Series / Love (Taiwan Drama)
(literally the name of the drama translated from Chinese) is a Taiwanese Hokkien soap opera
, first aired on Formosa TV back in 2006 for a total of 386 episodes. It became significantly popular in Singapore
when the drama is imported over to Singapore's own Mediacorp Channel 8 TV and dubbed in Mandarin, starting in late 2008. The drama information can be found here
The drama became popular partly due to Mediacorp's failed attempts in garnering high ratings for their own long-running drama shows (Your Hand In Mine). Viewers praised Love
for the cast's characterization and strong character development and refreshing stories as compared to Singapore's own local dramas. Detractors were many as well, who disliked the drama for being extremely long-winded (as such is the nature of soap operas) and occasionally ridiculous plots (especially towards the end).
There are many overlapping story arcs in Love
, all featuring power struggles between different characters over various issues like land, wealth, politics, etc., and in particular focusing on how these struggles influence human relationships, be it romance or kinship
. The show started out revolving around popular Taiwanese actress Chen Meifeng as Lin Chunhua and her family for about half of the entire drama. The drama also features the Song family and their Universal company which deals in textiles and fabrics, which gradually moves over in favour of the Hong family and their World Hotel story arc, which is arguably the most popular arc amongst many fans. The drama ratings suffered in both Taiwan and Singapore after the Politics Saga arrived, which is the final story arc, where upon the story script reintroduced former villains Guo Congmin and Xie Mingming, who were arguably the most popular characters in the show, in hope of boosting ratings again.
This drama contains examples (in progress) of:
- Aborted Arc: This is frequent for dramas whose characters thrived on their popularity with the viewing audience, such as this one. They are namely: The feud between the two brothers Wang Wenqiang and Ma Yuankai (The latter stormed out of his brother's life without reappearing nor being mentioned again), Luo Shihong's revenge against Yang Zhengjie, Zhang Meiqin's attempt to make up to Hong Zhizhong who is her real biological son, and Xiaoyu's attempt to cheat Yang Zhengjie.
- Anti-Hero: Mob Boss Masha and Representative Lai Wuji are arguably light versions of Antiheroes.
- Masha with the help of Amy Zhou and Hong Zhizhong (Back then the GM of United Hotel), seized the United Hotel from Guo Congmin and made himself the new Managing Director. Partly to punish Guo Congmin and partly in an attempt to go straight. The latter attempt failed, because he continued resorting to "mob tactics" to right wrongs for future episodes.
- Lai Wuji, a friend of Masha, was initially portrayed as a somewhat greedy man who engages in illegal activities, requiring his father-in-law Wu Jinsheng to save his hide. Later on when he finally became a politician he still engaged in shady activities to undermine the antagonists. Wuji's bad temper and impetousness usually got him confronting Zhou Yingming directly, often getting himself into trouble.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Averted for the most part, except once: Fang Shixian fights off some troublemakers while he was the Managing Director of World Hotel for a brief moment. Justified in that he seemed pretty good in physical fighting from the start.
- Bastard Understudy: Zhou Yingming to Wu Jinsheng. Wu Jinsheng made Zhou Yingming the new Chairman but with the former still in control, whereupon the latter secretly and successfully schemed to overthrow Wu Jinsheng's influence.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Wang Jinlong, a retired gangster who swore off his old life and doesn't want anything more than living a simple life with his foster son Wang Wenqiang. Ma Junfeng began attacking his loved ones, and when one of his men shot his friend Lin Shiting (Xiancao), sending her to the hospital in critical condition, it was the last straw for Jinlong and he returned back into action by causing trouble at Ma Junfeng's nightclubs by beating up many of his men singlehandedly.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Xie Mingming, Yang Zhengjie, and Zhou Yingming. The latter two unravelled their true nature very quickly.
