Oh, the time sinks we find one’s self in! I didn’t want to watch more than 2 episodes at a sitting on Memories of the Alhambra, so whilst in Netflix I browsed my playlist and settled on the Chinese drama Here to Heart to see if it would be worth pursuing. Mistake! Mistake!
Starting Synopsis: Hans Zheng plays the CEO of a company that does god-knows-what in the tech industry, Zhan Nanxiang. He hires Wen Nuan, played by Janine Chang, as his personal assistant when she returns to China from working abroad (PPL for Nivea), even though they were sweethearts in college and have a mysterious breakup, neither of which is over, and neither of which wanted. There are hints in episode 1 that it’s because her sister attempted suicide because she was obsessed over Nanxiang too.
Make no mistake, this is not a great drama, it might not even be a good drama, but I could not stop watching (though I did learn that I could do some mighty fast-forwarding) and I’m now at episode 28 of 48 in just 2 days. Why? Because there are elements that remind me of the Barbie Hsu/Peter Ho/Huang Xiaoming version of Summer’s Desire (and oddly enough, Huang Xiaoming was originally cast as the lead in this drama), specifically the way the male lead pushes and pushes the female lead in a way that seems “justthis” close to major harassment (both professional and sexual) because they share a traumatic history. His actions are meant (in his mind) to push her to break out of her self-imposed shell and grow as a person and a woman — and tell him why the Hades she broke up with him out of the blue 7 years earlier. It’s maddening, it moves far too slowly, and I can’t believe how long it took for her to hand in her resignation. I kept FFing thru to see if “this is the episode” where she tells him to stick his job and walks. But to be fair, he does push her to excel at her job, so she’s not going to walk away empty-handed without some serious line items on her CV.
I stayed with this because there is something about Hans Zheng that reminds me of a cross between Hyun Bin and Joe Cheng, though he could stand to put on a little weight. He’s very angular, especially in comparison with the number 2 male lead, his business rival and friend (who wants to be more) to Nuan, Zhu Linlu, played by Jing Chao who is very buff, a la Seo Ji-sub buff. (Call me Shallow) I also think Janine Chang is very pretty, does reserved, emotionally troubled, but resourceful very well. Hans and Janine have acted before so they have solid chemistry, as she does with Jing Chao.
I also really like Nanxiang’s 2 friends (always hanging out in the Dave&Buster’s-type game room or swilling wine in his penthouse). Where I fast-forward a lot are during business discussions at the rival company where Linlu works, the nagging/pushing by Nuan’s sister for her to see Linlu, and most of the machinations with an actress who’s the relationship beard with Nanxiang (and vice versa) although she wants him for real. Stop in a few seconds here and there and you can figure it all out.