Can you genuinely love two people?

19 02 2012

[ Spoilermeter: Semi-spoilery, I do say who the mains end up with in the end and I do talk about one or two key turning points but really, even knowing the information, it won’t deter from your enjoyment of  the show. It’s one of those ones that you can watch time and time again. ]

Ridiculously cool, kick-ass of an older woman.

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Insanely lovingly loveable leading younger man.

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Amazingly gracious, mature, perfectly non-possessive second leading man.

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Ethan Ruan‘s bootilicious body.

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James Wen‘s Eighth Wonder jawline.

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Err… OTL…

…even if the storyline for the 2009 Taiwanese TTV / SETTV series My Queen (aka Queen Of No Marriage) sucked, the series still would’ve been not too shabby to look at. But for the love of all things mighty good and pure, I am thrilled to say that this series far from sucked. In true dorama lovin’ style, I can whole heartedly, gleefully tell you that My Queen rocked me off mah high horses.

To put this in perspective, there aren’t too many Taiwanese series that I would say to you “Go drop your shit and watch it right now,” but if you’re a fan of older woman / younger man stories and you haven’t seen My Queen already… get on it. RIGHT NOW. And really, when you get to my age, who isn’t a fan of these series that feature such relationships, lol (hands up who liked Dal Ja’s Spring? No? Surely you liked Long Vacation, then? Chotto matte, did someone mention Sapuri ?~~^^;;;;;;)

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Actually, to really put this into perspective, if you’re a fan of doramas in general, you need to have watched My Queen, period. It is that frggn good. And it will make you feel that frggn good. The writers managed to create two very different leading male characters who had very different personalities but importantly, they possessed the one fundamental, elusive trait that made every woman on this planet want to bed, er, I mean, want to befriend them (~~~~~) There isn’t any one adjective to describe it but they just gave you that feeling— these two guys were real men. And you just know in the end, regardless of who it is, your heart will break for the one who doesn’t get the girl.

Once upon a time, a gifted photographer, Leslie Song Yun Hao (played by James Wen,) had promised to marry his college sweetheart, our leading lady Shan Wu Shuan (played by Cheryl Yang.) (Btw, he proposes by ordering a dessert for her and having the ring placed on top of the mountain of ice cream and then the words “Will you marry me?” inked on the plate in some sort of dessert sauce… like any girl would not say yes to the sickeningly sweetness~~) However, on the day of the wedding, he doesn’t show. There is no reason, no explanation, no trace of him at all. Six years later, this woman, now 33 years old, is still waiting. Waiting for an answer, waiting for him.

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In the meantime, Wu Shuan, consciously or not, focussed every ounce of her energy into her career, becoming an outstanding journalist, building an image of a woman who required nobody to look after her. She was independent and self-reliant, and on the surface it did appear she had thrown her love life away, that she didn’t need love. Deep down though, she had more love than anyone else. And it took a chance meeting with a seemingly impetuous 25 year old guy called Lucas (played by Ethan Ruan) to begin to reveal this most tender side to this most self-contained woman.

Yun Hao re-enters Wu Shuan‘s life six years later, IIRC around episode 12, and I’m thinking, “Bro, you better explain yourself well because you know I’ve just hopped on the Ethan Ruan and Cheryl Yang ship >:(((!!!” As it turns out, Yun Hao was shooting in Somalia and wound up being gunned down during the turmoil of the war. All in the name of art and journalism. He fell into a two-month coma, and when he eventually awoke, not only did he find out he was crippled, but due to some fishy behind-the-back meddling from his photography assistant, a misunderstanding surfaced between our brave photographer and his fiancée, our heroine, Wu Shuan.

Yun Hao went on to spend a good chunk of time travelling around Third World countries in hope of capturing the spirit of the people and in some way, help expose the rest of the world to the more candid, more genuine, more fragile and humane side of the communities. It’s often easy to forget that amongst all the chaos, there exists an abundance of love and beauty in these war stricken countries— in fact, sometimes, possibly there is even more. In many ways, Yun Hao felt indebted to the community that had essentially saved his life. At the same time, believing he had lost the woman he loved, he knew nothing else but to turn his all to the only other thing he loved- photography. Much like the way Wu Shuan devoted herself into becoming the best journalist in Taiwan, they both were striving to live on without the other.

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What My Queen shows is that sometimes, timing is everything. Time can heal all, but it can also change all. People change, feelings change, the way you perceive things change. What you wanted at one point in time you may not feel the same way about when it finally comes back around into your hands. And there is no point in hanging onto it for the sake of the past or the potential future— you know, the “What could be.” You can’t confine yourself to something because logically it is the right thing to do, nor can you bank on certain things to eventually develop or go away. Feelings, love and life— they can not be predicted, they can not be measured nor can they rationalised. What’s best for us is to feel the moment, to live in the moment and to enjoy the moment. And when the moment is over, accept it as one chapter in you life and move onto embracing the next. It’s okay not knowing exactly what that will be. Kinda deep blah blah blah I know but it was this maturity about My Queen that I felt like helped separate it from the ocean of Taiwanese McFlurry idol dramas. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the odd fluffy “This world is full of rainbows” poptastic bubblegum crap drama but this one, well, even my parents were enjoying it, lol.

