I don’t think any mother aims to be a single mom!

Being a single parent is twice the work, twice the stress and twice the tears but also twice the hugs, twice the love and twice the pride

unknown

Title
 Happy 300 Days   (2013)
Also known as
  300 Days to Meet Happiness
Genre
Comedy, Melodrama, Romance 
Written by
    Jian Qi Feng, Lin Xin Hui, Li Jie Yu 
Directed by
Zhang Jia Xian
Starring
 Tammy Chen, Kingone Wang, KunDa Hsieh, Kaiser Chuang, Grace Ko
Country of Origin
 Taiwan
Episodes
15

oh! … brief

A single woman, Chen Ya Ting, learns that she is pregnant by her cheating ex-boyfriend. Struggling with the decision to abort so she can further her career in the hotel industry, she eventually convinces herself to keep the child and quits her job to return home and help her mother run the family business.

Meanwhile, a talented interior designer, Qi Tian, finds himself unemployed due to his arrogance and uncompromising attitude. When he receives a call to make over a hotel in Kenting, he sets off in high spirits. But he is sadly disappointed when he arrives to find all is not what it seems. He has been deceived, and the owner of the bed and breakfast is the mother of a former classmate who he had a crush on, Chen Ya Ting.

Once she arrives back in her home town, Chen Ya Ting crosses paths with not only Qi Tian, but also two other men – Ding Hao Quan, a respected pediatric surgeon who has lost his nerve after losing a patient, and, Zhang Yao Yang, a small-time gangster.For Zhang Yao Yang, it’s love at first sight from the minute his eyes first set on Chen Ta Ting and slowly over time Ding Hao Quan also falls under her spell.

When Chen Ya Ting reveals her pregnancy and her reluctance to inform her mother to the three men, trouble swiftly follows, only accentuated by eventual heartbreak and rejection.

oh! … talks drama

So, I decided to give Taiwanese drama a chance to redeem itself, following the whole Easy Fortune, Happy Life debacle and I’m glad I did. For entertainment value, Happy 300 Days, is just that, entertaining. I hadn’t set my expectations very high after the last tdrama I watched, so I was pleasantly surprised when this series far exceeded my initial assumptions.

While it’s not necessarily a unique story, it’s far more real life experience than your typical Asian drama stories. The writers, Jian Qi Feng, Lin Xin Hui, and Li Jie Yu, took a situation many young women find themselves in and developed it exposing some common and a few unexpected hardships.

When an unplanned pregnancy happens and it only discovered after a relationship has ended, the future can be daunting and uncertain. Men who choose to skip out on parenthood can continue with their lives without dishonour, but a single woman who is pregnant will quickly start to show her impending motherhood and face the stigma that still exists in some cultures in the world today, regardless of her age or background.

This film explores some of the stigma and the options available, in this case, Chen Ya Ting contemplates abortion but settles on raising the child alone. The script is tastefully written and does not cast judgment (thankfully), but while the writers included a good amount of humour to balance out the seriousness of the situation, it doesn’t distract from the very sad aspects of the story.

One unrealistic aspect of the script, however, is that out of the blue, three dashing men cross paths with Chen Ya Ting and in their own way and time fall in love with her and want to help her situation by offering marriage and becoming a surrogate father to her child. Now I’m sure that for modern-day women in the same predicament, they’d be lucky if one guy comes along, but even that is rare. Most men avoid single pregnant women like the plague. If you can overlook this rather daunting faux pas, then the story itself is extremely well written and the narration a mixture of comical or serious. Each of the main male characters has their own backstory and it’s those stories that compel them to help Chen Ya Ting. The writers chose good back stories! Believable ones!

A big bonus of this drama is the attention the writers paid to character development.

Chen Ya Ting arrives home, uncertain of her future and scared to approach her mother to reveal her ‘secret’. It’s surprising how quickly she matures once she has decided to keep the child. I admire the writing behind her character, a lot of thought went into the reality of the situation and the script reflects this with its genuine approach and the outcome of the big reveal.

