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Series / Like a Flowing River

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From left to right: Lei Dongbao, Song Yunhui, Yang Xun.

Like a Flowing River (Chinese: 大江大河; pinyin: Dà Jiāng Dà Hé) is a 2018 Chinese period drama, starring Wang Kai, Yang Shuo, and Dong Zijian, based on the novel River of Time (Chinese: 大江东去) by Ah Nai. Set in late 1970s to late 1980s China, the show follows the lives of Song Yunhui, Lei Dongbao, and Yang Xun, three men from the same province, and how they deal with the ups and downs life throws at them amidst the economic and social reforms happening in China around that time.

The first season, with 47 episodes, can be found on Viki and Youtube subbed in English, with the second season slated to release in late 2020.

This show contains examples of:

  • Book Dumb: Lei Dongbao is a bit of this, having joined the army early instead of continuing schooling, but he more than makes up for it with his practical knowledge, interpersonal skills, and leadership ability.

  • Cool Teacher: Song Yunhui to Liang Sishen, motivating her to actually apply herself and start trying to do well in school. They later become good friends and penpals.

  • Deliberate Underperformance: Utilized by Liang Sishen, a very smart girl in the class Song Yunhui helps teach while he's a student at university, due to the fact that she has a bad home life and hopes that if she flunks out of school her grandparents (who she lives with and who mistreat her) will send her to go live with her mom.

  • Fair-Weather Friend: When the Song family fell onto hard times due to being labelled as an "undesireable class" under the new communist regime, many of their friends and family distanced themselves to keep from being dragged into trouble too.

  • Fiery Cover-Up: But in this case, to add suspicion of a crime rather than to cover one up—when Lei Dongbao is accused of illegally hijacking essential resources (steel and cement), one of the other villagers who doesn't get along with him burns the account book that would've proved his innocence to try and frame him.

  • Frame-Up: See Fiery Cover-Up.

  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Song Yunhui, who is very kind and socially well-adjusted, but is also extremely smart.

  • Hometown Nickname: Or, more like Hometown Name—everyone from Lei Village has the family name "Lei", probably due to a tradition of the village you were born in being simply assigned as a family name.

  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: A very mild version of this speech is given by Song Yunhui to Lei Dongbao when he marries Song Yunping, his sister (more focused on "please treat her well").

  • Lethally Stupid: Lei Sibao, who initially stole the account book with the intention of protecting Lei Dongbao in case there was anything incriminating in it (there wasn't), and then left it lying around, allowing it to actually fall into the hands of a malicious party...

  • Nice Guys Finish Last: One of Song Yunhui's former dorm-mates from university cheats on their final paper, choosing to bribe the examiners and taking the first place and job placement Song Yunhui should have gotten, while the honest and hardworking Song Yunhui misses out on his dream job.

  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: Song Yunhui (Noble) and Xun Jianxiang (Rougish), his roommate at the chemical factory who becomes his friend despite their awkward start and the differences in their personalities and ways of approaching life.

  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Lei Dongbao's mother is this towards Song Yunping when she's just moved in after their marriage, though she thankfully gets better after they have a talk about it.