The ego has learned to be very clever in order to survive.

The ego has learned to be very clever in order to survive – it is capable of resorting to any lengths or ruse of self-deception and camouflage. The world we witness is merely the drama of collective egos acting out on the perceptual stage of form and time.

David R. Hawkins

 Because of You   (2017)
Also known as
 Because of Meeting You
Melodrama, Romance 
Written by
 Xu Luyan, Chu Min  
Directed by
Country of Origin

oh! … brief

This cdrama follows the life of Jin Yi Bei (the rich daughter and heiress of a famous embroidery business), who inadvertently is abandoned by her mother, Xu Hui Jie, at the scene of an accident that her mother caused. Wandering the streets, along and very scared, Jin Yi Bei is then the victim of another accident which causes her to lose her memory. The woman, Wang Ai Yu, who knocked her over with her car is on the run from money-lenders and is forced to reluctantly keep Jin Yi Bei. She renames her Zhang Guo Guo and raises her alongside her biological child, Zhang Yu Xin.

The ‘new’ Zhang Guo Guo suffers miserably being raised as the younger child of Wang Ai Yu and is forced to live in Zhang Yu Xin’s shadow, like a second-class citizen. Zhang Yu Xin is a devious child and conspires to weasel her way into Zhang Guo Guo’s (Jin Yi Bei) family through an art competition, although she doesn’t realize it is Zhang Guo Guo’s family until she is a young adult. As a child, she wins a scholarship through an art competition run to try and locate Jin Yi Bei (Zhang Guo Guo). Zhang Yu Xin escapes the tough life with her biological mother by telling lie after lie and claiming she is an orphan. She is fostered by Zhang Guo Guo’s parent – they give her an education at a prestigious college abroad and are in the process of officially adopting her. Meanwhile, Zhang Guo Guo is forced to work alongside her foster mother who runs a wonton shop and won’t allow her to educate herself or pursue a profession.

oh! … talks drama

Because of You is a remake of a kdrama Come! Jang Bo Ri, and is based on an age-old Asian drama trope — little rich girl gets lost, loses her memory (amnesia) and in the meantime, a devious second female assumes her life.

The cdrama itself was very entertaining, but it was also very, very long and drawn out — far more than it should have been. Writers, Xu Luyan and Chu Min, were faithful for the most part to the original script of the kdrama, but also gave their own spin on the story.

While the cdrama was long with 56 episodes, I appreciated that this gave the writers time to develop the characters fully, fleshing out both their good nature and their flaws in equal measure, except in the case where characters were obviously more flawed than others i.e. Zhang Yu Xin, Xu Hui Jie, Li Yun Zhe.

I must be honest and say that I did find the melodrama exaggerated as it pertained to the overall narrative, but I didn’t find the acting overly excessive. The story itself is fairly straightforward and while it does wind and weaves its way through melodramatic plot twists and turns, it’s easy enough to follow and highly entertaining. The characters themselves are the strength of the production and keep everything neatly tied together.

At the centre of the story is an embroidery business and it is the business itself that motivates certain characters — their moral compass flips from congenial to competitive. The relentless ambition brings out the worst in the nature of those individuals. The writers did a very good job of depicting the nefarious nature of flawed human beings — particularly those spurred on by jealousy, greed, and spite, their heinous behaviour masks far deeper flaws like psychopathy and sociopathy.

The relationships between the children and their mother(s) made me pause to think about my own relationship with my children. I have two daughters and a son. Of my two daughters, I definitely have a closer relationship with one. That’s not because I favour her over her sister, we have over the years grown closer and more understanding or tolerant of each other than my other daughter. It doesn’t mean I love one any less and it would make no difference if they were biological or adopted. I believe, perhaps foolishly, that I would love them in equal measure. So for me, it’s shocking, no it’s tragic that the writers went to the extremes in their portrayal of Wang Ai Yu and her horrific treatment of Zhang Guo Guo. It also made little sense that this character would be so stupid given her daughter’s repeated abuse of their own mother-daughter relationship. Not that it’s necessarily unbelievable, I am sure there are women out there in the world that would be so braindead and heartless, but, for me personally, it was hard to comprehend the back and forth.

