So a few days ago I recommended watching a Korean Drama called My Love From Another Star. It’s all the rage in China, I had just started watching it and it wasn’t bad. Now that I’ve finished it I want to say…
I TAKE IT BACK!
Don’t watch the show! Watching paint dry or grass grow would be a better use of your time because then it would only be boring, but watching this show can put some dangerous ideas in your head, and therefore is more detrimental. And here’s why… (Spoiler alert. I’m gonna talk about the whole series.)
Wait, before I start I just want to reiterate how popular this show is in China. These past few weeks I’ve been talking about it and everyone knows what I mean. Students of the other foreign teachers have been talking to them about it, and the lead actor (who IS totally hot no matter how much I don’t like the show) is a huge star here even attracting 4,000 people to an outdoor event on a rainy weekday.
And based on my knowledge of Chinese culture I can understand why people like it so much. But it’s for all the wrong reasons. First off, the guy is basically asexual. He’s an alien and can’t mix fluids with humans. That means that even with a small, closed mouth kiss, he gets sick for hours. That takes away all hints of anything sexual and therefore comfortably sanitizes the show for all the young girls who are scared of sex. And older women as well I suppose.
Then there is the main actress. In the beginning she starts off as a bitch which was fine. I recognized the character arc of a bitchy self-centered actress who softens and becomes “real” throughout the movie. Only, she doesn’t. I think people “think” she does, and I think the show tried to do that, but in reality they failed. Even when the couple finally gets together as boyfriend girlfriend she does that ridiculous “baby voice” thing and asks him horrible questions like “If me and your best friend were drowning who would you save first?” You know, making sure that she outranks his friend (his only other friend by the way. In this show he has no life outside of her–he has a job in the beginning which quickly disappears, and only one friend who is more his servant than anything else. He’s also filthy rich on investments. So he has all the time in the world for her, and yet she still gets jealous about his one friend he sees sometimes.)
Which isn’t to say he’s blameless. While I like his character more, as soon as they get together he gets insanely jealous. Telling her things like she couldn’t act in a movie because it would require her to kiss someone, cover up her body because he doesn’t like her showing skin (“You’re more beautiful covered up,” he tells her in a stroke of master manipulation) and not letting her drink a beer (her favorite) because he decides he doesn’t want her too, regardless of her feelings. (And she accepts it all giggly as a sign of love, not abuse, which it is.)
The other characters are just as bad. The main character is supposed to be close to 30 and yet when she sleeps at the guys house one night (to take care of him ’cause he’s sick) she is slut shamed by her little high school aged brother. And instead of telling him to piss off, she’s an adult and can do what she wants, she sits there meekly and acts all “cutesy” like a little kid caught doing something naughty. The slut shaming happens several times throughout the show despite the fact that they can’t even kiss, much less have sex. I get Korea (and China) have a more traditional culture, but this is just too over the top for me. Especially because she never does anything bad and yet accepts the criticism.
She also does the whiney girl “pouty” thing when she is supposed to be the nicer girl. For instance she forces the alien to take her to this fancy restaurant she has always wanted to go. Then, when they get there, and he doesn’t propose to her in an over-the-top, outlandish way (because, ya know, they’ve been going out all of 3 days) she gets all pouty and wants to go, skipping the meal. Later in the car he asks what’s wrong and is she mad and she spits “No, you took me out to eat in the restaurant I wanted, what could be wrong?” Leaving him to try to placate her, even though she never says what she really wants.
The man always has to comfort her, always has to save her and make her happy. When he’s sick she’s even demanding, forcing him to answer her, or help her. There’s one scene where she’s washing her hands and he’s standing behind her, waiting. She finishes and he hands her a napkin he has prepared for her, and while she’s drying her hands he puts a coat on her shoulders to keep her from getting cold.
And that’s why I feel this show is dangerous. It creates such a false sense of relationships and love. China is still traditional, but young people watch, and learn, from these shows and expect something impossible. Sure, in the west our romantic movies and TV shows give us unrealistic expectations, but then we go out and have relationships, and love, and loss and ex’s and we fall in love several times, and we know what to expect. But in china, they don’t do that. Many young people marry the first person they ever kiss, and some will even marry people they have never kissed. (I have one student who is engaged to a women he hasn’t even seen a picture of. His mom decided, and his mom told him she was “beautiful” and he believes her. He told me that he doesn’t want to, but he can’t go against his moms wishes. When he marries his wife it will be not only his first relationship, but his first kiss as well.)