- Butt-Monkey: Mob Boss Masha's two main goons. From rude, antagonistic gangsters the pair gradually became mere comic relief who gets physically abused or made fun of by others. Also, Guo Congmin during and after his HeelFaceTurn.
- Buy Them Off: With Amy Zhou's help, Song Hongyuan presented evidence of Guo Congmin's embezzlement and threatened to go the courts with it. Guo Congmin offers Hongyuan a sum of money in exchange for the evidence, arguing that Hongyuan needs the money urgently to save his Universal company, and a lawsuit will only drag on without helping the company. Hongyuan eventually agreed to the exchange.
- Childhood Marriage Promise: Yang Zhengjie and Liu Lele when they were children. Liu Lele, however, grew up and out of it.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Yang Zhengjie and Zhang Meiqin disappeared from the show without any reason, and eventually all the characters acted as if these two people never existed.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Pre-Heel–Face Turn Guo Congmin.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Boss Masha and his mother. Although by the time his mother appeared in the drama, he is more of an anti-hero.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Xie Mingming, Guo Congmin, and Yang Zhengjie. Love is about love after all.
- Xie Mingming cheated the World Hotel shares from her first husband Hong Jianzhong, had an affair with Yang Zhengjie, killed her own unborn child in her womb, and after taking over the World Hotel, began harassing the Hong family. Despite all that, she genuinely fell in love with her comrade Yang Zhengjie and tries to play the part of a good housewife to him (As is Chinese tradition). Only when Yang Zhengjie dumped her callously and threw her out of the hotel did she became ax crazy.
- Guo Congmin for all his callousness towards his former girlfriend Lin Shuhua and former wife Song Yixin, his crime for embezzlement, and his continual deceptions, has a sister whom he does not wish any harm upon, and he shows a moment of regret when he allows Lin Shuhua to abort his child under Song Yixin's pressure. When Shuhua changes her mind at the last minute and delivers a baby boy, he continually attempts to take custody of his son.
- Yang Zhengjie has deep characterization. He made Xie Mingming pregnant a second time (Mingming killed the first one), then forced her into a miscarriage again. He murdered his own godfather Liu Maoxiong, raped Maoxiong's daughter Liu Lele, and siphoned the World Hotel dry of its funds before he became a fugitive. He never once accepted blame for his own actions. Despite his viciousness, he shed genuine tears for Liu Lele's death as she is the only one he truly loved and he also cares for his sister Dolly (Also known as Yang Zhengli) by secretly giving her boyfriend Hongyuan additional funds for Universal company usage. He flies into a rage if anyone insults his sister.
- Heel–Face Turn: This trope is true for long running soap operas in general. Guo Congmin and Xie Mingming are prominent examples of villains in the show who eventually repented from their wicked ways (The former did so gradually and hence somewhat realistically). Also, Wu Jinsheng after he lost his political power to Zhou Yingming. Xiaoyu was a slightly more complicated example: She appeared to do a HeelFaceTurn twice in the drama, but on the second time when she returned to "being bad", she never antagonized the good guys but was marked "being bad" merely due to her being in love with the antagonists.
- Humiliation Conga: Guo Congmin's "wedding scene" with Amy Zhou was EPIC. His victims gathered and exposed his wrongdoings in front of all his wedding guests, AND next it was revealed that his bride-to-be cheated him of everything AND then finally, Masha's men stripped him down to his underwear and literally forced him onto his knees in front of all his victims and guests. Justifying given that he cheated women of their love and wealth and was an obnoxious jerk. Guo Congmin was left with only NT3000 (Enough for a few weeks worth of meals?) and eventually ended up homeless, sleeping on the streets.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Multiple times. A notable example is a reformed Guo Congmin to Amy (Masha's sister) - pretending to be callous again in the hope that Amy would forget about him before he dies of throat cancer.
- Jerkass: Guo Congmin, and also Hong Zhizhong in his later appearances.