I wanted to explore with you, my readers, some of the characters and their relationships, which is not typically what I do because it has the potential to spoil or give away some of the inner-workings or details. However, for this cdrama, the dynamics are so very important. If you are spoiler-avert you might want to skip this next section.

I appreciated the fact that the writers allowed the main character leads, Zhang Guo Guo and Lu Yun Kai to share a strong common foundation — mostly gentle character and nature. Both the leads faced adversity – Li Yun Kai losing his mother very tragically early in his childhood and Zhang Guo Guo losing her family and wealth/position (even though she doesn’t know it. Both are forced to live with a ‘mother’ figure that is severely lacking motherly conduct — Wang Ai Yu is psychological, verbally and physically abusive, while He Juan/He Jin Hua is, for the most part, is psychologically and verbally abusive. Neither is a good example of a mother, but Zhang Guo Guo also suffered abuse from her biological mother on top of this – mostly verbal abuse and neglect. You will maybe shed a tear or two along the way for both of the characters, who as children only wanted the love, attention and affection of their mother, whether it was biological, foster or stepmother. In spite of everything they have experienced and all the drama is continuously thrown in the way, their relationship is pretty much stable and solid, or ‘normal’ if there ever was such a thing.

The writing behind the characters Xu Hui Jie and Zhang Yu Xin was exceptional. These two women were portrayed as cunning and deceitful, borderline evil. While their goals were similar (total ownership and control of the embroidery business), so too were the motivations (such as anger, jealousy, greed, vainglory, spite and love, to mention a few), that spurred them on into a tangled web of lies to cover-up misdeeds and other lies. Both of the characters had a façade, the face of innocence that they displayed to almost everyone they met and hid their darker intents. The thorn in Xu Hui Jie’s side was none other than her gentle-natured sister-in-law Song Xiu Hua. Insane jealousy of Song Xiu Hua’s embroidery expertise, anger at the affection and friendship she shared with their common mother-in-law, spite for the loving relationship between husband and wife, and outright vainglory and greed at wanting to own it all resulted in the demise of a family member at the hands of Xu Hui Jie. Zhang Yu Xin’s anger at her mother’s financial situation, her spite toward Zhang Guo Guo, her inevitable jealousy of everyone and anyone who stepped into her life’s path, her greed and pursuit of money, and her misplaced and widely obsessive love for the wrong man led her to connive and manipulate her way around anyone and everything — her character had all the warning signals of sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies.

Zhang Yu Xin’s relationship with Zhang Guo Guo was intense and bitter. Zhang Yu Xin harboured a deep-seated hatred for her real life and wanted to create one where she has power, recognition and later on a little fame. When she understood that Zhang Guo Guo was the real daughter of the family she had manipulated her way into, her hatred intensified and made her more determined to ‘win’. Zhang Guo Guo who for the most part was oblivious to all the goings on in Zhang Yu Xin’s desperate fight to overcome her life of poverty. She was sweet-natured toward her sister and accepted her hatred. This wasn’t to me, a sign of weakness, instead, it showed her ability to manoeuvre through life with difficult people at her side. But it was infuriating that she didn’t see what was going on, just accepted her lot in life. Zhang Yu Xin was certainly narcissistic and suffering from antisocial personality disorder. Zhang Guo Guo, on the other hand, was a noble idiot in regards to her relationship with her foster-mother, her own parents, but no Li YunKai – with him she was a mostly true reflection of the woman she was. I say mostly because there were things she kept from him, but her relationship with him was the most honest it could be.

Zhang Yu Xin’s relationship with the man who would become her husband, Li Yun Zhe, was doomed to failure irrespective of how the two would try to make it work. Based on lies and a plot to inherit the embroidery business, the two flawed individuals did I believe fall in love with each other, but for Zhang Yu Xin, it became an obsessive love and for Li Yun Zhe it was a love where he would protect his partner, even while knowing that something was untoward.

