite the keeping this secret.
4. KICK ASS. Literally, she's keeps right up with Zifeng.
5. Can convincingly pull off being a guy (which seems largely due to her being extraordinarily tall, a bit flat chested, and doesn't wear make-up. Bii wears more make-up than Megan during most of this show).
1. Has a fashion sense that makes me drool (those sweaters... those rings... those jackets... dear God lend me that stylist)
2. Quiet but reassuring - he emotes with such little dialogue.
3. A little naive, but is willing to go the mile for those he loves.
4. Like Zifeng, not afraid of commitment - friends are family.
5. The way he takes care of Nana with such unwavering support and compassion.
1. So positive for someone dealing with a lot.
2. Not afraid to share her feelings and go for it.
3. Talkative without being annoying, a great other half to Qingyang.
4. Strong as hell.
She's just awesome. I loved her pushing Yanuo every time she showed up!
The Adults on This Show:
ACTUALLY WANT THEIR KIDS TO BE HAPPY. OMG. Finally, rich parents who just want to support their kids and their decisions, who don't think that no one is good enough, who don't push their decisions onto their children. I am so stoked with the parents on Bromance, I could barely contain my surprise. With the exception of Yanuo's parents, who are well meaning... but also kind of morons.
2. Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop
Those of you who are familiar with my blog know that I have trouble starting a show that immediately has me waiting for a reveal. Yet, the pervasive sense of trust between characters not only means that there are few miscommunications but that I was not worried about the reveal at all. By the time Yanuo gets to the big reveal, I had no trouble believing that every single character would be supportive and loving (spoiler alert: I was super right). It's sort of fascinating to find a show where the characters have such a strong bond and a sense of trust that the obstacles they face aren't between them, but for them to deal with cooperatively.
3. Warm and Fuzzy
When I saw how long this show was (30 eps on Netflix), I was hesitant to start it. Yet, now I found as I was watching it that I drew out the experience as long as I could to spend more time in this universe. The warm feeling in almost every scene just made me feel like I was watching comfort food. The romances were beautiful and sweet, the family stuff was just heart-warming and watching the characters develop just made me squeal every scene.
Let's dive in. Starting with Qingyang and Nana. Their relationship is the epitome with sweet and gentle. Qingyang immediately connects with Nana and does not hesitate to consider her as family. When he buys her the baby bunny, I thought my heart was going to fall out of my chest. While I wish it wasn't always so innocent (one kiss maybe?), their unwavering commitment to each other, especially as they both deal with loss, was well-done.
Now, what the Qingyana pair leaves in innocence, Zifeng and Yanuo make up for in droves. Even as they are becoming closer as buddies (brothers), the tension is thick as fricking pudding. They can barely keep their hands off of each other and by barely, I mean they literally can't. When they finally get together, things get steamy! I mean not x-rated, but man, if you're sick of drama leads kissing like they're 12 year olds, this will cure you of that (the last scene alone!). Despite the ridiculousness of this scenario, Zifeng and Yanuo have chemistry that hops of the screen, a passionate romance that is laid over a solid foundation of trust and respect. This romance is just short of perfect.
Even the side romances are nice detours. While these shows can get a little matchy-matchy, I liked the added touches with Zihan and Sister Feng. If you like romance, and you like asian dramas so you do, this show is for you!
1. Zherui (Lee Shiau Shiang)
I think this character was a major misstep for this show. He's nice and cute, but let's face it Zherui never had a chance in hell. I really appreciated that the beginning of the show didn't have a triangle, so when Zherui showed up, I was disappointed. Not only that, because he showed up so late, Yanuo was already so involved with Zifeng that Zherui was more like a minor footnote. Most of all though, I do not understand why Zherui is so obsessed with Yanuo after all of these years. I mean, I get if he remembers her fondly and starts to fall in love again, but he makes it seem like he never loved anyone except Yanuo... which is overkill. You're both adults now and different people. If he really was that obsessed with her, why didn't he every come to look for her. It's not like he doesn't know where she lives.
Mostly, Zherui just felt like poorly a executed plot device that didn't even cause that much of an obstacle. I thought they might work him into the general friend group, even if he doesn't get with Yanuo, but he just stays fairly pathetic and then gets written off. For a show with so many amazing characters, I could have done without!
NO. Not the A word! As we all know Amnesia is poison to dramas. When it showed up in this show, I was horrified. Now, without spoiling too much, I am going to say that of all the shows I've watched with an amnesia plot, Bromance handled it the best.
Now, with spoiling too much - I didn't even mind that this didn't get resolved. It felt right that something had to get sacrificed. With Qingyang's parents getting murdered, it seems OK that not only did the Du family have to sacrifice 7 years but also give a little something up. Besides, with a family as supportive and kickass as this one, it's impossible to to fall in love all over again. It was definitely heartbreaking to see Zifeng suffering to get his father to remember, but the payoff made the struggle satisfying. But poor Qingyang. Seriously. Bless his heart!
I'm obsessed with this show. Despite all of its flaws, I could not stop watching it. Almost everything about this is on point.
So...Do you ever finish a book and want to flip it over and start it again. I feel like that after just finishing Bromance. I wanted to spend eternity with these characters. Every small moment, every little touch, little glance just built this show into a perfect romance. I think if you need action, there is a touch of it (that last gang showdown), but for a show about mafia families, this show is about as gentle as it gets (unless you're talking about Zifeng and Yanuo's hands on each other. Nothing gentle about that!). I thought this drama sounded dumb when I heard about it, but I was glad to read some positive reviews so that I didn't miss this amazing show. So, I'm paying it forward! If you're not sure about this, give it a try. It's got a great pilot and opening theme song. I can't wait to watch it again.
Final Grade: A+