And the ones that end up getting hurt the most are the girls. The majority of my students are girls and I know how raw and pure their hearts are. They watch shows like this, and dream of the future with an attentive man who will take care of her, hold a napkin for them while they wash their hands and put a coat on them. Only, reality is the guy (even the best guys) will be off at work all day and night trying to deal with the overwhelming societal pressure of “taking care of his family,” buying a house and a car and moving up in the world so they can buy a better house and better car. And that’s a best case, “true love,” type scenario.
But what about the common relationship? More likely the man will have a girlfriend on the side (or several if he’s rich), or just sleep with prostitutes, and give the wife money to live, but no emotional support and care so she’s lonely and miserable. But divorce is still frowned upon, and anyway the man owns the house in his name only, so divorce would leave the woman with very little other than shame.
So that’s why I feel like shows like this are unreasonable. I know, you could make the same argument about western culture and our Twilight movies, or romance novels. But most of us know it is a fantasy, an escape from the everyday. But young girls here in China don’t have the experience or critical thinking skills to recognize the same. They think, and expect, that shows like this are markers of what’s in store for them. What’s coming due to them for being a good girl. And sadly, many will be disappointed.
I know this is a rather long review of a show most people will never watch. But I recommended it the other day and so I just want to go on record as saying I take back my recommendation!
Writer. Traveler. Tea Drinker.Writer. Traveler. Tea Drinker. Doing all three in China
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I haven’t finished watching this drama but I went ahead and read your post anyway. I smiled as soon as I read the title of this post.
You’re right, this drama sucks but the truth is Korean idol dramas are all more or less the same and Chinese people have been watching dramas like this long before this one came along. Furthermore, the so-called Princess Syndrome (i.e. the spoiled, childish behaviour by Chinese women that is now commonly seen) has been around for quite a while and although it’s not clear how this syndrome came about many people attribute it to a combination of the one-child policy and the shortage of marriageable women vis-a-vis the men, as opposed to the influence of idol dramas. That said, I recently read an article that said that a pregnant Chinese woman nearly had a miscarriage after binging on fried chicken and beer (because the main female character likes fried chicken and beer) while watching the drama… So you might have a point here.
BTW, if you decide to check out the Taiwanese drama I recommended, maybe you could do a review of it too. I’d be interested to know what you think of it. 🙂
I think you are not focus well, if anything is clear in this series is that such perfect men do not exist, would have to be from another planet and other species. And now we can talk about the benefits or not to believe in something that is not real, like Do Min Joon do in its class with the history of the male fly with shit on wrapping paper and how the female believes it. (and you can see the subliminal slide and photo accompanying the fly. I ship them). If you can not see the change between this heroine (confidece, frankness, adaptability without being carried in normal circunstances…) and the heroins before; you do not understand at all why so many people have contacted with the story.
I think so like you, in deed, from the beginning (disney happy endings copyrigh) to deep (oppression of women from culture, tradition, religion …), but I see the progress that this character brings, and how little it is, it is very important due to its expansion. The painter of the wind was a previous production, a genderbender where the protagonist deguised as boy, just (spoiler!! …) finish with the girl that she loves (end of spoiler) . Love or rooting, which does not matter because even if same sex, but even if it is of another species (although similar …), and the faithful and be honest to yourself are for me greats points in this story. (Sorry for google translator)
E-phoenix, I started watching the show. It’s not bad, but we’ll see if I “go the distance” with it.