I remember a friend once said to me back when we were at university that it is possible to like two people at the same time. And I couldn’t disagree at the time. But now, if she were to say it to me again, I would absolutely question her. For me, somewhere, somehow, secretly, subconsciously, inside you, I think you always have an answer. It wouldn’t be true love if you were to say you loved two people at the same— at least not in the same way. What? Too many Korean dramas in my head?  Whatevs. I just believe the human heart isn’t built that way. Watching My Queen, you get this. You see it between the main characters, and you see it trying to figure out who the heck you want Wu Shuan to end up with. And for me, yet again, I proved to myself I am definitely a pro leading male kinda gal— but only just, because James Wen was so much the faultless second fiddle guy he practically left me slobbering, Hanazawa who ? (<<<— if you know me, you know how much weight that statement carries~~)

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It could have been quite easy for someone to turn his role into a “FEEL SORRY FOR ME, Y’ALL!! FML! FML! EFF EMM ELLLLLLLLL!!!!!!” kinda character but I am thanking all the Dorama Gods that this did not happen. Yun Hao stared death straight in the face, lost his mobility, got screwed over by his feverishly jealous assistant and lived six years in numbing isolation— and in the end, he lost the damn girl as well. Seriously, he had every right to take a shot at wrenching our sympathy. There have been countless second leading males who endured a heckuva lot less and created a much bigger friggin’ fuss over the whole scenario (*coughs* Lee Yul in Goong *coughs* *coughs* Yune in I’m Sorry I Love You *coughs*) but Yun Hao was as gracious and as humble as you could ever ask your second fiddle guy to be. But by no means does this mean he was a wuss because he darn well wasn’t— there is no way you could possibly question his passion. He was simply a man who understood and accepted that a person’s heart can not be forced.

After Yun Hao and Wu Shuan reunited, in the scene where he brings her to their “Dream House,” you could see it in Wu Shuan‘s face that she was longer in the same place. My heart broke into about a million and twenty-eight pieces for Yun Hao, but never did I feel sorry for him, because before anyone could, he would find a way to make you look at the situation in a positive light. He just had that warm, giving harmony about him. In many ways, he reminded me alot of the absolutely gorgeous Kim Jae Wook‘s Hong Tae Sung from Bad Guy. Their strength, their dignity, their selflessness, their actually-caring-for-the-sanity-of-the-woman-you-love… it’s the stuff that all second fiddle guys should be freaking made of (^;_;^) James Wen really managed to encapsulate all these qualities and made Yun Hao a man anybody would respect with a giant fist pump to the chest (it’s not just that damn jawline I tell ya!!! (*^∀^*!!!!!!))

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But just in case bootiful Jamesy isn’t your cuppa tea (by the way, I have to point out that I loved his fashion,) there is always the six foot+ tall modelesque pretty boy. That’s right, Ethan Ruan. Didn’t think I could possibly love the guy in another role more than his handsomely dreamy, oh-so-doable oh-so-adorkable Ji Cun Xi in Fated To Love, but gaaaaaah, Ethan as Lucas in My Queen = Almost 100 thousand million times more perfect. Or comparatively, you could say that he was He-is-so-giving-Joe-Cheng-a-run-for-his-money-as-my-favourite-Taiwanese-boy perfect (but don’t worry Joe baybay, I still heart you and all your self-indulgent facebook photo updates xDDD) In My Queen, Ethan exuded a much greater air of maturity that left me taking him signifcantly more seriously— to me this time around, he seemed much more comfortable and compelling as the leading man. He definitely held his own against the flawless finesse of Cheryl Yang. It wouldn’t have been hard to pass off his character Lucas as someone who was merely a little bit more than a hot-blooded, hormonal young guy, but toy boy he was definitely not. Yes Ethan naturally oozes a Grand Canyon load of boyish charm but he also has this manliness about him that makes you want to stand by him. He brings these elements to his character Lucas so well in fact that from episode one I made up my mind instantly— I was going to marathon this series fo’ sho’ baby. And boy, man, was it worth it xDD My favourite gesture from him in the entire series? Gah, do I only get to pick one?