- Guo Congmin made Lin Shuhua pregnant, before dumping her for a rich man's daughter, Song Yixin. He repeatedly and successfully got the elder son Song Hongyuan into trouble so that the family head Song Zhenchang will lose trust in his own son. He did this so that he can get his hands on the family fortune. He eventually did so, physically abusing Song Yixin after Zhenchang's death, and left the Universal company with huge debts after siphoning the company's funds. He did all these with outspoken arrogance, and is a narcissist.
- Hong Zhizhong is an interesting case as he went through a lot of character development, from a filial eldest son of the Hong family to a troubled and unhappy son who realized he is only adopted by the Hongs, and then to the disloyal and unfilial jerk who gets himself involved in power struggles. The list of his most prominent misdeeds: Having an affair with the unbelievably annoying He Xiaoli and had a son with her, eventually abandoned his good and faithful wife Lai Jialing (incurring the wrath of Lai Wuji), allowing Yang Zhengjie to go scot-free, and turned his back on his foster family after they trusted and helped him. Shortly after he became genuinely remorseful he was killed off.
- Karma Houdini: Yang Zhengjie. Cleared of all criminal charges (Liu Maoxiong's murder) and he doesn't return the funds stolen from the World Hotel. And then disappears from the show without explanation.
- Karmic Death: In an early backstory, Ma Junfeng killed Zhang Caiyun's first husband so that he can marry her. Zhang Caiyun in turn shot Ma Junfeng dead (Although it was purely meant to protect her son Wang Wenqiang).
- Lady Macbeth: Xie Mingming to her first husband Hong Jianzhong.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Two prominent examples.
- Guo Congmin cheated Lin Shuhua and Song Yixin of their love, embezzled funds from Universal company, and took away most of the Song family fortune. He later tries to do the same to Amy Zhou, whom he thought to be a heiress worth billions, far more than what he cheated from the Song family. Amy Zhou turned out to be a family friend of the Songs and wanted to repay Song Zhenchang for his kindness. Her idea of justice was heavy, to say the least.
- Xie Mingming tricked Hong Jianzhong in giving his World Hotel shares to her, had an affair with Yang Zhengjie, conspired with him to take over the World Hotel and then attempted to throw the Hong family out. Soon after her wicked deeds, she divorced Hong Jianzhong and married Yang Zhengjie. With his charms, Yang Zhengjie tricked her into giving her World Hotel shares to him, proceeded to have a one night stand with Liu Lele (He raped her actually) and then threw Xie Mingming out of the World Hotel.
- Let's Just Be Friends: Wang Wenqiang and childhood sweetheart Luo An-an. Off-screen though.
- Love at First Sight: Wang Wenqiang and Tang Kexin, because Tang Kexin resembles his previous girlfriend An-an (Tang Kexin and Luo An-an were played by the same actress).
- Love Triangle: Pretty much expected given the title of the drama.
- Song Yiting likes Luo Anping but Anping likes Dolly, who in turn was in a relationship with Song Hongyuan (Long story follows... They broke up and later rekindle their relationship again).
- Luo Shihong divorced his good wife Lin Chunhua to be with Li Manna (Wife of Paul Ji). After a series of events, Paul Ji shot Luo Shihong, disposes of his body (Not knowing he wasn't dead) and forced Li Manna to run away. Many episodes later, when a remorseful Luo Shihong returns another Love Triangle occurs between him, Lin Chunhua, and Liu Maoxiong who was Chunhua's first lover back in her younger days.
- A more complicated version and particularly draggy story arc is Lin Shuhua in a relationship with Song Zhenchang, who is the father-in-law of Guo Congmin, who is the father of Lin Shuhua's son! When Song Yixin (Guo Congmin's wife), learnt about this, she suffered mental stress in keeping this a secret. This is actually more of an Imaginary Love Triangle on Song Yixin's part.
- Last Girl Wins: Hong Jianzhong marries Xie Mingming as his first wife. Then when she became overbearing, he starts flirting with Dolly, who was then waiting for Anping's release from prison. Eventually he met his true love interest Wawa, a blind girl, upon which a jealous Xie Mingming always tries to attack.
