Will Love in Spring (2024) 春色寄情人

Summary: Zhuang Jie (ft Zhou Yu Tong 周雨彤) is a successful medical devices saleswoman living in Shanghai with her best friend Wang Xi Xia (ft Wan Peng 万鹏). Zhuang Jie returns home for a break and encounters her old high school classmate Chen Mai Dong (ft Li Xian 李现). Chen Mai Dong is the local mortician and well known amongst the community both for his contributions, but also his storied past. Chen Mai Dong’s grandmother is determined to find her grandson a girlfriend and is delighted to see the “new girl” Zhuang Jie. She is determined to make a pair out of the two. Zhuang Jie is the first to admit that she finds Chen Mai Dong attractive but the two have to overcome many hurdles including the fact that Zhuang Jie wants to continue her career in Shanghai.

 

Total Episode Count: 21

Initial Airing Date: April 22, 2024

Platform: CCTV-8, Tencent

*Note – English translations may not match official translations

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Rating: 7.3/10 – An engaging and beautifully shot romance drama that tackles rather heavy subjects such as death and disabilities. The acting from the cast is extremely natural and pulls the viewer into the small town of Nan Ping. 

Zhuang Jie 庄洁

Zhou yu tong 周雨彤

Medical Devices Saleswoman based in Shanghai. When she returns home to Nan Ping for a vacation, she bumps into her old classmate Chen Mai Dong

Chen Mai Dong 陈麦冬

li xian 李现

Local mortician and old classmate of Zhuang Jie. He has a storied past that has prevented him from building deep romantic relationships 

Liao tao 廖涛

liu lin 刘琳

Founder of Liao’s Chicken and mother of three. She has a hot temper and a biting tongue that can be quite vicious, but deep down, she has an extremely kind heart

Grandma Chen 陈奶奶

fang fang 方芳

Ex-Ping Pong player and Grandma to Chen Mai Dong and is determined to find a partner for him. Zhuang Jie catches her eye as a potential daughter-in-law

wang xi xia 王西夏

wan peng 万鹏

Best friend to Zhuang Jie and fellow saleswoman. They both have dreams to continue their career in Shanghai

zhuang yan 庄研

wu jun ting 吴俊霆

Son of Liao Tao and brother to Zhuang Yan and He Niao Niao. He’s a college student who dreams of being a painter

he niao niao 何袅袅

zhang xi wei 张熙唯

Youngest daughter of Liao Tao and sister to Zhuang Yan and Zhuang Jie. She’s full of ideas but her mom wants her to focus on her studies

cui ge 崔歌

zhang chi 张驰

Chinese Medicine doctor and suitor to Wang Xi Xia. The two start off on the wrong footing but he is persistent in pursuing her.

 

Overall Thoughts

This is definitely a more mature millennial romance drama that is also buoyed by the strength of the supporting cast. It has to balance between tackling rather heavy topics (for a Chinese drama at least) of death and disabilities and the romance between the two characters. Li Xian’s character Chen Mai Dong is a mortician who is constantly faced with death but doesn’t know how to process the deaths of his own loved ones. Zhong Yu Tong’s character Zhuang Jie is an amputee, who despite having a very positive outlook on life, is nevertheless extremely self-conscious of her disability, especially in romantic relationships. I think the drama does a decent enough job balancing the serious with the whimsical, mainly from Zhou Yu Tong’s character and family. The 21 episode length definitely keeps the plot moving.

We’re getting more and more dramas that promote going back to ones roots instead of making it big in the big city. This is another one of them. I can’t help think that there is a political push as well to have more people head back to their local towns and villages to stimulate their local economies. 

The show did relatively well ratings-wise and word of mouth has been pretty positive. Li Xian continues to find his niche as the country / town boy who falls in love with the city girl. I’m glad Zhou Yu Tong is getting cast in more leading roles as she continues to develop her acting. The positive is that almost all of her recent dramas have aired on television, rather than only online. However, even though she’s getting recognized for her acting, she still isn’t a ratings pull. 