Qi Tian arrives at the bed and breakfast with great hopes of creating an interior design masterpiece throughout the ‘hotel’ but is disappointed to have been deceived. Convinced to stay, his arrogance and self-centered attitude are flaunted for a few episodes, even after he remembers who Chen Ya Ting is and what she once meant to him. Her pregnancy and the predicament she finds herself in softens him just a little in the beginning. But it’s gratifying to see how the writer’s use this character’s backstory to humble to humble him and he loses his prickliness. This kind of character development is keen and reflects the thought behind turning the ‘man’ into a ‘real man’ – almost like a coming-of-age but on a much deeper level. I was so moved by character Qi Tian’s willingness to selflessly offer himself as husband and surrogate father, even if it was initially to atone for what the character sees as ‘past transgressions’. And even if it was a ‘contract’ it still was impressive. I don’t know any of my male friends that would ever come close to considering something this drastic. Maybe I need new male friends?

Ding Hao Quan arrives at the bed and breakfast a broken man. Having lost a patient who he promised he would save, he is lost and struggling to keep his head above water or drowning himself in the drink. Chen Ya Ting saves his life, twice. And in doing so and then the reveal of her predicament, he quickly sobers up and starts straightening himself out. While this character doesn’t have as much development as the others, the writing behind the backstory is clever and the development he does go through to come out on the other side is insightful.

Zhang Yao Yang arrives at the bed and breakfast smitten with Chen Ya Ting, in a creepy sort of stalker way. He’s a messed-up individual having been a gangster and has, I believe, a tough background, but, he has a heart of gold and is the one character always thinking of Chen Ya Ting and devising some plan to help her out. He matures the most during the series. And goes from a wild hairstyle and leopard skin outfits to normal wardrobe and a stylish hairstyle and finds his inner chef. The writing behind this character was solid, on the money, and well-informed.

So, here I am, finally typing up my notes, and I must applaud the writers again. Great script! Excellent character development! Interesting and logical back stories! But why, did you have to break my heart? I really wanted to believe that in every ambitious self-centred arrogant man lurks a kind, gentle, truer version of themselves?

Zhang Jia Xian who directed this production must also be applauded. He took the script and worked with it. Yes, there is a lot of corny, and yes, there are many typical drama clichés but what’s an Asian drama without those elements? He succeeded in directing the visual narrative. The pluses of the cinematography included aerial, bridging, extreme long, medium and master shots; backlighting; framing; mise-en-scene; close-up, medium close-up, and extreme close-up; various camera angles and of course editing.

The wardrobes for the various characters was straight forward for the most part, but, I did feel that the “baby bump’ didn’t look as authentic as it could have done. Otherwise, everything else was tastefully coordinated. The other production elements – set design, props etc., all came together well and the location for the majority of filming was exceptionally appealing. I’d have liked to see more scenic shots, but that’s because I prefer wide open spaces and natural lighting.

The cast for this production was a mixed bag

Chen Ya Ting was played by Tammy Chen who has been in the Asian film and drama industry for a number of years now. As Chen Ya Ting, Tammy Chen inhabited her character and did a good job. I liked that she interpreted Chen Ya Ting as being a little feisty and not a complete pushover. She used her facial expressions to convey her emotions and to add weight to her lines. I didn’t entirely believe her pregnancy because she didn’t move around like a pregnant woman would do –especially at the end of the pregnancy. Overall though, she did a remarkable job in her role.

Kingone Wang (a popular Taiwanese actor) took on the role of Qi Tian. He did such a fantastic job with this role. I was very impressed and this was the first time I had seen him acting. I felt he really inhabited his role, portrayed his character’s personality and idiosyncrasies to perfection. When he was arrogant I believed him, it wasn’t just some actor acting. But I preferred him as the kind, sensitive guy that we only got a glimmer of seeing. I would have liked to see more of a relationship established between Kingone Wang’s character and Tammy Chen’s character before he did his disappearing act, it would have made better sense for the later reunion.