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It would probably have to be how he went out of his way to resolve the misunderstanding between Yun Hao and Wu Shuan, effectively releasing the knot in Wu Shuan‘s heart. As Lucas did this, he knew clear and well that Yun Hao and Wu Shuan would more than likely get back together but as much his feelings for Wu Shuan were left stranded, ultimately he was mature enough to make the sacrifice for her. He may have been younger, but he wasn’t at all any less developed in his thoughts and rationale. I’ve definitely watched my fair share of older woman /  younger man series before and I have to say that the success factor almost always lies within the younger male. He will separate the good from the bad to the downright Sapuris (gomenasai, I know, I know, I AM The Cheap Shot Queen >_>;;;;;;) He needs to be what Lucas was. Perhaps not immediately, but he needs to make that journey. Sena of ♪♫♪ Maware maware merry go round !!! ♫♪♫  fame certainly lacked a little guts in the beginning but he more than redeemed himself along the way ( and of course the silky hair and the Kimura factor did help to negate the early awkward cowardice, too xDD )

Don’t get me wrong, the younger guy can be be boyish, he doesn’t have to wear suits and ties (but ah, he should look good when he does have to suit up *twitches eyebrows*… case in point, episode 3 when Lucas accompanies Wu Shuan at some fancy function as her fake boyfriend. Ji Chun Xi flashbacks! Ji Cun Xi flashbacks! *mops drool from face*, ) he doesn’t have to be serious about everything he does… but he does have to be someone who has a generous skill and / or is completely competent and self-sufficient in his own right. Else it’s just a Babysitting For The Slightly Advanced program for me. Say for instance in Kimi wa Petto, did anyone actually at any stage think that Jun‘s character could legitimately provide for Koyuki in ways more than just being a toy, I mean, er, a pet ? Did anyone ever think that it was or even could be love? *shudders* *pukes* I for sure as heck didn’t. In My Queen howeveryou will believe that Lucas is capable of bringing the bread home. You will believe he can change your light bulbs. You will believe in his dreams. You will want to dance with him, you will want to ride on the back of his motorbike with him wearing that ridiculous mohawk broom of a helmet. You will want to cry on his big, broad shoulders when you’ve had a bad day. You will have no doubt that he is the right man to be with a woman who is eight years his senior. And you will seriously want to be that woman.

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And that’s not just because she gets to have a Lucas, it’s also because she is just so insanely cool. Not just the character, but I seriously couldn’t picture anyone else’s face to this role other than Cheryl Yang. I could not go on enough about just how awesome Cheryl Yang was in her role— she really made it work. Loyal devoted girlfriend, unlucky lost little girl in love, confident cut-throat career woman, headstrong but filial daughter, brutally honest but secretly loving friend, woman struggling to accept that she has fallen for a younger man, fated soul seeking her happiness in life… Cheryl artfully portrayed the complexity of these emotions that made the revolution of Wu Shuan feel effortless and believable. She was multi-dimensional and strong but in the most feminine, elegant way.

During the period she was waiting aimlessly for Yun Hao to return, we watched Wu Shuan find herself in a cornucopia of romantic and social blunders, which were humorous for a moment but then, although she handled it all as well as anyone could handle them, quite honestly, you did find yourself cringing for her. It’s not because you were looking down on her but it’s because you could just imagine how much you would’ve wanted to get outta there if you were in the same scenario yourself.

For instance, in the scene at the Japanese restaurant on Valentine’s Day, another young man pretends to have interest in her and brashly draws the attention of the entire restaurant. It’s centre stage, and the dude leans into Wu Shuan as if to kiss her, but then stops short before laughing in her face, “As if I would be interested in an old woman like you.” Yep, what a jerk. Of course, moments later, our beautiful Lucas just happens to be nearby and swoops in to give our heroine a big pash in front of the same crowd, intentionally relieving her of the humiliation, and we witness first hand, Lucas‘ natural instincts in needing to protect Wu Shuan.

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What I enjoyed and gained most from these scenes were not Ethan‘s incredible smooching techniques and the sparkling chemistry between our leading couple, but seeing how Wu Shuan dealt with the humiliation. You will see not only the woman’s resilience but perhaps more importantly, her delicacy. It made her completely relatable. Her exterior was alot colder than say the brilliant, fun-lovin’ Oh Dal Ja in Dal Ja’s Spring but you soon realise Wu Shuan is simply often misunderstood. Much like Dal Ja unni, she treated all her relationships with the same level of chastity, she cared deeply for the people closest to her, and was undyingly loyal to and protective of them. She may not let alot of people into her circle but once you’re in, she will cherish you forever. And through all the thick and thin, in the end, it was most rewarding seeing her find her destiny, and most importantly seeing her finally learn to love herself. This woman owns and is totally worthy of her own fan club.

And I would not be ashamed at all to fangirl after her (a bonus Lucas or Yun Hao shaped blow-up doller, tofu doll(?) phone charm (?_?) as an introductory present wouldn’t harm either…)

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[ Image credits: The photos used throughout this post were mostly capped by me from DVD, a couple from youtube, a couple from tumblrs and flickrs. If you feel like I owe you a credit, please shout out! I have been hopeless with recording the correct URLs for all my resource pages recently… ><;;; ]