 

 

What I liked

  • Organic Adult Romance! Yay! We actually get a romance drama on primetime tv that has the main couple making out and sleeping together organically! These two are successful adults who have had relationships before and do express their desires for each other.  The drama doesn’t have the tropes of someone falling and then accidentally kissing the other person, but we follow the two of them as they develop feelings for each other and then act on their desires. Li Xian and Zhou Yu Tong have great chemistry together and there are times, when I’m like, finally! Just kiss! Now, this is still going to be rather conservative compared to western dramas but it’s progress!
  • The Liao Family: I’m classifying the family as the Liao family as they operate as unit under Liao Tao. I thoroughly enjoyed the family dynamic with Liao Tao as the matriarch and her children. She’s a superwoman who, despite little schooling, was able to successfully raise 3 children, 2 of which went to college, by running her chicken shop. Her temper often gets the better of her, but her entire family knows that she wants what’s best from them. I swear, Liu Lin (who we know as the main wife from The Story of Ming Lan) is such a great actress because she’s able to embody each of her roles. She has many wise sayings in the drama that I was whole heartedly agreeing to. The actor and actress for the other two children were also fantastic as the family rapport was very natural. I want a spinoff of the shenanigans of the Liao family and the pet goose
  • Honest conversations about death: Many characters in the drama have had to either already face the death of loved ones or do face the death of loved ones. The drama, through the lens of Chen Mai Dong as his job as a mortician, presents death as something to be respected, processed, and rightfully mourned. It never makes light of how death impacts a person or how people are traumatized by death. It also tactfully doesn’t overly linger on the topic because otherwise the drama would just be a fully debbie downer. 
  • Homey Town Setting: The majority of the drama is set in a small town of Nan Ping. The whole drama is bathed in a golden hue that was very welcoming to watch. It made the town tranquil despite its bustling nature. One of the main conflicts of the drama is whether or not the main characters should stay in their hometown or move to the city. It was interesting to see the cinematography shift between the golden filters of the Nan Ping and the rather gray reality of Shanghai.  

What Could Have Been Better

  • Pressure from Grandma Chen: Grandma Chen is fully committed to finding Chen Mai Dong a partner. I felt that she was a little too overbearing to him on the topic. She means well, but I really wanted her to take it down a notch. Liao Tao (Zhuang Jie’s mom) was much more lenient on the subject of finding a partner. If Zhuang Jie didn’t actually like Chen Mai dong but Grandma Chen continued to push the two of them as she did, it would have felt suffocating to watch.
  • Zhuang Jie’s communication with Chen Mai dong: Now, I will caveat that there’s a lot of positive aspects to Zhuang Jie and her pursuit of Chen Mai Dong. She took the first step and made sure she grabbed the opportunity. I didn’t enjoy how wishy washy she was towards the latter half of the show. There are several times where she chooses not to communicate with Chen Mai Dong and has to leave him guessing. She then gets irritated when he doesn’t respond. Sure, Zhuang Jie has a lot to process, but then Chen Mai Dong’s over there almost like a saint for allowing her to get away with her lack of communication with Chen Mai Dong. I feel like the conflicts of the last 3 episodes could have been avoided if she just talked to him. Their issues were perfectly normal issues that many couples have to face, but she just chose not to. Thankfully her family and best friend roundly criticized her and she finally did the right thing.
  • Zhuang Jie’s Disability: Zhuang Jie is an amputee who has had a prosthetic leg and does her best to maneuver around the world as if she doesn’t have the disability. I wish we had more visual cues about her disability in the drama. I get that the cgi would have been difficult but it kind of felt like her disability was sort of an afterthought. We only saw it a few times. She mainly wore baggy clothes that could explain why we didn’t see a prosthetic leg much but there were some scenes where it seems like the costume designer wasn’t even trying to hide the fact that the actress wasn’t disabled Again, this is only visual cues. There are plenty of discussions of her disability in the drama. 

 

Stray Observations: The funny joke online is – Li Xian has Yang Zi in the city, Liu Yi Fei in the village, and now Zhou Yu Tong in a small town. He’s the perfect partner for each of those locations. Just pick your flavor! Again – Li Xian definitely has his niche.

Cathy

 

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