Together Tammy Chen and Kingone Wang shared great chemistry, whether it is sparring or as they start to fall in love. Their initial dislike for each other was tangible and honest and I was honestly surprised when the two ‘came together’, I didn’t see it happening, I was thinking the relationship might develop between Chen Ya Ting and Doctor Ding, I still think that would have been a better relationship. But, I honestly believed that Chen and Wang shared better chemistry. There was some underlying sexual tension between the two which I would have liked to see explored a little more than it was.

Ding Hao Quan, who quickly becomes the resident doctor, was played by Kaiser Chuang. Another actor with a substantial standing in Taiwan’s film and drama industry was just great in his role as Ding Hao Quan. Of all three male leads, I liked him the best (not the heavy drinking and self-guilt aspects), but instead, his quiet, calm, resilience and that he stands on the outside, watching, helping when needed and then stepping in. Man, I’m such a sucker for second male leads. I’m going to have to pen my own drama where the second male lead wins the lady and they drive off into the sunset giving the first male lead the middle finger salute!! Ding Hao Quan was the doctor, his performance was solid, but, he was also Chen Ya Ting’s good friend, the same one, the one who she could rely on for accurate feedback and honest help.

Last but not least for the leads was KunDa Hsieh playing the gangster who needs reform. I love this character that grows the most out of the three male leads. KunDa Hsieh was just adorable in this role, he perfected the immature, sporadic young man who initially needs to grow up and become a man. He owned this role and he even got to sport some really kitsch animal print outfits (eck!!) I really liked KunDa Hsieh’s spontaneous approach to being spontaneous. He made this silly goofball appear intelligent with his plans that get ‘stolen’ but make him wise, he just needed to mature and take some responsibility for his life. Impressive!

oh! … sidekicks

Chen Xiu Zhi, Chen Ya Ting’s mother was played by Grace Ko, and she did a really good job. Grace Ko made her character kooky but lovable with her interpretation of the character’s flaws and traits. It was hilarious to watch her interactions with everyone. I really felt Grace Ko’s sincerity in her performance.

Who even likes the ex-girlfriends of these arrogant guy types? I mean seriously? They’re either weak-willed, done some terrible or shameful things, or are just downright nasty bitches. Jenna Wang played Joanne Xu Xin Ping who aborted her and Qi Tian’s baby without consulting him and thereby breaking his heart. This performance could have been better, I just didn’t ‘get’ or ‘connect’ with Jenna Wang’s character and found that while she was great at being the uber-bitch, she really failed to appear sincere for her past decision. I found her acting flat a lot of the time and apart from a pretty face there was no substance to the relationship between her Joanne Xu Xin Ping and Qi Tian and therefore no chemistry, every interaction appears forced.

A cameo appearance by Wu Chun playing himself was swoon worthy, and not just because the talented guy can act, but, because I love all the philanthropic work he is involved in Brunei. No kidding – he is involved in blood donor drives, environmental issues, anti-narcotics, children’s cancer, and helping the disadvantaged. He does so much for his country and her people. Okay, gushing aside, Wu Chun was adorable in this cameo appearance and while the role was very minor, it was great to see him!

oh! … that’s a wrap

I was thoroughly entertained by this drama series and actually enjoyed the story, maybe because Jian Qi Feng, Lin Xin Hui, and Li Jie Yu produced such a strong story and solid script that actually addressed a real life issue. Maybe that was why I enjoyed it so much? Who knows I know that it was entertaining, had its lighter moments, made me laugh often, and balanced the tougher moments with a healthy dose of reality.

I recommend this drama, but be warned there is a fair amount of melodrama, so if like me you’re a melodrama anti-fan then proceed with caution. That being written, it’s not over-the-top kind of melodrama that you’ll find in some of the kdrama melodrama hardcore.

I would watch this again, not likely to happen anytime soon as I have tons of other things on my watch lists and I need to make some headway there. I’m not sure though about adding this one to my collection, I may have to watch it again to see if it’s worth the investment.

oh! … tidbits

Most of the filming for Happy 300 Days took place on location in Kenting, Pingtung County, Taipei.

The bed and breakfast used as the main location and home of Chen Ya Ting and her mother, is in fact, a fully functional hotel called “The Light Inn” located within the Kenting Township.

oh! … soundtrack

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailers

Written by