Zhang Yu Xin’s relationship with her former husband, Lu Si Chen was heart-breaking. Lu Si Chen loved Zhang Yu Xin, but when things went wrong for his father’s business and health, Zhang Yu Xin realized she would never rise beyond working class and it’s something she didn’t aspire to. Lu Si Chen put the past behind himself and moved forward, not knowing his child survived, but when Zhang Yu Xin presented herself before him, an opportunity to enact his revenge on her arose. I enjoyed watching him try his best to trap her, but she was always two steps ahead. Not because she was smarter than him but because she was able to use the opportunity and her lying mouth to get out of any obstacle but also because she was brilliant at creating or fabricating stories that were almost believable, and most people want to believe that other people are generally good. I understood Lu Si Chen’s animosity toward Zhang Yu Xin, but never wrapped my head fully around Zhang Yu Xin’s hatred.

The relationships outside of the ones mentioned here among other characters all had unique and interesting aspects. The writers did a fine job of fully fleshing out their characters and the dynamics between them, what brought them together or attracted them and what caused frustrations or aggravations. It made for entertaining situations and conversations. I think the writers portrayed very well that human behaviour is shaped in part by our environment and upbringing, but that our human frailties and egos can often suspend life in a game that has no end, one that we do to ourselves when we don’t allow mistakes to happen and lessons to be learned.

I think this is the first drama I’ve watched so far where fashion is completely integrated into the story – and there were plenty of gorgeous qipao outfits to drool over. Zhang Yu Xin had an amazing Gucci inspired wardrobe. The men wardrobe consisted of outstanding suits, both quality and colour, especially those of Yun Kai. The wardrobe overall for all characters was beautiful and aesthetically pleasing and the cast carried their roles well, dressed to the nines.

The success of this production lies in the visual telling of the story, alongside the beauty of the backdrop, wardrobe and of course the stellar performances. The camerawork was exceptional. The accompanying music was tasteful and appropriate, but by the end of the long cdrama, I was tired of hearing the same musical refrains.  I struggle at times to find Chinese and Korean music on Spotify so I sometimes resort to creating lists on Youtube, not my preferred place, but better than nothing.

The cast chosen for this production was exactly what was needed to round off the success. They all did a fantastic job in their individual roles.

Zhang Guo Guo/ Jin Yi Bei was played by Sun Yi. This character was the most innocent of all and Sun Yi depicted that innocence to perfection. She emoted well, inhabited her character and brought her to life. The happy-go-lucky and almost always smiling persona was refreshing for the story, and I’m sure there are real people like her that exist in the world, but they are few and far between. Sun Yi’s character interacted well and I was impressed by her performance.

Deng Lun played the loveable Li Yun Kai. I must be honest and say I didn’t initially like this character. He was almost too perfect and when things are too good to be true they generally are. I warmed to Deng Lun’s interpretation with time and as the story progressed, in particular, the insight the character has regarding the relationships with his father, step-mother and step-brother. Deng Lun’s charm and personality were reflected in his performance as Li Yun Kai.

Zhang Yu Xin as a character was the most antisocial and it’s hard to accurately portray this kind of character but Wu You did an exceptional job. I loathed Zhang Yu Xin and this is because of Wu You’s stellar performance. Her facial expressions delivered her character’s flawed persona as much as her conniving and manipulating words. It was easy to watch her but hard to fathom the depth of her depravity.

Dai Chao played Li Yun Zhe and gave a strong performance as a man who is fueled by his greed and desire to be accepted completely. Dai Chao’s delivery was sometimes flat, however. There were moments when I felt that the actor behind the character was emotionless, whether because he didn’t know how to interpret the emotion he should display or whether he believed the character in that situation would be emotionless. It felt unnatural and forced but at the same time completely devoid of understanding and performance. But, even with these weird moments, Dai Chao’s performance was still strong.