- Long Bus Trip: Many characters when the actors/actresses had to quit the show for real-life reasons. For instance, Wang Wenqiang's foster father Wang Jinlong, was written out of the show so much so that he was never mentioned even when Wenqiang was murdered. Most prominent one was that of Song Yixin - She goes to the U.S to stay away from Guo Congmin, but never returned back, not even for her brother Song Hongyuan's wedding.
- Love Is a Weakness: Exploited a few times throughout the drama, most notably Fang Shixian was tricked into handing his United Hotel shares over to Guo Congmin to save his godson (Lin Shuhua's child). It was later explained (Or retconned?) that Shixian confused his love for his pregnant girlfriend (Who died in an accident) for Shuhua and her son, causing him to make this mistake?
- Mama Bear: Zhang Caiyun shot her second husband dead when he tried to kill her son Wang Wenqiang.
- Married to the Job: Mentioned a few times during married couple Lai Wuji and Wu Xiuqin's early appearances. Wu Jinsheng was waiting for a grandchild for 10 years and counting but Wu Xiuqin's job kept her too busy.
- Marry for Love: Pretty much most of the romantic relationships between the characters in the show.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Boss Masha detests Guo Congmin, who became a ButtMonkey living off him and his mother (Long story). Much to his chagrin, Guo Congmin later tries to woo his sister Amy which he is so protective of (Not to be mistaken for Masha's eventual wife Amy Zhou).
- Noble Demon: Masha in his initial appearance, where he was portrayed as a stoic mob boss who delivers what he promises. He wants to reward Li Zhonghe (A scapegoat) in his own way after the latter was released from prison, but Zhonghe only wants to retire. The writer probably decided it would be easier to make Masha a supporting protagonist instead of getting the two friends to turn into foes.
- Offing the Offspring: All happened before the child was born. Xie Mingming took abortion pills to terminate her first pregnancy for the sake of ambition, Yang Zhengjie gave Mingming a second miscarriage, and Zhou Yingming deliberately orders his men to attack Xiaoyu and gave her a miscarriage.
- Playing Hard to Get: Amy Zhou and Xie Mingming.
- Xie Mingming to Zhou Yingming: She pretends to be vicious and bitter so as to lower Zhou Yingming's suspicions that she may sympathize with his enemies. It eventually leads to Xie Mingming's third marriage.
- Amy Zhou to Guo Congmin: Amy Zhou pretends to be a spoilt heiress who demands Congmin's attention at her own whim, and at one time deliberately leaving him to wait outside her apartment in heavy rain without an umbrella, for her own amusement.
- Put on a Bus: Guo Congmin completely repented when he realized he got throat cancer, he married Masha's sister Amy (Not to be mistaken for Masha's eventual wife Amy Zhou) and goes to the U.S for cancer treatment, and his character was thus written out. He only returned hundreds of episodes later (Singapore broadcast version) to help a repented Xie Mingming and the rest of the good guys to deal with Zhou Yingming.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Uncle Man, he briefly plays the mediator whom the Hong family turn to during a particularly strong internal dispute (Fang Shixian's grave stupidity in giving the United Hotel shares to Guo Congmin). He agreed that Shixian had betrayed the Hongs, albeit for altruistic reasons. He judged that Shixian should be fired from the World Hotel and pay damages, but he and his mother does not deserve to be thrown out of the Hong family. Also, Zhou Yingming pretended to be one before he was instated as Chairman by Wu Jinsheng.
- Reverse Mole: Amy Zhou of sorts, and also the repented Xie Mingming and Guo Congmin. Amy Zhou pretended to be a rich spoilt princess for Guo Congmin to woo. Late in the drama, Xie Mingming and Guo Congmin pretended to be amoral by working for or with Zhou Yingming to find a chance to expose his crimes. What might be slightly different is that the audience knew this all along, given the characters' own monologue.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Wang Jinlong, the foster father of Wang Wenqiang, often has this friendship issue with Lin Shiting (Xiancao), although nothing comes out of it when both of them were written out of the show.
