It’s happened again.
I’ve stumbled across a Taiwanese drama I actually can’t get enough of. These are very rare, unusual words coming from me, so I wanted to take a minute to talk about this drama and give it a proper review. I’m beginning to have a new lease on Taiwanese dramas, which means I’m going to attempt to watch more in the future.
That said, Behind Your Smile is a pretty straightforward story.
Zhao Yiting is a young man seeking retribution and justice for what he lost ten years ago. Over the years, he’s molded himself into a cold and cunning person that is very lonely. While this is a shell and a defense mechanism, we discover that part of his actions are a front that hide his true self and intentions. Deep down, Yiting still has a heart and cares deeply. It’s just buried beneath ten years of his anger and revenge agenda.
Lee Xinyu is a young woman from an affluent background. When secrets of how her mom has been mismanaging the company business come to light, Lee Xinyu faces much opposition from those her mom has wronged and has to adopt a completely different lifestyle to continue living as she’s now broke and has to survive by her own means.
Behind Your Smile was a very, very pleasant drama.
While cold and calculating at times, deep down, Zhao Yiting really is a lovable teddy bear. For his entire family, he makes a huge sacrifice that lead to many misunderstandings from his family. When Yiting’s father loses it all because of a sneaky tactic at the behest of Xinyu’s mother, Le Man, he ends up taking out a loan to keep the family farm afloat. Things continue in a downward slope and reach the breaking point when Yiting’s father is killed.
Yiting’s mother loses it — both her and her son suffer greatly. Unable to cope with her loss, she pushes Yiting away.
Meanwhile, Yiting begins on his ten-year retribution course. I can’t blame the guy for wanting justice as he watched his family loss everything, his father was killed, and his mother pushed him away through her grief. It’s important to note that while Yiting has gone through quite a metamorphosis over the years, he puts on a brave front and tough exterior.
When his life becomes involved with Le Man’s daughter, Xinyu, that’s where things take an interesting turn. The more he lies and tries to pretend to be this awful, wretch of a person, the more that Xinyu is confused and torn. There is a lot of misunderstanding and dancing around the truth that goes on in this drama.
Yiting spends an awful lot of time setting up “situations” in Xinyu’s life that brings them closer together. Plan or no plan, Yiting is not a robot and it’s easy to see how his true, human emotions bleed through his “games.” He may have planned it in his head to destroy Le Man by using her daughter, but it’s not that simple. when Yiting, deep down, doesn’t want to do a thing to hurt Xinyu.
The fact that Ziting allows Xinyu to work at his family’s farm (she doesn’t know this at the time), is a pretty big deal. He is letting her into his world and allowing her to interact and help his family. She is not a threat to his plan — except the fact that his feelings continue to grow for her and it presents a weakness to his enemies. Even when he’s trying to be calculating and mean as Yiting, I feel like there’s still a gentleness in his eyes that shows more dimension, more than meets the eye.
Also, that smile above. Marcus Chang has impressed me so very much with his work here. Although I don’t watch Taiwanese dramas as much as k-dramas, this is easily a top contender with the likes of The Perfect Match. Marcus really brings dimension, depth, and fun quirks to Yiting. I feel like he has such expressive eyes.
Let’s also not forget that Eugenie Liu is doing great work here as well. Her character is an all around good person that doesn’t try to deceive or hurt anyone. Eugenie Liu plays Xinyu with such a quiet strength. In the beginning, Xinyu is very weak and fragile. When she learns of what her mother’s done and first hand experiences those that she’s hurt and wronged, it’s a difficult time filled with emotional turmoil. She goes from wealthy status to nothing overnight; she endures a great deal of hatred, but still manages to build herself up and survive. I was not familiar with Eugenie Liu until this drama, but I have to say, she has done very impressive work here.
As Yiting and Xinyu naturally grow closer and fall in love, the obstacles and misunderstandings create a huge rift. When Xinyu learns that her best friend and Yi Ting have been lying to her, it’s a tough pill to follow. No one likes to be played for a fool and Xinyu grows very apprehensive and distrusting of those around her. To make matters more complicated, she has bonded deeply with Yi Ting’s mother at the farm and she was completely unaware of their connection.
Her guilt is insurmountable as her mother, Ye Man, destroyed this family’s farm. She knows it’s not right to love Yi Ting and she doesn’t want to further torment his mother with her true identity, so Xinyu pulls away.
Or, at least she tries to. But everyone has witnessed how pure the love Yiting and Xinyu have for each other, so they try hard to bring them back together. In true form, this drama is an emotional roller coaster until the very end. It may not be the best or most original plot, but I enjoyed watching the mystery of it all unfold. Plus, Marcus and Eugenie are just too dang cute together on screen when the story isn’t in emotional turmoil. I lived for their cuteness!
And let’s not forget our secondary characters. There is Xiaoyue, who takes Xinyu in when she falls on hard times. It’s not long that we discover Yiting is pulling the strings and has Xiaoyue staying close to Xinyu on purpose. Next to Yiting and Xinyu, I think Xiaoyue was my next favorite character. Sassy, opinionated, tough, but gentle deep down. Her personality is more on par with Yiting, but Xiaoyue is really a force of her own.
I wish I had some gifs of the secondary characters (not sorry for all the Marcus/Eugenie gifs), but I couldn’t find any. Between Xiaoyue and everyone at the farm, they brought some interesting dimensions to the story. I won’t go into details of how everyone is connected, but this is actually one of few dramas where I actually liked most of the secondary cast/characters.
To be fair, I won’t do an entire play-by-play of the drama to leave some elements a mystery, but I promise this one has a good ending and I highly recommend it. I may not dive into Taiwanese dramas and it’s equally rare that I feel inspired and captivated enough to binge watch, but I have here. It’s also from 2016 and available to watch right now on Viki. Win, win!
Behind Your Smile is billed as a melodrama, but if you don’t mind wading through the dramatic and heavy moments, there will be big pay offs. Sure, the ending is sweet, cute, and fitting, but after all that everyone has gone through, it’s nice to see that love and happiness can conquer all.