P.S. Man Series Review
I have quite the growing ‘to watch’ list, so I decided to tackle it with a Taiwanese drama since I had such a good experience watching The Perfect Match last year. Make note: my experience with t-dramas is quite limited. I’m continuously trying to broaden my horizons and be better-rounded in the Asian dramas I watch.
I’m finally getting back into the swing of things with blogging, too. I’m on a bit of a drama kick, so you’ll be seeing much more from me this year. Hopefully, I can keep up this momentum throughout 2018!
Ma Xiao Qian is a frugal and hard-working kindergarten teacher. Since she was in elementary school, she always dreamed of having her own kindergarten. It’s a huge monetary expense that Xiao Qian can’t afford, but she tirelessly saves and works very, very hard to achieve her dream. Due to her hard work, her personal life has greatly suffered. She’s never dated and her roommate is her best friend and co-worker, Mary Huang. At a young age, Xiao Qian lost both of her parents in a plane crash, so she was essentially raised by her grandmother, who is a woman you never want to cross. (Trust me on that.)
It isn’t until Xiao Qian’s life becomes tangled with her childhood tormenter, Xia He Jie, which kicks the story into full gear. As a child, He Jie bullied Xiao Qian relentlessly. To this day, she’s never forgotten him or what he’s done to her. So when their lives become intertwined due to her famous model friend, Amanda, things take an unexpected turn.
Xia He Jie is a famous author who is notorious for rubbing people the wrong way. This lands him with lots of lawsuits and court hearings. He actually revels in getting in trouble because he can talk his way out of virtually anything. After all, he is an author and knows how to spin words to his benefit. Basically, he’s full of a lot of hot air.
But He Jie couldn’t care less about anyone other than himself. He plays the field, dates girls casually, and speaks bluntly—not caring how his words affect others; he could learn a lesson in using tact. His cockiness and air of superiority also makes him a tough male lead to get behind. Most of time, I roll my eyes and can’t figure out how I’m supposed to get behind this character.
In a nutshell, Xia He Jie is painted as a very unlikable and rude person. I spent the first handful of episodes praying he had a good reason for being such a turd most of the time. Something had to happen to cause him to become this way, right? Thankfully, there is a reason. Xia He Jie’s been burned in college by his girlfriend, who cheated on him.
Determined to never feel that way again, he begins the metamorphosis into the Xia he Jie of present time who doesn’t believe in true or lasting love. There’s no excuse for his rotten behavior, but at least it’s enough for me to feel a twinge of sympathy for the guy.
He doesn’t get away scot free for his behaviors, either. After creating a spectacle at a movie premiere with a director he doesn’t like, He Jie finds himself in hot water. After a court hearing doesn’t go his way (a first), he gets slapped with 158 hours of community service. Finally, this character is getting his due.
It just so happens that Xia He Jie is sentenced to 158 of community service at the kindergarten that Xiao Qian works at. Since the movie premiere night, Xiao Qian has been furious with He Jie for his behavior. See, Xiao Qian had tickets to the premiere because the lead actress is Amanda, her friend. As Xie He Jie wants to crash the event, he couldn’t get in without a ticket. This lead to him running into Xiao Qian. After securing her tickets with the aid of his manager, he rudely throws the money at her and it goes flying everywhere. Really?! What a turd! (Yes, this is me being nice.)
This only adds fuel to the fire. Xiao Qian is filled with even more contempt for this man. She’s merciless as she makes sure to give him tough tasks at the school; she wants him to suffer and she does just that by putting him to work. Xia He Jie has no interest in lifting a single finger, but Xiao Qian convinces him otherwise.
The worst part is that Xiao Qian is the “braces girl” he used to bully. He doesn’t recognize her as he doesn’t remember her real name, but Xiao Qian is not about to disclose that bit of information. I don’t blame her one bit, either.
Their situation becomes even more awkward when they pretend to be dating, briefly. To be fair, this was Xia He Jie’s fault completely. He’s the reason Xiao Qian’s grandmother took her away. Thankfully, Mary’s persistence works and she’s able to convince him to rescue Xiao Qian from the countryside so that she can return to Taipei.
The fact that Xia He Jie runs to her aid is quite a feat in itself. It’s a nice moment to realize that somewhere, buried deep down, he has a human soul. As the two are able to pull off the fake dating ruse, Xiao Qian is permitted to return to Taipei.
How will things progress from here?
Ma Xiao Qian is frustrating at times. She has no qualms standing up for herself when it comes to Xia He Jie, but when it comes to her grandmother, she just sat back and let her steamroll all over her. Family or not, respect or not, it bummed me that Xiao Qian so easily let her grandmother dictate her entire life. I do love her tenacity and frugality, despite how extreme it is. She knows and understand her means and doesn’t attempt to live beyond them.
Xia He Jie, as I said above, is really a steaming, unbearable turd in the beginning. That’s saying it nicely, too. When he starts to shed his bad-boy persona a bit and actually acts like a decent human being, he’s actually not that bad of a character. I like how he bonds with Amanda’s son, Xiao Tuo Luo. As he starts to show promise and we learn more about his character on a personal level (and not what the media sees him as), I dare say he’s pretty likable.
The real downside of this story is the pacing and the plot dragging on forever and ever… and ever. Of course the love triangle transitions into a square, which makes the story fall into tired and stale tropes.
I put the pause on P.S. Man for a few months as it was becoming too tiring to watch. When Meng Cheng En comes on scene, I roll my eyes so many times. His arrogance is just as stiffling as Xiao He Jie’s. And let me tell you, one Xiao He Jie is enough rich-boy-cocky-arrogance for the entire drama. At first, Meng Cheng En is all about pursuing a romantic relationship with Amanda, but as his paths cross with Ma Xiao Qian, he takes an interest in her.
Lingering Thoughts & Questions…
By any measure, this wasn’t a terrible drama. Some things worked really well and others didn’t work so much. The biggest pitfall of this drama is that it’s just too darn long for the central plot line. If there were subplots I cared more about, I probably wouldn’t have minded as much. It’s why I had to take a brief hiatus to regroup and find the desire to finish this one.
Listen, I really loved moments of this drama. It’s the kind of crazy you can expect from a Taiwanese drama, but the execution falls short. Plus, once Xiao He Jie and Ma Xiao Qian got it together and stopped dancing around their feelings, it was very satisfying. The problem is they don’t get it together until the very, very end. And meanwhile, poor Meng Cheng En is strung along throughout Xiao Qian’s inability to admit and vocalize that she’s in love with He Jie.
If you can sift through the muck, there is some good content in this drama. I haven’t touched base on everything and, sadly, I have little desire to do so. This drama was perfection in the beginning and I had high hopes and expectations, but the execution failed. The last half of this drama was like watching a train wreck in slow motion, so you can imagine my relief when I finally reached the end.
I didn’t love it or hate it. I also wouldn’t watch this drama again.
You can watch P.S. Man with English subtitles on Netflix.