- Spanish Prisoner: Amy Zhou essentially used this strategy in baiting Guo Congmin.
- The Reveal: Not to the audience (Since the characters' own monologues are often heard by the audience), but to the characters within the story for quite a few plotlines.
- Zhang Caiyun believed that Wang Jinlong was responsible for killing her first husband and son, and initially strives to make his foster son Wang Wenqiang suffer. Well, eventually she found out that Wang Jinlong was framed by Caiyun's second husband Ma Junfeng, who is the actual murderer, and that her son was still alive and is Wang Wenqiang himself. Yes, she realized she had been attacking her own son and married her husband's murderer. Drama ensues.
- Song Zhenchang discovering that his lover Lin Shuhua and his son-in-law Guo Congmin had a past relationship and that the son which he willingly accepted and loved turned out to be the son of Shuhua and Congmin. Imagine how you would react when you realized that your lover's son which you so hope for him to one day call you "Dad" turned out also to be the son of your son-in-law.
- Hong Zhizhong found out that he was actually the son of Zhang Meiqin, a poor woman. Under Xie Mingming's pressure, who wants to make her husband Hong Jianzhong the successor of the World Hotel, Zhang Xiuying (Matriarch of the Hong family) sent Zhizhong to work under Guo Congmin's United Hotel and his life began to go downhill after that.
- The Starscream: Hong Zhizhong. He consistently tries to backstab whoever he is working for, namely Guo Congmin (This is justifiable because Congmin did it first), Masha, Luo Shihong, Yang Zhengjie, and then Wu Jinsheng. He was given the nickname "Traitor Zhong" by Masha and Wuji. Zhou Yingming, wises up and orders Zhizhong's murder after taking away evidence of his corruption, and then stealthily shifts the blame to Wu Jinsheng.
- Too Dumb to Live: Fang Shixian, one of the male protagonists with often pivotal roles in the show, and Song Yixin.
- Fang Shixian's actions was often Lampshaded by Guo Congmin and Xie Mingming by calling him "Saint Fang". Shixian gave his United Hotel shares to his enemy Guo Congmin so that the latter can save his godson, who he KNEW it was Congmin's own beloved son! Also, assuming that Taiwan treats rape as a crime, Shixian doesn't seem to be aware that he can report to the police that his girlfriend was raped, instead going after the perpetrator himself personally. Way to make the drama continue.
- Song Yixin... Always accepted Guo Congmin after he crawls back, persistently pleading, even after he has been exposed as a love cheat who only goes after the family fortune and gets kicked out... Multiple times. Being thick-faced is not the only reason why Guo Congmin succeeded in his endeavors, two hands are needed to clap.
- You Killed My Father: Wang Wenqiang attacking Ma Junfeng and Luo Anping attacking Paul Ji.
- The backstory was that Wang Wenqiang's father was killed by Ma Junfeng, who then marries his mother. He resents his mother for that. You might be thinking of Hamlet at this moment, but that's digressing. Anyway, he stormed up to Ma Junfeng's home with a gun, resulting in a brief standoff between him and his half-brother Ma Yuankai. After persuasion from his mother, Wenqiang is convinced that Ma Junfeng is not worth killing and leaves, but not before throwing the gun at Ma Junfeng's face.
- Luo Shihong was thought to have been killed off by his mistress' former husband Paul Ji. Luo Anping, the son of Luo Shihong hears the evidence through a voice recording and despite pleadings from his friend Fang Shixian and girlfriend Dolly, he could not contain his rage and shot Paul Ji dead. Although after he was released from jail he learnt that his father wasn't actually killed but went into hiding after being shot and thrown into the river.