The Way We Were

January 10, 2016

Original Title: 16個夏天

Country: Taiwan

Format: TV Drama

Episodes: 16

Broadcast Year: 2014

Production Company: TVBS

Starring: Ruby Lin, Weber Yang, Jason Zou, Ann Hsu, Melvin Sia

My Rating:

We’ve all had our hey days when we were young. Those innocent, carefree days when we just concentrated on school work and then hung out after school with friends with no worries whatsoever. It wasn’t until after we became a member of society did we slowly started to gain new responsibilities. The Way We Were is one of those dramas that make you reminisce about those old days. The nostalgia really gets you to think of “what if’s” in life. It’s a story about regret and living life to its fullest. Read on in my review of the Taiwanese drama, The Way We Were.

Synopsis

This story begins in 1998 and follows a group of close friends in college as they experience love, friendship and betrayal. It all began when Tang Jia Ni caught her boyfriend sleeping with another girl. She met Fang Wei De as a result and they agreed to sleep together in order to take revenge on her boyfriend.

The Good

  • Excellent actors
  • Interesting characters
  • Compelling story

The Bad

  • None, for real!
From left to right, Ah Qing, Ge Qing, Wei De, Jia Ni, Jun Jie, Rui Rui. Photo © TVBS

From left to right, Ah Qing, Ge Qing, Wei De, Jia Ni, Jun Jie, Rui Rui. Photo © TVBS

Review

Where should I start? The Way We Were is an excellent drama about the good old days. The production team has recreated the late ’90s style perfectly. I believe it’s easier to relate to if you grew up in Taipei which is where this story took place. I read that they included key events in Taiwan that happened back then such as the big blackout and earthquake as well as ’90s pop culture.

From left to right, Rui Rui, Jia Ni, Ah Qing, Jun Jie, and Wei De. Photo © TVBS

From left to right, Rui Rui, Jia Ni, Ah Qing, Jun Jie, and Wei De. Photo © TVBS

Ruby Lin was hilarious as the boisterous young Jia Ni. She looked perfect as a college student! Her acting was flawless as always and I enjoyed seeing her character change in personality as she grew older and mature. Weber Yang, Melvin Sia, Ann Hsu and Jason Zou all gave memorable performances as well. Their characters’ personalities are all different and I’m sure they will remind you of a friend you know.

Jia Ni and Wei De was the heart of this story symbolizing love and regret. While they were always together as friends, they always seemed to miss each other and never developed their romantic feelings.

Spoiler alert! Click and read at your own risk.

It wasn’t until after Wei De moved to foster his career did Jia Ni realized what she had lost. But she must move on with life and she did by marrying Jun Jie, her childhood friend who had a crush on her. Jun Jie protected Jia Ni during an earthquake and his leg was crushed, making him crippled for the rest of his life. I felt like Jia Ni married him only because she was indebted to him. While that’s nice, I felt like she didn’t have to go that far for him and it was unfair for Jun Jie if Jia Ni didn’t have any romantic feelings for him. The same happened to Wei De in that he moved on with his life and found a girlfriend. But bumping into Jia Ni again after several years reignited the flame that they had together which set everything in motion to rebuild their relationship.

Wei De and Jia Ni in the present day. Photo © TVBS

Wei De and Jia Ni in the present day. Photo © TVBS

Sparks flew between Ruby and Weber; they have a really nice chemistry together and it was always funny to see them bicker on-screen. Melvin was also very realistic in his portrayal of the quiet and awkward guy. His chemistry with Ruby was made a bit awkward and forced on purpose and it worked for the plot. I really liked how powerful the message of this drama is: life is short and you must cherish each moment and opportunity so that you can live life to the fullest with no regrets.

Spoiler alert! Click and read at your own risk.

While I thought it wouldn’t come to that, deep down I had a feeling the end was near. To really drive the message across, Wei De developed a terminal illness. I felt really bad for Jia Ni and Wei De because of all those missed years. If only she expressed her feelings to him earlier.

Another plot point of the story was Rui Rui’s closeted romantic feelings towards Jia Ni. This totally came from left field and I didn’t expect it at all! At the time, it was made to be a love triangle. Rui Rui was secretly in love with Jun Jie who had a crush on Jia Ni. But it’s actually not like that. When I replayed the previous episodes, it all made sense; the subtle looks of longing Rui Rui had was all there. Props to the editing team and Rui Rui’s actress, Ann Hsu. Unfortunately, the TV broadcast version was censored to remove the lesbian elements even though there weren’t anything sexual at all. The series’ official Facebook page posted the uncut confrontation scene. I’m not sure if the later reruns or other channels have the scene uncensored.

Ruby Lin as Tang Jia Ni. Photo © TVBS

Ruby Lin as Tang Jia Ni. Photo © TVBS

The cinematography in this drama was splendid. It felt like I was watching a movie and it was really different from other Taiwanese dramas. For those who never went to Taiwan like me, this drama was also useful to me because it showed a glimpse of what everyday life in Taiwan was like for young people.

The Way We Were is a very well-rounded drama with a splendid cast and a central theme without being too preachy. I think everyone can relate to this drama and you’ll certainly be reminded of your childhood days. I’d recommend everyone to watch this! There were seriously no flaws that I could find whatsoever so big props to the cast and staff of The Way We Were.

More Information: Wikipedia

This is my drama review and is entirely opinionated. Your opinions may differ. Any offense caused by my rants and ramblings is unintentional. Thank you for understanding.
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