Xu Hui Kie was played by Pan Joy and did a fine job of portraying a woman obsessed with winning her supposed ‘rightful’ place as Head Embroiderer being the eldest daughter-in-law. Pan Joy delivered a solid interpretation of the lengths some will go to succeed, no matter the costs. Xu Hui Kie, like Zhang Yu Xin, is a character that borders on antisocial personality disorder. Not as narcissistic as Zhang Yu Xin, but certainly displaying symptoms of sociopathy. For the most part, Pan Joy’s performance is devoid of the more human emotions like love, joy and happiness, instead of displaying a flat tone and emotionless face. It was interesting to watch this character make a circle and come back to her senses.

One of the few good characters was Song Xiu Hua played by the amazing Liu Min Tao. I loved the quiet, simple delivery of Song Xiu Hua and imagine this is exactly the way the writers wrote the character and the director wanted the character depicted. Liu Min Tao did a fine job with her interpretation and delivery. I would have liked to see more anger and more vengeful acts from her but it wasn’t to be and I understand why. You don’t win over evil by lowering yourself to the same standard but by rising above. It’s a lesson we all, as humans, need to learn.

Li Zhi Nan played Lu Si Chen and gave a solid performance. I expected to see much more aggression from the character so was pleasantly surprised when his acts of vengeance were toned down and far more palatable than expected. I did find this performance to be one of the stronger ones even though the character was in a supporting role.

Wang Ai Yu, crazy-assed mother and a seriously flawed individual were played by Guo Hong. I think this character was the one I loathed the most because she should have known right from wrong and should have taught her child appropriately but she didn’t. That’s not to say that mothers should be blamed for their children’s faults or flaws, but they certainly shouldn’t condone deception, lies, manipulative behaviours etc. That is called enabling and the character Wang Ai Yu was definitely an enabler of her daughter’s mental health issues and subsequent behaviours. Guo Hong gave a brilliant performance even the aggressive manner and abusive nature which is always hard to depict she delivered genuinely. It was scary to watch her, but also informative.

Jin Zhi Ming, ineffective father and somewhat absent husband were played by Luo Gang. His performance was impressive as was his interpretation of his character, good and bad. It’s not an easy job being a parent or a husband, there are certain expectations and as a species, we hold each other top high levels of accomplishment. As an artist and teacher this character excelled, as a husband he passed, but, as a parent, he was neglectful and performed underwhelmingly. Luo Gang gave a strong performance!

oh! … sidekicks

A special shout out to the younger actors and actresses that played the lead characters in this production in the ‘younger years’ which were portrayed through flashbacks and initial start to the story.

Li Yun Kai was played by adorable Huang Tian Qi – these kids tears were impressive!  Li Yun Zhe was played by Chen Jerry and its hard to play a big mean kid but he did a good job of laying the foundation for the older version of this character. Jin Yi Bei was played by Wang Apple and she was just adorable which also laid a solid place from which to build as the character developed over the duration of the story.

Also, need to mention Wang Ting Wen played Zhang Le Tong (Li Le Tong). I loved this character because she played a crucial role in bringing out the honesty is everyone. Wang Ting Wen gave a perfectly precocious performance.

oh! … that’s a wrap

Because of You was an entertaining cdrama and I highly recommend it. The show gave glimpses into the various psyche of different kinds of individuals while delivering a love story. Having written that I immensely enjoyed this production and that I recommend it, it may come as a surprise to read that I don’t anticipate watching it again, not because it’s not good enough but because it was so long.

oh! … tidbits

Shortly before Because of You was aired, Chinese fashion designer Lan Yu showcased a stunning collection of blossoming magnolias on the runway at New York Fashion Week.

According to online sources this cdrama was a ratings success. It reached an “online viewership of 4.96%, with the show’s finale ratings of 3.05%.

oh! … soundtrack

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailers

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