I am happy to report that today when I talked about it with a bunch of female students they also made fun of how dramatic the main girl is, so there is a little hope. But you’re right. The princes syndrome is so annoying! (Not that western women are immune from it by any means, but it’s not as prevalent.) I also read another story where a girl broke up with her boyfriend because he wouldn’t go out and get her chicken and beer….in the middle of the night! haha.
cmbp: 你是中国人吗？我用汉语回答你。 当然他不是真的人但是我觉得很多女生以为他的行为是真的。 Do Min Joo 是星人但是年轻的女人要找到了一样的男朋友。 所以我觉得她们期待不对的情况。
Becky: no sé por qué me has contestado en chino…suposiciones, supongo. Pero ésto me dá pié a contestarte en mi lengua materna:
Si el problema es que las mujeres creen en la existencia de esos “extraterrestres” entonces es esa creencia la que hay que censurar, no las películas o series fantásticas que se hagan sobre e.t.. Quizás la solución sea poner una advertencia al principio de las series: “ésto es un relato de ficción, todo parecido con la realidad debe tomarse como una recreacción artística” o algo así ;).
cmbd: I just guessed because my blog is about china and korean dramas are so popular in china, so I assumed the translation was from Chinese. Sorry!
And I think you have a good idea with the warning label. It should say something like “don’t ever expect this from a real guy,” or something like that. haha.
i think ur right in some parts its boring,especially i dont much like the romace parts they are not much exiting or thrilling and everyone as ther own point of view so no offend i think the male character was dull , he never expressed what he feel and i hate shy guys i like guys le min no in jeirs and bof who shows his emotions and teases the women it fun , yeah and i agree in some scenes the actress very childish like in one scene he woke her up from bed and told her to have breakfast and she was like use ur magic and stood me infront of mirror 😉 it was really funny and in one scene when she says my hand hurts i cant use even though it didnt but i will say ur saying about love is wrong because in ur culture ur allowed to do anything but here in asia we are not u can include india and pakistan as well , here ur parents choose ur bride or husband and love is prohibated like love marriages so we belive in love and wants to have someone that will love us and its good that there we nothing about sex its a taboo here we dont discuss it and ur saying the women should say she is grown up she was alone with the actor so how can his brother think nothing happened and what is brother was saying because he cared about her he knows how men mind revolve around and he was afraid that after doing it his siter may get dumped and he will not marry her and i think ur critizism was too much i think u should watch pakistan and india dramas and write a rewiev on it in which all household responsibility is on women and they also have to bear kids and have to work even if they are sick i think a man should cook and take care of kids when his wife is sick yes i have this expectation and i think it wrong to tell nto to expect this and this because every one has their own mind and experiences plus i think worst problem of arrange marriage is that the guy doesnt like the girl and he cant say no to his mother so after marriage his mother doesnt care and treat his wife like a servant and he dont treat his wife good because he doesnt like her so the girl has to compromise
but i still think ur post was too harsh how can u say love doesnt exist why because ur dissapointed we never experienced it or had our first kiss so can we stop it , by saying dont expect doesnt stop the expectation the dreams , you dont know what a women has to suffer here so you should research aliitle and living in prison doesnt mean to stop dreaming or expecting freedom this is what we have and its much better than these american shows in which ther is no loyality neither boys or girls in those american shows even if its just a dream we love it and everyone has their own expectation and what is worng if she forced him to do something it was not like she put a gun on do min jo to do what she wanted hime to do he did it with his own will and dont say his friend is a servant you will not understand i am sorry if i was too harsh but u dont know and u said things about female lead and i like her more than the male lead because she was brave it also requires courage so ask ok not anyone can do it
I think you are the one who are WRONG….Film, Drama are not a way of life..They are INSPIRATION.
It’s like BELIEVING THAT ONE DAY THE WORLD WILL BE UNITED.
Who knows…maybe it could happens, maybe not. BUT if WE don’t want to believe in it. It won’t be real.
I think I love this drama because of the lead man and the one who love Song Yi since their childhood.
Both stand very well in their acting.
The lead female was a little TOO OVERACTING that it made it unatural. But I LOVED HER in the beginning.
I really like her character…..it was new to see a little spoiled bitch being a lead female.
u sound like a typical american viewing the world with ur american mindset and not trying to understand their culture and trying to impose ur american bias on them. american teens went gung-ho with edward and bella in the twilight series raking in millions of dollars. let the teenage chinese girls have their fantasies .the chinese and their civilization have existed for thousands of yrs even before the usa became a nation a few cheesy romantic movies is not going to doom their civilization and culture.get over yourself and ur evident cultural bias.